Thursday, August 27, 2009

An amazing lunch at Pockets

RN Beth and I ended up at a visit together this morning and decided we would need to stop for lunch before we could even think about seeing another patient. We both had to head in the same direction so we thought we'd eat at the Panera on Orchard Road in Aurora. The parking lot was packed when we got there, leading us to park on the opposite side. And that is when fate intervened. This particular Panera is located in a strip mall where another eating establishment happens to be: Pockets. The manager was sitting outside of Pockets as we passed and offered us copies of their Delivery Menu. Then he asked if we'd ever eaten there before. When he heard we hadn't, he gave us three reasons why we should stop by: 1) it's closer to our parked cars so we would have less of a walk back 2) the food is better than the place where we were headed and 3) he would give us a discount. Needless to say, his sales pitch was successful, for which I'm glad.

The moment I saw the menu, I knew I had metaphorically come home. My eyes beelined toward the Greek Calzone with feta cheese, spinach, tomatoes, onions, and black olives, served with ranch dressing. Sold! The Pockets were also tempting. A Pocket is a freshly-baked multigrain bread pulled fresh from the oven, stuffed with your choice of vegetables, meats, and cheeses, and then served with dressing on the side. There are so many great options! The ingredients are all fresh and everything is baked once you order it. The calzones take about 15 minutes, I'm not sure about the Pockets. Still, I went with the Greek Calzone and Beth ordered the BBQ Chicken Calzone. While we were waiting, they brought some complimentary Dip Sticks (their delicious version of bread sticks with ranch dressing and pizza sauce.) Just when I couldn't be any happier, my calzone arrived and I knew I was in food heaven. The portion is huge so I just ate half and am looking forward to the leftovers for dinner.

You don't have to go all the way to Aurora to experience Pockets (although I was blown away by the customer service at this particular location.) They have Pockets in Naperville, Lombard, and quite a few throughout Chicago. Don't want to leave home? Call in your order or send it in on-line and they'll deliver it to you. Happy eating!

Monday, August 3, 2009

Angel Fall

I recently received a copy of Angel Fall, a Christian fantasy/allegory/science fiction book from Zondervan. The novel was written by Coleman Luck, a Hollywood screenwriter and general jack of all trades. Amazon description: "Three angry and heartbroken siblings are traveling between their divorced parents when their plane crashes over the ocean. The children awake to find themselves adrift in Boreth, another world of ancient devastation and evil. The siblings will face frightening challenges, terrifying choices, and great temptations before reaching their final destination."

"Angel Fall" comes off as a cross between several Christian fantasy classics. At times it reminded me of the Narnia books, Madeline L'engle, and Pilgrim's Progress. I would hazard a guess that a reference to Lord of the Rings would not be out of place but I (gasp) have not it made it through that particular trilogy. The difference between these classics and this work by Coleman Luck is that Luck ups the ante when it comes to the reality today's children and teens face. The main characters are a product of divorce and this unresolved pain colors their journey in a strange world. There are heavy themes and a fair amount of violence here making this inappropriate for young children. It's unfortunate that this is the case because I find children to be the best audience when it comes to the fantasy/allegory genre. I guess they'll have to grow up a little bit first! The characters' backgrounds made this story for me. At times I found Alex, Amanda, and Tori to be on the whiny/complaining side but then I had to wonder how I would react to their circumstances, given their ages and backgrounds. No character is perfect and each reacts to their quest in a different way. And in this, readers can relate to the difficulty in making decisions, discerning truth, and sticking to what is right. I am typically not a big reader of science fiction or fantasy books but I was pleasantly surprised by my curiosity of just how the plot would unfold. The lines between good and evil are not always clear. I liked that Luck doesn't point everything out to his reader, that at times we are forced to discern just who is helping our heroes and who is drawing them deeper into destruction. Life is gritty and we don't always get a happy ending, even in netherworlds. Thankfully God's redemptive power transcends our journey. The allegory richly illustrates this point throughout in surprising ways. This book could be the jump-off point for fascinating discussion about the spiritual themes found within if book club members are willing to engage in the story with open minds and open hearts. Pick up a copy when you get a chance!