Tasty Tuesday: Chewy Gobstoppers?!?

Leave it to your best friends to crack you up at all hours of the day…and night. I got an ecstatic call last night informing me that my friend had just bought every box of Chewy Gobstoppers at this one service station, because they are his favorite artificial fruity candy and terribly elusive…which is part of the fun of Wonka candies anyway. They are all sort of elusive. As a kid, the regular Gobstoppers were my favorite, back when I didn’t care if I broke a tooth because I didn’t have to worry about not being able to afford going to the dentist. Some of my best Saturdays were spent sprawled in my friend Alice’s floor, watching movies (or Duke basketball) and chomping hard candy. But I swear to you, I had never even heard of Chewy Gobstoppers until last night. I didn’t even know they made such a thing. And now I am on a quest! If you see them, grab some for me…and watch me turn violet, Violet!

Update: I still can’t find these here, but I was in Alabama recently visiting friends and got several boxes. They are everything I expected and more. ūüôā I’m thinking about buying a carton online.

Advertisements

Film Fest Friday: Harry Potter & The Half-Blood Prince

My least favorite of the Harry Potter books turned out to be my favorite of the movies thus far. My friend Swamp and I met up with a group of friends in Greensboro. The movie was awesome, but several things about the evening turned out to be sort of disastrous.

On the way, we got lost. Shocking, I know. Especially considering I was driving.

1

Swamp: “How sure are you that you’re going the right way on this road?”

Me: “About 98.5 percent. It said West Wendover! Isn’t that what I took?”

Swamp: “Um…well…I’m about 99 percent sure we’re headed towards High Point right now.”

Me: “WHAT? So you want me to turn around? Is that what you want me to do?”

Swamp: “It’s up to you. Whatever you want to do.”

He seems pretty sure, so I make a U-turn. He cranes his neck all around, looking for cars speeding towards us that I might have missed.

Me: “You’re doing that thing again.”

Swamp: “What thing?”

Me, laughing: “That looking-for-me thing that my grandfather used to do whenever he was in the passenger seat.”

Swamp: “I’m not looking for you. I’m looking for me. For my own peace of mind.”

Me: “You know what I mean.¬†I think that was what he was doing, too.”

Swamp: “That’s why I like to drive.”

Me: “I hate Greensboro. We’re going to be late. I don’t want Jenny to miss the previews. She can’t stand missing the previews.”

Swamp: “Me too. And I hate Winston, and High Point, and Kernersville. This is why¬†I just want to be out at Sandy Ridge and not have to deal with this crap. But you know, there’s your problem. You went into it thinking, ‘I hate Greensboro.’ And look what happened.”

Me: “Hey — at least we’re consistent. It wouldn’t be a real trip for us if we didn’t have to turn around and go the other way at least once.”

He cuts icy eyes at me, smirking.

harry-potter-and-the-half-blood-prince-11

It turned out that the theater had sold tickets to showings in two theaters, when they were really only playing it in one. So we were really lucky to get seats at all. Jenny tried to complain, but the theater staff was totally unapologetic and couldn’t have cared less. The seats we did end up getting went from bad to worse, and we didn’t all get to sit together. We already have plans to see it again at a matinee just so we don’t have to crane our necks. I can’t wait until the next one! And will be sad when they run out of story to film.

On the way home we drove into a huge thunderstorm. One of the things that produces the most anxiety in me, besides driving in Greensboro of course, is driving in storms. I’m talking near panic-attack levels. I feel a loss of control because I can’t see anything. Pretty understandable, I think. If someone else is driving, I’m fine. As soon as the rain starts thundering down on the windshield, I make a small nasal whine, like a worried puppy, determined not to say anything or react. I. Can. Do. This. I can, I tell myself. I’m not going to freak out.

65049993_zKKIhf7o_DrivingRainStorm

Swamp: “It’s not much farther to our exit. Ooh! Check out that lightning! Awesome! This is a good storm!”

Me, trying to contain myself: “I wonder if there’s a tornado warning. It’s pretty windy.”

Swamp: “I don’t think you have to worry about tornadoes tonight.”

Me: “But I always worry about tornadoes.”

Swamp: “I know.”

