Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Stranded near Spokane: Something wilder this way comes.

Today I'm integrating a bit of an update with a bit of fiction, so I'm all caught up on both for a bit.

The garden has reached a peak in productivity, and I have more supply than demand, at least when it comes to zucchini.

I hand-grated a crap-ton of the z-weed, and it just keeps coming.

I'm not disparaging zucchini. It's a multi-function veg. And it can be frozen, so we'll be feeding from the zuke trough for a while. 

And when it comes to my wall of color, let's remember what the Otter Pop wall looked like when the summer began.

That color defined our summer.

The Feasts, the heat, the random socializing, the constant activity, the silence, the college prep, the reality, the fiction, the letting in, the letting go, all added a complex, interesting web of shades to summer. 

But the season is conspicuously softening.

The wall of pops has taken a turn.

My wall has faded, not unlike this summer. But it's all good.

I was anticipating wrapping up my summer fiction right about now, but life's distractions have gotten in the way of writing as much as I'd like. 

That's just an excuse, really. We all volitionally prioritize the way our world spins, and I'm no exception.

So I'll try to wrap this fiction up soon. Every entry has so much more I could add. I love the ladies, I relish the time I get to write about their zany septuagenarian antics, but I do miss writing about other stuff. 

So once Stella and Maisie find their way to the coast, I'll get topical again. No personal projects, no social experiments, no fiction for a bit.

But until then....

Bob turned on his best How Can I Help You face as he ambled out of the Impala toward Stella and Maisie and said, "seems you two lovely ladies are in a bit of a pickle!"

Stella had begun to unload the very full trunk, in search of the spare tire. Maisie chatted it up with Bob, and Stella may have looked busy, but she was listening.

Something smells like snake oil, Stella thought.

"Can I get a little help here?" Bob may have had mobility when it came to his Impala, but he was in low gear when it came to actually doing anything, Stella thought.

Maisie began unloading the trunk with Stella, and eventually they found the tiny spare, as well as a device that lifted the car enough to change the tire. They couldn't find the tool they needed to take the tire off the Dart. Neither knew what this thing they needed but didn't have was actually called, but of course, Bob knew right away. "Let me see if I can round one of those thingamajigs up for you lovely ladies," Bob said as he sauntered to the Impala.

He returned with exactly what they needed. Uncharacteristically, both women thought, he got straight to work, and back to talking. Stella and Maisie were nothing if not good mannered, so each would occasionally offer up a Really!, a Your Kidding! or a Mercy, that sounds awful!.

Maisie and Stella had told Bob that they were going to Spokane to pay respects to the lovely but deceased Carrie Wilder, and they had to get to town in time to clean up and settle down for an evening of contemplative remembrance. They had to say something. Why lie?

But the ladies didn't do much of the talking.

By the time Bob had changed the tire, he wasn't the only one who felt in need of a shower.

Regardless of his missteps, despite his troubled times, Maisie thought, Bob had a good heart. He'd done such a thorough job on the tire, and his stories added a dash of naughty, underworld spice to the afternoon.

"So Bob," Stella asked, "How far away is Spokane?"

"Well, well, well, Stella," Bob said in a measured tone. "We're just outside Liberty Lake. You can practically taste Spokane from here."

When Bob said taste, Maisie remembered Carrie Wilder. They were so close, and she was getting hungry. And curious.

But it was apparent that, not unlike many of his stories, Bob wasn't finished.

"I know you got yourselves a shindig you're headed for in Spokane. Remember when you told me about Carrie Wilder? You going to her funeral?

I'm heading for Spokane, too," Bob said in a measured tone.

"Carrie was my ex. And I'm ready for a party."

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Dead stop. So close to Spokane.

Let's move this story along, and stop it at the same time.

Everyone needs perspective from time to time.

Such is the case with our intrepid travelers. One step forward, two steps back.

But I don't want to get ahead of myself...

After a good night's sleep and some perspective, Maisie and Stella's sites were set on Spokane.

One step closer to the coast.

They were so close. One city closer to their destination.

Palpable ghosts flew behind the Dart as they left Missoula, fresh from the memory of Bozeman.

They were motivated.

But like anything unsavory, like a bill that's overdue or questionable diagnosis that requires further testing, they didn't anticipate the blowout.

