Lunch Companion

Most days I dine alone at lunchtime. If the weather is nice I find a picnic table at Sweet Pea Cafè in Tallahassee and read while munching on one of their delightful vegan meals. Today the skies were slightly overcast, making it the perfect day to dine outside.

As I approached my favorite table a flash of motion caught my eye. A little lizard scurried away from me and I was quick to reassure him that I meant no harm. Now, this scenario has happened before. Every time, though, the lizard of the moment has totally ignored my words and gone skittering off to safer pastures. Today, though, this lizard remained for the entire meal.

At first he ducked between two slats.
Eventually, he emerged and seemed interested in my meal. I read aloud to him from the book I had with me. I think he might be a Stephen King fan.

I felt a bit like Disney’s Cinderella as the lizard kept me company. I wonder if it might be inclined to stitch a ball gown for me if were in need of one?

Peace, people!

A Picnic for Ants

A revelation

Issued an invitation

To all hungry ants

Disturb not my lunch,

I’ll provide a crust of bread

Instead, to tempt you

Nibble and carry

To the depths of your abode

Tell your queen my name

Covid has resulted in the addition of many al fresco dining opportunities at local restaurants. My favorite place, Sweet Pea Cafe, in Tallahassee, serves up terrific vegan food and guests are invited to dine on picnic tables scattered about the outdoor area of the premises.

I dislike eating in my car, so even on the hottest days I gravitate to one of the shadiest tables and read as I eat. There’s only one problem: Ants. The ants also love the shady tables and they were interrupting my reading as I continually had to shoo them away from my food.

Rather than fight for my right to enjoy an ant-free lunch I decided to encourage the little guys to focus their attention elsewhere by providing a small bit of bread placed on an adjacent slat of the table. Now their antics provide a dinner show as they gather round the bread, sharing their information up and down the line, and taking pieces of their discovery back to their nest.

Once I’ve finished my lunch I carefully relocate the bread, or what’s left of it, to a space a few feet from the picnic table, hoping the attached ants will inform their brethren of its new location. Call me crazy, but it’s worked every time. I can read as much as I want while also getting a wonderful performance.

All pictures were found on Pinterest because I keep forgetting to snap photos when I’m there.

Peace, people.

Name This Flower!

I snapped a photo of this pretty yellow flower yesterday. It was found growing wild at my favorite Starbucks in Tallahassee. My go-to local flower expert had no idea what it was, so I’m appealing to my blogging friends. Please, someone, tell me what this flower is called.

Until someone provides an answer I’m calling her Arlene.

Peace, people!

I Spy…Mayhem!

One of my favorite Tallahassee bookstores, aptly named “My Favorite Books,” stocks both new and used books with a special section featuring local authors. Imagine my delight to find my first novel, Mayhem at the Happy Valley Motor Inn and Resort displayed on the store’s shelves! It was quite a rush.

Do you see it???

Here’s hoping these copies go to good homes where they’ll be nice and warm on these cold winter nights.

Peace, people!

Normal

I’m sitting in my car under the shade of a tree, eating lunch. It’s become my new normal. The cafés I frequent don’t offer seating nowadays. Instead, one orders at a window, waits in an approved area, picks up one’s food, and departs.

If I lived a little closer to Tallahassee, or weren’t so impatient, I’d take my lunch home. Yes, I could make lunch for myself, but I crave interaction with others, even if it only comes through a window during the ordering process.

The young woman at Sweet Pea Cafe asked me how I was doing today. Her question touched me. I even remembered to ask her how she’d been. Some of the niceties of human contact have almost fallen by the wayside, but we salvaged them, at least for today.

Once I’m finished with lunch I’ll make a quick stop at a store to buy pepper. We don’t really need pepper, but will in a week or so. I could put off the trip until I needed to buy more from the store, but maybe the person who rings up my purchase will comment. I’ll respond, and it’ll almost be normal.

Peace, people.

