Table for Two – Chapter 10

Table for Two – Chapter 10

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

December 31, 1972 –  Cheers!

Sadie and Lucy Abrams, owners of Table for Two, invited a few close friends to the restaurant for a special New Year’s Eve dinner. So much changed in the six and a half years since opening, they wanted to share their success with important people in their lives.

Carol, the restaurant manager, decorated with teal and silver balls, natural greenery, and gold votive candle holders. White place settings and clear stemware kept the tables simple.

Guests arrived to find an opening in the wall to the shop next door, doubling the square footage of Table for Two. A local radio station piped through the sound system, counting down the top 100 songs of the year.[ii] A self-serve bar complemented by appetizers spread across the counter.

chapter-10-teal

When it was time for dinner, Daniel Abrams stood behind his chair, glass raised, calling the guests to the table.

“I want to thank my twin daughters, Sadie and Lucy, I am proud of the women you’ve become. Growing up without a mother was difficult. I can say with certainty, your mother would be as proud of you as I am.”

“In the past six years, you managed to graduate from college, find jobs, keep Table for Two afloat, repay the start-up loan, and stay out of trouble.”

Daniel laughed, “Some people say twins are double trouble, not these two. Our first toast of the evening: To Sadie and Lucy, two of the smartest, kindest, most energetic, and loving daughters a man can ask for.”

“Sadie asked that we go around the table, each sharing a toast, news, or whatever is on our mind. I’ll start.”

“Being a risk-taker, I invested in horse owned by a family friend, Penny Tweedy. Penny believes Secretariat will be the next triple crown winner. I hope she is right. Please raise your glasses to Secretariat.”

“Jerry, you’re next. Anything to share?”

“We were all saddened last month by the death of our State Representative Harvey Clayton. The Governor called for an election to fill the vacancy and I decided to run. As much as I love being Mayor of Hartsburg, I want to play a larger role in the future of our state. Stop by my new office to volunteer. Any time you can give will be appreciated. And please vote. I guess your next, Gladys.”

“My news involves Jerry too. It’s no secret, we’ve been trying to have a baby. After two unsuccessful pregnancies, my doctor doubts I will be able to carry a baby full-term. We started the adoption process six months ago. No news yet, but the agency accepted our application and will begin sharing our profile next month. I want to toast Jerry. His love and support helped me deal with loss and give me hope for the future. To Jerry, the best partner I could have found.”

Daniel nodded to Irma, “You’re next.”

“Two things. I am applying for early retirement. Can’t wait. More important, I will be taking on a new job as the Nanny when Gladys and Jerry’s baby arrives. In the meantime, I will be volunteering for Jerry’s election campaign. Stop by. I’m sure we will find a job with your name on it.”

Irma looked each dinner guest in the eye. “Remember, I know how to find you. Better you come in on your own to volunteer.”

Irma turned to her left, “What’s going on with you Stuart?”

“My life is boring compared to the rest of you. Still in grad school at the University of Michigan. No, I haven’t learned to ski. No, I don’t have a girlfriend. Girls require time and money. Both are in short supply. My life is all about studying, labs, and the library. It’s good to be here. Cheers everyone!”

All eyes looked to Sara.

“I love my job at the Equine Assisted Therapy Center on Gull Lake. Stuart is only a few hours away; I thought we would get together more often. Both of us are super busy, so that hasn’t worked out. I am not used to the cold yet and winter is only beginning. I miss being in Hartsburg, but am learning lots to help me open my own center someday. I’m happy to be home for the holidays and sharing tonight with all of you.”

“I’m Dean, for those of you I haven’t met. Thanks Carol for inviting me to share New Year’s Eve. I’m passing through Hartsburg. From here I’m going home to Florida where I enrolled in Central Florida Community College. I’m not sure what I’ll major in, but I have plenty of time to figure out what I want to do with my life. Like Sadie and Lucy, I am a twin. My brother Dylan was a helicopter pilot in Vietnam. His helo was shot down. No one survived. I would like to toast Dylan, Tom, all soldiers, and veterans who serve or served in Vietnam and all previous wars. To Dylan and Tom.”

Tom held up his glass. “I’ll make this short and sweet. I made an appointment with Dean’s father to find out about making this left arm of mine useful again. To Dean, and all those who pass through Hartsburg making wishes come true.”

“Carol, what’s new with you?” Daniel winked at Carol.

“As regulars to the restaurant, you tried new menu items from time to time.  Some were better than others.  Thanks for your feedback. I graduated from culinary school this month and am starting a new job as head chef for a local restaurant. I’ll tell you more when I can talk about the details.”

“Congratulations Carol. Does anyone need a refill before we finish?” Daniel asked, looking around the table.

Lucy stood. “I am going to let Sadie address the elephant in the room, the hole in the wall. As for me, spending tonight with special friends warms my heart. I received a promotion and am moving to France next month. I will miss you all. Once I’m settled, please come visit. À votre santé! That’s French for cheers.”

“Last, but not least, Sadie will you address the elephant?”

