American Culinary Federation Halloween Chef’s Table Featuring Chef John Schopp

We are full of joy and gratitude sharing this spectacular meal with our friends.  Roanoke has another star in the city in the Al Pollard Culinary Institute, and all the beautiful and talented humans that make it shine bright. Many thanks to Chef Schopp, Chef Ziegler, Chef Moran and all the culinary students who worked diligently to make this meal a reality. 

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Chef John Schopp, Chef Greg Moran and Chef Jim Ziesler members of the American Culinary Federation

My husband, Mike, and I won the live auction for a chef’s table featuring Chef John Schopp at the annual Derby Day Gala at Rockledge held every May in Roanoke. With our busy schedules we finally found a window of opportunity to enjoy a fun evening at home with some of our friends and the finest food that the Roanoke Valley has to offer.

The American Culinary Federation of Southwest Virginia delights guests with two food and beverage driven fundraising events each year. The annual Al Pollard Memorial Golf Tournament and chefs’ cooking competition held every September at Roanoke Country Club, and the Derby DayGala hosted by Dr(s) Nancy and Kevin Dye at their beautiful home, Rockledge, on Mill Mountain. Both events benefit students of the Al Pollard Culinary Institute with scholarships, as well as funds to compete in culinary competitions on the national level within the ACF.

When Chef Schopp suggested Halloween as a possible date, we jumped at the opportunity. In 2016, Chef Schopp competed on the Food Network’s Halloween Baking Championship. Having gently stalked this amazing chef for decades, both online and IRL, we’re well aware of his talents.  l try to attend any event featuring his catering business, Center Stage Catering. I have had the pleasure of dining at his chef’s table on more than one occasion, so knowing his creativity, I did not want to give him any limitations on number of courses, types of food, or themes.

What arrived at my home Tuesday at 4:30pm, October 31, 2017 was a carefully invented, meticulously planned and implemented symphony of culinary art with Chef Schopp as the lead conductor.  Chef Schopp designed entirely new dishes for my dinner! Working from a general theme of Fall, the following dishes knocked our socks off.

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Autumn Musings; 14 brand new dishes made by Chef John C. Schopp, CFC,CEPC, CCA
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Chef Schopp front and center. His two wingmen for this ACF fundraiser, Chef James Zeisler, Sr. CEC, CCA, CDM,CFPP.  Chef Z is a Graduate of the University of Florida and Johnson & Wales. He is the Department Chairman at the Al Pollard Culinary Institute.  Chef Greg Moran, also an instructor at the Al Pollard Culinary Institute

Amuse Bouche

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Festive friends enjoy Turkish spiced acorn squash with pepita
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New England charcuterie plates are placed in strategic gathering areas in my home for our guests to enjoy as they like. Housemade sausage with pickled red onions, housemade mustard, gherkins and spiced pecans

 

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Hammer and Forge La Cabaza de Fuego. Figs and cheese with a unique apple butter puree

 

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Chef Greg Moran passes an amazing seared saffron scallop, glazed with a vanilla white raisin lacquer. Cocktail portion of evening in full swing
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Chef John Schopp lives in Franklin County, the moonshine capital of the world. He treated us to a flight of Vanilla Pineapple Brandy. I was careful to ask him about his infusing technique, and not sourcing. It’s on a need to know basis

Pasta

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This is what handmade, fresh pappardelle pasta looks like before he dresses it…paper thin and tender to the bite. It is a labor of love to make pasta like this
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Hazelnut pappardelle with buttered bread crumbs, cooked egg yolk, manchego, lemon, parsley,  and butter.  For the record, I thought my dinner guest, Yvette, was going to explode in her seat! Anyone who makes their own pasta knows how much time and attention is needed to pull off perfect pasta. Served family style with the salad, I was able to send her home with some leftovers

From the Field

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baby lettuces, shaved radish with grapefruit white balsamic and robust olive oil from Chile (Olivito on 419) and micro plained manchego.

