The Sweet Scent Of A Perfect Peach

Helianthus annuus (Sunflower). Taken at garden...

Image via Wikipedia

In my imagination I think we would be friends if only we lived closer together. I would give her, and only her, the true secret ingredient to my super moist banana chip/raisin bread. Her mouth would smile widely and crumbs would spill happily from her mouth as she ate it with delight; her big doe eyes would nod in agreement. I can’t compete with her cooking of course, she was born baking and cooking but there is no competition between friends. We laugh together at my lack of cooking skills and she constantly admonishes me and tells me she will force me to learn. Knowing her, I have a feeling, she will make me follow through.

On the side of her house I imagine her large garden where she picks her own deep, red  tomatoes from the vine and takes a big bite of one warmed by the sun. She has sunflowers, big tall, brown, vibrant orange and yellow, about fifty of them, near the rows of green peas and lettuce and carrots hiding in the moist soil. Next to them, sweet butter corn  grows tall and stretches to the sun like a morning yoga pose. Wildflowers grow nearby, purple, yellow, pink, white and the blue of a delicate robin’s egg. There are so many vibrant and intense colors in her garden, it’s like staring at a painting by Matisse.

I’ve never had the actual opportunity to meet an idol, someone I’ve cherished since I was a teenager, but I came close, by association, a few weeks ago. I spoke with her warm and friendly assistant and it was such a pleasure. Melissa, her assistant, told me something I will always remember. “She liked your writing and wants you in HER group.”  That lifted my spirits for days. While I could not go to the current workshop she was holding I hope one day to meet her and attend a different workshop.

I read her first book about one hundred times; a book that still sits on my living room shelf now,  forty years later. I share my house with my husband, a son who is soon off to college for the first time, a daughter who will now be a senior in high school and a nine-year old adopted shelter dog named Callie who is sleeping on top of my feet. That first book has been carted from my parents’ apartment to college to every city I have lived in.  We grew up together, she and I, for a forty-year time period, she just didn’t know me.

There’s no doubt in my mind, from her first magazine article in the New York Times that she would grow up to be an amazingly talented, gifted writer. True to herself and her family and friends. She grew as a writer and as a person, I wonder if people expected her to stay nineteen and if that was hard for her? We all change and grow, make mistakes, learn; stagnant is boring.

I think she would be warm and funny, intense about her work and friendly, she probably just baked apple muffins with a crumb topping and served it with sun tea. There’s a colorful tiled table that holds chocolate chip and oatmeal raisin cookies that she whipped up in a spare hour;  sharp, white cheddar cheese and crispy pita chips would be nearby. Family and friends are always invited to her kitchen; there are always people and animals nearby.

I imagine sitting on a large white patio, rocking slowly on our rocking chairs and exchanging whispered secrets and watching the red sunset fall slowly into the water to form three lines of color, orange, dark green, ultimately black. I remember when my family and I used to go to Cape Cod, when our kids were much younger, at every sunset we would sit on the sand, other people around us, and we would wait for the sun to set. When it did, everyone clapped. That is my idea of heaven, living near the ocean, watching the sunset with strangers sharing stories, listening to Reggae music provided for free. Sitting still in front of nature as if we were in a theater waiting for the curtain to rise.

At night, in my imagination, we would creep down the stairs and meet in the kitchen unplanned. We would burst into giggles when we found out we were there for the very same thing.  I always snack after I am supposed to be asleep and I eyed a bowl of ripe peaches on a small, round table that she had recently repainted in pink-rose paint. That first bite of that juicy peach would make me happy, so happy I  can’t even describe it. This peach, this wonderful gift from nature was just perfect. It was ripe, juicy, sweet and had a silken texture. The juice rolled down my chin and I groaned with every bite of happiness. It was the sweet scent of a perfect peach with my new friend, laughing into the dark night.

Dedicated to Joyce Maynard and Melissa

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Swedish Fish Are Mood Elevators

2.28.09

Image by absenthero via Flickr

Sometimes all we need is a change of attitude. Or a good night’s sleep or the morning light that makes evening’s horrific problems seem not so bad after all. It’s hard to wake up grumpy after nine hours of sleep. My back is a little better so that’s an improvement and I  hear the cardinals tweet their beautiful songs right outside my window. It’s raining but the light gray skies look hopeful, almost as if they were encouraging the sun to come out and play.

I found a diner that serves carrot cake by the slice but ever since I saw it I haven’t been back to buy it. Just knowing its available is good enough, well, until tomorrow when I go back, hand them my cash and run.

Writing about my narrow angled glaucoma last night made me feel relieved. It had never occurred to me to write about it before and I find that strange. I can post about Fibromyalgia but this horror, this reality, had subconsciously become my scary secret.  It’s as if before I had avoided a part of my own reality: I’m scared to death of going blind and the procedures themselves are excruciating. Help me. Please.

Tonight I will break apart the multi-grain French loaf that I bought at the store yesterday, warm it up and eat it with olive oil or butter and a chunk of sharp white cheddar cheese, and honey and that will be my dinner. I will drink diet vanilla Coke out of  a wine glass and celebrate being alive, celebrate yesterday being over.

