Food for Thought?

Hey folks.

My friend Cynthia has come up with this nifty idea called A Week in Food, in which people agree to:

– chronicle a week of their eating in photos and text
– share the chronicle at the blog she set up
– calculate how much they spent on food during that week
– donate the equivalent amount of money to the charity of their choice.

I think this is a nifty idea, and I plan to participate, but I’m also encouraging all of you to do so as well. Visit her blog to join the fun.


It may still be summery outside, but clouds keep occluding the sun, making the day feel cooler than it is, and reminding us that despite what the thermometer may say, Fall actually has arrived.

I love Autumn. It is quite possibly my favorite season, with Spring running a close second. I remember being very small, and tucked into the pink gingham sheets in the bottom bunk of the unfinished, unpainted bunk beds that were in my room, with the soft lamplight illuminating whatever book I was reading, and my cotton flannel pajamas keeping me toasty and warm.

Today, I’m wearing jeans that are too big, and a hospital-scrubs green t-shirt that I don’t remember buying, but is so comfortable I can’t part with it, and I’ve got the same sense of coziness that I used to have as a pig-tailed child reading in bed.

Even though I’m cleaning.

Sometimes household chores aren’t torture, but a form of nesting, and there’s a sense of accomplishment in tidying the kitchen, re-arranging the living room, putting out the Fall decorations.

Yes, I have Fall decorations. I change the candles. I have a “Happy Fall” wreath for the door. I bring each season throughout the house, so the turning of the year is with us wherever we are. It’s an important element of my life.

I got it from my mother.
Who got it from her mother.

And somehow, that’s fitting.


Castles in the Air

Palaceta Cazulas

Sometimes, even though Fuzzy and I have been married for twelve and a half years, I like to browse the web for exotic wedding locations. We eloped, and then had a funky family reception a few months later, where all of our friends brought traditional wedding foods from their culture of origin, which we had as a picnic pot-luck. And that’s cool, but sometimes I wish that instead of eloping in Brookings, South Dakota, we’d gone someplace amazing.

Someplace like Spain.

My idea of the Perfect wedding location in Spain is the Palacete Cazulas, an Andalucian villa that you can rent for weddings, or even just family holidays (it has a capacity of 24, and they say the average group staying there is around 16 people). Looking at the pictures, it’s easy to imagine a morning spent sipping sangria by the pool, followed by an evening wedding surrounded by mountains and starlight. It’s not the beach, but it has drama and flair, as well as a backdrop of mountains, and tropical weather.

While only limited staff services are provided – a gardener, and basic maid service in the communal areas – the management company will arrange for more maids, as well as a cook, for an hourly rate paid directly to the staff. Having grown up without regular maid service, I have to say that sometimes I’m a little creeped out just having Merry Maids in my house, but I’m sure in a villa it’s a bit different.

Besides, the whole point of renting a villa in Spain is to step outside your own life, and live in one of the castles in the air we all dreamed up during childhood.

According to the website at, Palacete Cazulas is rented by the week, though three-day rentals are sometimes available between November and April, except on holidays. There is free wifi (bring your own computer) and phone and fax can be provided on request.

I’ve spent a week in a house in France…now I’m dreaming of spending one in a villa in Spain.

I’ll even share the sangria.

Sunday Scribblings: It’s About Power

They stare up at me, waiting, their luminous eyes large, and tracking my every move. Every flash of my knife makes their heads twitch a little bit. Every time they hear the blade contact the wooden block they flinch slightly, moving one foot just a little bit, then easing it back into its starting position.

Small worried noises escape from their throats though they are clearly trying not to whimper. They are anxious sounds, loaded with need, hope, excitement, fear. When I glance at them, their eyes seem to bulge, as if it takes all their effort to be quiet, to remain still.

Finally, preparations are complete. I put down the knife, wipe off the wooden block, pick up the matching blue plastic containers, and cross the room, uttering a quiet but firm, “Stay,” under my breath.

To their credit, they obey, until I have placed each container on the floor. Then, almost gleefully I announce their fate with a single word, “Dinner!”

They scramble to be the first to reach a container, gulp down food as if their last meal was far longer in the past than twenty-four hours.

You ask me when I feel powerful? I have power coursing through my veins all the time, but it’s the strongest every day at five.


Because they are dogs, and I am the Keeper of Food Bowls.

Question of the Day

Have you ever fallen in love with a complete stranger…and had a whole affair in the space of maybe three sentences, and one fast moment? Have you ever glimpsed the alternate reality, the limitless possibilities, in an encounter that lasted no more than fifteen or twenty seconds?


They all laughed at Christopher Columbus
When he said the world was round.
They all laughed when Edison recorded sound.

