Friday, August 26, 2011

Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 5 Still a Work in Progress

Lonnie was worried; the grand opening of Le Magnifique! had not gone smoothly: there were fewer customers than expected, and then the first two employees were a mess, so he had to fire them and immediately hire two more. The only thing that more than fulfilled his expectations was that he had made no mistake with Elaine; she was a magnificent and enthusiastic chef.

However; the next couple days at Le Magnifique! were definitely busier and more successful. Lonnie was finding out that owning and managing his own business concern was much more tiring than hosting his own show. He could tape those shows and only work 3 days a week. Meanwhile, while she was a hard worker, even Elaine could get worn out. He sent her home early one night and took over as chef for the evening. And Lonnie has already spelled Chris as host while she took a much needed break.

At home Liara brought home a new friend from school, Brook Ottomas. They got along well and planned to visit each other often. Jenny saw no problem with this and said she would call Brook’s mother to see when Liara could go to their house.

The restaurant was closed on Mondays and to relax the tension he felt in his mind and body Lonnie practiced his piano playing while Loni Faye danced to the music.

That night something happened that  they would never forget. They had a frightening home invasion. Their alarm went off but the thief was already in the house. A Pleasantview policeman was there johnny-on the spot, but he did a lousy job. Jenny and Lonnie were alarmed to see that the girls had awakened and were rushing down right into the fracas. Grabbing them and pushing them behind her Jenny thought, well, he’ll have to get to Lonnie and me first to get to them.  She was a tigress with her cubs, ready to attack this interloper the moment he made a move toward them. The burglar was preoccupied with the fight he was having with the cop, though.

The burglar got away and the cop shrugged and said,  

“There goes my promotion”.

Loni Faye sniffed then muttered under her breath,

“Some crime-stopper.”

She was about to elaborate and in a louder voice when Lonnie gave her a warning look and she said no more. Then she realized that the burglar had stolen one of her favorite paintings and she began to cry. At least he had left the other family paintings alone; the ones painted by Jenny and Lonnie, but still he came in their home to take their things. Soon Liara was joining in with her own tears.

Right after the policeman left and as the children were about to crawl into bed Jenny looked out her bedroom window and saw that it had begun to snow—beautiful fat flakes that were accumulating quickly. It was only early November, they had not even celebrated Thanksdiving Day yet, but winter was here for sure.

Lonnie went to the restaurant on Monday (the place was closed on Sundays and Mondays) and in the deserted kitchen prepared all sorts of desserts for the next day to serve and to sell. Making chocolate-chocolate cakes, berry pies, cherry-cheesecake, he would have to make the baked alaska and freeze it so that patrons could set it aflame when they served it at home and the servers could light it just before they took it to the table. He would now need a cashier.

When Lonnie first bought Le Magnifique! he had intended to make the upstairs a game room on the way out to the al fresco dining on the roof. It had a lovely view of the ocean and could be used in warm weather. Soon he had seen that the pinball machines and dartboards were waylaying people from the outdoor tables and ordering. Even when it was too cold to use the balcony, people wondered up there after eating instead of paying and moving on. There was no money being made if they rushed upstairs to play free pinball after their meal. He realized if he kept it that way he would need a manager just for the upstairs. Now he decided to remove the games, and put in a bathroom just for his own needs with a bath and a shower. He was at the restaurant so many hours he would need it. This left a smaller lounge area for the customers, but hopefully would pave the way to the fresh air dining come spring.

Loni Faye had recently decided that  not only would she someday be a virtuoso on the piano and cook like a celebrity chef (just like her father), but also learn to paint like her mother. Jenny was a much better artist than Lonnie, and almost as good a cook, but had never been to culinary school or art school.

Right now Liara was content to merely enjoy her childhood, never mind about the future. Jenny had just begun her first novel about a teenage couple from a southern state who must raise their child and grow up at the same time.

It was now winter and as the weeks went by the family was busy with various things. Loni Faye had her many friends over after school and on Saturdays and practiced the piano, too. Liara loved make believe and played often with her doll house. As always she spent lots of hours at the play-station as well, using the blocks and drawing pictures. When Jenny wasn’t working on her novel she was in her studio working with her pottery.

Lately Jenny had been complaining that the family never had any time together with Lonnie gone so much so on his next weekend, Lonnie took Jenny and the girls to the Wonderland Ice Skating Rink. Loni Faye and Liara were so happy to be going out to do something with their parents that they wouldn’t have cared what it was or where they were going, but the ice skating rink was so much fun they were close to ecstatic.  Lonnie and Loni Faye practiced their spins together while Jenny worked with Liara, teaching her to skate. While there the girls ran into Loni Faye’s friend, Christopher Cooke. Jenny could see that he had a little crush on Loni Faye and that he was thrilled when she agreed to do some spins with him.

