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Friday, September 21, 2012

A Visit From Sally and Joe

"A friendship can weather most things and thrive in thin soil; but it needs a little mulch of letters and phone calls and small, silly presents every so often - just to save it from drying out completely." ~Pam Brown

The Dog & Doublet Inn, courtesy of S. Horton
   Sally and I worked together at Washington State University for nearly a decade. I had the privilege of getting to know her through work at first. I appreciated her wry wit, ability to get right to the kernel of an issue without slogging through dozens of permutations beforehand, and her delicious laughter. Sally loves a good joke, and appreciates laughing at life's absurdities as I do.
   Scottish by birth, she knew what I meant when I would say, "Time for a cuppa." I love that she plays an annual game of Haggis Hunt online, for which she has even won a prize, and more amazingly in my book, Sally can cook Haggis!
   She arrived in the States in 1984 to study at University in Illinois. An invitation to a bar featuring Celtic music brought her into contact with Joe--a native of the flat landscape of Illinois--a lovely, kind, quiet, thoughtful man who shares Sally's wry wit. They fell in love and saw each other through advanced degrees, Joe's service in the military, and the birth of a son and daughter. She is a semi-retired academic who served as associate dean of her department, and he is a semi-retired licensed pilot and flight instructor, and both are great at telling stories, having lived interesting lives with lots of travel involved, with bi-national opinions on it all.
   Les and I have enjoyed fine meals cooked by Sally and Joe, who introduced us to the delights of Grand Seville Cocktails, espresso with a "wee dram" of Drambuie, and Joe's incredible home smoked Salmon and Steel head trout. Joe holds the mantle of making the best carrot cake I've eaten--hands down, no holes barred!
   When I was going through cancer treatment in 2008 I was searching out someplace locally in Pullman or Moscow, Idaho with sauna facilities. Those few I found required a membership to a club which was more expensive than I could afford. Sally found out about my search,. She and Joe kindly offered me the use of their dry sauna for as long as needed it. They blessed me with their generosity and kindness when I was feeling very vulnerable, walking through the world with my head up and my shoulders squared for a fight to win against that dreaded disease.
   When Les came into my life, Sally and Joe folded him into our friendship and we've dearly enjoyed spending time with them both. The Hortons travel back and forth over the pond because Sally has family and friends in England and Scotland, and they both love to travel. I was thrilled when Sally contacted me to say they would be in England in September and they wanted to visit--and "oh, by the  way, can I bring you anything?"
Me. Les and Sally, courtesy S. Horton
   After emails back and forth, we agreed to meet in Sandon, on the Trent and Mersey canal. They booked a room at the Dog and Doublet Inn and we turned up on the boat, moored below Sandon lock and met up with Sally and Joe for drinks, catching up, laughter, and a yummy dinner at the Inn. I encourage everyone who may pass Sandon on the T & M, to stop and enjoy a meal at the Dog and Doublet. You won't be disappointed.
   The next morning Sally and Joe turned up at the boat and we cruised for several hours--Joe on the stern with Les, talking about boaty things, while Sally and I sat on the bow and caught up with things happening at the University, mutual friends, and life in general. We enjoyed showing Sally and Joe how life aboard a narrow boat works for us, and they enjoyed the slow pace with an opportunity to really see the views along the canal. 

Les, Sally and Joe
   We went through Weston lock, winded, came back up the lock, found a quiet place to moor up and had a nice lunch of Minestrone soup and rolls. I had baked a small Blackberry Almond Bakewell Tart made with berries me and Les had gathered on Monday, and I also whipped up a Chocolate Kahlua cake, as Dear Sir was working his way through the Bakewell tart with gusto! Sally has been brought into the Chocolate Kahlua Cake tribe!
Sandon Lock
   After lunch we cruised back up to Sanson and said goodbye to our dear friends. Thank you Sally and Joe Horton, for spending a day with us aboard our floating home, and blessing is with your company. And Sally...thank you from the bottom of my heart for the Lipton's Onion Soup Mix, Beau Monde, and coarse ground cornmeal! A taste of the States from Sally's suitcase!! Safe journey back home to you both. We look forward to seeing you Stateside in November!


Hase said...

It is so good to have friends! One feels so warm in the embrace of an old, good hopefully forever-lasting friendship! Wavies across the channel, Silvia

Les Biggs said...

Hi Silvia
Big waves and hugs to you from us both. If you are ever over here please look us up.

Charmaine said...

Jaq, you're speaking of the Sally Horton who works here with me at WSU Global in Van Doren Hall in Pullman, WA, USA? What a round-about way to learn of this. I, too, went to the University of Illinois, and I, too, went to the bar where Celtic music regularly played. I never realized this about her. I will definitely ask her about it.

Les Biggs said...

Yes I am. I believe she attended U of I Champaign-Urbana--but I might be wrong there. It truly is a small world! Let me know the outcome of your query! I hope you are well and happy. I think you'd fit in well on the cut Charmaine. You'd make a great boater!

Hase said...

Hi Les and Jaq,

Yes I definately will, thank you! Until then I wish you great travels and lots of fun aboard NB Valerie! And merry meet of course... : )

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs

NB Valerie & Steam Train by Les Biggs