LIVING ON ISLAND TIME, Part 2: “Feelin’ All Right”


English: Tourist shops at Port Aransas, Texas.
English: Tourist shops at Port Aransas, Texas. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

06-03-13

6:30 a.m.

As I stepped out on the patio of the Wahoo, one of the cozy beach homes offered by BeeGee’s Coastal Quarters, the sun was staining the sky a soft gold on her way up. Salty breeze caressed my face as I  sipped espresso from my French roast pot and munched a Cheerios bar. Below the  table, Cousin Beeg’s short-haired, orange-and-white cat, Rusty, wove around my legs and meowed. As I twirled his tail, I leaned back and drank in the serenity of the moment.  I came down here to research Port A, but I would have to wait until the sleeping town woke up.

Chill out, Kim. You’re island time, now.

After washing out my coffee pot in the full-sized kitchen, I dressed in white crops, Skechers, and a black tee-shirt from the 2013 DFW Writers Conference, and grabbed my tote bag. Within minutes, mugginess shrink-wrapped  my body. The black tee, I decided, would have to go.

Around nine a.m., I parked at the Islander, a souvenir and beach shop on South Alister Street,  for a  lighter-weight tee in a cooler color.  Seeing their sale on four tees for $20, I went inside and chose a powder-blue tee-shirt with the logo,  “Port Aransas: Feel All Right.”

“I’m also here to research my next mystery, which I intend to set in Port Aransas,” I told the sales person as I offered her my card.

“Oooh, really? Well, come with me,” she said, leading me to a bookshelf and handing me Images of America: Port Aransasby J. Guthrie Ford and Mark Creighton.

According to information appearing on the back cover of the book, aficionados of  Port Aransas and Mustang Island have Dr. Ford to thank for  establishing the Port Aransas Preservation and Historical Association, and writing the four-volume Port Aransas Historic Series. And hats off to Mark Creighton, a Cornell University graduate, for over 8,000 archived digital images of Port Aransas and Mustang Island.

Recognizing a super source when I see one, I added it to the bill.

After dropping the purchases in my bag and changing into my new shirt in a neighboring restroom, I followed Avenue G to the beach where I shed my Skechers to sink my toes in the sand. It had been too long — January 2009 — since my last beach-fix.  Wet sand and cool water felt heavenly on  tired, sweaty feet!  One thing I have always loved about Texas beaches is that I do not get winded walking on them.  By the time I  walked all the way down to Horace Caldwell Pier and back to my car, I had logged about two miles and sweated off about ten pounds.

Around 10:45, that morning, I returned with face flushed and tummy growling. Time to poll the locals.

“So, where’s your favorite place to eat?”

Avery’s Kitchen,” chimed the Islander staff, almost in unison. They pointed to a blue frame building with white trim, located on the other side of Spanky’s Liquor.  In celebration of the annual SandFest, someone had built a sand castle beside the balcony. The sign outside Avery’s Kitchen read “Keepin’ It Simple.”

“Actually, we’re still serving breakfast, but you’re welcome to wait,” said Meredith, who fixed me up with a tall glass of ice water, a menu, and a copy of the South Jetty, Port A’s newspaper.

“Great! What is the best thing you serve?”

” Breakfast or lunch?”

“Both, really.”

“Well, our egg platters are really popular, particularly the corned-beef hash-and-egg one. For lunch, our hand-breaded fish and chicken-fried steak are good, too.”

My mouth watered. “Is the owner here where I could speak to him?”

“Sure! Just be careful back there. It’s slick.”

When I pushed through the swinging door, owner Avery Hernandez was covering a vat of cole slaw. After i shook his hand and introduced myself, I got him talking about his food.

“We hand-bread all of our own fish. And I make my own corned-beef hash. Basically, we serve comfort food.”.

“Yum! Here’s my card. While I’m here, I might grab some breakfast.”

“Sure,” he said. “In fact, I’d like to buy your dinner.”

