David was on his way back from painting in Provincetown and I was happy he stopped for an overnight at my house. How to spend a lazy early-autumn Saturday? How about a walk through the Mount Auburn Cemetery? Criss-crossed with byways named Halcyon Avenue, Primrose Path (yes!) and Oxalis Path, this lovely spot of garden not far from Harvard Square provides the final resting places of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Winslow Homer, Isabella Stewart Gardner, Bernard Malamud, Buckminster Fuller, Mary Baker Eddy and several poets named Lowell, alongside many distinguished others with 19th-century names like Patience, Prudence and Joy. In the full-flush, last hurrah of its seasonal glory, the place never looked so radiant and overgrown as on this warm, late-September day. This simple waterlily pond, with all its shadows and reflections, looked to us like something an idle Impressionist might take a fancy to. We did.
April 23, 2017
My friend Nick bakes up a storm each Easter, always has. And when we lived closer to each other, I was able to enjoy the fruits of his labors more often than I do now. Instead, I either follow his infallible recipes to make these Easter specialties myself, or I try to find them at local Italian markets. This year, 2011, Nick is not only teaching a class in Italian Easter Baking at NYC’s Institute of Culinary Education, but he’s also at home this week making, according to his email, Pizza Rustica, Torta di Ricotta and both salty and sweet taralli. Me, I went to nearby Russo’s and bought some of their Pizza Chiena, a deep-dish olive-oil crust baked with a filling of ricotta, prosciutto, soppressata, Parmesan and more. The list of ingredients is somewhat flexible. Both Nick and my friend Dan each make theirs with heady combinations of Italian meats and cheeses. My friend Michael follows his nonna’s recipe with cheeses only, mostly fresh mozzarella. And when I mentioned Russo's version to a woman who works at my library, she said, "It's fine, but it's not like my mother's." I’ve seen this Southern Italian savory pie sometimes spelled Pizzagaina, which approximates a common pronunciation in Naples dialect. For the real backstory and Nick’s recipe, click here. Any way you make it, or spell it, it says Buona Pasqua.
April 22, 2017
April 21, 2017
April 20, 2017
We here in the Bay State suffer through some pretty tough winters, the last punishing remnants of which often linger through late spring. So when the sun finally does peek out for a few hours at a time, smiles also appear and people go down to the sea, anticipating summer pleasures. This April day I headed to Good Harbor Beach and was not alone. Dog-walkers, high-school kids, other winter-whipped souls were here, too. (I think that I suffer from what I call “Statue of Liberty Syndrome” -- when I grew up in New Jersey, I never visited Lady Liberty because she would always be nearby so why rush? The same is true for me now with Good Harbor. I can walk there...and so I rarely do, especially when everyone else packs the place during the dog days of summer.) I don’t know who lives in this house perched above the rocky seaside shore, but it always reminds me of the home in Long Day’s Journey Into Night. Let’s hope the occupants are better behaved and a bit more upbeat than the Tyrone clan in O’Neill’s original “reality show.”
April 19, 2017
One of the great things about going for an early-morning run while I’m traveling (besides the exercise and the resulting good mood) is that I get to see parts of the city I normally might not see. In Istanbul, I’d run across the Galata Bridge when these fishermen were among the few already awake. Then I’d head up along the southern shore of the Golden Horn into areas not frequented by tourists. (In a park near the conservative Islamic neighborhood of Fatih, I once saw a woman covered in full black burkha, swinging on a playground’s jungle gym!) On another morning, I headed up along the Bosphorus, running through the Dolmabahce Palace gardens, passing only early commuters waiting for the bus. Or I’d run the path along the Sea of Marmara, watching an early-bird swim club climb down the rocks and jump into the currents of these fabled waters. In Paris, I had the early city to myself, running through the grounds of the Louvre, under the Eiffel Tower, all throughout the Luxembourg Gardens. In San Francisco, out through the park to the Pacific or across the Golden Gate Bridge and back. Lisbon, Madrid...even Albuquerque was mine alone as I ran through the university campus long before classes started. It’s a wonderful way to get to know a city’s neighborhoods in an intimate and personal way...and not a tour bus in sight.