 

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Escar-Foe

 

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This is definitely the most creative way I have ever eaten pork! Chef Schopp combined his own Housemade winter spice-cured bacon AND sorghum braised pork belly served on buttered stoneground grits, apple garlic soubise, and parsley and ham ‘Snail Foam.’ My husband lost his mind over this one! Just when you think it can’t get any better, Chef Schopp brings us a tasting of spiced micro beer to accompany it
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Winter spice cured bacon…this could have stood on its own. Absolutely delicious.

Seafood 

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Coriander-crusted ahi tuna served rare with butternut squash silk. I kind of remember going into the kitchen to open some white wine for this course 🙂

Meat & Potato

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Ras-el-hanout ribeye. This has a special rub made by Chef Ted Polfelt, also an ACF member and instructor at the school. It made my house smell incredible. I watched Chef Morgan sear this in duck fat when they first arrived. It roasted in my oven creating the most manly potpourri imaginable. Served with potatoes anna, and garlic aioli
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Passing through my kitchen earlier, the three chefs spoke in shorthand, cut jokes, and moved in unison. They were so calm and well organized. I would hear a little timer go off every now and again. It was a treat to see this level of professionalism working together. I can tell they are like brothers, and enjoyed the camaraderie of this performance.  Just the number of sauces and garnishes would have overwhelmed most cooks. They made everything look effortless and had a blast working together
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Ras-el-hanout ribeye with duck fat, potatoes anna, garlic aioli…yeah, that is bearnaise… My husband told me he watched Chef Schopp work on that sauce for about a half an hour. He would stir it continuously with a whisk and check the consistency until it was perfect. Crusted bread, also made by the culinary students to accompany this course.

Pre-dessert Morphing

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Wine spiced apple encased in foie caramel cream with fried winter herb salad and toast
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I paired this goose liver caramel spiced apple with a 40 year old Noval Tawny Port, a special gift from our friend Dr. Walid Azzo of Bluefield, WV.   Decadent!!!

But wait, there is more!!!

Sweet Amuse

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Snickerdoodle palmier
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Macadamia buttermilk ice cream with macadamia nuts, crystal ginger, and pineapple
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Roasted cashew tart with with cornmeal short dough

 

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Anise sea salt caramel suckers with fresh raspberries and dehydrated spiced apples

 

 

 

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Rick James was our playlist inspired by my friend David’s costume. The kitchen loves funk!

We are full of joy and gratitude sharing this spectacular meal with our friends.  Roanoke has another star in the city in the Al Pollard Culinary Institute, and all the beautiful and talented humans that make it shine bright. Many thanks to Chef Schopp, Chef Ziegler, Chef Moran and all the culinary students who worked diligently to make this meal a reality.

If you would like to contribute the the scholarship fund, please contact the American Culinary Federation, Southwest Virginia Chapter. Also, keep an eye out for opportunities to bid on chef’s tables at local events, but be prepared that we will be there bidding, again!

 

 

 

Last Call…Metro!

It is impossible for me to think that the restaurant failed for any food or service failures.

 

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Every seat is at the Chefs’ table in Metro!

Dear Andy,

I’m sorry. It’s me. It’s definitely not you. You did all the right things. Every day open and waiting to delight guests with new and exciting dishes, plated in always different and beautiful ways. You showed up. You shined bright.

I feel like there has been a death in my family. I have this overwhelming sadness. I try to not ruminate as there are many layers to think about with the closing of my family’s favorite restaurant. It had been a second home to me for just over fifteen years.

I know things have been tough for the past couple of years. Many people are wondering what happened? How could such a fine restaurant with a dedicated following shutter its doors? I would guess that if I asked you what happened, I might get a different answer depending on the typical weekly calamities…downtown flooding, streets closed for parades, high overhead,  expensive table linens (Frette, I noticed), long meals with clients who have short attention spans, increased food costs, the unsightly dumpster parked in front of your restaurant for endless months while the building next door underwent renovations. The regular need for sandbags and early closing every time it rained hard. Humidity from all the water in the ancient basement doing a number on your HVAC system.  You endured many years of intense stress with changing palates, competition from the next new restaurant that garners all the attention for the few extra dollars that so many people manage. Constant festivals are both a boon on some days and a bust on others. Closed streets and full parking garages. None of these things ever stopped you. You always powered through.

