Why Dogs and Food?



Why Dogs and Food?

It's simple. Write about what you love. And what is better than dogs and food? If you are anything like me - and millions of other people - you will relate to and understand the unwavering love I have for my dogs and my passion for cooking - and eating - great food. I hope you will enjoy reading about my day to day experiences with good food and a couple of very special dogs.

Thanks for visiting.

Thursday, May 09, 2013

Dinner for One



“We should look for someone to eat and drink with before looking for something to eat and drink, for dining alone is leading the life of a lion or a wolf.” ~ Epicurus







I have been remiss in posting to my blog. Actually, for the past six months or so, I have been remiss in doing most things I did before the recent changes in my life. Changes can be good and for the most part, I welcome change; but the changes that occur because they have been forced upon me due to significant and unfortunate life events, sometimes take a little extra effort to embrace. But here I am, surrendering to the inescapable, relentless changes that inevitably come with divorce. For all of you who have gone through the break-up of a marriage – or any long-term human relationship – the realization of it all is like jumping into ice cold water. It shocks and paralyzes. Thawing out takes some time.



Thank goodness my boys have been by my side to see me through some of the darker days.







I have been working hard and trying to get through all the emotional stuff that goes with the territory. Finally, I decided to take a little trip in an attempt to leave the daily grind behind, lick my wounds and soothe my soul. I wasn’t up to venturing too far away and where everyone was a stranger so I rented a little beach house in Florida, complete with a pool, a gourmet kitchen and a good friend within an hour’s drive. I figured I would laze by the pool and get some sun, read novels on my Kindle, walk on the beach and maybe cook a few yummy meals in the grand gourmet kitchen. It all sounded perfect as I played it out in my mind’s eye: a whole week of doing nothing but sunning and reading and cooking.

I have been to Florida several times in my lifetime and have always enjoyed bright, sunshiny days, sandy beaches lined with seashells and the sweet scent of gardenias in the air. So, I was excited to to pack my bag and take my worn out, pale, chilly San Franciscan self and head for warmer and sunnier shores.  I had expectations of returning suntanned, healthy, relaxed, and well, recharged. As much as I love my boys and would miss them to the point of pain, I was going to do this, it would be good for me, and I was going to love it!

What I didn't anticipate was bad weather, and, ultimate boredom.

I arrived late on a Friday evening. My flight was comfortable and enjoyable. I rented a little car in Orlando and drove to the luxury beach cottage awaiting my arrival in Cocoa Beach. It was a breeze so far. Actually, warm, soft breezes rustled the palm tree leaves as I stepped out of my car and carried my suitcase across the threshold of my little escape haven. I thought to myself: I am here! This is gonna be great!

The gourmet kitchen was pretty impressive for a rental. Shiny, upscale appliances; a big refrigerator filled with condiments, a jug of fresh Florida orange juice and a chilled bottle of white wine. Lovely! I explored the house, checked out the pool, cracked open the bottle of wine and munched on some cheese and crackers before getting into bed. I couldn’t wait to wake up to Paradise.

I woke up very early on Saturday morning. Traveling through time zones does weird stuff to one’s inner clock. No matter – I could do what I wanted - I could take a nap or stay up all night every night of the week if I wanted! I was on vacation!

I looked out the window and noticed it looked a little cloudy. Overcast morning, I murmured to myself, it will burn off. I took my morning coffee out to the patio and searched for some sign of the sun.  I mean, Florida is the sunshine state, right? Then, I decided to hop in my little rental car and drive to the nearest grocery store and stock up on food and wine. Surely the sun would come out by the time I finished shopping. 

When I got back to the cottage, I noticed the tiniest bit of sunshine trying desperately (or was it me desperately seeking the sun?) to push through the clouds.  I was actually rooting for it – out loud! Finally, at around 11:00 am, the sun started peeking through the cloud cover and I took my opportunity to test the water in the sparkling salt-water pool out back. I was only in the pool for a few minutes when those pesky clouds started closing in again and that’s when I felt the first raindrops. Oh, crap. Rain on my first day? I thought to myself that it's common to have rain showers in these tropical climates, isn't it?  So I wasn't too worried.  Back to the covered patio I went. And there I sat for hours, watching the rain come down harder and harder while I waited for sunny skies that would never come. I read my book, made a sandwich, dabbled on Facebook, looked at email, listened to music.... and still the rain was torrential. Paradise lost on my very first day.  What crappy luck.

Then I did the stupidest thing.

I grabbed my iPhone and looked up the weekly weather forecast for Cocoa Beach. Big mistake! There were little pictures of dark, grey clouds – some accompanied by cute little yellow lightning bolts – for every single day of the entire week of my stay! As I scrolled through each day, I clung to the word “chance” as in “chance of rain”, “chance of thunderstorms”…didn't that also mean there was a chance there wouldn't be rain or thunderstorms?  The outlook got gloomier and gloomier as I read there was a 50%, 70%, 80% chance of rain as the week went on.

