Down the Hall on Your Left

This site is a blog about what has been coasting through my consciousness lately. The things I post will be reflections that I see of the world around me. You may not agree with me or like what I say. In either case – you’ll get over it and I can live with it if it makes you unhappy. Please feel free to leave comments if you wish . All postings are: copyright 2014 – 2018

Archive for the category “Food”

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued – Part Five

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued – Part Five

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued

 

 

Haight Street

by

John Kraft

 

 

 

She loved to shop and it didn’t matter for what. However, this shopping excursion was joyful in a special way. It was all to bring pleasure to a new friend.

Marlee had promised Dennis Thayer a Sunday breakfast, but she decided that a brunch would be better, more civilized. So, here she was, going up and down the aisles at Cala Foods, the only true supermarket on Haight Street.

The menu she had settled on would be: a fruit cup, orange juice, Eggs Benedict, asparagus and affordable champagne. “Hey, if you’re going to do it, do it right” she mumbled to herself as she perused the wine aisle.

It had taken three days of Mall crawling to get the comfortable furniture and accessories that gave her an apartment that would let her prepare and serve her brunch. It would be hard to make a decent hollandaise when you didn’t have so much as a wooden spoon to your name. Now her kitchen, while still short on counter space, sported a clean, hi-tech look.

“God bless Sears and in Kitchen-Aid we trust.”

Her credit cards were melted around the edges from creating her new home, but, at least, money was not an issue. Phillip and MetLife had done a lot of business. She was far from rich, but Kraft Macaroni and Cheese would be on the menu only by choice.

A full refrigerator always made Marlee feel secure and safe from just about anything.

“If you have a roof over your head and food in the ice-box nothing can hurt you” – So said her Nana Antonia, a child of the Great Depression. One look at her shopping cart and Marlee knew that she was safe for at least a week.

The next morning she was up early, dusting, rearranging and even primping a bit, anxious to play hostess.

She hadn’t cooked for anyone in a long time. After Phillip’s death Marlee moved back in with her parents where she and her mother slipped back into their earlier roles. Marlee was no longer an independent woman. She was a daughter in her parent’s home.

But now, here in San Francisco, a continent away, in her own apartment, she was herself again. She was again – period.

Finally, everything was ready to go. She wouldn’t finish the cooking until Dennis arrived.

“Oh, my God. When is he coming? We never set a specific time.” She looked at her watch. It was almost 10:45. She couldn’t wait any longer. She nervously tapped her toe on the new area rug from Pier 1, and then she remembered what Dennis had said. She grabbed the sponge mop from the closet, went into the parlor and gave three sharp raps on the ceiling with the mop handle. The glass lighting fixture rattled. She tried three more taps, but with a little less vigor. Sweeping up fallen plaster was not the way to kick off a Sunday brunch. From up above she heard a muffled voice yelling something and three quick taps on the floor.

Hearing his acknowledgment of her signal Marlee returned to the kitchen to pour the orange juice and get the champagne glasses from the dish rack. She held one up to the light to check for spots.

“Miss Marlee, you have really got to check your door locks.” Dennis was peeking around the corner of the kitchen doorway.

Marlee jumped in surprise and a champagne glass went flying toward the ceiling. She grabbed at it and only managed to knock it higher still. Her guest moved into the room and deftly plucked it from the air.

“He makes the catch and the crowd goes wild!”

“Jesus H. Christ, Dennis, you scared me half to death. How did you…?”

“Your door was open. I knocked and it just swung open.”

Marlee leaned back against the sink still trying to get her heart back into her chest.

“Everything’s OK, girl.” He held up the champagne glass. “Why don’t you fill this with something for me while I show you what I brought?” He stepped back into her hallway while Marlee wrestled the cork out of the chilled bottle with barely a whisper of protest from the champagne. As she started to pour the Napa Valley bubbly, he reappeared holding a small bouquet of red and white tulips.

“Ta-Da! I brought flowers. I figured that you’d already have some, but you can never have enough beauty in your life, I always say.” She took the tulips with her left hand as she held out a glass, filled to overflowing. He moved closer and sipped at the champagne while she still had it in her hand. He put his hand on hers to steady the glass. “Mmm, very nice. Thanks. Every day should start with champagne and tulips.”