It is impossible for me to think that the restaurant failed for any food or service failures. The contempt that some people spew on pages like Yelp, Open Table, and Facebook is disturbing. You, my friend, were never offering a factory food model that so many are willing to eat. Pre-made frozen desserts are a quick and easy solution for other establishments. You were not that type of purveyor…ever.  In fact, to the untrained eye, it might appear that you placed a burger on your menu just to appease the unsophisticated palate of guests who may have been talked into going to a “sushi place.” Not so…you always understood there were days that people just need a burger, or a steak for that matter.

 

 

 

Metro! wasn’t just a place to grab a quick bite and move on. This special place was like my second living room. In the early years, it was my every weekend watering hole for my single social life. You provided me a safe and friendly place to meet people before social media changed the way we engage with each other. I never forgot the night you gave me the heads up on a guy that was chatting me up. You let me know he was a bad apple. You looked out for me.

Metro! was my go-to place to entertain physicians as a medical sales rep. Also, it was the only place in my mind for a girlfriends’ night out. Once remarried, it quickly become a place to celebrate birthdays, anniversaries, holidays.  As our kids left the nest and returned for short and sweet visits, it was always assumed we would go see Andy while they were in town. When they were old enough to drink, they wanted to have their first adult beverages with us at Metro! Now as empty nesters, Metro! was in heavy rotation for our cherished date nights. And is it where we often entertain visiting physicians while we try to convince future fellows and partners that Roanoke is a cool place to live and work.

 

 

 

We are in shock and disbelief at the closing of your innovative restaurant.  You made it through so many tough times. You weathered the 2008 stock market collapse. You made it though marketing reforms which essentially stopped all medical marketing dinners, once a steady source of revenue. You blazed the trail for fine dining in Downtown.

The last three Januaries, my husband Mike wanted to do the Dry January challenge. This is a month where we challenge ourselves to give up alcohol for the health benefits, and to ensure that we still can. January is notoriously slow for restaurants, people overindulge from Halloween to New Years, then do a 180 in January to reset physically and financially, and to give the liver a break. The last 90 days, my husband and I have been eating low carb…I’m sorry Andy.  I know that you always offer healthy choices including low carb, but my willpower to be in your living room without one of your craft cocktails is something I just couldn’t do and stick to my weight loss plan. I’m weak. Again, it was me, not you.

As we collectively scratch our heads on how this restaurant could close, the answer is simple. We didn’t show up for you. I know that each person will have a different perspective and even if I asked you three days in a row, I would probably get some different scenarios, but really it is basic. You would still be running your family business if we showed up.

Instead of pointing out all the inequities of being a small business owner in a challenging and ever-changing economy, I would like to help you remember all the things you did right.

First off, I loved the fact that I could be an adult in Roanoke. You gave me a place to get dressed up and turn out with friends, clients, and family. You provided an atmosphere that was sophisticated, not stuffy. Your food was always the focus and never an afterthought. Your attention to detail was superb. The drama of having a perfectly plated meal was impressive. Even up to the bitter end, you continued to innovate. You kept me guessing and dreaming. You inspired me to be a better cook at home.

Your passion for the freshest ingredients and innovative ways to prepare them was the main difference among your peers. Just provisioning the place would be a full-time task. Bacon was cured in-house. Bloody Mary mix, also fresh. That delicious half-sour dill pickle you spent years perfecting, atop the perfect grassfed beef burger…this is what separated you from others. I’m guessing it was hard to keep up with all those vendors.

I’m still in shock about how quickly people just want to make a quick judgment so they can file away the reason a restaurant closed, and move on to the next thing.  There are textbook ways to do a grand opening; there are no textbook ways to end a business.

