Pretty Scary Stuff
We ate breakfast this morning at The Chalet, an omelet house in Eureka, a ritual as etched in concrete as the names of the boys in the concrete floor of the generator house, which I built back in 1985. The same gal-we’ll call her Chrissy-always waits on us, even when we come in as early as six o’clock.
“Long time, no see,” she greeted us. “Running from the cold?”
“More like ambling," I responded, "since we came up before the worst of the cold arrived. It began snowing on the mountain yesterday morning, and the pipes have been frozen since Tuesday. We’re just here to escape the big chill.”
She poured coffee and handed us menus. We did not need to look at them, but it was all part of the ritual. I always order the vegetable omelet, this time without toast, while Annie gets the #2 special, also without toast. I am conducting the most extraordinary experiment, trying to eliminate bread from my diet. I’m not compulsive about it, but I am trying to see what life without sourdough bread is like.
What Annie thinks about first, when we contemplate The Chalet, is that this is the restaurant we were sitting in, when she was attacked by the tumor enveloping her kidney. At the time we diagnosed her affliction as a kidney stone attack, which is bad enough; losing one of your kidneys, along with that pesky tumor, elevated the stakes to a much higher plateau. The ensuing “drive” down to Willits was epic.
This morning, however, we were miles away from kidney attacks, as Chrissy returned to take our order. After she wrote down the pertinent information, she asked, “So what kind of a farm does your son operate?”
Since the subject had not been raised this morning, it showed she has a pretty good memory, obviously returning to a topic we had bandied about at some earlier time.
“IIt’s an organic vegetable farm, with a CSA component,” said Annie. “He and his partner Amber run it.”
I joined in with, “See, when we bought our property back in 1975, much of it was covered with manzanita trees. Casey cleared two-three acres, and formed terraces, some by hand and some by hiring heavy equipment. Now he grows in the same style as the ancient Incas. He has around 25 customers a week, with as many as 55 in the summer.”
“Nice,” she said. “I put a garden in this year, but I had a lot of trouble with bugs. Aphids ate all my cauliflower.” She went on. “It’s just in this era of GMO’s, you want to do what you can. I cooked up some corn the other night, and my husband ‘bout had a fit. I wasn’t thinking.”
She bustled off to the kitchen. I read some of the hype surrounding the football game tomorrow between the Niners and the Seahawks, a contest that featured two teams with no love lost between them. As Dwight Clark said of the Seahawks, “They’re good players and they’re mean. That’s a dangerous combination.” I think the Seahawks have played the best ball this year, but I also know that the Niners have some key players back in the lineup, and there are still four games left in the regular season. It ought to be an engaging affair.
Otherwise, weather reports and road closures were at the top of the news in the rest of the paper. Apparently Annie and I were not the only ones who were impacted by the extreme conditions.
Returning in a timely manner with our plates, Chrissy placed them on the table and casually said with a bright smile, “I see the cops have come for you.” The door had just opened and two of Eureka’s finest had just strolled in.
Without missing a beat, I replied, “It took them long enough. Well, if they’ve got a warrant, I guess I've gotta go in.” (Sorry, Jerry.)
Later, after boxing up the leftovers for lunch, and leaving some loot on the table, along with an excellent tip, we strolled out the front door, under the baleful gaze of the aforementioned officers of the law. They appeared mean. If looks could murder, I was road-kill.
I delivered my most charming smile at them as I strolled out the door. “You all have a real nice day.”
Like the tundra outside, their faces remained frozen in place. I guess maybe they thought I was a thug, or maybe they just recognize an old hippie when they see one, though I reckon it could have been the napkin I forgot to remove from the front of my shirt. A bib does make for some pretty scary stuff.