Tell Me Something Good

This pandemic is rotten, and it’s not going away anytime soon. I’m prone to dwelling on the heartaches. “There’s a Tear in My Beer” could’ve been my theme song, except it’d be a pity to water down a good beer.

Yesterday I was feeling low. Not depressed, just low. And then I made myself think of ordinary day-to-day good things about life right now, things that might NOT have come about had it not been for Covid-19.

One of the best is a group on Facebook called “Tallahassee Foodies.” It was started by a woman who wanted to call attention to good, locally owned eateries. It’s an overwhelmingly positive place for members to ask about specific types of foods available and to share information.

Here are a couple of sample posts from the site:

“This page makes my heart swell when I see it supporting people who need it (fried Oreos, peterbrooke) especially during these hard times of closure, lower capacity, etc.
SO… If you own or know of a good business that is struggling to survive right now, please list them below so we can help them.
So many restaurant, franchise, and bar owners put it all on the line to start their businesses, I want to do my tiny part to help…
Thanks!”

“Y’all. This is probably 5000 Weight Watchers points, but I’ll eat soup the rest of the day so I can eat this. Bacon jam, avocado, and egg melt (added tomato)! Look at those layers of deliciousness! First time I’ve had bacon jam. It had a little kick and now I have to figure out how it’s made.”

From Freshroots Kitchen in Tallahassee

I absolutely love this site and all the good vibes the members are putting out. Any negativity gets shut down quickly. It’s a happy place for me.

What’s happening in your world that’s positive? Something that might only exist because of COVID? Maybe you’ve taken on a role that you’d never considered playing before. Tell me something good.

Peace, people!

This Close

Today (Thursday) I was sitting outside Sweet Pea Cafe waiting for my to-go lunch to be delivered. As is my custom, I perched on the end of a picnic bench and read while I waited.

A sound startled me and I quickly looked up and to my right, where less than 50 yards away traffic was flowing up and down Tharpe Street. Somehow my brain got the impression that I was in jeopardy of falling off the bench, and I yelped.

The only other customer, sitting well over six feet away from me, looked up at my exclamation, ready to come to my defense. I smiled beneath my mask, shrugged and said, “I thought I was falling off the bench.”

He looked at me and where I was sitting, held up his thumb and forefinger and said, “You were this close.”

Not close at all.

We both laughed. He cautioned me to be extra careful before taking his meal. I told him there were no guarantees. Again he made that sign with his fingers.

This close….

And laughed.

I wonder if there’s a way to make money for all the entertainment I provide? Probably not.

Peace, people.

Marching to Target

We have a relatively new Target store in Tallahassee. While it was being built I was so excited. The two existing Targets are clear across Tallahassee, one way out on Thomasville Road, the other on Apalachee Parkway, both at least a twenty minute drive from Doright Manor. This new Target would be on MY side of town, nearer the universities, and along with it would come several new eating establishments. Yay!

When this Target opened its doors for business, though, I was disappointed. It was much smaller than a regular Target and everything in it seemed to cater to college kids on a budget. It did have a Starbucks, though, so that was a plus.

As I’ve become accustomed to this particular Target, I’ve become fond of it. It’s easy to get to, and I’m not as tempted to buy things that are “wants” instead of “needs.” They stock lots of healthy foods and have a decent wine section. And, did I mention the Starbucks?

One thing they don’t have these days? Hand sanitizer. As far as I can, tell no one in Tallahassee has any in stock, though, so I can’t complain. I’m sitting in the Target Starbucks typing this on my phone as I sip on my grande decaf coffee Frappuccino with almond milk. Yes, I’ve become one of those people.

I worked on my book before lunch and will return home to type some more this afternoon, but the weather is lovely and I thought a march, okay, a drive to Target would provide a nice break.

Peace, and march on, people!

