18 June 2007


I am fighting the urge to spell crafty with a "k", so help me, God.

It is Monday, June 18th, a largely uneventful day. I spent a couple of hours this morning in quiet thought and prayer, something that rarely happens and something that, upon seeing it in writing, doesn't seem like it's possible coming from me. It's just not what I do. But I did. And it was good. I made guacamole around lunchtime but sadly, had a tortilla chip shortage. I rose above, as is my nature, and crisped some up in the oven. Dear reader, did you know that this was possible? Next time you have a bag of limp, void-of-crunch chips, do not toss them unless you're tossing them onto a cookie sheet and into a 300 degree oven for about ten minutes. It's miraculous what happens in those ten little minutes. Chip Resurrection -- that's what happens. Why is this of ANY consequence? No reason.

So I spent the cloudy afternoon lazing around this hushed house, as mom and dad have gone for a handful of days to the very posh lakehouse of a family friend. The cat and I have had some quality time -- we've talked quite a lot and I think we understand one another. I understand that she likes a little snack at about 4:30 pm, and she understands that I want her to stop licking all of the hair off of her right hindquarter.

I ran a few errands this afternoon in beginning to prepare for my upcoming trip to Northern Ireland. HOLY COW I'm going to Northern Ireland!! It hasn't really hit me upside the head quite yet, I guess. I thought it had, but it still surprises and thrills me to say it! YIPPEEEE! Anyhow, the errands route ended at the friendly neighborhood Publix store.

A word about Publix, or a few, if I may...A kinder, gentler grocery store -- the grocery store we always wished for but never thought was possible...
1. The employees: in their little green vests, they seem happy as clams to be where they are. A fellow in produce asked if I was finding everything okay, and I asked if they had any rhubarb. He checked in about three different spots and then found me squeezing nectarines and said, "Ma'am, I'll have to look in the back -- will you excuse me?" Why sure....It turns out they were out of rhubarb this afternoon, but his manner was so downright pleasing and apologetic and made me all but sorry for him that he had to advance into "the back" to look for me. One of them even blessed me when I sneezed in the canned vegetables aisle.
2.Packaging: genius. Check this out:

Which one would you rather buy? The cute one (I know it's a bit fuzzy, but you get the idea) is about 50 cents cheaper. Me being the sucker for packaging and the smart shopper that I am, I'm choosing the can with the blue Holstein cow on it. Here are a few more examples:

Need I say more? And did you read the text on the fudgesicle box?? "You're in command of the chocolate space patrol -- rocket on!" Whose job is that? Because I want it.
3. Checkout: I'm not sure how they manage it, but I can't recall ever waiting in line for more than perhaps five minutes. And there's always a RealSimple or Martha Stewart to keep me happily occupied as I wait. The checkout folk are so very competent and know all of their produce codes by heart. It astounds me. Upon my departure they cheerfully said, "Have a lovely evening." She actually used that word: "lovely."
That's just what Publix is: lovely. Publix, I love you.

So when I got home I cracked a Negro Modelo and my jar of pickled beets upon which to snack, and got busy with my dinner preparations. Kitchen time is pure therapy for me. It cures what ails me. If I'm bored, troubled, lonely, anxious, any of the above...some time with a knife and a wooden spoon in my hand will set it all right. Sinking my fingers into the papery skin of the onion as I peel it, the licorice scent of the fennel as it is sliced thinly, the juice from the tomatoes staining the cutting block, the stringent essence of lemon as wedges wait for a tight squeeze -- it all ministers to me and shows me, just as the swaying trees do and just as the muscles in my face do, the creative hand of the Heavenly Father. GOSH, where did he come up with all of this beauty and goodness?

The Soundtrack:
1. The Rosebuds, Birds Make Good Neighbors (favorite line: "while nature's radio plays music in our home")
2. Shelby Lynne, I Am Shelby Lynne (favorite song: Dream Some)
3. Antonio Carlos Jobim, Verve Label, Best Of...(favorite song: Aguas de Marco, duet with Astrud Gilberto)

The Menu:
Pan-seared Mahi-Mahi over onion, fennel, and zucchini with a tomato-dill broth
Sauteed garlic mushrooms, the likes of which you have never tasted
Greek yogurt with fresh nectarines, apricots, and cherries, toasted almonds, honey and cinnamon
A Late-night Shot of Absolut Kurant, ice-cold

The setting:
Back porch, candles lit, tunes playing, cat hunkered down on the steps, bugs everywhere, cloth napkin in lap.

The review: YUMMY.

The evidence: