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I’m not sure if I will rate more or less of that once this gets posted. In my refrigerator when I first wrote this were way too many house made Sour Watermelon  Gummy Bears. I had very little to do with the making of them and even less to do with the eating of them, but apparently I was the inspiration for them. My husband swore (well after Valentine’s Day had come and gone) that the ingredients for them (including the romantic container of grass-fed gelatin) and the gummy bear mold were purchased as my Valentine’s present. The fact that I eat gummy bears only at miles 16-26 of a marathon run (and I’ve run only one marathon and will likely leave it at that) didn’t come into play in his present planning.

Appetizing

Appetizing

My participation included buying a small watermelon and laughing at his time-consuming preparations. Also tweeting about it. And now this.

Gum yum?

Gum yum?

There’s something wrong about using my baking mold that spells out chocolate for the overflow of this abomination. They actually had very little taste–probably due to the out-of-season tasteless watermelon we employed. Luckily our daughter was in mile 9 of her student teaching marathon so she actually appreciated the gummy delivery and the knowledge that her father is still sweet–in a sour watermelon, grass-fed gelatin sort of way.

I found the fountain of youth last month, but I’m not interested in partaking of it again. It was at a Catholic church here in town during Advent. Almost as soon as I walked in the door with my 81-year-old mother,  I felt transported back to adolescence–all snark and muttering to myself and rolling my eyes and looking around at people wondering how they can put up with this. Feeling young again might have felt liberating if it hadn’t felt so stifling.

The only clue that I wasn’t an adolescent was that I used my time in the pew to do my Kegel exercises. Before things got started, I read a notice about proper behavior in church that an usher had handed out and hoped for some decent Christmas music. Imagine my surprise when the priest began the festivities by saying that one young lady in one of the front two rows who answered his question wins a prize. Don’t remember that from the old days. Don’t remember the question either, but the prize, which he pulled from his robes (memo to priests everywhere: Don’t ever pull anything from your robe!) was a tin of Virginia Peanuts. Of course. Famous church marketing 101. Jack up sales of peanuts by talking about them at the outset of Mass. Crass was more like it.

I appreciated his antics even more (or less) when he began his homily by commenting on the sacredness of what goes on in church, lamenting his parishioners bad behavior and instructing us to read the notice in the pews about the solemnness of church and how we are to conduct ourselves in it. I do not like being told what to do–especially when I’d already done it and didn’t need to do it to know how to behave. The instructions were all about not eating or texting or talking while in church. How handy for him that they hadn’t included playing Jeopardy and hawking peanuts in front of the congregation as what not to do. From all my church-going and Catholic school-going years, I seem to remember something about Jesus throwing the money-changers out of the Temple. On my next visit to church, I think I’ll institute clandestine pew yoga to help me find some peace. Otherwise I might have to stand up and say something. Want to come watch?! I’m guessing I’m the one who’d get thrown out of there.

It’s the time of year when people focus even more than usual on food. Grocery stores are stocked with holiday must-haves. Time to bake and shop and simmer. Yet the week before Thanksgiving I was stewing over what I was going to drink with a bottle of Mirilax to get me through a follow-up colonoscopy. Timing is everything.  So with the aisles stuffed with  Thanksgiving necessities, I wandered through the store looking at coconut water and naturally sweetened Vitamin Water and Steaz and Metromint. I had water on the brain. I was thinking about quaffing and quenching even though I knew damned well thirst wouldn’t be involved.  I did three preps last year within 6 weeks, courtesy of a malignant polyp that cost me several inches of my colon, so I have plenty of experience with the ups and downs and rebounds of my gastrointestinal tract. Here’s what I wrote in Richmond Magazine earlier this year about that much fun.