Desperate Times

“Desperate times breed desperate measures”–William Shakespeare

On most days I have lunch alone, either here at Doright Manor or at one of a handful of Tallahassee cafes. Now, before you feel sorry for me you need to know that I enjoy my solitary lunches. That’s not to say I don’t enjoy having lunch with Studly Doright or with a friend, but when I dine alone I pull my Kindle out of my purse and read. And there are few things I’d rather do than read.

One day last week I had a whole list of errands to run, most of them in Tallahassee. I planned the most efficient route and left home around 10 a.m. with the goal of having lunch at the best little vegan eatery in the world, Sweet Pea Cafe.

With my errands halfway done, I drove to Sweet Pea and ordered that day’s special, Tempeh Temptation. I found a table and reached into my purse for my Kindle. Hmmm. No Kindle. I searched every zippered compartment with no luck.

“That’s okay,” I said to myself. “Just read from the Kindle app on your phone.”

“You’re so brilliant!” I answered.

“I know.” I said.

Unfortunately my brilliant self had managed to leave my phone at home as well.

As I waited for the meal to arrive I wondered how I was supposed to eat without a book in hand. How does one do such a thing?

“You can do this,” I gently reminded myself. “Just be more mindful of your meal. Pay attention to every bite. People watch. Listen to the music playing. Enjoy the experience.”

“Shut up! I NEED my book. Or just something, anything, to read.”

Gee, one of us needs anger management therapy.

In the midst of my angst I noticed a woman who’d been reading from a book as she dined at the table nearest mine. She’d finished her meal and as I watched from the corner of my eye saw that she was preparing to leave.

I hesitated for a second before asking, “Excuse me, this is going to sound weird and slightly desperate, by I don’t suppose you have an extra book that I might buy from you.”

Now, the beauty of this is she totally understood my question. The sad part is that she’d just returned from a trip to see her sister and had given the sister a box full of books that she usually carried in her car.

We laughed about our respective reading addictions. She apologized for not having a book to offer. I laughed and told her no big deal while underneath my smile I was thinking, “Couldn’t you at least have saved one book for us, I mean, me?”

She left the cafe as my meal arrived and I began to eat in a desultory fashion. The food was excellent as always, but damn it, how could I enjoy myself when there were intrepid space explorers trapped on an exoplanet in my book, and how the heck was I going to save them if I couldn’t read the remainder of chapter 55 while I chewed?

That’s when an angel came to my rescue. The woman who’d taken a box of books to her sister came triumphantly back into the cafe waving a book.

“Look what I found,” she smiled.

“It must’ve fallen out of the box. It’s yours if you want it….”

I wanted to hug her, but I restrained myself, offering effusive thanks as I tried to pay her.

“Absolutely not!” she said. “I don’t know how anyone can eat alone without a good book for company.”

A true hero, that woman.

I opened the book and began a new adventure. John Grisham paired quite nicely with Tempeh Temptation.

Peace, people.

Christmas, Christmas Everywhere

I needed some holiday inspiration yesterday, but where to go? Since a doctor’s appointment took me near Esposito’s, a local Tallahassee garden shop, I thought it might be a source of Christmas decorating ideas. Let me tell you, when I’m right, I’m so right.

We’ve lived in the Tallahassee area for six years now, and I’ve been in Esposito’s at least a dozen times. But never in December. I had no idea what I’ve been missing.

I’d best let you know that I’m not being compensated by Esposito’s for this or any other blog posts. I just wanted to share a cool place with my local readers. So, without further ado, and very few words, I give you Esposito’s Christmas shop.

Now, the cutest thing I encountered wasn’t a decorated tree or a gilded ornament.

It was an adorable cat who’d snuggled into a stack of tree skirts. She allowed me to pet her before giving me a look that indicated I should move on and leave her to her nap.

The Christmas village was pretty spectacular, too, but it didn’t purr.

I found a couple of things to purchase, but because they’re potential gifts for family members I won’t share the photos here. There was a piece that I think was made for me, though. Maybe someone will put it in my stocking.

It’s the third sign from the top. Tailor made for me.

Peace, people!