Damn Good Neighbors
Laurie is our neighbor across the ally and she has been the most prolific commenter on the blog to date. She has her own blog (ThreeDogBlog) so perhaps she knows how thrilling it is each time I see an email saying that I have a comment. She works for a major paper here in the twin cities and is the author of an easy-to-read memoir called, News to Me: Adventures of an Accidental Journalist. I’m ecstatic that she agreed to write a guest post for me and I don’t remember any dogs barking.
Right now I am sitting at my dining room table, chasing the last few crumbs of Damn Good Granola around the bottom of a little Tupperware container and wondering if, at 6:30 a.m., it is too early to walk across the alley to the neighbors’ house to ask if they have any more.
Kira and Mike are our neighbors, and we consider ourselves Damn Lucky to live near them. Not only do they cheerfully tolerate our barking dogs and our un-landscaped yard (which almost certainly drags down the property values of the neighborhood), but they are also quite friendly and recently invited us over for brunch. The fact that the brunch invitation came at a time when Mike was cooking his way through the entire Damn Good Cookbook was not lost on us, and of course we said yes. Then we starved ourselves for several days and went out and bought stretchy elastic-waist pants (like Joey’s “Thanksgiving Pants” on “Friends”). By Sunday morning, we were ready.
We picked our way across the icy alley, knocked on their back door, and were ushered into a kitchen that smelled like heaven.
Mike appeared to be double-wrapped in a gigantic, spotless apron, and he was busily frying up individual frittatas. He had all of the innards—I believe that is not the technical gustatory term—in little matching yellow bowls: peppers, tomatoes, onions, I’m not sure what else. I just said, put everything in mine. I think pineapple might have been involved.
Coffee was percolating. Bison sausages were warming in the oven drawer. Kira was grinning over by the refrigerator, she had apparently arranged things so that her duties were nothing more arduous than chatting with us and sipping the mimosas that we provided. (She is a very, very, very smart woman.)
Mike continued to fry frittatas, and every so often we’d hear a little mutter coming from the vicinity of the stove: “OK, that one is mine,” and “OK, that one is Kira’s,” when a raggedy mess was made, but, man, we didn’t care what they looked like. It was clear they were going to be fabulous. (And, in the end, even the raggedy ones looked better than anything that has ever slid off one of my spatulas.)
When time came to eat, Kira, Mike and Melanie started loading up the dining room table. Frittatas, yes. And sliced fresh fruit. And hot coffee. And orange juice. And bowls of mahnomen porridge—wild rice, maple syrup, berries and nuts, drenched in cream (and yes, we heard Mike muttering, “More cream!” more than once; good man). And spicy patties of bison sausage. And giant puffy caramel/pecan rolls, steaming hot, Kira sprang into action and produced a bowl of caramel sauce to pour over them. They looked SO DAMN GOOD, but each one was about the size of my head, and I worried deeply that I wasn’t going to be up to the task.
In the end, the Thanksgiving Pants failed us, and Doug and I split a caramel/pecan roll instead of each attempting a whole one, though we kind of politely passive-aggressively fought over the last few shards of warm sticky dough.
So when the homemade granola emerged, dolloped with fresh yogurt, all I could do was stare at it and make quick mental calculations. Amount of available stomach room X the amount of pecan roll left on the plate X the rest of my frittata, / by lung capacity needed in torso in order to maintain life-sustaining oxygen level….
As math people, Kira and Mike immediately sensed my dilemma–and knew the solution, of course. Out came the Tupperware, and into it went two days’ worth of granola. I’m telling you, Damn Good Neighbors.