laura packardI’m full.

       I don’t know about y’all, but I can’t eat another bite… well, unless it’s something chocolate.  The cocoa plant from the gods is simply, to me at least, something akin to a collapsible shoe organizer or a few of those stackable multi-sized Tupperware containers: a reason, if not a vessel, to hoard the things we love and can’t live without until a more appropriate time presents itself sometime in the future (you know, late at night).


         With that said, it’s still quite the mystery why I can’t button my jeans, slip on my flats, or tighten my belt, because if you walked into my kitchen you’d think we were all starving to death. 

          See, my pantry is full of high hopes, big ideas, and dashed dreams… a.k.a pretty much empty.

         My refrigerator is a flaming (but yes, cooling) source of unattainable ambition, a Plexiglas cornucopia of wishful but fleeting aspiration.  A blueprint for what could and might have been, but never was.  Or, on a lighter note, just filled with strange and unidentifiable objects well into their prime and way past their expiration date.

         And thanks to me (yes just me), for all my thought and careful consideration, most things that come home from the grocery store never meld into anything interesting, or for that matter edible.  Nope. Nada.  Zip.  Nothing worthy of a Bon Appetite cover, a neighborhood covered dish for that matter, or even a late night supper of scrambled eggs for two.

         So if everything is still in there (my fridge that is) and sprouting “hair,” how can I possibly be full?

         Aside from the microwaveable chocolate pieces found at your neighborhood grocery store that can be nuked in less than thirty seconds to a thick liquid and then used as dip for anything non-perishable found around the house (i.e. broken Pringles, cracked candy canes, days old cherries, a half eaten Twinkie or Little Debbie cosmic brownie), I have just been eating everyone else’s food.

            Thank you Mike and Cindy for the gorgeous red velvet cheese cake, the one with the cream cheese frosting as thick as two abnormally large thumbs.  Much gratitude and kinship for Robert whose bottles of Silver Oak Cab (at almost nine years a grape and ninety nine calorie a glass) have kept me warm and toasty into the night.  Not to mention Gramma’s chocolate chip cookies made from scratch that were (in Gramma’s own words) “delish.”  I am telling you right now, you shouldn’t have… really… especially since you worship at the altar of REAL butter and understand there is nothing more disappointing than biting into a cookie expecting all kinds of chocolaty chip, buttery goodness and getting a mouthful of raisins and a healthy dose of bran instead.  Well played.

            I, on the other hand, learned from my own mother not only how to accessorize but how to read and enjoy a cookbook.

            I will be the first to tell you how much I take pleasure in the prospect, the truth, of it all.  There is nothing more exciting than an evening in front of the fire place, in my yellow chair, reading a cook book as if I were Hemingway watching the bulls in Pamplona: the matadors, the heat, the flesh, the wine at eight in the morning. It’s almost the same thing. I read, feel, love, shop, buy, and take home my own interpretations of what I have read.  It’s just what I purchase never turns out the way it was intended. 

         I, like Hemingway, had grand plans for life using the most simplistic of measures.  Unlike Hemingway, I never write anything down. Or cook and eat it for that matter.

         The red and green gelatin salad made to look like a Christmas tree that you’d find hanging out in my crisper, was actually a head of broccoli and bundle of asparagus that accidently got in the way of a spilled can of Chef Boy R Dee and ended up stuck there.

         Next up is the chocolate cake in the back of the fridge that turned out not to be a cake at all.  Nope, just a pound of honey baked ham lying on top a slab of baby Swiss and a slice of bacon.  To make matters worse, the mayo jar looks like it will stay there ‘til the end of time, while for the life of me, I can’t ever find the ketchup.

         I wish I understood all the intricacies of culinary creation – the thought and creative genius of time and place, taste and pleasure – then in turn, had the gumption to put it on a plate.

         Maybe, this past year, I had an empty pantry, outdated spices, and moldy cheeses, but as we start a year anew, let’s think like Hemingway… seeing, as he would advise, that no matter what we understand “courage is grace under pressure.”  Just as we should never take for granted all the possibilities life has thrown our way.

        Paying bills, working, feeding our families, parenting, making sense out of senseless and tragic things . . . . can be scary stuff.   But this year… yes… this year, let’s embody grace no matter what shows up on our plate.

            And be full.

Laura Packard recently moved to Beaufort from Saint Simons Island, GA where she still pens a humor column for Coastal Illustrated/Brunswick News. She has brought along her 2 daughters, 3 dogs, 4 cats and one husband. They sometimes let her write. You can learn more about Laura and her writing at And don’t forget, if you can’t make fun of yourself, someone else will surely do it for you. For Laura, someone else is usually her kids… and her dog, Atlas who she swears is John Candy reincarnate, but that’s a whole ‘nother story.