El had e-mailed that she wanted to get a pedicure yesterday, so I called to make appointments for both of us at 3:00. Went to WinCo to pick up that missing cottage cheese and a few other things.
While I was having lunch, Jim D. called from Texas to tell me that his wife, Lu, had died: she had been diagnosed with cancer only three months ago. I met Lu only once, when she and Jim were visiting in Jersey just before I left for California. We met for breakfast in Galloway on their way back to Texas and I gave him the letters he had sent me sixty some years ago. I thought Lu was a sweet person--very quiet, unlike her husband.
Jim said he didn't have Betty's number, but when I asked if he wanted it, he said he'd rather I called her. I did and during our conversation she said Jim had told her he married Lu because he knew that she, Betty, wouldn't marry him (HUH?).
El and I had our pedicures and I enjoyed our short time together, as ever. She went home to straighten her hair (my daughters are weird--I'd kill for the hair they have, thanks to their father) and I went home to prepare for dinner at Suzanne's.
That turned out to be very enjoyable. She served potato soup (made to order at Von's, she said, and it was superb), and a kale and cranberry salad, with just some hard cheese and Italian bread in addition. It was not at all elaborate, but everything was just delicious and, happy day, she uncorked a nice Merlot with it. We had baked apples for dessert--a lovely meal.
We talked and talked. I heard all about her Templeton, Iowa childhood, including the fact that her grandfather had been a bootlegger during prohibition. He got three months in jail, but was friends with the sheriff and was let out for special occasions, such as picnics and holidays. He and his cronies distilled "Templeton rye" and there's a book called Gentlemen Bootleggers that tells the story. Suzanne also showed me a personal book her relative had compiled for her fiftieth anniversary in the Sisters of Mercey, showing some of her in her habit. However, she never wore the old-fashioned kind that I grew up with, but a shorter version with a more revealing (of her hair) veil.
Anyway, I greatly enjoyed getting to know her better and think we'll be good friends.