Stephanie, Libbie, young

I had no plans for Wednesday.  None.  The only vague plan was to go get the vaccine for shingles .  Those are the kind of plans I make now.  Planning ahead to prevent a medical disaster.   I don’t, however, own an earthquake kit, so clearly I’m not well prepared.   I woke up and wasn’t feeling it.  I would do what I always do: stay at home.  It was cold outside and threatening to rain.

To be honest, my day was derailed by an e-mail from my husband.  It was a link to a scone recipe and attached was a picture of a piping hot biscuit.  That did it.   I knew what my new plan was.   I looked in the refrigerator and the buttermilk would expire in two days.  Meant to be!!  I would be making biscuits.  I have some big productive days!!

Libbie Aroff with her BFF Laura Wilson and another chick in back

Libbie Aroff with her BFF Laura Wilson and another chick in back

Husband arrived home from work.  He asked me what my plans were for the day (he works on a New York time schedule) and I said I had none.  I didn’t.  But around 2:00 PM, I remembered I had called the pressed juice place in Brentwood yesterday and asked them to save me two of my new favorite citrus  juice’s –- combo of blood orange, kumquat & navel orange.  I called and asked if they really had been held since the other day someone swooped in and bought the two waiting for me.   The dude on the phone said he couldn’t hold them, company policy.   I was thrown.  I was edgy.   I became argumentative.   How dare they?  I’m their best customer.  On the phone, he said there were three bottles for sale and I could come in.   He refused to hold them.  But, I know they are always gone in a minute.   I came to my husband and said change of plans.  Let’s go to Brentwood Mart and try that burger people are always talking about.

A quick 20 minutes later, we arrive.  Two sold and only one left.  I grab it quickly.  My best friends, all the young kids that work there and love me—I’m old now, I can say shit like, “They love me!”– tell me they are sorry and assure me this will never happen again.   All good.  Peace made.

We order a cheeseburger to share at Barney’s in the Mart courtyard.   I still can’t decide if I want to try it today because my brain is focused on that biscuit.  But I cave, and they cut it in half, and it’s on two plates and we are starting to really enjoy our burger when a chick walks out of Farmshop restaurant and I register that I know the face when she says hello first.  Thank God, she announces her name.  I hate when I’m struggling with someone’s name from the way past.  I love Stephanie already that she even said it.   My brain fired the sense memory that Stephanie and I have chemistry.   This felt comfortable.    It was like I had seen her last week.

Our conversation could have ended in two minutes but now it was going on five when suddenly she reaches into her purse.  She pulls out a photo of my best friend Libbie.  I’m floored.  Wait.  What?  You just happen to carry around grammar school pictures of Libbie in your purse?  Then she explains that she had met an old friend for lunch, Ann Taubman, a name from a grade behind me that I hear a lot.   She brought photos to share.  They both remarked that they never run into anyone from those days.  Then a minute later she runs into me.   Now she pulls out a picture of Robin, another best friend of mine.  This is blowing my mind.  I haven’t seen Stephanie in all these years and she pulls these pics of my closest friends out of her purse.  These fucking adorable snapshots.  Then yet another one of, this time of Nikila.

Nikila Rigby and a whole group of adorable girls

Nikila Rigby and a whole group of adorable girls

I tell my husband to take an iPhoto of each one.  They are so small you can barely see them.  Brilliant plan, because then when I looked on my phone, I could make it larger.  I know people think I have an unlimited supply of retro pictures but I don’t.  It’s an illusion.  I have only about three photos of me as a kid, because my parents retired scrapbooking after giving birth to the most adorable child ever born, my brother.  And then, well—there was me.  Cross-eyed.  They didn’t want the proof.  I only have a few, if that, from high school years and a few from grammar school, all given to me by my childhood friend Susie.   And then, from the 70’s, I amassed an impressive collection of Polaroid SX 70’s because that camera was easy to use.   I also was always up for a photo shoot, and my three photographer friends were willing participants.   I did get paid to be photographed for magazine ads from time to time.  I need a fresh new supply of photos so Stephanie’s were making me so happy.  I forwarded them in text messages to my friends and found them later garnering a lot of Facebook attention.