To jazz up what doesn’t sit well with my stomach, this time I thought I’d try  to suck down the prep with less sugary flavored waters from Brazil and Indonesia and Thailand. As much as I like to eat, my gut isn’t a fan of drinking a lot of anything. I’m not a coffee drinker, not a beer drinker, not even a soda drinker anymore (though in a bid to make myself happy during the liquid diet portion of the proceedings I did take a few swigs of Dr. Pepper to see if that transported me back to happy land days of yore). I don’t mean to make too much of what’s one day and night of unpleasantness since I was  lucky to have the opportunity, certainly. And given that too many of my friends are facing radiation and/or chemo after breast cancer surgery, what’s a day of intestinal fortitude anyway? I couldn’t help but hum She’s Got the Whole World in her Bowels except that the coconut water never made it much past my esophagus.  And the chocolate mint-flavored water is a mistake as well. But you knew that already.

2013-11-16 13.03.10

I might be the only non-homeless woman in the United States who walks into an Ann Taylor Loft dressing room with a couple pairs of pants and a shirt to try on with a 1/3 of a pound of sliced chorizo in my bag. It was Zoe’s chorizo from Formaggio and it was what I like to think of as an essential styling tool.

Thank goodness the bag is pretty cool–from the Poe Museum in Richmond–a gift from my friend and biz partner, Susan. It gets the people talking in the big cities. I find it lends me (truly I don’t own it) an air of sophistication  even when all else points to a scruffy bag lady. But when one adds the flat-packed chorizo wrapped in plastic and paper, well, heads turn. Or at least well-tuned noses do.

Poe Poe Poe...

Poe Poe Poe…

Even though I’d just walked 2 miles to get that chorizo–ostensibly for my husband–I’d forgotten about it until I lay the bag down in the dressing room. Trying on clothes with what got me there–eating too much to fit into my clothes– (the hot fudge sundae wouldn’t have travelled as well) seemed fitting. Or perhaps, given the state of my clothing, ill-fitting.  I suppose I should have taken the flat-packed chorizo wrapped in plastic and paper and added it to my waistline while I was trying on the pants to make things more accurate. A new, wholly unappealing form of pork belly. The clothes may make the man, but they make the woman insane.

I’m a mild-mannered sort. Until I’m not. Last month while on vacation, I sat on a porch and shamelessly ogled a shirtless guy who ran by the house every day–up and back. Not so surprising in a beach town with lovely weather (the running, that is) but what was odd was that the gentleman in question wore heavy-duty, old-school cotton sweatpants as he ran. The sort of sweatpants not seen since the early 90’s. He was a slow-and-steady runner, of an indeterminate age that made his chest worth noticing all the while not making me seem like a pervert. The perfect combo. I chuckled about him the first day–even being so generous as to point him out to my husband (a well-known appreciator of the human body) when the runner dude made his return trip the first day. Many years ago my father appointed himself the bathing suit police when he sat swinging on the front porch, commenting on all manner of human condition we saw too much of there, so perhaps I was just following in his swing steps.

When guests arrived over the next couple of days, it became part of the routine to be on the look-out for my guy. I fancied that he looked over our way and smiled a couple of times, perhaps because he heard the herd of us  rushing the porch to see him, but I might have been making that up. There was a lot to notice during the week. He alternated his sweatpants from light blue  to navy blue to maroon, but with the exception of one day, he always ran shirtless. I was a little disappointed in him one rainy day when he donned a matching hooded sweatshirt–mainly because of the hood.  I saw him running in different parts of town, but for 8 days straight, he was out there. One of our friends named him Rico for no apparent reason. Perhaps the idea of my running away with Rico–I think I could have kept up–and I did in fact wind up behind him one day on one of my runs–sounded just right.

 

Rico's were better.

Rico’s were better.

And then we were on our way back home. Poor Rico was probably devastated. A week later one of our friends was at a flea market in NYC and found his shirt.

That explains it.

He left his shirt in New York City.

Still, I have to believe–slow and shirtless wins the race.