“Sure dad. Hello elephant!” Sadie gestured toward the opening in the wall. “Seriously, Table for Two has done well. We signed a lease on the shop next door to expand the restaurant. We are adding new items to our lunch menu and will open for dinner on Friday and Saturday nights. The new space will also be available for parties and special events. We promoted Carol to head chef. Congratulations Carol. The name of the restaurant will stay Table for Two, but the addition will be called T-Squared. ”

I guess it’s back to me, Daniel added.  “Join me in a toast to the future, a toast to the past, and a toast to our friends, far and near. May the future be pleasant, the past a bright dream. May our friends remain faithful and dear.  Cheers everyone!”

chapter-10-cheers


[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

[ii] For a trip down memory lane, check out the  Top 100 Songs of 1972.

Table for Two – Chapter 9

Table for Two – Chapter 9

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

December 21, 1972 – The Wishing Tree

chapter-9-treeA live pine, dressed for the holidays, filled a corner inside Table for Two. Four Christmas’s ago, the year the restaurant opened, owners Sadie and Lucy started a tradition: a community wishing tree. Residents of all ages wrote wishes on tags and hung them on the tree during the week of Thanksgiving.  Everyone in town was encouraged to select someone else’s wish to fulfill.

On December twenty-first, the Monday before Christmas, Dean parked his Harley outside Table for Two in the exact spot he and his twin Dylan had parked their bikes, two and a half years earlier.

Dean glanced at the tree on his way to the counter to order coffee and a sandwich. Carol, the restaurant manager, tilted her head and squinted at Dean.

“Good afternoon. You look familiar. I don’t remember your name, but I never forget a face. Have you been here before?”

“As a matter of fact, I passed through Hartsburg a couple of years ago, with my twin brother, Dylan. We were touring the country before enlisting in the Air Force.”

“That’s right.  Is your brother with you?”

“Not exactly.” Dean patted his jacket packet. “Dylan didn’t come back from Vietnam, but he made me promise to revisit our favorite places, and leave a few ashes behind.”

“I’m so sorry about Dylan. I’m honored our tiny restaurant is on your list of places to visit.”

“The food was amazing, and lunch was free because our draft lottery number was below 195.”

“We didn’t give away too many lunches that summer. Today’s special is free dessert for anyone who selects a tag and makes a wish come true. What do you say?”

Coffee mug in his left hand, Dean read the wishes still on the tree. One caught his attention; he detached it and walked to the table as Carol placed his lunch down.

“Who is Tom Savino?”

“Tom grew up on a farm outside of town. Like you and Dylan, Tom served in Vietnam. He came back missing part of an arm and part of himself. He’s had a difficult time adjusting. Why do you ask?”

“I would like to make his wish come true. How can I get in touch with him?”

Dean drove his bike to Tom’s farm. Clutching Tom’s tag, Dean introduced himself.

“Is there someplace we can talk.? I’d like to connect you with my father; he’s part of a team specializing in prosthesis for veterans.  I believe he can make your dream come true.”

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.
Table for Two – Chapter 8

Table for Two – Chapter 8

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

July 2, 1971 – Coming Home

Author’s Note:  When I started this series of posts about people who grace a Table for Two, I had no idea where it would lead.  As we travel through the last fifty years, I feel it is important to address historical issues as they occurred.  Thank you, readers for taking this journey with me, wherever that might lead.

Tom Savino returned home from Vietnam to protesters and accusations of being a baby killer.  The transport plane carrying Tom and fellow soldiers taxied away from the main terminal after landing in the United States.  Ground crew directed the plane to a small service hangar to avoid disruptions to commercial flights.

Armed guards escorted the soldiers to military buses with darkened windows.  The loss of his left arm, just above his elbow made it difficult for Tom to shoulder his gear.  A guard hoisted Tom’s duffel, tossing it into the luggage compartment under the bus.

Twenty-four hours later, Tom arrived in Hartsburg.  A joyous contingent of family and friends greeted him at the bus station waving small American flags.  The smile on Tom’s mother’s face and the bear hug from his father helped, but the horrible acts of war he witnessed and committed overshadowed the excitement of coming home.


chapter-8-scone“Look at you Sara, no leg braces.  Love the cane; very fancy.  I ordered you a coffee and Independence Day Scone.  I hope that’s okay.”

“Sounds perfect!”  Grinning ear-to-ear, Sara hugged her cousin Stuart, joining him outside Table for Two.

“Two years of equine assisted therapy training did wonders for me.  I’ll always need a cane to help with balance, but no more hardware to lug around.  I’m so excited, Stuart.  I told you about the job I applied for at a Therapeutic Riding Center for the Handicapped in Michigan.  I start August first.  Can you believe it?”

“I didn’t know there was such a place till you told me you were applying for the job.”

“It opened last year and is the first of its kind in the U.S.”

“What about your dream to turn Gramps’ farm into a therapy farm?”

“That is still my dream.  I can’t think of a better way to learn how to make that happen.  I’ll get real-life experience and pick their brains on how to get started here.”

“Maybe I can visit you at the Center.  I have another year of graduate school at the University of Michigan.”

“I have something serious I want to discuss with you Sara.  The Fourth of July Parade Committee asked me lead the horse guard with you again.  I want to ride with the guard, but there is someone I believe deserves the honor of leading more than I do.  I spoke to the Parade Committee about Tom Savino taking my place.”

“Didn’t he just get home from Vietnam?”

“Tom arrived a couple of days ago; I went to his welcome home party.  He lost part of his left arm and is having a hard time adjusting to the mixed reactions people have about serving in Vietnam.”

