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This past week, one of my husband’s co-workers gave him a bag of Springerle cookies for Christmas.  They were made by some nuns, and in the bag was a little flyer, complete with pictures of the nuns busily baking.  One of the captions said something about the nuns making 1,ooo cookies in a weekend.  “Hah!  Amateurs!”  I thought to myself as I read it.

Ok, I know some of you are thinking I’m crazy.  One thousand cookies in a weekend is nothing to be sneezed at.  Well, let me tell you, I am crazy, along with the rest of the women in my family.  We are cookie crazy.  Every year before the holidays, we all get together and make Christmas cookies.  Hundreds of Christmas cookies.  Thousands of Christmas cookies.  Yep, this year we baked for three days and made four thousand cookies.  No exaggeration.  We keep track on a spreadsheet, so we know exactly how to split them up once we’re done.

And now you’re all thinking that we must be super organized to get all those made in a weekend.  Well, sometimes we are, and sometimes we aren’t.  This year, we did pretty well.  I think we only had to go to the grocery store twice, and only screwed up the nutball recipe twice.  One year we went to the grocery five times, and that was just the first day!  We also tend to get a bit silly – funnels for bras, doughball fights, floury handprints on everyone’s butts, etc. 

 crazy21.jpg

See what I mean? 

A few of the bakers, whose names I won’t mention here, also manage to sneak off to TJMaxx for an hour or so, under the guise of going to pick up some necessary ingredient at the store.  We hand out silly awards on the last day, and take the usual picture of all of the bakers together in front of my aunt’s fireplace.

Then we go home and eat lots of cookies, because that’s the only thing we have room for in our freezers! 

mmmmm-cookies.jpg

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Hey everyone!  I was going to post a technique today, but T needs a few laughs, so I thought I’d share a story.  This one’s for you, T! 

Late one fall afternoon, as I walked into the apartment I shared with my boyfriend, a sense of dread and foreboding washed over me.  I knew instantly that trouble was a-brewin’.  Was it my sixth sense, my woman’s intuition?  NOPE.  It was the sight of my boyfriend, bending over his Li’l Smoky BBQ grill, getting ready to prepare the night’s dinner.

“Oh, are you grilling tonight?” I ask, hoping against hope that he’ll JUST SAY NO.

“Yup, sure am,” he beams, holding up some chicken and a jar of BBQ sauce.

“Great,” I say, trying hard to show some enthusiasm.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s great when the man in your life likes to cook.  The problem lies in the fact that said man is under the impression that he is THE GREATEST GRILL COOK EVER.  He was also under the impression that he was THE GREATEST SAILBOAT CAPTAIN EVER, and we all know how that turned out (see Sailing Vacation From Hell posts if you’re new to the blog).

As the boyfriend readied the grill, I heard a few select curse words waft in from the balcony.

“What’s wrong?”  I ask.

“We’re out of #%$$@ lighter fluid,” he replies.

“I guess we’ll have to cook it inside then,” I say, trying not to sound too excited.

“Wait!  I have an idea!” he exclaims, and runs into the bathroom, then dashes back out to the balcony. 

“I really think that’s a bad idea,”  I tell him.

“Oh no, it’ll work fine, just watch!”  he declares.

“I really, really think that’s a bad idea.”  I repeat.

“Trust me, it’ll be great!” he claims.

Five minutes later, flames are shooting up out of the grill and the boyfriend turns to me with a look of vindication on his face. 

“I told you it would work,” he says triumphantly.

“I wasn’t worried about it not catching fire,” I say.  “I still don’t think it’s a good idea.”

Thirty minutes later, the boyfriend appeared with a big platter of BBQ chicken, and we sat down to eat. I took a big bite of the BBQ chicken and immediately gagged.  I couldn’t get that chicken out of my mouth fast enough. 

 “What’s wrong with the chicken?”  he demands.

After rinsing my mouth out with a few swishes of Chardonnay, I asked him why people added mesquite chips to the coals in the grill.

