The Godfathers

The first time I ever went into the Pfister was when my godfathers (I have two) spontaneously invited me for a hamburger in the café. I didn’t know regular people from the local population could do that sort of thing, and I was nervous to be dining at an establishment I assumed (wrongly!) was designed only for travelers. That and I was wearing blue jeans and plenty of cheap plastic necklaces, which I feared (wrongly! So wrongly!) would prevent me from being allowed in. After that first time though, I did not hesitate to return when they offered me another hamburger at the Pfister.  Today, I’m strolling through the hotel on a docile afternoon hunting for a willing guest to chew the fat with and who do I spot?  The very men who first alerted me to the existence of this luscious lodge!

Godfather Bill Lemieux has shared meals in this hotel with John & Jackie Kennedy (for whom he worked), the Carters, Henry Jackson & Al Gore. He’s eager to share this fact with me as well as each passing member of the wait staff. He has also dined with Peter Yarrow from Peter, Paul and Mary several times at the Pfister. Another fact: Bill introduced Peter Yarrow to his wife. He won’t say how, but he does explain that in 1960 when Peter Paul and Mary came to perform in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, three young people from out of town asked him which restaurant they should eat at. He joined them and didn’t realize who they were until he went to the concert a few hours later and they greeted him from the stage.

“The most important thing in life is not that you have lived, but that you are living. All the things I‘ve done are yesterday. They are memories. Memories that are shifting.” Bill says this before taking a long silence. Godfather David Subat teases, “Then why do you keep talking about them?!” David tells a story of yesterday, thirty years ago in Oshkosh when he was a student. It was St. Patrick’s Day and there were cars turned over and burned in the street. Ruckus. Snowballs with stones in them were being thrown at the dorms. David turned his head behind him and saw 50-80 policemen in full riot gear, shields, clubs… “I told my friend Darren, ‘Darren, I think we should get the blank out of here.’”

And here we are in the Pfister, not on St. Patrick’s Day, not in the snow and not in danger of getting beat up. Relief, but only for a second before Bill brings the snow of Oshkosh back. “In college we had a massive snowstorm at the end of winter break. The roads were too perilous for many of the students to return to campus, but the president refused to close the college. I gathered everyone who was around outside the President’s building and we snowballed all the windows. The president came outside and said, ‘Alright Lemieux, I’ll close the college.’”

Bill starts to fabricate poetry on the spot, which he delivers aloud at a speed slightly too fast for me to record. It is meant to be heard only once, but that start of it goes, “In moments when sitting with a lady on black…” It was a very decent poem. I request another and beg him to include the topics of beavers and Mr. Pfister. Bill quickly recited a historically accurate account of Mr. Pfister admiring another man’s beaver skin top hat. “Memory is not consistent, it is constant,” says Bill.

 

 

For You, For You, I Skitter-Skatter In The Dark

At my desk I get a good view of the lobby flowers that get changed regularly. Two weeks ago they were a purple irises. Back in the day there used to be a whole courtship code that was communicated by flower arrangements. If a suitor gave me a bouquet of purple irises one hundred or more years ago it would have meant, cialis “your friendship means so much to me.” Three days ago the lobby sported tiger lilies.   If my beau gave me those in 1893 he would have been showing off, as tiger lilies symbolized wealth and pride. Today, I see white roses. If I were given those it would probably have meant I had a secret admirer with a careful nature, seek as white roses symbolized secrecy and innocence.

I am clacking some of my own secret thoughts at my typewriter when a man climbs up the steps to stare for a while. He cranes his neck at an uncomfortable angle to read what I am writing as I type it. I rip the page out from the roller and it makes a loud “thwish!” I then hand it to him with more confidence than I feel, for I feel that no one should really read what I am writing. He sets his beer on my desk to read with both hands. The beer he is drinking is in a glass growler. A growler holds half a gallon of beer. I decide that anyone who happens to be drinking half a gallon of beer is in the ideal condition to read what I have been writing. He reads half of it, hands it back to me, states, “This is definitively stream of consciousness,” and then picks up his growler to take his leave.

A woman fills in his place next to my desk, curious as to what I am up to. We talk and soon she requests me to write her a love letter for her husband.   He is not with her at the hotel at the moment, because the conference she is attending does not permit the presence of spouses. They both live here in Milwaukee, but she misses him terribly, so much so that she plans to sneak away (entirely illicit) from the meeting to go hear music with him at Summerfest.

