The one thing I ran out of was dried cranberries, last night, while making the cabbage salad, so we really needed more of the little suckers to make the balance right in the salad. I also forgot my lunch in the rush to get out of the door towards work, so we figured on a plan as we were heading out way in. There's a Starbuck's in the parking lot of a King Soopers not too far from work, so we drove by work and went there. John went to Starbucks to get our drinks and I rambled into the King Soopers to find cranberries and a lunch I could eat.
It took a while to figure out that the dried cranberries, in bulk, were about half the price of the pre-packaged ones, so I went and bought a whole bag of the bulk dried and sweetened berries. Then I went to the freezer section and was confronted by several dozen good-looking Stouffers entries. I'd originally thought I was going to just get the mac and cheese and be done; but they have a whole line of new things that have the pasta and cheese, but also includes other things like chicken or turkey and various types of vegetables. Meat and veggies seemed like a much better idea than just pasta and cream sauce. It took me a while, but I finally settled on the chicken and tomato with cheddar and pasta.
On reaching the checkout lines, I discovered that most of the 'manned' stations were full of people and the autocheckout was empty. I am most amused by the autocheckout with the computers and occassional things they haven't figured out yet, like produce. It's still the codes and the central checkout guy still has to enter the numbers. But the scanned things are quick, and I can just slide money into the money taker and it does the right thing without intervention. I really like it, but then I'm the one that really loved Alaska Airlines for allowing folks to fly without ever interacting with a human being until you're about to board the plane and they have to check your ID.
John was starting to pull out of his parking lot space by the time I got out. He'd gotten the drinks and everything, already. But he pulled back into his spot when he spotted me nearly at the truck. I hauled myself into the truck and we were off.
Lunch turned out great. Though I didn't really eat until sometime after 2. I had thought about bike riding again, today, but really hadn't the energy or desire to. So I didn't. I did managed some good work things, mostly through sheer pressure on my frontal lobe. I find it weird that it's so hard for me to really work unless I have some huge pressure on my brain and heart.
We left work around 6, with some instructions on how to get to the house of the previous Czar of all software. John is, yes, Czar of the software build infrastructure for the whole company and the previous Czar, Jeff, and John get along really well together and work a lot together in coordinating software infrastructure things for the whole company. It's a really intense sort of job, and one that the two of them have gotten pretty good at working together on and for. They have a pretty good friendship and I can see how they both get along really well. It's nice to have someone else to bounce things off of when you know that they know what kind of trouble you've seen. Jeff just had a little girl, Zetta, who just loves Wallace and Gromit and John and I were wearing the shirts I bought in London a few years back.
Before we left, I stirred a few more cranberries into the salad, and what was once a confetti of red and green was now all a homogenous, incredible purple with a hint of just being a really, really deep pink. The stirring helped get more of the color homogenized and the cranberries helped sweeten what was mostly cabbage and sour.
Jeff made a great coconut curry chicken with rice and coconut green beans. The salad was a splash of color and strong enough to stand up to the rest of the dinner. It was great food as well as great conversation, ranging everywhere from where the couples had met to the fact that Jeff and I had both grown up in the Rancho Palos Verdes area. That was a very interesting coincidence. Though I'd gotten there nearly a decade later, there were some things that were very familiar. Zetta was very well behaved, and ate dinner with us, and then went into her evening routine with her parents. It was very interesting to see and we invited them over, sometime, to see Iron Chef and have a dinner as well. They liked the salad enough to ask for the leftovers, and we were happy to oblige as we have whole bunch of it at home, too.
The night outside was crystal cold and clear. The stars were brilliant in a sky so black it was easy to believe that there is only empty space out there. Our breaths streamed white and when we got home Fezzik came racing over the snow like a flying shadow to the truck. He bounced around and rammed into me to get petted while I was opening the gate and I hugged him while the truck went to the house. Fezzik then took off back to John while I got the mail, closed the gate, and then raced back to greet me while I was halfway to the house. It's very good to see him run.
Once in the house, we set to work. Chili cook off tomorrow and the green chile stew is much better off cooking overnight. Both John and I weren't sure if the bowl of green really was in the spirit of what was likely to be a red chili cookoff, but it felt like fun anyway. So I cut and onion and smashed six cloves of garlic while he cubed up the pork loin. I browned stuff while he dumped all the other ingrediants into the crock pot. Two cans of tomatos with their juice, lots of green chile (about three bags of roasted, which was about 2 cups chopped), and, after the meat and browned things went in, he added cubed potatos until the pot was full. It took us about twenty minutes to prep and stick everything into the pot. Then we just set it on high and let it go with a plate underneath to catch any drippings while we went to sleep.
I woke up a lot during the night to smell the fragrance of the cooking stew and hear it bubbling away.