It was lucky, really, that Stella was a cautious driver. She felt the thwap-thwap-thwap sound of the tire before she and Maisie heard it.

They were so close to Spokane when the tire blew; so close to unlocking the mystery of Carrie Wilder, so intent on leaving the past where it belonged.

Way back there in Bozeman.

"What in the living hell is that sound?"

Maisie said it as Stella felt it.

"I think we have a problem." Stella didn't show her worry.

They came to a slow crawl, and they both knew, without saying a thing,  they'd be sidelined for a while.

Their lack of movement was unsettling, but necessary.

Maisie did what she did best. She feigned a certain desperation by the side of the road, as Stella worked to unhook the flattened tire from its very firm resting place.

That's when Bob drove by.

Bob was a drifter. Some might say he was unsavory.

But Bob didn't drift past the Dart.

Stopping was reflexive, really. He understood what he had to give. Bob was no savior, but he knew when his services were needed. He had a car, and these old ladies were obviously struggling.

He knew what it was like, to struggle.

Bob's was a much more humble ride than the Dart. His Impala was taped together, literally, with the duct variety, and a prayer.

But at this point, Bob seemed to be in a better place than the two women he saw by the side of the road.

Admittedly, he was an opportunist.

But there was something genuine, something sincere that compelled him to stop. These two old women seemed to need help.

And Bob was in a position to do just that.

Monday, August 22, 2011

Missoula to Spokane: Swimming in deep water.

So very tired today. Too much work, not enough fun.

Lots of deep water that's been stirred up as of late.

So tonight's theme is relevant, both personally and fictionally.


There are things people do that they shouldn't.

According to some people.

Most people would never consider taking certain risks.

But everyone has a different risk threshold.

There are some who can't be in the same room with a moth. There are others who are comfortable swimming in shark-infested waters.

And there's a subset, the likes of Maisie and Stella, who simply don't know when to stop.

Their time in Bozeman included (but was not limited to) gambling, funeral crashing, confronting unresolved romances, copiously eating, and driving past the point of safety for women of their age and station.

These were not young women, and what they'd done in Bozeman was more than most women half their age do in a week; for some women, in a lifetime.

Maybe Stella and Maisie were like sharks. Despite their age, despite the assumption of a need for rest, maybe they simply needed to keep moving in order to be comfortable.

Maybe this shark-like pathology is what kept them moving that night, from Bozeman to Missoula.

Stella turned into the parking lot of the first motel with a VACANT light on the outskirts of the town.

Maisie dug a soggy bill from her cleavage to pay for the room.

And they used the change to fill up the tank the next afternoon.

Because it was well past lunchtime when they woke up.

Bozeman was draining.

Missoula was simply a fueling station. And after a good night's sleep, they were ready for a leisurely day of driving.

Missoula had been the biggest city they'd visited since they started their trip, but their pond-jumping was turning into a lake - then to a shark-infested ocean - once they pointed the Dart to Spokane.

Stella was in control once again, behind the wheel. And it was a light day of driving, from Missoula to Spokane. Despite leaving as late as they did, Maisie and Stella figured they'd be in Spokane by late afternoon.

Both women were lost in a fog of memory, still swimming in the tide of Bozeman, despite the smooth sailing on I-90. They stopped only once, at Coeur D'Alene. They went to the Rest Room. Maisie paid for some snacks, afterthoughtish hand sanitizer (it was next to the cash register), and a newspaper.

The Spokane Review was rife with possibility.

Case in point: Carrie Wilder.

Maisie noticed that Ms. Wilder's ceremony started at 8 pm, which was uncharacteristic. Very few funerals take place that late.

There were several other options from which to choose.

But something about Carrie Wilder's biography compelled Maisie to wish that Stella would drive a bit faster.

She didn't say anything, though.

Because Bozeman was still fresh. Missoula was a dull memory.

Today was about necessary movement.

And apparently, as Maisie replayed her past swimming deeply inside her head, Stella doing the same, they'd silently agreed on constant movement.

For them, for now, today wasn't about dialogue.

Stella and Maisie should have been talking. They should have shown their cards.

But they both knew, each in their own way, that they were treading water.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Bozeman to Missoula. Nothing but static.

I've been somewhat reticent accented by a slice of distracted when it comes to writing about the ladies lately. Real life has provided an interesting balance of calm and static lately, which has driven me past the YOU MUST BLOG WITH FREQUENCY mission. 

