duck blueberry sausage, jalapeño scrambled egg

Four photos, where one will do.

I love the gentle self-satisfaction, unharried confidence, self-actualized style that wealthy people tend to show and that is evident in places like Whole Foods Cherry Creek, compared to other nearby Whole Foods, and said so to Joseph who was visiting from Arizona and drove us both there and making purchases half the day. He comes to town every few months or so, sometimes it is more months between visits. Joseph said, "Well, it is Cherry Creek." 

Right from the start, parking the car, Joseph pulled in tight next to a small one. I got out and leaned on his rental to steady myself for a shot of the front of the store. The telephoto can frame the shot however I like so the barrel is going back and forth with the camera lifted in front of my face I was talking to Joseph while framing the shot and noticed he seemed to be addressing somebody else. A man had walked up as soon as I lifted the camera and to the side I did not see him standing there waiting patiently for me to get out of the way. Just stood there holding his bags allowing my shot, exchanging a few words with Joseph. Not annoyed in the slightest. Apparently charmed to have encountered someone outside and not at all delayed.

Inside, the same thing. Repeatedly. I am a nuisance. I am in the way of people trying to shop and they stop, quietly wait, as if the shot were for something important, and just stand there as captive audience. I say a few words, they respond kindly gracefully without a trace of urgency or being put off, in fact responsive and happy to stop and exchange a few words. Graceful as all h-e-double carrot sticks.

I met more women in the span of half an hour than I recall each one of them beautiful and pleasant some oddly bundled for winter on a gorgeous bright warm February day. 

"What happened to these strawberries?" 
"I don't know." 
"It's like they're resolutely ugly."
"I see that. They're proclaiming their organic dirt-cred."
"I'm tempted to buy some just for that." 
"Me too." 
"My sister-in-law won't touch gargantuan perfect strawberries."

"Heh. Why not?"

I put on my slavic accent, "Genetically modified. Not natural." I go "Yea, they're unnatural. The farmers have been selectively choosing and planting for all strawberry-history!" She smiled agreeably as if I were agreeing, "And then along comes Chernoble and BLAM giant strawberries all over the place."

Like that, all the way through. Two women shopping together came up on me, I was blocking their way. And later as I was photographing a display of prepared cut vegetables arrayed alluringly for lunch, another woman came up on me, noticed the two canes tucked into my crotch, the more-serious-than-usual lens and allowed a moment without protest. I noticed her when removing the camera from my face.

"Pretty" I say like a boy captivated by pretty colors and with that bit of transactional analysis settled she address me as if I were a boy.
"And good for you too."
"Oh come on, who cares. Look how they did that by jumbling colors. They could have grouped by color and shade and arranged a rainbow but instead jumbled chaotically and a lot more attractively." The boy shot back.
"I care. You should care. Yes it is pretty but better they're actually good for you." 
"Pffft."  See what I mean? Engaging. 

When Joseph flies in, he calls, and one of the evenings he's in town we go out for dinner and catch up. That's been the pattern. Over time we settled on exploring steak houses. Tried them all around town. He has his favorites from travels that have outlets in California and in Nevada, Fleming's for one being such a place others are gauged. He mentions that. 

Then one day last year I said, "Let's broil steak here. I can do as well." So we did. I picked very good steaks. Good steaks are available two blocks away, USDA prime, Colorado beef, instead I went a little bit farther, drove to Oliver's for the same thing except dry aged and that makes a noticeable difference and can compensate for lack of fire grill. We cooked the steak here and along with a salad left a lasting impression on Joseph. 

Months later another visit. Now Joseph is suggesting we do something here and he imagines that being a pain in the butt but it isn't. It is his suggestion not mine to go shopping together this time because he has time to kill anyway before the flight out. So we did. But I told him I must buy things apart from the dinner tonight, I have things of my own I must buy for the week. He said, "Fine." 

At checkout at Oliver's, the first place, I said, "Ring these up separately, please." Joseph said, "Get out of here" and pushed me aside dismissively, engaged the clerk, said, "put them together." 

It was a lot, this sausage among the items.

At Whole Foods the same thing. Joseph bought everything I threw in the basket for my entire week, not his, and not just for that night's dinner. He was having a good time. 

One more incidental place to go, nothing at all to do with dinner, unrelated things unavailable at Oliver's and Whole Foods and the total for the day must have been somewhere around $300.00, I think, I did not pay anything. I made out like a high-end consumables bandito. 

Perhaps to compensate for the previous times I bought things. Perhaps to express gratitude for me being a cook. I do not know. 

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