“Tom didn’t start the war.  He stepped up and went when his number was called.  Maybe we shouldn’t be there; but people need to get a grip.  Taking out their frustrations on Tom is wrong.  It’s just wrong.”

“I agree, Sara.  I was lucky; being in graduate school kept me out of the draft.  If Tom is willing, I would like him to ride beside you.  A show of support and appreciation from the people of Hartsburg could go a long way toward making him feel like the hero he is.”

“Great idea, Stuart.  Have you talked to Tom about it?”

“Not yet.  I wanted to be sure the committee would back me on this.”

“A little equine therapy might help Tom too.  Let’s talk to him and make it happen.”


If you have never seen the Vietnam Memorial, I recommend you make the effort to visit the miniature version as it travels around the country.  I guarantee it will touch you on a visceral level.

PTSD

Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is defined as having flashbacks, upsetting memories, and anxiety following a traumatic event. It was first officially recognized as a mental health condition in 1980, only five years after the end of the Vietnam War. For hundreds of years, these symptoms have been described under different names in soldiers from many wars. However, Vietnam Veterans with these symptoms were the first to have the term ‘PTSD’ applied to them. Despite the passage of 50 years since the war, for some Vietnam Veterans, PTSD remains a chronic reality of everyday life. – See more at: Public Health VA [1]

A Few Statistics

Vietnam War – Casualties:[2]

United States: 58,119 killed, 153,303 wounded, 1,948 missing in action

South Vietnam: 230,000 killed and 1,169,763 wounded (estimated)

North Vietnam: 1,100,000 killed in action (estimated) and an unknown number of wounded


[1] http://www.publichealth.va.gov/exposures/publications/agent-orange/agent-orange-summer-2015/nvvls.asp

[2] http://militaryhistory.about.com/od/vietnamwar/p/VietnamBrief.htm

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

Brand Loyalty

Brand Loyalty

Today I step away from the Table for Two series to post something to my Fearless blog section. (The opinions put forth in this post, are mine.  Yes, I am on a soap box.)

I am not a marketing major.  I do know enough to figure out brand loyalty is more of an emotional connection that often defies logic.  I consider myself a logical thinker.  I received a perfect score on the logic portion of the GRE. Yet, at times, I defy logic and am fearlessly loyal to a brand.  Here are a few examples.

Insurance

I have had car and home insurance with the same company since I started purchasing insurance in the 1970’s.  Could I find a cheaper rate with another company?  Maybe.  I may never know.  I choose to stay with them.  I am brand loyal. It defies logic.

Credit Cards

I applied for my first credit card in 1980, the American Express Green Card.  I selected that card to impose the discipline of paying my bill at the end of the month.  It worked.  To this day, I have never had a balance on a revolving account.

For thirty-six years, I paid the annual fee to keep the Amex card. For twenty years, I paid an additional fee for the rewards program.  During the 1990s, my heavy travel decade, it paid off.  Accumulated points from domestic and international airfares and hotel stays turned into plane tickets for myself and others, a big screen television, pots and pans and who knows what all.

I didn’t use my Amex card for years but kept it anyway.  This year I called to cancel the card.  It felt like I was saying goodbye to an old friend.  We had been together for thirty-six years.  I never left home without it.  It defies logic.

Lucky for me, Amex has a new product, the Blue Cash Card.  There is no fee and it pays back a small percentage on all purchases.  Yes, I now have a blue Amex card.  I am brand loyal.

As a side note, I worked on a consulting project with American Express about fifteen years ago.  My story is not unusual.  Amex card holders are extremely loyal to the brand.

I have had a variety of Visa cards over the years, just in case Amex is not accepted.  Sometimes they are affiliated with a bank or a store or an organization.  Those cards have come and gone.  No tears have been shed.

Toothpaste

Do you still use the same brand your mother bought?  Do you buy the one on sale or the one you have a coupon for?  Maybe your dentist recommended a brand for sensitive teeth.  Do you use a gel or a paste?  Maybe you don’t care.

I like to know what my toothpaste is going to taste like in the morning.  I prefer a paste to a gel.  I used the same brand my mother bought until a few years ago when I switched to the brand for sensitive teeth.  Does it matter?  Could I save a little by being flexible?  Maybe.  But I am brand loyal.  It defies logic.


If you are easily offended, you might want to close this post now.  I’m venturing into an area we are taught to avoid in conversation.

Religion

Let me say from the get-go, religion defies logic.

Raised Catholic, I claim no religion at this point.  I’m not against religion.  It seems to work for a lot of people.  I believe in religious freedom.  Go forth and worship as you choose.  While you’re at it, allow others to do the same, or choose not to.

People will change church affiliations within a brand, but tend to be brand loyal to one of the twelve classical world religions:  Baha’i, Buddhism, Christianity, Confucianism, Hinduism, Islam, Jainism, Judaism, Shinto, Sikhism, Taoism, and Zoroastrianism.

Religion and Violence

Of the twelve religions listed above, which one is based on using violence as the means to an end?  None!  Yet, religion has been used for centuries to justify wars, crimes to humanity, the accumulation of land and wealth, genocide and other atrocious crimes.  Through it all, people accept the good the bad and the ugly.  They remain brand loyal to their religion.  That defies logic.

I would argue that the underlying causes of war and war crimes are fear, power and control.  Religion is the scapegoat.