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Girls night out. Nothing but love for you, my friend.

Our perceptions are the lens through which we experience life and the world around us.  The uninformed on social media point to a common scenario, saying it is typical for a restauranteur to just shut the doors and leave a note. How simple-minded to imagine that is was an easy decision for you. You carefully arranged for other restauranteurs to meet with employees, and had job offers waiting for all of them on Sunday afternoon. The fact that your competitors are also your friends is a testament to the way you ran your business.

If others are quick to believe that you had bad intentions for your employees, then they weren’t regulars. Besides making phenominal cuisine daily, you were also a tenured restauranteur. Over your lifetime, you learned how to run a successful business from your parents. This is in your blood.  I was speaking with one of your longtime employees just this morning. Dexter, a former server, who climbed his way to management within a couple of years. Dexter quickly rattled off a dozen things that you did for your staff.  Dexter was respectful of your management style. He said you grew your own managers. You never hired outside managers to come into the team. You always promoted servers to assistant managers and then to managers as they developed the high level of customer service that you expected. Dexter appreciated your willingness to train staff members to DJ if they were interested, and give them a Thursday night shift to have the experience of getting a crowd on the dance floor. You always had a theme for the staff each year for Halloween costumes and a contest just for them. Dexter told me that one year the staff was ask to dress as their favorite superhero. He won with his Ghostrider  costume, and was thrilled to be given a bottle of Dom Perignon as his prize.

As you are well aware, the nature of a restaurant is an ever-changing staff. One staff member relationship really stood out to Dexter. He said that when Chef Tom was working in the kitchen, it was a beautiful thing to watch. He said that ‘Tom and Andy worked together like a father and son.” When Chef Tom discovered he had cancer, it was his dying wish to continue working, right up to the bitter end. Andy, you followed his wishes and made that happen for him.  For years you kept Chef Tom’s name listed as sous chef on the menu–long after he had passed away.  Many highly-trained chefs helped you over the years. You became a regular mentor for many who were studying and working through our local Al Pollard Culinary School. You are a respected peer among local chefs.

Speaking of menus, can we talk about how frequently you changed yours? There were always a few dishes on the list that the regulars would not let go out of rotation, but there was also always something new to the season, or just new to Roanoke.

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I love the tradition you shared with your daughter, Emma. You always placed a Hello Kitty for her somewhere on the menu.
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Emma is a talented artist that pitched in with your side walk menus.

You were the first to offer Wagyu beef in Roanoke. Remember that stint of mini dessert flights? Just three or four bites, enough to satisfy most sweet tooths after a special meal. I remember you offered the dozen desert choices on an iPad. That was a cool new way to use technology, until a dinner guest used the tablet to search for adult materials, then when it was handed to the next table, a family, those naughty images came back. Sometimes we can’t have nice things here. Looking back further, remember when you did tableside fondue with the craft breads, house cured meats, local veggies and those adorable little fiddlehead ferns. I do. I know I annoyed you by begging you to bring it back, but that was so ten years ago. You have long moved on to master the next new technique. How about when more recently, you offered binchotan grilled food? This Japanese style of cooking uses special wood that had to be imported from Japan. Having affordable quick bites of Japanese street food was a special treat for Roanoke.

It will be a drastic change for your family that has fought hard week in and week out to put their special stamp on fine dining in Roanoke. I know you will adjust. I am deeply saddened that we could not sustain your presence in downtown.

The Wolfe Family loves you and your family, this will not change. Thank you for a fabulous fifteen years. It was awesome.

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Random treat sent out by one of our favorite bartenders, Jackie. She could hear my girlfriend and I discussing her new status as a widow, seeing the tone of our girls night headed South, she intuitively cheered us up. You always surrounded yourself with employees with high EQ.

 

 

 

Burnt Offering; a sage-smudged massage treatment

I decided to call in the big guns for some healing therapy. I had my favorite massage therapist, and Reiki Master, Josh Hazelwood, from the Homestead Resort, make a house call. Sounds like a perfect way to relax, right?