As I dug into the corned-beef-and-eggs platter, my mouth told me this was not the  run-of-the-mill canned stuff. No siree-Bob! As Avery himself said, he had cooked the corned beef, chopped it, and mixed in potatoes. It went down smoothly with two eggs over-medium,a homemade biscuit with strawberry jam, and coffee.

Not only was the breakfast blog-worthy, so was lunch. Avery’s fish-and-chips, advertised on a blackboard outside, was $7.95. Having eaten fish and chips  at Long John Silver’s and Captain D’s, I asked Meredith about how Avery fixed it.

” It’s grouper, freshly-caught and hand-breaded.”

The grouper was so tender that it self-destructed in my hand. No “fake” fish, here.  The fries were so well-seasoned that I needed no additional salt.  Chunky cole slaw in a light, not overly-sweet dressing complemented the meal..

I was wiping my mouth and shoving my plate aside when Meredith approached me, again. After pouring more ice water, she pointed to a table where a cake and bowls were set out.

“When you’re ready for dessert, you’re welcome to a complimentary piece of our lemon cake.”

When I finished the square of cake — satisfyingly tart and sweet and just the right portion —  I paid for my meal and waved my thanks.

. “I will be back!”

Still on my agenda, the marina and the Chamber of Commerce. I had a lot of ground to cover in three days.  This was only Day One.

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THE ” ‘I DO’-PLEX”: Secret to a Happy Marriage?


Duplex home
Duplex home (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

03-18-2013

Today, a friend and I  met for lunch. I hadn’t seen her since she married — again.

“Where are y’all living, now?” I ask, sipping my tea.

“We live in a duplex.”

“Oh? How do you get along with the neighbor?”

“Fine,” she said,  smiling drolly. “He’s my neighbor.

“Whoa!” I  catch the tea  spewing from my nose. “Gotta wrap my head around this. You’re saying that you…and your husband….”.

” We live in a duplex,” she says, with a nod. “He lives in A. I, in B.”

“So,” I asked, in my best Dr. Phil impression. “How’s that working out for you?”

She wiggles her eyebrows. The naughty-girl from within lights up.

I lean back and shake my head.

 No way could my man talk me into  that. To me, marriage equals one husband, one wife, one roof.

“So, where do you sleep? On your side? Or his?”

“His. Mine. Depends.”

“Intriguing!”

She leans forward. “All right, here’s the deal. He and I love each other, right? But our differences could  be game-changers. I’ve gotta have my fur-baby; he’s allergic to dogs. If we buy a duplex and each take our half, I get to keep my dog where I want.”

“And you’re living in a duplex for that reason alone?”

She shakes her head. “Not all. I also have a bazillion pictures of kids and grand-kids on my walls. Having my own space allows me to keep them that way.”

“And we decorate differently,” she adds. ” Look up minimalist in the dictionary and there’s his picture.  Me?” She winks. “Girl, you’ve seen the way I live. I’ve got some big-honkin’  furniture. And I like my stuff where I can see it.”

“It’s the best of both worlds,” she concludes. “Togetherness and me-time. He’s got his man-cave. And I have my chick haven.”

The server appears. “Separate tabs for you ladies?”

When she reaches for her check, I  shoo her hand away.

“Nah, this one’s on me. You just gave me an idea.”

Sounds like a plan to me.  What part of it works for you?

HUMOROUS HOW-TO’S, Part 28: “Dirt: It’s What’s For Dinner”


a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, top slice ...
a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, top slice of bread turned clockwise to show the peanut butter and jelly filling (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12-27-12

“It’s gooooood, y’all…” says Paula Deen of any recipe full of butter or bacon. Well, make way for a new favorite ingredient, as Melissa shares her culinary secrets to making the perfect midnight snack.

MIDNIGHT MUNCHIES

Have you ever woke up in the middle of the night and craved a midnight snack? The perfect snack is a peanut-butter-and-jelly sandwich, also known as a PB&J.