Marlee smiled even though she felt a bit awkward about his touch. “I can’t argue with that,” she said. He took the glass from her hand.

“I’m glad you brought the flowers. I totally forgot. I’ve been so busy this week.”

Dennis retreated a couple of steps and set his empty glass on the stove.

“Well then, it’s a good thing I picked them up. And…I’ve got something else for you, a little housewarming gift.”

“Oh, Dennis, you shouldn’t have. What is it?” His enthusiasm was contagious.

He turned his back to her, reached into his shirt and spun back around holding up a small hardcover edition of Walt Whitman’s “Leaves Of Grass.”

I just thought you might like it. It’s one of my favorites, always has been.” He held it out to her and gave her a small, but courtly bow.

“Thank you, Dennis. It’s a favorite of mine too. I had a copy, but I guess I lost it in the move.”

“Movers – they’ll steal you blind. Refill?” He held up his empty glass and in a very bad English accent asked, “Could I have some more, please?”

While Marlee began assembling the food, Dennis put the flowers into a glass wine carafe that Marlee had picked up for just that purpose. He set them in the middle of her round, butcher-block dining room table. The red cloth napkins matched well with the tulips. He squinted at the table and picked up one of the knives, giving it a quick heft as he examined the design. “K Mart or Target? Oh, Miss Marlee, you need lessons.”

“What’s that?” Marlee was behind him holding two steaming plates. He took the plates and set them by the napkins. “I was just saying how lovely your table setting looks. Really quite elegant. Your flatware is to die for.”

It was a pleasant little brunch, as brunches go. The food was tasty. The champagne bubbles tickled the palate just right and the conversation wandered from topic to topic. Eventually it took on a more personal tone. Dennis drank steadily as they exchanged bits and pieces of their histories.

Marlee gave him the basic facts about what brought her to San Francisco.

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Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

As Seen on TV 2

Throwback Thursday From Feb. 2015 – “But Wait! There’s More!”

IS IT ALMOST CHRISTMAS AGAIN?”

It must be because our mailbox is crammed with catalogs every day. Catalogs from places we’ve never heard of are arriving at a dizzying pace and almost all of them go straight into the recycle bin.

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“No Shirt, No Shoes, No Plastic – No Service.”

 

FOLLOWING UP ON THAT BLOGPOST OF A COUPLE OF DAYS AGO…

I heard an interesting bit of semi-news, semi-advertising this morning. On the morning news it was awkwardly disguised as a Business Report.

The heavily caffeinated executives in Seattle have announced that Starbucks (St. Arbucks to you and me) is going to convert one of its stores in the Great Northwest into a “Cashless Store.” What they mean by that is that all transactions will be handled by credits and debits – no green pieces of paper will change hands –unless they are advertisements or Hold Up Notes.

When I was growing up a “Cashless Store” was one that was going out of business.

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Everything Old Is New Again

I KNOW PROGRESS WHEN I SEE IT and a thunderbolt of Progress has struck in Terre Haute (That’s French for “You three guys – into the trunk!”)

As I was sipping my coffee this morning I decided to check the local news site to see what was happening here in the Wabash Valley. My heart skipped a beat

Who cares that the local Macy’s store is closing other than the people who go there to ride the only escalator in town? Who cares that the Indiana state University basketball team is not doing very well…again? Who cares that the new Starbucks “Blonde Espresso” tastes like 10W-40 Pennzoil Motor Oil? Who cares about any of that stuff when the real news is that a brand spanking new Drive-in Theater is going to open up in town this Summer?

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Clean Living

 

EATING LAUNDRY DETERGENT? YEAH, THAT’S A GOOD IDEA. Maybe wash it down with a little motor oil. This is proof that some people should not be allowed near power tools or to breed.

When I first saw the stories in the news that some young, hip, and “with it” people are swallowing Tide Detergent Pods – on purpose, I thought, “Nah, this must be some gag article on CNN or someplace.”

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Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued – Part Two 

Fiction Saturday – “Haight Street” -Continued

 

 

Haight Street

by

John Kraft

 

 

 

“I think it’s white wine with tuna noodle, isn’t it.”

