We went out to dinner last night, to celebrate the end of my jury service and the completion of a fine new acrylic painting by Ellie. She's really doing well in that studio we created down below the cottage. This weekend, she even has an interview coming up with the local paper, in a series about artists working in their garage! Next up... sales! Then SHE can pick up the tab at the restaurant.
Anyway, we went to Sage on the Coast, a favorite spot on the cliff up above Crystal Cove, where the food is reliably good and the service friendly. Along with a vodka martini (for P) and a glass or two of wine, we chose three starters to share, and had an excellent feast at a table on the patio, with a view out over their lovely herb garden. Altogether a treat.
We were intrigued with the party at the long table next to ours--a single man at the head, accompanied by eleven women of varying ages, several quite young. It was clearly not a family gathering, and our interest was further piqued when the host rose, after hors d'oeuvres, with an obviously prepared speech and a package of neatly wrapped gifts. We heard only snatches of the speech, but gathered that he was addressing each of the women in turn with a few complimentary words and a gift of rather nice jewelry. Ellie thought that the light blue boxes looked like Tiffany's.
Well, curiosity overcame us, and after their ceremony we beckoned over one of the young women to ask what they were celebrating. It turned out, sadly, that they were "celebrating" the demise of their business--a pet supply outlet whose parent company back east had decided to close down this part of their operation in hard economic times. The women had all been laid off, and only two of the eleven thus far had found alternative employment. The job market, our informant assured us--as if we did not already know--is horribly bleak. She herself remained jobless but irrepressibly upbeat. I told her I would have given her a job if I had one.
So that was our interlude. A mixed pleasure. Below you will find two new installments of the long story of "The Trial." Today, it's my intention to write the final episode, and I'll plan to post it tomorrow, all being well.