There are certain ways to make a PB&J. You must be real precise to get the perfect sandwich. First thing first, you must pour yourself a huge glass of milk, but make sure it’s spoiled. You want the perfect balance of sweet and sour; the more curdled the milk is, the better. Also, make sure you pour it in a dirty, used glass. The dirtier, the better. You want to make sure you do this important step first because you definitely don’t want cold milk straight out of the refrigerator. You want it at room temperature, nice and lukewarm. The second step to making your delicious PB&J is to get two slices of bread; if you don’t have bread, you can use hamburger buns, hot-dog buns, or even two pieces of paper. Anything will do actually to hold in all of your ingredients in sandwich formation. The next step you want to do is get out your peanut butter and take a huge scoop out, but make sure you use your hands! Otherwise, the sandwich won’t taste right. Spread around the peanut butter (still using your hands) but don’t wash your hands, just yet. Go outside and rub your hands in the dirt, then come back to your PB&J and rub one more layer of peanut butter with your hands. You really want to get that extra crunch from the dirt particles. It makes it delicious. You’re almost done with your PB&J. At this point, you need to cut your sandwich in half, put it on a serving plate (if you don’t have a clean one, then don’t worry about it. A dirty dish is perfectly fine), and make sure you eat all of it. You better make enough for everybody, or boy, will they be jealous!

So, what’s your favorite secret ingredient?.

HUMOROUS HOW-TO’S, PART 21: Warning, Ideas Ahead!


English: Red Pinterest logo
English: Red Pinterest logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12-22-12

“I’m just going to check my email, and then I’ll get to work.”

Happens to many of us, these days.  Let’s face it, technology’s exciting stuff.  As if Facebook or Twitter aren’t distracting enough, along comes Pinterest. Here is my next guest, Jolenna with her thoughts.

HOW TO SPEND MORE TIME THAN YOU THOUGHT YOU HAD ON PINTEREST

Pinterest is to time what a dryer is to socks – it’s a worm-hole to another dimension. It’s a whole new loop in the space-time continuum. It’s the land of the creative ideas, simple recipes, photos, science, and things that make you smile. You name it and there’s a picture of it here. Most people don’t realize this when they first start using the site; others — like me — were warned but were unbelievers. Notice I use past tense here. Once you begin, you believe.

In case you were wondering, Pinterest claims to be just a website. It looks ordinary and harmless. You would never guess it’s a window — no, no — a doorway — no, even more –it’s an invitation with a magic-carpet ride into that other-world-like dimension. Their disclaimer simply says “Pinterest is an online pinboard. Organize and share things you love.” What could possibly be wrong with that? How could that be the least bit dangerous to your schedule? Yes, I hear the doubt in your voice. I hear the assurance that “it can’t be that bad”. Maybe you’ll start to understand a little of what I mean when I explain how Pinterest is best used.

So, of course, you go to the above website and you create an account. Then, you look around. Under the word Pinterest at the top of the homepage, you’ll see options. Usually at least four are listed, categories — everything — popular — gifts. However, for a limited time, only another option is listed, “30 Days of Pinspiration”. On your home page, you create a “board”. If you’re not sure of what kind of board you might like to have, then you can find your friends that are using Pinterest. Oh, yes, they may not admit to you where they came up with the tasty recipe you loved at the potluck, or share any of their home-made candles, but now you’ll know. You can have a board about anything and everything.  Food? Why stop at just one board? I have eight for food alone. Cute puppies,kittens,  and barn animals? Yes, yes, and yes. Create a board for it,and then another,  and then another because it deserves more than just one. Books you’ve read, are interested in reading, or just like the title of, and put it on a board.  Interested in flowers? Of course, create a board for flowers. But, then, as you’re looking for flowers, you’ll realize you like the layout for a garden, maybe a garden bench, or an item in the garden. Well, then, doesn’t all that deserve its own board?  And, of course, as you’re looking at the gardening, there are the supplies. You’ll need compost, fertilizer, mulch, bug repellant for the plants and yourself. Maybe all that gets its own board, but maybe you’ll combine your garden shed needs with other helpful tools that you didn’t realize you needed until you saw them here. You don’t want to use poison on the garden or on yourself, so why not make your own bug sprays? Yes, now you can. But wait, there’s more. Since you’re now making your own natural homemade bug sprays, maybe some of these supplies can be used to make other things. Yes, yes, they can, as a matter of fact. You can use the essential oils in everything from candles to body scrubs to lip balms. Chapstick? No, thank you. Who knows what chemicals are actually in that? Your stuff will be so much better because you know what’s in it. But it’s not just your lips that are chapped; no, your skin is drying out, too, so why not make some body lotions, body butter, body scrub, and even your own shampoo?