April 18, 2017
One of the many nice perks of leaving my corporate job? My time is suddenly my own, to spend in whatever way I choose. Such as at Boston’s first same-sex salsa dance class at the Villa Victoria Center for the Arts just before this Tito Puente Latin Jazz Festival performance. Daniel, Evelyn and Ana were to meet me there between 5:30-6pm for the class. When they didn’t, I partnered with a goodnatured young woman from Berklee College of Music, just as much a novice as I was. The instructor, a vivacious young black man named Vladimyr, put us through our paces, and we were all just fine...until the music started. Then it was the latinos in the class who pretty much showed us gringos how it’s done. Still, in spite of our awkwardness, it was a lot of fun. And when mis amigos puertorriqueños finally arrived (sometime after 8pm), Daniel (in blue and shades) and Evelyn (seen here mid-twirl) announced they’d been “practicing,” which was evident from the way they took to the floor and salsa’d away...without looking at their feet or counting the steps! A miraculously cool break from the week’s heatwave, lots of laughs with great friends and some wonderful sounds from the band Son de Madre. Muchisimas gracias.
April 17, 2017
April 16, 2017
April 15, 2017
Sometimes my friends laugh at me for all the preparation I do in advance of a trip. So what? Part of the pleasure for me is the anticipation, the researching of places I’d like to see, meals I’d like to find. Before I visit a new country, I like to learn what its food is like, to pick up a little bit of the language, to read about sites, hotels, restaurants. I scour Chowhound, TripAdvisor, Let’s Go, Lonely Planet and more. And I check in with friends of friends who are chefs, cookbook authors and recent visitors. How else would I have learned about the Residêncial Alcobia on a quiet block near Lisbon’s Praça de Figueira. Or that Room #501 offers this lovely view of the Castello, glorious each morning at sunrise, gentle and bathed in pastels at sunset. (They also have an excellent breakfast buffet that we enjoyed after early-morning runs along routes I’d mapped out based on other runners’ web recommendations.) How else would I have been alerted to doce de cenoura com laranja, a local carrot jam that made excellent gifts for two of my most food-savvy friends? Or the excellent frango (spit-roasted chicken) at Bonjardim, or the bounteous seafood dinners across the river in Cacilhas? And how else would I have had a wonderful, if limited, conversation with two sisters who were selling their treasures at the Feira da ladra, Lisbon’s famed flea market? “Getting there is half the fun” as the Cunard Line used to say of travel on its transatlantic steamships. And for me, a lot of “getting there” is the prep.
April 14, 2017
Would someone please tell me what this odd juxtaposition of signs is supposed to mean? Yes, it’s Texas, but still. I often think about how confusing it must be for visitors from foreign lands when they encounter some of our local signage. Like trying to follow posted directions from Boston’s Logan Airport into the city proper. Half the signs are missing or have sloppily slid into opposite positions. Welcome and good luck. Even no-text, image-only signage can be a problem no matter where you are. Jay was in Rome’s Fiumicino Airport once and became puzzled by a graphic depiction of an individual rebounding from having run into a brick wall. What, he wondered, could this mean? (As it turns out, this was the airport’s way of indicating “No Exit.” SPQR, folks.) And at the movies many years before that in the Eternal Città, long before I knew any Italian, I walked into the ladies room (signori? signore? so close) and when I realized what I’d done, quickly hid in a stall when I heard others entering and remained there until the coast was clear. At least the weather during that Roman bathroom adventure didn’t seem “severe” in any way.
