Wednesday, April 30, 2014

You Always Know When She's Coming and Where She's Been

Reunions are in the air this week, both Heavenly and earthbound it seems. As I mentioned a couple of posts ago, my cherished hometown friend Lydia and her husband John visited with me on a stopover here and as always, Miss Lydia knows how to make an entrance. When I first met her eons ago, my first sight of her was tumbling down the center aisle of the First Baptist Church sanctuary, all gangly arms and legs and a laugh and smile as big as Texas. She's never stopped entering a room or a life any differently, both are made instantly brighter upon arrival. 

Sure enough, on this visit, Lyd had me stirred up before I had even laid eyes on her. I asked her to keep me abreast of her arrival time as I had to time it out with errands and my going to work at the hotel where she would also be staying that night.  The previous night, I went to bed thinking they would be arriving at 3 pm that Saturday which would work out perfectly as I could pick them up at the airport on the way into work. That morning I woke up to her text saying, true to form...

"We're coming earlier to beat the storm, around 11-11:30...damn the tornadoes!"

Indeed, we had very unsettled weather over the weekend and as it was a major snowstorm the last time they flew their own small plane in to visit; I should not be surprised that crazy weather be the case again.  Next text quickly thereafter:

"No worries, we'll be there in another three hours". 

At which point, I relaxed and Keith and I went about running our errands before I went to work. No sooner had we begun, then the next text:

"Actually, we'll be there in 45 minutes."
Then: "John says we'll be there in 15 minutes"
Then: "We're landing!"

...all in the succession of a few minutes, which resulted in me riotously running in circles about the house like the proverbial poultry. Darling Lyd ,of course, also chose an extremely busy weekend for the hotel to stay at the Elms, so their first night was a whirlwind a two weddings, a writer's retreat and the first night of a Triumph classic car convention.

 No amount of fancy hoopla could outshine my  Lyd, though. In the middle of the night when she couldn't sleep, she sauntered down to the lobby and into the Grand Ballroom where she proceeded to play the piano and serenade our staff while they cleaned up after one of the events. Picture her wailing away on "Sweet Caroline" while the banquet staff sang the chorus with her. That's my girl in all her glory and damnation, do I wish I had video of this.

The next day we would meet for lunch and introduce our friends to the joys of the Willow Springs Mercantile and the supreme hospitality of owners and friends Daphne and Jim. Daphne led them through a Missouri wine tasting and demonstrated her impressive know-how on Missouri wines.

 We settled in for a relaxing lunch, but as life with Lyd is rarely boring, we soon saw this pop up:

...turns out there's no better shelter we could take than in Willow's cozy wine cellar and thankfully the weather didn't yield any twisters over us. We and our guests unwound once again and noshed on Willow's bacon-cheddar dip, gourmet grilled cheese with red pepper hummus and spinach and roast beef wraps with bacon-gorgonzola mayo while enjoying a nice bottle of semi-dry Alluvium red from Augusta Winery.

Once we had finished sharing a goat cheese and honey tart for dessert along with steaming cups of Highlander Grogg java to fend off the new chill in the air, we departed to take them a tour of the Hall of Waters. She was immediately drawn to the vintage spa equipment as evidenced below:

Back at the hotel, the Elms lobby was hopping with classic car enthusiasts.  Despite all of the madness, Lyd and I shared deep, meaningful moments and candid conversations; the kind of heartfelt shares that only chums of a lifetime experience and indeed, we are blessed to enjoy just that kind of friendship. It was an afternoon of hearty laughter, warm tears and revelations that simply deepen an already strong bond. Over a breakfast of bagels with smoked salmon at the hotel on the following Monday morning, we recounted our weekend and soon I was off to return them to their plane.

Lord knows our lives have changed a thousand-fold over the years. We marveled about how we are reuniting in western Missouri of all places, with our soulmates at our sides, and how we could never have predicted we'd be where we were in life at that moment. Other things in life blessedly stay the same, though: my beloved Lydia still knows how to make an entrance, bursting into my life in the most over-the-top, joyous way and she still knows how leave my life as well: a little richer and warmer than it was before.

