Hip Hip Hooray, Sandy came to stay!

My excellent friend, Sandy, came to visit!  She and I were neighbors when we were married to our first husbands.  Sandy moved on shortly before I did.

We each bought small Sears Bungalow homes in the Village of Barrington.  We would meet early every morning and walk for hours, covering mile after mile.  Following our rambles, we’d go to the local Starbucks, sit outside with coffee, and watch the commuters heading to the train.

We often bumped into a former neighbor, Ned.  Ned was reputed to be connected with the Mafia.  He always sat in a corner with his back to the wall.  I have no idea if the Mob rumors were true.  Sandy and I liked to imagine they were.  It made Ned seem mysterious and vaguely dangerous.  We envisioned long-lensed cameras trained on us as we sat chatting with him and his brother, the head of the local Teamsters union.

In spite of Mafia speculation, both guys were friendly, made us laugh, and paid for our coffee. ( Tony Soprano was often fun and funny too.  Until he wasn’t.)

Clearly, the law thought Ned had done something nefarious. He ended up doing a stint in the men’s penitentiary.  Each holiday Sandy and I would sit at Starbucks, write him letters, and clue him in on who was swilling coffee that day.  He always wrote back.  Following his release, he told us how much he appreciated those wacky notes. (*see note at end of this post)

My first Thanksgiving as a single person was spent with Sandy.  We’d both been invited to share the day with different large families, but we chose to put on our walking shoes and hoof around town.  I remember kicking dried autumn leaves and smelling the scent of roasting turkey wafting on the chilly breeze.   Unconventional, we planned to cook a Thanksgiving meal of steaks, baked potatoes, and asparagus.  Instead, we ended up swilling apple martini’s and too schnockered to turn on the grill.  Fortunately, my daughter Mo turned up and did the food prep.  The parts of the evening I remember were lots of fun.

Ultimately Sandy made the decision to move to Colorado.  She loaded two bikes on the back of her car, set out alone to parts unknown.  Now she’s as happy as a clam (where does that saying come from?  How does anyone know if clams are happy?), spending her life teaching Pilates, mountain biking and taking long rocky hikes.

I have a million happy Sandy stories.  She’s delightfully childlike.  But also really deep and into metaphysical reading.  I will give her Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.  Maybe she’ll get it.  I sure didn’t.

Here is a curious Sandy fact–In the early ’80s she and I lived within two miles of each other in Buck’s County, Pa.  We both happened to shop at a tiny independent grocery store.  Mo threw up there several times.  (I blogged about Mo’s constant car sickness and was going to reference the blog date here….Can’t ferret it out. ) Trust me, Mo tossed her cookies frequently for the better part of her first four years.  I clearly recall being in the produce aisle at that independent grocery when Mo was puking.  I noticed a petite young mother with a cart full of tiny girls.  Three blonds and a red-head.

Fast forward to the Chicago suburbs.  I met the petite young mother and her four little chicks!  She and I put it together she had lived in Yardley, Pa. when my family was in nearby Washington Crossing.  Clearly destined to be friends, eh?

Yesterday Sandy and I spent the entire day in silly and serious conversation, reminiscing, and putting Ina Garten’s cookbooks in the order we figured they’d been published.  Ina has gotten chunkier with each volume.  We examined Ina’s book jacket photos, peering at her freckled, round face.  Sandy devised a competition.  Who could line up the books in chronological order based on the fullness of Ina’s face?  Sandy won.

I served only Ina recipes during Sandy’s stay.  I’ve gotten chubby on Ina’s good food.  Ina’s gotten chubby on Ina’s good food.  But Sandy didn’t get one ounce fatter!  How does she do that? Furthermore, she gobbled darn near an entire bag of Dove dark chocolates.  Not fair.

Friday Sandy went to the fancy schmancy Don Cesar Hotel on St. Pete Beach, where she attended a wedding.  I loaned her Gracie, my designed-to-impress Honda mini-van.  I know the well-heeled guests were awed when they got a gander of Gracie’s Dollar Tree steering wheel cover.

Only the best for my Gracie girl.  Yes, I’m a hillbilly at heart.

Jim and I took Sandy to the Tampa airport on Saturday.  When we got home we read what she had written in our guest book.



Jason is Jim’s son.  Jason has scads of entries in the guestbook.   We are delighted Sandy has chosen to compete with him.  Go forth and depose Jason as king of the guest book.  I’ll  start stocking up on Dove dark chocolates.

Yay  Sandy!  We are thrilled to know you will be back again in July,  September, November (bring my birthday gift. cash is king)….and so forth.  Love you, sweet friend.

*Sandy read this and reminded me we got one letter back, “return to sender.”  We’d glued bits and bobs of random stuff to the card.  Seems glue is penitentiary prohibited.  So, gentle readers, keep that in mind when next you write to felons.