Party Hard: 1993 Edition

I went to Iowa last week.

It’s my ancestral homeland (dad is from there). It’s filled with lovely people, open spaces, and the occasional blizzard.

Maybe more than just occasional, but still, well worth the trip. I was at the North Iowa Book Bash, and it was simply amazing. People, books, fun. It’s basically heaven (an Iowa thing for fans of Field of Dreams), and it was also the Super Official Release Date for my newest book, A Touch of Frost.

HOWEVER, I would be remiss if I didn’t discuss the kicker, which is this: Clear Lake, Iowa has a BENNIGAN’S.

For anyone alive in the 1990s, Bennigan’s was the place to be across much of the country, featuring (but not limited to)

Beer.

Irish-y stuff.

Fried things.

The Monte Cristo Sandwich.

What’s a Monte Cristo? Allow me to describe it to you.

Take ham, cheese, turkey, cheese, and ham, place in bread.

Dunk bread in batter, like a funnel cake.

Fry.

Serve covered in powdered sugar with a side of raspberry jam.

Yes. It’s that good. It’s so blissfully America I felt the urge to sing patriotic songs and quote Top Gun; it’s a fat bomb of grease and flavor and sweetness that is simply sublime.

Since the Bennigan’s is located in the hotel, we were able to walk through on the way to our author event, thus seeing the Calm Before the Storm.

Little did the staff know they would be inundated with rowdy writers and readers in a short time, as well as shouts for MORE MONTE CRISTO from certain unnamed person(s).

Iowa is beautiful in that heartbreaking way, open tinged with a hint of loneliness when you get outside town. I love it.

There was yet another winter storm on the way when I left, but that’s the Midwest– it ain’t summer until the Fourth of July, and even then the nights are cool enough to remind everyone winter isn’t gone, just resting.

I can’t wait to go back. Every time I visit, I understand why my family returned after decades abroad, and as long as there’s a Bennigan’s, to quote General Douglas MacArthur, “I shall return.”

If you haven’t gotten the new book, here it is, just click the cover to grab one. Hope you love Gideon and Sammie. I know I do.

A Touch of Frost

Cheers!

Terry

 

2018: My First Great Mistake

I made a large bowl of rather excellent pasta, if I may say so. Allow me to walk your through the process, which was chaotic but ultimately packed with flavor and excitement. Let’s begin by discussing the ingredients.

For what I’m calling “Chicken Hilarity”, you will need:

Chicken breast, sauteed in olive oil, salt, and basil. (I couldn’t find the chicken, but realized I’d left it in the car, along with eggs and hummus. Since the temperature was close to 20F, the chicken was almost frozen. I thawed it in the pan while cooking, and it came to a lively sizzle.

Ziti, cooked until tender.

Onions and mushrooms, sauteed in olive oil.

Spicy marinara (I make my own).

Combine these ingredients in a large bowl, cover with fresh Parmesan and crumbled feta cheeses.

As I sat down to eat, several events began to unfold that altered the outcome of my meal.

  1. My son began channeling Linda Blair. The stomach flu hit him hard and fast, resulting in several changes of sheets, a shower, more fresh linens, another shower, and then fitful sleep as we listened from the other room.
  2. Our basset hound, Jack Reacher, injured his front leg whilst playing in the snow. As basset hounds are known for being– let’s say, dramatic– we helped him inside, called the veterinarian, and placed him on the floor under a blanket in front of a heater. The pitiful wretch barely survived, but thanks to our care and compassion, he managed to pull through his minor ankle sprain.

It was at this point that I was able to eat. I consumed, as usual, the entire portion of pasta, which means all of it.

And then I began to feel somewhat. . . uncomfortable.

Could it be the stomach flu? Unlikely. We disinfect everything with maniacal abandon, and my discomfort was completely in my belly.

It wasn’t the chicken, despite being left in the car, because the temperature was WELL below freezing and–

Wait, what day was it? Friday?

I did some calculations. I’d gone shopping on. . .Wednesday.

Thursday, the temperature had been nearly 70F.

I’d left the chicken in the car for two days, not one, and it had been rather tropical in my car.

I write this to you from an undisclosed location, where no one can hear the sounds emanating from my stomach. If you don’t see me at the next author event, do not send help. It’s too late.

Save yourselves. And someone throw away the chicken in the left hand drawer of our fridge. It’s angry.

 

Weight Loss Is Hard

As in, losing weight sucks. There’s nothing good about my cyclical winter re-fattening.