But then I got an email today, in reference to my previous Feast of Funerals entry.

"Mary - I loved that resolution so much. So artful, so much like people do it, so alive! There wasn't anything else I needed to know and I was right there in it! Sooooo GREAT!!!!"

The key to writing, for me, is releasing the image of an external editor. It's never beneficial to the process when you're writing what you write based on who you think might read what you're writing. 

It's very freeing as a writer to give that external editor their walking papers.

It's not like this summer fiction I'm writing is High Art. But feedback like I received today does fan the fire just a bit.

As for me, life has not been without its static. Connor's going to college tomorrow; Logan's dancing every night starting next week. The nest is virtually empty. 

I'm breaking ties with several things at once, reshaping the familiar. Change isn't a bad thing. It's just life. Chock full of opportunities to adapt. 

I'm testing the theory of adaptation, trying to do it with a touch of grace, a bit less static.

"I'm nominating you for an Oscar, Maisie," Stella was impressed by the way Maisie had feigned some sort of breathing issue to disentangle them from almost being seen for the crashers they were.

"Well, thank you," Maisie said with a bit of puffery. "I'd like to also thank the Academy, God, my loving children...."

"That's enough." The window was closed when it came to gratuitous flattery. They had ground to cover. They'd spent far too long in Bozeman. They'd left a traceable trail. Maisie had a Portland connection. They'd opened up a few old, creaky doors from the past. They'd both fallen very willingly, each in their own way, into the Open Arms.

Both Maisie and Stella were mourning silently for different reasons as the Dart headed onto I-90 toward Missoula.

Sometimes the past is a bitter pill to swallow whole.

Especially when it's shoved down your throat when you least expect it.

Maisie's fond memories of time spent with Charlie seemed to take a back seat to Stella's much more conspicuous connection to Arthur, but both women spent time as they drove recollecting moments, like miles.

Would that they were each the type to share their feelings. Maisie and Stella didn't come from the "tell me how you feel" generation.

So their silence was punctuated by Maisie's attempts at tuning into any radio station. She wanted to hear some "oldies". Those songs, in her mind, weren't old at all.

All she could find was static.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The key to a good escape strategy is a deep breath.

Maisie interrupted the very spirited conversation she was having to effusively welcome Stella and Arthur to the buffet line.

"Arthur? Is that you? I swear I haven't seen you since Johnson was president!" Maisie had a way of making an old friend she hadn't seen for decades feel like they'd had coffee yesterday afternoon. It  was if no time had passed, and Maisie punctuated her excitement at seeing Arthur with a generous hug.

Some people react to effusiveness by matching the energy and joining in on the happy incredulity of seeing a familiar face after a long stretch of time. Other people become highly uncomfortable.

Arthur was uncomfortable and unsettled, first of course with the loss of his brother-in-law, then by having seen Stella, now by running into Maisie. But he was obligatorily polite, and pasted on a wide smile while Maisie continued to fuss over this chance gathering at the Open Arms.

Stella reacted out of shock, first at having seen her first love Arthur, then by the presence of this person Maisie seemed to know very well.

"Stella, you know Charlie, don't you? He was my neighbor in Portland - what was it, Charlie? - 25 years ago? How did that happen? And of course we haven't aged a day!"

Considering they were at a funeral luncheon, Maisie seemed extremely happy with this reunion.

This odd quartet had been slowly shuffling to the front of the buffet line, and the distraction of taking plates and flatware provided a break in the mounting tension.

All the stress was making Stella very hungry.

She filled her plate with slices of ham, au gratin potatoes, green beans, a home made roll and two big scoops of cheesy macaroni hamburger casserole.

Maisie led everyone to a table with four vacant chairs.

From the time she noticed Charlie among Bob Engelbright's mourners to when they sat down for lunch, Maisie had learned that Charlie worked with Bob at the Portland Seed Company while she was living across the street. Their relationship seemed very friendly, even in the recounting.

Eventually, between bites of fabulous, grief-conceived home cooked dishes, the question came to Stella and Maisie from both Charlie and Arthur. Both had different reasons for asking the question, but the question came to each of their minds almost as a simultaneous idea.

"So, how do you know Bob?"

It was Charlie who asked it first, because between him and Arthur, Charlie was the affable, inquisitive one.

