Chance meeting + a bit of Conversation + The Art of Letter Writing = Beautiful Friendship

People are great!

If you’re like me you are a person who enjoys a great variety of things, but even though a great many of these things warm my heart, nothing makes me feel as wonderful and content as meeting and getting to know good people.  People make my heart sing and I guess that makes me a people person.  Are you a people person too?

They write songs about people like me

When I meet someone who makes my heart sing I like to take action, hold on to them – not literally of course, but I try to keep them in my life, for as you may have discovered not everyone out there is a keeper.  Some people are grumpy and others are a bit too in love with themselves to need you or me. Then there are those bored souls, bored with life even though the world is so full of a number of things, and because they find everything so boring they themselves become boring.  I wish these people well, but I don’t invite them into my world unless I can help them in some way. If that doesn’t seem possible I move on.

But when I do encounter a person I really like, well, there’s always room for one more friend. That’s how I feel anyway, how about you?

I have learned not everyone thinks as I do though, and I learned this the hard way – through personal experience.


When I first moved away from home I was given the name of a person, a friend of a friend, and I was told to look this person up, give her a call.  I telephoned this gal with great anticipation, but was I surprised when instead of being friendly she gave me a very cold reception and actually told me she had enough friends and wasn’t interested in meeting me.


That encounter was quite pitiful for sure but it did teach me a thing or two.  I learned not everyone is a people person  and I now realize why some cautious or fragile souls never reach out to strangers. There is definitely some risk, it’s true, but  I’m happy to report I never met anyone so unfriendly ever again, in fact, I’ve met many wonderful individuals, quite a few by chance, and a good many of them have turned into lovely friends.

So If you’re looking for a few more in-person friends or pen friends I suggest you keep your eyes and heart open as you travel through your daily life.  Simply by sharing a smile and then engaging in conversation if that smile is returned, wonderful, friendly things can happen. They happen for me and they can happen for you too.

The porch at The Red Lion Inn
There was the time I was sitting on the porch of the beautiful Red Lion Inn In Stockbridge, Massachusetts and I noticed a young woman with her parents and her small, sweet son.  Her son reminded me of my own sons when they were young so I said hello and struck up a conversation.  In the days that followed I ran into Carole and her son, Ewan, a few more times.  The subject of letter writing came up as it always does with me and it was decided we’d exchange addresses and keep in touch by letter.  Now, years later and many letters later, we’re still communicating, and one of these days I’d love to meet her once again back at The Red Lion Inn because it’s still a favorite retreat to both of us.

Speaking of Stockbridge, I met another most interesting and talented person while there.  I was visiting The Norman Rockwell Museum and began talking to one of the museum’s docents in Rockwell’s studio.  It was the end of the day and he asked me where I was from, a question I’m sure he asked all the visitors, but we were both amused that my home was near the place he grew up.

The museum was quiet so we chatted for a time and I learned James was an artist in his own right.  He pulled out some photographs of paintings he had created and I was quite impressed with his skill.  In fact he had created a large painting of The Red Lion Inn that was hanging in its lobby.  I in turn told him all about my love for The Art of Letter Writing.  We had many appreciations in common so it seemed tragic to meet and then as quickly lose touch forever, so keeping in touch through letters seemed to make sense. We became pen friends.

An illustration from one of James’ letters
Not only was James a fine artist but he wrote wonderful letters too.  This was not surprising to me because some of my favorite correspondents have been men.   Not many men in our modern world think of writing letters, but of those who do, many are quite masterful.  The content of James’ letters was always thoughtful, and  most interesting, but what was even more wonderful was the art work he included.  Being an artist, James illustrated many of his letters and though I’ve gotten lots and lots of very artful letters in my day, no one until James had ever illustrated their letters to me.

I could tell you stories of so many lovely people, kindred spirits I encountered in chance meetings, people who lived far away from me, but for one brief shining moment our paths crossed.  These people could have slipped out of my life forever, but because of letter writing, these meetings continued in a personal and artful manner, blossoming into real and meaningful relationships.

Evelyna and her bakery
Such a meaningful relationship developed between me and this lady, Evelyna, a most talented baker.  There she was selling her delicate cookies at a craft show and they caught my eye because I too dabble in the art of patisserie.  When I’m not writing letters I enjoy whipping up goodies and inviting people in for afternoon tea. The custom of Afternoon Tea, like The Art of Letter Writing, is a forgotten pleasure in today’s world, a pleasure I encourage and promote.

Cookies almost too pretty to eat
I knew anyone who could and would create such lovely bits of edible art  was someone I needed to know so I struck up a conversation with Evelyna and not only that, I invited her to one of my teas.  Evelyna accepted my invitation and from that day forward we kept in touch, often by letter even though we live in the same city. Evelyna’s letters are truly as artful as her bakery and I’m so glad I acted on our chance meeting not letting the opportunity for friendship escape.

