An Anniversary, An Eggplant Plan

After the phone calls, after dinner, we settled into our comfortable spots.

During a commercial, we started talking about where we’d go for our 5th anniversary dinner. There was no contest, really. Sal’s Italian Restaurant in Tecumseh. Close to our almost-in-town townhouse, it had been a great favorite Friday night, take-away spot for us.

It was the first place outside of New York, I’d ever had a good Italian Wedding soup. The garlic bread was perfectly garlick-y, beautifully buttery and sublimely sprinkled with parm. The red sauce was perfectly saucy, from an East Coast perspective.

Sal’s eggplant parmesan was wonderfully and deliciously authentic, too.

Not so long before Jeff brought me to Sal’s, I made this dish for him. We’d been dating about a month, and it was supposed to be our first stay-in, dinner-in, at my Okemos apartment.

It was awful. Bitter and mushy; with raised forks, we watched each other watching gooey, grayish globs weeping through the tines.

He asked me how long I’d salted it before cooking. I accompanied my dumbfounded look with the teary explanation that I had just winged it. “Gotta salt it,” Jeff sagely advised. “Even then, it’s not so great, sometimes.” We went out for Mexican.

I was so enthralled by Sal’s version, that Jeff happily tried a bite. Even though he’d been down that road before. Even though he wasn’t fond of that particular nightshade. Even if it had been salted, fried and layered with cheese, his aversion to eggplant rivalled my aversion to cauliflower, even if it had been salted, fried and smothered in cheese.

Sitting in Sal’s, I watched Jeff contemplatively chew for a bit, and laughed when he decisively summarized, “I’d rather have the chicken.”

Jeff mentioned Evans Street Station as an alternative. Because we’d already be dressed up for our church photo, I considered that. It was so sweet of him to mention the fanciest restaurant in town. A few years after opening, it was still on our to-do list. We just hadn’t made it there, yet.

“Maybe, some other time,” I smiled. “I’m really missing Sal’s. It’s the first place we ever went to dinner in town. So, that kind of makes it ‘our place’, too.”

“You won’t get any arguments from me!” Jeff grinned.

Quote for the Week: 2019 07 16 The best celebrations aren’t always the most expensive jakorte

 

more usual than un-

As Jeff requested, we went straight home. Didn’t stop to eat on a Friday night, which was unusual, for us.

I cooked that night. Nothing unusual. Just my usual, my-turn-to-cook, spaghetti and meat sauce. Quick, easy, and yummy;  only because Jeff had taught me how to doctor up the jarred stuff. Fresh garlic and onions, sautéed with the meat, and finished with generous handfuls of fresh grated parmesan, made all the difference.

Jeff ducked into the shower, while I was prepping. He announced that he had sweat enough for a whole week that day, and needed some freshenin’ up. He was in there a little longer than I thought he would be. I considered checking on him, but he appeared, just then, in fine spirits.

“What can I do?” he asked, brightly.

“You can go sit down and relax,” I said. “Dinner’s almost done.”

“Supper,” he jokingly corrected me.

It was our usual, silly corny routine. The result of early dating differences, and trying to convince each other what the proper name for our evening meal should be. A lot like the next Saturday/this Saturday debate. After a few, important, miss-communications, we’d decided it was best to always supply a numeric date, when discussing the future.

Happily headed to the den, Jeff parked himself in his chair, legs elevated, as usual. I was stirring the cooked pasta into the sauce, when the phone rang. The one-sided part of the conversation I could hear, was Jeff laughing and saying, “Oh, hi. Yes, I’m fine. Feelin’ great now. Must be…. ’cause I even got my appetite back. Just waitin’ on the wife to serve me up some supper!”

I playfully arched an eyebrow at him through the pass-thru. “Oh, I’ve done it now,” he laughed, said his goodbye, and hung up.

The check-in was from the owner of the business who had taken our original 10’x10′ spot at the mall. They hadn’t been open all that long. I’d only, recently, met him and his wife.

But, Jeff, as usual, had encouraged them, and advised them, and in the course of the day when there were few customers, extracted most everything there was to know about his new friend.

“Wow.” I thought on that for a second. “That was really nice.”

“Yeah,” Jeff nodded. “That was real nice…”

I delivered Jeff’s serving, along with his usual big glass of white milk. On my way back to the kitchen, I stopped before rounding the short, separating wall.

“So, you must have really scared him, too. Huh?”