Sometimes, I think I was born in the wrong decade, and would have been much happier around the era when the Rat Pack was in their prime. I am constantly humming tunes from that period, the ones that we now refer to as “standards,” and three of my favorite modern-era musical performers are Harry Connick, Jr., Michael Buble’ and Diana Krall.

They all laughed at Wilbur and his brother
When they said that man could fly
They told Marconi wireless was a phony
It’s the same old cry

I appreciate a singable sort of song. Oh, I like to bop around to pop and dance music as much as anyone, but give me a big band and a melody with equal parts scat and swing, or the encouragement to belt (I do love to belt) and I’m not in my living room any more, but on stage at the Tropicana Las Vegas, wrapped in satin and torch-singer red lipstick.

They laughed at me wanting you,
Said I was reaching for the moon
But oh, you came through,
Now they’ll have to change their tune

It’s good to have a rich inner fantasy life and a musical vocabulary that lets you explore many different dreams. Espresso in Havana? Sure! Tap dance down 42nd Street? Why not. Inhabit the world of a nightclub chanteuse, if only for a couple hours? Absolutely!

Yes, it’s completely geeky. But it keeps me happy. And relatively sane.

They all said we never could be happy,
They laughed at us and how!
But ho, ho, ho!
Who’s got the last laugh now?

Book Folk

Just a note that I’m pushing everything back a month or so. If this means that scheduling doesn’t work for you, drop an email to melissa AT missmeliss DOT com.

I don’t post much about it here, because I don’t like to indulge in whining, but it’s been a bad bad bad couple of weeks.

But a new dawn is coming…I feel fierce and inspired again.

And I made a peach pie last night. With ginger.

I am having a late breakfast of peach pie and wonderful coffee.

Happy Friday.

(More later.)

Museum Day!

Museum Day

Wintersweet at LJ (who I’m not linking because I never remember who is friends-only and who isn’t, mentioned this the other day, which reminded me that I hadn’t mentioned it.

Museum day is a national event that Smithsonian Magazine sponsors. This year, it’s co-sponsored by Hyundai. If you click the image above, or go here, you can fill out and print a card that gives you and a guest free admission to any of a number of museums around the country, this Saturday, September 29th.

(Apologies to my Canadian readers, this only applies to museums in the U.S.A. – though if you live near the border, and feel like driving…)

Fuzzy and I have plans to go to the Frontiers of Flight museum at Love Field. Where will you go?


I’ve been writing a lot about insurance for work this week, which, I have to be honest, is a refreshing break from cars. I’m now an expert, by the way, in how to reduce your premiums. Just ask me.

Because of this, it seems only natural that when talking with my mother about my hope to spend May writing in France, and her wish to spend the same spring exploring Italy with my stepfather, that the conversation eventually got around to traveler protection, and specifically travel insurance for people over 65 – like my parents – or rather, like my step-father.

We also had a lovely laugh about the “instant Mexico insurance” that people used to buy before any trip across the border. It doesn’t exist any more, but really traveling to Mexico is safer than traveling from New York to San Francisco, as long as you’re reasonably aware of your surroundings.

Speaking of travel, I found that the Ethan Hawke/Julie Delpy movie Before Sunrise was one of the free videos on demand on Uverse last night, and had it playing while I was writing. I love that movie, and it’s sequel, Before Sunset because really, they’re just fascinating conversations set against amazing scenery. It’s like a walking tour, with someone else doing the walking.

Movies like that always make me feel like writing.
Yes, I find inspiration in odd places.


An early payday from a paid blogging service I work with has been translated into a new order from Black Phoenix.

Here’s what I’ve ordered (italics are BPAL’s descriptions):


Beaver Moon:
Traditionally, Beaver Moon is named thus for a very obvious reason: during this time of year, beavers are hard at work building their dams and preparing for the onset of winter. However, we at BPAL rarely let an opportunity for sleazy campiness pass us by! For your pleasure and amusement, we present this year’s incarnation of Beaver Moon: wild cherry with vanilla cream accord, and a hint of strawberry.

Samhain 2007:
Truly the scent of autumn itself — damp woods, fir needle, and black patchouli with the gentlest touches of warm pumpkin, clove, nutmeg, allspice, sweet red apple and mullein.

Also imps (sample tubes) of:
Black Phoenix
Blood Kiss
Windward Passage

which descriptions I won’t post.

I find that the descriptions of their scents inspire me as much as the actual scents do, if not more, and I like having options so I can pick a scent – or scents, some layer really well – to change or enhance my mood.

I spent most of my life not allowed to wear perfume because my mother is allergic.

I might be overcompensating now.

But only a little.