My secret, the gemstone in the bottom of the boot pocket secret, I sneak out from this old world “no spouses allowed” 100 year anniversary company sales meeting, yes, I sneak out in my business casual saunter to the eastern lake breeze where I cannot be followed by national sales meeting spies because there are too many Ray Lamontagne fans like us protecting us from the hooks and grabbers of workplace responsibility & dutiful spouseless chastity and though there are many other persons in this crowd I can find you by smell. Your smell is half your charm the rest of your charm exceeds halves and quarters but is composed of well folded intellect, sideways swing humor, abundant love that reflects upon me, your wife, and here, here my dear, I hold a mirror. See yourself? You are with me always even when the parental forces of the national sales meeting say, “you two may not be.” Not true. I will be with you even if I must wear damp socks or lie about my whereabouts tomorrow. For you, for you, I skitter-skatter in the dark.

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Without Getting Even Slightly Frazzled

Dr. Hollander likes to talk and play at the same time. This afternoon he invites me to pull up a chair and keep him company.   He hasn’t any sheet music with him but there’s no song he can’t play on the lobby piano. Aware of this, I ask him to play “when the red, red robin comes a bob-bob-bobbin’ along.” He does a fast tempo ditty that is extra-extra upbeat and cheery that leads into a whole medley of songs all by the red robin songwriter, Harry Wood. The lounge rapidly vibrates with a goofy joy so infectious that 1920’s flappers flap right out of the curtains of the nearest window to tap dance upon some of the empty tabletops.

Dr. Hollander doesn’t seem to notice the flappers as he plays and talks. He tells me that Harry Woods was born without fingers on his left hand. Even though he didn’t have ten fingers, he learned to play the bass and wrote many songs. He was also a brawler who’d use his deformed hand to bash people repeatedly in the head. Still, let’s remember that he was the songwriter of the wildly popular “Try A Little Tenderness.”

Dr. Hollander talks and plays the piano at the same time without getting even slightly frazzled. “I can just express my feelings in all situations, historical, literary. I can escape from the real world, most of the problems just vanish when playing,” he sighs.   The more he plays a song the more he finds new ways to play it with his emotions. People ask home to play “Over the Rainbow” and “As Time Goes By” all the dang time, but he doesn’t mind. He finds a new way to play them each time, and it always matches his mood.

When Paul McCartney stayed, he asked Dr. Hollander to play “The Very Thought of You.” It was a song McCartney had heard a lot as a boy in Liverpool. Today a hotel guest requests him to play the “matchmaker song” from Fiddler On The Roof. And this is when I must report that Dr. Hollander did make a boo-boo. He started playing a cautious rendition of “Chim-chim Cher-ee” from Mary Poppins. However, he knew he might be wrong and asked us what it was he was playing. We told him what it was and then sang for him the right song, “Matchmaker, matchmaker make me a match, find me a find…” and Dr. Hollander started up with the correct song. He then played the entire song, including all the complicated bits that I forgot were in there. I am enthralled with the complete anthology in his mind.

Anthology enough to give those he meets individual theme songs.   Like how the night time manager, Chris gets “The Music of the Night.” Dr. Hollander will play a person’s theme any time he sees them enter the lobby area. He may be playing a different song, but he will instantly integrate the theme’s melody into the song he is playing. A large portion of the Pfister staff can claim their own theme song, but Dr. Hollander frequently remembers what out-of-town guests request too, and when he sees them in the lobby lounge again months or years later, he will play that song. Their song.

Dr. Hollander says he always hopes that Mr. Pfister (who is right by the piano) approves of what he plays.
Dr. Hollander says he always hopes that Mr. Pfister (who is right by the piano) approves of what he plays.

They Seem Very Busy

The woman does not want to be identified.

The woman can make you an iced coffee.

The woman frequently makes me an earl grey

with a side of questions concerning Harry Potter.

 

She first read Harry Potter as a high school student

back in her homeland, viagra the third major island

of the Philippines’ 7,107 total islands.

“I think every kid was inspired by Harry Potter,

he’s not perfect, he has a lot of flaws,

but the people around him make him strong.”

 

This management, accounting and law school graduate

has been in the states for a year now

working at her first job of all time

and has observed:

“Things are cleaner over here, purchase

and the people here are on their own always

instead of compounds of families all living together.

Things are very peaceful here,

but people have no time for other people

they seem very busy.”

 

She would tell me more

but a line has formed,

it is three in the afternoon

and everyone wants

a medium cappuccino

or some other brown dessert drink

that requires rituals & cream.

