Archive for July, 2013

A restaurant review

July 28, 2013

Every summer I gotta go to Big Bear. It’s a couple hours away from me, but I will get up and drive there to eat bacon-and-cheese waffles for breakfast at The Teddy Bear Restaurant, or to roam The Village for jewelry and boots.

I discovered this place when my husband had a three-day conference there on my birthday years ago. I tagged along, intending to stay in the hotel, as I always do when he has a conference. I spend his conferences in the tub with a book.

We stayed at the Northwoods Resort, which borders The Village. I wandered out looking for breakfast and found a row of small businesses that could have been planned for me as a birthday surprise.

First there was a bath shop. I bought bath oils, bath beads, soaps and lotions. These are my favorite things — right up there with chocolate and books.

Then I looked down the street and saw several coffeehouses and chocolatiers. There were three bookstores, too. I may have cried.

After a quick morning buying myself gifts, I climbed into my oiled bath with a novel and some tri-tip. An hour later I was by the fire with red wine and chocolate-dipped things like strawberries and pretzels. It was one of the best birthdays I’ve ever had.

My husband returned to find a wife with a totally balanced chi.

My husband had this conference every August for a few years, but last year there was nothing. It was gone, and it wasn’t coming back. We went up on our own twice. I just needed to smell the place.

Today I couldn’t stand it. I’ve been missing that town so much I can’t concentrate, so at 1 p.m. I put the kids in the car and went.

About 4 o’clock we walked past a small, tucked-back door that said “Pizzeria.” I was Book-and-Bean bound, and didn’t give a fig about the pizzeria, but I noted that I didn’t remember seeing it there before.

Then around 5 the kids got hungry. They said they had a craving for pizza. I was surprised by this, because we almost never eat it. More surprising, they were both in the mood for the same thing.

I’ve been experimenting with some new recipes. Last night we had pita, stuffed with vegetables, chicken and cantalope and topped with a tarragon mayonnaise. I guess I understand why they were in accord.

So I pointed them toward the doorway I’d noticed. It was Saucy Mama’s Pizza. We walked past some umbrellaed tables in the narrow space between two buildings, and entered the place, which was mostly behind an ice-cream and fudge parlor.

It had a great atmosphere. I love a pizzeria with red-checkered tablecloths. A guy was tossing a big circle of dough in the air. We chose the table with tall stools.

My daughter ordered a vegetable calzone, and my son and I split a Hawaiian Delight pizza, which had Canadian bacon, pineapple and regular bacon chunks on it.

I have rambled on all this time to get to this sentence: This was the best pizza I have ever eaten in my life.

We packed up half the calzone and two slices of pizza for Daddy. My son and I almost wept, denying ourselves those last two slices.

Back at home, we presented the food to my husband like begging dogs at his feet.

He shook his head at us, “I can’t believe it’s as good as you guys are saying. It’s just pizza. You three have built it up so much, there’s no food can live up to your description.”

He bent over his plate and took a bite. Then he looked up, met my eyes, and nodded.

“Oh my God.”

The kids and I started cheering and hugging. We were crazed with the greatness of this food.

Then the dam broke, and my husband would not shut up. “The crust is sublime. These people must be from New York. This sauce is fantastic….”

So there it is, my first post as an amateur food critic. Get on a plane, wherever you are, and fly here so you can eat at Saucy Mama’s Pizza.

If you want my family to sit at your feet and watch you take your first bite, we’ll be happy to make the drive up the mountain.

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The bikini story

July 22, 2013

According to my friend’s car, it was 111 degrees here at 6 p.m. We’re having a hot spell.

Early today I took my to-do list out and crossed off everything I couldn’t carry out to the pool to accomplish.

Wearing clothing was asking too much. In fact, I’ve been in nothing but my bikini for three days.

Luckily, I have not needed to go to the post office.

I went into public in my bikini once 17 years ago. It did not go well.

When we lived in Boulder I cross-country skied almost every day. I would schedule my fall and spring classes with a gap between, so I could scoot up to Eldora between courses and run a couple of trails. I was totally isolated up there. It was glorious.

By March the trails were sunny. Even in winter I was warm when I skied, because I was working my arms and legs so much. With actual warmth, I was roasting.

One afternoon all my girlfriends were going to the park to study and tan. I hate to be out-tanned, but couldn’t not ski.

I had a great idea. I would ski in my bathing suit and get a pretty bronze tan on the mountain.

I was shy getting out of my car and trudging out to the track, shouldering my skis in nothing but a bikini and Nordic boots, but as always, there wasn’t another person anywhere.

After a short trek into the trees I forgot about being self conscious and enjoyed the cool on my skin. I was usually all sweaty.

Then things got ugly.

I was halfway down an expert slope — Gandy Dancer, I’ll never forget — and I fell. Skiing on snow in a bikini is a totally different thing from sitting on the snow in a bikini.

I couldn’t get up.

Everytime I tried to stand, my skis slid out from under me. Four times I ended up all the way on the side of the trail, and had to scoot backward into the middle to try again.

Wait. I left something out. As soon as I fell, lots of people started going by.

I have no idea where they came from. It was an endless stream of skiers, gliding down Gandy Dancer about five at a time. This throng of witnesses comprised people of all ages. That was the worst part, hearing children ask Daddy why that woman was sitting mid-hill in a bikini.

I got looks that said, ‘Well you’re bizarre.’

After a humiliating several minutes of failure, my butt was suffering. I tried to balance my cheeks on the skis because the snow was beginning to sting. I gave up, pressed my feet as close together as possible, sat on my heels and paddled myself right through two upright families to the foot of the slope.

Guess who was there, and on the rest of the trail. Nobody.

Mermaids bother me

July 19, 2013

I can’t figure out why mermaids have breasts.

Their reproductive half is not mammalian.

This means they lay eggs and swim away. The babies never know them. There is no nursing.

So what are the knockers for?

The three-little-words story

July 11, 2013

A month after I met my husband I flew out to spend Easter weekend with him in Colorado. I ended up calling my professors and declaring illness. I stayed a week, adding a day at a time.

The only one who seemed to care was a photographer assigned to an untimely story I hadn’t written yet.

Late one night we had put on Joni Mitchell’s Court and Spark, opened a bottle of wine and were slow dancing by candlelight. My boyfriend said something that I was 80 percent certain was “I’m in love with you.”

It was muffled by my hair.

Though we had said things like, “You’re the one;” “I’m done looking;” and “I’ve never felt like this before,” the word “love” was as yet unuttered.

I was in a fix. What if he had said something else, like, “I’ve an oven flue,” and I said, “I love you, too”?

I would sound dumb.

I didn’t want to sound dumb, so I said, “Huh?”

“I wanna live with you,” he repeated.

Ah! Good thing I asked.

“Yeah, no.”

Things need to be said in the right order.

(For anybody getting ready to disapprove, we did not live together before we were married in 1992.

. . . When I discovered I was pregnant.)