A Taste of Home

I’ve lived in the same general area of Boston for 16 years and have never owned a car. That partially explains why it took me so long to check out an ice cream (well, frozen custard) shop that is not accessible by subway. As a passenger in a car, I would ride by this ice cream shop possibly two or three times a year.

Every time, I would study the sign, Abbott’s, and wonder if it could be the same Abbott’s that I grew up with in Rochester, New York. The logo looked exactly the same. Nah…

 

 

 

 

 

 

So this was the year that I found out that yes, it is the same Abbott’s! I didn’t have to ask to be sure, because this sign was hanging in the window:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The glare makes the sign difficult to read, but basically, some Rochesterians moved here and missed the frozen custard so much that they convinced the owners to let them open a franchise.

Not only was there frozen custard, there were Zweigle’s white hots for sale! And there were pennants of Rochester universities on the wall! What a treat to find a taste of home in the backyard of my second home.

 

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Another New England Delicacy

I’ve lived in Boston for almost two decades and yet I’d never heard of the New England delicacy known as Richie’s Slush…until a few coworkers started raving about it in the office. Some of us hadn’t heard of Richie’s (I wasn’t the only one), so we asked what it was like.

One of the raving coworkers said something along the lines of “It’s creamy like ice cream, but it’s not ice cream.”

“Is it like a Slurpee?” I asked. Because I love Slurpees. My coworker claimed it was better than that.

She proceeded to track down the nearest retailer, a chocolate shop around the corner from the office. Within a few days, I was ordering a watermelon Richie’s Slush at the chocolate shop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It WAS creamy…but not really. It was smooth, with no crunchy bits of ice at all. I dare say it’s even better than a Slurpee. Or maybe just different. I will always love Slurpees. But I can find room in my heart to love Richie’s as well.

 

 

 

 

Still Golden 75 Years Later

I was a reading machine when I was young, thanks to my mother, who instilled in me a love of reading at an early age. I read many Little Golden Books, and to this day, when I see certain Little Golden Books (LGB), my heart just about explodes from joy overload. Here’s one:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So when I found out about a bookstore tour in celebration of the Books’ 75th anniversary this year, I had to attend. LGB editorial director Diane Muldrow and children’s book historian Leonard Marcus gave a great overview of the Books’ history, answered questions, and passed around a number of the books.

Leonard signed copies of his book about LGB history, Golden Legacy, after the talk. I enjoyed chatting with him and Diane as he signed my copy. I told them that my mom has kept some of her LGBs and I have a number of mine as well.

As someone who loves books and used to work in publishing, I marvel at what a success story these books have become. They were created to make books more accessible to families during World War II (starting out at 25 cents each), and the content and illustrations continue to be thoughtful, engaging, and stunning.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I just hope and pray that people are still buying children these books and reading them together. LGB, may you survive another 75 years!

Bearded Dragons and Baking Bread

You know you’re too busy when you’re still reporting on things that you checked off the list in February…

My friend Abby and I intended to ride a zipline set up in a Boston park by a Kissimmee, Florida, tourist organization one February weekend. But when I arrived 15 minutes before it opened and the wait was already two hours, we settled for having our photo taken with a baby alligator and holding a lizard called a bearded dragon. I pleaded with the handler to refrain from putting a large snake around my neck. (However, the snake was surreptitiously slipped around Abby’s neck.)

holding a bearded dragon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was expecting the bearded dragon to be solid and rough, but it had a very soft underbelly. It was cute for a lizard.

And with no segue…I baked zucchini bread for the first time. My mom baked it once in a while when I was young so I feel nostalgic whenever I buy it at a cafe. I found her recipe for zucchini muffins (not bread, curiously) and spent a Sunday afternoon grating zucchini.

grated zucchini

 

 

 

 

 

 

It turned out SO GOOD. I’m adding it to my baking rotation now.

zucchini bread

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’ll be hearing from me again soon as I attempt to make up for lost time…

 

 

20–Year Love Affair

I realized the other day that I was wrapping up my semester abroad in England 20 years ago this month. I chose to study in England because I didn’t have proficiency in another language…and I’m convinced that I was destined to start a love affair with England.

I went from studying at a small state college a 30-minute drive from my family to studying at a large research university with tens of thousands of international students thousands of miles from my family. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and I’m eternally grateful for it. I studied at the University of Leeds with my two friends, Sam and Ellen, which eased the homesickness.

Many of my experiences were those of a typical college student. I remember that the coursework was tough and I was glad that my grades didn’t factor into my GPA at home. I joined the chorus and sang Benjamin Britten’s A Ceremony of Carols in the city streets in December. Ellen and I joined a musical theater club and performed in the musical Chess. I subsisted on jacket potatoes with shredded cheese at the refectory (dining hall) and spent hours at a time doing this new thing called emailing in the computer lab. I lived in Clarence Dock, a dorm that was far from campus, so I spent many nights taking the “women’s minibus,” a shuttle that departed from campus and dropped people off at their dorms/apartments.

Not-so typical experiences included weekend trips to Liverpool, where we consumed everything Beatles; Dublin, where we drank Guinness in pubs and saw The Book of Kells at Trinity College; and London, where my wallet was stolen (I don’t remember anything else from that trip).

I consider that I started on the path to adulthood during my semester in England. Even though I had traveled abroad in high school, it was here that I really grasped that there was a whole world outside of the United States. I gained a newfound appreciation for my family and friends. I learned from people of other cultures and they learned from me.

Another opportunity of a lifetime tied to my semester abroad was the three-week trip around Western Europe that I took after the semester ended with Ellen and my friend Daisy. Twenty years ago at this very moment, Ellen and I were sitting in a bohemian bed and breakfast in a frigid Corfu, Greece, watching American movies with Greek subtitles and listening to Radiohead’s The Bends album with a small group of new friends.

We had just come from Rome, where we were blessed by the Pope on Christmas Day. We would be meeting our friend Daisy in Milan next and heading to Venice for New Year’s. And then back to Rome and on to Spain and France. Armed with Eurail passes, a thirst for adventure, and not enough clothing for one of Europe’s coldest winters, we visited countless museums, ate delicious and sometimes strange food, and made friends of fellow travelers along the way. If I could turn back the clock and do it again, I wouldn’t change anything.

As I sit with my Twinings tea and McVittie’s Ginger Nut cookies, I insist that if you are thinking about studying abroad or know someone who is thinking about it, you/he/she/they DO IT. It’s worth every penny of the extra student loans.

England now feels like a second home to me—and my mother! She visited me when I worked in London for six months after graduation (that 20th anniversary is next December). And the rest is history, as they say. We’ve visited England five or six times since and have many wonderful and funny memories. I feel lucky that we fell in love with the same place.

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