Tomatoes to Paradise

We are once again a ‘winging, a ‘winging across the Pacific. Oh, okay halfway…well, maybe not quite halfway across the Pacific to our island paradise.

(Side note: From 34,000 feet, the sea and the sky are both azure blue; one might not know up from down except for the strands of stratus clouds, white from the top, gray from below, which wander under us to the north.)

Since 1987, we’ve been to Kauai about half a score times. First by ourselves for a romantic interlude. Then with our friends, Jim and Sharon Hileman, celebrating our tenth and their twentieth anniversaries, another time with just us, then for at least a half-dozen times with our friends, Peter and Nancy Toennies with whom we will be with again this time around.

Paradise, or least one of my preferred versions of paradise. I enjoy the other Hawaiian Islands, but Kauai is my favorite. I have other paradises: Ireland; Barcelona and Majorca, Spain; Newport, Rhode Island; Lebanon, Nashville, and Signal Mountain, Tennessee.

One would think if someone traveled to Kauai ten times or so, they would have pretty well nailed down the packing and preparations, especially since two women have taken over the planning, and reservations for golf and dining. One would think…at least this one did think.

Until yesterday, Saturday, did i think that.

But on Thursday or Friday, some bozo told my wife that we had another twenty or so Roma tomatoes in our garden ripe to pick in our smaller garden box. These would bring our total of Roma tomatoes up around one hundred or more. But leaving them on the vine would render them unworthy if we waited until our return.

So this bozo then recalls canning some stuff out the garden he and his previous wife had in their backyard in Bryan, Texas, even making preserves out of the berries on the back fence – the Texas A&M agronomist in the house behind us had crossed black berries with a larger berry from Africa. He called these sweeter, larger berries Brazos berries. They were incredible off the vine or as preserves.

Then, the bozo remembered Nanny Kat’s kitchen in the farmhouse in Razor, Texas. There were narrow shelves, two of them, high above the stove, sink, etc., high enough to require a ladder to retrieve the Mason Jars that filled those shelves. Those Mason jars were full of Nanny Kat’s tomato juice, the best tomato juice in the whole world ever. Razor, by the way, was down the road a bit from Arthur, Texas, both just south of the Red River, the demarcation between Texas and Oklahoma, from which has evolved several legends surrounding Joe Haynes, Nanny Kat’s wife, the proclaimed mayor of Razor with a gigantic population of four, Joe, Nanny Kat, and another couple.

The bozo remembered these things and suggested he and his current wife, one of the two planners extraordinaire, that the two of them, he and his wife, not the other planner, can these Roma tomatoes. Wife agreed.

Wife developed a sore neck. Bozo, not wishing to jeopardize the trip to paradise with mostly golf and dining, volunteered to do all the packing, normally mostly his territory, and the canning before they departed for paradise.

Wife decided they could make tomato sauce, which she uses a lot. Bozo agreed.

Little did bozo realize this canning tomato thing requires peeling the tomatoes, something he had obliquely agreed to do.

So as his favorite college football teams and, of course, his Padres, began their “streaming” into the television, he began his tomato peeling.

For those of you who have never peeled tomatoes, this makes peeling potatoes a walk in the park. For those of you who have never peeled a potato, forget it. Don’t try it. Peeling tomatoes is a pain, and i will clean that up by not completing the phrase even though that is what i thought while this peeling thing was in progress.

This bozo had tomato juice everywhere, along with seeds, tomato peels, and tomato chunks that somehow came off with the peel. It was arduous, tough, neck flexibility demanding stuff, and with each of the one hundred or so tomatoes, he cussed but also was glad he was doing it instead of his wife.

He began after they cleaned the breakfast dishes, some time before nine. When he began to stiffen up or notice his focus was waning, he stopped and continued with his packing the large duffel bag for two and the two golf bag travel cases. Back and forth he went, slinging parts of tomato everywhere and fitting each other’s travel items into the bags.

He finished around 5:30 p.m., only to discover, the duffel bag weighed more than allowed for one check-in bag. Bozo went into the garage attic and retrieved the two medium size suitcases. He rested and went and got a burger and fries for the two of them to split. After all, they would be dining fine come Sunday evening. He watched some of his teams briefly…when there was still hope.

Wife finished the tomato sauce thing with her pressure cooker. The results were stunning, fresh tomato sauce for about two dozen dishes of various menus bozo thought. Bozo resumed the unpacking, packing drill.

 It was concluded prematurely when the two suitcases and golf travel bags had been closed and moved to the front door. That was when bozo discovered he had lost his backpack. He gathered the stuff to pack in the backpack out in the family room. He drank a glass of Tempranillo. It was just past ten. He went to bed.

It had not been a terrific Saturday. On top of tomatoes and packing, all three of his favorite teams took it in the shorts. He did find an old backpack and salvaged that part of the packing.

But who the hell cares?

Bozo is a’ winging to paradise.

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