Once in a Lifetime

“Letting the days go by…”

Talking Heads

Last week was a week that felt surprisingly normal to me.

I looked at my calendar and instead of the normal blank white space of these three last months, I had meetings, parties, a massage and babysitting penciled in. I had my Book Club over for our meeting/dinner Tuesday night, attended an end-of-the year party for my tennis team (celebrating winning B-1), had my first massage in three months and went out to breakfast, lunch and dinner at restaurants in Key Largo over the weekend.

Best of all, Friday night I found out that my newest grandchild is going to be a boy! Yipee! Courtney and Christopher, married last November are expecting a baby boy (Liam James) next November, close to my birthday. The gender reveal party, via Zoom, was in Tallahassee, with Courtney’s Dad, sister and nieces attending. As they cut into the icing that revealed the cake’s blue interior, my Mom, A.J., Wyatt, Chris’s Dad and his best friend Devin were all there for the happy news. I can’t wait to see his sweet little face.

Zeke and I went out to celebrate afterwards at one of our favorite Key Largo spots, The Pilot House. While we wore masks to our table and the servers did as well, none of the patrons were wearing masks and young adults, who apparently hadn’t seen each other in a while, were high-fiving and hugging. It was heart warming (they were so happy to see each other) and horrifying (there’s still a global pandemic), all at the same time.

In the Keys, life certainly seems back to normal, in a way that didn’t feel at all safe. Basically, it’s nuts!

The weekend after the Keys opened to non-residents, restaurants were slightly busy, but this past weekend it seemed like everyone and their mother decided they’d had enough of being stuck at home and decended on the Keys like unmasked locusts. Traffic was horrific, the waterways were packed with boaters and, restaurants filled to capacity. The Keys has decided to leave it up to individual businesses whether to require patrons to wear masks. Most do not. I expect a spike of corona cases in the Keys in the next couple weeks.

On Sunday, we tried three different restaurants (Shipwrecks, Buzzard’s Roost and The Big Chill) for lunch with outdoor seating. They were all packed. We ended up at The Catch, which not very full but also not outside. I gobbled my tuna poke and tried to get out of there ASAP, which was not a relaxing dining experience.

Week of dinners last week:

  • Monday Radicchio salad and lentils. Meatless Monday and was trying out recipes for my Book Club dinner.
  • Tuesday Book Club dinner at my house (see previous post). Appetizers were Sliced Radishes with Vanilla Butter (Alex Raij’s), Cheddar biscuits (The Splendid Table). Dinner: Chicken Marabella (Silver Palate), with Make Ahead Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes (Ina Garden) and Radicchio Salad (Kitchn) with olives and sliced Parmesan. Dessert: French Vanilla Ice Cream with candied oranges and Cornmeal Nut Biscotti (The Last Course) .
  • Wednesday Met my sister Kelley for drinks at Riviera CC (her first venture out). Zeke and I got sushi, which was really good.
California roll.
  • Thursday Roast Salmon with Miso Butter and Radish Salad with Jasmine Rice. A Food and Wine recipe, this wins as dinner of the week, even though I don’t like salmon. I will be featuring this recipe, along with other Food and Wine recipes in a future blog post.
  • Friday Happy Hour at the Pilot House. Conch Fritters, Tuna Nachos and a Harvey Fish Sandwich. All yummy!
  • Saturday Key West Pink Shrimp with Jerk seasoning and Mango salsa and Rice Pilaf. This was a close second for dinner of the week.
  • Sunday Grilled Ribs with Memphis style rub, roasted Brussel Sprouts, baked beans, leftover rice, homemade pickles.

Coronavirus cases are climbing in 22 states, including, Florida. Last Saturday, new cases surged 35% over the previous day. It was the third record jump in three days and it can’t all be explained away with more testing. As my friend Sharon texted me: “Geez, I am over this crap!” I texted back: “Yes, but it’s not over with us.”

Sad news, Aragon 101, a cookware store in Coral Gables with curated kitchen items and fun cooking classes, is closing. I met Erica Guzman, the owner, on the Tour of Kitchens committee and always enjoyed talking to her, visiting the store and especially attending the wonderful cooking classes with various talented chefs. Books and Books on Miami Beach is also closing, due to high rent and the ever-shrinking Miami Herald is relocating buildings, finding it’s easier (and cheaper) for employees to work remotely.

My sister Elise and I were discussing a friend of hers who lost her job with a cruise line. But, the thing is, it was a job she hated, so this may be an opportunity to find a job she loves. And we agreed that while some jobs have evaporated, others have probably opened up. Or perhaps people are discovering a hobby they’ve taken up while in quarantine that they can turn into a side hustle or even a new business. As for me, the coronavirus has crystalized for me what I miss and what I don’t. I miss traveling.

Zeke and I had planned to go to London next year, so I found a great deal for a hotel in the Bloomsbury section that I booked through Travelzoo. It’s fully refundable and I need something to look forward to, even if it’s next year! I’m also planning a road trip for when we drop Lauren off in D.C. in August to Delaware, Maryland and West Virginia, three of the six states I haven’t seen.

I read an article (T & L) about what was a safer way to travel- by car or plane. The conclusion was driving is probably safer because you’re able to control your interaction with other people more than flying. Flying, you may encounter crowded airports, long security lines and then, of course, the hours on the plane itself with people you don’t know. Someone on my tennis team’s husband recently had coronavirus, which he contracted on a flight from Colorado. She was on the same flight, they both had masks on and her husband got it, but she didn’t. Coronavirus is a weird bird.

So, as much as I would for life to go back to normal, it hasn’t yet, at least not completely. I got my convertible top fixed to stop the leaking, we’re in the process of getting our roof fixed, the rat hasn’t been spotted lately, the cat’s had another catastrophe (inflamed claw) after a cat fight and I’ve just about given up on trying to make sourdough bread. Emma’s moved out and Lauren’s away, so the house is quiet. I have to remind myself, even when life was “normal”, it was never perfect and I still have summer, road trips, babysitting Wyatt and a new grandson to look forward to.

I love this speech from Our Town, given by Emily, a character who’s died and comes back to her hometown of Grover’s Corners for one last, ordinary day. (Emily was also on the short list of possible girl’s names for Chris and Courtney). So many times, we don’t appreciate what’s around us until it’s gone. So let’s savor and lean into whatever time we have left of this strange and unprecedented period of our lives.

Lets really look at one another…It goes so fast. We don’t have time to look at one another. I didn’t realize. So all that was going on and we never noticed. Wait! One more look. Goodbye, goodbye world. Goodbye to clocks ticking… and Mama’ sunflowers. And food and coffee. And new ironed dresses and hot baths… and sleeping and waking up. Oh earth, you are too wonderful for anybody to realize you. Do any humans beings ever realize life while they live it, every every minute?

Thorton Wilder, Our Town

Up Next: Mango Mania and Food and Wine Recipes I Love

Published by gleeguilford

Born and raised in Miami, the daughter of a pilot and stay-at-home Mom, I love food in all forms. My great grandfather opened the first Italian restaurant in Miami in the 20's, The Boathouse on the Miami river. I love exploring my heritage and linking food and recipes to personal stories. I've been published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Food and Love and wrote restaurant reviews and news as the Miami Dining Examiner for three years. I love exploring Miami's latest hot spots, hole in the walls and institutions. I'm always looking for innovative ways to use the plethora of tropical fruits and vegetables South Florida offers, especially from my own garden.

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