That's what Maisie loved about him.

Maybe this reminiscent melancholy was what generated the pause in conversation. Or maybe it was because someone needed to quickly manufacture a story from scratch.

Not an easy recipe.

"We're headed to visit the kids on the coast," Stella eventually said. "We grabbed the local paper this morning, and Maisie recognized Bob's name immediately. We really had to come. To pay our respects."

Then, all eyes turned to Maisie. The ball, as they say, was in her court.

"Bob and I had a complicated relationship.

I'd like to leave it there," she said, as she gently daubed the edges of her eye with a non-compliant napkin.

Both men were confused, but content with the minimal information they'd received.

"Why ask a follow-up question?"

Each of them thought it, but of course they didn't say it. That would be prying.

"We need a diversion," Maisie thought.

"Oh, Stella, I'm feeling faint...." Maisie said it with conviction. "Where did you put my inhaler? I've felt off my game since we crossed the Wyoming border."

She added a flourish by fluttering a very compliant paper plate in front of her face, thereby generating a dramatic breeze.

"I think it's in the car, Maisie."

Stella was in.

The paper plate was flapping as they headed to the car.

"Let's get out of here. Now."

The keys were jangling in Stella's hand.

Maisie settled into the passenger seat.

Maisie took a deep breath.

It was easy.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Reinventing the empty nest.

I'm taking a break from the fiction to talk about me for a minute. Yes, it's a self-indulgent diversion, but I'm taking some time in my thinking chair to figure out what's happening next in that wacky Feast of Funerals world. I've diverged from the initial intention of my site to jump into some fiction, and to do a bit of self-exposure. And tonight I've decided on the latter.

Connor's been accumulating items he'll be taking to college next week. The dining room area is slowly being filled with items that will soon be jammed into a micro-small dorm room.

His chalkboard is propped on a chair in my dining room. Yesterday morning, I was walking down the hall toward the kitchen and I read his chalkboard, which had been recently added to the pile of stuff that's going to college.

Instinctually, and probably because it was very early and I wasn't quite awake, I looked around.

Some messages are literal; some have a bit of a deeper meaning.

It took me a few minutes yesterday morning to get figurative.

I have yet to talk with Connor about why this is scrawled on the chalkboard that's heading up to UNC next week, but it seemed relevant to my mood lately.

It seems like I've been doing a lot of the "look behind you" lately.

Just a handful of months ago, my house was populated. As of next week, it's going to be just me, most of the time.

I've done a bit of poking around on the google about the empty nest concept, and apparently they're calling it a syndrome.

And I'm not alone, which is oddly comforting.

No one is alone when they call what you seem to have a syndrome.

Here's what wikipedia says about this syndrome: In order to fill the void of the empty house, many people look for something that is living and breathing that will take their minds off their feelings, like a pet.

That's so not going to happen with me. I have two dogs who I love to death, but suffice it to say that they will not be replaced.

Take you mind off your feelings? Really? And taking your mind off your feelings with an unconditionally loving pet? I understand that may work for some people, but not me.

Like packing for a trip, I've been trying to anticipate what my world will be looking like after next week. It's safe to say that I've been packing for a while.

And the suitcase is getting full.

But like packing for most trips, I know I'll forget something.

So, true to my hippie nature, I've been gradually, quietly (which is oddly appropriate) attending some dharma gatherings. There's a luscious underground of people in Denver who actively practice. So a few times a week, I get settled, and try to learn some ways to make this next step more graceful; less discordant.

I've realized lately that it's less about the "look behind you" and more about the "see what's in front of you".

I can worry if I want.

But I've come to accept that worry has no value. It's a complete waste of time.

I can get all wrapped up in the "look behind you" idea.

I'm opting for the Right Now.

The metta.

There are a lot of people like me, who are just as incredulous as I am that what once was full is empty. This nest was so intricately designed.

And there are lots of people like me who understand the value of stillness.

So instead of calling the next phase a syndrome, I'm trying to see this empty nest as a fresh start.

A reinvention.

Despite what the syndrome might suggest, there's a beauty in emptiness.

And as a bit of an homage to Connor, his departure, his new life, this image projects what I love about him - his courage, his fear, his willingness, his challenge, his potential.

These next few weeks will be interesting, adjusting to my empty nest.

