A better afternoon

4 Mar

On my last post I told about my Sunday morning experience.  I’m happy to report that the afternoon went much better.  After I had finished writing the post, I felt revived enough to venture outside.  And so glad I did.  It was a lovely day, and I had a full tank of gas.  I headed north, up to the Home and Patio show.

Like I often do, I took the back roads.  Less traffic and usually much more scenic.  I drove past several beautiful parks where families were enjoying the nice weather.  I love getting glimpses of the river between some of the stately older homes. And, as I like to do when I’m not pressed for time, I took Ortega Rd.  It has an old bridge.  It’s a drawbridge actually, but you can’t tell it driving over, except there is a stop light above.  Well, this day the light before the bridge was flashing.  I got to see the bridge when it was up and watch the boat pass underneath!  There were arms that cross in front of the traffic like a railroad crossing. I had never noticed them before.  I noticed a couple who had been walking lean over watching the boat pass.  Then the bridge lowered, it seemed by increments.  It was such a neat experience.  Something to savor.

As I sat on the bridge, waiting, I was again struck by how beautiful the downtown skyline is–seen from that place.  This is the closest bridge to downtown that crosses the Ortega River. There are two parks, one on each side of the river.  You can see the larger St John’s River and then beyond the tall buildings downtown.  Sometimes they seem to be in a mist, but this time they were very clear against the blue sky.  Like always, I’m struck by a yearning to draw the scene.  So far I’ve always been going somewhere or coming back and haven’t taken time to stop very long.  One of these days I hope to go there just to draw.

Surprisingly there was not much traffic, even downtown.  It seemed most people had already arrived at the show.  The main parking lots were full but I was able to find parking several blocks further downtown.  And on such a nice day really I enjoyed the walk.

The show was huge.  I text my son=in-law to find where his booth was, but it still took quite awhile to find it.  Of course I did stop and look at stuff along the way.  One thing I purchased.  It’s a little shredder plate.  It is made of ceramic and has raised bumps.  You just rub whatever you want to grind over the bumps.  Viola!  It is ground and on it’s own little plate.  They had different colors, with different designs.  I chose this simple black one.  It has a little scroll that the picture doesn’t show very well..  Ceramic grinder mini plateIf  you want to put whatever you’ve just ground over your food or to add to a dish just use the little brush to sweep off what you want.  The blue cylinder is for removing the garlic peel.   In the demo I saw, they ground nutmeg, garlic, and cheese.

As I walked along, something else caught my eye.  One of my sons has a Robo vacuum.  Well, this wasn’t a vacuum, it’s a Robo lawn mower!  It goes around the yard on its own.  (I think your yard would have to be really smooth for it to work well.)  I text my son about it then continued walking along, looking at things.  I watched a few demos of juicers.  I would like to have one, but don’t want to spend the money.

After a couple of hours I found my son-in-law’s booth.  He said there had been a lot of people through.  By then I decided I had looked enough, so headed back outside.  I was hungry.  I haven’t been to a show like this for a few years, but I noticed a big difference in this one than the ones I used to go to.  I don’t know if it was due to this being a different part of the country or that money is tighter now or what, but the ones I used to go to had lots of vendors passing out food!  Here I only received a handful of very tiny samples.  Expecting the free food, I hadn’t brought extra cash.  Outside there were several food carts, but I had only a credit card.

I text my daughter and granddaughter to see if they wanted to eat somewhere.  It was then 2:30 and my granddaughter had already eaten.  My daughter was shopping in another area of the city.  I asked her where a good BBQ place was.  That’s what I had been smelling for most of my walk back to my car.  She said most of the downtown places aren’t open on Sunday.  But she told me of a drive-through place down on Hwy 17, just before the airbase, so I headed for it.

I found it and after a few U turns pulled into the parking lot, only to find that it–like the downtown restaurants–was closed.  In the same center area there was a Tiajana Flats and a Hurricane Wings, but I wasn’t really wanting either.  Then I saw the Tuptim Thai.  Thai is one of my favorite types of food.  So I went in.

It was now a quarter to 3 and the sign said they close at 3, so I barely made it.  I noticed a special of Mango rice and decided to have that.  A  minute or so after the waiter had taken my order, he came back and asked if I knew that dish was a dessert.  I hadn’t.  He said it is mango served with sticky rice.  I decided to have it anyway.   When it came, the look of the dish alone would have made my day.  I’ve seen the TV shows where they plate everything so pretty, but I’d never had it in real life.

Mango Sticky Rice       This pic doesn’t begin to do it justice.  It was so lovely, just to look at.  I had never seen a real, live orchid before.  In fact, I had to ask what kind of flower it was, just to be sure.  I also ask what the green leaf underneath was–banana leaf.  I had never had the sticky brown rice like that before either.  Both the rice and the mango was covered with a thin, white, subtly sweet sauce.  The whole thing was delicious!  I ate it all and told them I would come back sometime for lunch.

Then I headed on south, back to my apartment.  Funny thing though–although the dessert was delicious, I was still  hungry for BBQ!  So I decided to splurge.  Went to Sonny’s BBQ and got a pulled pork Carolina sandwich.  There may be other places better, as my daughter said when I told her, but this definitely hit the spot.  BBQ with slaw on top.  Of course I added some sweet and hot sauce to perfect it.

Well, even counting my crazy morning, this day was one I count as special.  It ended with me full and contented with a smile on my face.  It started out rocky, but later gave me unexpected pleasures.  My eyes had much to feast on.  The beauty of the drive.  I saw the drawbridge up.  I have my grinder plate.  I know I will smile every time I think of my dessert.  My younger son and I had often said we should order dessert first sometime–but I had never done it before.  Now I have, and know that it doesn’t  spoil your appetite to have dessert first.  A new learning experience for me.

And I brought my beautiful orchid home.  I’ve been trying to draw it.  First with colored pencils, then with just regular pencil.  I still want to perfect both drawings before I post them, but hope to get them online in the near future.  I also took a picture of the orchid, to have as a remembrance.  picture of Orchid from Mango Sticky Rice

The orchid is still beautiful now, a day later, though not quite as fresh looking.  I wonder how long it will last?  Not nearly as long as my memories of the better afternoon of a crazy morning.

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