I promise this is hilarious…give me a minute.

I want to share a day in the life of this spa blogger. It’s been three months since my last post. It’s not that I haven’t traveled, but I haven’t written for months due to some pretty depressing stuff going on in my life. I’ve had some family issues, that I would rather not relive at the moment. I think most of you can understand that type of lingering, heavy stress. I also recently lost my closest friend to cancer. It was a very long and difficult year watching not one, but two friends lose their lives to cancer. Last week I was just absolutely devastated. I could not even find peace in my mediation practice.

Fast forward to today. I have two friends painting the entire interior and trim in my home. Yeah, even the ceilings. The dry wall guys were here for a couple of days at the first of the week. This project will likely take a month to complete. My entire house, spare one room, is covered in plastic. And now, I have a fine, white film of dry wall dust covering everything. Not a single scrap of anything Christmas is found in the house. Christmas is just three days away. So yeah, it’s just a mess. I have been a hot mess. It has been a struggle. Any one of these things is stressful. The three combined has me at my emotional limit.

I decided to call in the big guns for some healing therapy. I had my favorite massage therapist, and Reiki Master, Josh Hazelwood, from the Homestead Resort, make a house call. Sounds like a perfect way to relax, right?

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Master massage and Reiki Therapist, Josh Hazlewood from the Homestead Resort makes a house call for me.

My therapist visited my neighbor Kathy’s house first. She lives up the street. He was a little turned around and was on her doorstep, massage table in hand, asking for Erin Wolfe. Thankfully, Kathy has her finger on the pulse of the neighborhood, so naturally she could direct him to my house just at the end of the cul-de-sac. His wrong house call will only add to my “amazing” reputation in my neighborhood.

I introduced Josh to my two friends and painters, Dexter and Tim. And with his typical fabulous humor, Dexter quietly says to me under his breath…”Oh great, we now have three queens up in this house.” At that point I had to remind Dexter that there is in fact only one queen in this crib and it isn’t him! #Drama

Josh and I head downstairs to my guest room, the only room in the house not completely destroyed. He and I went over my mental and physical state for a few minutes before the treatment. Since Josh and I have known each other for twenty-plus years, we can quickly cut through the typical update on my mental health and overall lack of wellness at this point. He suggests we do a combination of therapies including Reiki, massage, as well as some other energy work for my grief. Wonderful. I am so thankful to have my long-time friend here to help me. I plan on keeping an open mind. We chat about treatments, some trips I have planned for my blog, when the subject of Donald Trump comes up. Josh follows me and was tickled about my response to the 2016 election on my Facebook feed (total shock, peppered with swear words). At that point, I said we should probably burn some sage to clear out some negativity, especially since we invoked Donald Trump’s name. What an epic turn this took. Stay with me…

Josh’s massage style can be what a mutual friend calls “woo woo.” Of course he is classically trained and he takes his craft to another level by adding a spiritual aspect to it.  He smudges some sage around me, himself, and in the guest room. He puts the sage out and opens some windows. He leaves the room, and I get comfortable on his table and tuck myself in under his mint green sheets. Outside I have three men finishing the mulching of beds in my yard. I kind of forgot about them.  Yes, mulch in December. Don’t ask, It’s a long story. I know it doesn’t make any sense. You cannot make up what follows next.

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A treatment full of promise!

Josh begins the treatment with some incantations, chanting, and heavy breathing. You need to imagine him invoking spirits. He calls some spirits to come into our presence. He mentioned St. Germain, and I swear I tried to not giggle. At this point I’m thinking about my painters upstairs. Can they hear this?Dexter worked in restaurants, and that is were we met many years ago, so the fact that Josh is calling on a spirit, a name of a distilled spirit, to help me, is beyond ironic.