“Nah. I didn’t scare him,” he negated. “She did that!”

Quote for the Week:2019 06 25 only caring can create jakorte

 

 

 

Churdled (milk)

Then, it occurred to me.

Wait – my chocolate milk? I haven’t bought any chocolate milk, lately.”

“Yeah, you did.” Jeff came back. “It was just a little one, with the rabbit on it. I think maybe it wasn’t any good anymore. It smelled kinda funny. It was kinda old, too.”

My mind went from – I don’t remember buying chocolate milk to – “Wait – what? How old? It smelled bad, and you used it anyway?” I squawked and gaped.

“Well, it wasn’t that old. I checked the date. Just a couple of weeks. And, I don’t drink the stuff, so I don’t know what’s good!”

The rule-follower in me was flabbergasted. My brain shorted into partial words. I stumbled over ‘chocolate’ and ‘milk’ and ended up with an accidental coinage. “You gave me churdled milk? This is why perishables are date stamped!”

“Nah,” Jeff insisted, remarkably patiently, considering we were having this conversation  for perhaps the hundredth if not close to the hundredth time. “Those are just sug-gest-ed dates. Things don’t suddenly go bad on that date.”

“I know that,” I insisted, back. “But, they eventually do!”

That earned me an eye-roll. “Well,” he jokingly reasoned, “If you just drank the white milk, ya would’a had better coffee, then.”

“Yeah?” I countered, “and what is the date on that?”

Jeff yanked the fridge open and grabbed the milk jug. “Hmm,” he noted, grinning. “Says yesterday.” He pulled off the cap and, to my horror, full-on stuck his sniffer in the hole.

Not much scared Jeff. Inserting his nose into, or, even taking a swig from, a gallon of possibly spoilt milk, wasn’t on his list of scary stuff. For the record, though, being chased with a dead fish, was.

“Nope.” Jeff split-second analyzed the experience. “It’s definitely not ch-urdled, yet.” He glanced over at me, and grinned at my expression. “Probably wouldn’t use that either, wouldya?”

Me, grimacing back: “No. Especially, not since you just stuck your nose in there.”

“Aw, my nose didn’t touch the milk!” Jeff scoffed.

“So what, if it didn’t touch the milk? Your nose got wiped on the spout! You’re gonna have to pour the milk over that!’

“Geez, ok.” Jeff went for a paper towel. “I’ll wipe it out!”

“Don’t even think about giving me that milk, tomorrow.” I warned him. “And, don’t cook with it, either!”

Jeff guffawed. “You’re not gonna die from the milk!”

“Damn, right.” I replied. “Cuz, none of it is going past my lips!”

He took a swig, swished it around in his mouth, and ridiculously wiggled his tongue in my direction. “Wanna kiss?” he teased.

(To be fair, I guess Jeff helped coin the word. I dropped it, but he picked it up and ran for the punchline.)

Quote for the week:2019 05 28 Sometimes there is only one way to figure it out jakorte

 

 

Coffee, in a Clutch

Friday, September 29, 2006.

Jeff was up early with me, Friday morning, and very much back to being his usual perky self. While I was in the shower, he made coffee and packed my work breakfast and lunch for me. I knew I would be short a van pool passenger this morning, which gave me a few extra minutes.

So, I sat and sipped my creative, coffee surprise of the day. Raspberry flavored coffee with vanilla creamer. Jeff and I had joined the Gevalia coffee club, convinced by the free coffee maker. The flavor assortment was a bonus, too. Back then, whole beans were considered radical. But, we had a spice grinder; specifically dedicated to coffee. Fancy.

Jeff was the brew-master, in-charge of keeping our cabinet stocked. Each new shipment was a challenge to him. I can only recall one time when I had to explain that I hadn’t been able to drink the disaster in my cup.

I’m not a fan of scalding hot coffee. I prefer cold, however cool, room temperature, and lukewarm are acceptable alternates. Yes, I’m that person – the one who uses a spoon to chase ice around a water glass to cool my coffee. Because of this, I rarely drank my freshly- brewed, morning beverage at home. Hardly ever on my commute, either.

Insulated car cups hadn’t come close to popularity, or reaching and reacting the efficient way they do now. As the van pool driver, my commute was close to an hour. So, by the time I got to work, the coffee in my up-cycled, individual soda bottle, was a pleasant room temp. In summer, it was almost properly chilled from parking in front of the air conditioned vents.

