Monday, October 28, 2013

Of wizards on Segways and other cool things

I’m sure plenty of towns do their own versions of Halloween, but nobody does Halloween like Salem, Massachusetts. Witches? Check. Pirates? Check. Candlelight cemetery tours, a neon-lit Ferris wheel, and reenactments of the witches’ trials, with the audience members as the jury? Check, check and check. Not to mention a couple of LED-lit wizards riding Segways and giving sermons (I’m not sure if they were trying to gain converts or if that was part of their schtick) and … well, it’d be impossible to list all the weirdness Arizona and I saw on Derby Street and thereabouts over the weekend.

Some snippets of overheard conversations:

“No, no. I want Chrissy between Jack Sparrow and the giant squirrel. That’s it. Okay, now everybody say 'eye of newt'!”

“Did that headless guy just stick a French fry through his sternum?”

“Oh, boy. That Playboy Bunny has to be cold!”

And so on. I had to grin when my mother, who lives in Salem and was guiding us through town, said to my crowd-hating but very tolerant husband, “I know this is probably your idea of the seventh circle of hell, but you’ve got to admit that it’s pretty cool, too.”

He admitted it. And it was definitely cool. Here’s Frankenstein grabbing my cousin, who is screaming while my mom and I laugh our patooties off (and Arizona takes the picture).

Have a happy (and safe) Halloween, and I hope you laugh your patootie off!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Things I Don't Hate Anymore

Arizona and I may like watching various shows on the Food Network, but we pretty much exist on turkey sandwiches, pizza, tacos, salad-in-a-bag and Things That Go On The George Foreman. And when we watch Chopped, his theory is that all of the secret ingredients should go in the blender together and be served with a straw—maybe with different size glasses and garnishes for each round. Appetizer round? A sprig of cilantro and a soup cup. Dessert? A cherry and a coffee mug.

In other words, to say that we’re not foodies would be the understatement of the week, maybe longer.

Now, this shouldn’t be blamed on our parents. Mine grew lots of our food in a couple of big garden plots, and my mom canned jams, jellies and pickles. And there’s a legendary story in Arizona’s family about the time his mom gave him the choice between eating his peas and sitting at the dining table for the rest of his life, and he chose the latter.

When we got old enough to make food decisions, however (especially after my Big Breakup, when I could eat whatever, whenever for the first time in many years), we both gravitated toward really basic menus that happened to align just fine. In fact, the first time I met Arizona’s BFF, he looked in the freezer, laughed, and said, “Is he still eating frozen pizza five nights a week?” And I blinked and said, “I thought he was just going along with me.”

Still, new things occasionally make their way into our menu, like the homemade biscuits that made his eyes bug out with their yumminess, or the occasional new fruit or vegetable. Now, I am not a vegetable girl—if it’s not lettuce, spinach or mushrooms, forget it. And back in the day, when people used to tell me that my tastes would change as I got older, and I would start liking other veggies, I would dig in my heels, shake my head, and go with a mature and eloquent: “Nuh-uh. Not gonna happen.”

But, folks, I’ve got to admit. It happened.

It was at a Subway. (I wonder how many of our middle-aged suburbanite stories start thus, or at Starbucks, Panera, etc.) Or, rather, it was back home one night, when I returned from volunteer hours late and hungry, and Arizona offered me the remaining half of his lunch sub, as he had already fed himself. Despite there being green peppers and (horrors!) tomatoes on said sub, I was famished enough not to care, so I bit in. And angels sang.

Tomatoes, where have you been all my life? Too long, I have reviled you as having the texture of a bloated tick when bitten into, with an initial outer covering followed by a burst of goo. Too long have I required you to hide in ketchup or salsa, your true nature disguised. But not anymore. Now, I travel to Farmer Pete’s stand down the road for big fatties the size of my two fists together, then consume them in salted slices or make towers inside my turkey sandwich or burger. Om, nom, nom, nom.

And so, readerfriends, I confess—my taste buds have changed with age, at least in this small way. I doubt I’ll be jumping on the Lima Beans Wagon any time soon, or taking the Brussels Sprout Express to the corner of Asparagus and Tripe, but for now I’m enjoying my baby steps.

So what about you? What foods did you love to hate as a kid, only to discover them in later life?? 

Monday, October 14, 2013

Eek! (aka Gotta Make This Deadline)

Hey folks! I'm coming to you from my writer's cave, which at the moment consists of a couch, fuzzy blanket, cat, computer and no sleep, with Arizona providing food at semi-regular intervals.

Revisions on the third Mustang Ridge book (Krista's book!) are due tomorrow, and I'm in the weeds. The first draft of this book? Not good. My rewrites? Good. My timetable? I#%@@. So I'm keeping this short and sweet, and will be back with you next Monday having turned this book back in to my editor (writing gods willing!).



Monday, October 7, 2013

Small Bladders and Good Karma

One of the zillion things I cherish about Arizona, in addition to his spider-relocating skills, kindness to cats and easygoing nature, is that he never rolls his eye when I announce that I need a ladies’ room—or, if we’re out in nature, a ladies’ tree. Which is fortunate, as I have a bladder approximately the size of a walnut. Any of you who have road tripped with me can attest to this fact.

Anyway, we recently acquired the World’s Biggest TandemKayak (click to read about how we got it home), and have taken to spending hours on the water, either trolling up and down the salty river near our house, or taking to the open-ish waters of the sound. Which, when you’re in a kayak (and thus can’t easily hike any body parts over the side), makes the whole ladies’ tree thing problematic.

Fortunately, Arizona has a healthy respect for the Great Whites that patrol the waters of Cape Cod to our north, so he doesn’t expect me to man up and jump overboard. (He also probably suspects I would roll the kayak—and all of our gear—when trying to climb back aboard. Because that’s how coordinated I am.) Thus, he’ll find me a landing spot with a bit of shelter, even when he’s in the Fishing Zone.

The Fishing Zone, for those of you unfamiliar with this particular fugue, involves glazed eyes, selective hearing, and a singlemindedness of purpose rivaled only by, say, a diehard romance fan the day her favorite author’s new book is released. (Or is that just me when an ‘In Death’ book comes out?) When Arizona and I were first getting to know each other, he brought me to his grandparents’ house, introduced me to his mother and her husband, and promptly disappeared into the fish room to organize lures. (I am very lucky in all my in-laws, so it wasn’t that big of a deal. But since I had gotten used to him being very attentive, I was like, ‘Whaaa?’)

Now, mind you, I use the term ‘fishing’ loosely in reference to what we’ve been doing in the kayak, as there hasn’t been much (any?) catching going on. Thus it was a huge coup when, this past weekend, as we headed for shore to find me a ladies' rock, Arizona caught himself a large striped bass, thereby ensuring us many weeks of fish tacos, grilled bass, fish soup, etc. And later, when we landed the World’s Biggest Kayak back by the car and the guys near the dock flocked over to take pictures of his catch, my wonderful husband turned to me and said, “Any time you need to tinkle, you just let me know.”

So there it is, ladies. I now have carte blanche. Perhaps I’ll even turn out to be some sort of organic fish finder, with my bladder guiding us to the choicest spot. But for now, I’ll simply be grateful for my guy … and go find another recipe for striped-bass-somethingorother. Cheesecake, maybe?

How about you? Are you a camel, or a tiny tanks who has to pull in every other rest stop? Any funny stories to share?