Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Pepper, Unexpected

M went off to the lake with his best friend and brother, and I spent the day on wedding preparations. I felt like it was a little bit of busy work, trying not to be nervous, though I had a lot of chores and loose ends to see to. I haven't yet thought of anything I've left at home. As usual, I felt good getting things ready, but I also felt a bit dorky, toting my green notebook around like a security blanket. The photo booth activity for the reception is still a bit of a mystery, but I have most of the day tomorrow to figure it out. I would also like to spend a bit of time with my brother--he suggested we go up to some swimming holes, which would be fun. If I have time. And if he has time. He's been working hard to beautify his pad for the pre-wedding dinner.

Late in the afternoon I dared to don my new bathing suit and took a plunge in the minimal motel pool, which they carved out of part of the parking lot. Though the traffic was busy swirling around me, the worst noise pollution was the middle-aged man at the other end of the pool. At first he complained loudly to a woman about some other apparently horrible person, and then to the person himself, who turned out to be a college student-type. Two of the phrases I heard while gingerly sunning myself? "I don't like you. You don't like me. But we're bound together because of laws." "You are the reason I hate myself. You and only you." Not even my July issue of Martha Stewart could help.

As consolation for having to dine alone tonight, I took myself out to a nice Italian place. I was that woman I observed a few weeks ago, dining alone in an Italian joint. I watched Chico pass before me, however, rather than read. An older gent, the only other diner, sat on one side of the establishment, and when he left I felt a bit of balance leave too. The food was good, flies a little too "abondanza," but I went out on a limb and ordered a dessert that the waiter recommended: an orange macerated in a sugar syrup topped with julienned peel and--fresh ground black pepper. It was wonderful. Earlier this year I tried Tim Tams for the very first time, a crispy-wafer-chocolate with red pepper confection. The waiter mentioned that he often takes a Hershey bar with him when he has spicy Asian food, and nibbles on chocolate to cool the fire. Hmm, another excuse to eat chocolate.

I'm trying not to obsessively check the weather, but I'm not having much luck. There are not one but two TVs here in our room, and it's on a lot. (This is a budget motel--the towels are thinner, the drinking implements plastic wrapped in plastic, the cleaning supplies stinky, but the cable channels are way more robust than the nicer hotels I stay in for work.) The forecast for Saturday in the mid- to upper 80s, unseasonably "cool" for Chico. Oh. Please.


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