The National Exemplar to Exemplary Family to Friday Nights


I had never been to the National Exemplar for dinner during my entire time having lived and visited Cincinnati and now I have been twice. I was not knocked by the first meal I had there. A burger and a side salad. I was knocked by the mixed veggies that someone let me taste, but my second meal was delicious. I never order chicken in a restaurant. Blah! I make chicken. I eat it a lot! I get bored with it. This chicken was yummy! It was so simple and yet tasty with a side of various roasted vegetables. I would have taken a picture of the meal but the restaurant is dark wood paneling and then a storm was raging outside so the windows were filled with darkness. Take my word on it. It was good. As I said, really bad storm caused us to take an hour to get there. It was nasty! We finally arrived my friend Stephen drove in his pimp mobile. Black car, black windows, black upholstery. Scary. We met Mare and her beau Frank. We ate and gabbed for hours.



My cousin Pam is like me or maybe I am like her. She is the party/event planner. She is so good at it! After all the times she comes to Cincy to visit with all of us, it was nice that we were going to hike it up a bit closer to her home. She heard of a restaurant called The Red Onion in Monroe, Ohio. She thought it might be good for my blog. We all arrived and there was a big for rent sign on the front door. We all scrambled to find another joint. I tried to flag down a Sheriff to ask him, but he flat out ignored my incredibly urgent need for help.


Pam had also discovered a place called Stained Bistro (now called Murphy’s in downtown Middletown). I wasn’t to keen on a restaurant called Stained, but when we finally arrived there the reasoning behind it was evident. Stained Glass windows. The place was so quaint. Actually, it was very pretty.


I love stained glass windows. I never thought we would get there, because when I called for directions, it went a little like this…”Drive a block and you will come to a four-way intersection. There is a Shell station on one corner, a McDonald’s on the other corner. My son Jimmy just loves McD’s. He gets strawberry milkshakes. His mama gets chocolate. The other corner has a Subway. Don’t you just love their bread and the fourth corner has another gas station. I think it is a BP or is it PB…no that stands for peanut butter. BP. Behind it is an old factory. It has been out of business for years, but the sign is still up it reads…” It was the longest set of directions I have ever received. Torturous. Kind, but torturous! Pam, Debbie, Kathy and Connie were in their cars chomping at the bit to go, and here I am standing in the driveway of the closed for rent Red Onion listening to tales of times past.


After a curvy drive from Monroe to Middletown we arrived at the stained place. I ordered a chopped tossed salad that was so darn tootin’ good. I think it had slivered almonds in it and I had a bite of crunch each and every bite. Delicious!


Pam had a bloody mary that had a piece of bacon in it! I of course had to take a pic of that!


We sat and we gabbed. I really love these ladies. So fun, so nice. So easy to be with and they are family…on my way home, I stopped at the outlet mall and wandered. I had only been with an ex-boyfriend on his time frame and so it was nice to be on my own. Then I went to Ikea and slowly wandered through there as well.


Friday nights at my condo building are all about food around the pool and tikki lights around the pool. The lifeguard usually Jim (this time Devon). I am known for my homemade ice cream. I have a recipe. It always tastes good, but I always have to practice nailing the consistency of it. Why can’t I get the consistency of that down right each and every time? Drives me batty. Same with the homemade yogurt that I get right every third try and then get frustrated and just go buy it from the store.


Something very odd happened at the last Friday night at the pool. I was talking to this really neat gal named Joan and she asked about my mom and I was telling her the incredibly odd tale of my mom and stepdad and how he was in Savannah and my mother in Florida, and as I am telling her, the story in CINCINNATI, OHIO the tale of my stepdad in SAVANNAH, GEORGIA, she says to me. “Does he live on Skidaway Island?” I nearly fell over! Yes, he does, I replied. She said, “I know the story. I have a friend who lives there and she told me!” Butter my buns and call me Lucy! How flippin’ weird is THAT!!!!! It’s a small world after all. Smaller still my stepdad is from Piqua and her first husband’s (some relative) is from there too.