Josh is now doing a combination of G-Breathing which I swear sounds just like a combination of Darth Vader heavy breathing and making sounds like a digeridoo…yeah that Australian instrument…kind of freaky. This is now mixed with a chant of my name, and he spells each letter out “E-R-I-N.” He owns this spiritual part of the treatment, and his voice is loud, guttural chanting, like Buddhist monks. We have no music on during this treatment, so I’m just rolling with it and trying to focus on my breath and not giggle. Josh asks me to breathe with him. Ok, I will give it a try. I’m pretty weirded out, but least I’m not weepy, so I will try anything to feel better. We do chanted prayers at my meditation center, so I tell myself this is probably not that different.
So Josh teaches me the G-Breath technique…breathe in through the mouth, out through the mouth, then in through the mouth, out through the nose. Then, inhale through the nose, exhale through the nose, then nose, mouth, then mouth, mouth again. We repeat this breathing pattern first at a regular pace, then at a slower pace, then again at a faster pace. I know I sound like Darth Vader now, too. Oh boy, I can just imagine Dexter’s reaction if he can hear any of this. He would die laughing.
The two of us are doing this heavy breathing thing. I’m lying on the table. Josh is standing at the head of the table. I hear something else. What is that? I hear this noise in the mulch, and at first I think its a wild animal or maybe my cat. Then it dawns on me that my super-devout, Christian landscapers can hear us and see it all!!! Just a few feet from me is a landscaper digging in my garden bed right outside of the open, drapery-free window!! So when Josh is doing his myofascial release of my glutes, he exclaims, “Girl! Your butt is so tight!!!” Not once, but several times. He is in awe of the tightness of my butt muscles. My landscapers are not only hearing this, they had to see him fully extend my leg and then push my leg forward towards my shoulder. This is not a good look on anyone. He is now rotating my leg in a figure eight for what feels like infinity. Really? I just keep thinking, how am I going to explain to the landscaper? Josh now has one hand under the sheet, under my lower back, and one hand on top of the sheet, not far from my lady bits in an effort to open my chakras??? Josh continues with occasional guttural sounds while opening my different chakras. He tells me he is going to stop at my heart chakra as that is what is needed for me today, due to my grief. I am just imagining the landscapers thinking I am under some kind of surgical sheet having some weird new age treatment that may appear sexual to an untrained person. Oh man…did I mention that I already have an “awesome reputation” in my neighborhood??? This is a small town. My landscaper also works with other friends and neighbors.

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Five windows in this guest room…all open, and all without drapes!

Since Josh and I had done about an hour of the Reiki and other metaphysical techniques, we were at a point were it was mostly massage and more appropriate to have a little chat. Josh is now sitting on the end of the massage table facing me, I’m face up and he has my left leg is in what I can only explain as a wresting move, like a figure four, while I attempt to explain why I have a “tight a**.”

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My new trainer, Nicole, that kicked my butt, literally.

Josh finishes up the treatment with some rhythmic chopping on my back, backside, and legs. He throws in a little reflexology for my feet. Again, it is silent in the room, so you can hear hollow sounds on my body like a drum, AND people rooting around in my backyard. Josh varies his sound therapy at this time. This time, he is creating loud vibrations with his voice.  I would liken it to a singing bowl treatment.  He tells me it will bring about peace in most clients. I would guess that it is very effective, if you are not on display to three men covered in mulch witnessing this outside!