Monday, August 8, 2011

Keeping the lid on blowing the cover

Five days have passed since I've landed here with the ladies. After blogging every day in June, it's been nice to take little breaks.

Since my last Festival of Funerals entry, I've received some great ideas from folks who are following this travelogue, and I've used a few of those suggestions today. Thanks to those of you who are following along as this story unfolds. 

I never know what direction things will go with these characters until I get a chance to sit down and write. When I do, time melts away like miles under the balding tires of Stella and Maisie's Dodge Dart.

I started this bit of summer fiction on July 5, so if you'd like to see what you've missed, you can scroll down the right side of this site and start at the beginning!

Stella navigated her way out of the Open Arms sanctuary with as much grace as she could gather.

She was visibly shaken after she'd felt his unexpected, familiar touch, heard his deafening whisper.

Stella wondered as she left the sanctuary how this could have happened, seeing him again after decades, far from where they'd left each other 42 years ago.

Or, more accurately, where she'd left Arthur, at the altar of a more formal house of worship, under a completely different set of circumstances.

Present-day Stella projected the air of an aloof, irascible old lady. But the crusty shell she'd worked so hard to develop crumbled into a messy pile of memories and regret as she walked into the kitchen.

Not unlike what remained of Bob Engelbright, everything in the kitchen and the dining hall was neatly laid out for display.

Despite her fragile, bird-like frame, Stella was a stress eater. So the timing couldn't have been better, at least when it came to the availability of food. Not so much when it came to bumping into Arthur.

She composed herself and headed straight for the fried chicken.

She'd had a wing and a thigh with a side of potato salad, all of which she ate with a voracious decorum by the time Arthur Cambridge and the rest of the funeral party found their way to the dining hall.

Arthur made his way straight to Stella. She noticed how the decades had been kind to him. Regardless of the passage of time, he looked like a sleep-deprived, somewhat smaller version of the man she'd tucked away in her heart.

Stella wasn't sure if she was overcome with emotion at seeing Arthur or indigestion from having eaten too fast, but as he came closer, the knot in her stomach grew increasingly larger.

"Why are you here? Why did you come, Stella?" Arthur's questions were tinged with shades of both happiness and despair.

"I'm here with Maisie." Stella had addressed neither of his questions.

"I had no idea you knew Bob," Arthur said. He was obviously grief-stricken, on several levels. Meeting at a ceremony, just like they had the last time he saw her, brought back memories.

"I missed you that day. And every day since, Stella," Arthur took her hand. They walked together to the buffet line, because it seemed like the thing to do.

She wished Maisie would get to the kitchen. Because, uncharacteristically, Stella didn't know what to do next.

She thought they were coming to Bozeman to pay a few respects, have a nice lunch, then head out of town. After today, they'd be one step closer to the coast.

Instead of acknowledging Arthur's admission, Stella put a large spoonful of taco salad and a dill pickle spear on her plate as she tried to think of something to talk about with Arthur that would bring the past back into the present.

"How did you know Bob?" Stella asked.

"He was my brother-in-law."

For some reason, Stella was surprised that Arthur had continued his life without her.

"And you?" Arthur asked Stella. "How did you know Bob?"

Thankfully, just as he finished asking the question, Maisie made a colorful, enthusiastic entrance into the dining hall.

It seemed that Maisie had met someone at Bob's service as well.

And if she and her companion didn't know each other before, they looked very familiar with each other as they stood in line for the buffet.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

No exit.

I'm looking forward to some relaxation tonight.

Because it was a long day.

But it was time to see what was up with the ladies, and this entry essentially wrote itself.

Thanks so much for the positive feedback; especially the completely galvanizing email I received today. 'Mary - I am addicted - Please keep writing!!!'

Who can say no to that?

Stella was shaken by a sense of uncomfortable familiarity when she and Maisie entered the church to pay their respects to Bob Engelbright.

Maisie knew Stella well enough to know when it was time to leave well enough alone, so Maisie acted as if everything was normal, considering the circumstances.

Everyone has secrets.

Stella didn't know that Maisie had thousands of dollars stashed in her bra, and Maisie had no idea what Stella meant when she said that things could get ugly.

So each of them kept quiet, which seemed to be what the mood of the room suggested at the Open Arms.