Then there was the day I was visiting my son who was in graduate school at UCLA. We decided to lunch at Cafe Marcel on the Promenade in Santa Monica, California.

Cafe Marcel
This charming French restaurant was the scene of yet another chance encounter which turned into a warm and lovely friendship.

Deborah and Amelia

Deborah sat across from us with her sweet little daughter Amelia.  I asked Deborah to take a picture of me and my son and a few words were exchanged, then a few more. Deborah, a social worker, wife, and mother with loads of responsibility and stress in her life was like most modern people today.  Busy, busy busy!  And like most people she was not into The Art of Letter Writing and not even used to strangers like me starting conversations with her, but by the end of lunch when I suggested we keep in touch she graciously accepted the invitation.  But, after a few letters, she admitted to feeling a little leery of this very friendly stranger, me, reaching out to her in friendship that day a few months ago.  After all, who does that sort of thing?  Answer: I do!  And I hope you do too, or will.  As my friendship and letters with Deborah continue (with one in-person visit back at the cafe in the meantime) I think she is realizing just how beautiful and valuable The Art of Letter Writing and chance meetings can be, especially to the busy, modern day person. Here’s an excerpt from one of Deborah’s early letters:

“Forgive me for not responding sooner to your gracious letter.  Truly, I was very moved by your kindness, almost to the point of tears.  Simple acts of kindness, of taking the time in a slow way, are so rare in this day and age, in my world anyway, that I was struck by your appreciation of me and my daughter.  It is sad that there is so much distrust, almost paranoia in the air, that just being a nice, loving, open person like you should disarm, but it does.  And I think this is the first time I’ve received a handwritten letter that was not a card or a thank you note or some such, in a long time.  I can see the importance and the power of your epistolary movement.  I think there is research on the merits for brain development, of eye-hand co-ordination, of learning to think and consider, in writing by hand, most importantly for children – instead of typing.  It’s particularly scary to think how many children are going straight to computer in elementary school.  Handwriting is a filter for the mind and soul.”

Deborah is sure articulate, as well as lovely to behold, wouldn’t you agree?

Flying to San Francisco
I could go on and on telling you of many more people I’ve come to know and love because of chance meetings and the extra help of The Art of Letter Writing, but it’s time I run along and write a letter to a young fellow who sat next to me on a recent plane trip to San Francisco. This amiable fellow, Sergej, was from Switzerland. He was a law student there. On the five hour ride through the air we spoke off and on discussing his studies, my love of letters, and many others things.  When I finally asked him if he would write back to me should I send him a letter, he replied, “Of course, it’s only polite to do so.”  So I shall now say hello to Sergej and  goodbye to you. But ’til we meet again, remember to be open to those kindred spirits who pop into your life.  Just because they may live far away from you needn’t be any reason to give up on possible friendship – just suggest you continue your initial conversation by letter. and If these people are really nice you can suggest they write to me too.

So till next time,

Bye Bye

It’s Apple Blossom Time for Sharing Tea – Visiting Day!


There’s a time to work and a time to play.

Today is a play day.  Today I’m  going visiting.  Today I’m not playing the part of hostess.  Today I am playing the part of guest!

Today it’s my friend Andy who is playing the part of host.  He’s  invited me to tea.

Andy has also invited my friend Evelyna to tea.

When was the last time you were invited to tea?

When you give, good things come back to you.  If you entertain now and then, chances are,  from time to time you will be entertained as well.

It’s another beautiful day in my neighborhood, a grand day to go visiting, but then any day is a grand day for friendship and visiting.

Evelyna and I arrive at Andy’s house and we are greeted by a glorious apple tree bursting with color.  It is apple blossom time you know!


 Evelyna  is so delighted with this tree she runs up to it and caresses its  blossoms  I can’t blame her.  I want to do the same thing.


The beauty of nature is all around  us here in Andy’s yard.


There are all sorts of  romantic, old fashioned garden structures at every turn.  They  enchant us.


We approach the wisteria-covered arbor and slowly make our way to the door , all the while admiring the beauty of nature on this lovely Spring day.

When finally at the door we knock and…


Andy appears – all smiles.  “We’re here”, we say.  “And we’re bearing hostess gifts.  Evelyna brought one of her famous pumpkins rolls  and I brought Andy one of my favorite  books of spiritual meditation.


We sit relaxing like ladies of leisure,  talking to Andy from the next room while he  fusses in the kitchen with last minute details…


and then it’s off to the tea table which is set beautifully just for our pleasure.  How wonderful!


More fresh apple blossoms grace the table and Andy has set  little boxes of chocolates at  our plates.  They serve as sweet  favors.