“Anyone who grills knows that you put mesquite chips on the coals to add flavor to whatever you’re grilling,” he says indignantly.

“Well then,“  I say, “what do you think happens when you dump an entire bottle of Ice Blue Aqua Velva on the coals?!?!  You get Ice Blue Aqua Velva flavored chicken, you idiot!” 

aqua-velva.jpg

Well, the boyfriend just would not admit he was wrong, and ate the chicken anyway.  He got sick later that evening, but kept insisting it was the wine.  I’m sure it was the BBQ/Aqua Velva chicken.

My tastebuds have been forever scarred by the incident, and I haven’t had BBQ chicken since that fateful night in 1989.  

Why is it that important, meaningful promises are often broken, and some silly, insignificant ones are kept fiercely?

There were once four girls who made a decision to spend a summer at the beach.  They each had their own reasons for going: a change of scenery, the opportunity to make some hard-earned cash, maybe even a little romance.    They signed a four-month lease on a small cottage, and headed down in May.  Eventually they found jobs, but only one was lucky enough to find one that met her expectations.  The others floundered around a bit, changing jobs a few times here and there.  

Somewhere along the way, one of the girls met Sean, a gorgeous young man with a cool convertible, and they started to date.  He would come down every weekend with his best friend, and squire the girls around town in his sky blue rag-top.  Their nights were spent clubbing, and their days were spent recuperating on the warm sands of the beach, the surf pounding in the background.  Eventually, one of the other gals started dating the best friend, Frank, a sweet funny guy with his own cool convertible.  Was it true love?  Not really.  Sure, he was nice, polite and thoughtful, but mostly, he was convenient.  You see, she worked six nights a week that summer, and really didn’t get out much to meet decent guys.   After spending so much time together, it just seemed like the natural thing to do.

As the summer came to a close, the young men learned that their company was transferring both of them overseas.  One night, during their last weekend together, Frank pulled his girlfriend aside.

“You know, I’m leaving for Germany next week, and I’ve put most of my belongings in storage,” he said to her.

“I know.  You’ll send me a postcard every now and then, right?” she asked.

“Of course,” he said, “but I have a special favor to ask of you.  I have something very special that I’d like you to take care of for me while I’m gone.”

Crazy thoughts began to whirl in her mind.  Was this relationship more serious than she had thought?  Was he going to try and plant a ring on her finger?  How do I get out of his? She took a deep breath.

“Ok, Frank, what is it?’  she asked.

“Wait right here, I’ll go and get it, he said, scrambling to his feet.

He came back into the room with a bag, and inside the bag was….  

The Pig

 Yep, a ceramic pig.  Lovingly made for him by his grandmother. 

He proceeded to explain to her that she had given it to him as a little boy, and it was one of his most prized possessions.

“I’m afraid to ship it to Germany, and I’m afraid to put it into storage, “  he said.  “I would be devastated it if somehow got broken.  Could you please, please take care of it for me?”

Of course, how could she let him down?  She told him she‘d take care of his precious pig, and promised to guard it with her life.

That was twenty-two years ago, people!!!!!  And yes, I still have the darn pig!!!!  What was I thinking when I agreed to this?  And what was Frank thinking when he gave me the darn thing.  I know what both of us weren’t thinking- we weren’t thinking that I would end up moving seventeen times.  Oh yes, this pig has been a busy pig.  So far he’s had:

Nine Maryland addresses

Three Delaware addresses

Two Georgia addresses

Three Pennsylvania addresses

He’s managed to come through all of these moves with flying colors and nary a chip.  And yes, some men have come and gone.   Some of them have told me just to throw the darn thing away, but I can’t.  I made a promise.  So, poor piggy has been sitting in my basement for the past seven years, carefully wrapped in paper, ready to go in case his rightful owner should appear. 

Frank Moore, if you’re out there….PLEASE COME AND GET THIS DAMN PIG!!!!

One summer evening in ’86….. 