Me, with increasingly labored breathing: “You know I don’t like driving in storms.”

Swamp: “I know you don’t. And I’m sorry you are having to right now. But it will be over soon, I promise. Look, there’s the exit now.”

I can’t see anything. This road is like a black mirror. I can’t see any lines on it. I don’t know which lane I’m in. My headlights are useless. My eyes are useless. We approach the last intersection with a stoplight, and I carefully circumnavigate a huge lake of water pooling out into the road. I don’t want to hydroplane and wreck my car. I¬†just got it out of the shop. I’m not¬†taking it¬†back for this crap.

Swamp,¬†snickering at my cautiousness: “Man, if I had been driving —¬†especially if I was in my truck —¬†I would have plowed straight into that puddle and made the water splash up really high and tried to hydroplane!”

Me, rolling my eyes: “Yeah, you are WAY cooler than me.” My panting is starting to slow. I’ve made it this far, and now he’s just pissing me off. Also, I know he is overexaggerating his thrill-seeking.

Swamp: “Well, that must mean I’m cooler than I thought, because YOU are REALLY cool. I mean, you’re like the coolest girl.”

I’m laughing now — snorting, actually — and it’s not making it any easier to see the road. Swamp is laughing too, but trying not to show it.

Swamp: “What?! You are! You and me, we’re like the two coolest people on the PLANET! It’s kind of unbelievable how cool we are. Do you want me to start listing reasons?”

Me, still laughing, “Sorry, to the people behind me who are riding my ass. It’s raining and I can’t see, and I don’t know this road like the back of my hand like you do.”

Swamp: “Hey — you’re going the speed limit. You’re doing fine. Nothing to worry about. Look, here’s our turn.”

As soon as we turn in, the rain slows to intermittent splats of fat raindrops. I feel elated, relieved¬†— better than the adrenaline rush of being in the storm. I¬†inhale slowly and exhale a long, long sigh through pursed lips. This test is over. You have passed. Thanks, coach.

Yellow Index Cards: Boys

1

Our favorite, most entertaining guys in our AP Bio class. They made us laugh every day. The one in the middle, D, went through a pretty serious do-rag phase, illustrated below.

2

Musical Monday: Phish Reunion Trip

Phish_Phun_Phish_-_101_Phish_Songs_Color_Poster

A few months ago I was talking about not being able to get tickets to the Asheville show on the Phish summer reunion tour. That turned out to be a blessing in disguise, because my friend Swamp ended up getting tickets to TWO other shows, which allowed us to take a sweet road trip, visit some old friends, and see the band outdoors, which is preferable to us. Even though I’m still kicking myself for not taking the day off just to hang out in Asheville that day, because they closed off the streets downtown and created this huge hippie convergence. It was like a city-wide Shakedown Street. How fun!

First stop:¬†Washington, Pennsylvania, about 6 hours north of here.¬†The drive up there is some of my¬†favorite interstate scenery around. Whoever came up with that whole “Wild, Wonderful West Virginia” slogan was spot on! Beautiful¬†mountains.¬†Actually, I think they’re called hills there.

wild-hills

We stayed with some old friends, Cheryl and Shawn,¬†in Washpa (as the natives call it).¬†They are renovating a beautiful¬†old farm house¬†that sits on 100¬†acres or so.¬†We got to spend a little time getting acquainted with their new baby, Paul.¬†At almost 9 months,¬†he’s growing like a weed and is very smiley and¬†happy.¬†I should say that I spent some time with him, since Swamp does not touch babies and is hard to catch even looking at one, unless it is apprehensively. However, Swamp and Paul do share the same birthday: Halloween. People born on Halloween were thought by the ancient Celts to¬†possess supernatural powers, including the power to read dreams. I don’t know about the reading dreams part,¬†but I do think Swamp is particularly gifted with¬†intuition.¬†So maybe Paul understands intuitively that Swamp is afraid of babies and doesn’t take it personally. Let’s hope so!

