Monday, February 14, 2011

Valentine's Weekend, Day 2 - It All Started With a Rib ...

Valentine's Dinner this year promised to be truly romantic: so many people called well in advance to make dinner dates with their sweethearts, relating to me some happy anecdote from their lives together or requesting a special favourite table in the TH. Here's a snapshot of some of them: 

George called before anyone else. Some years ago he and his beautiful bride Loretta did me the honour of asking me to cater their wedding - the first off-site event Nilgiris catered, and a particularly happy memory. Tonight George and Loretta got the fireplace table with the purple chairs.

Laurence came by, booking a quiet corner for him and his lovely Bobbi, Bobbi's sister Carol and her devoted Gerry. I thought back to the time we did an Indian buffet for Laurence and Bobbi's wedding anniversary; how Dad went to college with Gerry and how when Mum and Dad were in that awful car accident shortly after the TH opened, it was to Gerry and Carol - who were in the TH when the call came - that I went and how Gerry just dropped everything, took my hand and prayed for M&D right then and there.

Char phoned me and reserved a spot for her and Brian; later they invited Ted to join them for dinner. How these three bless and encourage me every Saturday morning that they are able to come to the TH. Let me guess: coffee, Earl Grey and Cream Earl Grey to drink?!

The always vivacious Miss Patsy called for a table for her and Sweet William. They would be bringing two friends with them. It doesn't seem so long ago that Pat along with Bill's sister Joanne sat down with me in the TH one afternoon and we made arrangements for the TH to take dinner three times a week to Ray and Margaret, Bill's and Joanne's parents who lived half a block away in Porchlight Village. My favourite memory of all those deliveries is this: I was standing at the kitchen counter and setting out Margaret's good china for them and listening to Margaret, who was propped on her walker, telling me a story. Ray, well over 90 years old, slowly emerged from the living room, balancing himself with his walking stick. As he made his way past Margaret, he reached out and gave her a little pat on her posterior. And - no word of a lie - Margaret flushed to the roots of the snowy halo of her hair, giggled like a teenager whose secret crush has just noticed her for the first time, and completely lost her train of thought! Margaret had gone on to heaven some time back, and Ray joined her a few months ago. I couldn't help but wonder what this Valentine's day would hold for the sweethearts who are together once again ...

Barbara and Fred, two of the most gracious people ever to enter our dining room doors, also came for dinner. Fred teases me mercilessly; but he can also take it as well as give it, and his humble and gentle spirit is evident through all he says and does. Fred shouldn't be walking - he shouldn't be with us, really, due to what could have been a fatal farm accident - but he persevered patiently and with quiet determination through the pain that continues to this day, coming to the TH when he could. I never once heard him complain or bemoan his fate. He and Barb are truly among those who can rejoice when someone is rejoicing and weep when a heart is breaking.

Kevin and Laurel were a wonderful addition to our Valentine's celebration. And Laurel took the honours for the most romantic gesture of the evening: she placed on their table a heart-shaped rock that Kevin had given her one summer when they were tree planting and still in the dating stage of their relationship. Laughingly he confessed that he didn't remember it; she, gazing at him, said, "But I still treasure it ..." Kevin and Laurel have borne so much in their life together, and their love remains strong and steadfast. Now I know how - it is anchored to the Rock which cannot move, which does not change.

Jamie and Jill were with us through a gift from Jamie's parents, Claudia and Don. About one week ago, Jill gave birth to their daughter Annie - and Claudia and Don wanted to treat them to some time together before the ecstatic grandparents went south. Jamie, bursting with pride, demanded, "Just look at her! Can you believe she had a baby a few days ago?" And Jill, glowing and radiant, mother of four and an old hand at this by now, still beamed back at him like a newlywed.

Jackie and Oswaldo came and shared our "Sweets to the Sweet" dessert sampler tray. These two are such a part of the TH family now, not just because all three of their children work or worked here but because each time they come here I can sense their deep care and love for this place and for me. And Jackie has bailed me out a number of times when I needed staff. She has a broken foot right now or I know she would have been in the kitchen right alongside of Don and Norma and the girls, doing whatever needed to be done.

There are two other couples I wanted to tell you about; however, my camera lost its charge and so I was unable to take their pictures:

Sharon and Vernon have been regular customers since the day we opened in 2003. And over the years they have also grown to be dear friends. Right from the start they made a commitment to support Nilgiris through their patronage and their prayers. We have each been through deep waters in the past eight years but we have drawn comfort from being able to talk with one another, from just being in the TH, from knowing someone is there who cares.

(c) Ron Nickel Photography
My lovely Krista and her inamorato, Ben, came for dinner and sat at the table we call Hidden Valley. Krista helped me in the kitchen some months ago and to this day will pop in when things seem crazy and lend a hand and a calming presence. She is truly a Renaissance woman, cooking, writing, perfecting her talents in photography, directing the music program at church, caring for two small children, speaking out with a strong advocate's voice for Down syndrome children. Ben is an up-and-coming conductor, and is the Director of the Three Hills Arts Academy: one of the highlights of my musical experience in Three Hills was his production of Fauré's Requiem. He also managed to put together a spectacular Beauty and the Beast last year, drawing audiences from Edmonton and Calgary as well as from the neighbouring towns and villages. The title characters? Our own Krista and Ben ... 

Alicia and Daryl slipped in late on Saturday evening for a quiet tête-à-tête by the fireplace. Alicia is someone I am starting to get to know - her glorious hair grabbed my attention the first time I saw her; it is her quiet radiance that draws me to her now.

There were other guests, of course, so many stories that deserve to be told. 

The rack of ribs was accompanied by a baked potato, corn and a cup of jello salad containing lime, cream cheese and pineapple. No one left hungry; and I think their hearts were full too. Happy Heart Day, all of you. I look forward to reading more chapters in the love stories that were celebrated in the TH last evening! 


  1. It must have been a wonderful evening. Karyn, your Teahouse is absolutely special: it is you writ large. Happy Valentine's Day.

  2. Karyn, you and yours are an inspiration.

    From my heart to yours..

  3. Karyn dear, we so wanted to be there but our schedule did not allow it. Your eternal perseverance, infectious joy and never-ending love are an inspiration to me. Happy Valentine's Day, my dear friend! I love you!

  4. Thanks. The dessert was fabulous and we had a great time.

  5. I noticed one other couple pictured, at the top of the list, in the first photo: Dad and Mum. Their spirit behind it all gives the grace and peace, courage and strength that makes every day a blessing and benediction. Thank you, Karyn, for taking that same spirit into yourself and living it out every day. I love you!

  6. Thanks for noticing the pictures, Bronwyn! That was my intention - to acknowledge the source, the essence really, of the TH.

    Jackie - I have a great time every time I get to hang with you. Thanks for being such a true friend.

    Rosalie - HOW I would have loved it if you and David could have made it! Another time soon, I hope! We are forever linked by the passing, on the same day, of our mothers. We are blessed to have had them in our lives.

    Suze - Our hearts are always knit together by a little girl named Evie. Thank you for extending that love to the TH as well.

    And Andy - none of this would have been possible without your courage in starting the TH in the first place. I am forever grateful to you.


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