Category Archives: food

5 Course Meal Celebration

Last Friday I took my wife Janet out on the town! A five-course dinner date! I know! Right!?

But we live in the oldest town in Texas, and there’s not a great deal of five star restaurants in Nacogdoches, Texas. So we created our own “fine dining” experience in a mobile, drive around way.

I wrote down twenty restaurants and fast food joints up and down our hometown main drag. Each place was cut to its own little strip, and I put them all in a styrofoam cup that had all 5 courses scribbled on the outside. Janet blindly reached in the cup and pulled the first slip for the first course.

It was Subway. Janet objected. She said Subway had the most expensive drinks in town, so she wanted to go somewhere else. Eventually, she acquiesced, and we ordered one large half and half tea, two straws.

The second course was Bottle Cap Alley for appetizers. A quarter mile drive and we were there, but they didn’t have many choices. Basically, we settled for fried onion rings. Besides, the next course was vegetables, so we could get something healthy then.

The third course drawn, however, was another fast food place, Taco Bueno! My five-course meal deal idea was falling apart.

We had to be creative, but guacamole with fried chips was as close as we could get to vegetables.

The fourth draw for the main course drew a groan from both of us, and then the laughter. Dominos Pizza!

While they made the extra thin crust vegetable pizza, we munched on the chips, guacamole and onion rings. After that, the pizza tasted like saltine crackers with onions and tomato sauce on it.

There’s a bloated, clog up your arteries with grease feeling that was kicking in, but we were committed to a 5 course meal…

Dessert! Should’ve started there! A quick draw from the cup and it was Whataburger, the Texas standard for fast food burgers. It was a no brainer choice!

But ice cream and milkshakes don’t mix with lactose intolerance, and the scrumptious home style cinnamon rolls were 580 calories a piece! We settled on apple pies that were only 200 calories each. Did I mention they were fried?

It was fun though, and totally random! We’ll do it again, but not tonight.

Tonight Janet will be in the hospital.

We’re in Houston. At this very moment, Janet is in surgery to remove cancer from a kidney. She was diagnosed three weeks ago.

I’m scribbling to redirect my emotions, blind my thoughts, dull the heightened awareness that the future has changed.

How much, and to what extent it’s changed, we won’t know until the pathology report comes in next week.

If all goes well, this will be a one and done surgery.

If it goes really, really well, next Friday we’ll be celebrating the 15% chance that the cancer is benign.

That’ll be worth a five course meal for sure!

A Little Favor

The last thing I wanted was a diversion.  It’d been a long day.

Sure enough, diversion.

As I drove out, he was walking the opposite direction into a cold, 20 mph wind with light drizzling rain.

“Stop. Turn around and give him a ride” was the quiet, still message inside.

My internal response was, “Aww man!”

A quarter mile down the road, I felt bad, so a U-turn and a quarter mile back, I pulled up beside the tall, slender man.

He was probably 55 to 60 years old, carrying a plastic grocery bag in each hand.  His clothes were old and worn, but clean and well cared for.

His head was ducked down, leaning into the frigid wind, and his arms remained close to his sides to try to stay warm while carrying milk in one bag and can goods in the other.

He looked up with a tired, worn expression, but when I asked through my truck window if he wanted a ride, his eyes lit up instantly. Continue reading A Little Favor

Just For Crumbs

He hobbled slowly to a stone wall to lean on it, caught his breath to gather strength.  A few meters away, he half fell, half sat in a shady spot on the dusty ground.

His threadbare clothes were so tattered and thin that most people wouldn’t even use them for rags.

He carefully placed a beat-up cup within reach right in front of him.  He’d learned that given half a chance, other beggars more agile than he would snatch his few coins and run.  He was barely able to move across the street now, much less give chase.  He tried in vain not to close his eyes. 

There was just something about closing his eyes though that eased his pain.  Every joint in his body seemed to ache, right down to his bone marrow.  He wasn’t sure why, but sometimes sharp pains in his side doubled him over, causing him to curl up in a tight ball until the pain subsided.  Continue reading Just For Crumbs

Catching Men With Fish

Saturday week ago we were on family vacation at Surfside Beach, Texas.  We rented a 5 bedroom beach house that sleeps 30.  That’s a lot, but if everyone was there, 28 would be piled in … at least until the next grandchild is born in October.

On the verge of cocky, we guys planned a fish fry (fish we hadn’t yet caught) Saturday night for the 18 of us there.  Thank goodness it wasn’t on the keepers I caught.  Gandhi ate more than that!