My sweet Lyd: whatever may be going on in that crazy life of yours, you are always YOU and for that I am ever grateful.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Yeah, I Don't Think So

Looking to lighten up with some humor once again and once I saw this on Twitter, it did the trick.  This attempt at "Healthy McDonald's" may be the purest example of Pinterest Ideas Gone Wild I've seen yet. I'm all for healthy eating ideas as opposed to the perils of fast food, but if a kid craving a Quarter Pounder gets handed this fruity concoction instead, well, they might not be quite as pumped.
Still, points for creativity, no?
My first chuckle of the day...
...courtesy of

Monday, April 28, 2014

A Heavenly Reunion Sadly Grows

I am very stunned and saddened to learn of the unexpected passing of my Uncle Albert. He was a wonderful man who was always so good to check on his sister, my Mother, as the struggles of age have challenged them both. Mom treasured her brother Albert and I wish they could have seen each other again. I'm sad for Mom being the last Rinehart sibling left and I am brokenhearted for our Florida family...the loss of both Albert Sr. and his son Albert Wayne would be great in any capacity, but the double loss so close together is so heavy a weight for them all to bear. I pray for strength, peace and comfort for Aunt Carrie and all of the family through the coming days. 
I will continue to find solace in the Rinehart reunion that continues to grow in Heaven. I continue to picture this celestial welcoming committee that now includes my father and sister and now Al Jr., surrounding Uncle Albert as he walks in. Comforting aromas of homemade food waft through the air as does the sweet sound of great and powerful and truly Heaven-sent laughter. 
 Lord, its a beautiful scene. 
RIP Uncle Albert.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Catfish Joint Redux

K and I used to go with his parents to a fun little catfish joint at the Lake of the Ozarks called Camp Bagnell.  It was a homey little honky-tonk place where they had cold beer on tap, tasty fried catfish and tender brisket and frog legs that Keith's dad enjoyed. Camp Bagnell sadly burned down and we hadn't been anywhere similar until fellow Posse members Carl and Charlotte tuned us into The Fish Market off old 210.

The Fish Market is indeed a little joint, but clearly popular judging by the people pouring in an out as we arrived to meet for a Posse dinner last weekend. We were ushered into a cozy corner and soon were working on deef-fried cinch fritters and a frosty glass of Tallgrass 8-Bit Hop-Rocketed Pale Ale...which by the way, is apparently the "official beer of retro gamers". So, while this tasty pale ale paired great with fried fish and remoulade sauce, it also brings up fond memories of long,wasted hours of Ms. Pac-Man, Centipede and Galaga once upon a time.  So hoist this fine ale we did and we also toasted Easter weekend which was even further evident by the Ten Commandments flickering on the flatscreen TV behind my dinner companion's heads.

Most of us went for the Fish Market's noted fried catfish and indeed they were deep-fried deliciousness. The sides were some were some fluffy hush puppies and some of the best cole slaw I'd ever had. Creamy and spicy, that slaw ranked right up there with the slaw from Oklahoma Joe's. I have to say I tried a fried gizzard as well...and thankfully, it was spicy and good and not chewy as I feared.  Oh, as for that aforementioned remoulade sauce, there's a big-ass bottle of it on the tables and The Fish Market gets big points for that as well.  In fact, The Fish Market has it all over Camp Bagnell because of their obvious love of both New Orleans and Key West, two of my all-time favorite locales.  Po-boys are a specialty here and they are killer from most reports and the shark out from is named Roux.

As for the latest Posse dinner, we were short a few members, but the laughter was ever-present as the subjects of conversation ranged from dog poop to Mary Poppins. Always a good time.

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Saturday Night's Alright For .....Popping Aleve

I am out of practice for running the big show on a wild Saturday night and my achy being is painful proof of that. Happy to say everything went very well considering the double weddings and such and especially to have one of my dearest friends Lydia and her husband John also staying with us this weekend. So, as words are failing my exhausted and addled brain tonight, I'll let the pictures tell their thousand words while I pop the Aleve and do a faceplant in the bed....