Poor Lonnie took some terrible spills, in fact, they all took at least one tumble before the afternoon was over.

By suppertime and after many falls and fun on the ice they all trooped home to take hot baths that would hopefully ease their sore muscles.

It was now getting close to Christmas and Lonnie decided it was a good time to make a Baked Alaska for the family. Later that night the couple read to relax before bed. Both had begun to wonder if the sweet romance and incredible excitement they had always felt for each other were gone from their marriage forever…

Next update: Harvey and Lori Ferguson Ch. 5 Takemizu Village

Next chapter on the Jenny Lomas Hammond Family HERE

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Jenny Lomax-Hammond Ch. 4 Le Magnifique!

The Hammond family’s daily life was currently busy but unremarkable. Jenny taught Liara to walk, talk and use the potty. Loni Faye still brought home her school friends to play and stay for supper.

Summer turned to fall and Liara’s lessons went on. Breakfast was usually cold cereal for Loni Faye on weekdays and pancakes on Saturday mornings, while Liara had her hot oatmeal every day of the week.

One day in October Jenny was working with her pottery wheel (she’d recently taken night courses in basic pottery) she looked out the window and saw her new neighbor, Candy Severino, walking down the street. She went out to make her acquaintance for they had not yet met.

Candy was an attractive blond with three young sons, two were in high school and one, Angelo, was Loni Faye’s age and had even been to the house before.

Lonnie had the day off from his job as a cooking show TV Host (“You Can Saute!”) so Jenny introduced him to Candy. They learned she had been a stay-at-home mom since Angelo was born.  Now that he was in school she was bored but unsure of what she wanted to do.  Candy said that she had been a top waitress in a high end restaurant for a number of years before she married her husband, Vic, and after she had the oldest boys, Vic Jr. and Shane, who were now 17 and 16. There was a big gap in years between the oldest boys and the youngest son. Unfortunately Jenny could relate to the stay at home boredom. Lonnie filed this information on Candy away. Not for the reason he used to keep information on a woman, but in case he needed a second waitress at the restaurant he was soon going to open in Bluewater Village.

While they were still talking out in front of the house Loni Faye came home from school and Lonnie wanted to work some more on his portrait of her. They went inside so he could finish the painting. Once he was done, Loni Faye raved over the finished product and they place it right next to the portrait of Lonnie that Jenny had done.

That night Lonnie explained to his daughter about the new restaurant he had been working on whenever he had days off from work. He’d soon be quitting his job as a TV Cooking Show host. Unfortunately, this would mean that he would be working longer hours for a while. But once he had it up and running, the girls and their mother could come to see his restaurant. Loni Faye was very excited about this; she had once gone with her father to the studio to see his show being made and it had been a wonderful and educational experience.

Meanwhile little Liara would soon be having her birthday. She was a very sweet child and definitely had a distinctly different personality from Loni Faye. 


The next week early in the morning before he left to go to the restaurant Jenny and Lonnie talked about how it was almost ready for the grand opening.  He had given his notice to his producer some time ago and finished up the last episode the week before.

The restaurant was upscale and Lonnie had spent quite some time redecorating. His first hire was Cara Nanale who used to live on Twikkii Island, she would be a server. He managed to hire Elaine Ottomas away from her job as a sou chef at another restaurant. She was to be head chef at Le Magnifique (Fine Dining), the name Lonnie had given to his restaurant when he first considered making it a French restaurant. Then he decided the fare would be eclectic rather than only French cuisine, but Lonnie loved the sound of Le Magnifique so he was using the name just the same. Being head chef appealed to Elaine who had been busting to move on at her former place of employment, but the head chef there was the owner. Not much chance for advancement. 

Finally, he had the décor the way he wanted it. The last thing to be done was finishing the washrooms at the back of the restaurant. The only difference between the women's room and the men's was the wallpaper and the paintings. Lonnie used the same color wallpaper but the women's had a feminine pattern to it while the men's was plain. He added a very small office/employee lounge that would allow the employees to rest on their breaks rather than use the couch that was in the lounge leading to the restrooms. He preferred to reserve that for patrons.

The small office that doubled as an employee lounge:

The lounge leading to the customer restrooms:

The customer washrooms, the women's room on the left...