The next day, I went to meet my wonderful and I do mean wonderful friend Jules, who I know from Sanibel and who lives in Indy and I am meeting her for a Relay for Life walk in some small town in Indy. Jules and I have been friends for over twenty years. She is a great friend. A wonderful person. She and her sisters and mother do this walk every year! This was my first year joining them for a small bit of it. Their dad, a wonderful man died last year after battling cancer. Jules takes after her dad. He was the nicest man. Didn’t know a stranger!


I came back from the race and went from small town Indy to la dee da Indian Hill for a graduation party. My friend Josh, who I have been friends with since we were 5 years old. His daughter just graduated from high school. She had it rough in the sense that she had to choose where to go to college based on where she was accepted. Harvard, Stanford and Penn. She chose Harvard. I tried to sway her to her childhood favorite Stanford, but she wanted Harvard. Unless Harvard has changed, the undergrad experience there is difficult. Unlike Yale, where they go out of their way to introduce you to the incoming freshman class, the people in your house, the people in your major, etc. Harvard just says welcome to Harvard these are your suitemates. Enjoy the joint. Are you just so psyched to be within the Ivy walls? Then there is the issue of professors. Rumor is you don’t get a lot of them. You get their teaching assistants. I could be wrong or it may have changed, but that was the scuttlebutt when I went to grad school there. I loved Harvard for grad school, but my friends that did undergrad there, didn’t. You stay for the name. The doors that open for you. The connections. And let’s face it, Cambridge, Mass is a pretty special place in a fabulous albeit cold and sun setting damn early city. (It feels like it sets @ 3pm! But I think it is 4!)


Here I am at Josh’s house. I see my first love’s sister and her hubby who I love! Glad I am not with her brother, but she is awesome and I love her hubby! I see Josh’s brainy child, who is the sweetest girl. She is so wonderfully down-to-earth for a gal who is so bright! There is an array of couches and comfy chairs under a beautiful canopy tent. There are men from a sushi restaurant making rolls to your liking. It was a lovely party.


I sit with Josh’s mom, who tells Josh’s wife’s mother that she thinks Josh and I are soul mates. I thought, “Are you kidding me, Dabby! You don’t do that! I have to laugh! We have been friends since we were 5! I always liked his best friend Jon. Josh and I would have certainly killed each other had we ever fallen in love. Okay, I would have killed him! I love the guy, but not like that and I think he is a great, bright guy but marry him. NO WAY in HELL!!!!


I go to find the cat that an old girlfriend gave Josh…TWENTY-ONE YEARS AGO that is STILL alive! I always thought that was brilliant! You give a man an animal and if he breaks your heart he has a constant reminder of you and in this case it was 21 years and still going. UNBELIEVABLE! I always liked that cat. Why didn’t I give my old boyfriends that got under my skin animals as a parting gift? The irony of it, cracks me up!


I leave the party and drive a few houses down to visit my Aunt Connie. I think I will visit for about 45 minutes and stay two hours. She is 94 years old and she and I have had little time to just talk and so we did. She is a really neat lady! I really like her. She talks about her talented brother and shows me his art and even gives me a few postcards of his etchings. He worked in metal, wood, on paper with pencil, chalk and oil. INCREDIBLY talented!!! She talks about how amazing he was, but she is a REALLY neat, neat lady!


I drive home and realize that after breaking up with the old beau that I always traveled through Indian Hill with such trepidation and fear of seeing him. As I drive home, I realize it is gone. I have been done for a long time with him, but now, I am not even worried about seeing him. I don’t care. It is a nice feeling.


I go home and pack my bag for Florida. I hate doing laundry. I wouldn’t mind it if the machine was in my unit but I have to go downstairs to the laundry room to do it. So, I pack a suitcase full of dirty underwear and bras to take home. I have other clothes in Florida. I sure hope I don’t have a bag search tomorrow, now that would not be fun or pretty!



Until we meet again…


Enjoy! Eat, travel, laugh…often….



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