Marlee took the plates and utensils from his hands and headed into the kitchen. They filled their plates and adjourned to the still sunny space by the Bay window.

In the early evening, with the sun dropping off the edge into the Pacific Ocean, a golden light washed over The Haight. It gave everyone out on the street a healthy “only in California” patina. It looked like Shangri-la.

The warmth and the unreal light made Marlee feel – awake and alive. It was her first addictive taste of California.

“These are the best seats in the house. You must know somebody,” her guest teased.

“I know the chef.”

“I hear that he’s wonderful – and cute too.”

They bantered back and forth as they ate and enjoyed the Napa Valley ‘Table White’ wine.

Dennis Thayer sipped at his glass, nursing it for almost an hour. Over the casserole Marlee learned a little more about this genial stranger who lived up the stairs.

“I work for a housecleaning service – ‘Manly Maids.’ It’s a job, hardly a career. What about you?” he asked.

“I’m a classical musician. I play the cello. I’m in between jobs right now, but I do have an audition coming up soon – I hope.”

“Aren’t we all between jobs, really? I fancy myself a Photographer. More wine, Marlee? May I call you Marlee?”

“Of course, Dennis. We are neighbors. You know, I want to thank you for making me feel welcome. My first full day in my own place in San Francisco and I get a home cooked meal. Is everyone so friendly here?”

“Not by a long shot, sister. Under the icing on this cake is a dirty spoon. So, pick your way carefully. This is a tough and dangerous city and The Haight can be one of its toughest neighborhoods.”

“Really? What about all that, ‘Peace, Love and Patchouli’?”

“Honey, that’s all flummery. Always has been. The tourists come here looking for ‘The Summer of Love’ and end up with some junkie poking a knife in their bellies.”

This was the first dark cloud on Marlee’s sunny view of her new hometown.

“The whole ‘hippie’ thing is really just a kind of nostalgia for things that never were.”

He saw that the smile had disappeared from her face and that her eyes were lazily focused on the last rays of light still hiding on the Pacific horizon.

“Oh, now look what I’ve done. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bum you out. It’s not as bad as I paint it, really. I’m just a cynic. You’ll love it here.

“Tomorrow you get out of this apartment and explore the neighborhood. Waste some money on trinkets and beads. Get a tattoo. Just remember, not all the people in The Haight are as nice as me. If they were you’d be up to your hips in tuna noodle casserole.”

 As the sun set Marlee flipped on the overhead lights. With no curtains or blinds on the windows yet she felt like they were on display, exposed.

“Dennis, I want to thank you for making me feel welcome here. It’s been fun, but I have had a long day and I think that I need to just collapse and get some sleep.”

“Of course. I’ve talked your ears off and fed you like a fatted calf.” He started gathering up the dishes. She moved to help him, but he protested.

“I’m the ‘Manly Maid’ here. Let me do this. I’m a professional. You want to help? Here – go put the wine away in your fridge for another day. Go, play wine stewardess while I bus this station.”

“Dennis, you are a real gem. As soon as I get set up I’ll have you down for brunch. I insist.”

“Fabulous, Miss Marlee! You just rap on the ceiling when the eggs are ready.”

“It may be a couple of weeks or so. I’ve got a lot of work ahead of me to make this place a home.”

“Whenever.”

Marlee took the wine into the kitchen. She had had a thoroughly delightful time with her new neighbor. The wine bottle would be the first thing in her new, ancient, fridge.

In the other room, Dennis scooped up everything in his tablecloth, one big bundle to be sorted out later. As he headed toward the door he walked past the cardboard boxes filled with books waiting to be unpacked. He smiled as he picked up her slim paperback copy of “Leaves of Grass” and slipped it silently into his shirt.

Wrapping Up The Holidays.

 

   TO PARAPHRASE DOUGLAS MACARTHUR, “We have returned”…from Texas that is, and we are now going to reconquer Terre Haute (That’s French for “Hey! This ain’t the Philippines.”).

