Yes, a couple of weeks ago, I announced my temporary retirement from blogging. It lasted about a week. What has lasted longer is that I am not spreading my rambling wisdom each and every day with you, my faithful readers. I’m a little bit more sporadic around here, which is a good thing. For me and for you.
I was reminded today of why I started blogging. Ionia Martin (one of my new favorite bloggers) asked bloggers whether their blogs ended up where they wanted them to. My response to her as it is whenever I ponder this question is an emphatic “Yes.” Why? Because, contrary to the advice of the “experts,” I wasn’t interested in a focused blog. Just Food. Or Photography. Or Politics. Or Fiction. The name of the blog says it all. This is the place where I ramble. And if people want to come along for the tips inside my head, the more the merrier. So, without further ado … here’s a ramble for you.
This little guy …
… is my youngest’s leopard gecko. He’s had it for a couple of years. I say “guy” rather uncomfortably. You see geckos don’t have clearly visible indicators of their sex. When he got this gecko, he was told it was a boy. Hence, he was named Pele (yes, after the soccer player). Later, when it was time to get a second gecko, because you can never stop at one, he had its sex checked again. Why? Because of you put two male geckos in the same tank, they’ll fight. So, the second sex check and Pele is a female. Gecko number 2 is a male. Named Shaniqua. Why? I have no clue.
Anyway, they’ve lived in relative peace and harmony until recently. A few weeks ago, my son discovered what appeared to be gecko eggs. But they were dried and shriveled and clearly were not going to result in gecko babies running amuck in the castle. Can you imagine, screaming gecko babies waking us at all hours of the night?
Well, apparently, geckos, when they get busy, stay busy. Two more eggs showed up last week. This time we found them before they were completely gone. Here’s the puzzling thing. The pet store “expert” told us that the eggs needed to be kept warm and moist. Got it. Wait. How does that make sense? How have geckos managed to avoid extinction? Don’t geckos live and thrive in dry climates. You know, like deserts. How do their eggs stay moist when they’re out in the wild? No problem. We sprayed the eggs. Sprayed the eggs. Sprayed the eggs. They dried up and they’re gone. Rumor has it the next major purhcase will be an incubator for the next round of gecko eggs. !!!!
A couple of weeks ago, an acquaintance who lives in Illinois told me about a place in Chicago that makes … pizza pot pies. Meaning, I was going to have to try to make pizza pot pies myself. Here’s the recipe for the pies made by the Chicago restaurant my friend had heard about. Here’s what my oven looked like a couple of hours ago.
And, here’s what the end product looked like.
It most definitely did not come out the way pictures of pizza pot pie suggest it should. Part of the problem is that the dishes I cooked it in were deeper than the recipe suggested. As a result, instead of the dough being on top and then draping over the edge on the outside, the crust was entirely in the dish. Meaning their was no crust lip forming a bowl for the toppings after I turned them over. Another problem was that I didn’t know how thick to make the dough. It ended up being too thick. But, it was definitely an easier way to make several “pizzas” at once instead of my usual — one at a time.
I have had the good fortune of having a blitzkrieg kind of reading experience the last couple of days. First up was And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini. As with his first two novels, this is an emotional, gut-wrenching tale that keeps you moving through the pages. Of his three novels, however, I liked it the least. I think he’s losing his touch. I felt like he was forcing the story in the last third or so. Still a great read though.
Once I was done with that, I started reading Catskinner’s Book by fellow blogger and self-published author, Misha Burnett. If I hadn’t been busy with other things yesterday, this would have very easily been a book I didn’t put down until I was finished. It’s not my genre of choice. It’s a futuristic, sci-fi thriller, which means suspending some amount of disbelief — not an easy thing for me to do these days when I read. But, he had me from page one and I didn’t want to stop reading. Well done, Mr. Burnett. I hope there’s more to come.
Speaking about books. I will continue to be befuddled by the when and how and who of One Night in Bridgeport sales. At the end of this week, I had a day or two where I only got one or two Kindle downloads. Then, suddenly, it started flying off the e-shelf. As I write this at 7:30 in the evening, 36 copies were purchased today. Pushing me to about #5,500 in the Kindle Store and #53 in Legal Thrillers. It is easily the most I’ve sold in one day without any promotional effort that instigated it. A mystery. A conundrum. A riddle I wish I could crack because if I could than I’d know if there’s a way to target whatever it is that led to today’s outcome.
I had the good fortune to spend a night and day in the little town of Volcano. Located about 50 miles east of Sacramento, it’s one of those foothill towns that had thousands of residents during the Gold Rush days. According to the local Volcano lore, when the first vote was cast to select California’s capitol city, Volcano was on the ballot and came in second, behind Vallejo. (For those who don’t know, Vallejo didn’t last long, eventually being replaced by Sacramento.) Way back when, it had 5,000 residents. Now, it has just over 100. It’s a street with a stop sign. A few houses. A little park not much bigger than my back yard. But it has a hotel and a bed and breakfast, The Union Inn, which also has a restaurant. The restaurant serves pub fare of a much higher quality than most pubs. I had gazpacho, chile rellenos (better than any I’ve ever had in a Mexican restaurant), and creme brulee for dessert.
We got there about 3:30 yesterday. There isn’t much to do in Volcano. So I sat on the porch of the B & B with a beer. Or two. I had my Kindle, reading Mr. Burnett’s great book. And doing what doesn’t come naturally for me. Saying hello and talking to whoever walked in or out. I met, as a result, two women and their two adopted children. I marvel at how far we have progressed in the last few years when it comes to tolerance for homosexual couples and families. At one point, I chatted with a woman, originally from Sweden, but who has been in this country since the 1970’s — she was looking for the route to Fiddletown, where she had heard there was an old Chinese apothecary with a history. We spoke for 5-10 minutes.
These are the types of conversations I so rarely have. Strangers. Connecting on odd bits of trivia or similar interests.
After dinner, the Queen Midget and I adjourned to the Volcano Theatre Company. Once again, according to Volcano lore, Volcano had the first independent theater company in California. This descendant of that endeavor put on a play Boeing Boeing, a romantic comedy. It was in an outdoor ampitheater. A couple hundred people enjoyed the performance, marred only by one of the leads inability to remember his lines. 😉 Either he had a drink or two or three before the performance, or he was just completely off.
Volcano is the type of place I’d like to spend more time in. Sitting on the porch of the Union Inn. People in these little towns always seem so friendly and open. The lives people live there seem so much more real. Enjoying a little play in a little ampitheater instead of watching a movie in a multiplex. It’s basic and real life. If you have a chance, stop in, have a pleasant meal at the Union Inn. Catch a play. There’s music in the ampitheater every now and then, too. And a chili contest in September. I’m thinking I need to get back there for that.