Need a gift for any occasion? You’ll find so many ideas and neat things to make that you’ll start inventing holidays to give them away. It’s not just the gifts you’ll see and make, though. No, this is Pinterest, home of…everything. Make your gift, make the gift wrap; learn to be the perfect host; add a sprig of something seasonal; make the perfect card or poem to go with it ,and then make a few extra for those last-minute gift-giving moments that sneak up on you.

As you can see, Pinterest is a fun step…no, leap…into the webosphere. It’s a powerful tool that can be addicting as the sugar-filled recipes you’ll find there. I have shown you but a glimpse of Neverland and have posted the “here there be monsters” sign. Use this knowledge wisely.

HUMOROUS HOW-TO’S, PART 20: AN OMELET TO DIE FOR


English: A generic version of Pepto-Bismol, ba...
English: A generic version of Pepto-Bismol, back view. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12-21-12

“How do you like your eggs?”

A common question. Sous-Chef Bernice has an omelet that will start your day with a bang. An omelet to die for.

You’re on, Bernice!

TO PREPARE AN OMELET OR NOT TO PREPARE AN OMELET

When you start your morning, it is important to eat a good, healthy breakfast. As you continue reading this, you will find a very simple and delicious omelet recipe. The step-by-step recipe will havve you out in no time and your family will think you are a professional cook.

Before you get cooking, it is always a good idea to clean your kitchen; eggs can be messy and a clean surface will ensure a healthy omelet. Collect all the ingredients before you start so you won’t have to walk away from the flame. The ingredients that you will need are one-month-old aged cheese, snake eggs (for smaller portions), ostrich eggs (for larger portions), road-kill (any variety you run across), expired milk (the chunkier the better), salt, and pepper to taste. Although this process will require a road trip to find the very best qualities of meat, by the time you are ready for preparation, it will be easy and fast.

First, you will have to go to the supermarket and buy the off-brand, extra-sharp cheddar cheese.  Once you get home, you will need to place the opened cheese on top of the refrigerator. This will allow the heat from the refrigerator to process it much faster. Next, you will buy the milk and let it sit out on top of the counter so it can be warm and sour; microwave for even faster expiration. The third step is to go and find a snake’s den in a wooded area. You can easily find them in a wet, dark area. Be sure to bring antivenom with you for the experience. You can also use ostrich eggs if you need to make larger portions and you can find them online. Last, but not least, the road kill. You can go out for a nice walk in your neighborhood and find squirrels, cats, and/or birds, whatever sounds good to eat. My preference is squirrel, so the meat has a hint of a nutty flavor, and it’s a very lean cut of meat.

Once you have all the ingredients, it’s time to start cooking. Get a bowl and make sure it’s large enough to fit all the ingredients. In the bowl, you will put the egg(s) and mix it with a handheld mixer for about two minutes. Be sure to do this near a sink as the smell might cause a stomach reaction. Then, you will add a fourth cup of spoiled milk. If it’s chunky, it’s okay; it will taste much better. Make sure you you mix for quite a while. Now you will place the diced squirrel meat and the aged cheese and fold them into the wet mixture. Have a hot skillet with oil prepared. Pour about a fourth of your omelet mixture into it. After two minutes, you will turn the omelet over and finish cooking for an additional minute. Place the finished omelet on a plate and garnish with fresh cilantro.

