Shire’s End. Family Dinner.

Time marches on. Last Sunday night we had a fantastic Family Dinner. A gathering of really great people.  I was raised as the person to do ‘unto others’ as you would hope they might do to you. My friend Hal is moving to Colorado to live with his daughter.

Spread; a little love around.

He’s a handman and made a trade of doing for others. He helped me a bunch of times. Hal is a man of impeccable taste and great work ethic. He paints, runs wires, hauls, caulk, stores, plumbs, and does all the great magic that a handyman

does. He is handy, and right royal. We lived in the same, beautiful apartment building in Sherman Oaks, CA. There were ten units and mine was his at one time.

Hal and Charlene share time, and letters

DIO Taste Testers, Hal and Charlene

It was called the ‘Sweetheart’ and had so much charm. He had put all the love into it. Hal was the guy on site that knew what a gem the building was, a pre-Melrose if you will. It really was. But it was more, I lived in a shire populated by well-meaning hobbits.

I say this with all respect. It was a cozy little commune, a village unto itself.  And the residents all were folks settled in their lives. I was greeted by the hunched over woman who owned the place on the first day I set eyes on the apartment complex. She and her husband (number 3) fit the criteria of terribly charming. They both were nearing their eighties and sassy in the mouth. The building was centered on a lovely courtyard with a bubbling fountain, accented by wind chimes. A sleepy cat dosed in the courtyard. All the plant hardware matched and the garage looked like it was mopped daily. The landlady insisted my truck be washed so that when she looked from her Caddie, all the cars’ shine matched the floor. This place was ornate, innate and truly great. The residents felt pride in their building, knowing the owners efforts kept the property special, and for family. I was the new kid for the block (and already sassy in the mouth) and eager to be admitted. On my ‘interview’ the owner took it upon her self to see if she could still make a love match, on learning my single status, over my application and credit verification sheet.

“Oh, so you’re single”

“Yes, I’m just coming out of a long-term thing and I am just looking for a place where I can re group.”

“Of course dear, but you’re going to need to meet people. We are very social in this building. You are social, aren’t you dear?”

“Well, yes I am.”

“So you entertain?” Like it’s my business, Lady.


“Well when you entertain dear, do you entertain boys, or girls?”

I was slack jaw.

I have baggage

I have baggage.

Really? Is this seventy something broad in the Chanel pantsuit with the flaming red hair going to ask me about my love life over my rental application? Who the hell was she? And her fancy apartment building? It’s rounded archways and small heated pool may as well have been designed for Munchkinland in Oz. The huge rubber tree that was the center piece of her patio dropped leaves everywhere, I didn’t need such clutter in my life. It was serene, all the elements, but really? Lady, my life is……alright, I decided I’d indulge her. Of course at this point in my day-to-day, I felt the need to be screened for a place to live about as much as I need a prostate exam. I was under forty then.

I bit down and indulged.

le cait

Spooky takes the crowd in.

“Both. But mostly, I entertain boys.”

“Oh. Thank you dear. It doesn’t matter here. We don’t care either way. But thank you for saying. So, single? You know my Dentist is single. And so handsome. Tell me dear, is seventy a problem…..?

Nice. I was being pimped and I hadn’t even signed a lease.  Hal’s work was all over the “Sweetheart”.   Recess lighting, attached buffet,


Hubie, Hal and Karen

sliding Shoji panels, two-tone paint and fancy wall paper. Koriander counter tops, private balcony, gorgeous black tile in the kitchen, bath and entry.  The walk-in closet could house a family, and the dual pane windows kept the place insulated like Fort Knox. As Shire’s go, I was sitting pretty to rock-out. His handy work, my happy day.


Family Dinner

There was always a plate being passed, door to door. A leftover, a jar of pickles, a tin of cashew brittle. The courtyard always had a good smell to welcome you home. . My kitchen window abutted the mailbox area. The residents in the Shire wanted the area re done as a cafe so they could place their orders. It was always good to chat, and catch up with my neighbors. Yes readers, there was good Dish even then. Their parties were always top notch. Saint Patrick’s Day was the highlight of the social season in Sherman Oaks. The food, the laughs, the stories fed the legend of a great place that we were so lucky to share.

Hal’s leaving after 20 something years in that building, and many years of friendships. Deborah, a former resident and great patron to Dish It Out! had a swell party for Hal on sunday and many alumni assembled for dinner. We put together a great spread that sent many back for more and more. I love it when people aren’t shy about their snacking.

Family Dinner:

Deep Fried Turkey (Hal had never had) spicy savory rub with cayenne, garlic, cinnamon, thyme, oregano, paprika

Cranberry, Orange Jalapeno Relish 

Mom’s Roast Beef (Polly does the best) Seasoned salt and pepper

Marsala, Baby Bella Gravy with thyme

Creamed Horseradish, spiked with Old Bay and worcestershire 

Mom’s Roasted Gold Potatoes (technique guarded) oregano, seasoned salt and pepper, fresh parsley and rosemary

Mom’s Scalloped Apples. oh so good

Steamed Cauliflower And Carrots, lemon scallion vinaigrette with capers

Sauteed Green & Yellow Squash, tomatoes and cannellini beans 

Assorted Dinner Rolls

Dish! Good Slaw, napa cabbage, bok choy recipe to follow (I promise, Kenny)

Special Bought Cupcakes, to die for (and requisite out here)

We had a great time this night and those at the Shire. I’ll miss those days, but I get to keep these friends. Thanks Deborah for hosting, and the crew for coming, hungry.

Come hungry!

A couple of stars......

2 thoughts on “Shire’s End. Family Dinner.

  1. How wonderful to read your delightful tale of life at Cherrington, aka Shire. The pictures are great and the food looks extraordinary. As you know, I was in Palm Desert and did not return in time to enjoy the reunion, but thought of all of you with tears glimmering behind my eyes and a slight smile. We all shared wonderful and sometimes difficult times together and have cherished memories to last a lifetime. Love to you all and a special farewell to my friend, Hal. May the wind always be at his back.


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