We arrived (late, naturally) in the middle of a severe thunderstorm with tornado warnings. Cheryl¬†and Shawn had been trying frantically to call us to make sure we were safe, but I was too busy being nervous about tornadoes, and Swamp was too busy¬†exclaiming about how beautiful the lightning was to hear the phone ring.¬†We all¬†sat up late drinking Straubs¬†at the kitchen table with the lights out,¬†watching¬†lightning illuminate the fields through¬†enormous¬†windows. I presented a box full of Mellow Mushroom pretzels as a host gift — their one request from the great state of North Carolina — which turned out to be full of ants from Swamp’s car full of dirty camping gear. Shawn popped them in the oven anyway, which killed the ants, and then just brushed off their crispy dead bodies. Now that is my kind of fortitude! Upon inspecting the car later, we could not find a single ant anywhere.

We went with¬†Cheryl and Shawn¬†to the show in Burgettstown, PA. Shawn brought along the leftover pretzels, which everyone was pretty excited about, even though next-day Mellow Mushroom¬†crust is so hard it’s almost impossible to chew. Still tasted good!¬†On the way into the concert grounds,¬†Shawn was bragging to passersby about¬†them. We¬†stopped to listen to sound check, did some people-watching,¬†and made a¬†few laps around Shakedown, where Swamp was trying to sell or trade his extra tickets. It turned out that there were a lot of extras floating around, so he ended up trading one for a cool autographed photograph of Trey playing guitar alone on a stage, and he sold the other one for less than face.¬†We also ran into tons of other people we’ve known from various encounters and life situations. I had not seen most of them for about five years.

I’d like to give a shout-out to Warren, the group’s unofficial social ringleader, who said, “Hey, we met at¬†the camp out¬†party at Gibb’s, right? When Gruvbak performed?” I said, “I was at¬†that party, but we met up in Maine at IT, I think!” Warren, slapping his forehead: “Oh, yeah! I remember! My kid brother’s first acid trip —¬† all that mud! — that insanely huge¬†glowstick war! — and you and Gibb pissed off about getting bad shrooms! Man, so awesome to see you again!” The whole evening contained many similar encounters. It was like a big family reunion, and I don’t think I stopped smiling all night. Except maybe when my parents, who were dog-sitting, called me to say Birdy had gone to the vet due to not eating and throwing up, and she had hookworm. I was not smiling then.

btown

The amphitheater is now “owned” by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but everyone up there still calls it by its old name: Star Lake. That was the second Phish show I had seen at that particular venue. It’s a cool place. Good show…pretty substantial glowstick war. Vacuum-solo from Fishman, which I probably could have done without. He’s such a terrible singer. But I do love his polka-dot dress. Hearing the boys live again after so long a hiatus was amazing and thrilling, and now that Trey’s off the blow, the performance had a whole new dimension of upbeat positive fun.

Music Phish Fenway

You can hear in his playing and in his voice, and especially in his off-the-cuff stage banter that he’s¬†in a good place now, and it definitely projects onto the crowd in a new way that was very pleasant. I also have to say I am quite impressed with the new songs that will be on the next studio album, Joy. I love almost all of them. It’s a little bit of a different approach for their sound, but I like where it’s going so far. Swamp would tell you, with a conflicted expression, “It’s so poppy.” But it’s good, and he¬†thinks so, too. ¬†At Star Lake, they played a lot of my favorites, but I was especially happy to hear Chalk Dust Torture, Bouncing Around the Room, Harry Hood, Free. There were also some screw-ups and hilarity ensued — from Phish.net:

About halfway through Grind, they were singing in the wrong key and some (Fishman) couldn’t hit the correct notes. They stopped, laughing, and huddled, trying to decide whether to re-start Grind again in the correct key or start something else. The crowd knew this because the band was too close to the mics and the crowd could hear the conversation. Trey realizes this and says,”Can you guys hear what we’re saying when we are talking?” Crowd goes nuts and Trey says, “It was supposed to be a secret but Page blew the wrong note.” They try to restart Grind, but it never happens and they huddle again, with Trey saying,”Hold on, don’t go away.” Crowd goes nuts again. After almost a minute, they step up to the mic with Trey saying,”If this doesn’t work, Fish will sing Bike for you.” They start Hello My Baby, but it is scrapped after 30 seconds because the band is laughing hysterically, and Trey proclaims, “And Fish will now sing Bike for you,” and runs to the drum kit to start HYHU. Fish gets vacuum, goes center stage and says,”Welcome to the train wreck portion of the show. I hope everyone is enjoying it as much as we are. Maybe I’ll remember some of the words to this song.” Before going into Bike (forgetting a number of the lyrics) w/ vacuum solo at the end, then Jon did an intro of the band (introducing himself last as Henrietta). Then Trey came back out, and they did Loving Cup.

