I’ve been waiting for a while to work Elvis into this blog. He’s my neighbor. What a great neighbor.
So as not to ramble too much, let me do this:
Elvis backstory: Elvis is my next-door-neighbor. He has the spot to my left as I face the street. He lives there with his lovely wife, teenage daughter, a bunch of chickens and turkeys, two dogs, and more trees than you can count. Literally: he’s constantly planting.
He’s a refugee from Cuba. He was a political prisoner there. I have finally met someone who hates commies more than me.
Elvis took me under his wing from day one. We’ve shared a lot of time together, driven around together, and planted a lot of trees together. The first few he jumped in and grabbed a shovel. He showed me how to do it in sandy soil so that the trees would thrive. He almost never calls me a moron to my face, but I’m sure he’s thought it. Those few times I employed my internet study to arborculture, I’ve killed about 1/3 of what I did. He just told me how to fix it. No criticism, just a smile.
I now have over 20 trees growing on the lot portion between my house and his. It will go to 26 in the next week, as it’s time to split out the plantains that have grown so well under his tutelage.
So, that’s Elvis.
Now, the other neighbor of the day: Gabbie. Gabbie lives “katty-korner” from my house. She’s a lovely young woman married to a fine guy named Alex. They have two dogs as well.
Gabbie and I share a love: cooking. She’s way better than I am, and of Italian descent. That’s important because she blows me away with goodies on a regular basis. I’m top of my game with banana bread. I did, however, teach her deep water bath canning. We made a serious batch of grapefruit marmalade a while ago when my friend Carol was visiting.
Gee, now you know about my neighbors. But the reason for the background is this: Both Elvis and Gabbie showed up at my door with multiple prepared meals when Kip got home from the hospital.
Not the “hotdish” of my youth, but top-shelf cuisine. Dainerys, Elvis’ wife, prepared three amazing Cuban dishes for us. You can’t buy this stuff in a restaurant. It was out of a photo shoot in a foodie magazine. Delicious. Filled with love.
Not to be outdone, Gabbie had three dishes as well. I was able to skate by with only cooking one day last week. It was a gigantic relief. The stuff Gabbie made could have come right out of Sicily and the mom-and-pop places I loved when I traveled in the Navy. Mouth-watering and wonderful. I froze the pea soup to savor this week: I was overcome with food and didn’t want to waste it.
This is why I love Florida and my neighborhood. These people look out for each other. There is a sense of family that I truly hope they sense in return.
I am richly blessed. And, to my other neighbors, I need to say that this isn’t an appeal for more food. I know you are all praying and that’s enough. If you bring food, I’ll have to throw out the stuff I bought at Winn Dixie before Gabbie and Dainerys cooked up a storm.
Save it for the next time. The next neighbor. Maybe even me. But I know your love is all around us. I truly feel it.
Now, go bake a loaf of banana bread for your mom and drop by to visit her: that’s another story for another day.