To Lonnie's dismay on the second day Le Magnifique was open he had to fire both his hostess, Victoria Thompson, and the server, Cara, when they ignored customers and got in an argument. This turned out to be a fortunate incident long run because he then hired Chris Hiatt as the hostess and she immediately did a wonderful job both keeping track of reservations and seating but also schmoozing with patrons. The same was true for his new server, Beth Lind, who was very good with customers and could carry heavy trays even though she was petite. Unfortunately she was in high school and could only work part time. The restaurant would be open for lunch and right through the day until 11 pm so it required long hours. He hired a second server--their neighbor Candy Severino--as it turned out she was an excellent choice.

There was only a smattering of customers the first two days in spite of plenty of promotion in the papers, on the radio and even on TV. It just takes patience, Jenny assured the worried Lonnie. At the end of each day he was exhausted. When he closed the restaurant, and let his employees go home he did a last inspection to make sure everything had been picked up and cleared away and that the kitchen was spotless. Then he usually collapsed on the sofa in the waiting area. It was not designed for a nap, but for beauty and to give customers a place to sit while waiting to be seated. In Lonnie's restaurant he would not permit it to be a long wait. He always felt numb, like he was in some sort of daze. Finally he would rouse himself and catch a taxi home.

Back at home it was now Liara’s birthday and Lonnie tried to explain this to her. She listened carefully but she didn’t know what he was talking about; it just wasn’t in the realm of her experience. Smiling sweetly at her Daddy was all she knew to do about this confusing topic.

Jenny was going to bake a birthday cake for later in the day, so Loni Faye decided to bake one, too, using her little Simple-Bake Oven. She exercised faithfully every day so she decided she could surely eat this cake herself with no bad after-effects. Besides, she reasoned, her mother's cake was big enough for all, whereas hers was just enough cake for one or two persons. So she carried it down to the kitchen and gobbled it up.

“It’s simple-bake all right,” she said to herself, pleased with the results, “and simply scrumptious!" 

After supper they gathered around the table. Liara still didn’t know what was going on but everyone seemed happy so she was happy, too. Lonnie held his youngest daughter and helped her blow out the candles as Jenny and Loni Faye cheered.

Then he set Liara down on the floor and they all watched her expectantly. Liara looked back at them in wonder. They were obviously anticipating some sort of action from her, she just couldn’t figure out what that might be. So she was about to recite her nursery rhyme for them--they always liked that--when she felt a sort of exhilaration come over her and she stood up and and began to wobble on her little feet. And then, all in a whirl,  she was a no longer a toddler, she was almost as grown up as Loni Faye! Liara was thrilled with her clever new body which she could see would now be able to do things that she never could have done before. Now Loni Faye would have company when she exercised and when she used the playstation.

Jenny allowed Liara to redecorate the nursery to her own tastes which were obviously quite different than Loni Faye’s. Loni Faye loved modern furniture in very bright colors while Liara preferred shabby chic furniture in soft pastels and kept her old nursery wallpaper because she was sentimental. 

In spite of their different personalities—or maybe because of them—the two sisters got along very well. Separate rooms helped them to have their own space with plenty of privacy, so that alleviated one source of possible tension. They both adored their parents, although Loni Faye still idolized her father while Liara felt especially close to their mother so they weren't rivals on that score either.

However; Loni Faye, being the oldest and very outgoing as well, never knew a stranger and tended to be a bit bossy at times. Liara, being the second child and youngest, was more quiet, even at home, and was quite reserved, even shy, with people she did not know. She didn’t really like being bossed, of course, but Loni Faye was the one who always had the really great ideas for play that took imagination and were just plain fun. So Liara usually went along with her most of the time. However she was becoming a bookworm and a computer geek, too, in self-defense. After all, reading was educational and an easy way to avoid her sister at times. Lonnie and Jenny were of the opinion that Loni Faye wanted a lot of attention from them and so she strove to please them while Liara just wanted to be left alone. She did want approval from her parents, of course, but she was unwilling to stand on her head to get it. They loved both girls and would not have them any other way.

And in spite of their opposite tastes sometimes the girls chose to dress in complimentary or matching colors because they considered it funny when people thought that they were twins.

It was winter now and the girls were busy, busy, busy with school activities and homework while Lonnie was consumed with running his new business. Jenny was becoming somewhat bored; not a good thing. When there was a sale on children’s clothing at in Bluewater Village, she hurried to get some brightly colored outfits for Loni Faye and soft pastel ones for Liara. The sale was so good she also picked up items for herself and for Lonnie.

Now that the girls were both in school, she had more time to work on her painting and pottery. She began to wonder if she should go back to work, but decided since Lonnie was now working such long hours, it was more important than ever that she be there for her daughters. She still secretly hoped that her oldest daughter, Chelsea, would find it in her to forgive her for all the pain she'd caused her years ago--and get to know her half-sisters before they were grown.