You may have noticed it’s getting expensive to live lately. Hamburger meat is running around the same price as steak used to be, and yesterday they announced a better choice than beef might be lobster. Really? I have to admit I didn’t think I’d ever hear that statement on the air. We’re staying home for Easter this year. Between the price of gas, scheduled road work, and traffic it just isn’t doable. Lamb is on the menu. I was going to serve guacamole but with avocados at a premium, and a bag of limes requiring taking a second against your home, I’ve opted instead for deviled eggs. The chickens, it seems, are still in production and not out for higher wages.
Boo, the Queen of Cats, went to the vet last week for her annual shots. I chose a vet with a free first visit coincidentally touted as the best vet in the area. The ad said the office was in Cedar Ridge, an area I was unfamiliar with. Programming the GPS, Boo and I took a beautiful drive curving around unfamiliar rural roads ending up in a small mountain community. While conducting an examination of my most uncooperative feline, the vet noticed a small nodule about the size of a pea on one of her ears. As familiar as I am with my furry friend, I had not noticed the growth lurking beneath fur of a similar hue. Once the exam was completed the vet suggested the nodule be removed along with a teeth cleaning. Couldn’t we just brush more often? As nice as the doctor seemed to be I sensed there most likely was a charge associated with such happenings. I inquired as to what that charge might be. After some shuffling, hemming, and the necessary hawing she said the teeth cleaning ran around $240. Not bad. Of course, there were additional charges associated such as anesthesia, biopsies, and the like. Uh-huh. It was “the like” charges which concerned me. On exiting she indicated a follow-up email would be forthcoming with a total estimate for the needed work. I told her I’d look forward to the good news.
The following day as promised I found an email in my inbox with a subject line “estimate for Boo Boo”. The $240 charge for the teeth cleaning was buried nicely in between a full page of “the like” charges totalling $989.42. Hmmm, that’s darn close to $240.00 but not quite there. I knew the “the like” charges would be the killers. Good Lord. I had a sun damage spot removed from my face several years back for $120. Perhaps I should take Boo to my dermatologist.
It has been week of estimates. After having a neighbor pass by with his dog informing me I was sitting in a bed of poison oak while weeding, then escaping near ruin by getting a running start down my steep hill out front ending in my repelling off my garbage can, I put out some feelers for a spring clean up person. Several people came by to give me an estimate. Gardeners hereabouts charge $50/hour for their services and don’t seem in the least enthusiastic about providing them. Constantly I scratch my head at contractors who pay to run ads in the newspaper but don’t really appear to want anybody to respond to them. One man seemed annoyed that I would actually call the number provided when he was in the middle of his tuna sandwich and whatever TV show was playing in the background. Bottom line for the job was $200. Sigh.
Feeling in that spring cleanup kind of mood, I also asked several carpet cleaning reps to come out and give us a quote on getting the upstairs carpets cleaned as well as the stairs leading to the second floor. $200 was the going rate here as well. It cost us less than that to cover twice the area in the old house, less than a year and a half ago. Up, up, up, and away we go.
While in the market with other Easter shoppers it seemed no matter what section of the market I found myself in someone was complaining about the prices. Particularly in the produce section where sinister looking men with scars and beady little eyes wearing trench coats were huddled in the corners dickering with customers for the pink slips to their cars in exchange for the bags of limes hidden beneath their jackets. I signed over the SUV. Margaritas sound good with the steaks on Saturday, black market naturally.
Once my items had been rung up I mentioned in conversation I was looking for a gardener. I realize this isn’t exactly an easy segway from “do you want plastic or paper”, but we had been discussing how everything was blooming early this year as sneezing could be heard all over the building. In a conspiratorial tone she wrote something on the back of piece of register paper and looking over one shoulder pushed it in my direction. On the paper was a name and a phone number. “Thank you”, I said, “but I don’t need limes”. Shaking her head she explained this was the name of an excellent gardener in the area who did good work for a reasonable price. What! I promised to guard this secret with my last breath. I was going to ask if by any chance the man moonlighted as a cat surgeon or carpet cleaner but a line was forming behind me.
This is right up there with my favorite salad. Mangoes were on sale today. Yea!
Strawberry Mango Spinach Salad with Lime Poppy Seed Dressing
1 pkg. baby spinach, rinsed and torn into large pieces
1/2 red onion, sliced thin
1 mango, peeled and sliced
20 grapes, halved
1 orange, peeled, and sectioned
10 large strawberries, sliced thin
2 oz. blue cheese, crumbled
Freshly ground black pepper
Distribute spinach on four plates. Top with remaining ingredients distributing 1/4 on each plate. Add a grind or two of black pepper according to taste.
Lime Poppy Seed Dressing
1/2 cup honey
1/2 tsp. dried mint
4 Tbsp. key lime juice
2/3 tsp. sesame oil
1/3 cup red wine vinaigrette
1/2 tsp. salt
Whisk together all ingredients. Refrigerate until ready to use. Pour over salad.