Emotions flow at Tower of Salsa benefit, and Texas recognizes the good will of Les Dames

Strong emotions generated at the May 12 Tower of Salsa benefit for Ruben Rodriguez have me seeing everything through the prism of family this week. Just a few examples: A loose confederation of women (and a few guys), all of us pretty much accustomed to being mistresses of our own little universes, managed to come together to pull off a successful event. My heartfelt thanks to Darcie Fromholz, Kellye Rila, Leeann Atherton, Fran Moody, Pame­la-Jean Dotte, Taj Reid, Cheryl Smith, Ben Fuller, Greg Mojohand, Kevin Conner, and Jack Kinslow for making it happen. There were also the Antone's family, who made us right at home in the venue, and the individual communities of musicians; media folks; graphic artists; pie makers; restaurateurs; jewelry, clothing, and craft designers; and all-around generous folks who contributed to the entertainment and the auction. Showman Larry Lange and his family came early and stayed late and closed their set with a spirited Mexican polka that provided the Rodriguez siblings the opportunity to put aside their concerns and anxieties for a few minutes and just enjoy watching their parents on the dance floor. A large assembly of the Fromholz family was in town for Steve's performance at the benefit and Felicity's graduation from college, and there was a glow of sheer delight on Steve's handsome, weathered face as he waved at his 2-year-old grandson, 'Zo, who was toddling around the dance floor. There was the ageless beauty of the Hancock women, who contributed their musical soul to the evening; the Fowler/Ball family, which donated both music and art to the cause; and a long, smoking-hot set from Jimmie Vaughan, Derek O'Brien, and the tight Blue Tuesday band family, scheduled earlier in the evening because they had to get kids off to school the next morning. Thank you all... The Austin food and wine community loses one of our favorite families this month when Sue Carter and Leonard Joseph return to their native England after a 22-year residence in Austin. Many of us first became acquainted with the multifaceted couple through the Cellar, the West Lake-area wineshop and deli they owned for several years, while others know Sue through her more recent association with the Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival. In her e-mail announcing their impending departure, Sue spoke of their desire to spend quality time with her parents and to do some traveling in Europe, and she related her wish that the bonds of friendship they've developed here would "not be broken by the distance, but merely stretched." Amen to that, and bon voyage!... Kudos to the women of the Austin chapter of Les Dames d'Escoffier, and in particular Pamela Nevarez and Cathy Cochran-Lewis, who recently received a state of Texas commendation from the Outreach Missions at the University United Method­ist Church "in recognition of their faithful contribution and generous service volunteering weekly to provide nutritious items to enhance the menu of the UUMC Outreach Program." As a result of their efforts, the Saturday outreach program now feeds both breakfast and lunch to more than 600 homeless people weekly. (For more on the Austin Les Dames chapter and its involvement in various community projects, see "Sisters Are Doing It for Themselves ... and Austin, Too!" April 11, 2008)... The Isley family of Colo­rado has opened a local outlet of Natural Grocers by Vita­min Cottage (3901 Guadalupe, 323-5100, in the former home of Rooster Andrews Sporting Goods. In business since the mid-Fifties, Natural Grocers operates more than 30 stores in Colorado, New Mexico, and Texas.

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Eva's Botanitas, Ruben Rodriguez, Les Dames d'Escoffier, Texas Hill Country Wine & Food Festival, Pamela Nevarez, Cathy Cochran-Lewis, University United Methodist Church, Sue Carter, Leonard Joseph, The Cellar

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