 

I wish I had something valuable to say. Instead I will have to settle for noting how odd it is that cleaning up one’s house, I mean really going into the bowels of drawers and files and cabinets, brings out the worst in me and more $2 bills than I’d ever expected.  You’d think TJ would get more respect, but nickels and $2 bills aren’t really impressing me. Sure you wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Statute for Religious Freedom and founded the University of Virginia, etc., etc., but what have you done for me lately? $6 bucks? I can find $43 in loose change without even trying.

Can't explain it.

Can’t explain it.

Somewhere in the run-up to my 30th college reunion–which I did not attend–I received a survey to fill out from the alumni office. They’ve never lost me in all these 30 years, but they must keep hoping they have the wrong Maureen Egan (there were two of us in our class at Holy Cross) and figure eventually they’ll find the one who is a billionaire and wants to give it all back to the college. Keep trying.

Of course, they want to know what field people are working in. Under the self-employed spot–after the ones they’re really interested in–investment bankers, stockbrokers, doctors, lawyers–a couple of telling options popped up. There was freelance writer, where it belonged, which is one part of what I do. Right under it was an option I’d never considered and certainly didn’t expect it to have its own line: funeral director. A trick of that pesky alphabet or something more? The two fields have plenty of things in common. Magazines and newspapers keep dying and so do people. Synergy. God knows I’ve been to enough funerals that provide a microphone to people who could use a good writer to make what’s said not make the audience go nutty. See, Yes, I’m referencing my own damned story! It’s sad that I remember the awful funerals as funny stories and don’t remember the good funerals much at all. Perhaps I should write about that….

Woke up the other morning fuzzy and a little confused about where I was since I’d been out of town a couple of nights before. But clearly through the haze two words came to me: church chocolate. In that order. Related. Unexpected yet it all made sense. Not chocolate church–that’s a different dream. I love alliteration even when I’m asleep. To my mind, especially at 6 a.m., church chocolate combines religion with all that is holy. If only pain au chocolate were the bread that gets broken at church, I might make an appearance now and again.

A chocolate for my thoughts?

16 apostles here

Of course, Jesus didn’t say, “I am the chocolate of life,” but perhaps he’s regretting his turn of phrase. With so many people avoiding wheat and going gluten free, bread is getting stale.

I’ve long had a theory that the whole Last Supper thing was a game of telephone gone awry. Jesus is at the table and says, “The bread tastes fresh.” And around and around the table his comment gets repeated, until it comes out, “the bread made flesh” and transubstantiation had to fill in the blanks. I think my version is every bit as believable.

Good ole Mary S.

Good ole Mary S.

I walked up the backyard yesterday after a walk with a friend in the soft rain. I was already thinking of the next thing I had to do when I walked over the bridge over the gully kwai (not its real name) and had enough sense to pause and see the blooms where they were planted. I felt a calming and a brightening simultaneously. The leafed out Japanese maple was all the umbrella I needed from the rain sprinkling down and the pine straw path hushed my clodhopper footfalls. And then right at eye-level were these babies. Not babies at all, quite mature like myself, but planted by Mary and Stuart decades ago, exactly in the right place for me to get happier just then. I think I’ll go back out there right this second. Our yard is such that if I don’t get right out in it and wander around, I can miss the best of what those Shumates did back there.

Mary’s been gone for a year now, but those azaleas and the phlox and ajuga and vinca busting out all over keep her ever-present. Excuse me, while I go pay my respects to her plants.

 

 

 

When I heard that Hillary Clinton found comfort in watching a particular HGTV show real estate reality show, I don’t think I’d seen the show in question for more than a minute, so I didn’t quite get how it could be comforting. Now that my husband and I have recently purchased a fixer-upper house, I, too, take solace in watching Love It or List It. Those hosts get much more done in an hour than we do, so that part just makes me agitated. The solace comes from seeing how icky so many people’s houses are.

quite the denouement

quite the electrician

I’ve decided to start our own reality real estate show: Torch It or Trash It.

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