The night was going to be hot and steamy, and so, it appeared, was she.  The crisp white of her form-fitting dress was the perfect foil for her golden tan.  The stunning belt that she had paid way too much for showed off her small waist, and her high heels made her long legs look even longer.  She glanced in the mirror, fluffed her sunstreaked hair, and said “I’m ready”.

She slipped into the driver’s seat of her little MG and headed uptown, dodging in and out of the summer traffic made much worse by the tourists who had no idea where the hell they were going.  The lights along the avenue began to twinkle as the sun set, a subliminal signal to residents and vacationers alike that it was time to put away the beach toys and start the party. 

Was she headed for a fabulous soiree, a night of mingling with the “in” crowd?  A chic gallery opening, hanging with the intellectuals?  Oh hell no!  She was going to see “The Golden Boys” in concert at the Lookout Lounge.  Yep, dear readers, she was all dressed up to go see three middle-aged men dance, sing, and reminisce about the days when they used to be heartthrob sensations.  It seems that Bobby Rydell, Frankie Avalon, and Fabian were out on tour, wooing the middle-aged women that used to adore them, and my boss, being a middle-aged woman herself, thought it would be great fun if we all went to see them.   

When I arrived at The Lookout Lounge, high atop the Fenwick Inn (yes, that was their tagline); I went to the bar to say hello to my friend Greg, the bartender.  My boss and the rest of our party gang were already sitting at a huge table right in front, and the drinks were flowing freely.  Bobby, Fabian, and Frankie came out a few minutes later, and the crowd went crazy.  The Golden Boys put on quite a show, complete with dance contest.  My boss got pulled up on stage as one of the winners, and she was in seventh heaven.

Once the show was over, I headed back over to the bar to chat with my pal Greg for a few minutes.  As I was standing there, someone started softly crooning my name.  “Rebecca, Rebecca.”  I glanced around and didn’t see anyone I knew, so I just continued my conversation with Greg.  Then I heard it again, a little louder this time.  “Rebecca, Rebecca”.  I look around, then happen to notice that Greg is trying hard not to laugh.  “What is so damn funny?” I demand.  He just points his finger in the direction of a low lit booth in the corner, and laughs some more.  There, lounging casually in the dim corner booth is – Frankie Avalon.  He motions for me to come over.  I know, before I even saunter over there, what is coming.

“Hi Rebecca, “ says Frankie.

“Hi, how do you know my name?” I ask.

Oh, I asked Greg who you were when you came in,” he said, smiling.

Note to self:  Kill Greg.

“Did you enjoy the show?” asks Frankie.

“Oh yes, it was very nice,” I say.

Then, he hits me with it.

“I’m having a party in my room, would you like to join me?” says Frankie.

Obviously, originality is not his forte’.

I look at him and say, “Thanks Frankie, it sounds just lovely, but I don’t think so.  By the way, how are your children?  I thought I read somewhere that you have eight.  It was nice meeting you.”

Then, I walked away.  With plenty of hip action.  And there sat Poor Frankie, all alone, in the corner booth, in the dark.

 me-20-years-ago.jpg             the-golden-boys.jpg           my-old-boss-dancing.jpg

Me 20 years ago        The Golden Boys             My boss

poor-frankie.jpg                     greg-i.jpg

Frankie 20 years ago          Greg and I being silly!

Show pics courtesy of my friend Patsy!

Decisions, decisions, decisions.  Yes, dear readers, I’m going to ask you to make a decision, to cast a vote.  It won’t change the course of human history or alter the world’s political climate, but your vote will count!  I have a few stories to tell, so I thought I would give you, my faithful readers, the power to choose.  So, what’s it going to be?

 A tale about them:                                  

 

Or a tale about him:

               

Have I piqued your curiosity?  Have I given you enough information to make an informed decision?  No?  Oh well, it’ll be just like any other election then!  So leave a comment, cast your vote, and the winner will be declared on Thursday!

