Thursday, October 29, 2015

In The Moment ...

My love for fall, as I've expressed before, cannot be overstated. It is the best of all the seasons, though it has only three with which to compete. But even in a much larger field, it would win. Every time. The crisp air. The colors. The shortening days and the glow of light that beckons folks inside. The comforting foods. The lure of throws. The moment when chill gives way to warmth.

I am very much a fall-palette person. And so today, when I saw a particularly lovely tree, I promised myself I would return to capture it, that I would take a walk on this grey, cold day, and capture its subtle loveliness. Today. Lest I procrastinate and return to find it any less lovely.

And so I did.

I misjudged the temperature, though, and was not well-dressed for the walk. And so, upon returning home, I poured a bit of Scotch and appreciated its warmth all the more for having just been outside.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Baking On A Sunday (Morning and) Afternoon ...

On the whiteboard in my office, in the lower, right-hand corner, I had made a list of folks for whom I wanted to bake.

This list had been here, oh, about 10 months.

This afternoon, I erased it at last.

Stars have aligned and weather has cooled and logistics have, um, logisticed themselves, so today was a day to bake and tomorrow will be a day to deliver.

I will never not be a bit amazed that this:

plus time becomes this:

It'll be good to see the recipients tomorrow. It's been too long.

Sunday, October 11, 2015

A Drive-Thru Tale ...

Yesterday's weather arrived courtesy of central casting: sunny, cool-yet-mild, and breezy, the perfect day for outdoor chores.

And so, uncharacteristically for me, I did outdoor chores.

Once done and smelling like exhaust from the mower and covered with a fine veneer of leaf dust from sucking them up with the mower and then emptying the bag over and over, I hopped in the shower. Sufficiently shampooed and face-scrubbed and such, I pulled my wet hair into a ponytail, clipped it up on the back of my head, and proceeded to put on a fetching ensemble of white athletic socks, white stretchy pants, and my first-ever 3-Day long-sleeve T-shirt, from the Atlanta walk in 2001. The only thing on my face was moisturizer.

Dinner would come from a drive-thru. Ain't no way I was setting foot in a store.

But what to have? This was always my ridiculous conundrum, even before I gave up grains. But giving up grains winnows the choices down to joints that offer salads.

So help me God, while I am very grateful for the ease with which I can procure immediate, edible food, some days, I can't face another fast-food salad.

I ran through my options in my head, from furthest away working in, and ruled out, well, pretty much everything, even having relaxed my grain rule for the evening to allow for ... something.

Somehow, I settled on Nachos Bell Grande from Taco Hell. Yes, there exists in nature the inclination to eat Taco Hell and not be falling-down drunk at the same time.

Mind you, it had been, literally, decades since I'd enjoyed the culinary extravagance that is Nachos Bell Grande. But that's what my brain settled on, so off to Taco Hell I drove.

There was one car at the speaker, seemingly ordering, a car behind that car, and then me.

I sat. I waited.

I sat. I waited.

I sat. I waited.

Apparently, the driver of the car at the speaker was in the middle of a therapy session, not ordering food.

I backed up slightly, cut the wheel, and pulled away.

Sigh. I had to figure out another option.

As I drove along the main drag dotted with every fast-food joint known to man, I ruled each one out.

At a stoplight, I looked at the Long John Silver's up the street and thought, "I could really go for fish and chips."

And then I said, "No, Beth, you are not eating an all-fried meal."

But then I had fish on the brain, which is strange, because I really don't much like fish. Seafood, yes. Fish, not so much.

I passed the few remaining options and happened upon McDonald's, the last stop on the fast-food strip, my last option.

I pulled in.

One other car had pulled in in front of me, and was driving through the middle of the parking lot, not pulling into a parking space, not in the drive-thru lane. Eventually, she veered toward the speaker. I peered at the menu board. The fish desire remained, so I was on the verge of ordering a Filet-O-Fish meal, against my better judgment because a Filet-O-Fish sandwich has been winnowed down to about half of what it used to be, back in the day. (Note: I am now well old enough to refer to many things that existed "back in the day.")

Remember, I am very aware of the luxury of having such immediate access to food. I marvel that McDonald's goal is to have customers spend no more than 90 seconds in the drive-thru lane, and most days, damn if that's not the case (in my limited McDonald's experience since learning that stat). That such a feat is achievable owes great credit to the streamlined operation inside a McDonald's establishment. But customers also play a role. The fact that I can pull up and say, "I'd like a Number Eight with a medium Coke" and some friendly person rattles off a total in a half a second is part of the 90-second miracle.

The woman in the car in front of me, unfortunately, missed the class on drive-thru etiquette.

What follows is a rough transcript of what transpired. I didn't record it, of course, but I have a very good memory for dialogue.


The gal on the speaker offers the usual McDonald's greeting and is met with silence. The woman in the car appears to be conferring with her passengers.


I'm here. Can I take your order?

Do you still have the McRib?

Yes, we do.

I need a McRib meal. Does that come with large fries or small fries?

Small fries. But we can make them large.

OK, I need one McRib meal with Dr Pepper and four McRib sandwiches. [Pause] And two large fries. [Pause] And a chocolate shake.

What size?

Large? [Pause] And do you still have caramel sundaes?

Yes, we do.

And one caramel sundae. With nuts. [Pause] And how much are your ice cream cones?

Eighty-five cents.

OK, I'll have an ice cream cone. [Pause] Wait ... .

At that point, having dented my skull, I'm sure, from clutching my head, I pulled around her car and yelled, "GO INSIDE" as I drove away.

(Honestly, people, if you're going to use the drive-thru, know what you want or, at the very least, be able to make a decision relatively quickly. If you have no earthly idea what the hell you want, park the car and go inside where you can stand back and stare at the menu for hours if that pleases you.)

I drove home, Nachos Bell Grande-less and Filet-O-Fish-less, which was fine, really, as I shouldn't be consuming that stuff anyway.

And dinner became three-quarters of a bag of baby carrots and a hunk of cream cheese from a brick of Philadelphia I had lurking in the fridge.

I should probably cook something today.