Friday, October 15, 2010

The Spread, the Catalog, and Alicia

  My sister called me yesterday right after having her life flash before her eyes. The short version is she got called to go in to work, hopped out of the shower, went to grab clothes from the laundry, dogs charged past her on the stairs (which exit out into the living room), towel went flying, missed the railing, unceremoniously landed in the living room.. only to discover they had company. The small town they are in, several of the police officers are also firefighters. I tried not to laugh, but failed as the evil younger sister took hold and proclaimed "Well now you can say you've been naked with half the cops and firefighters in town." 
   A total exaggeration as there were only a couple of them.. but my sister.. the one who is NEVER embarrassed.. was mortified. Christmas came early for me this year. 
   The conversation took a turn when I asked her if she had any need for "The Catalog of Catalogs" as I was about to toss it in the recycling bin. 

  "Wow.. you still have that?" 

  "Yeah.. I tried getting rid of it but darling husband was entranced and kept rescuing it. It eventually was hidden by him in his sacred stash of 15 years worth of Rock & Ice." 

  The catalog is really old, ancient almost historical in the context that it is a catalog (late 90's). The pages are tagged, marked, written in with notes stating when it was ordered. Everything marked is regarding organic farming.. suppliers, equipment, seeds, etc., natural paints and everything to create a healthful home and toiletries. She had gotten all of these catalogs to help her friends Tony and Alicia with creating their dream.
  I had met Tony and Alicia a long long time ago in Tokyo. They were friends of my sister and her at the time husband Arex Alex. Alicia, ever so graciously, made a huge dinner. My sister read me and my next younger sister the riot act.. "Behave yourselves because your life does depend on it. Tony is British.. while he views burping as rude, the man is oblivious to the fact that passing gas is equally so. Don't you dare make a comment.. I don't care if it is bad enough that it sounds like a flock of ducks have just been terrified. Alicia has spent days making this meal.. you will use your best manners. She just started learning to cook and this means a lot to her."
  Alicia is from Singapore. While we had done a fair bit of traveling and were accustomed to new foods more so than the typical American kid.. to jump into a massive spread of "delicacies" of Singapore is a challenge. My sister was across the table.. and she made sure to wear the most pointy toed shoes in her arsenal just in case we even thought about forgetting our manners.
  Let's just say.. that not one of my friends through the rest of high school and quite a few years after was able to top her menu of challenging foods. One of the highlights being a clear soup with dates and what looked like white walnuts with veins. Yeah.. those were frog stomachs. Any look of fear was immediately wiped away by a blinding shot of pain to the shins.

 Tony and Alicia's dream was to create an organic farm.. which they did in Ireland. Bunalun was the name of the old estate they found. The place was decaying and charming all at the same time. The groundskeeper lived in a small house on the estate.. as did several generations before him. He could be heard at night calling his dog home... " Floooozieeee!"
  Tony and Alicia fixed the place up and got their organic farm running. They are one of the largest organic produce producers in the UK. 
   The difference in taste in organic produce was something my sister always harped about often making people taste various produce to see for themselves.

  My sister told me Alicia passed recently due to cancer. It seems an evil irony. She leaves behind a daughter just 2 years younger than mine.. so Fern should be about 11. I wish the best for Tony and Fern.. and hope one day their hearts mend. Alicia is someone who has the ability to impact someone's life memorably even if the encounter was only for a brief moment in time.

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