 

I go away to become busy

and am reminded of something

Joe Charney described before parting ways:

the ‘zombie grocery store,’

where Joe goes to get his food,

is a place where people go to ignore each other.

“They don’t mumble to themselves,

they pass each other,

but no action or reaction,

statement or thought,” he said.

People pushing their carts around

all demonstrate something he called, “the stare:

looking straight ahead, but not side-to-side.

They are unaware!

I often think that one of them could be stabbed

a little to the right of their field of vision

and they wouldn’t even notice.

Like horse blinders.”

 

I know what he was talking about,

but luckily here at the Pfister people greet each other

like in the elevator where I am asked,

“Hey, where’s your typewriter?”

And I say, “It’s heavy, I can’t lug it with me everywhere I go.”

“But heavy things are good for your muscles.”

“That’s true, but you see I have snake arms.”

I roll up my sleeve and expose my thin, straight arm.

The elevator rider laughs,

“Snake arms! I like that. I myself would call them ‘buggy whips.’”

 

Now there’s a term that is at least as old as the hotel,

pre automobile

and pre virtual fake reality network friendships.

‘Buggy whip.’

When horses wearing blinders

clomped down Wisconsin Avenue en masse.

 

I go back to the café and the line is finally gone.

I ask if I can take a picture of her tattoo,

and she says sure, it is not her face

though it has an eye of Horace

to represent restoration—

not bad luck

like some people think.

I think it’s pretty,

she got it here in the states

since in the Philippines it would be too controversial.

She tells me that both “The Da Vinci Code” author Dan Brown

and boy band “One Direction,”

have been banned from the country

she hopes one day to return to

though she now has a golden snitch

engraved on her arm to represent time flying.

 

25 Pedestrians of Milwaukee on a Friday at 4:30p.m.

On the twenty-third floor I go to the windows to learn about the pedestrians of Milwaukee.

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  1. A man is just off work from a job where they blast air conditioning, sick see his long sleeves? This man is free now but carries the burden of his day and his backpack as he wonders what lies underneath the manhole cover.

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  1. A car pulling into a parking garage politely avoids the fellow carrying a big soda.  Mr. Big Soda knows that though this particular car is polite, other cars might not be, so he must not sip his soda (no matter how massive it is!) until he is safely past the driveway entrance.

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  1. No hands.

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  1. Three friends all wearing plaid, blue jeans and backpacks. Very close friends. They also all appear to be very close in height and age.

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  1. Jogging man imagines he is Hermes with winged ankles, running through the Grecian skies with a news report for Zeus.

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  1. Woman just making sure the whole present is still in there. It would be terrible if she had forgotten part of it on the store counter when she bought all those rolls of tape.

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  1. He walks and texts, ignoring the sea of cement all around him.

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  1. A man jaywalks as bold and sure as the stripes on his shirt.

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  1. She walks so quickly she is almost out of the frame by the time my camera clicks.

DSCN588310. This woman has a water bottle that is so beautiful (of amber hue, with flower motif) that she carries it facing the hotel in the hope that the Pfister narrator will see it and extol its marvelous grace. Oh! And how I gasp!

DSCN588411. He thinks he can hide behind the “No Parking” sign, but he doesn’t know we can see his reflection in the window. Heh heh heh.

DSCN588812.  These two people don’t know each other, lead different lives and even walk in opposite directions in this realm, but in the land of the shadows they face the same way.

DSCN5889 13.  This guy has style.

DSCN589014.  This guy has an itch above his right ear.

DSCN589615.  I see so many people rolling luggage, carrying backpacks and bags downtown it appears as though there is a great migration taking place.

DSCN589916.  He doesn’t stop though he does consider the parking meter’s stasis.

DSCN590117.   Man clambers upon the motorcycle for a few thrilling moments and then gets off again. Its not his motorcycle.

DSCN590918.  Stylish bow tie fellow locks gaze with another man, as if to say, “You stay in the street. This curb belongs to me.”

DSCN591019.   Nice shoes, sir.

DSCN591420.  This guy knows that contrary to what the sign says, there is more than one way.

DSCN591621.  There goes number 21 and her green cell phone. It is amazing that I can see that she has a green phone all the way from the 23rd floor.

DSCN591722.  Woman has animated conversation with parked vehicle.

DSCN592023.  Everyone on this corner seems eager to leave it.

DSCN5927 24. This man takes wide strides as he walks.

 DSCN583825. Four people stop in the lot to pet this car. Good car, good.