April 13, 2017
One sunny Sunday morning, I took the bus to Eyüp, an Istanbul neighborhood held sacred by Muslims because Abu Ayyub al-Ansar, the Prophet Muhammad’s companion and standard bearer, is buried there. Filled with relics and other holy objects, his turbe (tomb) is a traditional place of pilgrimage for devout Muslims, especially on Fridays for noontime prayer and before weddings and circumcisions...which is what these young boys are ceremonially dressed for. In the past, the sons of Sultans were treated to circumcision festivities that would last for weeks or even months. Special dishes were prepared, prayers recited, music and dancing devoted especially to this time, which marks a young man’s formal entry into the religious community of Islam. Nowadays it’s all done on a more modest scale. Still, the boy (generally between 2-14) will dress like an Ottoman prince with cape, scepter and crown. Somewhere on his outfit is the word Masallah (“Allah preserve him.”) In advance of the surgical procedure, the children are paraded around on horseback, in carts or cars followed by drummers and clarinet players. After the operation, while the guests feast on lavish fare, the boy is helped to relieve his pain in a special room by means of jokes, music and much gift-giving, including the traditional pinning of gold coins to his clothing. And after a few days when he has recovered, the festivities end. Masallah, indeed.
April 12, 2017
April 11, 2017
April 10, 2017
Look familiar? I love this photo. My wonderful friend Mike took it at his pal Larry’s pig roast one hot and humid July afternoon. I understood the full meaning of “scattered thunderstorms” that day as they hit with alarming regularity on my trip west along the Massachusetts Turnpike. So fierce were the sudden downpours that I had to weave my way around various accidents that had occurred along the high-speed Pike. Once at Larry’s farm, however, a different kind of commotion took over. Pie-eating contests, my first trip in a kayak, “The Polish Boys” who were working for Larry for the summer (one of whom was raking in a little extra cash by dropping his pants for $20 a pop in the garage, just saying), a wide range of people making for a terrific afternoon. And the food, of course. A huge kettle-roasted pig, sliced and served with all the summertime fixin’s you can imagine...and a late-night bonfire to boot! As Mike and I walked around the grounds earlier, we spotted these geese, I had an idea and handed Mike the camera with a quick, “Get ready and wait until I say ‘go.’” Just like Audrey Hepburn did in Funny Face. This is the result. Thanks, Mike.
April 9, 2017
We got up at dawn, trundled into the car and headed from the deserted Saturday morning streets of West Hollywood to a cavernous studio about 30 minutes out of town. The locked chain-link gates opened to let us in...and we were warned not to leave the premises as the neighborhood was “unsafe.” Ah, the glories of shooting a television commercial. Endless setup shots, making sure the lighting is flattering for the product (in this case, Bose noise-canceling headphones), that there are no shadows, that the bottom third of the onscreen frame will allow for a phone number and website to be added later, lots of considerations. The models who showed up looked little like their headshot promises. The demographic mix of passengers in the “airplane cabin” wasn’t varied enough. Someone didn’t like the chair that had been selected. Or the wardrobe. The tracking shot moved too quickly. It’s a wonder anything actually gets filmed. This was a characteristic 16-hour day. And while the “craft service” (aka snacks) was OK, and the catered lunch superb, I still would rather have joined Nick at Alan’s house in Santa Monica that night for Alan’s fabled brisket. Instead, I kept borrowing cellphones to update him and finally to cancel. At around 11:30pm, we wrapped, headed back to our hotel, readied for more of the same the following day. Still, when the beautiful spot was finally finished and broadcast, all of these troubles and annoyances remained unseen, just distant memories.
April 8, 2017
April 7, 2017
April 6, 2017
April 5, 2017
Early on a Sunday morning, not exactly peak time along Hollywood Boulevard, we pretty much had the sidewalk to ourselves. Dali and I were in Los Angeles for a Mystery! press event and we decided to take in some of the sites. I can’t remember whose idea it was to actually lie down on the Walk of Fame, probably Dali’s. No problem. Linda Evans. Ann Miller. Jane Russell. Maybe not our first choices, but we leapt upon the closest ones, not wanting to tempt fate too much by getting down and dirty all over the avenida. Bronze star-plaques embedded in pink and charcoal terrazzo squares collectively make up the world’s most famous sidewalk, and the juxtapositions are often ironically amusing (Lassie next to Ronald Reagan; Garbo next to William Shatner) or touchingly appropriate (Judy Garland next to Mickey Rooney). A quick walkby clearly indicates a recent lowering of standards from the days of Rudolph Valentino, Bette Davis and Gary Cooper. (Shrek just got one? TV how-to pioneer Julia Child does not have one but Destiny’s Child does?) To “earn” a star, then as now, the honoree must appear at the installation ceremony in person -- no exceptions -- often bringing along some nearest and dearest. For example, when Bruce Willis (right next to The Lone Ranger) got his star in 2006, Demi Moore, Ashton Kutcher, Ben Affleck, Kevin Costner, Sylvester Stallone, Don Johnson and Billy Bob Thornton came to cheer him on. And if that lineup doesn’t speak to lower standards, I don’t know what does.