Here’s¬† a pic of Swamp and me on the lawn waiting for the show to start:

us

burgets

The next morning, we got up super-early and stumbled out half-asleep to hit the road again. It was crappy not to be able to spend more time with our friends in Washington. But another show was waiting! We drove another 5 1/2 hours up to Noblesville, Indiana — home of the famous Deer Creek Amphitheater! Actually, I think it’s now called Verizon Wireless something-or-other, but just like with Star Lake, everyone still calls it by the much cooler former¬†name. We were a little bit late getting in due to getting a little bit lost on the way. (If any of you know Swamp, you know he never gets lost or anything. Ahem.) To be fair, the Mapquest directions were sort of wrong.¬†One of Swamp’s work friends, Bo, drove up from NC as well. We met up with him at¬†a campground just a few miles from the venue. It was a cool place. I would recommend it if you ever go see a show at Deer Creek. It was pretty large, and on the way in, I was a little anxious about the number of nitrous tanks I saw…didn’t want to be trapped in that kind of crowd with no walls around me. But it turned out to be fine.

The show at Deer Creek was pretty amazing. Hanging out with Bo in the lot beforehand, we were trying to figure up how many shows we’d seen. Deer Creek was my 12th or 13th Phish¬†show, depending on how you want to count up IT (3 days of Phish in Maine, 2003) —¬†a number which¬†is totally unimpressive to most hardcore Phans. I think it was Swamp’s 20th or 21st Phish show. And what an adventure. Towards the end of the first set, we started seeing all kinds of beautiful¬†lightning in the sky –horizontal branches reflecting wide curtains of light off¬†dense cloud backdrops.¬†They appeared in a very precise order, forming a circle around the amphitheater. The crowd roared at every lightning flash, which came often.

Horizontal-Lightning

At around 10:00 pm, Page came onstage and said he had been asked to read a weather service report, which was basically a severe thunderstorm warning. He said everyone on the lawn was to go back to their cars, and everyone under the covered part of the pavilion should stay in their seats. I was getting a little bit worried at that point, because I have a terrible tornado phobia, and since we were in flat-as-a-pancake Indiana…but Swamp, as always, calmed me down.

rain

Our tickets were for actual seats, but we had been sitting on the lawn for the entire first set because, well, blending into the crowd is easier that way and necessary for some activities. Most people, like any good (and in this case, foolish) hippie rebels were staying put on the lawn. But when the rain started, we moved to the pavilion seats, which just happened to be on the very last row and not covered by the roof. The second set was delayed by over an hour, and we were overjoyed to find that the wind was blowing so fiercely it was shooting the rain right off the roof onto the lawn behind us, instead of down onto our uncovered heads.

Swamp and I had totally different takes on the set that followed. I was all jazzed up and energized by the storm and the shared crowd excitement, and I wanted to hear some really energized music to complement that vibe. But what we got was a mellowed-out, deep groove that Swamp found to be the absolute perfect response to the storm’s fury and the crowd’s frenzy: A Song I Heard The Ocean Sing > Drowned > Twist, Let Me Lie, Tweezer > 2001 > Suzy Greenberg > Possum > E: Sleeping Monkey > Tweezer Reprise.

