Healing hearts

Today I took a walk because I could. Yesterday at this time I was at the finish line with some friends in the very spot that’s on the news, playing over and over again. We were cheering for our friend and her fiance as they approached the finish line. They finished side by side at 2:37. The first bomb went off at 2:50. Proud of her accomplishment, we were more grateful for her speed. Just one bathroom break or leg cramp later, we might have had a very different story to tell.

I may have been trying too hard to see something good on my walk today, but two hearts jumped out at me, lopsided as they are.

Lopsided heart rock

Tree bark heart

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Random musings

* Hillary, I like it when you talk sternly to moronic men. Women, everywhere: let’s talk sternly to moronic men.

* Women in combat, please kick ass. I’m sorry it took so long to ALLOW YOU TO RISK YOUR LIFE FOR YOUR COUNTRY.

* Is Safe Haven a real movie? If so, could one view it as a comedy?

* To those of you watching the 11th season of Project Runway: hello, Geraldo Rivera! Right?

* How is it possible that the gun control debate has been overshadowed by the Beyoncé lip syncing debate?

Homemade Devil Dogs

By my count, there are about four million people mourning the loss of Twinkies (quick math), and about two dozen lamenting the loss of Devil Dogs, the dry, chocolate counterpart to its more popular older brother. It’s natural to assume that the predicted rise in milk prices can be attributed to the fiscal cliff debacle. Actually, that wouldn’t be my natural assumption, but it’s true. If Congress doesn’t pass a new farm bill, milk prices might rise like fuel prices. But forget all that. The real reason that dairy farmers might be out of work: no Devil Dogs, no need for a gallon of milk.

I miss the occasional dry dog, even if I only bought a box once a year. Since I was denied this indulgence, I got online pronto to research how to make my own. Caveat: the following recipe will not taste exactly like a Drake’s Devil Dog (can you really recreate that factory-made, unnaturally long shelf-life cake of exceeding dryness?), but it’s pretty darn good. Think whoopie pie in a Devil Dog shape.

I found several recipes online but chose to make the cake recipe from one and the cream filling from another. Shaping the cakes was a clumsy mess and I’m no expert with a pastry bag when it comes to piping the cream, but whatever. Close your eyes, pretend it’s 2012, and devour.

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Need help with 528 down

This mammoth crossword that ran in Virginia’s Daily Press captured the people and events that made news in 2012; what will make the news next year is anyone who can finish it. In addition to its size (820 across and 815 down), the print is so tiny that filling in any of those boxes is an achievement. I have a massive two lines completed but am confident I can knock this out in a couple of months. With a magnifying glass. And a jumbo eraser. And Google.

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Call me maybe

My phone has been blowing up this week, if you can say that about a landline. My old, ahem, friend, Bill Clinton, called me the other day. After FOUR years. The last time we spoke (and by spoke, I mean, my recorded answering machine message played, then he spoke to me from the heart), he called to ask me to vote for Barack Obama. But I think we all know why he was calling.

So If he thinks he can just call me when he needs me, FOUR YEARS LATER, like I’m a mistress-in-waiting, well . . . he may be right because he’s looking fit and foxy these days. This time, he wants me to vote for incumbent John Tierney who’s in a tight race for Massachusetts’s 6th congressional district. OK, fine.

Just when I’m on the verge of forgiving him, you’ll never guess who calls: Matt Damon. Matt and I go way back to Mystic Pizza, back before the Bourne enterprise and Good Will Hunting, so it was good to hear from him. We grew up in neighboring towns, but he may not remember that. He’s calling (he says) because he wants me to vote for Elizabeth Warren for state senator, but I know he wants to get together.

He gives me a number to call if I have any questions or need a ride to the polls. I do have questions (private questions) and I need a ride to the polls, so I ring Matt, except IT’S NOT HIS NUMBER! He left me the wrong number! Ugh. I hate when that happens.

Matt, call me. Maybe?

Genius Grants

Today the MacArthur Foundation hands out its so-called Genius Grants to “talented individuals who have shown extraordinary originality and dedication in their creative pursuits and a marked capacity for self-direction.”

I’m waiting by the phone, confident.

The 5-year fellowship is unrestricted and the artists, scientists, researchers, and thinkers who are knighted with this prize are lucky bastards. Well, lucky bastards and geniuses.

So, here I am just waiting for the folks to call because I, too, am committed to building a more just, verdant, and peaceful world.

Dear refs

Dear replacement refs,

You can breathe easy now. I’m sorry everyone felt you were incompetent and let you know it. You’re just inexperienced and maybe in a little over your head. The League would hardly have fared better if the commentators had tried their hand at your job; they only occasionally make the correct call from their lofty stadium box.

Plus, sports fans get a little crazy sometimes. OK, all the time.

It’s hard being a substitute anything, but you guys had it worse than substitute math teachers. You were the fresh young hires at Sterling Cooper scrambling to learn the ropes in an office full of buxom Joans in distracting low-cut dresses. But you made it through and can now go into seclusion and write a book about your ordeal and make a solid 1% of what those guys on the field are making for throwing around a ball.

Sincerely,

A sympathetic fan

Stamina

Around 4:15 p.m. today, the men’s U.S. Open tennis final begins. Andy Murray vs. Novak Djokovic.

I’m wrapping up an interview at work at that time and am out the door at 5:00.