If you dare serve this delicious and simple recipe to your family early in the morning, they will have enough energy to last them the whole day. Just remember, you will only need aged cheese, spoiled milk, road kill, eggs, salt, and pepper for the gourmet meal.  Enjoy, but one more item you might need is Pepto Bismol, as the togetherness will be centered, not around the kitchen, but around the bathroom.

****

So, what do you like in your omelet?  Western Diamondbacon or Emu Lite?

HUMOROUS HOW-TO’S, Part 19: DISCOURAGING “DUTY” DATES


Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, unmasked i...
Sebastian Shaw as Anakin Skywalker, unmasked in Return of the Jedi (1983) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

12-20-12

Ever get fixed-up by a friend? To paraphrase Dr. Phil McGraw‘s famous question, “How did that work out for ya?” To follow is Amber’s advice for honoring a friend’s good intentions without getting stuck with a mis-match.

The floor’s all yours, Amber!

HOW TO HAVE A DATE YOU WILL NEVER FORGET

All right, ladies, you know we all have got sucked into a date which our friend set us up on. We could think of a thousand places we would rather be than on a date with that guy you meet at last year’s holdiday party. The guy who talks about his work at a comic-book store and he is always asking you what you think about Darth Vader being Anakin’s dad. Sure, we can tell him we are sick or that we died in a sudden car accident, but if we ever see that guy, he would think of you as a liar. For the sake of your friend and to be kind, you agree to go on the date. You want to make sure he does not ask you for a second date and you don’t have to be mean by saying, “Hell, no!”.

When  he calls to set up the date, make sure that, while you are talking to him, you start making a slurping noise in between every word, so it sounds like you have some kind of drooling problem. As you’re taking down directions to the place where you are going to meet, start yelling at your pretend kids and make up some country names like Joe Bob, and Earl J.R. Tell the pretend kids to put that spray paint and lighter down. That is the first phase– make him think you have kids that are not well-behaved. If you are lucky, he might not even show up, but if he does, we have a phase for that, too.

Keep in mind, when picking an outfit, to make sure he does not find you attractive. So wear something like an old lady would wear: a brightly-colored moo-moo and flip-flops would be the best thing. Try to stink. You could rub an onion on yourself and pray he hates onions, and eat a lot of garlic and do not brush your teeth. Your hair needs to be messy; go ahead and rat it with a comb and put it in a half-ponytail. Don’t wear any make-up, so all of your blemishes can really show. If you don’t have any, make some.

When you arrive 45 minutes late to the restaurant and he is still there, tell him that the kids’ dad just got out of prison today, and that’s why you were late. When your menus come, make sure to order the most expensive thing; go ahead and order two of them and let the date know you ordered the other one for Earl Jr.’s dad. After the meal, start picking your teeth with your pinkie while making a high-pitched sucking sound. If this guy has not bolted, by now, grab your to-go box and allow him to walk you to your car. This is the part when you will have to be fast; as he opens the door, jump in, then turn  the radio up where, if he does ask you for a date, you can act like you do not hear him.

You may think that all of this is a little crazy, but you will thank me, later. You will know, as you’re eating your to-go-box dinner on your couch, later that night, that you did the right thing. You went out with the guy like your friend asked, so she is happily laughing at you. You helped the guy’s self-esteem; he is thinking what a stud he is because he had a date. You are happy because you got to eat another piece of that wonderful cheesecake, and went on a date you will never forget.

**********

So, readers, back to you. Have you ever gone out on a fix-up date? How did it work out?

