Mushrooms aren't the only things that get mixed up

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

“I have a reservation.”

I was at the front desk of the Fairfield Inn in Smithfield North Carolina – a welcome position after the day’s drive, which had taken us through states crippled by an early ice storm.

“You are in room 106”, said the angelic young man behind the counter – who was most certainly fresh out of finishing school – courteous, well mannered and highly manicured.


The lobby was lovely, with soft colors and an accent wall behind the counter depicting tree limbs. Or a spider web. Or maybe capillaries.

Photo: Fairfield Inn

Either way, it was stylish and also hypnotic. I felt instantly in harmony with my guest services agent who - in the time it took to write down my license plate number - walked me through three of my past lives. Twice.

Then the phone rang.

Opposite to the check-in zone, was a seating area, plucked straight out of an episode of Mad Men, season 5. Very modish with a long low table, orange lounger, and a jaunty lamp. There was also a teeny tiny horse in the fireplace. Because, artists.
Photo: Fairfield Inn

After completing the gargantuan task of transporting our overnight bags, colossal snack cooler, pillows, laptops, toy bags and stuffed animals from truck to room… we gathered in the hallway, planning our next move, which – on this trip - most often, (but not always) involved a Cracker Barrel, since we’re all about consistency and also, buying trinkets.

One problem. Because of power outages associated with the ice storm, the local neighborhood Cracker Barrel was closed.

So instead we went to The Outback where our pre-dinner conversation sounded something like this…

Me: I wonder if they have mushrooms.
Jan: I’m sure they have mushrooms. 
The 5 year old: I LOVE MUSHROOMS!
Geoff: Let’s order mushrooms. 

We don’t get out much.

We placed our orders with our server Jill making sure to ask for a dish of plain, cooked mushrooms for the kid.

Shortly after, our food arrived. Steak for Geoff, chicken for Jan and I and a big plate of veggies for the littlest one who always amazes me with her preference for greens over grilled cheese. Not to mention her penchant for kippered herring.

Then, the mushrooms appeared. They were grilled, brown and drenched with wine sauce. I took a bite and became immediately drunk.

When Jill came back to ask how things were, we said everything was great. Still, since we were hoping to keep our kindergartner sober for the evening (after all, she was really looking forward to a swim in the hotel pool) we asked if she could take back the mushrooms and instead bring us some just like those, only without the booze.

She obliged and within minutes, brought a pile of covered, smothered, battered and deep-fried mushrooms.

Kind of the opposite of what we were hoping for.

We gave up on the mushrooms, finished the rest of our supper – which was actually pretty good - and decided that our server was just a bit muddled in the head so we tipped her anyway.

Poor confused, mixed-up Jill.

Driving back to the hotel, our after-dinner conversation sounded something like this…

Me: How hard is it to cook a plate of grilled mushrooms?
Jan: Maybe nobody there actually eats mushrooms.
The 5 year old: I really love mushrooms. 
Geoff: Maybe Jill was into the wine sauce. 

Remember, we don’t get out much. Which also kind of explains what happened next.

We walked into the hotel lobby and made a beeline for the hallway leading to room 106. There was only one problem. The hallway wasn’t there. Not only that, the fireplace was gone and along with it, the horse.

Photo: Sleep Inn

My transcendent guest services agent and his mesmerizing wall mural were missing and instead there stood a woman with brown barrettes in her hair. There wasn’t a mural behind her but there was a sign that said: “You are in the wrong hotel. This is a Sleep Inn. You are staying at the Fairfield Inn – down the street and to the right.” 

Photo: Sleep Inn

This, was our hotel.

Photo: Fairfield Inn

This, was not our hotel.

Photo: Sleep Inn

We, were most certainly mixed-up.

My only defense is that it was dark, both hotels had automatic sliding doors, I had eaten one of those boozy mushrooms and most importantly, Geoff was driving.

No, really.

Spot the missing roof

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

My time in art school seems like it happened an eternity ago. Mostly because it's been an eternity since I attended art school.

I love to make art, but I also love to write and I find that the words don't ever seem to flow at the same time as the paint.

To give you an example, it took me approximately 17 and a half minutes to write that last sentence.

In other words, here's what I've been up to lately...

Did you spot the disappearing (and reappearing) roof?

Artists are magicians.

No, really.

Coastal expression

by Andrea Mulder-Slater

When I'm writing, I'm not painting and when I'm painting, I'm not writing.

I haven't been writing much lately...