The conversation about the concoction I threw away, ended in laughter, as usual.

I started it. “Whatever you put in my coffee, this morning, please, don’t ever do that again.”

“You didn’t like it?”

“No. It was terrible!”

“Oh.” Jeff pondered. “It seemed like it would work, to me.”

“What was it?”

“Hazelnut, but there wasn’t enough. So, I added the cherry kind we got in Traverse City. Then, we were out of cream, so I added the rest of your chocolate milk.”

He was right. A chocolate-covered, cherry cordial hugging a hazelnut sounded like it should have been good, but…

Quote for the Week:2019 05 21 complex flavors dont always make the cut jakorte

 

 

 

 

Chucking Chuck

Splat.

It turned out that Jeff hadn’t been expecting me, at all. “No! No! Not you!” He exclaimed. “Sadie!” Jeff shouted and pointed. “It’s Sadie!” He waved his arms as he launched another piece of meat skyward, calling, “Here, Puppy, Puppy!”.

We completed an impressive, synchronized peer-over.

Hyper-girl was ping-ponging around, running a non-direct, Jack Russell route. She was making a bee-line toward the tree line, and Jeff was chucking chuck to get her to come back.

Our only slightly attentive lassie, was only slightly interested in what he had to say, but she was starting to sniff out the meat. Each morsel delay lasted about 2 seconds, then she’d turn her back and resume her directionally impaired run for freedom.

I resituated my grease-smudged glasses, and scooped the fallen bit from my sneaker top where it had finalized its landing. Struggling to quickly (aka ungracefully) open our escape-proof gate, I wasn’t exactly able to immediately bolt down the stairs.

Sadie saw me. Her homeward-galloping greeting was perfectly interrupted by another falling fragment. She was swift. I wasn’t swifter.

I had an advantage, though. By placing her tail-end toward me, I was in prime position to scoop up the little scoundrel just as she scarfed another bite of my supposed supper.

When she was safely back up-top, I set her down, and turned to Jeff. “How the heck did that happen?”

He’d been flipping a burger and caught a blur in the corner of his eye. When he fully turned towards it, he saw Sadie happily prancing along.

“Ok.” I said. “But, how did it happen? The gate was closed. I couldn’t get it open!”

“Hmm,” he remarked. “I kinda wondered what you were doing….”

Jeff and I mirrored surprise faces, and simultaneously scanned. She’d ghosted.

Sadie Bug Lady Bug and I played a one-sided game of tag, for a 5-minute while. Jeff watched and coached, offering wrangling advice and helpful stealth tactics. I finally got her.

Carrying Her Highness of Happiness up the stairs, again, I proposed we watch her to figure out her Houdini act. I waited at the bottom of the stairs. Jeff waited atop; at the barrier.

Soon enough, a patchwork head and two frisky paws popped through to the right of the door.

She was about to make a jump for it, but Jeff snagged her wiggly butt and hauled her back.

Sadie had, somewhat smartly, squeezed between the wider, wooden railing slats, and jumped down to the steps. We remedied with additional, in-between slats.

Since, we weren’t sure she’d be able to gauge the inappropriateness of a 5-foot leap to the ground, Sadie’s future deck-scapades were seriously supervised.

There were a few other canine escapes. The first one was accidentally resolved, which might have made my latter incident easier to resolve. If I’d known about that first one….

Quote for the Week: 2019 03 26 Where there’s a will there’s way jakorte

 

 

Carded

Remember how I’ve mentioned, more than a few times, the key to a good relationship is notes?

I mean, love notes, silly notes, random unexpected notes.

We both loved notes: handwritten, typed, sticky, email, text, added to a homemade or store-bought card. On a scrap of paper, a bank deposit slip – in any way or shape or form. A few words, a smiley face; maybe just a heart. Little reminders that we were part of a wonderful “We.”

I have a lot of “first” cards. First card ever. First Valentine’s Day.

My first birthday. A card Jeff gave to me the first time I shared his birthday with him.

First Valentine’s Day and birthday as “Wife.”

All these little sweet and silly stories hold a wealth of history and such huge feelings.

Quote for the Week: (contributed by my editor. ;-))

“Even though post-it notes are removable and can be moved from place to place, somehow, the post-it notes written by loved ones stick forever.”

2019 01 22 carded 3 jakorte2019 01 22 carded 2 jakorte

2019 01 22 carded jakorte