April 4, 2017
Today, a “postcard” from Florence of the Ponte Vecchio and the River Arno, taken from a window in the Uffizi...and a story from my friend and former colleague Lou. He and his wife, frequent visitors to the Tuscan city, were dining al fresco at one of their favorite trattorie, this one in the Piazza della Signoria, steps from the towering (copy of) David by Michelangelo. At the next table, an American tourist couple, the wife of which was fretting over the menu and grilling the waiter. “Do you have diet soda?” “I need something that’s low-carb.” “Do you have any fat-free entrees?” “What can you suggest as a low-calorie choice?” The waiter, a charming but increasingly exasperated Florentine, well-accustomed to tourists but unprepared for this kind of questioning, finally replied, “Signora, this is a restaurant, not a hospital.”
April 3, 2017
April 2, 2017
When I returned from Nogales, Mexico, to South Tucson, I decided to explore. Through residential neighborhoods (guarded by vigilant barking dogs), I made my way to Spanish-speaking South 12th Avenue and La Estrella Bakery, which I’d read was the “Best of Tucson” in a newspaper’s readers’ poll. A counter, a display case, a table with day-old breads, a back area where the baking is done -- this is a no-nonsense operation. Except for the names of some of the panes dulces on sale. Because of Nick’s interest in Mexican baking, I had to buy some: lenguas de suegra (mother-in-law’s tongues), piernas (legs), hebillas (belt buckles), elotes (corn), orejas (ears), coyotes, pig cookies and two kinds of pan de huevo. I headed back outside into the bright daylight where, I realized, I should photograph these sweets before someone ate them. I found a sunny curbstone, spread the pastries out along the opened box and got ready to shoot. Just then, an emaciated, really toxic-looking drunk man shuffled up and asked me why I was “taking pictures of the donuts.” I explained as simply as I could, and then asked him if he’d like one. “No thanks,” he said, “I’m watching my weight.”
April 1, 2017
I wanted to see more than just Istanbul on my first visit to Turkey, so I took an early morning bus from the rainy city to sun-filled Edirne, three hours west, on the borders with Greece and Bulgaria. What drew me here (aside from the thrill of being in Thrace!) was the famous Sinan-designed Mosque of Selimiye that established the architect's reputation when this was the capital of the Ottoman Empire. It was one of the few mosques I visited that had beggars positioned at focal entrances, human reminders of the Qu'ran's commandment to share one's wealth with those less fortunate. In addition to visiting Edirne’s Eski Cami ("old mosque") and a Sinan-designed hamam where I enjoyed a relaxing Turkish bath and a sensational "massage and rough scrub," I also took a walk out of the city to the Beyazit II complex with caravanseri (originally to house visiting pilgrims and their animals), medical school, public soup kitchen, hamam, storage rooms, insane asylum (where the main “instruments of healing” were the sounds of music and water) and mosque proper. Settled out in the undeveloped fields, it gave me a real idea of how most of these mosques I'd been visiting in Istanbul had originally sat upon spacious grounds, their minarets visible to the approaching traveler from miles away. No one was in the Beyazit II mosque when I visited, the prayer rugs were all rolled up and stashed in a niche built into an outside wall. Then, almost out of nowhere, a young man bicycled up, removed his shoes, washed his hands and feet and entered the mosque to pray, one of five times he would probably do so this day and everyday.