Lunch is simple, but delicious – chicken salad croissants accompanied by fresh fruit.


Andy even decorated our plates with apple blossoms.  What a guy!  When it’s apple blossom time we should all take advantage of the splendor and bring those blossoms in to be enjoyed up close.  That’s true of all the lovely flowers blooming in our Springtime gardens – lilacs, lily of the valley… Everything!

The ice water on our table was garnished with orange slices and the tea was cherry flavored.  There was also a delicious broccoli soup.

 Our tummies were happy and full, but there was more.  Evelyna,  being a master baker, decided to bring  a bit of dessert,


It’s nice to have friends who are master bakers… masters at anything, especially if they share their mastery with  their friends.

Evelyna brought us two goodies.  She made  raspberry lemon tartletts.  They consisted of a butter cookie shell filled with lemon curd and garnished with fresh bursting  raspberries and  mint.  She also made walnut mocha squares.  These squares are a Croatian recipe.  They consist of brown sugar pastry topped with espresso infused mocha cream  (YUM!)  and garnished with chocolate beans.

Evelyna  tells us the delicious chocolate beans are  hard to find, but she has a source –  shops called  “Earth Fare”.  They carry the luscious little gems should you want to buy some for yourself.

Evelyna’s goodies

We ate.  We drank. (tea)  We chatted.

 Though all of us are  busy, it is so very nice, and quite civilized,  to pause now and then  taking time for tea –  taking time to appreciate  nature –  taking time to foster friendship.  Two hours of this repast and off we went… refreshed!  We returned to our lives  with renewed contentment and the  warm fuzzy glow that only beauty and friendship can provide.


Take Time!   Take Tea!   Take Joy!

French food anyone?

I love French food – so yummy, French people  – so chic,  the French language – so musical, and a trip to France –  so romantic, so naturally when I heard about a French cafe and bakery I had to investigate

The blue door
     Friends told me about this establishment,  the Blue Door Cafe,  and it’s aptly named,  for it truly does have a blue entrance door, but curious and hungry minds like mine (and maybe  like yours) want to know just exactly what is behind this blue door.  I took it upon myself to find out.

I stepped inside and was shown to a table.  A quick look around told me the place was clean and  that’s always most important in a restaurant. The Blue Door is not a fancy place, but that’s ok with me because  restaurants that are too slick often lack charm. (And if you’ve ever been to Europe you’ll agree that many of the restaurants  in small villages there are quite  unpretentious too.)

I was smart to arrive at The Blue Door on an off hour, not the morning breakfast time  nor the busy lunch  rush, so the place wasn’t very crowded.


This was good for me because I was able to talk to the staff, ask  many questions, and of course,  Take Pictures!


And here  they are!  Meet the people behind the scene who make the kitchen run like clockwork.  Happy-looking people, aren’t they?  Maybe they’re so happy because their work day is nearly over and they’ll be free to go home soon, but I suspect they’re always  happy because they love their work, and happy bakers make happy, delicious food.

The girls
 And here are the girls who take the orders, work behind the counter,  deliver the food,  do the cleanup and probably do a lot more too … they do it all with big smiles on their faces and I think that’s very  important.  My spiritual directives tell me we should all be of service to others, but we must do our work with joy or it doesn’t count at all.

Mike, The owner and head baker
And here’s THE MAN, the man behind the whole operation.  This is Mike.  He told me about his training and some of his  plans for the restaurant.  I applaud him.  It’s important we all pursue our dreams and that’s exactly was Mike is doing, and I’ll tell you, he makes a mean croissant.  Take a look at the delicious sandwich I ordered.

The Croissant Monsieur
This sandwich is the Blue Door’s version of a traditional French Bistro style sandwich (using a house made large croissant) with extra bold imported Dijon mustard, Leoncini ham, cave-aged imported Gruyere, and house-made bechamel/ served with house-made chips.  I enjoyed it very much along with  a cup of their delicious  house ground Angel Falls coffee, coffee that is  made right here in Akron, Ohio.

If you have a chance to go to France… Go! … by all means, but if not, go to the Blue Door Cafe for breakfast or for  lunch.  Watch a little of A Year in Provence first, and then step into the cafe and let the food take you the rest of the way,  away to a French experience – at least  to a French food experience.

The mission of the Blue Door Cafe is to offer you, their guest, an ever-changing menu full of healthy, creative and house-made dishes using as many of the freshest, high-quality and local ingredients as possible.

If you love good food as I do, good French food, and if you live anywhere near Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio this place is for you, but if you’re reading this from some far off location I hope I haven’t made you too hungry.  I hope you can find a good French cafe and bakery to enjoy in your own area, but if not,  take out your cook books and try to make your own croissants and brioche.  Necessity is the mother of invention.

Bon Appetite!