Saturday, November 22, 2008

For Rhonda ...

I have the best neighbors. Truly, if I could create custom neighbors from a neighbor-making menu, I couldn't construct better neighbors than the ones who live next door.

Rhonda called this afternoon to check on me because there was a bit of a disturbance on our street last night. I had gone to bed early and slept right through the commotion, but I was touched that she wanted to check in with me. She and her husband and her son are those kind of people, the kind who keep an eye on your house when they know you're not home, the kind who are always ready to lend a hand or a tool or who just go ahead and help. William has earned a lifetime's supply of baked goods for all the times he's ridden over on his mower and cut my grass for me when he's done cutting his, bless his heart. It's high time I fire up the oven and start churning out the treats. But they know they're at the top of the cookie list every Christmas. Rhonda cleverly returns her hatbox every year for me to refill. And Shane is the sweetest guy on the planet, always helpful and kind, offering advice for my unruly yard or squiring me around in his pickup when I need to retrieve something oversized from a store.

See what I mean? Amazing people, all of them.

But when the weather turns chilly – or, who am I kidding, now it's just plain cold – we retreat into our homes and those lovely neighborly moments that are sprinkled throughout the summer evaporate, those driveway hellos that turn into a marathon chat or the visit to their insanely gorgeous, perfect, photo shoot-ready back yard to ask a question that turns into lazing around the patio table sipping beverages and whiling away an hour.

So today when Rhonda called, I mentioned that I need to have her over for coffee, to make a concerted effort to see her. (Of course, William and Shane are welcome, too, but they don't seem like the sitting-around-drinking-coffee types, not with we hens, anyway.)

Rhonda is a regular reader of this blog and she commented today that I haven't been writing as much lately. Guilty as charged, not that she was charging. I told her that I just don't feel like I have anything to say these days, and I hate to be that person who blogs about not having anything to blog about, to which she kindly replied that even if I wrote about that, she'd enjoy reading it.

It's so nice to have a fan.

Happily, I had a fun, blog-worthy day. Doreen took me to see "Don't Dress For Dinner" for my birthday. It was entirely delightful! I highly recommend it. Doreen scored excellent seats in the fourth row, centered on the stage, which was exactly at eye level for us. And our seats were numbers 13 and 14. I sat in 13, as it's my favorite number (because it's my birthday).

But first, we had a late lunch at Uncle Julio's, which has been at North and Halsted (a k a The Seventh Spiral of Saturday Traffic Hell) for I don't even know how many years, but which I'd always avoided, writing it off as another Mexican chain, because really, who the hell needs more fried ice cream and chihuahua cheese?

Oh, was I wrong. So, so wrong. The menu was really very interesting, so much so that I had a hard time deciding, but I settled on (drumroll, please) beef fajitas. I know what you're thinking: "Gee, Beth, could you be any more boring?" But oh, my friends, these were the best beef fajitas I'd ever had. (Yes, Jay, even better than the ones I ordered when we had lunch for your birthday at that little Mexican café, which, the rest of you should know, is cleverly named That Little Mexican Café.) The tortillas at Uncle Julio's are handmade, which isn't unique to Julio's, but holy hell, these were the best torts I'd ever had. I skipped the cheese and sour cream option when I ordered and instead topped my meat with the guacamole and pico de gallo that were served along with my sizzling platter of the most perfectly seasoned, tender steak I'd ever had the pleasure of eating as part of a fajita experience.

The meat was so good that Doreen, who hasn't eaten meat in I don't even know how many months, tried a piece when I started raving about it. And then snuck another piece before our server took my plate away.

That's right, kids: meat so good it'll woo a non-meat eater back to eating meat.

We were both feeling like distant cousins of Mr. Creosote by the time we waddled out of there, so we took the long way to the theater in the hopes that the walk would jostle our systems into performing something resembling digestion. While we walked, we cursed Uncle Julio's tortilla chips, the bowl of see-through-thin crispy goodness that arrived on the table seconds after we sat down, accompanied by a cupful of salsa that was delightfully light on cilantro with just enough chipotle smokiness.

The play, A.J. (After Julio), was a couple hours of great writing and even better acting by a charming cast, most of whom you'll recognize from various TV shows and feature films. And the Royal George is a lovely place to see a play, a small venue without a bad seat in the house. I won't go into a lot of detail. You can check out the web site and decide how much you'd like to learn before the performance. I like to go into things with very little knowledge of what lies in store for me. Doreen reads the reviews of plays before we buy tickets, so I never worry about suffering through a dud.

Unless you count "Passion Play" at The Goodman last season. But we didn't sit through that one. We walked out after the first act.

Anyway, I've rambled on quite long enough for someone who just this morning thought she suffered from a case of Nothing To Say.

Rhonda, see you soon!


Blogger J. Marquis said...

I've been feeling sort of the same way. After our victory on election day it just feels like somebody let the air out of my creative/inspired balloon.

By the way, I liked your line about not wanting to be a blogger who blogs about not having anything to blog about.

9:40 AM  

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