March 31, 2017
March 30, 2017
March 29, 2017
March 28, 2017
March 27, 2017
March 26, 2017
One of the great things about living in the Bay State is the wide range of ethnic neighborhoods to be found from Boston outwards. A recent discovery: the Portuguese community in Hudson. Hailing not only from Portugal but also from Brazil and the Azores, the welcoming folks in this small town serve up their culture, their cuisine, their language to anyone who wants to appreciate them. Like me. So when some colleagues offered a lunch to mark my leaving “the corporation,” I suggested a Brazilian buffet nearby. Heidi and Stan seemed game, so off we went. It was simple and satisfying: fried plantains, saucy beans, savory rice dishes, unidentifiable meat stews. But best of all may have been our stop at Silva’s Bakery on the same block where we purchased some amazing rolls (crusty outside, moist crumb inside) and a dazzling assortment of pastéis with fillings that included bean, orange, almond and the flaky, black-topped, egg-rich-custard delight we’d loved so much in Lisbon, the pastel de nata. (As you can see, I bought two of those.) Good thing I snapped this photo relatively quickly, because these beauties disappeared very soon afterwards.
March 25, 2017
There are so many reasons I love Tucson, none more than the heady mix of sacred and profane that blends so easily into the everyday life of this university town just an hour north of the Mexican border. For example, this video store that I pass every morning along my Congress Street running route. I have never seen anyone go in or out in all my years of watching. It sits across a lazy intersection from a heavily barred drive-thru liquor store, scene of occasional “situations.” In spite of a casual facelift, it still looks like the gas station it once was. Diego Rivera would smile, I think, at the miracle of the Virgin of Guadalupe mural along its western wall (complete with a small milagro-filled commemorative shrine.) Then there’s that big VIDEOS boldly emblazoned mid-apparition as if to proclaim modern technology’s own miracle available on demand, right here, right now. In this dry land of rattlers and other serpents, even the snakey green garden hose seems biblically right at home. Oh, sure, the Arizona sun has taken its toll on the mural, fading it with each passing year since it was painted, until its now-pastel hues might seem more at home in Miami Beach than in the Southwest Sunbelt. No matter. The miracle remains.
March 24, 2017
I sometimes wonder why I love to travel alone. Yes, I enjoy the pleasure of a friend’s company at mealtimes and for occasional shared excursions, but the more foreign and exotic my destination, the more I treasure time spent solo. Maybe it’s because I like to immerse myself in the everyday life of the place I’m visiting in a way that tends to make companions impatient -- lingering in Montreal or Mexico supermarkets to see packaging in a foreign language, stopping by the Las Vegas or Miami Beach public libraries, sitting in a Lisbon or Segovia park to see how locals pass their idle time. In Turkey, I became fascinated by Muslim people’s behavior in mosques. Some would be silent and reverent. Others, especially those with young children, would refreshingly treat the vast interior as if it were their living room or the public square. Still more interesting to me were the outwardly secular (uniformed policemen, suited businessmen, et al.) entering and revealing their sacred selves in a personal, devotional way. For me, solo travel also erases the slate, allows me to be whoever I choose to be. No one knows me. One of my favorite memories is of a young man’s stopping me on Istanbul’s Istiklal Caddesi one evening to inquire (in Turkish) the time. When I showed him my watch, he said, “Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were Turkish.” I wasn’t sorry at all.
March 23, 2017
March 22, 2017
March 21, 2017
March 20, 2017
March 19, 2017
Is there anything better than Italian home cooking? No. I still remember the first time I went to my friend Nick’s family’s house for dinner when I was in high school. (I had grown up in an Irish-American home, not known for its fine dining.) When Nick’s mother brought the lasagna to the table, I thought I was in heaven. And then to find out that it was only the first course, that there would be more? Lord, take me now! (It was on a follow-up visit that I offered to serve Nick’s mother some pasta, I doled out a ladylike portion, and she replied, “Jesus Christ! Could you spare it?”) A few years ago, when I learned that my friend Paul’s Sicilian mother made a traditional pasta dish with garlic, parsley and breadcrumbs (symbolizing the carpenter-saint’s sawdust) for Saint Joseph’s Day, I hinted heavily that I would love to try it. The following March 19, Paul was selfishly on vacation in Florida (priorities!), but this year, 2010, he was home and I was kindly invited. What a great night! Paul’s family was a treat, his mother a hoot! And the food! In addition to the pasta c'a muddica, there was a resplendent antipasto spread, stuffed artichokes, frittatas, sausages, Italian bread...and for dessert, zeppole di San Giuseppe (big cream-puff-like pastries with three kinds of filling: whipped cream, pastry cream and ricotta with chocolate chips.) I am always ready at a moment's notice to join the festivities. [UPDATE 3/19/17: Guess where I'll be having dinner in a few hours?]