This must be a mistake, I thought to myself. (I think I actually said that out loud.)

This could not be! This was my vacation! This was Florida! This was the sunshine state! Nowhere does Florida advertise with little, dark grey clouds and yellow lightning bolts! I started to panic a little. What was I supposed to do with myself on my beach vacation when there was now a pretty slim chance I would ever even get to the beach?

Grasping to find a silver lining, I thought of the kitchen. I could spend time cooking on that fantastic gas cook top and in the high-tech oven - and that would take my mind off the weather.  And so I resigned myself to the fact that it was not going to stop raining and went inside to see if I could keep myself busy for a little while.  And so I cooked.  Dinner for one.


After six months, you would think that cooking for myself and dining alone would be comfortable for me by now. Most of the time, it is fine. Actually most of the time, I don’t even cook for myself until I miss cooking so much that I spend an entire day preparing enough food that could feed me for two weeks. I cook because I enjoy it but eating food alone is a whole different can of beans.


With the limited selection of groceries I picked up, I managed to make a few tasty meals.  Here, I made garlic chicken with penne pasta and sauteed green beans.

 

When the sun finally came out on Monday, I rejoiced and spent as many hours outside as I could; swam in the pool and walked on the beach.  Maybe the weather forecast was changing! Then, on Tuesday morning, those thoughtless clouds had the nerve to show up again!  I mean, seriously?  They were going to steal my Monday bliss so soon?  I was patient, though.  I still had the Monday glow of hope that the "chances" of sun were on my side.  And I was right.  At approximately 12:30, the clouds parted like the Red Sea and the glorious sun was shining bright right smack in the middle of the sky.  And I had another glorious half day.

By Wednesday morning, I was convinced the clouds were just a tease and regardless of the forecast, they just visited for awhile and would leave sometime around mid-day.  Alas, I was wrong.  Wednesday was the day they were here to stay and brought their friends rain, thunder and lightning along for the party. 

I kept myself busy with reading and watching TV. I slept in. I whined to my friend via text message and Facebook. I felt sorry for myself.  I truly thought this vacation would be a peaceful getaway and I would enjoy being by myself while I slowly unloaded the stress from life back home.  Instead, it made me feel even more alone and melancholy than ever. I admitted to myself that I would rather be back home hanging out with Walter and Henry and Mac. To make things worse, I looked up the weather back home in California and the forecast showed a week’s worth of big, bright suns and the words “clear” with temperatures in the 80’s. I was convinced there was some kind of curse on me. 

The saving grace of this visit to Florida was having my dear friend Brenda close by.  I did get to spend some time with her for dinner and catching up on each other's lives. Spending time with her helped soothe the sting of the disastrous weather and my unsuccessful attempt at a divine week at the beach.  We actually ventured out to a restaurant on the pier (despite the ocean view of dark clouds and windy rain) and dined on lobster and shrimp and drank tropical drinks as if we were on a warm Caribbean island.  We laughed and enjoyed our time together.  Just look at our feast:


Friday could not have come soon enough.  I was tired of the past three days of rain and thunder and lightning.  I was ready to go home.  As I was packing up the car to head to the airport, the sun came out.  At that point, I was just grateful I didn't have to drive to the airport in the rain.  Well, shame on me for being so optimistic.  As soon as I was on the main highway to the airport, Mother Nature decided to stick it me one last time by dumping a tsunami of rain on my windshield. 

~
The lion and the wolf are independent, self-sufficient, brave and strong. I guess it's sometimes necessary to be like the lion or the wolf in order to survive. If had my preference, I would sooner be the very social and pleasure-seeking Golden Retriever than the lone wolf; and I would much rather dine surrounded by friends.  Epicurus was definitely on to something.

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

That was a lovely sharing, Liz. So nicely written and the journey after divorce so well-described.

Theresa

Colette said...

Liz,

Thank you for your beautifully written heartfelt blog. I am so sorry for your trials, but know that you are strong. Thank you for sharing. You are not alone!

Colette

Liz Berry Wagner said...

Thank you Theresa and Colette,
I hope I didn't come across too much like a victim - I was feeling a bit sorry for myself - but it is not in my makeup to feel sorry for myself for too long. :) It does seem a bit lonely sometimes - especially when things don't seem to be going right. But I have such good, supportive friends that always give me the lift I need to smile and shine again! Thank you!

Susan Campisi said...

Liz, I'm so sorry the weather was crappy in Florida. One silver lining is that you were probably thrilled to get home! Looks like you cooked yourself some fabulous food and indulged in a feast with your friend. Yum. I've never been married and divorced, as you know, but I've had my share of relationships ending. It's always a long, painful transition to feeling good again. You will heal. I know you already have. Hang in there. I hope you're getting lots of sun up north these days!