All posts for the month May, 2017

Pizza dough, bubbling away. Guilt rising, but it won’t stop me.

Published May 30, 2017 by The Merida Review

I have pizza dough sitting on my counter with a faint tinge of guilt staining it. I am forever trying to lose weight. I look better when I’m thin. Face it. I guess there are also health benefits, or that’s what they say. But I’ve been trying to lose weight for so long that I have an automatic guilt-o-meter in my head that weighs every bit of food I put into my mouth. (It doesn’t stop me from eating it, mind. Just makes me feel guilty about it.)

I had dabbled in pizza making in the past, but it’s so much easier to pick up the phone and order, isn’t it? When I moved to Mexico, however, I had to learn how to make my own pizza in self defense. Pizza down there (in Merida, anyways) is pretty bad. No, not pretty bad. Really bad. Awful. Horrible. I spent 10 years trying to recreate pizzas from home, and got pretty good at it. I also figured out that it’s a really cheap food to feed friends when you invite them over, as long as you have the kind of friends who bring along the booze, so I could afford to entertain on a poet’s salary. We had many a pizza night. Fond memories.

When I moved back to Ohio, I really looked forward to hanging up my pizza apron, and exercising my dialing finger again, but something has happened. I haven’t had one delivery pizza that’s as good as what I make myself. I even ordered from my old favorite place (granted, I was gone for 10 years) and the flavor was there, but it was underdone. Limp, soggy crust. Damn. What’s happened to the world?

And then Serious Eats came along. Or rather, I stumbled over their recipe for a deep dish pizza, which had been out there in the world for a couple years, but I didn’t know it. Here’s a link, if you’re curious:

I went out and bought a cast iron skillet at the flea market, just to try the recipe. I think it was because the photo looked so good. I am vegetarian, so instead of pepperoni, I like onion, black olive and banana peppers. And there’s only me. The pizza is best when it’s hot from the oven, the crust has a texture then that’s so good. So I (without any math skills whatsoever) guessed my way down to a one meal and a piece or two leftover recipe, basically it’s 3/4 of the dough recipe, and I cut that in half, and make 2 pizzas on 2 different days. It fits my little 8 inch skillet (it says 8 inch on the bottom of the pan, I didn’t measure it) and would probably feed two if I didn’t eat with such wild abandon.

But it still doesn’t fit into my diet. I gain weight every time I make it. (I am a compulsive weigher.)

Let me add in here that I live 2 blocks away from an ice cream place and I haven’t allowed myself to eat any ice cream from it in a year and a half. Is this any way to live? Gees.

Yesterday morning, however, I decided I deserved some pizza and I whipped out the bowl and the flour and yeast before I could talk myself out of it. And it’s right there. It’s doubled in size. Pizza for breakfast maybe? No, lunch would be better (the dough has to rise in the skillet for 2 hours, so duh).

You just don’t want to be around tomorrow morning to listen to me whine about gaining weight. What a crazy society we live in! Why couldn’t I have been born in an age where fat was appreciated, hey? I could do that one really well, I’m sure. I mean, if the admired physique was short and dumpy, I would have it made!

Yeah. I am eating pizza today. Just saying.


An ode to my dog Lucy

Published May 21, 2017 by The Merida Review

A few years ago (it’s a long story), I ended up adopting this decrepit looking elderly miniature poodle. The vet knew how to push my buttons, it was me adopting her, or her getting put to sleep. I didn’t realize then that most of her teeth were missing. I wondered why she wasn’t eating anything for a few days, and then I managed to look inside her mouth. Oops. Emergency canned cat food and a few google searches later (what do you feed a dog with no teeth?) and we managed to work out our system, dry dog food soaked till it’s mushy, it’s what she seems to prefer over everything else I’ve tried. Starving your dog for a few days is not among any hints I’ve ever seen for adopting a new pet, but she forgave me. Embarrassingly quickly.

She’s named Lucy (she had an underbite – before she had to get the rest of her teeth pulled – and she looked kind of evil, so one of my friends suggested Lucy for Lucifer). The name Lucy fits her, she is the shyest, scaredest little thing. She follows me around about one inch behind me (she gets stepped on a lot). When I sit, she wants up beside me on the chair. She sleeps almost all the time. This is not a frisbee catching, playful dog. We guess she’s maybe 13, but who knows. My cat is bigger than Lucy (and picks on her).

People write inspiring things about adopting an older dog, this is my first older dog (I mean that I got her when she was already old) and we have developed quite a relationship, but it’s not your normal dog/owner relationship. She is so needy. I am always looking out for her, rescuing her, making sure she’s ok (which is easiest to do when she’s up on the chair beside me, frankly). She is so dependent on me. She can barely see, I stand outside and watch her when I let her out, because she can get turned around and go off in the wrong direction and get lost. She can barely hear, so calling her doesn’t do much good. I run after her and when I’m close enough to pick her up, I do it gently, trying not to startle her too much. When I lose her, I am calling at the top of my lungs, because she’s so hard of hearing. I’m sure the neighbors think I am angry at her all the time.