March 18, 2017
March 17, 2017
My father nursed my mother through a debilitating illness at the end of her long life. And after she died, I waited six months and then asked him if he’d like to take a trip to Ireland. He’d never been out of the country (except for his WWII posts in Japan and New Guinea) and I thought he might want to visit his own mother’s birthplace and some of the locations he’d been singing about for years (ex. Galway Bay.) He did. So I made the arrangements and off we went. Driving south from Dublin and then up the west coast, we approached the famed Cliffs of Moher, at which point my father announced a fear of heights (“I’m afraid I’ll jump off”) and a desire to return to our B&B. He had a point; the cliffs are some 700 feet high and only the flimsiest of cordons is there to prevent you from falling straight down to the Atlantic Ocean below. Delivering my father to the B&B, I soon returned to the cliffs where I encountered this fearless brother and sister, fresh from church and their First Holy Communion. Almost 25 years have passed. I wonder who they grew up to be. And if they still go to Communion. [I post this same photo every Saint Patrick's Day, I love it so much.]
March 16, 2017
March 15, 2017
March 14, 2017
Sharpen your pencils. There’s something about the onset of autumn that always makes me feel good. Maybe it’s the former schoolteacher in me, the tendency toward organization and a tightening of the laziness brought on by summer’s heat and humidity. Even in this medieval Tuscan hilltown I was drawn toward the local schoolbus, appropriately sized for this tiny walled hamlet not far from Siena, still relatively uncrowded when I visited some 30 years ago. I remember a man selling bottles of homemade Vernaccia wine from his open garage. I wonder what changes three more decades of tourism have wrought. I love and am amused by the fact that San Gim is sometimes called “the Manhattan of Italy” because of its 14 towers, though these famed structures were mostly built in the 12th century rather than the 20th. Originally founded by Etruscans and later named after a bishop who defended the town from Attila’s Huns, the town has a rich history and has now been recognized as an official UNESCO World Heritage site. I suspect that the schoolbus and its inhabitants haven’t changed too much as a result of this distinction.
March 13, 2017
March 12, 2017
Do you like kids? Meet Lulu. She and her brother Yuk-Yuk are two baby goats that we met recently when our friends Charlene and Steve adopted them to keep their older goat Pepi company. (After Pepi’s female companion had passed away, he cried for two months until these youngin’s appeared.) Jay was too reserved to hold the little critters, but I wasn’t, and Steve snapped this photo. As I was cradling her, Lulu dug her face into the the crook of my sleeve and at one point began to nibble tentatively on my shirt pocket. I loved it. This was the first day they’d been separated from their mother and they were a bit mouthy, but I’m told that they have since settled in and calmed down, and that the three goats now sometimes even nap together. Charlene and Steve live on a steep piece of rocky land in this Gloucester neighborhood that gives onto the Annisquam River, and they began raising goats not for the milk, not to make cheese, but as a way to keep the invading brush from overgrowing their property. It seems to be working.
