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I thought Dennis La Fleur looked quite jaunty as he showed us to our table. Wearing a beret, Dennis poured glasses of red wine. He welcomed Gretchen and me to Parisian Bistro Night, the second in a series of special event evenings designed to give Mountview residents a festive, gourmet experience in their own dining room. Dennis is the marketing director for the Montrose retirement residence.

October 01, 2004

Once seated, we introduced ourselves to our tablemates, Frances Burk and Gladys Wylie. They were just finishing their meal and told us to save room for dessert. Frances moved to Mountview from Sylmar to be closer to her sister Virginia, who lives in La Crescenta. Virginia's children Trent from La Cañada and Carla Johnson of Glendale visit often with their aunt Frances. Gladys, who has been widowed twice, worked for many years in the insurance business. Now she enjoys her grandchildren. The ladies left us to catch a television news show.

As they departed, we were introduced to a charming lady, Tricia Hogan. Tricia dressed in costume for the French festivities. Gretchen admired her fishnet stockings and the feather boa draped around her shoulders. We were spooning up the French onion soup when Gretchen and Tricia discovered they both spoke French. They launched into French at full tilt.

An incurable romantic, I love to listen to spoken French. Gretchen and Tricia both have that animated sparkle I associate with chic French women. Every once in awhile they stopped to give me a quick translation; it's likely I have my facts slightly askew because I was trying to eat a meal and take notes on a foreign language conversation.

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Tricia perfected her French while living in a villa on the Cote de Azur. She divided her time between a London townhouse and the villa. She said, "It was the most beautiful part of my life, so many happy years." One of her sons Jerry Donahue, a musician, lives in Germany. Her second son, a biologist, passed away last year. Her last child, Ando Lloy, was a Vietnamese orphan, when she adopted him. The older boys were schooled in England, but Ando graduated from St Francis High School in La Cañada. He'll soon celebrate his 30th birthday at his new home in San Diego.

Tricia loved to play tennis and has been an active member of St. Bede's for many years. She's the president of the residents' council at Mountview, where she's lived for the past three years, after giving up her home in Emerald Isle. Her husband died while Tricia was in the midst of recovering from a series of hip surgeries. She felt she couldn't manage both her recovery and a large home, alone.

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