Religious Freedom – A Civics Lesson

Religious freedom is an essential right, but it shouldn’t be a license to discriminate.  In the United States, religious civil liberties are guaranteed by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

Just as the First Amendment secures the free exercise of religion, section one of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees religious civil rights.  It prohibits discrimination, including on the basis of religion, by securing “the equal protection of the laws” for every person:

“All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction there of, are citizens of the United States and of the State where in they reside. No state shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.”

Church and State

Freedom of religion is also closely associated with separation of church and state, a concept advocated by Colonial founders such as Roger Williams, William Penn and later founding fathers such as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson.

Laws that restrict individual freedom on issues of morality, often cloaked in Religious beliefs, cross the line.  People will disagree on the morality of capital punishment, same-sex marriages, planned parenthood, gender identity, abortion, assisted death, and many more issues.

However, claiming religion as a justification does not give anyone special rights to abstain from the morals of equality.

Stand for equality and non-discrimination.  You can uphold your religious beliefs and stay loyal to your brand.  Allow others the freedom to do the same.

It’s only logical.

Table for Two – Chapter 7

Table for Two – Chapter 7

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

December 2, 1969 – The Lottery

Gladys and Jerry read the sign on the door as they walked into Table for Two.

Free Lunch for Lottery Numbers 1 to 195

Sitting outside, enjoying coffee and bagels, they discussed how the draft lottery might affect family, friends, neighbors and Hartsburg.

“I’m so glad I am not eligible for the draft lottery.  It was close.  Another year older and my number would be 180.”

“I’m not sure who is happier, you or me,” Gladys reached across the table for Jerry’s hand. “Why a lottery, Jerry?”

“Before the lottery, any man between eighteen and 25 could be called to the local draft board for evaluation and assigned a status.  Community members make up draft boards.  Pressure from relatives and friends often influences who is exempted and who is not.  Turns out very few recruits come from wealthy families. As a matter of fact, I read the mix is twenty-five percent poor, fifty-five percent working-class and twenty percent middle-class men. Many come from rural towns and farming communities like Hartsburg.  A lottery is supposed to be more fair, or at least more random.”


3Nov1914TangaBattleWWIIn response to criticism of the draft’s inequities, on December 1, 1969, the Selective Service System conducted two lottery drawings – the first draft lottery since 1942, to determine the order in which men born in 1944 to 1950 were called to report for possible induction into the military in 1970.

The draft lottery was based on birth dates. Three-hundred sixty-six blue plastic capsules containing birth dates (including February 29) were drawn by hand, opened one by one and assigned a number from “001” until “366”. The first date drawn was September 14 followed by April 24, which were assigned “001” and “002” respectively. The process continued until each day of the year was assigned a lottery number. The lower the number, the higher probability men of being called to serve.

A second lottery was held with 26 letters of the alphabet to determine the order of selection among men with the same birth dates through the ranks of the first letters of their last, first and middle names. “J”, “G” and “D” were the first 3 letters while “E”, “B” and “V” was the last ones drawn, which meant men with initials “JJJ” would be first, followed by “JGJ” and “JDJ” while “VVV” would be last among those shared the same birth date. Eventually all men with number 195 or lower were called in order of their numbers to report for physical examinations in 1970.

The biggest change in this draft was the age priority. Instead of taking the “oldest men first” from the 18-25 eligible range as last time, local boards now could call 19-year-olds first. Therefore, young men now did not have to wait for years to learn their draft futures, which could affect their careers, marriages and family.


“What about our friends, Jerry?”

“Stuart Gibson will receive a deferral as a student at the University of Michigan.”

Tom Savino says he’ll serve if called.”

“Jimmy Kelly applied for conscientious objector status.  He wrote an essay to the county draft board and has an interview scheduled next week.  I hope it goes well for him.  Such a gentle soul, Jimmy has a hard time selling the family beef cattle for slaughter.  It’s hard to imagine him face to face with the enemy.”

“How difficult is it to be classified conscientious objector?”

“Not that easy.”


A conscientious objector is someone opposed to serving in the armed forces and/or bearing arms on the grounds of moral or religious principles There are two types.  One is opposed to serving in combat.  They would be drafted and assigned to military service not involving combat or weaponry.

The second type is morally opposed to serving the military in any capacity.  In the past, they were sentenced to two years in prison.  Draft boards can assign them to the alternative service program, run by the Selective Service System.  They work for two years with local employers in fields that contribute to the nation’s well-being such as health care, public service, education and conservation.

chapter-7-jfk-quote-2


“Scary times to be nineteen.  Young men, boys really, asked to participate in the invasion of another country no one wants to call a war? Would you serve in the military, Jerry?”

“I don’t know, Gladys.  I suspect I would.  Fortunately, we don’t have to face that question.  I respect Jimmy for standing up for his beliefs.  We’ll have to support him just as we support those who serve.  It won’t be easy around here for him.  Not everyone will understand.”


chapter-7-hondaTwin brothers Dean and Dylan parked their matching red Honda Dream CB750 FOUR motorcycles outside Table for Two.

“Your sign says, free lunch for lottery numbers 195 and under.  I’m Dean, this is my brother Dylan.  Our number is ninety-seven.”

“Welcome Dean and Dylan.  I’m Carol, Manager of Table for Two.  Beautiful bikes, where are you headed?”