....a luscious tart dessert in the dining room...

...the interesting groom's cake in one of the weddings....

.....bottles of wine representing one of the wedding couples... actual cupcake "tree" built by one of the grooms featuring Sugar Rush cupcakes....

.....the wedding cake for one of the weddings...

....and the first of the Triumph Car Club that will be staying with us also.

That's all folks!   zzzzzzzzzzzzz

Friday, April 25, 2014

Gatsby Days!

Today is the kickoff for Gatsby Days in Excelsior Springs; a weekend chock-full of Roaring Twenties-themed activities. The 20's are often considered the one of the heyday periods for E-Town and this event showcases Excelsior in a fashionably flapper-ish way.

Among the goings-on will be a vintage car cruise, invitational art exhibit, youth vaudeville show, poetry readings and a Roaring Twenties bash at Flander Hall complete with midnight raid by Prohibition agencies!

This is also an excellent time to sample some of Excelsior's varied retail shops like Molly's Studio and Blue Raddish or fine restaurants such as Ventana Cafe and Broadway Bar and Grill. We are already planning a leisurely lunch with out-of-town guests at one of our fave hangs Willow Spring Mercantile where we will indulge in one of their killer lunch items like the All-American Wrap with turkey, spicy bacon-cheddar dip, lettuce, tomato and crumbled bacon on a tomato tortilla. We'll also get genial proprietors (and friends) Daphne and Jim to enlighten us on the current hot sellers in their vast Missouri wine and beer selection while live music provides the perfect background setting.

Go here to the Excelsior Springs Cultural Guild site to learn more about Gatsby Days and also how to support the arts in Excelsior Springs. Then come out and join us!

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Video Of The Week: How Animals Eat Their Food (Slightly Less Dignified Than I)

Oh my....I needed a laugh on this rainy day and got it in spades with this video from Failarmy of two gents sharing a meal. One of them is actually depicting how animals eat, though. The results are just damn funny. I feel a bit less embarrassed about (but still endlessly proud of) my gravy-on-the-tie legacy after seeing this.  Enjoy.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

The Music Brew

Cover Photo

Very sad news today to hear of the sudden passing of hometown native Bob Stewart. I didn't know Bob very well, but he and I came to know of each other by our online personas, so to speak. I became aware of his music page called Stew's Music Brew on Facebook through friends and while I didn't have the time to participate as much as I would have liked, I always admired Bob's dedication to the music he loved. He also came to share kind words with me about my own blog. We shared a mutual admiration for Melissa Etheridge. We met officially for the first time at, appropriately enough, the Music By The Lake event at Abicht's Landing. The hometown music vibe has certainly taken a punch in the gut with the loss of both Bob and Fred Barley.  This is a vibe that may be down but never out, though.  This group of musicians and music lovers may have a few more Heavenly voices in the chorus now but sing and play on they will, and Bob will undoubtedly continue to make sure we hear every song. 

The following Melissa Etheridge video is one Bob himself shared on his Stew's Music Brew page stating it was the first album "that started it all".  Ain't it heavy, indeed.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014


(photo from Platinum Productions)
Several posts ago, I teased about some of the reasons for our busy and busier weeks at the hotel, so I guess I better follow through on that tease, eh?  I had mentioned previously why going "unplugged" was necessary after the the wild weeks we've been having.  The reason for the wild are multiple, multi-faceted events at the hotel that have kept us happily hopping.  It is also an interesting thing to be in my position at the hotel and to also be such a die-hard fan of the Elms, because it often presents a perplexing dichotomy that is difficult to reconcile at times. I thrill at these ever-more intriguing events our talented sales team book, but the increasing opportunity for....well, let's say mishaps...make these events a bit of a nail-biter for the guy who also has to make whatever calls might (hopefully and typically not, but might) be necessary to the insurance company for any accidents that may occur. On the other hand, when your Spa Director also runs a fire-spinning troupe called the PyroSapiens in his spare time, you also learn to just stop, drop and roll with the punches, as it were.

