Right now I'm standing barefoot on a freshly bleach-scrubbed floor, sipping a tumbler of ice-cold Vinho Rosé and feeling pleased with myself at the clean, calm state of my kitchen... which I am about to dirty (yes, using that as a verb) to an alarming degree. I thought it might be amusing to read the bits-and-bobs of what goes into a day of preparation for a Twelve at the Table event, whether of the Private sort or the Community. (Bear in mind that this is just one day and one person -- other tasks are being completed in other parts of Nashville by other Very Important Players.) My idle fingers also need distracting from the just-toasted cashews cooling on the metal table, so some typing will do nicely.
4:53am: Eyes pop open, thoughts of staple guns and candle holders, napkin placement and flavor combinations run wild. Sleep comes back to me, thank heavens.
7:26am: A moderately punishing jog to work off, in advance, the homemade ricotta and other calorie-rich delights I'll just have to taste later in the day. A stop for coffee at my favorite local breakfast haunt, Star Bagel, is my reward. I walk back through the waking, bustling neighborhood with my $2.06 steaming cup. A strange follow-up to sweating in the early beating sun, I know, but it seems to hit the spot and put a particular pep in my step. School buses are throttling down the thoroughfare, which alarms me for a few different reasons.
9:12am: A cool shower and minimal amounts of clothing are all that will make the heat of the coming day bearable. Driving a 1972 pick-up with no air conditioning isn't for sissies, so I've gotten accustomed to it. You see, I'm not a sissy. Head to Wal-Mart for dirt-cheap white burlap (shhhh, don't tell!) and to Textile Fabrics for other pretty items for place settings and such. This is where I have entirely too much fun and can get in a little bit of trouble. I could stand in front of the turnstile of grosgrain ribbons for hours, imagining color combinations and various uses. It's been my favorite place in the fabric store since I was a little gal waiting for mom to finish filing through all of the pattern drawers.
10:00am: A stop at Whole Foods for many of the richer, more luxurious purchases such as good cheeses, a spicy salami from Virginia artisans over at Olli Salumeria and other ingredients from the very freezing-cold dairy section.
10:47am: A nagging feeling sets in, one that tells me I should sit down and tend to communicating with our readers. I give it a shot, but my brain is going in too many other directions to pay the due focus. And the little crumb-happy birds are fun to watch too, so it's time to get up and get busy.
11:43pm: A stop at Grand Cru where I am greeted by the handsome bearded fellow with the light green eyes whom I hold fully responsible for my habit of Laphroaig 10 year scotch. I buy a bottle (the last one!) because I have a feeling its soothing properties will come in handy.
noonish: Head home, unload truck, eat beets with lemon and mint for lunch, scrub aforementioned kitchen floor. The workspace must be pleasant and tidy, so the music is cued (Alabama Shakes is on a loop at my house lately) and the bowl of bleach water and some elbow grease do their whitening work.
1:26pm: A nut catastrophe! burned. Quel tragique. You know how you think you're humming right along, totally in your element and then BAM!, you're reminded of your amateur tendencies? Well, I suppose it helps keep me humble.
1:35pm: Add nuts to the shopping list. Wash the parsley and mint to make myself feel useful.
3:00pm: A visit from mom, dropping off some bulk items; a bag of lemons, heavy cream, avocadoes. She talks me off the ledge of self-doubt which I can so easily put myself on when I do dumb things like burn nuts. We sit at the kitchen table, plop fat blackberries into our glasses of Rosé, work on place cards and talk through the timeline. The timeline is a crucial tool and must be in black, waterproof pen on graph paper, thanks to my obsessive-compulsive nature. It's the map I follow right up until we parade the main dishes out to the table, though it's pretty liquid and can change with my/our whims and fancies. I chart out manageable tasks for the week's days prior to the event, and I delight in nothing so fully as crossing things off of this timeline (usually with a contended giggle and flourish).
4:46pm: A good, thorough dish-washing session with my Mrs. Meyer's Bluebell-scented suds.
6:32pm: Supper consists of a chopped salad thrown together from the final contents of my fridge that are actually meant for me to eat and not intended for Saturday's diners. Thinly sliced red cabbage, bell pepper, scallions, celery, feta cheese, flaked canned tuna, olive oil, lemon, dill. Satisfying.
So this is as far as I've gotten, but I foresee a major zoning-out in my future. It will most likely come in the form of this perfect trinity: scotch (enter Laphroaig) + my backyard swing + Hemingway's A Moveable Feast. Why has it taken me so long to start a book with a title like that?