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Oh What a Night!

Can you just say "Wow!" with me? I always knew that my dear Bruce was brilliant, but now everyone else does!
Actually, the above photo was the night's culmination, but I thought because that was why we were there, it would be a good way to begin. Of course Bruce can't figure out what to do with it, but that's a good problem to have.

Bruce went about his work business with the same diligence as every day. I, on the other hand, went to the nail salon and got that part of my old body looking presentable. After a mad dash home for lunch, I went to see Monica for a haircut. Guess what? I came home with a minor bang trim, and an up-do. Isn't that a funny term? In my entire life I've had that done about three times, for a prom and homecoming a long, long time ago, and David's wedding. Now I'm up to four.
Good thing I'd brought my dress to the salon because I would have never gotten it on at home! I am pretty much a last minute kind of girl so it sure felt weird having it on at 2:30 in the afternoon with my sandals. Angela took the above photo so I could actually see what it looked like. Although I wasn't too sure about it, I'm happy to report that it felt great all night long.

Angela took a few more of the two of us in the front yard as it was so sunny anywhere else I knew we'd be squinting.
Doesn't Bruce look spiffy? The wind was picking up and I was sure some of my hair would come out of it's maze, however, my fears were unfounded.

Traffic was terrible, getting to the Ritz-Carlton, putting us both a little on edge, Bruce more so than myself because the night was all about him--and a few others. :) After checking into our room, we were ready to make our entrance:
Let's just say they thought of everything. It was not only beautiful, but there was music, an open bar, fancy little canapes, and a photo spot, where they took our photograph and gave Bruce his badge with WINNER attached to the bottom!
All of the company presidents were in attendance, sitting at tables with the individual winners of which Bruce was one of 14. The doors to the room opened, and what a lovely sight it was.
Note Bruce with the winner badge..

I don't need to tell you how lovely the tables were with the starter course waiting:
Here, my friends, is the menu:

Truffle Beet Carpaccio, Lump Crab, Avocado 
Florida Citrus, Goat Cheese


Ritz-Carlton Rolls


Stacked Local Greens, Heirloom Tomatoes
Sliced Burrata, Lavosh
Lemon Basil Vinaigrette


Oak Roasted Chateaubriand, Citrus Dusted Striped Bass
Mack Farms Fingerling Potato, Royal Mushroom
Creamed Leek, Rainbow Cauliflower
Green Beans with Almond Butter

Plus, following the meal they served tiny desserts and coffee in the lobby area, which is when the winners picked up their trophy, I mean award statue. Everything was delicious, with wine and champagne flowing throughout the evening as well.

To keep it moving Clarence Otis (President) and Drew Madsen (COO), gave out the awards during the starters, and in between courses, reading out something wonderful about each of the winners who went on stage for a handshake and photo op. Good thing they had a professional in front of the stage because my vantage point wasn't the best. Nor did I want to look too much like a dork taking photos. I did my best:
Mr. Otis is on the right. Needless to say, my heart swelled with pride. :) I'm getting a teeny bit teary eyed just writing about it.

We sure are having quite a big year aren't we? What with both of us turning 60, a 40 year wedding anniversary, a son getting married, and now this? Getting old does have it's advantages.....

Then it was over, a once in a lifetime night. The lobby sure looks beautiful at night, doesn't it?
After sleeping in this morning, at least our version of that, I spent a few minutes outside taking a few photographs:
This looks like it would be a lovely spot to spend the morning once the weather cools off!

Here comes something amazing!!!

Deciding to eat breakfast close to home, we vacillated, eventually deciding on a little restaurant on Orange Avenue called "Carol's Place." Regina told me it was good, so why not? Getting out of the car in a pretty run down gravel lot, I told Bruce it was certainly a far cry from the Ritz, not that I was complaining mind you, only making an observation.

I was going to write a little lead in, but let's just cut to the chase, shall we? Bruce recognized the hostess, and I'm sure our son Matt will get a kick out of this, turns out she is now the owner of the restaurant, but many years ago, as in 20 +, she was the wife of Bruce Wallick who owned the company Waltree. Because she worked in the office, Bruce knew her well. So, where is this leading?

It was while working for Waltree that Bruce built his first Olive Garden on the contractor's side. Because he was good at that end of things, when I saw an ad in the paper for a Project Manager at Darden, I urged Bruce to apply, and lo and behold, they hired him nearly 21 years ago. It seemed so incredible that we would see her after the big night, not having done so since Bruce left Waltree for Darden all those years ago.

Oftentimes I complain about how hard Bruce works, but the truth is, our lives, and the lives of our children, have benefited greatly from his time with Darden. Last night was evidence that Darden thinks they have benefited greatly as well.
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