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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Photographic Memories

I’ve loved taking photos since I was a teenager. I’m fairly certain that the pink Le Clic disc camera was my first camera.

Courtesy of liketotally80s.com
Courtesy of liketotally80s.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I was looking through some old photos recently and was reminded that I haven’t printed any photos since 2008, besides the occasional photo book of a particular event. Darn you, digital camera! Sometimes I miss the mystery of film…not knowing how your photos turned out until you had them developed.

I made a pact with myself to start ordering prints from the last eight years of my life after recently visiting the George Eastman Museum in my hometown.

I hadn’t been to the museum in years, possibly decades. This seems odd for someone who loves photography, but usually my visits to see family are too brief as it is and there is no time to “sightsee.”

The museum is partly exhibits and partly George Eastman’s house, which he had built in 1902–1905.

The museum exhibits were interesting. My favorite was Jason Lazarus’s Too Hard to Keep, which was part of a bigger exhibit. Since 2010, he has invited people to send him photos that they didn’t want to keep but they didn’t want to destroy. Many of the photos in the room had no description; they were just adhered to the wall. A slide projector on the floor projected slides nowhere. (Some people ask for the photos not to be shared.)

Too Hard to Keep
Too Hard to Keep

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

At the holidays, the museum fundraises by holding gingerbread house and wreath auctions. Thirty-plus houses and wreaths were on display and visitors could bid on each of them. This was one of my favorite gingerbread houses:

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The house itself is beautiful. George had exquisite taste.

Living room of George Eastman's house
Living room of George Eastman’s house

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I walked through the house, I wondered what George would think about phone cameras. I think it’s “too easy” to take photos with a phone camera. And what do we all do with the photos? Recently, I’ve quelled my desire to capture every single beautiful moment just because it’s convenient. I saw a breathtaking sunset during a flight a few weeks ago. As I reached for my phone, I said to myself, “Just enjoy the moment. Don’t try to capture it.”

I saw this question in the museum and answered “no.” And so I begin the process of printing out hundreds of photos from the last eight years.

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Do you print out your photos?