March 11, 2017
Paris. City of Lights. City of Eating. Before I’d set off on this winter trip, I did my homework and had made a list of various recommended cheese shops to visit. The hallowed Barthélémy (Catherine Deneuve shops here) at 51 Rue de Grenelle was a small gem, its bounty displayed to suggest a haughty superiority that carries over into its customer service. (When I asked a saleswoman in French if she could help me, her reply was “Perhaps.” She slowly warmed and made some recommendations, all of which I later enjoyed in my hotel room along with some bread from nearby Poilâne.) But the real sampler’s delight is La Fromagerie 31 at 64 Rue de Seine. There in a small cafe attached to the shop, Nick and I were able to taste platters prepared for each of us, a total of 14 excellent cheeses...in addition to our special order of a Vacherin. We were asked first if we liked blue cheeses. Yes. When the plates arrived, we were kindly guided to start at the top and work our way around clockwise, the cheeses increasing in pungency. Comté, Reblochon, Camembert, Pont l’Évêque, Livarot, wonders all. (La Fromagerie 31 offers sampling plates of five, seven or nine cheeses.) A little soup, a little salad, bread, cheese -- our perfect lunch as a rare Parisian snow began to fall.
March 10, 2017
Jay’s parents vacationed in Maine for years before finally building a summer home there on McCurda Pond when he was in graduate school. And that’s where I first met them. I knew that Jay’s father was a cartoonist (he penned the strip Tiger), but I didn’t know that his mother had worked at Vogue (he casually mentioned this to my great excitement as we approached the house) as a photographer’s assistant. When I asked his mother if I might’ve known any of the photographers she’d assisted, she calmly said, “Probably. Cecil Beaton?” (His stylish mother never quite adjusted to Maine after her New Jersey upbringing, claiming that the local poultry man spoke in such a way that she couldn’t tell if he was saying “roaster” or “rooster.”) Over the several occasions we visited them, a routine developed: buying blueberry pies from Dot’s roadside stand, driving to Round Pond for lobsters, sometimes heading to Pemaquid Point to see the lighthouse and climb on the rocks, beaten by the rough Maine sea. On this trip, the fog was so thick we didn’t risk a climb. But we were treated to a misty, evocative early-afternoon scene that suggests some of the wildness early settlers encountered here before “summer people” arrived “from away.”
March 9, 2017
March 8, 2017
On the Dallas-to-Tucson flight, I was seated next to an arguing couple who kept at it for almost two hours. When we landed, she finally said, “Let’s go get a hot dog.” Oh, no! I thought I was the only gringo who’d heard about Sonoran hot dogs, the latest local fast-food rage. Within moments, my beloved friend David (himself a vegan!) had kindly whisked me off to El Güero Canelo for a sampling. (Actually, I ordered a Sammy Dog, distinguished, according to the posted menu, by “two winers.”) Hot dogs estilo sonora: a frankfurter, wrapped in bacon, topped with beans, salsa, mustard and mayo, cradled in a football-shaped soft roll. Pretty darned good. So good, in fact, that I ventured into South Tucson the next day on my way back from Mexico to try the fare at BK Carne Asada y Hot Dogs. You can see what I ordered (good thing I speak a little Spanish): two hot dogs estilo sonora, with all the fixin’s...one I topped with chopped black olives and the other with avocado mayo. Grilled pimientos on the side, por favor. I’d ordered a Diet Coke, but how could I say no when asked, “¿Pepsi está bien?”
March 7, 2017
Come with me to the you-know-where. Eschewing the guided tour organized by the cruise line (in spite of many warnings that Tangier was not a place to wander alone), off we wandered. And it was great. Or at least I thought it was. Jay, who had previously been a-scared of even going to sophisticated Istanbul, blanched when our cruise itinerary changed and suddenly included this Moroccan port. Still, he was a good sport and, I think, trusted that maybe I knew what I was doing. What I was doing was getting lost in the medina, the old Arab section of the city, criss-crossed by dark alleyways and twisty passages that led to nowhere but dead ends. Trying (mostly) successfully to bypass aggressive beggars and “guides” of all ages, we arrived (miraculously) in the fabled Kasbah at the top. And a bit later on our way down again, we found ourselves in a small enclosed square, a woman filling her water jug at a pump in its center. Five paths led from the square and I pointed to one and, hoping she spoke Morocco’s second language, asked, “Fermé?” She pointed to all five in succession and said, “Fermé. Fermé. Fermé. Fermé. Non fermé.” We took the obvious choice and continued without any further snags.