Christmas and New Years in South Texas (Sinton – Population about 5500) should be relatively warm – mid 70s or so, but not this year. There were days in the 30s and 40s and always damp. It felt like we were living inside a Styrofoam beer cooler. Then we had to return to Indiana to be greeted with minus 9° degrees. I haven’t been warm since July.

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“Hi! This is Elizabeth from the Resort Rewards Center!”

SOME PROBLEMS SEEM TO BE IMPOSSIBLE TO SOLVE. I’m not talking about some mathematical Gordian Knots and things like Time Travel or Pauley Shore’s career. No, I mean those everyday things that tend to drive us all slightly bonkers. There are problems and if we use our collective imagination we can find solutions.

Problem #1: Those pesky phone calls from “Hi! This is Elizabeth from the Resort Rewards Center!”

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Merry Christmas! 

 

Merry Christmas To You All Around The World !

christmas

 

 

 

Enjoy this day with your Family and Friends!

 

Fa, la, la, la, la.

Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 – “I Go Out Wokking”

 

Throwback Thursday from Dec. 2015 – “I Go Out Wokking”

6a58f7ba-cc89-459a-a2a3-e2cb2c7a3cf0EVERY ONCE IN A WHILE I GET A CRAVING for Wonton soup, Pot Stickers or Sweet and Sour Something or Other. That is when I stage a full out assault on the “First Wok.”

First Wok is one of those small, family run Chinese Food To-Go shops that can be found in strip malls around the world.

First Wok may, or may not, be the first wok in Terre Haute (That’s French for, “My plastic fork is broken.”). They have some tables for those who want to eat there, but I’d wager that 90% of the customers get their General Tso’s Chicken To-Go in those little white paper cartons with the wire handles.

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When All Else Fails…

 

OK! OK! I KNOW WHAT THE DIRECTIONS SAY. I should always eat something when I’m taking my meds. On most morning my iced coffee is enough to buffer the effects of my handful of pills, but things have changed. I’ve started taking something new, on Doctor’s orders, and the game has changed.

My new Doctor has changed my medload and my body has yet to adjust to the altered chemistry in my tummy. When I take the new drug I have to eat something more than coffee or my gastrointestinal tract begins to re-enact the Charge of the Light Brigade.

“Half a league, Half a league, Half a league onward! Into the Valley of Death rode The Six Hundred.

“Cannon to the right of them. Cannon to the left of them. Into the Jaws of Death, into the Mouth of Hell rode The Six Hundred.”

Get the picture?

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Here We Go Again

I SUPPOSE THERE IS NO WAY OF AVOIDING IT. We are closing in on the New Year and along with that fact comes the inevitable question: Have you made any New Year’s Resolutions?” How I answer that depends upon who is doing the asking.

If I hear that question coming from someone on the TV I immediately ignore it and have a cookie. If I hear it from one of my doctors I put down the cookie. Casual acquaintances always ask and when they do I give them the Big Three Universal Answers: Lose Weight, Lose Weight, and Lose Weight.

I do that and they quit asking.

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Finger Lickin’ Good

 

I JUST READ THE DARNDEST THING – a restaurant review that made me lose my appetite.

Straight from the home town of Godzilla and Hello Kitty comes a story that, under other circumstances would probably reconvene the courtrooms of Nuremberg. (Under 40? Look it up.)

The restaurant named “Resoto Ototo No Shoky Ryohin” has opened its doors in Tokyo and somehow gotten all of the usual permits and government approval to become the first eatery in the world to legally serve (Brace Yourself) Human meat. The name of the restaurant translates into English as “Edible Brother.”

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2014 – The Morning After The Day Before

Throwback Thursday 

The Morning After The Day Before

A lot of people are calling today “Black Friday,” a piece of accounting slang indicating cornish hen dinnerthat today is the day when their sales ledgers go from Red Ink to Black Ink. Many retail concerns realize the majority of their sales for the year in the period between Thanksgiving and Christmas. What a way to live.

For me today is “The Morning After the Day Before.” It really doesn’t have a color. Everything is shrouded in an L-Tryptophan cloud. Rather than go battle the hordes of shoppers at The Mall I am spending this day fighting the urge to go back to bed or to catch a nap standing up as I wait for my coffee.