Unlike many funerals they'd attended in the recent past, Bob Engelbright's crowd fell within the ladies' age range. So Stella and Maisie didn't feel the least bit out of place as they navigated their way through the walkers and oxygen tanks to find a place in the makeshift mid-century sanctuary.

Like people who found a place to settle in the '80s and decided to stay there, people who hit their high note in the '60s tend to enjoy surrounding themselves with familiar artifacts.

This Eames era familiarity embraced Maisie and Stella as they took their seats in chairs that would now be considered to be post modern.

But they didn't know that fancy reference.

They just knew they needed to relax, each with their own secrets.

So it came as a somewhat anticipated shock when Stella felt a comforting, familiar squeeze on her shoulder.

She'd hoped that the passage of time had rendered herself unrecognizable to him. She'd hoped that she and Maisie may have simply blended into the grieving crowd, unobtrusively.

And then, after the service was over and they'd paid their respects, she and Maisie would have some lunch.

But there he was, standing behind her.

Someone turned on a cassette recorder to signal the beginning of Bob's memorial, and Amazing Grace filled the room.

Stella was relieved. Despite the bandleader role she'd assumed with Maisie, Stella didn't like confrontation. Thankfully, the music required a level of contemplative respect.

But there was no avoiding him, eventually. She knew he was sitting right behind her. She could feel it.

Then she smelled a hint of Old Spice, felt his hand on her shoulder again and heard him say in a whisper, "Why did you leave?"

Stella had every intention of staying for the entirety of Bob Engelbright's memorial. Instead, she whispered in Maisie's ear.

"I'll meet you in the kitchen."

Stella quietly walked out.

Like the windfall of cash Maisie had kept secret from Stella, Maisie had no idea why Stella got up.

Maisie just assumed Stella needed to use the powder room.

As Stella left to find the kitchen, Maisie began singing along to Amazing Grace.

Stella was suddenly envious of Bob Engelbright's exit strategy.

Monday, August 1, 2011

This season's last Peasants Feast: Celebrating beginnings and endings.

Even though we could have gone a few more weeks, tonight was this summer's last Peasants Feast.

And we went out with a subtle, interesting bang.

For those of you who are new to the concept, Peasants Feasts are somewhat like a pot luck, with the added twist of a food theme. I came up with some good themes this year, if I must say. You can read about those extravaganzas in previous blogs. I especially enjoyed the holiday-themed Feast.

But tonight's theme was about beginnings and endings. Starts and finishes.


Here's a partial list of beginnings and endings that have taken place around here lately (in no particular order of importance):

The last Harry Potter movie was released (that's a big deal around here). Logan got his driver's permit. Connor graduated from high school. He's starting college in a couple of weeks. My relationship ended. The kitchen has a new coat of paint. After four years, Logan's most likely done with his smarty pants summer camp in lieu of other pursuits. I started Cents and Sensibility June 1 (check out the June blog entries). We've all integrated elements of that project into our worlds, so I guess it's not really finished. I started writing some summer fiction, and it's so much fun. I've met some new people. We got rid of cable. Peasants Feast is over until next summer.

I could go on and on about change. Everybody could make a long list, considering the only thing constant is change.

But what did I ask people to bring tonight, you ask?

In celebration of the fact that life is unpredictable and constantly changing, people brought whatever they wanted. Assert some control in an uncontrollable world, I say.

So tonight's dinner was unpredictable. Kind of like life.

And tonight's Feast had a life of its own.

First course: the heat, drizzled with the threat of rain.

No such luck. It was hot on the back porch, with a generous dusting of bugs.

But there was the refreshing sugar wall. There was mobility. Some people stayed at the house after dinner, some groups took walks around the neighborhood.

No rules.

It was a lovely evening. And once we'd all settled in, I asked the group who eventually landed on the back porch about their beginnings and endings. Recent change.

There was change that came from moving, literally, from one house to another. There were job changes. Potential beginnings, tangible endings.

There was spiritual change. That was an interesting conversation.

More than one of us was experiencing the tangible, heart-struck-crazy finish line that's crossed when a child grows up and moves away.

There were happy milestones and trying hardships all around the table.

Beginnings and endings are everywhere.

I could talk about the food at tonight's last Feast. The chicken pot pie casserole. The mango salsa. The fantastic cheeses. The pie.

But tonight wasn't really about feasting on food. It was about enjoying each other's company.

That's so much more delicious.