“The Painting” By Joe

Mr. Joe Charney, cialis Pfister lobby lounge frequent visitor, has already been written about by the two hotel narrators before me. And much of what he told me was also accurately described in those blog posts. But not everything! Here you will see why Mr. Charney needs a third story, my story. Since quality journalism was demonstrated by both narrators Molly and Jenna, find this time Joe is getting an authentic free verse poem story thingo!

Once, before Joe knew this opulent palace,

or his European voyages

before, before all that

he was a boy with a painting in his room

well, it was a good reproduction of a painting

depicting horse riders

kicking up dust and pointing

perhaps to Joe’s own distant quests:

to attain commercial real estate

to acquire 18th century artwork, cheap

because like an omen

it all turned out to be true

when he came to the Pfister

he saw his own painting

well, the real one

hanging above the front desk.

That’s how he knows he belongs here

“in the warmth of a hug”

as he puts it.

“this is pure unadulterated perfection,”

as he puts it.

 

The moment is interrupted,

as Senator Kohl gets up from his chair and leaves the lounge.

Valerie, the mixologist calls after him, “I love you.”

Senator Kohl wears a green baseball cap.

 

“If you’re feeling low,

this is the place to go,”

continues Joe,

he gestures towards Valerie and tells me,

“She is much more advanced than a bartenderess,

she’s a… she’s a mixologist!”

I tell him I have never heard a woman bartender called a bartenderess before.

Says Joe,

“Well, it would be apropos,

she’s really a good looking female

and you must distinguish between the two.”

Joe cuts the fluff,

the nice fluff,

but enough

and goes into an hour long description

of the blog post he wants me to write

one day

but not today

about the cover up of the banking industry by the government.

I stop taking notes

because this is not for today

and he tells me I should change my name anyways

before I write the story he says he has for me

about “necessary evil.”

Joe asks me a lot of questions:

“Do you know what we’d have without the banking system?”

“Have you heard about getting on the merry-go-round?

“Commercial loans?”

He draws me a picture on a napkin.

“Do you understand now?

You never get to pay the loan back.”

He tells me a story and he even starts with a title.

I transcribe.

“The Painting

Mr. Marcus was standing in the lobby as the bank turned him down for a loan. The bank told him, ‘You must proceed to have investors with you and then you can come back to buy the hotel.’ Another man who happened to be in the lobby pointed to a painting and said, ‘Mr. Marcus if you buy this hotel I will give you a large sum of money to buy that painting.’ Mr. Marcus knew that in a locked room in an upper floor was a bunch of paintings, secure and waiting for a buyer to come along.

The room was full of appraisers and insurance people all contemplating the worth of these 18th century paintings. Mr. Marcus with papers in hand and the grand total entered into the bank, proceeded to tell the head of the bank he had enough equity from the paintings alone without a single dollar of his that would satisfy any loan that was given to buy the hotel.

This was circa fifty years ago when the paintings were worth more than the hotel. He really saved an iconic piece of architecture, which could not be reproduced today. This is also an evolution of great taste. Each renovation is better than the last.”

This is the whole problem with commercial loans.  You never get to pay back the principle.
This is the whole problem with commercial loans.

Hey Historians Of The Future, READ THIS!!!

I am at my typewriter when a woman comes up to me with a request for a love letter. The reason for her love letter being ordered: the two of them are apart while her partner goes on an extended trip to Boston, Winnipeg and Lake Forest to pursue the subjects of their interest, gender queerness and poetry. While negotiating her order, the woman’s two young sons both wanted to play with my typewriter, ride the bell carts and slide down the railing.

I joined the three of them for lunch in the café and we engaged in a conversation where I learned (and I would like to state here that this conversation was grown organically, and was not related in any way to the delicious Reuben sandwiches served) that artificial butter flavoring is lethal if inhaled. So lethal, that the workers who produce it must wear hazmat suits. Artificial butter like most artificial flavors is a byproduct of genetically modified bacteria. I did not know any of this. However, I do think I might have heard about human organs being printed out by machines and the human ears harvested on the backs of mice, both of which were brought up in this discussion. Side note: I hope the historians of the far future will one day read this blog.

This here is a hazmat suit.
This here is a hazmat suit.

After lunch, I went back to my typewriter to write the love letter. Something for you to understand is that the recipient of this letter is genderqueer and therefore gets a different pronoun than a man or a woman. In this instance they, them, their all refer to the recipient of the letter. Here is the letter:

 

Dear Winnipeg,

you have yourself a visitor

you have yourself a dragonfruit

you have yourself a starfruit

a bumbershoot

some reals bumblebee honey

a pouring

all across the gender queer conference

with their golden red

sweetness for hot toast

I miss them the most

in the morning

in the evening

in the allthetime.