IMG_0857

We fished off the jetties the first day, and my sons locked into a dozen or so speckled sea trout.  They just quietly grinned like cats at a dairy farm every time I reeled in a small fish.

In the end though, we had more than enough fish.

We ate and ate, but cooked way too much. (That’s what you get when five men cook a meal.) Continue reading Catching Men With Fish

Help One

He walked in front of me.  He was on a mission.  So was I.

Shopping in a grocery store is easy. Little list. Grab it. Go.

He was quick too, except his handful of items needed a shopping cart.

Two 5-gallon containers of peanut oil, five boxes of fish seasoning, eggs and four bags of cornmeal.

His clean overalls said he had already cleaned a ton of catfish from either trot lines or baited holes.  And now he was about to have a party, a fish fry, and he was fidgeting to get the fryer started.

There was still one thing in his basket that didn’t make any sense to me.  He handed the little deli bag to the cashier who asked if he had two, or three, fried chicken tenders. Continue reading Help One

No Logical Answer

True story — It was Thanksgiving Day and he got up ready for a day of family, feasting and football, but something was bugging him.  He couldn’t get a co-worker who had been in the hospital and hadn’t worked for a month off his mind.

A crazy idea kept bouncing like a rubber ball in his head.  He kept feeling like he was supposed to buy bags of groceries, including a turkey and all the trimmings, for the man and his family.

He dismissed it several times, but couldn’t shake the thought.  A little later, the man’s wife needed something at the last-minute from the grocery store, so he loaded up two of his young sons to go with him.

At the store the thought was stronger than ever, so he grabbed a buggy and started filling it with canned goods, fresh fruits and vegetables, a turkey, milk, flour, eggs, the whole works.  When his sons asked why he was getting so much, he told them they were about to give the food to someone. Continue reading No Logical Answer

Mama of King Smoothie

I just wanted a smoothie, that’s all! A simple smoothie, in and out, no big deal.

Last week two college girls were working the Smoothie King counter. After staring mindlessly at the order board, I finally asked what the best tasting, healthiest smoothie was.

She immediately said her favorite smoothie was loaded with vitamins, fruit and called the Pre-Mama.

She was right! It was great!

Friday two college guys were working.  They were polar opposites. One was huge and tall; the other short and small, leprochaun size really.  I wanted to catch the hyper little guy and demand he take me to his hidden a pot of gold!

A lady was ordering in front of me.  The big guy taking her order had on a T-shirt at least a size too small, plus he had no, absolutely zero, enthusiasm.  Undertakers at funerals have more enthusiasm! Continue reading Mama of King Smoothie

Cabbage Pot Love

They were young newlyweds, but he was already wise enough to be quiet.

She grew up a daddy’s girl, a tomboy in every way. She could fish, feed cows, bail hay, but at the time, she couldn’t make toast in a toaster to save her life!

She decided to make her groom a special supper of some of his favorite foods, including cabbage.  She’d never eaten cabbage before, much less cooked it.  Nonetheless, she wanted to be a “good wife” and learn how.

In life, hindsight is always 20/20.  Looking back now she laughs saying she should’ve asked a few questions, read a recipe, something!  But then again, how hard could it be to cook cabbage? Continue reading Cabbage Pot Love

When Did I See You Hungry?

His frail fingers trembled as he took the nickel from the missionary’s hand.  The starving Haitian boy was wearing a pair of ragged shorts, threadbare t-shirt, and shoes that had worn out months before.

During the peak of the famine, homeless children and orphans looked for any way they could to survive.  If they could get a nickel, they could get enough scraps of food to live another day.

So when the missionary was walking on a road in Haiti and came across the sickly orphan boy sitting listlessly on the roadside, he gave the boy a nickel.  Continue reading When Did I See You Hungry?

Blue Bell Blues

While pushing a grocery buggy with a squeaky, lop-sided wheel through the store, a happy dance suddenly rises from the marrow of my bones. Blue Bell’s on sale!

Feeling tears of joy well up in my eyes, I stand hopelessly in front of the double glass doors completely mesmerized by the gold and brown rim half gallons of ice cream.  Salivating like Pavlov’s dog, I narrow in on Southern Blackberry Cobbler, but just before I reach for it, I see Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough out of my peripheral vision, and there’s Moo-Llennium Crunch above that!

Those made me second guess myself, and fight, and I mean fight, to walk away from it all like a good boy should.  But like a fly caught in a spider’s web, both feet stick to the floor as people pass me on both sides of the aisle.  Continue reading Blue Bell Blues