When guests come over she gets confused by all the feet she crashes into, so I usually end up just holding her on my lap. I’m sure people think I’m a crazy dog person. But she runs around trying to find me, and I feel guilty. We’re alone a lot, but I do like to have people over and feed them and Lucy doesn’t know what to do with all those strange feet in the house.

And she never wants to stay home. If I am taking Xtobo, my other dog, for a walk, Lucy wants to go, too, even though she’s got to run along at top speed to keep up with us (and we’re not walking fast!), and it’s not like she really needs the exercise – she’ll get tired and have to be carried home.

Of all the dogs I never imagined myself owning, poodles have to be number one. And a miniature. Sheesh. Are you crazy? I know nothing about her former life, except that she was used to sitting on laps, and used to being fed bits of people food whenever people eat. So, spoiled. Loved. I can’t help but wonder what happened to her former owners, how she ended up out on the street, unwanted.

She is sleeping right beside me now. I’ve grown quite used to it.

Euclid Beach Amusement Park

Published May 14, 2017 by The Merida Review


This photo fell out of a book about Euclid Beach Amusement Park that I recently bought at a library sale. It’s of course not labelled, but I assume it’s at Euclid Beach Park, because why else would someone have put it in the book? Unlabelled photos always make me kind of sad. I am very curious (some might call it nosey) by nature and I want to know all about the lives of these people, and all I have is one little moment snatched from time. So I’m filling in little details from my imagination. Mom doesn’t look very happy, either about having her photo taken, or about being there. Who knows? Maybe she’s just had words with her husband, who is the one taking the photo. Or maybe she’s increasingly embarrassed by how she looks in photos and doesn’t want to see another one. Note the string indicating that the kid has a balloon tied to his or her arm. A boy wouldn’t wear a hat like that, would he? Let’s assume it’s a girl. Do you think it was the girl who grew up and laid the photo of herself and her mom in the book? The little girl’s shoes and socks are in Mom’s lap. One can only imagine all the sand that’s going to have to be brushed off that little dress (and Mom’s dress, too) when they leave the beach. Oh, but it’s worth it, to sit in the sand with a pail and a shovel. (A pail that has the word “Island” written on it.) Mom’s pocketbook is laying in the sand beside them. I wish Mom could’ve taken her shoes and socks off and be wiggling her toes in the sand as well, but maybe it wasn’t appropriate at that time. Someone, folded over the top part of the photo, so that it wouldn’t show the boats and all the people standing on the dock (or I assume it’s a dock). Perhaps they thought it cluttered up the picture. Perhaps they wanted the moment in time to be all about the mother and child, and not the crowd of people and boats behind. Perhaps they wanted a simple memory. But whose memory? Who are these people? I will, obviously, never know.

Has anyone seen Nero Wolfe lately?

Published May 8, 2017 by The Merida Review

Have the Nero Wolfe books really been out of print for 20 years? I’ve been trying to find out, and the last ones I see listed for sale anywhere were printed in the 90s. How can this be?

I pride myself on having a complete set, but somehow when I moved from Mexico to Ohio, a few of them went astray. Or are hiding here, in the total confusion of my makeshift bookshelves – getting some decent shelves are high on the list, and organizing my books! I’ve been reading through them all, in order – I do this occasionally – and am on the final 10, and I can’t find Trio for Blunt Instruments anywhere! I’ve crawled around on the floor, looking through all the piles and etc, I’ve balanced on the couch to check the uppermost regions, and can’t find it. Fer de Lance was gone, too, but I was able to borrow a copy.

My poor books are falling apart as I read them, covers snapping off (they’re just paperbacks and I don’t think the 10 year stay in hot, hot, humid Merida did them any favors), so I’ve been keeping an eye out for replacements at library sales, flea markets, etc, and there aren’t any! Thus the research into when the books were most recently published.

I find this quite alarming. How are new readers going to discover Nero and Archie and Fritz, etc, if there are no books out there? We are in agreement, right? New readers SHOULD be discovering these books, correct? I mean, yeah, the books aren’t perfect, they have a few flaws, but I think the assets outweigh the defects many times over. Right?

Meanwhile, I’m only one book away from Trio for Blunt Instruments, and can’t decide whether to suspend my Nero Wolfe-athon until I find one, or just skip over it. This is driving me absolutely crazy. I could spend $10 on ABE or Amazon buying one, I guess. (Also alarming is that there aren’t THAT many used copies available.

Perhaps we need to start a Save Nero Wolfe movement. Take this as a rallying cry. Bring him back! Publish those books again! So people can buy them and donate them to library sales or sell them at garage sales and I can rebuild my poor, falling apart, incomplete collection. I’m not getting any younger, you know.