#177, Do something Irish on St. Patrick’s Day
Yesterday was fun. In the morning, we headed to Western Bagel for green bagels to get our shamrocks rolling. I have always liked sending the kids off to school with little bits of green cream cheese on their chin. Call me sentimental, but it makes me happy.
Later in the day I headed to the Original Farmer’s Market, where I heard there would be bagpipes playing at Magee’s Kitchen, a restaurant at stall #624. Magee’s Kitchen is celebrated as the first farmer’s market restaurant.
When farmers first parked trucks at Farmers Market, in 1917, Blanche Magee thought they might like to have lunch, so she filled a picnic hamper and started feeding them. Today they still serve outstanding roast or corned beef, tempting turkey and marvelous ham platters. Magee’s horseradish is homemade and fantastic, too, and the cole slaw is equally good.
Here’s a cute video that shows what it’s like to visit Magee’s.
When I arrived, the whole market was hopping. There were no bagpipes, but I made my way through the crush and ordered some corned beef and cabbage to go.
I really wanted to linger and shop and see a movie at The Grove. It was quite warm and the fountains looked lovely. The shops were bursting with spring merchandise and I would have liked to have left with a few shopping bags.
I wove my way through the crowds of spring break tourists, trekked back to the parking structure, and set my navigation system to Inglewood.
I had guessed right. I was barely allowed to open the bag before Homer, my 95-year-old grandfather pounced on his food. There was no time for plates or other niceties. I told him that I had hoped he would save the food for dinner.
“He already ate lunch,” his caregiver said.
Homer said, “Never mind that,” and asked for a napkin.
Homer likes his food. I knew he would like this meal, because it is so like something his late wife, my grandma Margaret would have made. On occasions like this, I know that there will be no conversation. I will just sit quietly with him while he eats. He is very old now. It takes all of his concentration to have a meal like this. It will also be the highlight of his day.
I smile thinking about a meme that has his picture and says, “Don’t Bother Me. I’m Eating.”
He seems disappointed when he can’t finish his food, but he cheers when I suggest that he can eat the leftovers for dinner.
We have a bit of a laugh when I put these glasses on him. He holds a magnifying glass up to my iPhone to see the picture of himself.
Though he’s just had a cornea replacement and his eye is healing, he doesn’t miss much.
“What’s THAT?” he says, pointing across the table.
There is a shamrock wrapped box of English toffee that I’ve brought him for dessert. He takes his time taking off the wrapping. I can hear Grandma Margaret’s voice telling him not to tear the paper.
He opens the box and even though I’ve already told him what it is, he gives me a big smile and says, “Oh!”
I had to take this photo of my own box of Littlejohn Toffee later at home, in order to show you, since Homer would not turn loose of his.
I get it. It’s delicious. That’s why it’s on The List. A quick aside here…
#209, Eat Littlejohn’s Toffee
I first received a box from Bob Carlson, a co-worker from KCRW, as a hostess gift one year when he and his family came to a Christmas Party at my home. It has been a mandatory holiday treat in my house every year since.
You’ll find them at stall #432 in the Farmer’s Market. They sell many types of candies, but I’ve only tried the toffee.
As Homer munched on his toffee, he looked up and said, “What? Is there no coffee?” and then we had to bring him the paper filter and the coffee he keeps in an ancient Cool Whip container. He likes to measure it to his taste.
He then points at a restaurant-sized container of cinnamon and sprinkles it over the ground coffee.
The phone rings. He asks, “Are you at the door?” He says, “Okay,” and hangs up. He sits down and tries to remember what he was doing.
We ask him who was on the phone. We ask if someone is at the door. He shakes his head and looks at us dismissively. He picks up his toffee again. He pauses a moment to look at his empty coffee cup.
Five minutes pass as he savors the toffee. Between bites he holds it close to his face to admire it. His eyes dart to the box to see how much is left. The coffee is poured.
He sips it and then looks at me. “Well, I’m sorry to rush you.”
I assume he is in need of a nap, so I head to the door. After an assortment of key locks and deadbolts is dealt with, I step onto the porch. His physical therapist is sitting on the step.
“How long have you been here?” I ask, worried that it’s been awhile.
“I called,” she said. “I assumed he was getting dressed or something.”
I could not tell her that Homer was not getting dressed.
He had been having an intimate encounter with his lunch and would not be disturbed.
I guess when you’re 95, you figure everyone else has more time than you do and they can wait.
Homer called me back for a kiss and said, “Thanks, lover!” in his cute old timey way. Sometimes it’s “kid” or “kiddo”, but he saves “lover” for when he’s especially pleased.
I inched the Jeep down the driveway, away from the home he has lived in since the forties and thought, as I always do, I hope this isn’t the last visit. He is forgetting a lot lately. Two months ago he was as sharp as a tack, and today he is having trouble remembering his caregiver’s name.
As I made my way down the street, I looked back at the little yellow house with it’s rusted white iron settee on the porch and whispered the old Irish blessing, “A sunbeam to warm you, a moon beam to charm you, a sheltering angel so nothing can harm you.”
288 days to go!