HUMOROUS HOW-TO’S, Part 5: Breaking Up Is Hard…or Is It?


Cover of "Date Night"
Cover of Date Night

08-22-2012

After Emily and I traded chocolate-chip cookie recipes, Jessica instructed me on the best way to break up from someone.

THE BREAK-UP GAME

Have you ever found yourself bored in your relationship? You just want to call it quits and move on with your life? You want to break up with your mate, but don’t know the appropriate time of day to tell them? Well, here’s a way to get out of it with your sanity still intact. This way they’ll break up with you before you get a chance to and without them knowing that it is over. Instead of being rude and just ignoring the poor soul, why not wait until date night?

First, when you and your mate arrive at your destination (the movies), make a big deal about where to park and complain that it’s too far from the entrance. This will most definitely put your plan into action. When exiting the car, walk behind your mate at a distance, making the excuse that you feel butterflies in your stomach, and that it might be gas. Once inside, inform your mate that you have no money and that it’ll be your turn to pay next time (even though you’ve already used this excuse three times before). This will surely get your mate’s brain sensors blaring, but who cares? You’re breaking up with him, anyway, just letting them do the work. When walking into the theater, stop and make conversation with every person you might know, telling your mate to wait for you. Knowing that the movie has already started will get your mate’s patience bomb ticking. Walking into the theater, if your mate wants to sit somewhere in particular, complain and make a big deal, suggesting that both of you should sit somewhere you want to sit so you can see better. Of course, during the movie, munch very loudly on your snacks, sip your drink uncontrollably, and never offer any. This will get your mate’s blood boiling, most definitely. At this point, I’m sure the other guests around you will be getting a bit annoyed and disturbed along with your mate, but you shrug it off like you don’t even notice or care. Another key point in making your plan work smoothly is laugh out loud at every part of the movie, whether it’s funny or not, then whisper to your mate that you’re going to the restroom and take a long time to come back.

When you finally do come back from the restroom (when the movie is practically over), “accidentally” step on everyone’s feet coming down the aisle, including your mate’s feet. At this point, there will be no going back or changing your mind. You’ve ruined you and your mate’s date night and, of course, they are very angry with you, but you don’t care because your plan is rolling out like pizza dough. Now it is time to inform your mate that you have already seen the movie, and start quoting parts that you know, out loud. At this time, right before the ending of the movie ends, you tell it! You tell your mate the whole ending of the movie, not caring. Your mate is furious with you; the movie has ended, and your mate has already put their own little plan into action. You know already that the relationship hasn’t been working out, and you both want something different. You both are walking to the car (pick a fight over anything that comes to mind). Argue over what station to listen to, say mean and hurtful things, to add to the finishing touch on “Operation Breaking Up, Not Making Up”. You’re feeling like an absolute genius and feel no remorse for what you have done, but on the outside you’re playing it cool and nonchalant. Your mate drops you off and you’re waiting for those four magical words, “we need to talk”.  You’re beaming from ear to ear on the inside, but he or she have not said them yet, so on the outside you’re feeling a bit confused. Pulling up to the house, you’re getting out of the car and they get out, too. You both walk to the door and you’re thinking “Oh, my gosh, what is going on?”

At this time you will ask yourself two things: 1. Did they even get the memo that it is over? You ruined date night trying to secretly break up without them knowing and making them do the work. 2. Will you have to put your plan back into action another time? Obviously, at this time, question two is happening and they’re not ready to break up over one bad date night. Silly you to believe that they would.

Then you are hearing those last words for the night: “See you later” and you both hug each other and walk away. you will be standing there looking like a lost puppy and feeling like a complete dunce, annoyed and confused on what went wrong, you ruined everything and you are mad the brilliant plan was a waste of time and energy. You basically told them, without telling them, to kick rocks, that the relationship is a waste of time, and that it is over, but they didn’t catch the hint. But, hey, I just gave you a way to do the job. I never said that it would work.