In other matters, I have been chosen by my sparkly gal pal Margot to receive the Thinking Blogger Award!  What was she thinking????  Check out this post to see.  I am honored that she enjoys my blog enough to nominate me.  Thanks Margot!   Don’t worry everyone, this will not go to my head!  I will not start discussing quantum physics or the theory of relativity.  I think Albert pretty much covered that a few years ago.  I will just try to deliver a well-crafted, humorous story.  As my friend Kriss will tell you, I’ve got a million of ‘em!

For those of you involved in the pocket/card swap, the pressure’s on!  Jan has already sent me her beautiful cards, and g’s has pics of her fantastic pockets and cards posted on her blog:  http://gloriafroese.typepad.com/.    I can’t wait to see what the rest of you come up with!

copyright 2007 Rebecca Peck

Pure unadulterated joy ran through her being as she watched the sun rise, a glowing orb ascending from the water.  Her heart raced at the thought of a new day dawning.  What was it about this day that made her radiate with bliss?  It was the last day of The Sailing Vacation From Hell !!!!! Oh yes, dear readers, I was dancing with happiness that morning, because I knew I would be getting off of this stinkin’ boat by the end of the day!  All we had to do was navigate out of our little cove, hit the open waters, and sail back to Windley Key.  Simple enough, eh?  Ha!  You should know by now that nothing is ever simple when Moby Dickhead is the captain.

After acquiescing to my wishes last night and actually following the chart when we entered Jewfish Cove the night before, this morning Moby Dickhead decides that he is infinitely smarter than the mapmakers.  He is not going to go the long way, he’s just going to sail across that expanse of shallow water and head right out to sea.  I once again point to the tiny numbers that tell us there isn’t enough water for the boat, and he just shrugs me off.

“We can make it, I know we can,” he says.

“Don’t say I didn’t warn you,” I reply.

Well, things go rather smoothly – for all of a minute.  Yep, one minute we’re moving, the next we’re not.  We are firmly stuck in the soft, mucky mire that is the bottom of Jewfish Cove.

Lesson #9:  In many instances, dolphins and most other life forms are smarter than men.

“Well, expert captain, any ideas?” I ask.

“Oh, we’ll just wait for high tide to float us off,” he says, a dead serious expression on his face.

“I hate to tell you this,” I say, “but according to the radio this morning, high tide was an hour ago.  Any more brilliant ideas?”

“I know!’ he exclaims.  “There’s a flag in the drawer down there, let’s run that up the mast.  Maybe some other boat will see it and stop to help!”

I go below and get the flag; he runs it up the mast.  We sit.  We wait.  A motorboat goes speeding by.  We sit some more.  A sailboat sails by.  More sitting.  More waiting.  More boats going by.  After about an hour of this, Moby Dickhead decides on another course of action.  He is going to swim out in front of the boat with the anchor and line, drop it, swim back to the boat, and use one of the winches to pull the boat along the line.  Amazingly enough, it works.  Of course, he has to repeat this procedure about ten times, but we are finally free of Jewfish Cove once and for all.  The bottom of the boat is also finally free of all that nice new paint.

As we sail along on the way to Windley Key, we notice a few speedboats racing across the ocean up ahead of us.  As we get closer, we notice a few more.  All of a sudden, they are blasting across the water in front of us, mere inches from our bow.  It is then that we notice the lovely ESPN helicopter hovering over our heads.  Yep, we have sailed smack dab into the middle of a speedboat race, and we are wreaking havoc on the course.  Speedboats are racing across our stern and bow, trying to avoid us as we putter along.  I am sure if you go to the ESPN archives, you can view some lovely footage of us.

Finally, finally, we manage to get off the course and are heading down a canal back to the marina.  We pull in and tie up, and the nice couple comes out to meet us.  Do they ask us how our trip was?  Hell, no!  The first thing they want to know is why the quarantine flag is flying on the mast.  Moby lies and tells them he thought it was the diving flag.  Of course, it’s stuck up there and we can’t get it down.  He also wants to leave without telling them he lost the anchor and the boat hook. 

