Saturday, November 13, 2010
One Degree of Separation
Today, My Beloved and I ran away (again) to one of our favorite places--Augusta, Kentucky. The ostensible mission was to purchase another pair of alpaca socks for my ridiculously cold feet before winter hits (which sure wasn't today, as it got up to about 70 degrees), but the emotional mission was to decompress from a stressful week (Him) with a date (Her).
We arrived before the stores were open, so we sat by the river, watching the barges lumbering past and the ferry crossing back and forth as they've been doing for generations. The warming sun was at our backs. In front of us, the Ohio river stretched far in both directions, without bends or walls to block the vista. Above us, the wispy clouds and plane contrails formed a star burst pattern seemingly centered on our bench. A single dried leaf bobbed along in the current as a wading bird flew by trailing gangly legs. Two small planes buzzed overhead, one of them vintage. They seemed the same size as the buzzards surfing the thermals. I reflected on the vastness of the sky whose great possible distances create such a two-dimensional effect.
And then we cursed ourselves for NOT BRINGING THE CAMERA. Oh, well.
At noon (store opening time in this small town) we headed to the charming two-block commercial center for our shopping. The alpaca sock store was indeed still there, staffed by the friendly and helpful owner. We procured my toe circulation insurance, bay rum shaving soap for Dave, and some chocolates made by a local woman who was our lunch waitress on a previous visit. (I love small towns!) I was happy that my feet would be warm without scratchiness, Dave was thrilled to satisfy his craving for a classic bay rum shaving supply of some kind, and we both were glad to have chocolates for the pantry. (We CANNOT run out of chocolate. There might be rioting--by me.)
That friendly and helpful owner suggested that we go up the street to Nina's, a store owned by George Clooney's mother. Augusta is his home town, in case the world doesn't know by now. They are really proud of him. And his aunt Rosemary. And his father Nick. And apparently of his mother, too. She also said that George was in town, there could be a George sighting, he's really nice, comes home more than you think, etc. We're not celebrity hounds, so we just made polite replies.
But after a lunch at Cafe Bravo that included both the biggest pork barbecue sandwich (it required a knife and fork--no way to pick it up) and the first food-bumming stray cats I've ever seen, we did make our way up to Nina's eponymous store, where, among the interesting collection of art prints and antiques, I saw a Braun hand blender for $29.00. This item got my serious consideration because I've wished for one on at least two recent occasions. It's a much easier tool for pureeing soups than the food processor or blender, with less possibility of hot liquid ending up on the ceiling or the cook and less to clean. I'm not keen on a plethora of kitchen appliances and gadgets, but this one my life says I need.
Actually, I have one that David gave me for Christmas a few years ago, a fancy Breville from Williams-Sonoma that has never worked properly. (Sorry, Mr Williams, it's true.) I've wanted to replace it for a while, but it hasn't quite made the priority list. Thus my consideration of the Braun, which I thought was a good brand and a good price. I hesitated because I wasn't sure if it really was a good one. (I hadn't done my RESEARCH, people!) What if it was used, and badly at that? What if there was something wrong with it? I can talk myself out of buying things like nobody's business sometimes.
Luckily an employee inquired if we needed any assistance. When I told her of my doubts about the item, the employee said that she would ask Nina, because it was hers. Nina avowed that it had never been used and was a good one, so I bought it.
Being caught up in my usual dithering over my purchase, I had missed the momentous fact that David announced on the way to the car.
"You just bought George Clooney's mother's hand blender."
(I pause here to pray. Please may that not be my only claim to culinary fame. Amen. )
We laughed at the absurdity of it, stowed the kitchen tool brushed by fame, and went on our merry way, popping into the local art guild exhibit, where we saw Nina yet again, and adding an Eiffel tower and a purple bottle from another shop to collections of mine. (I don't always talk myself out of buying things. Not at all. That's why I stay home when there's no money!) We even discovered a renewed winery on the way home that is actually the oldest winery in its original location in the country, at which we purchased local wine for our "cellar" after ogling their spectacular 160-year-old, 30-feet-high, barrel vaulted cellar. It was the cap to a day of treats.
I truly hope that my brush with once removed fame will not be the most remembered moment of our day. I'd rather revel in the more enduring pleasures of the river and the togetherness. Besides, not being a celebrity star gazer, I can't say that I'm particularly impressed by my ownership of a kitchen appliance that once graced a famous person's mama's house. It's just...amusing. You could say that there's now only one degree of separation between me and George Clooney.
That and five bucks might buy me a truffle or something.
Now I'm off to do too-late research and find out if I got a good deal after all. Then again, if it works at all, it will be better than what I have, regardless of who owned it before. It's all about the bargain, baby! (Sorry, George.)