“We’re working our way across the country before we enlist in the Air Force.  There is so much to see.  We want to experience all we can so we’ll know what we are fighting for.”

“Would you be thinking of enlisting if your number was 360?”

“Probably not.  Our number is so low.  If we must serve, we prefer the branch of the military be our choice.”

“That makes sense.  What would you like for lunch?”

“A number nine, a number seven, two sodas, chips and two chocolate chip cookies.”

“Would you both sign the ‘Uncle Sam Wants You’ poster?” Carol pointed to the wall behind them.

Dean and Dylan sat outside eating their lunch.  Carol came out with a “to-go” bag.

“Here are some treats for later.  If you pass this way again, stop in and give us an update.”

“If what’s in this bag is as good as the cookies, we just won the lottery.”


[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

 

Table for Two: Chapter 6

Table for Two: Chapter 6

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

August 9, 1969 – A Matter of Degrees

“Good morning Sara. You’re in mighty early for a Saturday. What’s up?”

“I could say the same for you Sadie. Stuart and I are going riding at Gramps’ farm this morning. We want to start early; the temperature is supposed to go to ninety-four degrees. Horses don’t do well in extreme heat. My mission at Table for Two is coffee and scones. What’s your excuse for being here so early?”

“Lucy usually opens. Today she is shopping for a work wardrobe. Her new job starts in two weeks. I’m not sure why clothes matter. She’ll be wearing a lab coat most of the time.”

“Which offer did she take? Last time we spoke she was still weighing her options.”

“Lucy decided to use her degree to develop better drugs instead of better gas. She accepted the job with the pharmaceutical company. She’ll be able to commute, live at home for a year or two, save some money, and help out at the restaurant.”

“With both of you working full-time, what will happen to Table for Two?”

“My office is down the block so I can keep an eye on things. Carol will take over as manager. She’s been with us since we started two years ago and knows the business inside and out. Two part-time college students spent the summer training and will stay. Carol may need to hire another part-timer to help with catering jobs. We’re also working with community college culinary arts students. Real-life experience is the best teacher.”

chapter-6-scone“Here are your coffees. Which scones would you like?”

“Blueberry for Stuart and chocolate for me. How’s your job with the city? You’re in budgeting and financial reporting, right?”

“Yup. Good thing I like numbers. I’m using my accounting degree, learning a lot and meeting people from a variety of businesses. I like the regular hours, which gives me time to keep tabs on this place and work on my MBA.”

Dad loves to ask, “How many degrees does it takes to make a scone?”

My answer, “Four hundred degrees for twenty minutes.”

“Enjoy those scones. Good to see you Sara. Give my best to Stuart.”

“Will do. Congratulations to Lucy. I hope she develops a new drug that saves the world.”

* * *

“Chocolate for breakfast Sara?”

“Chocolate for every meal, if I had my way, Stuart.”

“When do you leave for Germany?”

“Not till mid-September. Equine assisted therapy classes start on the twenty-second. I can’t wait to be on my own. Mom and dad are worried. They hover more than usual.  They never want to let me out of their sight. Mom’s flying over with me, to help me ‘get settled’. Both of my parents plan to visit Thanksgiving week and I’ll fly home for Christmas break. When do you leave for U of M?”

“Next week. I’ll be sharing a house with five other grad students. We’re all in one medical school department or another. Two of my new roommates moved in earlier this month. Should be interesting.”

“How cold is Ann Arbor in winter? Are you ready to walk to class in eighteen-degree weather with snow up to you knees or higher? Will you learn to snow ski?”

“Slow down. Winter will be a shock to my system, no doubt. Skiing? Maybe. How about you? What is winter like in Germany?”

“About the same as Michigan or a little warmer. My dorm is near the stable on the horse farm and classes are held on the property. Little walking is involved.”

“What if I go all the way to Germany and can’t do this?”

chapter-6-degrees-5“Focus on your accomplishments. I remember visiting you in the hospital when we were kids. Doctors said you might not walk again. You never believed polio would keep you down. What did you tell yourself as you learned how to walk again?”

“One step at a time.”

“Here you are walking, riding, going to Europe. You can do this, Sara.”

“I don’t want to disappoint my parents, Grams and Gramps, or you. So much is riding on getting this degree.”

“Success is not measured in degrees. Success is the degree to which we use our talents to improve the lives of others. You are an inspiration to everyone who meets you.”

“Thanks Stuart. I’ll try to remember that when things get tough. If we head back now, we can eat lunch at Table for Two. Today’s sandwich special is six degrees of separation.”


[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

 

Table for Two – Chapter 5

Table for Two – Chapter 5

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

May 15, 1968 – Enough

“How is the happy couple? Only two weeks till the big day.” Lucy Abrams, one of the twins who owns Table for Two, brought a plate of samples for Gladys and Jerry to try.

“Traditional white wedding cake is at the top. Moving clockwise, next is our signature chocolate fudge followed by a tart lemon and last but, not least, a toasted coconut cake. Each has a different flavor frosting and a different filling. You can mix and match them however you choose. This is  lemon tea to cleanse your palette between bites. Enjoy! I’ll be back to find out what you decide on.”

“How many layers,” Jerry asked Gladys.

“Three. The top tier is saved and frozen, to be eaten on our first anniversary.”

