They Changed His Whole Night

From the busy highway, a long line of vehicles keeps turning left into the crowded parking lot. Every day of the week headlights beckon us in to come, sit, and eat pizza. Massive, Chicago-style deep dish pizza. Have you tried Oreganos? When I noticed the Arizona pizza chain was opening here, I was skeptical. For mysterious reasons, whatever joint went in the vacant restaurant on the busy corner seemed to fizzle and fade away. I’m pretty sure the last restaurant in that space mysteriously caught fire. Nothing seems to stick.

Now freshly opened, the cars keep turning and the parking lot is always full.
We had to know what we were missing.

We’ve been twice now and we’re hooked. Delicious cheese, buttery crust, drinks the size of your face – diners beware – they serve family style meals and when Dylan and I went just the two of us we came home with leftovers for twenty.

So there we were, Friday night, joining the stream of eager eaters. We put our name on the list and we waited. And waited. And waited.

Across the room, perched on a black barstool, was an older gentleman. Wearing a suit, worn leather shoes, red suspenders and a dusty grey Fedora. His aged hands sat folded in his lap, and another couple my age were chatting with him quietly, shoulders leaning in to cut the noise around them.

Many moments past. The waitress called the woman’s name, and the couple stood and said their good-byes to the man as they were led to their table.

And then, moment’s later, the woman my age was back.

“Would you like to eat with us?” she asked the older gentleman leaning gently towards his ear.

I don’t know what he said, but his face magically morphed.Have you seen faces change when loneliness turns to light?

The waiter walked their new guest to the table and he placed his hat on the coat rack near the booth before taking a seat.

I only watched the last few minutes of the exchange. I don’t know why that man was there by himself, dressed up fancy on a Friday night. I do know his eyes looked sad and the invitation from another added just a tiny bit of sparkle.

I started tearing up standing in the foyer.

“You gonna be alright?” Dylan asked, gently poking my side.

“Mmhmm” I nodded with my hand covering my mouth.

As we waited, fires burned, politicians scrambled, hearts broke. Fear and uncertainty abound. But in the busy Italian restaurant, one brave woman asked a simple question and connections were formed. One beautiful gesture.

Those people asked a stranger to eat with them and it changed his whole night. Seeing people need not be difficult.

I hope they had a delightful dinner.


Smells of Summer

I am not in school right now. Days in May have blended into days in August and all of the sudden I catch myself thinking, ok kids head back to school soon. No, not my kids. I do not have children. The general populous of American children will be banging their backpacks into lockers and crumpling up half sheets of yellow paper that were meant for parents eyes in just a few weeks. We do not have cable right now, so the back to school commercials are missing and I do not have an excuse to buy new pens and pencils and notebooks – fine point Pilot brand please. It is odd, once in the working world, how summer seems to escape you. We have been to quite a few weddings, and played tennis outdoors and tried new cooking adventures on the grill, but summer as a working adult, does not have exactly the same charm as it does when you are fifteen, or eighteen, or even twenty-two.

This week, I made it a point to start observing the things that I want to capture before the long evenings turn to fall (oh fall, I love fall. Hurry up sweater weather). No, that’s missing the point. I am captivated by the sights and smells that remain of the summer. The season is not quite over. We have baseball games to go to, hikes to take, birthdays to celebrate and maybe since we won’t squeeze camping in we can sleep in the backyard.

This weekend I tried something new. Pizza on the grill! What a fun idea. Pizza dough at Whole Foods only costs $2.99. We received this cookbook back in early spring and hadn’t gotten around to implementing the nuggets of scrumptious, creative ideas. Saturday was the day for a foodie adventure and I was so proud of our creations. Thanks to Cathy for your grilling wisdom and moral support. If you are looking for a great way to cook something scrumptious without heating up the house, give pizza on the grill a try. Grill lines and the smell of charred dough are actually quite enchanting when paired with a summer breeze.

It's on a cookie sheet I know. I promise we used the grill!

It’s on a cookie sheet I know. I promise we used the grill!

Peach lady is here! I wrote about my love for the August peach last year here. My thoughts have not changed much regarding these delectable globes of juiciness and when Debbie the peach lady rolled into town I couldn’t wait for my mom to buy a box. Note – I’m too cheap to buy my own palette of grown fruit. I had my first taste of the season last night, standing over the sink, as I watched a movie with my parents in their dimly lit kitchen. Before I bit into the furry skin, however, I raised the fruit to my nose and inhaled. You can actually smell the ripe, real fruit in  a way that only nature can intend. When you smell fruit in the grocery store you experience no such beauty.

The same is true of the tomatoes growing in my pots in the back yard. I went out to water tonight, and picked off a few branches on the tiny plants that are not producing any blossoms. The smell of tomato leaves seeped onto my hands – green, fresh, delightful. Once again, not an experience you get at the grocery store. There is beauty in stopping to smell the bounty of goodness we are blessed to receive. Literally the fruits of our own existence.

Popsicles are pretty darn beautiful too. No, don’t smell those. Those come from the grocery store.

Biscotti: Almond – this recipe was delicious. Even Dylan ate three pieces

Essie Nail Polish – Congo Bongo