My adrenals fatigue

without the jolt

of you entering the room

to sit down on the couch of my life

with the two jumping bean

boys a squirming

across the plush cushions.

And Boston, you lucky devil,

getting your back scratched

by the tip of their pencil

and comforted by the warm touch

of their working laptop!

I wish I were you, Boston.

I wish I were a carrot frying in their pan.

When they return, my eldest boy will help me cook the celebratory feast of stir fried Indian roti flavored hummus. All natural of course, no hazmat suit will be necessary.

I am committed to finding my love

inside the River Forest, inside the Lake Forest,

where trees are hewn from pure water,

fishes wishes and fishes kisses.

Under the Pfister Sky

In the lounge I spy a woman with two screens: a glowing tablet in her lap and a texting device in her hand.  I decide I must approach this woman of information. All at the same time she is reading, treat texting someone and telling me, “I’m not actually all that technologically advanced” and suggests that I ask one of her close friends about her because they’d confirm to me that she is not that quick on the gadgets.  Unfortunately, none of her friends are available for questioning here tonight since she is visiting from England.  She lives in England, but she was born in Scotland, Morag is her name.

Like any other living organism, Morag continues to grow layers, sections, rings and cells of ideas.  She studies anthropology and is enrolled at a Welsh university.  The glowing screen in her lap is open to a manuscript from her course on “Cultural Astronomy and Astrology.”  I ask her what the heck that’s all about and she gives me a simple noun: the sky.  “Everything in the sky has impacted every aspect of our lives.”  Morag explains that European cities have less sky and as a result many Europeans crave horizons.  American cities have much more horizon, more space to be filled.  She is nearly whispering and it is hard to hear her over the piano’s medley of Hollywood movie themes.  I ask her in my usual highly audible volume, “Is that why Americans talk so loud?” Morag shrugs, “Well, you have more expansive personalities.”  I agree with that statement with a great big “Mmmmm!”  Perhaps too emphatic because Morag quickly corrects herself, “But that is a gross generalization of course!”

Ah yes, I remember now, generalizations are dangerous!  Assumptions are dangerous!  New experiences are the antidote to ignorance!  Morag knows this truth by heart. She’s been to an ice bar in the Netherlands.  An ice bar is a place where you get dressed up in wooly clothes; a full snowsuit and you are given a drinking glass hewn of ice.  “Obviously you are drinking vodka,” she adds.  “You pay by the hour, but no one lasts longer than an hour at an ice bar.  And the whole while everyone there is giggling at you because you look ridiculous.”  Aside from being a university student she is a professional costume designer for operas and ballets.  She knows the fluidity of facades.  Even her haircutter has a dual life as a creative writer.  “Being a hairdresser informs her writing because she’s learned how to talk to people…  perhaps you can relate to that?”

Yes, I can.  Thanks for talking with me, Morag.

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Math Guy

What the heck am I doing at the 23rd floor bar as a solo woman in her 20’s with no intention to drink anything stronger than tonic water?  It’s 10 p.m., check all lights are mostly out, the voices are quiet, ice clinks.  I am sober as a bar of soap and about to sit on a bar stool next to two strange men.  Both are old enough to be my father so I decide to ask them about their lives.  Recently someone informed me that asking a person about their life is a task more intimate than even hitting on them.

I pull out my notebook and start collecting the tidbits.  Andy, the more talkative one describes his own city as “A rathole.”  Alright, I envision a large burrowing variety rat.

The guy sitting with Andy also has a name and comes from a city other than Milwaukee.  He has a face too, but he asks me not to take it with my camera because he claims he used to work for the central intelligence agency.  I’m just going to call this person “Math Guy” so that I don’t cause any trouble here.   As I sip my carbonated water, Math Guy informs me that he has been to “over 80,000 different bars” in his life.  He repeats this several times so it must be fact.  Andy guesses that 80,000 bars means Math Guy goes to three each week.  Math Guy adds defensively, “That number includes restaurant bars!”

80,000.  He just figured it out one day.  Just like that?  I ask him what prompted him to count.  Math Guy takes a long pause and wears a wearied look, “I’m a weird person.  A very mathematical person, but I’m not as good as I used to be.  When I was younger I any time I entered any room I would immediately be able to tell you how many people are in the room and how many are women and how many are men.”  Math Guy stands up dramatically and mutters, “Right now there are 24 people in this room,” before disappearing for the bathroom.