“Will there be enough cake for everyone? Should we add a layer? Can each tier be different?” Jerry wanted to know.

“Every layer can be different. It’s our cake, we can do what we want. Yes, there will be enough for everyone. Lucy’s bringing a sheet cake as back-up.”

After tasting all four samples, Jerry wiped his mouth with a napkin.

“This is difficult. I vote coconut for the top, chocolate for the bottom, lemon in the middle, and white cake for the backup. What do you think, Gladys?”chapter-5-cake

“Sounds like a plan.” Gladys put down her fork and glanced at her watch.

“Gladys, that was too easy. You are so specific on other details for this wedding. Are you distracted? What gives?”

“First, I like your choices. Second, I’m more interested in what the outside looks like than the actual cake. Third, there are very few decisions I’m willing to compromise on. You can have this one. Fourth,…”

“Enough!” Jerry held up his hand. “I got it.”

* * *

Gladys’ Aunt Irma walked up to the table, “Am I too early? You sound like you’re in the middle of something important.”

Jerry stood and held out the chair for Irma.

“Excellent timing. We just selected flavors for the cake. Want to try? Sit here. I need to go back to the office. Talk to you later Gladys.” Jerry bent down and kissed Gladys on the cheek.

“I didn’t mean to chase him off. Is everything okay. Planning a wedding can be stressful.”

“We’re fine, Aunt Irma. He thought I would be more interested in the cake. I have enough details on my plate; I let him decide.”

“What’s our agenda today?”

“The final dress fitting is at ten. I still need shoes and a garter. The florist wants to finalize the number of bouquets, boutonnieres, decorations for the gazebo, and a list of other things. The rental company wants to know how many chairs to set up and if we want a tent in case of rain. On it goes. That’s why I don’t care about the inside of the cake.”

“Will the gazebo be finished in time?”
“Ned, the contractor building the gazebo, promises me it will be ready. If not, we’ll move the ceremony to the other side of the park, under the oak trees. Either will be beautiful.”

chapter-5-dress“Are you covered for something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue?”[ii]

“I have the hankie mom carried at her wedding for old. New would be the dress. Jerry’s mother is lending me her head piece. That covers borrowed. As for blue, daddy gave me mother’s sapphire necklace for my twenty-first birthday.”

Irma pulled out a small jewelry box. “I would like to give you these sapphire earrings your mother gave me for my twenty-first birthday.”

“They’re beautiful Aunt Irma. They match my pendant. I’ve never seen them on you”

“I rarely dress up enough to wear them. Your mother would want you to have them.”

“They’re perfect!”   Gladys dabbed her eyes with a napkin as she hugged Irma.

* * *

chapter-5-flowers

After the ceremony Gladys and Jerry joined their guests for the reception.

Gladys’ father stood to toast the newlyweds. “Gladys, you are the center of my world. You are as beautiful as your mother, who is with us today in spirit. To Gladys and Jerry from your mother and me:

May you have enough happiness to keep you sweet;

Enough trials to keep you strong;

Enough sorrow to keep you human;

Enough hope to keep you happy;

Enough failure to keep you humble;

Enough success to keep you eager;

Enough friends to give you comfort;

Enough wealth to meet your needs;

Enough determination to make each day a better day than yesterday.”

“To Gladys and Jerry.”

chapter-5-gazebo

 

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

[ii] Something old represents continuity; something new offers optimism for the future; something borrowed symbolizes borrowed happiness; something blue stands for purity, love, and fidelity.

Table for Two: Chapter 4

Table for Two: Chapter 4

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

July 4, 1967 – Firecrackers

“How about a big hand for Sara Gibson, our leading lady and her horse Lilly,” the parade announcer said to the crowd in the reviewing stand.

“Sara’s been riding horses since before she could walk. Let’s all thank Sara and her cousin Stuart for getting the Hartsburg Annual Fourth of July Parade off to a beautiful start.”

Sara and Stuart waved to the moms, dads, grandparents and especially the kids lining the streets along the parade route.

Stuart leaned over toward Sara, “Let’s double back to Table for Two when we reach the end of the route. We can watch the rest of the parade and try the red, white and blue cake on the menu.”

“Sounds like a plan Stuart. I didn’t have time for breakfast this morning and I’m starving.”

* * *

Out of breath, Lucy, one of the twins who owns Table for Two, brought two slices of Firecracker Bundt Cake and two strawberry milkshakes tochaper-four-1 the table.

“Sorry it took so long getting your order out. Sadie’s off on an internship with an accounting firm in St. Louis this summer. I hired two part-timers to help, but I guess they both found better things to do today. Sadie owes me big time when she gets home.

“Did you notice the flyer? Table for Two will be open Friday nights for coffee, desserts, poetry and folk music. Mayor Jerry wants to bring more business downtown at night. He and Gladys will be here. Let me know by Thursday if you’re coming and I’ll reserve a table for you.”

* * *

“Thanks for doing the parade with me Stuart. I didn’t want to lead it by myself.”

“Glad to join you Sara. How many weeks since we went riding together? I want to catch up with you before the summer is over and we are both back at school. I’ll start.

“I declared a major in biochemistry, one of the hardest degrees at the University.  Ugh! I’m taking a summer lab class to lighten the load in the fall. Between lab hours and working part-time at the pickle factory, I meet myself coming and going. At least with labs there’s no homework.”