If I were to go shopping I’m sure that I would come home with – stuff. I don’t need any more stuff. My wife doesn’t need any more stuff. We really don’t need half of the stuff we have right now.

I’m just glad that I don’t have a “Bed, Bath And Beyond” store nearby. Whenever I go into that store I become enraptured by all of the “Beyond” stuff. It is like finding myself trapped inside every Infomercial extant on TV. I see piles of microwave cooking gizmos and various adhesives (in a selection of colors) that would enable me to drill holes in my boat without fear. But I don’t have a boat.

In a way it all takes me back and makes me feel young again. Strolling through a “Bed, Bath And Beyond” is like preparing to furnish a college dorm room with a wide range of stuff prohibited by the school in addition to things your mother insists that you actually need.

No, today is the day when I sit quietly in a stupor and let other people move the economy forward. I’m just not capable of being a cog in the commercial engine – tomorrow maybe, but not today. Today I am content to be little more than organic matter in size 10 shoes. I can and will respond to basic stimuli, but little more. Cogent thought and critical thinking will have to wait until the fog lifts. My wife has confirmed that I am quasi-capable of forming simple sentences aloud, but she doesn’t think I’ll be going much beyond that until Sunday. It sounds like today may be the perfect day for me to ensconce myself in ‘The Rip Van Winkle Memorial Chair’ and stumble through Netflix. Oh, look! Six thousand movies I’ve never heard of.

I’ll get back to you tomorrow.

Blowing In The Wind

I DON’T KNOW WHY, BUT DINNERTIME CONVERSATIONS can sure get weird. The other night as the family was scarfing down some basic Comfort Food the flow of the conversation took a definite turn to the unusual.

“If you get cremated what do you want done with your ashes?

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Now He Belongs To The Ages

Pizza! Food of the gods! A seven course meal all on one slice! The Ultimate Survival food for when the Zombies attack!

But who can eat just one slice? Nobody I know.

Last night the whole Texas clan gathered around the dining room table and ate like there was no tomorrow. There was Meat Lovers Pizza, Pepperoni Pizza with extra cheese, Pepperoni Lovers, and Chicken with Bacon and Buffalo Sauce Pizza.  That was good for starters. Along with the big square boxes there were other boxes filled with Garlic Breadsticks, Cinnamon Breadsticks, some rather odd Potato thingies, and some little apple pie-like pastries. Oh, yeah, and two gallons of iced tea.  Gotta love those “Meal-Deals.”

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Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015 – A Day For Thanksgiving

Throwback Thursday from Nov. 2015

A Day For Thanksgiving

Today is a day set aside for the giving of thanks. Thanks for all sorts of things.

For some of us those thanks are mighty and great, but for others they are small and personal. Both are equally valid.

Take this day to be with your friends and family.


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“Picture If You Will…”

THE EARTH IS A BUSY and often confusing planet and sometimes things just look out of place to me. It’s kind of like when you rearrange your furniture. Until you get used to the new configuration you’re likely to stub your toe on that chair that wasn’t sitting there last week. A few of these oddities came to mind recently.

We attended a funeral recently and as we were at the cemetery for the graveside service I looked down. There in the grass by several headstones was a golf ball. A golf ball? That just seemed to be terribly out of place. True, there was a hole nearby, but…

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I May Just Skip Lunch

THERE ARE DAYS WHEN I WONDER why I get on to the internet at all. I am eternally hopeful that I will find something interesting and/or enlightening. I know that out there in the cyberworld there is something that will make me want to jump for joy and break into my happy dance. I want to be educated, inspired, entertained and feel that I am connecting with the finest fibers of the universe singing of the wisdom of humanity – and then, before I have even had my first sip of coffee, I run into this.

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We’re Goin’ To The HEB

WE CONTINUE TO BE DEEP IN THE…no, it’s not the heart. We’re down further than that. …Deep in the Pancreas of Texas. The weather is pleasantly warm once again and, Thank God, pretty much mosquito free.

We are staying in the old family home which is right across the street from the “Bonecrusher Arena” – the football field of Sinton High School. There was a game there last Friday night. The hometown boys lost 54 – 0. “Bonecrusher Arena,” indeed. At least they are showing improvement. The week before they lost 60 – 0.

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