Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Simple pleasures

$20 worthe of groceries from the farmers' market.

We watched this farmer prepare artichokes at a market in Rome.

It is so good!
It's Wednesday again and I've just return from the Santa Monica farmers' market. I love it, I can buy anything I want, it reminds me of Europe. The flower vendors are selling apple blossoms, Spirea and Lilacs. It's an incredibly uplifting sight, some positivity in these gloomy days. Everyone bought flowers, lots of flowers, I see even guys with armloads of Lilacs. Wow! It's fun to watch. I took the bus there, the fare is still $1.25 each way. What a deal! I see lining the bus route, businesses failing and closing. Things don't look good. My 2 brothers recently closed their business and contributed 9 people to the 83,000 who lost their jobs in March. Things are hitting close to home.
Before I left for the market, I chatted with my neighbor who was washing his RV. The thing is costing him and his wife a fortune to maintain, it cost them a pretty penny to buy, money they could have used to pay down their mortgage which is still very high. It is a beautiful RV, it even has a queen size bed inside but what for? We were admiring our other neighbor kid's new muscle car, a brand new, fully loaded Mustang with fancy rims. The car has never left the driveway, maybe the kid can't afford the gas. He lives at home and according to his mom has never contributed anything for living at home.
I told my neighbor, I'm going to pay off my mortgage in 3 years, he said, they're not even making a dent in theirs. For me, the reasoning is, I put up with too much crap at work, I will not spend those hard earned dollars on stuff. If anything I'd like to work less. They (the office) left a message on my machine to see if I want to pick up another shift. The answer is no, I'd rather write and read outside. It's another gorgeous day.
Back to the farmers' market. I bought all these produce for $20! $20 worth of pleasure, they're all going to be consumed and I get to write about it. Artichokes, ah, artichokes. We ate a lot of artichokes while we were in Italy. I watched a farmer preparing them, making it easier for house wives, it's all ready to be cooked when it gets home. Remove the tough outer leaves, chop off the tough tips, peel the skin off the stems, rub with lemon juice to prevent discoloration. Put them into a pot of boiling salted water and cook till tender. Drain and drizzle liberally with olive oil and more lemon juice. OMG! They are so good, better than what we had in Rome, this is fresher.
None of my neighbors go to Europe, they spend all their money on stuff. When I'm home I try to create what I have experienced in Europe. It is memories like these that is keeping sane and keeping me going. Someone said, 'when you see what other people are doing, just do the opposite!' My neighbors need to keep up with me. The 'Joneses need to keep up with me. It's easy!
It is memories of traveling with 2 teenagers and teaching them that for not a whole lot of money, we can have a lot of fun. We don't need to get mired in cheap and reckless behaviour. I hope the message sunk in. We didn't even stay in expensive hotels or ate at fancy restaurants. It was very low budget but the experiences were priceless. We even got a free upgrade on British Airways on the way back from Rome and London. Wow! It's simple pleasures like sipping great Italian coffee at a bar in Italy and coming home to cook artichokes like they do in Italy that makes the life worth while.

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