Friday, October 26, 2012

Expensive Cheese for the Rich!

You know, I've never been able to understand why the production of fine cheese has never reached American shores.

Charles de Gaulle, President of France during the 1960's, once humorously noted "How can you govern a country that has 250 kinds of cheese?" And the British Cheese Board makes the claim there are over 700 kinds of cheese within the British Isles.

But in the United States we produce only three cheeses to speak of - Cheddar, Swiss and Monterrey Jack. How did that happen? Perhaps it has something to do with the rugged pioneer spirit, or maybe we're so rich and lazy that it's easier to import all the better, wicked cheeses from Europe.

And import we do. You'll see hundreds of varieties in any upscale market, from all over the world. The cost of importing, however, jacks the price so high that only the rich can afford them. A small wedge of French Brie or a nice Wensleydale from Britain will cost you fifteen bucks. The whole wheel could cost a couple hundred bucks or more. In all the finest homes you'll see these imported offerings laid out on a sterling silver platter along with grapes, nuts and expensive deli crackers.

But wait. This is a total turnaround in the great scheme of things. In the Middle Ages cheese was only for poor people, and not considered appropriate for a nobleman's table. In fact, the worst insult you could be called during those days was a "Cheese Eater" meaning you couldn't afford meats or game, and the only source of protein for you and your family was from cheese - old rotten fermenting milk, no longer suitable for drinking.

So in modern times we have a total reversal in the diets of the rich and poor. The rich are eating expensive cheeses now, and the poor or eating cheap meats and chicken at fast food places all over the place. Just one of those strange things in the history of mankind, with little rhyme or reason.

Thanks for stopping by tonight,


Thursday, October 18, 2012

Peace and Quiet for the Rich?

Apparently one of the nicest things about being rich is that you can remove yourself "far from the madding crowd" and steer clear of the Great Unwashed.

When we take a weekend drive through a ritzy neighborhood we're in awe of the majestic homes, not to mention the beauty and tranquility of the vast expanse of lawns and well-manicured gardens. Seemingly the payoff for the rich for having accumulated all that cash translates into withdrawal from the world into a Utopian space of infinite peace and quiet.

Or so you would think, right? But not so. All those fine homes and grounds and gardens have to be maintained, don't they? Go back to that same upscale neighborhood on a week day and you'll see the very opposite. There's an invasion of the Great Unwashed, numbered in the hundreds. And if you think all these people are quiet, think twice. Here's a list of all those needed to maintain these magnificent homes.

Contractors:  Electricians, plumbers, air conditioning guys, swimming pool techs, tree trimmers, the cable company, appliance repairmen, painters, roofers, stone masons, and the noon-time lunch wagons that show up every day to feed this small army.

Vendors:  The events planners, party rental deliveries, florists, hair dressers, pharmacy deliveries, massage therapists, UPS and FedEx drops offs, bottled-water deliveries, dog groomers - and personal shoppers arriving with all their latest discoveries.

House staff:  Nannies, Personal Assistants, Secretaries, Chauffeurs, Housekeepers, Laundry Techs, Housemen, Chefs and their assistants, and the ever-present ubiquitous Butler.

Plus rich people are always remodeling something, it's just what they do. So add this construction noise to all the chores of the groundskeepers and you've got trouble. From Monday through Friday in these elegant supposedly-tranquil neighborhoods there's this constant roar and din of noise from all the lawn mowers, leaf blowers, chainsaws, jack hammers, nail guns, drills and bench saws. Not to mention the incidental noise of all the vehicles and trucks coming and going. Usually this nerve-wracking drone slows down around four or five in the afternoon.

In most of these neighborhoods there's either a Gentlemen's Agreement or an outright rule from the Neighborhood Association that forbids lawnmowers, leaf blowers and other noisy activities on Saturdays and Sunday. So at least two days a week rich people can at least pretend they're isolated in their ivory towers, far removed from the madding crowd.

But rule of thumb, the more you have the more that must be maintained, right? From my point of view, having money does not translate into peace and quiet - not in any shape, form or fashion.  

Thanks for dropping in,


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Holiday Preparations: Quiet Before the Storm!

So here we are in mid October and things are relatively calm. But there's a tidal wave of events about to overwhelm us, right? In fact I can already feel the stress building up.

The Social Season is full upon us and there's fund raisers, charity balls and frivolous galas to deal with. The holidays are closing in fast, starting with Halloween and ending with New Year's. We've got Christmas shopping to do and greeting cards to get out. And there's an endless parade of office parties, family events, holiday dinners and all the necessary travel plans involved.

Not to forget it's football season, and there's all kinds of game-watching events and celebrations to prepare for. And this year we can add into the mix all the Presidential Debates and a Presidential Election. So for the next seventy-five days or so we've all got our hands full, don't we?

We have a major fund-raiser coming up in mid November. Save-the-Date notes were sent out last month, and six-hundred invitations will soon be going out. That's a potential of twelve-hundred people. Even with the usual twenty-percent no shows, that's still about 950 guests. Rough stuff, but we've had bigger parties than this.

There's also three minor fund raising events. Two are ladies' luncheons, and one is an afternoon tea. But even these minor events can shake seventy-five to a hundred-thousand dollars out of these ladies in nothing flat.

So I'm taking a deep breath tonight and will try to remain calm and professional throughout the upcoming onslaught. I have terrific backup from the caterers and events planners, and a professional house staff around here that can deal with practically anything. So what's to worry, right?

Thanks for stopping by this evening,