Somehow I ate two meals at the Old Neighborhood Grill today. The Grill is about two blocks from my house, a concrete block building that years ago was Rick's Locker Room which always looked dark and smoky to me and I avoided it. For several years now it's been the Grill under Peter's ownership--in the mornings and at noon he is there to greet everyone personally, and he seems to know a lot of us.
This morning I went for breakfast with the Book Ladies, a group of women whose careers have involved books--authors, librarians, booksellers, and a few readers. We've been meeting for probably twenty years now, and our numbers are dwindling--people retiring and moving away, we've lost a few to death including one of my dearest friends, and then there are some who don't want to get up that early or come that far. But we still have a core--six of us this morning, one out because of illness. Sometimes we talk books, a lot of the time we talk politics--we are all liberals and without meaning to drove off the one conservative who used to join us. And sometime we talk about aging, health, grandchildren, traffic, what have you, and books never come up. Peter knows we meet on the second Tuesday of the month at 8 a.m., and he always has a big table waiting for us. Breakfasts at the grill are wonderful, particularly the hash browns if you ask for them extra crispy. But I confine myself to one egg over easy and a piece of wheat toast. The oatmeal is pretty good too. A nice way to start the day even if a bit early for me.
On Tuesdy nights some of my Berkeley neighbors gather at the Grill for dinner, and Joe and Mary Dulle have been kind enough to pick me up a couple of nights to join them. Tonight my mind was on a turkey burger--and it was as good as I anticipated. I had no sides with it--no fries or beans or whatever. Conversation ranged from family get-togethers to cooking--Mary's nephew who is in training at Central Market, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, joined us, so it was fun to hear his tales of food. I didn't catch much of the neighborhood news from the other end of the table, but it was fine to enjoy a good dinner and visit with people, both some I knew and some I didn't. I do live in a great neighborhood--wait! Have I said that before?
Tomorrow, ice and snow and probably a housebound day again. Sunday, when I went out for the first time in six days, I realized that I felt like an invalid emerging from a long seclusion--a bit tentative about being out in the world. By yesterday and today I was scooting around the streets and in and out of stores like always. Now we have to start all over again. It's supposed to be horrendously cold tomorrow and Thursday, but sunny on Thursday, and thaw Friday. Good thing, because all my chickens are coming home again Sat. Meantime I have lots of work on my desk, and a day at home will be good for me.