Holiday Rocks

Just in time for the holidays, the stone I purchased in Italy this September is beginning to trickle in. Our staff waits in curious anticipation, as the first bundles of slabs emerge from the shipping container.  Most of the time we play it safe, importing only proven, marketable colors. This container however, is what I call “candy store” material. New, exclusive and exciting stones purchased for discerning clientele wanting something different and unique.

Unfortunate, but not surprising, this container was held up at the port due to a union strike, with the shipping company tacking on a “congestion charge” as a result.  This is common with the importing side of our business. If it’s not a strike, then it’s snail fumigation, random DEA inspections or a myriad of other charges imposed by the Port Authority, all with the accompanying monetary levies tacked on whether you like it or not. Not exactly Holiday Cheer.

But our friends in Carrara have the last laugh, for hiding between the bundles of the beautiful stone, lurks a surprise inclusion of wine, and a large bottle of artisan olive oil, making us forget those annoying charges and ushering in the season of giving, Italiano style.

As we unbundle the stone, we’re left with the usual towering pile of wood, which will be repurposed into shipping crates, for the finished countertops we’re sending downtown to the new hotel project. In previous years, we’ve donated the wood to a gentleman who created children’s beds for families needing a little help during the holidays. This is the true spirit of the season, not all this Black Friday nonsense which is really getting out of hand.

As we approach 2015 and our 24th year in business, the entire Mario & Son team, from our family to yours, wishes you Buon Natale e un Felice Anno Nuovo, and we thank you wholeheartedly for your continued support year after year.

And if you can’t figure out what to buy that special someone on your shopping list, may I suggest a thousand pound slab of Black Mirror Quartzite under the tree this year.

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“Our first stop is in Bogotá…”

Actually, our first stop isn’t Bogotá at all, and we won’t be “checking” any Colombian fields either (as suggested by Neil Peart’s drug fueled lyrics from the classic Rush song that I blatantly stole for this blogs title). We are not exactly “drug free” however, as our bodies are pumped with a smorgasbord of every conceivable immunization known to man. Seeming appropriate, I blast the tunes oriental guitar riff from my iPod, as we board the plane and begin our first visit to Southeast Asia.

My wife, being a registered nurse, always carries an arsenal of healthcare and hygiene items with her, and begins her ritual of wiping down our seating area, oblivious to the curious looks from the other passengers. I used to cringe in embarrassment from this, but with the recent Ebola outbreaks, I’ve come to appreciate Sheri’s little bag of goodies and sterilization tactics.

With a quick layover in Tokyo’s Narita airport, we continue on to the city with the longest name on Earth: Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahinthara Ayuthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom Udomratchaniwet Mahasathan Amon Piman Awatan Sathit Sakkathattiya Witsanukam Prasit.

I pity the poor Thai kid that was given that in a spelling bee.

Thankfully, for the rest of the world, the much more tolerable Bangkok works just fine.

Thailand always fascinated me, due to our involvement in Lotus Martial Art as youngsters. Too young then to really understand, my brothers and I were immersed in the Thai culture by our instructors Chuck and Lily Quick. Thai food and odd sounding names seeped into my inner psyche, and I recall studying maps of the Asian area, never knowing I would someday visit there.

(Photo – Lily Quick from the Spokane Dojo circa 1976.)

Having booked this trip nearly a year in advance, we’ll be able to scratch a few items off our ever-shortening bucket list, while we’re still young and crazy enough to do so.  This trip (by design) was strategically placed to provide a window of healing from my recent Carpal Tunnel surgery.  It’s a good thing too, as the previous month wasn’t as “sidelined” as it should have been. (Don’t tell Dr. Lin and what Sheri doesn’t know won’t hurt her either.)

The hot and humid air slaps us firmly in the face, as we de-plane in Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport and head to our hotel with the worst case of jet lag ever, our circadian rhythms hopelessly out of whack.  Looking around, the quote “We’re not in Kansas anymore” certainly applies here amid the strange writing and bizarre chatter around us amplified by our current zombie state of mind.

Checking into our hotel and stumbling into bed, this will be literally be “One night in Bangkok” (for now) as we fly by morning light to the Kingdom of Cambodia, beginning our newest adventure in the Lost City of Angkor…

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