Wednesday was a day of reckoning, a reckoning for all my eating transgressions during the month long stay in Italy.
"It was impossible to resist." I told Michael, even before setting foot on his scales.
Michael has checked my health once a year for twenty years, twenty years of the ups and downs of the line that plots my weight. He is an old windsurfing buddy of Malcolm's, a treasured friend to both of us and an excellent doctor, the one who discovered my cancer almost twenty years ago.
"The daily four course lunches with Enza did it," I pleaded in mitigation.
Michael did not grant me so much as a smile as his finger steadily tapped the weight block along the arm of the machine. I prayed for the scale to balance before the weight went any further to the right, but even God was making me suffer. Never had I been so heavy.
"Well olive oil is good for you and I did consume a mass of it," I suggested in vain.
I feel now as though I am in detention. I am denied bread, no more raisins in my oatmeal, no olives, much reduced coffee and a whole stream more that, in my horror, I failed to take in but I know will be listed in the dreaded follow-up letter.
I am pleased to report that Malcolm was in just as much trouble. It is a comfort to share trouble. Michael told him he needs to shed twenty pounds and give up wine. He said he would rather just step up his blood pressure medicine, buy the next size of pants and stick to the wine. That was not met with approval.
I did not mention to Michael our visit the previous evening to The Bellisimo Restaurant in Fairfax. I had intended to do so because I thought he would then take Marian, his wife, there for an anniversary celebration. After the roasting he gave me about eating, I changed subjects by asking him to tell Malcolm the idea of buying a motorcylce in Italy is ridiculous, given how old he is.
Since we moved to Mathews ten years ago, Margaret and Michael Moser, owners of The Moser Gallery, have made twice yearly pilgrimages to our distant neck of the woods, bringing their customers' paintings for me to sign. This year, due to my tight program, it was impossible for them to come to me and so we went them. That is how we ended up as guests of Margaret and Michael in The Bellisimo Restaurant, an Italian restaurant of great merit.
I am not going to inflict on you a detailed description of yet another Italian meal. I will just say that my salad of finely shaved fennel dressed with olive oil, pecans and goat's cheese, was yet another first experience that, along with Malcolm's appetizer of mussels and escargot in a clear lemon sauce, assured us the whole meal would be a delight and so it was.
Following a full meal that included shared desserts, I felt no after effects and passed a peaceful night. I believe the mark of authentic Italian cooking is how the meal treats people of my age, whose matablism has slowed. (Note: I am now an authority on metabalsim thanks to Michael explaining why I must eat less). True Italian cuisine does not involve animal fats or ingredients difficult to digest.
We stayed the night in The Bailiwick Inn, opposite Fairfax County Court House, a block from the restaurant. The Bailiwick is one of only seven listings for Virginia in the 2003 Historic Hotels of America Directory. If you ever have a reason to treat yourselves to something special in Northern Virginia, I recommend booking the George Mason Room in this exquiste inn. Although the room is on the front side of the house and facing the historic Fairfax Court House, no sounds penetrate it's elegant tranquility. In spite of there being violence and intrigue in the nearly two hundred years of the existence of the house, I suspect amongst those who passed nights in this room, there was much contentment. The room has a happy and restful karma.
Built circa 1809 with brick imported from England, the Federal-style mansion, that is now named The Bailiwick Inn, is on what was the Ox Road, an old toll road. The house witnessed one of the first skirmishes of the Civil War, the Battle of Fairfax Court House. In this action, Captain John Quincy Marr was killed on the front lawn, becoming the war's first Confederate casualty. Soon after, Antonia Ford, the Confedrate spy, paid frequent visits to the house. There is more history than I have related and for those interested it can be read at www.bailiwickinn.com.
If you like historic places but do not want to stretch to staying the night at the Bailiwick, you can visit the house for afternoon tea or for dinner in its restaurant. By the way, Bailiwick is an old English word for the area around the court house. Oh! One last point of interest, there are some intriguing looking antique shops close by. Unfortunately they were closed by the time we arrived. I hope to return one day.
The Barn this weekend:
More than one thousand of you visited me at the Barn between Friday and Sunday. Thank you. Your kindness touches me deeply and is the source of my inspiration. After a wet start, the rain, at last, moved on and the sun took over, giving us perfect weather for the second half of the three days.
What particualarly delighted me was the number of young families visiting for the first time. I love it when I hear of my images decorating the bedroom of a young child. I feel as though my paintings are contributing to the building of the child's appreciation of art. The Society's Fledgling junior membership is growing steadily, another encouraging sign for me.
Before leaving Waynesboro, I toured the preschool children's art display set up in the studio part of the Museum. Our Preschool Art Program is a joint venture of the Foundation and the Museum and is funded by the Society. I congratulate Dell Philpott and Corrado Gabellieri for organizing the program. Also, Amy Howard, the art teacher, Lance Allen, rhythm and music leader, Connie Harlow, Head Start teacher, and Boo Elkins, Manager for the Virginia Preschool Initiative, for their commitment and the Society for its generosity.
As you know, I have been away from my easel for much of the past two weeks. This will change on Thursday when Malcolm and I arrive on Isla Bocas del Toro, off the North coast of Panama. (Now a little piece of Geography! Most people incorrectly think Panama lies North/South in its position as the isthmus joining North and South America. If you enter "Republic of Panama" in your search engine and look at the map you will see Panana lies East/West. At the Western end of the North coast and only a few miles from Costa Rica you find the archipelago of Bocas del Toro). My air-conditioned studio is waiting for me in Bocas and by the next newsletter I will have visual proof for you that I am back in full harness.
The big event on my return from Panama will be our National Collectors' Convention in Richmond. Please bear with me a moment more while I tell you about an important new benefit for convention attendees and also an incentive to encourage you to stay at the convention hotel.
Convention Signing: Starting with the Richmond convention, you may bring two prints to the convention for me to personalize. If you have framed or unframed prints at home that you would like to have me personalize, please bring them with you. I will be happy to add names and dates; please, though, do not ask me to write whole sentences. It takes too long and makes a mess of the image.
Convention Hotel: We have reserved 300 rooms at the Downtown Richmond Marriot for convention-goers. Staying at the hotel adds so much to your enjoyment of the whole event and is an easy and relaxing way to catch the cocktail party opening on Friday and the events on Saturday. As a special thank you for those of you staying at the hotel, we are making 300 porcelain miniature vases decorated with one of my drawings and inscribed "Richmond 2003". These vases will be available, one per person, to the first 300 who register and stay for at least one night in the hotel. I will give you more details next week but, in the meantime, please give thought to booking in for one night or more.
Not everyone reads this Internet newsletter. If you have friends who might come to Richmond, please give them a call or, if they are on the Internet, forward this letter to them using the link at the bottom of the page.
To finish, I must return to the beginning subject of this letter, my reprimand from Michael. I was sounding somewhat flippant in what I said above but I assure you both Malcolm and I are taking Michael's admonitions seriously and are changing our habits. I am hoping that those of you who share our weight problem will join me in making a determined effort to once again shed some of the excess and this time keep it off for ever.
Until next week! Hasta la proxima semana!(or is it semana proxima?)
Comment by Pat: We enjoy meeting friends in distant places. I remember our disappointment years ago when we found a note on our car window that said. "We saw you walking by the lake and then again at dinner last night but did not want to infringe on your privacy." We were in a small town on the North shore of Lake Constance in Southern Germany. If you spot us come and say hello. Hey, then we know we must be on our best behavior!