Oh, the delightful pickle into which I have gotten myself!!
It all began with the meeting of Yolla at the pool.
Yolla walked up to me to investigate my knitting. She is a 75 year-old Lebanese woman with all the charisma and charm and warmth that I would expect from a woman of her descent. Solidly built, curly hair barely tamed, sparkling brown eyes. She lives in America 6 months of the year with her son and family here in my neighborhood.
We talked knitting . . . she learned at age 5.
We talked war . . . she lived in Beiruit through all 17 years of it, house repeatedly shelled, escaped into the mountains for safety, sent her 4 children to the U.S. for college and protection.
And then, we talked food. Lebanese food. Tabouleh and falafel . . . hummus and beef rolls stuffed with pine nuts. Of course she cooks it all. Learned that when she was 5 too. I could hardly keep swallowing fast enough.
But Yolla is lonely. Her son and family have to be away to see the wife's side of the family for several weeks.
As we were talking, I opened my mouth. I invited Yolla for lunch next week. While my mouth was speaking, my mind was throwing a fit! What are you doing inviting this maker-of-all-foods-Lebanese-and-wonderful to your home to serve her food???!!
But my mouth was not yet through. It continued on. My mouth let Yolla know that I would also be inviting my neighbor, Marie, to join us for lunch.
I will use 3 words to describe Marie.
75 year-old. Italian. Mama.
Need I say more?
She just moved to my neighborhood several years ago from Long Island, New York. This woman raised 5 children. Cannelloni, ciabatta, cavatelli . . . they flow from her hands.
What else did my mouth want to get me into? Did it want me to ring up Emeril and have him in on the party? Ask Jamie Oliver if he'd like to drop by?
Okay, deep breath. Refocus. Must keep my mind on why I'm asking Yolla and Marie over. Because I want to bring them joy. Because I want to bring them friendship. Because God's love can hardly wait to reach out its arms to strangers in our midst and the lonely. And, shoot, because these 2 ladies are such great fun.
So, I had better be getting my menu together.
Something really, really American . . . no chicken parmesan or Mediterranean tart this time. Hmmmmmm. Grilled cheese with tomato soup, anyone?