Pic of Robin Hofstein Albertelli that garnered FB attention

Pic of Robin Hofstein Albertelli that garnered FB attention

Finally, I got down to it and baked my biscuits.  I shared them with my husband in lieu of a proper dinner.  To me, this was plenty satisfying but I added no protein and no vegetable.  Nothing.  Then it was off to a town hall meeting.  Rick Caruso has bought our village, such as it is.   He’s the guy who built The Grove.  We live in a ghost town.  All the stores except a few are out of business.   The whole town showed up.   I have never seen anyone handle an unruly crowd with this much finesse.  Like one of the greatest politicians, he had us eating out of the palm of his hand.  Literally and figuratively—he brought platters of food.   He acted like we all had a say in the matter and he was eager to hear our opinions.  He made a whole town feel like their wish was his command.  People stood up with all their fantasy requests for restaurants, movie theaters, stores, and most importantly to this crowd was the need for a Trader Joe’s and an ice cream store.  And the all-powerful Oz — I mean Rick Caruso — humored each of the nearly hundreds of people’s ideas.  (Mine is to have a diner that serves gourmet comfort food.  Are you listening Mr. Caruso?)

My husband thinks we’ve all drunk the Kool-Aid.   He thinks that friendly, affable Rick — Rick who’s pacing the streets he now owns, with his team of suits-in-tow — is really the Martian from that “Twilight Zone” episode.  The one who wins over Earthlings with wisdom from his book “To Serve Man.”  Someone finally figures out, after he’s filled his spaceship with humans, that: “To Serve Man is a cookbook!”

Watch the clip below and scroll down to Biscuit recipe


Biscuit Recipe ( I don’t swear by this recipe because I still long to find my southern grandmother’s recipe–but this one will do for now)

2 1/4 cups (280 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) baking powder
3/4 teaspoon (5 grams) table salt – I use a course salt
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
9 tablespoons (125 grams) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small chunks
3/4 cup (175 ml) buttermilk

Heat oven to 400 °F and cover baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, salt and baking soda in large, wide bowl. Using fingertips or a pastry blender, work butter into dry ingredients until the mixture resembles a coarse meal, Add buttermilk and stir until large, craggy clumps form. Reach hands into bowl and knead mixture briefly until it just holds together.

To form biscuit rounds: Transfer dough to floured counter and pat out until 1/2 to 3/4-inch thick (err on the thin side if uncertain, as the tall ones will literally rise and then tip over, like mine did the day I photographed these). Using a round cutter (2 inches for regular sized biscuits, 3 inches for the monstrous ones shown above), press straight down — twisting produces less layered sides — and transfer rounds to prepared sheet, spacing two inches apart.

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8 Responses to “Serendipity”

  1. Stephanie Thompson says:

    I would love to see Ann Taubman!!

  2. Pauli says:

    The recipe for biscuits doesn’t list sugar as an ingredient or indicate how much to use. For a recipe nut like me this cannot stand. Such a beautifully written piece deserves to have one small flaw. And for those interested in bumping into Anne Taubman on purpose, she has been known to have lunch every Thursday at the Brentwood Mart around noon….for the last 20 years.
    Looks like she’s adding Wednesday to the mix. But I digress. You have mastered the art of the opening line. “I had no plans for Wednesday.” It is my all time favorite Freddeism. May you never run out of juice!

  3. Laura Plotkin says:

    Made me laugh this time (instead of cry)–“It’s a cookbook!” Loved this–and I saw the LA Times story yesterday about the proposed Caruso project. Just don’t let them put speakers in the rocks like they did at the Calabasas Commons. I remember when my daughter came home from college and we went to the “new” Commons (where there had been rolling hills when she left for college a year earlier) and she recoiled, horrified, as we strolled along the new concrete path and music wafted up from the rocks! Though some might like that, she found it completely weird…too much like Disneyland, she said. Keep a careful watch on the development. Heaven knows they need to fix the downtown area of the Palisades though–it has been languishing for too long!

  4. Kitty Kaufman says:

    I am quite certain you have “an unlimited supply of retro pictures.” And you’re brave enough to share. Me, not so much.

  5. Ellen Bloom says:

    Agree with Laura! We live near The Grove. Although I visit the Original Farmers Market many times a week, I rarely walk the few paces over to The Grove. All of that canned music coming out from rocks, under bridges and behind coffee carts weirds me out. To serve man…..baloney! It serves Rick and his cronies.

  6. Bonnie Raphael says:

    I think I remember Laura Plotkin. I live in Calabasas where they tore down all of our beautiful Oak trees for Caruso’s Commons. Now when we used to get the coastal breeze it is hot as hell here! If you are able get involved because the stores they put in by Caruso are unconscionably expensive, the restaurants don’T last, the movie prices are ridiculous and Parking sucks. We do have a great Barnes and Noble. And make sure you get the creepy stupid Muzak type of Sinatra or any of the greats coming mysteriously out of the bushes. I know it is a ghost town, and that is tragic. Come visit me and we can go to the Commons or we can go to Westlake…same deal….keep your TOWN! Make him keep it palisades style. Sorry….Much Love, Bonnie

  7. Bonnie Raphael says:

    DO not get Muzak,,,,

  8. Hoov says:

    😎 wakko. Aloha hoov

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