(photo of Quixotic by Platinum Productions)

In the past two weeks, we've seen a little bit of everything in our hallways and event spaces.  Amongst the weddings and meetings and sold-out spa days were some group events that had some fascinating aspects to them. One group had a mystery dinner train-style set up and performance in their ballroom event. The entertainment for another group included everything from Kevin's fire-spinning to an illusionist and a medium to a plethora of exotic animals including a chinchilla, a lynx, a lemur, a South American armadillo and the most adorable baby kangaroo you've ever seen. Yet another mega-event was hosted by Verizon and between the gorgeous setup from Platinum Productions, the hip-hop violinist throwing down in the Regent Ballroom and the ethereal, stunning performances by Quixotic, it was wonderful to witness.

That said, when aerialists perform, there is always a bit of breath-holding going on, but when the aerialists are spinning from your ballroom ceiling; the exhale doesn't happen until its all said and done.

In the end, the amazing Quixotic artists were breathtaking in the absolute best way. Of course, holding all of these events together is our dedicated, hard-working staff who I literally believe can handle just about anything at this point.  Kudos to all of their phenomenal hard work these past few weeks.

It also goes without saying that the brilliant food put out from Chef Jordan and the kitchen crew certainly helped showcase these events as well. Sometimes, even the grounds and elements themselves appear to anticipate these moments for the Elms to shine; if one were to judge by the welcoming patio weather and the perfectly-timed blooms on the magnolia trees for the Verizon event. 

Its very gratifying to see our beloved Elms decked to the nines for all of these exciting events.  Can't wait to see what the future holds...

(above two photos of Quixotic by Platinum Productions)

Monday, April 21, 2014

Post-Run Breakfast of (Wannabe) Champions

Some breakfast joints just make for really satisfying post-run grub and eggtc. south of the Plaza is most assuredly one of those. A cozy and clearly popular little spot this was and the food is darned tasty. eggtc. scores a lot of local "'most popular" nods and we certainly see why. The service was courteous and quick (our server's name was marvelous a moniker is that for a server?) and her suggestion of the breakfast tacos was spot-on. Firstly, though, the beverage of choice was choice indeed; both of us went with the sunny Brazilian Berry Smoothies, with acai berry, banana, blueberry, strawberry and vanilla yogurt.....good healthy potassium blast to help offset those twitching muscles after a run. 
For the feed, Keith went with the oh-so-good and massive multigrain pancakes and as for my aforementioned tacos...warm corn tortillas with fresh avocado, scrambled eggs, black beans, jalapenos, onions, tomatoes with mango salsa and sour cream...yum to the Nth degree, people. Extra credit points for the bottle of Marie Sharp's carrot-based habanero hot sauce on the table as well....perfect all-natural heat to add to these fine fixings. 
The menu is vast and they have an excellent coffee bar serving Parisi coffee and a full bar to boot.  Go hit up one of the two locations (also in Shawnee) and just revel in one excellent start to your day. 


Sunday, April 20, 2014

Happy Easter Brunch

This Easter Sunday is flat-out gorgeous; complete with blue skies and warm sun.  Equally gorgeous in Spring color and bright flavors was today's Easter buffet at my place of employment, the Elms Hotel and Spa.

Chef Jordan and her hard-working crew put out some seriously killer chow; all beautifully presented and completely delicious.

F&B Director Terri added some appealing touches including unique carvings to the displays and when combined with the striking presentations of the food made for one appealing brunch.  It's a compliment to Chef Jordan and crew that it was extraordinarily difficult to choose highlights, but among the many dishes we really dug were the rosemary-orange marinated leg of lamb. the whole-grain mustard-encrusted strip loin, the pickled okra in the grilled antipasti display, the pesto salmon with fennel and lemon, the Japanese soba noodles salad with miso roasted vegetables and the cheese blintzes.

Kudos, Terri, Jordan, Ross and hard-working crew created a happy Easter brunch indeed.