This Means War: My Neighbor Food-Gift Arms Race

It started with lettuce. You can’t freeze the stuff, right? Or bake with it, or make lettucesauce or lettuce jam. It’s just…lettuce. And there’s only so much salad two people can eat.

So I brought a bag to the neighbors. They were grateful.

Next week I brought some more, plus some arugula. Same story. Except Neighbor Rick mentioned they were going crabbing and would bring us some if they got lucky.

For a time, they didn’t. Meanwhile, I brought them more lettuce.

Then the crabs found their way into Neighbor Rick’s pots.* He brought us two–cooked and cleaned. We dined in ecstasy.¬†And I brought them a small bowl of raspberries.

[One of my favorite sayings is, “I don’t want a ____, I just want a friend with a _____.” In this case: boat, pot, crab license.]

Couple days later: two more crabs. “I work at a bakery,” I told Rick. “Can I bring you some treats?” But no–Rick and family are trying to stay away from those kind of temptations. Curses! Nothing for it but to bring more raspberries.

Then Neighbor Rick upped his game. “We’re gettin’ a buncha crab now, gonna make some gumbo,” he told us. “Can we bring you a little?”

We were imagining a wee side dish for our dinner, and we were excited for that. But when Rick came over with the gumbo…well.

Unfortunately, I did not think to take a picture of the beautiful domed island of white rice, sprinkled with spices, rising from a sea of okra, tomatoes, shrimp, chicken, andouille sausage, fish, with four more crab-halves dangling their claws over the edge of the dish. But here’s what the leftovers looked like the second night:

This is only about a third of the leftover crabmeat…

…which is also when Neighbor Rick dropped off the rack of “extra” baby back ribs, barbecued in a marionberry sauce. This time I remembered to take a picture.

So…full…but it still makes my mouth water!

At that point I FORCED him to take home a fresh baguette from my bakery, and a bowl of truffle balls from my freezer.

If we don’t achieve some kind of detente soon, I may forget how to cook. But I see no end in sight. And me with no zucchini!

It’s August. Anyone have a food-gifting story to share? (I still have raspberries.)

Till Mileage Do Us Part: Hunting Down, I Mean Keeping Up With, Former Neighbors

Road Trip IV, Days 10-13, LA to Scottsdale, AZ

Warning to all my current neighbors: don’t move away from the Wings. Or if you do, make sure you have a big fight with us first. Otherwise we’re more than likely to come stay with you on one of our road trips…and in the process, become closer friends than we ever were when we lived, well, closer.

Right now we’re inflicting ourselves staying with our former neighbors from Tacoma. Looking for a sunnier climate (than Tacoma? Come on!), they moved to the Phoenix area, 1,500 miles away. Not far enough. During our first year of retirement/graduation (The Mate is retired, but I am NOT!), on Road Trip I, we stopped and spent the night with them.

Not long enough, they said. Next time, stay two nights! We’ll go hiking.

Suckers! Oh, okay, we said innocently.

Did I mention that these folks had only lived in Tacoma for a couple of years, and during that whole time we had only had dinner with them twice? But they are super-nice and super-hospitable. And so we did stay two nights again the next year. And the year after. By now, on our fourth visit, we’ve shared all those life stories. Since our hosts grew up in Czechoslovakia and Ecuador, respectively, their stories are more exotic than ours, but then there are all those commonalities: how we met our spouse. Becoming parents. Worst Jobs Ever. I have a feeling we’ll be moving into Most Embarrassing Moments on one of these trips.

They’ve visited us back on Lopez, even though we keep threatening to steal kidnap adopt their ADORABLE daughter. So they must like us OK. But with our road trip habit, they are MILES ahead in hospitality points.

Our favorite thing to do with our friends is hike in the desert, where I have become dangerously addicted to taking photos of cactus. To wit:

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OK, OK, I’ll stop.

Our next trip leg takes us to Dallas, where we’ll be staying with…you guessed it.¬†Current neighbors, you have been warned. There is one bright spot, however: I always make our hosts a pie.

What about y’all? Do you have any ongoing former-neighbor friendship stories to tell? Or are you hiding from those former neighbors in a witness protection program?

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