“Pickle factory? What on earth do you do at the pickle factory? I thought pickles grew in a field not in a factory,” Sara said with a smirk on her face.

“Very funny. Pickles start as cucumbers but are fermented, pasteurized and processed before they reach the store shelf. I measure the acid, pH, sugar and salt levels in the pickle liquor. The Food and Drug Administration publishes strict guidelines about pickle juice. Making pickles is a science,” Stuart said, holding back a laugh.

“Did you say you are majoring in biochemistry? What will you do after graduation, come up with a better pickle recipe.” Sara bit the inside of her mouth to stop giggling.

“Just what the world needs, a better pickle. Seriously, I love the research aspect of biochemistry. In another year or two I’ll decide on a specialty. How about you Sara? Any ideas what you want to do with the rest of your life?”

 

chapter-four-4“I think so. I’m going for a Master of Science in Physical Therapy with a specialty in Equine Assisted Therapy. It’s new in the United States.  However, Scandinavians started working with polio victims like me in 1946.  Eighteen years of riding helped me both physically and mentally. My leg braces disappear when I’m on a horse. I want to give other people with disabilities the same opportunity.”

“Wow. I didn’t realize you could get a degree in equine therapy. Does it include a class on the fine art of shoveling manure? Where there is a horse, there’s a shovel.”

“I think extra credit is offered for mucking the stalls. It just so happens Greeks used horses for therapy way back in Hippocrates time. I’ll need to make the case for completing my Master’s thesis in Germany, when the time comes. No formal program in equine therapy exists in this country, yet. Germany offers the best curriculum in the world.”

Sara and Stuart finished their Firecracker cake and shakes.

“Want to meet here Friday night, Sara? I’ll bring a friend if you do.”

“Sounds like fun. I’ll ask Lucy to save us a table for four.”

“Speaking of mucking out stalls, we better get Lilly and Dandy back to the farm. I’m sure they are ready for some oats. And when horses eat oats, horses make manure, and there’s bound to be a shovel nearby.”

“Let’s do it.”

chapter 4 fireworks.jpg

 

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

 

Table for Two – Chapter 3

Table for Two – Chapter 3

T-Squared Energy Connections[i]

June 15, 1967 – Recipe for Love

“One year. Can you believe I’ve been working with Hart County Planning Commission for a whole year now?” Gladys said to Jerry as they clinked coffee mugs at Table for Two. “Time sure does fly.”

“Happy anniversary. They say the first year at a new job is the hardest,” Jerry said before taking a sip of his coffee.

“Days in the office working on budgeting is not my favorite thing, but I love assessing community needs and designing improvements. Next week at our annual strategic planning retreat I’m introducing my ideas for developing a park on the river. Mayor Jerry approves my design, don’t you? I tested the concept with Aunt Irma and some of her friends to listen to their perspective. Sadie and Lucy Abrams, the owners of Table for Two, gave me a younger point of view.”

“Best of luck! After your idea is accepted, the budget will need approval on the ballot in August. I’m presenting enhancements to Main Street. Let’s hope the tax payers support both projects.”

Sadie walked out to the table to refill their coffee.

“Lucy and I are testing a new recipe. The two of you are such regulars, would you mind tasting one and giving me your opinion?”

Lucy set one extra-large peach muffin in the center of the table. She winked at Jerry and went back inside the restaurant. Jerry lifted the top off, put it to one side and reached in to pulled out a ring box.

“Fourteen months ago we met at this table. We’ve spent many an hour here celebrating milestones, working through disagreements, sharing sorrowful moments and laughing at ourselves.”

Jerry got down on one knee, “Gladys Margaret Stanhope, will you do me the honor of marrying me?”

Sadie, Lucy and Irma waited for the scene to unfold.  Watching from the other side of the restaurant window, fingers crossed, the three bounced up and down with excitement.

Tears in her eyes, head nodding, Gladys said “Yes, Gerald Maxwell Taylor. I will marry you.”

Sadie and Lucy ran outside with balloons, a bottle of champagne and five flutes. Irma followed them out to the street.

Jerry slipped the ring on Gladys’ finger.

“Main Street may not be the most romantic place for a proposal, but this street and this table for two are an important part of our lives.”

“It’s perfect Jerry. Were you all in on this?” Gladys said, pointing to the three ladies.

Lucy smiled and rubbed her hands together. “Jerry came by yesterday with a special order. Someone needed to make a pastry gigantic enough to hide the box.”

“How long have you known, Aunt Irma?”

“I helped Jerry shop for the ring. He made the final decision. You went elegant and simple. Excellent choice.”

Sadie popped the cork and poured the champagne.

Jerry raised his glass, “To Gladys. I crave your presence. I thirst for your love. Your spirit feeds my soul. Every time our lips touch, I taste the next sixty years of my life. May the feast of our love continue to nourish and sustain our connection at a table for two.”

chap-3-recipe

[i] T-Squared – In astrological charts the t-square configuration is a dynamic pattern that links and inter-locks energies. It can be seen in the major events, challenges, and themes that are encountered in life.

Table for Two – Chapter 2

Table for Two – Chapter 2

T-Squared Energy Connections

April 20, 1966 – Sara and Stuart

Sara met her mother at Table for Two after school. Their mission: find Sara a prom dress.

Table for Two opened four days earlier, on Main Street in Hartsburg. The restaurant provided the ideal spot to meet and strategize the search for a perfect dress.

Sara arrived first. She paced up and down in front of Table for Two with a bounce in her step. Weeks of scouring magazines came down to pictures of half a dozen dresses she liked.

Marge rushed up to the Sara, “Sorry I’m a little late honey. I had a cake in the oven for tonight’s pinochle club.  It’s my turn to bring dessert.”

Marge sat and looked over Sara’s display on the bistro table. “I like this one. It suits you; stylish but modest. The colors will show off your rosy complexion and grprom-3een always brings out your eyes.”

Sara was jumping for joy. She included dresses her mother wouldn’t like, hoping they would agree on her favorite.  And they did.

“I think I saw a dress almost like this in the shop down the street. I hope it fits. This might be the one,” she said, holding up the picture of a flowered dress with a pink ribbon at the waist.

“Let’s just sit for a bit and talk about prom. I could use a coffee. Would you like a cola?”, Marge asked. She wanted to be sure Sara’s expectations were realistic.

“Now? Can’t we wait till after we find the dress?”

“You are about to jump out of your skin. I need a few minutes to catch my breath so I can keep up with you,” Marge said, looking over her shoulder as she entered Table for Two.

* * *

Sara dreamt about going to prom but thought it was out of reach. A shy girl, Sara had a hard time making friends. Plus, she transferred to Hartsburg High last November, two months into her senior year. Most students lived in Hartsburg their whole lives. They moved from elementary school to middle school to high school as a group.

Starting in January, Sara overheard girls talking about their prom dates, shopping for dresses, and before and after parties.

“One more rite of passage I will miss,” Sara confided in her cousin Stuart at an anniversary party in March for their grandparents .

“We’ve moved around so much for dad’s job there’s never enough time to make friends. I feel like a shooting star. Now you see me, now you don’t.”

“I see you Sara. May I take you to your prom? That is, if no one else invites you.” Stuart asked.

Sara bit her lower lip and nodded her head.

“Karen won’t mind?”

“Too bad if she does. I’ve known you longer and like you better. Anyway, I think she’s got her eye on some fraternity guy she met at Christmas. He owns a faster car and lives in a better neighborhood.”

“Don’t be ridiculous. Who cares about those things?”

Having spent the last ten summers together on their grandparents’ farm, Stuart and Sara became best friends. Stuart felt like a protective older brother. Sara experienced what it might be like to have a sibling. They fed chickens and pigs every day. They mucked out stalls and groomed the horses. The reward for their hard work was naming a foal to raise as their own and learning to ride. Stuart named his horse Dandy. Sara named hers Lilly for her favorite flower.

Sara and Stuart loved night rides. Chores were done. A peaceful blue-black cloak enveloped the earth. Galaxies of stars shimmered from one horizon to the other, evoking a sense of infinite space. Time stood still.

prom-4

Sara and her mother were back at Table for Two making a list of things to do before prom.

“The dress is perfect, except for the length. Grams can shorten it.” Sara made a note to call Grams when she got home.

“You’ll need shoes. I think I have an evening bag you can use,” Marge added.

“How about jewelry? I hate the way earrings pinch. Can I get my ears pierced? The jewelry store does it. Please, mom.”

“Your father would have a conniption. How about I let you borrow my pearl necklace. It was a gift from your father. He would like that. Goodness, look at the time. We better get home. I’ll need you to help with dinner. Daddy and I are going over to the Meier’s for cards tonight.”

prom-car

Stuart picked up Sara in his father’s car on prom night. Matt, Sara’s father, met him at the door.

“Hello Stuart. Be sure Sara has evening to remember and stay out of trouble. I expect you back by one.”

“Sure thing Uncle Matt.”

Sara walked into the room and took a spin to show off her dress and hair.

“Where’s your pick-up?” Sara asked looking out the front window to the driveway.

“Tonight we go in style. You look stunning, by the way.” Stuart handed Sara a wrist corsage of lilies.

Sara pinned a red rosebud boutonniere on Stuart’s white tuxedo jacket.

“You’re beautiful, princess. Have fun, but not too much, if you know what I mean” Matt said as Sara and Stuart walked out to car.

* * *

“You are floating on air Sara. Was prom everything you expected?”

“More. The music, everybody dressed up and on their best behavior, the stars hanging from the ceiling of the gym. It reminded me of our night rides. Thank you, Stuart.”

“Such a beautiful night and too early to go home. Let’s go to Gramps farm and take Dandy and Lilly out,” Stuart suggested. We’ve haven’t been there together in a while.”

“Curfew is not for another hour. Besides, we can call my parents from Gramps phone and let them know we might be late. I think it will be okay.”

Marge answered the phone and gave her blessing for a midnight ride. At least she knew Sara was safe with Stuart. It was better than a post-prom party where who knows what might happen.

* * *

Stuart saddled the horses and gave Sara a boost on to Lilly before mounting Dandy. They rode out along the fence line till they reached the end of the property.

Taking a deep breath, Sara tilted her head up at the starry sky. The moon was behind the trees. “Look over there Stuart. A shooting star. Make a wish.”

As the tail of the star disappeared, Stuart asked, “What did you wish for Sara?”

“It’s the same every time. I wish people would look past the leg braces and see me.”

“I see you Sara. I see you.”

prom-5