Today has been a gratifying one, another in a series of days that have different reasons for being good ones, yet all getting to the same place; being good.
The day started for me at about 4:00 a.m., when I got up and nosed around the kitchen for a while, slowly getting the dinner dishes from last night’s meal cleaned and out of the way. I wrote only enough to produce my Thoughts for the Day bit, a silly one without even the suggestion of having any relevance to the real world. Writing was not my thing this morning; I was on what I consider a well-deserved break from thinking about anything but mindless stuff, which today included breakfast.
I had planned on a special sort of breakfast this morning, something I thought my wife might not appreciate but might permit grudgingly. She was more generous than I had expected yesterday in response to my suggestion that I make congee with pork and crispy shallots. I’ve had congee on my mind for a while for some reason; today, I translated my desire into reality by making the dish for my wife and her sister, who we invited over for breakfast. My limited experience with congee began years ago during a trip to Beijing, where I had it at breakfast at the hotel where I was staying. The stuff there was a bit different from what I made this morning; both, though, were delicious. More dreams of “breakfast around the world” swirl in my head.
After breakfast, I went to my sister-in-law’s house to talk to her handyman about the second set of downspout extensions for her house; it turned out my presence was not really necessary or useful, but I enjoyed it, nonetheless. I’ve always enjoyed my sister-in-law’s company, but since she’s moved nearby, I’m enjoying it even more. I like being around her; we have a lot in common but she’s far more interesting than I am.
Once the downspouts, etc. were in good order, I headed home, just in time for the cloudy weather to begin to clear. Obviously, nature was conspiring to get me out of the house by offering such a fine day, so we decided to go for a drive and were able to convince my SIL to go along, which made us happy.
Among the stops along the way today was an impromptu stop at La Bodeguita, the restaurant/grocery we love in downtown Hot Springs. My SIL bought a bunch of stuff (including a couple of pieces of cake that provided mid-afternoon sustenance and happiness later in the day) and we bought star anise and a few tomatillos I can use in making salsas. But, most importantly, we talked to the guy who appears to run the store; the result of the conversation is that we’ll pick up three dozen pork and jalapeño tamales next Saturday, just in time to assure the Christmas eve tradition will continue.
Then, we stopped at Las Americas, another Mexican restaurant/grocery, continuing our search for fresh habanero peppers (which failed at La Bodeguita and then at Las Americas). Since were were there, we decided to have lunch; between the three of us, we had tacos al pastor, steak tacos, tacos de lengua, tacos de barbacoa, tacos de chorizo, and tacos de carnitas. It was an exceptional meal! And before we left, I bought another gallon of canned jalapeños, because my last purchased gallon is going fast.
From there, a brief stop at Kroger yielded little in the way of pleasing results, but a drive thereafter turned out to be one worth taking. We spent time wandering around Lake Catherine State Park, where we conversed with and about Canada geese, spoke to a park ranger about available lodging (including a yurt), and generally enjoyed a peaceful place lakeside. I’m ready to reserve the yurt or a cabin or a lodge or something so we can spend some really relaxing time right at the water’s edge. Maybe sometime after the beginning of the year, before it gets crowded but after the chill is more tolerable than January mid-winter slug in the gut.
Thereafter, a trip east toward Little Rock to another Mexican grocery and its adjacent taco truck (these are located in the outskirts of Benton/Bryant) yielded more things of interest (and some more tasty tacos), but still no fresh habanero peppers. My SIL needs habanero peppers so she can make a killer salsa…it’s all about my taste buds, sometimes. We’ll keep looking; maybe I can take her to Whole Foods in Little Rock tomorrow for another try! No, that’s not workable; she has a neighborhood party to attend. Well, there’s next week, I suppose.
Across the street from the dive taco truck and grocery is an Enterprise Liquors location. Liquor stores always require at least a cursory review, so we stopped in to have a look. My SIL bought wine and beer and attempted to buy the Sweet Vermouth I needed to replenish the bottle that succumbed to applications in multiple Manhattans of late. I ended up buying it, along with a bit of wine and a six-pack of Diamond Bear Oatmeal Stout. Once in the car, we agreed to do a switch, whereby I would give her an Oatmeal Stout in return for a bottle of the Diamond Bear Pale Ale she bought. It’s all about give and take.
We dropped her off at her house just about the time the sun was setting. Ideally, she’d be just up the block and could walk over for dinner and a glass of wine, but there’s a drive involved, which doesn’t do well with wine. There is a guest bedroom on both ends of the drive, so a sleepover would do in a pinch.
At any rate, we came home. And I got wrapped up in writing some things for my own consumption and then, bam! My favorite wife is ready for dinner. So, I made a grilled cheese sandwich for her and decided to do the same for myself.