Ok, I can laugh at the randomness of the universe at this point, until we took another turn! No, It gets worse!!! Deciding to do another round of sage smudging for extra measure, Josh sets off my smoke detector. This is a problem as it is connected to an alarm service. I need to leap from the table, but I am just draped in a sheet wearing only my birthday suit.  Alarm blaring, he leaves for me to get dressed. I throw on some shorts and tank top…IN FRONT OF THE WINDOW!
Can I remember the code to the alarm? Hell no! I have spa brain!!! I’m trying to turn it off before the fire department gets called. Too late! My neighbor, Lorraine, is walking over with her phone to check on me. “Erin, It’s Audiotronics, there is a fire in your basement.” “No, no, I’m fine I was just burning some sage for a massage.” I am mortified. “Thank you!” I then called 911 on myself (second time this year) and inform them that we are ok, and not on fire. At that point I hear the fire truck and a moment later I see it, a large, bright, yellow, ladder truck. Now I have the siren in my house going off, and a super loud, huge, fire truck with an awesome siren, alerting all the other neighbors. Oh JEEZ! I still haven’t cleared the code. Now I’m outside in my shorts and tank top, explaining to the firemen, springing out of the fire truck to save me, that it was a false alarm. Thankfully, they were kind and understanding. Wow, I am so beyond embarrassed at this point. Can you visualize my #spahairdontcare, smudged face make up, flimsy outfit, dazed and confused look, standing in my barefeet outside on my freezing cold brick entryway? Nuts! Then my neighbor next door, Kathy #2, quickly pulls up in her SUV. “Erin are you ok, the alarm service called me.” “Um, yeah…I’m fine. It was a false alarm.” She is looking at me, then looking at the ladder truck, totally puzzled. I then have to confess my sage/massage thing to a lady that already thinks I’m totally high-maintenance. Now, I am certain there is no doubt in her mind of my diva ways.  Two painters and a massage therapist standing behind me in the house, three men in the yard, four men on the ladder truck…no, I’m definitely not high maintenance.  It’s just me getting a smoking massage. She will be giving me a hard time about this for a while.

I still can’t find the code to my alarm system. It’s so loud! I’m digging for my key fob, missing in action, of course. The painters are loving this more than you can imagine. My phone is ringing. Total chaos. It’s my husband. He is telling me our house is on fire. “No baby, its ok. It’s like what happens when I cook bacon. We’re good. Just trying to get a little massage over here.” Oh man, who is going to call or show up next???

I take a moment to just find my bearings and try to clear the alarm code. I decide to go out to the garage to get a bottle of water from refrigerator and the garage door is open. Right outside the garage are all three of my landscapers taking a break. I can only describe the look on their face, seeing me like this today, my disheveled hair, smudged makeup, summer attire, my three-man crew, and now the fire department…as an open mouth stare and total awe. I just can’t even. I have to see these guys every Wednesday. I just said false alarm, took my water, and hit the automatic garage door button to close the door. I’m out.

My painters and Josh are sad for me. They know how stressed I have been and now my momentary bliss has been squashed. They suggest a cocktail. It’s only 2:30. My massage therapist agrees. “You need water and a shot.” Dexter, Josh, and I have a shot of bourbon neat, from a now, “no longer able to be a Christmas gift” bottle of fancy bourbon that was on my counter. None of us typically drink bourbon. Drinking it without ice or a mixer is also not typical, but then again, what is typical about this day?

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Laugh or just cry? Josh, Dexter, and I chose cocktails. Yes, that is spackle on my kitchen wall.

My helpers, now paid, leave in very good cheer. My next door neighbor, Kathy #2, text me to follow up and make certain that I am ok. I give her the update on my holiday travel plans and remind her that she can use our secret Santa stash and and hot tub while I am away. She usually hides her kids’ large Christmas gifts in my lower, back porch until Christmas morning. She then texted me back, …”No need for the secret Santa stash…haven’t had that since college…but I might take you up on the hot tub.” OMG!!! What does she think I’m offering her??? I reaffirmed that I was burning SAGE!!! WTH???

I can’t wait to hear about this from my other neighbors. I live in a small town. I am certain this story will morph and evolve. It’s always smart to get your version out first.  I can’t even make this stuff up.

I know a much more epic version of this will make its rounds. Let me know if you hear a better version. I am certain we can all use a good laugh in 2017.

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IT WAS SAGE!!!

Epic.Spa.Day.

I paid for this day in many ways.  Happy to be writing again, thank you Josh! Extra special thank you to the Cave Spring Volunteer Fire Department and all of my neighbors on the security system phone chain.  One does not need to be a spa junkie to appreciate a good laugh. Please share. I know 2016 has been a hard year for many. This is my life.