It's About Living Better, Thoughts of the Day

Cucumber Smile

I love things that are impromptu and special, don’t you?

Like an unintended event that caused two friends to have time together – unplanned and totally unique?

I had a day like that recently and it turned out to be a fun day filled with surprises.

The original plan for the day was to clean out two drawers (it’s a process), cook a new recipe, try to sit and write something personal, bathe the dog and trade my rental car for another.

Instead, I found myself getting dressed quickly, lunch at a new restaurant with my friend, a walk about town (complete with a tad of networking) and a new discovery.  I didn’t get the car returned, but I did make the phone call.  There’s always tomorrow, right?

So, about the discovery.

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Beautiful produce from the Farmer’s Wife in Mt Pleasant, TX.  An impromptu smile!

I have a wonderful reputation for NOT cooking much. When I have, over the last 10 or 25 years, there hasn’t been much to brag about. Instead, I’ve entertained quite a few with my screw ups.  We’ve laughed over ingredient subs (because we lived 8 miles from town) that didn’t work, ingredients left out, burning biscuits, gray dressing and I could just go on and on.

So much so, that when the covered dish dinners were planned, everyone told the hubs what to bring and suggested I might bring the ice, tea, paper goods, plastic ware, etc.  It worked for me!

Now, things are different.  It’s part of my adjustment to not working … some call it retirement, some call it unemployed.  I call it a new season.  So lately, I’ve focused my energies on cooking healthy meals, eating at home, trying new things and resurrecting the meals I used to cook “before”.   I still choose to stay away from the Oatmeal Cookies… so humiliating.

So back to my day.

While walking around town, we ventured into a few little shops. Adorable. My favorite was the Farmer’s Wife. An indoor, air conditioned (thank you) sweet little produce market complete with a selection of wines, beers and healthy treats.  Veggies everywhere, a just-right mix and amount for a cute little market.

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Alexia and her trainee were so welcoming and knowledgeable… making the shopping experience very personal and pleasant.

The owner is so knowledgeable about her family-farm produce that I just couldn’t keep up with it all. My mental notes were not clicking. I was too relaxed and enjoying my friend.  I zeroed in on this beautiful pale green, velvety cucumber… as long as my arm!  Honestly, it was smiling at me. It was beautiful and I was amazed at how heavy it was. She told me all about it, and I forgot it’s name. Her description was perfect  and I felt an urge to give into the tempation. I couldn’t imagine what I’d do with a cucumber that large.  But I had to have one.  I grabbed two of the cleanest yellow squash I’ve ever bought and knew this was going to be an interesting evening.

So, first let me say… next time, I’ll buy this one on the way to the car… not on the way to shopping! It’s big enough to make a difference. Like I said, it was an impromptu day.

Once I got home with my cuke, I had to decide what to do with it. It wouldn’t fit in the refrigerator. Had I forgotten there are only two of us now and neither of us eats too many cucumbers?  I immediately photographed it and text the pictures to my very best foodie friends.  I guess I’ve had my head in the sand, because they knew exactly what it was.  I’m even more excited now.

I cut the tip off and it’s more solid in the middle. The seeds are so tiny around the outside of the slices.  I cut about 10 slices and proceeded to gather some ingredients I remember mama using on her cucumbers.  Olive oil, vinegar, salt, pepper, parsley, cherry tomatoes, purple onion slices and how beautiful it looked.  I added a little kale and spinach under it, tossed it all together and there ya go!  Not the new recipe I had planned for tonight, but a new recipe I remembered from my childhood.  I don’t know if I ever really made it myself, but I can just picture her doing it now. Her hands were just like mine are now.  I remember the way she sliced the cucumbers (she sliced two at a time).  I remember her washing the onion after she peeled it. I remember how she covered the vinegar bottle opening with her thumb to let the proper amount drizzle out all over every single slice. Mama loved cucumbers.  Into the frig for about 20 minutes and I just couldn’t wait any longer.

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Yummy cucumber, cherry tomatoes, purple onion slices mixed with olive oil, vinegar, salt, and pepper. Check out the huge cuke leftovers! I need a bigger family!

Well, the texture was a little different.  The slices were crisp and the fresh fragrance was “melony”.  I think I added a little too much vinegar but I can adjust that next time, after all I have plenty.  After cutting 10 slices, it still looks whole.

So, any covered dish dinners coming up? I’ll donate a cucumber salad for your event. Ha!  I’m off to grab my computer and research some cucumber recipes. I have lots to use and it’s so tasty, I don’t want to miss it.

Sometimes our plans are just that… our plans.  I love it the way God makes us see that ours are not necessarily His.  Beginning with the ‘unintentional’ and ending with a beautiful day of friendship and the gift of sharing a new discovery with my family and willing friends, the day was way more successful than I could have ever hoped.  Remember, it’s about living better!

Feel free to share your impromptu moments below. I’d love to read them.

As for tomorrow?  Bring on the impromptu!

 

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Growing the Business, Thoughts of the Day

Friday… day

Fridays (before retirement) meant the end of a hard working week… at some places I worked.  My last job – not so much.  When you work with lots of people, encouraging them and answering their questions, facilitating their actions… you work when they need you.

When their work is also their past time, it normally involves some weekend contact.  So, Friday’s take on less meaning.  There is no end to your week when you work like that.

So, after a time, I managed to lose my work/life balance.  It wasn’t intentional… it just occurred.  It wasn’t even what the company wanted for me… it just happened. Even the team members  apologized every time they called on the weekend.  I was tired, not clearly focused and in the end, less motivated.

So, really… being available 24/7 didn’t do anyone any good.

I missed the grandchildren’s school programs, trips with girlfriends, seeing my sisters when they all got together, a musical at the local college, the birds building the nest at the edge of the porch, game day at church, my old friend’s funeral, time at the piano, organization meetings and local events I had loved before and most important, meaningful time alone with my love.

Balance is a fleeting skill.  When you don’t exercise the core muscles, you lose your balance.  If you don’t visit, go see the masses, have a drink with a friend, or watch the birds, your core muscles get weak. You can’t stand straight. You can’t carry on a current-content conversation, and you can’t listen to soGorgeous Purple flowersmeone who needs to talk… because you are not there.

So, while I search for that elusive balance in my retirement, I have made a plan.  Every Friday… with intention, I will visit someone I haven’t seen in awhile.  Since I know it’s easiest to start in one’s “warm market”, I’m choosing my friend Dianne for today.  Last week, I stopped to visit my long time friend, Lou, at her volunteer station. We had a great visit and I felt so good when I left.

Today, Dianne… who is a former co-worker and now, friend, has lots of interests. I love to hear about her travels, the music concerts she attends with her husband, her adorable grandsons and of course, her new business interests.  I’ve made a list.

As usual, I am reminded that I don’t think I am through working yet… but I’m exploring the realms of retirement – on my terms – in balance with the rest of my life.