Here’s how it seems to go: Summertime means running outside. Sunshine. Heat. Lots of summer-ish stuff, moving quickly and doing things for the sheer pleasure of being outside because life seems to really pop once the temperature starts rising.

As a kid in Florida, it was always summer. There was no sense of urgency about nice weather, and thus, activity stayed at a reasonable level year ’round.

Enter my move to “The North”. Now, do to the horrors of Daylight Savings Time, it gets dark sometime after lunch. I feel the urge to eat, get under blankets, and allow our herd of pets to camp out on me like a mountain that occasionally moves and snorts. I gain– without fail- twenty pounds. Then, as the winter wears on, I begin my cycle of yearning for seasonal tomatoes and wishing that it would be hot every day. Unlike normal humans, I prefer it to be hot when I run. I don’t know if it’s some latent form of Protestant self-hatred, but running in the summer is far preferable to the winter.

If I were to run in the winter (a nightmare for me), my nose whistles like a failing radiator, and my lungs fill with ice crystals and/or doom.

Oddly enough, I think I write more in the summer, too– one would think that cozy nights inside would cause a flurry of writing. It doesn’t. I eat cookies and feel moderate shame as I reach the end of the Oreos and give serious consideration to going out for more at 2:00 AM.

I’m going to see if there’s a connection between running, sunshine, and my word count. There has to be something scientific, probably a German word that sounds like a threat, which explains why I emerge from the relative gloom of winter and feel like writing, running, and not eating sixty cookies while looking out the kitchen window t the winter stars wheeling overhead.

My bride and I are having ten year anniversary pictures taken, and I’d like to be in peak form for those. I have a little more than two months.

Let the complaining begin.

Waking Up Kids.

There are three species of animals in this house.

Cats.

Dogs.

A manchild. He’s eight. He’s five feet tall and weighs one hundred pounds.

I am, at various times, tasked with waking/relocating these beasts as demanded. Cats are the easist; I make cooing noises in my ridiculous pet voice, they glare at me, flick their tails, and leave.

Dogs are a bit more complex. If it’s cold outside, or raining– then they’re comfortable, and that means they have no interest in moving. I may be required to physically lift and transfer them to another area. I may bribe them with food (usually what I’m eating) or I may coax them on the rare occasions they’re feeling charitable.

The kid is a different story.

For one thing, I feel an enormous sense of wonder watching him sleep. Yes, it’s vaguely creepy to hover over my spawn and keep repeating, “Aww, would you just look at him!”. If he were older, he’d most likely open a baleful eye and ask me to stop making him feel like the subject of a study on overbearing parents.

More often than not, what I feel is guilt. Here’s the kid– five blankets, all strewn about like a crime scene after a hurricane, limbs in positions that would make a Yogi proud, and gusty sighs of contentment. Here I come, ready to disgorge him from this toasty nest and ask him to go to school. I don’t like doing it. I’d rather drink coffee and let the kid sleep, then start school at a civilized hour– around ten would be nice– and do away with the feeling that I’m some cruel warden who works in reverse. Winter mornings are the worst. I certainly don’t want to be up and out among eight hundred screaming kids, why would he?

Today, he slid from bed and thumped across the floor with a half-smile. It took a little of my guilt away. At least until tomorrow, when I have to rouse him again.

Just ten more years, kid. But for now, I might let him sleep for a few more minutes. It’s good for both of us, I think.

The Knock-Down Rain

For lack of a better term, that’s what I’m calling our rain. Because it knocked down every leaf-like structure in the universe.

Up until two days ago, we were in that glorious stretch of weather that makes everything seem possible!

The sun was shining. The breeze was light. The sky, that perfect October blue that faded into the brilliance of stars I’d forgotten were so present. In a fit of achievement, we moved furniture purchased six months ago. 

After removing somewhere between ten and three hundred thousand spiders, the cabinet was ready for positioning, and in that moment, all was right with the world.

Then, the merest hint of rain arrived, and the lawn– now returned to a green splendor not seen since June– became covered with leaves who collectively gave up (quitters!) to land on the ground where they will absorb water until their density is somewhere north of concrete.



You know why people get depressed as the days get shorter? Because they have to rake leaves.
No one in their right mind wants to rake wet, heavy leaves. But here we are, and unless I buy a flamethrower, this is my fate.

In book news, check my amazon page for some .99 sales this week. I just mailed out a stack of goodies to readers, and will do so next month as well. Watch for the next giveaway!

Until the raking is done, I remain,

Terry, Leaf Boy.