My headache throbs incessantly and will not go away. Weather? Stress? Fibromyalgia? Life? These days I’m a single mother of two active and self-involved teenagers that dance around me. There is no real communication or help, because they are only concerned about themselves and their private worlds of friends.  I lost it today, saying I was not “their maid” and they need to help out. At 16 and a half and almost 18 and a half they should really know better but they don’t. Age appropriate? Probably. Annoying? Definitely.

I am looking forward to watching Modern Family tonight on television while eating Swedish Fish. Yesterday was the first time I ever had a Swedish fish, I took a few out of the bags I had bought my children and tried them. I now know why they love them. The texture is smooth, slimy, sugary sweet and strawberry? I eat them gingerly not wanting to tempt the pain of TMJ. Even so, Swedish Fish (and no, they are not paying me) truly are a delicacy, because other than ginger-lemon cookies, they are all I’ve got.  Sugar therapy. Works for me.

Man vs Food #3 (Because You Asked For It)

Subliminal Nachos (Add-A-Note-Festival!)

Image by Lucky Bielka via Flickr

Welcome to Ann Arbor, Michigan home to deli sandwiches, stacked burgers and the University of Michigan. ENORMOUS EATS! That shouldn’t come as a shock since my friend, Adam Richman of Man vs. Food is apparently in town. A stack of greasy burgers is just waiting for him as he tries to bite, gulp, and swallow his way through the massive blimp-style burger. The  burger comes with various toppings, fried eggs, (I kid you not) salami, bacon, cheese, anything that you can think of. But wait, it’s only  1/10 of a lb. of meat so for Adam this must qualify as health food. What? I should have known: in this show you HAVE to stack the burgers. If you didn’t, it would mean you were practically on Weight Watchers! I forgot, It’s Adam’s world, (sounds like Wayne’s World only more gross, grosser?) and there must be a law somewhere about that.  Try bacon, egg and cheese on three burgers (heart attack alert?) Two to five (yes, five) burgers is the general request. However, I believe the record is for 43 patties… I’m sorry I must have misheard. I don’t think I can believe that. There are an enormous amount of burger combinations to keep your imagination alive: grilled items such as bacon and onions, and EVERY kind of cheese. Condiments include: olives, lettuce, tomato, mustard, ketchup. Keep eating these mountains of hamburgers, it’s guaranteed to increase your cholesterol by a good, say 200-300 points.

Then, there’s the Ann Arbor game day tradition, the Maize and Blue deli, huge, special, triple play Rueben sandwich made with two slices of thick sourdough rye, homemade Russian dressing, sauerkraut ( ugh, the smell) Swiss and Jarlsberg cheeses (as if you really needed that extra bit of Jarlsberg’s nutty flavor). Combine that with four ounces each of pastrami and corned beef and  grill, (because it’s not greasy enough.)   Adam talks with his mouth full, we expect nothing less. Yes, you did see the coleslaw fly out of his chubby mouth as he was eating, no trick photography there! And, to think,  he thought the only great rueben sandwich could be found in NY. Silly boy, as they said in SNL, you “kid the public.” Adam, keep your mind and big mouth open and you will discover all the riches of the gastronomical world, all super-sized.

Right in front of me you can see his swollen, greasy upper lip. The next  competion and challenge? Nachos: I had a small dinner so I was able to watch Man vs Food without actually gagging. I want to know this dude’s cholesterol numbers. Even mine are high and I don’t eat one percent of what this guy eats. This show is the only time I feel that I could possibly turn into a vegetarian, easily.

Next up: a 5 lb nacho challenge. Yes, read my lips, 5 POUNDS of NACHOS at Tio’s Mexican Cafe. Apparently they run on wolverine spirit ( as in school spirit) and eat like wolverines to boot. It’s game time: “Eat Adam, eat!!” At Tio’s mexican cafe, the epic 5 lb. nachos include:  blue cheese, (can he substitute?) coleslaw, pork, beef,  chicken, and cheese, (volcano style )and more cheese. First there is a giant layer of chips, and an elephant portion of refried beans. Refried, as if frying them once was not enough. This is followed by Jack and Cheddar cheese. We’re only on the first floor of the nachos tower so we need to go to the second floor which includes: more chips, beef, chicken, pulled pork, garlic and lavender (lavender? that seems so delicate for this monstrosity, I’m sure they said hamburger. After that another layer of…well everything.  It melts perfectly in the oven and is then served with gushers of sour cream, guacamole, onions, olives, tomatoes, and to top it off (TADA!) a kiddie pool of melted cheese. It looks like the kind you can get in a jar (just saying it looks like it, didn’t say it was), the ultimate in “queso.”  In 45 minutes,  Adam has to try to eat the “whole thing” in order to get into the hall of fame where he could win a T-shirt (I’m guessing extra-large) and his picture on the wall. If he loses (gasp!) he will join others in the  hall of shame. At this point I seriously hope he busts a gut, on camera, up close and personal. Before him sits 5 pounds of nachos, the ultimate challenge (aren’t all his challenges called ultimate?) There are crowds of people cheering this dodo on. Can he do it? Will he make it? Of course he does. I can rest easy tonight knowing that he made it through five lbs. of greasy nachos and came out of it a winner, a champion. Oh Adam….you have done it again. My hero. Not.