When he returns Math Guy starts asking me about my life like he wants to change the subject.  I don’t want to change the subject and soon Math Guy admits that if he hears six people recite their phone numbers the next day he will be able to accurately remember each person by their phone number and not their name.  He’s bad with names.  Math Guy says being so mathematical has caused him great suffering.  He says this slowly and with great hesitation.  I don’t ask about the suffering.

Instead, I go home and tell my dad (another math passionate guy) about Math Guy’s 80,000 bars.  My dad whips out a calculator and says, “If he is my age and he started going to bars at the legal drinking age, that’s 4.325 bars a day.  That would mean some some days he goes to four, and some days he goes to five.  All different bars?  I don’t believe him!”

Strangers become friends over food, paint and travel stories

[next_message styles=”2″ title=”Gathering of the Senses II”]We’re thrilled to bring our second iteration of Gathering Of the Senses on Saturday, March 15th at 5pm. Tickets are $95++ per person. RSVP by calling 414-935-5950 or emailing m1res@marcuscorp.com.

Find more information, including the full menu, visit here.[/next_message]

Last week, artist-in-residence Stephanie Barenz, executive chef Brian Frakes and I hosted an evening of painting, eating and travel story telling. Nine people attended the event, called “Gathering Of The Senses,” which took place in Stephanie’s studio.

Each participant submitted a photo from a recent vacation to trace onto a canvas and then paint after a brief instruction session by Stephanie. Sue’s photo was taken in Ireland; Grace’s in Istanbul; Erin’s in New Orleans; Cathy’s in Amsterdam; Randy’s in Gettsyburg; Hannah’s in Germany and Karen and Lori’s photos were from a trip they took together to Prague.

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Jenni’s photo was from Chicago, but then went on to say she actually had never been to the Windy City. For a moment I was perplexed, but then she explained she came to the event at the last minute with Erin, whose original date was ill and could not attend. (#goodsport!)

During the painting time, the participants told me the stories behind their travel photos / paintings. I felt moved by and connected to much of what they said, especially considering I have been to every place they were painting with the exception of Ireland and Istanbul.

However, both Istanbul and Ireland are high on my lists of places I want to travel.

Just last month, I met a friend in the Pfister’s Lobby Bar after her trip to Instanbul. It was the first trip she took without her husband who had passed away unexpectedly the year before. I was so enamored with her photos and travels I bought a book, “Istanbul” by Orhan Pamuk, and my partner and I vowed to go some day.

I have also always wanted to go to Ireland. I told Sue that even though my name is Molly and my beer of choice is Guinness, I am not Irish (even though people always ask) but I love all things Irish – including my partner who is 5/8th Irish.

Sue’s Ireland story was very touching because even though her mother passed away when she was 12, she felt her presence while visiting the same places she had been as a young girl.

Erin’s story of traveling in New Orleans with her sister was wonderful, too. She said it was during that trip that she and her sister evolved from siblings to true friends. This choked me up a bit as I am somewhat estranged form my sister for reasons that are unclear to me and I also have had some of my best life moments in the city of New Orleans.

The warm and adventuresome stories went on and on. Hannah reunited with family in Germany; Lori and Karen had the time of their lives in Prague despite the rain.

Cathy told us of boating atop the canals in Amsterdam and her husband, Randy, who is a history buff, had a fantastic time in Gettysburg.

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Chef’s dinner was truly a first for me – since I am not much of a foodie – but everything was absolutely delicious, from the firesalt kiln baked beef marrow (served in a bone) to the firecracker tempura mini flounder to milk chocolate malted mousse. The fact that all of the menu items were inspired by chef’s travels made the cuisine even more meaningful.

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The four glasses of wine that accompanied the meal got everyone even chattier and sharing more of themselves as the evening went on. This was my favorite part of the event, having the chance to connect with random, fun, interesting people whom I never would have met or gotten to know without the Pfister connection.

“When people come into my studio or to one of my gallery events I usually only get to talk to them for a few minutes,” Stephanie later said to me. “It was wonderful to spend an entire evening with a small group of people and really get to know them. I loved teaching them my painting process, learning about their personal travel stories and sharing a special meal prepared by our Executive Chef.”

A couple days after the event, I looked at photos of all of the finished paintings from the evening and wrote a haiku about each one. I then mailed the haiku on a postcard to each participant. When I dropped the postcards in the mailbox I felt a little wistful as it marked the end of a magical evening.