In Which I Bring Two Entirely Unrelated Topics Into One Blog Post

You know how you open up the newspaper every morning (you do open up a newspaper every morning, don’t you???) and read it and then shake your head and complain, “There’s never any good news. Why don’t they print any good news?”  You know news people say that this happens because “good” news isn’t news since good things happen all the time and we’re only startled by “bad” news that’s outside of the norm. But we all know that “good” news can be as rare as … well, say, a coffee shop owner remembering that he overcharged a customer on her previous business and so without asking gives her her favorite drink for free on her next visit. That just happened! To me. And I wrote about it in my weekly newspaper column. Just, you know, to sneak a little good news in.

Spring’s arrival means several things: 1) Horror as we peel off our wool socks and take a look at our feet for the first time in months — emergency pedicure! 2) All basketball all the time as March Madness takes over — although my bracket is sinking so low that it’s fallen off the listing at the online bracket-game I play. And 3) we start inexplicably hungering for such treats as fresh tender asparagus and juicy sweet strawberries. In my weekly newspaper food story, I found out when spring arrives at local farmers’ markets and previewed what to look for — and when — although we’re lucky here in northwest Alabama since we’ve got Jack O’Lantern Farms, a hydroponic farm which grows lovely fresh veggies year-round. I’ll bet there’s someplace close to you where you can get a taste of spring soon.

Come Fire-Hoop with Me. Also: Laura Bush Stole My Tomatoes

Today was the sort of day which makes me glad for the blogosphere, as most of my friends in Real World already are incredibly tired of hearing this story and so I get to bore and test the patience of share this with y’all sweet people in Blog World. Anyway, this is the story of my Very Strange Day that started out weird, got better and then ended up with Laura Bush — yes, the Mrs. President Laura Bush — stealing tomatoes from me.  You just never know.

The morning kicked off great. I woke up — always a good sign. For once it was not already 91 degrees outside by 6 a.m. and was, in fact, quite pleasant. Plus, I’d made Toddy (cold-pressed coffee) overnight and it drained perfectly for a smooth and fresh first cup of the day. Then the weirdness began, because then I powered up the laptop, logged onto Facebook … and saw a video of Older Daughter hooping with fire. Hooping. With. Fire. She’s a talented and skilled hooper, teaches several hooping classes and even makes and sells hoops with her husband. All that I know. I did not know, however, that you could actually set fire to your hoop and then hoop with it. I think I wish I still didn’t know you could do that. Older Daughter assured me, however, that she’d gone through an intense fire-safety class beforehand and there were bunches of people standing around with a fire extinguisher, a fire blanket and several wet towels. I was not reassured.

However, after that my day improved immensely. Despite me yelling at her over the phone — “Why would you think that hooping with fire is a good idea???” — Older Daughter brought 2 1/2-year-old Capt. Adorable over while she got her hair cut. The Captain and I ran up and down the backyard, tormented the kitty cats (at least, he tormented while I protected) and ate blueberries with grilled-cheese sandwiches. After they left, the magic kept rolling. I went to get a pedicure and didn’t have to wait one single minute. Then I used coupons to get freebies at a couple of my favorite mall stories and racked up some bargains in the Belk clearance rack — I don’t care what my husband anybody says, $65 for a dress and three tops is pretty good.

And then things got weird again, because we’re coming to the part where Lara Bush stole my tomatoes. All day I’d been looking forward to stopping by the farmers’ market this afternoon to pick up some heirloom tomatoes. I love these heirloom tomatoes. They’re so full of flavorful tomato goodness, I can’t even tell you. I’d run out of my latest batch a couple of days ago and couldn’t wait to replenish. But, no. No heirloom tomatoes anywhere at the market. That I could see, anyway. And when I asked Steve, the owner of the market, if he had any of these tomato treasures stashed away, he sorrowfully shook his head and pointed to a long list pinned to his bulletin board. I knew Laura Bush was coming to town to speak at a fund-raising dinner. I did not know that the chefs preparing the dinner had asked Steve to save all his best things for the menu — including my heirloom tomatoes. Hence — and how often do you get to use the word “hence” anymore? — Laura Bush stole my tomatoes. But I still think she’s a nice person. A stealer of tomatoes, but a nice person.

Shameless Self-Promotion

I am not one to use my blogging space to shamelessly market and promote my other endeavors … I mean …. to try to convince you to read my things I actually get paid for … uh … I mean … to try to up readership of my other online articles … oh, what the heck … Here is a food story I did today for the TimesDaily on a cool and refreshing no-cook fresh-vegetable salad — http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100728/ARTICLES/307289999 — and my latest weekly newspaper column, http://www.timesdaily.com/article/20100723/ARTICLES/307239995, which is about my 2-year-old grandson Capt. Adorable and I learning how much fun it is to drop globs of Play-Doh on the floor and squish them flat with our feet. His mommy was not amused. Okay, the commercial is over. We now return to your regularly scheduled blogging.

Food

I love food that comes in shapes — makes eating all that much more fun, you know? Yes, I know that marks me as holding on to my inner toddler. That’s why I’m so glad  I’ve got Captain Adorable, my 18-month-old grandson, around now so I’ve got an excuse toHalloween marshmallows Heart sandwiches  appreciate goodies such as these ghost-shaped marshmallow/graham cracker cookies and these heart-shaped peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches. Actually, the cookies are from the dessert and bread chef at Crocodile Ed’s, a newly opened restaurant in Florence, Alabama, http://www.crocodileeds.com. She makes delicious breads, cakes, pies — and handmade marshmallow/graham cracker cookies — that she sells from the restaurant and at the Jack O’Lantern Farms market on Thursdays and Saturdays, http://www.jackolanternfarm.com/. Her Apple Ring (what I call an apple tart) is beyond marvelous, believe me. And the peanut-butter and jelly sandwiches? My daughter, Capt. Adorable’s mother, made them for lunch for me and the Captain one day. I did share!

Random Thoughts

honeycrisp-apples-001Random thoughts and things-to-do on this gorgeous fall Saturday morning:

1) Go to Jack-O-Lantern Farms market on the TVA reservation in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and buy some more fresh and delicious Honeycrisp Apples (the two less shiny-red apples in the photo). Honeycrisp apples are exactly as described — like taking a crisp and juicy bite of honey. They’re only available right now, so eat up. Check out the market at http://www.jackolanternfarm.com/. It’s open today from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

2) Watch the Alabama/LSU game on TV today. It makes me remember the night my husband and I accidentally stayed in the same hotel with the Tiger Pimp Nation. It was scary — literally. The Tiger Pimp Nation is made up of … well, intensely enthusiastic LSU fans who adopt these sort of characters, complete with clothes, jewelry, cars and women. The setup is so elaborate that they only travel to one away game a season. John and I encountered them in Memphis this past year after the Ole Miss/LSU game in Oxford. So, imagine rabid LSU fans combined with Beale Street. It was quite an experience. Not easily forgotten, although we have tried. Desperately. Check out the Pimp Nation at www.tigerpimpnation.com. And believe me, what you see there is real.