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Filed under: prairie musings, Presbyterian Manor — Peg Britton @ 1:17 pm

It has taken over a year, but today I’m actually cooking something “substantial” from scratch.  There is nothing like a bowl of hot, spicy chili on a frigid day and nothing quite like  Jesse Manning’s recipe for Habanero Hell Fire Chili.  It’s just the best, I think.

Since I can’t run to the grocery store to pick up supplies, I had to improvise.  I prefer kidney beans to chili beans but only had red beans to soak and cook for my mixture. I was up and sleepless around 3:00 am to get the fire going under them.  I’ve never quite liked the addition of bacon so I leave that out.  I think if the bacon were ground then fried crisp, I’d like the texture better.  But everything else is pretty much the same as Jesse’s.  I still have an assortment of very hot peppers…all hotter than jalapenos, which I consider mild… in my freezer which were among the first to be moved to my new location.

The menu for lunch doesn’t sound very good…Salisbury steak or turkey meat loaf.  I’ve tried both and will opt for bacon and eggs…always available, always good.  I take my own toast and jam…and hot sauce for my V-8.  I carry a grocery store with me which helps to satisfy my taste buds and those of my participating table mates.

Which reminds me.  We have open seating here at the Palace, but it hasn’t always been so.  Some of the old-timers reflect on the days of assigned seating with obvious horror and relief at the change.  But that isn’t so with everyone as there are some rigid souls here whose lives are so structured they want everyone else to be structured too.

Back in those days you were assigned table mates and sat with them everyday,  for two years, or some such unfathomable stretch of time. I’ve heard stories about it and am glad that’s no longer a rule.  Not everyone here is your best buddy and I can’t imagine being stuck for two years with people you just plain don’t care for.  Familiarity doesn’t always soften the edges.

One of the joys of having lunch here (which generally is not related to the food) is the friendliness of those with whom we choose to sit.  Today I sat with Perry, Doris and Margie and had a lot of laughs. Doris sits in the same place every day as she uses a wheelchair. I most frequently sit with her.  Margie likes a seat where she can see everyone and “observe” the inmates and their peculiarities.  We all enjoy her “observations”.  Perry has a great sense of humor and is always a delight to be with.

My neighbors on 2 west tend to sit with one another…as we all get along so well and enjoy the same kind of humor.  We sit at tables for four.  Pete and Dale, who are great friends, are usually somewhere in the group.  Dale, being a creature of habit, sits at the same place at the same table every day.

There are some people here who simply don’t talk or can’t carry on a conversation.  There are people who sit down and eat, get up and leave and never say one word.   I also avoid the men’s tables as men here don’t talk… with few exceptions.  They flock together and are speechless.  Those are the people I try to avoid and fortunately, they are few in number.  It takes a while to figure this out.

I imagine I’ll be eating my chili by myself as most inmates here have experienced bland food for so long their taste buds would explode if exposed to something flavorful.  Hellfire chili just might throw them over the edge.  Maybe some outsiders will come and join me.

I’m in the movie business now…chief operator.  I accept beer for my hard work.  To backtrack a little, I subscribed again to Netflix, both DVD’s and steaming.  Drew was here over Christmas and helped me with it.  I had it for years but gave it up several years ago when it all became boring.  I have a large screen TV and offered to show The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel to anyone who wanted to see it.  There were four groups of takers and we all had fun watching the movie, which is one of my favorites.  Good thing since I’ve seen it about half a dozen times.  So, as I get movies that others might enjoy, they can come watch.

My next door neighbor, Hazel, is a gem.  She’s always baking or making something good.  During one of my showings, she arrived with warm-out-of-the-oven thick slabs of bread slathered with butter for each of the movie goers.  That was a real treat and fun.   At one showing, Joy brought a six pack of Shiner Bock.  That pleased the operator.

The temperature is dropping…down to 28 right now. I’m warm, cozy and comfortable and have no place I have to go.  Life is good.

Thanks for tuning in…

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