“Don’t you think they’ll notice there’s only one anchor left, you idiot?” I ask.

“I guess you’re right,” he says.

He heads to the office to tell them, and before we leave they manage to find a used anchor that will only cost us 125 bucks.  OUCH!  He never mentioned the boat hook.

We get back in the rental car that’s been parked for a week (a colossal waste of money), and find a motel for the night.  Moby wants to drive back to Miami the next day, sightsee, and take me out to dinner for my birthday.  We end up driving all over the Miami area, mostly in parts you don’t want to be in after dark, because Moby can’t make up his mind about the restaurant.  We finally end up eating at a restaurant at a mall, and then he asks me to pay the bill because he has no money.

Finally, Lesson #10: Never, ever go on a sailing vacation, especially on your birthday. 

Epilogue:  For several weeks after the end of our vacation, Moby Dickhead was constantly wondering when he was going to get his $500 security deposit back from the nice couple at the marina.  An envelope came about a month after we got home.  It was a bill.  It seems we had caused damage in excess of the paltry $500 that he had given them. Surprise, surprise.  And yes, there was a $23 line item for a boat hook. I hope all of you have enjoyed my story, and yes, every word is true.  How could I make something like this up?

 copyright 2007 Rebecca Peck

The rays of the morning sun warm her skin as the steady drone of the engine lulls her to sleep.  She dreams of warm tropical nights and icy pina coladas.  A smile flits across her sleeping face as she imagines herself dipping her toes in the warm gulf waters, and listening to the birds squawking overhead.  The birds, however, circle closer and closer, the squawking getting louder and louder.  She starts to run, unsuccessfully trying to elude the harsh squawking of the birds.  Finally, she drops to her knees in the sand, desperately trying to blot out the ear-splitting sound.  Is it a scene from a tropical remake of “The Birds”?  By now you should realize it’s just Day Seven of The Sailing Vacation From Hell!   

Yes, morning dawned bright and sunny as we continued to make our way southward through Big Spanish Channel, headed toward the ocean side of the Keys.  I thought it was going to be a relatively calm day, so I headed to the front of the boat to enjoy the sunshine and take a little nap.  I hadn’t been asleep for more than five minutes when I was jolted awake by an ear-splitting noise.

“What the hell is that?” I yell to Moby Dickhead.

“The boat is overheating, I need to shut the engine down,” he yells back over the din of the alarm.

“The filter’s probably clogged,” I say.   “There’s a lot of grass in this channel.”

Moby Dickhead looks at me as if I have two heads.

“What do you mean, the filter’s clogged?” he asks.

“Don’t you remember when the nice lady at the marina told us about the filter getting clogged and showing us how to…never mind,” I say as I head below deck.

Lesson # 8:  Yep.  You guessed it.  It’s the one about men following instructions.

Moby Dickhead follows me down the ladder, and we take off the cover to the engine area.  I point out the filter, he pulls it out, and yep, it’s chock full of sea grass.  Following my instructions, he cleans it out, puts it back in, and off we go again.  Of course, we have to repeat this process several times, but we finally make it to the ocean side of the Keys. 

We sail along for a few hours, miraculously avoiding lobster pots, submerged piles, and fish with big teeth.  As the sun starts to get lower in the west, we pull out the chart to select a suitable spot to anchor for the night. We settle on Jewfish Cove, a cozy looking spot not too far from where we’re at.  As we lower the sails, Moby Dickhead informs me that he’s just going to cut across the open expanse of water to the left of us to get into the cove.

“We can’t,”  I inform him, “there’s not enough water.  It’s only 2-3 feet deep.”

“Bull shit,” he says. “There’s plenty of water there.”

“That’s not what the chart says, and we are not cutting through there!”  I say tersely.  I shoot him a look that would stop an elephant dead in its tracks.  He realizes there’s no point in arguing, so we take the long way around, just like the chart says.  And so ends Day Seven.