The music brought us all back down to a chill place.¬†Swamp says it’s still his favorite set of the two shows. I haven’t listened to it much since we got back, mainly because I’ve been too obsessed with the first set of that show that contained several of my favorites: Backwards Down the Number Line, AC/DC Bag, Limb By Limb, The Moma Dance, Water In The Sky, Split Open and Melt, Lawn Boy, The Wedge, Stealing Time From The Faulty Plan, The Connection, Ocelot, Fluffhead. But also because I’d like to wait for another good hard thunderstorm to put it on and relive it.

rain2

When the show ended, it was still pouring rain. I mean, pouring. We had to hoof it back to the car, which was probably a mile away. We were all drenched to the bone. I had a poncho, but I didn’t even put it on, because it was raining so hard I couldn’t see anything anyway. Not to mention the venue’s band curfew is 11:00 pm, and the second set started at 11:00, so when we came out, all the lights were off, and it was a mad scene of people trying to hold onto their friends¬†and not lose each other¬† — I don’t know if I couldn’t have found the way back to the car by myself, personally. All this¬†in utter darkness made darker by driving rain slamming against your eyelids. I mean, soaked doesn’t even begin to describe it. But it felt SO GOOD! What an adventure!¬†It was like a complimentary shower from nature for tons of dirty hippies, and falling asleep in the tent that night I almost felt like I’d just had a bath.

dont-drive-3

Bo had not planned on staying overnight at the campground, as he had family living¬†in the vicinity. Unfortunately, none of the roads in the campground were paved, and all that torrential rain turned the whole place into a big mudpit. Bo’s car (along with countless others) got stuck, and¬†no one¬†had¬†any luck getting him out. He had to camp and wait for a local guy with a tractor to pull him out the next morning. We had parked¬†our car and¬†tent on relatively high ground, so we didn’t get stuck, and we slept nice and dry. Despite people setting off firecrackers beside our tent and sleeping next to an actual stage with an actual band playing all night (I guess hired by the campground for entertainment?), I actually slept really well.

The next morning we drove right out, blaring early-morning Michael Franti, on the very same road that had been like quicksand the night before. I brushed my teeth in a gas station bathroom while wearing my pajamas, while getting strange looks from people, and wondering why people were so bothered by it. Then it was back on the road, 10  hours back to NC, with a hiking stop in West Virginia on the way.

And that is what I did on my summer vacation. It was awesome.

World Travel Wednesday: Isle of Palms, SC

sunrise

Last month, I sat on a palmetto log and watched the sun rise over the Atlantic with someone very dear to me. One of the most beautiful things I’ve ever seen was the¬†sun shining on his face and lighting up his eyes. Such a perfect moment — a blanket of peace and positivity. I hope I’ll always be able to call it up in my mind as clearly as I remember it right now. I’d like to thank the universe for giving me that day.

Crafty Update: Win Free Stuff!

Hop on over to my friend Jen’s blog, Great Little Stories, where she is hosting a giveaway featuring some products from my Etsy shop. You could be the winner of a photo print and a set of recycled map stationery.

Tasty Tuesday: Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

I am not typically a big Valentine’s Day person. I tend to fall into the camp that’s always saying, “Oh, it’s just a Hallmark holiday for the purpose of selling crap. You should treat people lovingly every day, not just once a year!” That’s all true. But this year, I decided that instead of being bitter about not having a real valentine (I do have a complicated one), I would take the high road to positivity and just make sweets for all the friends in my life that I love and appreciate. I mean, why not use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to tell your friends how much you love them? Friends need love too, not just lovers.

I found this recipe on Bakerella. Her pictures are always lovely, but I’m using some poor ones I took in my kitchen. This is why you should always take TWO photos. The first one is always crap.

cookies1

Cream Cheese Sandwich Cookies

1 Box red velvet cake mix*
1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature (mine was pretty much melted)
2 Eggs

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix ingredients until combined. Drop spoonfuls of cookie batter onto baking sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Cool.

Cream Cheese Filling

1/2 Cup butter, softened to room temperature (again, mine was pretty much melted¬†— my microwave is superior alien technology that I cannot control)
1 8 oz. Package cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 1lb. Box of confectioner’s sugar
1 tsp Vanilla

In a mixer, cream butter, cream cheese and vanilla. Gradually add sugar and mix until smooth. Makes about 24 cookies or 12 cookie sandwiches

* Any cake mix should work.

I also made some using a lemon cake mix, and these came out much with a much softer consistency, for some reason. I do not pretend to understand the chemical processes that make cooking happen. I wrote a paper about a science-related movie for my AP Biology final exam. Yes, I am an english nerd. I don’t do science. Anyway, the lemon ones were almost too sweet. I much preferred the red velvet.

cookies2

cookies31