I run into my friend and we take the train home, work on a project.

Walk home.

Make and eat dinner.

Get ready for and drive to yoga.

Wonder if I’ll make it through the 1 1/2-hour class.

Drive home, tired.

Fix myself and snack and turn on the TV to see who won the match.

It is 9:00, and they are still playing. 

Olympics miscellany

+ The more I think about, the more I realize I’m not ready to win a gold medal. Not because I have no sport or a lifetime of training, but because I wouldn’t want the pictures of me in my defining moment on the podium with a track suit and wet hair.

+ Wouldn’t it be refreshing if athletes spoke their mind before their event, so that instead of the pat, “I just have to go out there, stay relaxed, and do my best” it was more like “I have to kick some serious ass and take what belongs to me.” Instead of the usual post-race response from a silver medalist who says, “I just didn’t get it done and I’d like to congratulate my opponent,” I’d rather hear “I am soooo pissed and cannot believe that chick won.”

+ There’s no crying in baseball, but there’s a heck of a lot of crying in gymnastics, swimming, diving and—I’m guessing, though I haven’t watched it—table tennis.

+ When do the boring sports start? These high-profile events are costing me sleep.

Olympic fever

I love how you can become a rabid fan of a sport in less than 10 minutes during the Olympics. All it takes is a story. A montage. An underdog. I watch supposedly washed up Alexandr Vinokourov from Kazakhstan duke it out with a young Colombian in the homestretch of the cycling road race. I’ve never wanted anyone to win more. The Colombian rookie turns his head for a second and Vinokourov breaks away and wins the gold, jubilant, even though the commentators are calling him the old guy. At 38. And for the record, I had no idea he was this adorable until he took off his helmet.

Was it me or was the tribute to the National Health Service at the opening ceremony a way to say In your face, America?

I wonder if Michael Phelps gets tired of hearing about Michael Phelps.

Jesus loves punk music

I’m seeing my friend off after an especially good beach day (80+ degrees on Memorial Day weekend in New England, hello) that we’ve stretched into sunset and beyond when we hear the faint notes of “Pretty in Pink” coming from across the cemetery. But it’s not on the radio.

I remember now that my neighbor I bought a jacket from after sifting through her eclectic collection of CDs mentioned that the Psychedelic Furs would be playing in Salem this weekend in a venue neither of us had heard of: The Salem Performing Arts at the Catholic Center. Huh? Beyond the obvious delight of picturing the punk band from the 80s playing at a Catholic Center, I couldn’t get past the fact that this community hall was where I cast my votes in elections.

Right now, I hear the throb of the center as the band belts out “Love my Way,” one of those songs you don’t know you know, and I’m waiting for the rainbow Mohawks to stream by reminiscing about when skinny jeans were popular the first time and punk was king.

Angry birds

> A pyro set up shop in my bathroom this weekend after three mornings of me pretending the scrabbling noise wasn’t a bird nesting in a vent. Climbing onto the roof didn’t seem like an option. “Let’s smoke him out,” he said, lighting newspaper in my watering can and waving it like a madman at the vent. A controlled burn in a dry, dry season.

More scrabbling this morning and no sky-blue eggs as a gift.

> I’ve heard the phrase “in his wheelhouse” four times this week. Is that a thing?

> A man walked by me today whistling a catchy tune that got me humming the words–until I realized it was “O Christmas Tree,” or, for persnickety devotees of German Christmas carols, “O Tannenbaum.” Sing it in German though and you sound angry.

> Instead of a brush, it may be more efficient to use the lint roller directly on my cat.

> Apologies to men everywhere for Warner Bros’s advertising “The Lucky One” as “the perfect date movie.” And frankly, apologies to women too.

> My arms are scratched and pricked, bruised enough to cause suspicion. Gardening at night. A friend dropped off some plants from his garden that needed immediate planting and watering, so I found myself tucking in plants at nightfall and adapting REM’s “Nightswimming” to some ridiculous lyrics. Darkness makes potting plants tricky (lopsided shrubs), but it does help to cloak giant insects. And singing wards off the giant possum roaming the neighborhood.

Marathon Monday

Dear runners,

Sorry about heat. No one wants to run in 80-degree weather. Or in the rain. Or snow. Or wind. But that’s Boston. You train one week in thermal underwear and another in your trendy neon short shorts. Then every ten years you get the perfect, 60-degree with a cool breeze. This is not one of those years.

And wise move, you 5,000 runners who took the BAA up on its offer to defer their run to next year due to the heat. No need to be a hero. Which is why I’m sitting this one out. In fact, I’m sitting every one out. I don’t want to overextend myself. It’s hard enough watching you sweat it out on TV, while cranking my fan. The switch is on the other side of the room.

Excuse me while I get a lemonade.

In sympathy,

Non-running Bostonian

Wild animals

For year, I’ve had wild animal dreams. I’m walking through the woods and spot two lions or a cougar pawing the ground. I bolt and make a narrow escape indoors, slamming the door behind me. Fear dreams, I suppose, but I don’t know how to read them. Wild animals = fear or Escape = conquering fear. Not sure what the fear is, but today the people of Zanesville, OH are living my nightmare after the owner of a small zoo there was found dead—the animals’ cages open and empty. Schools are closed and the town is in lockdown as lions and tigers and bears (say it) roam the neighborhood. Let’s hope they have an accurate count or someone could be mighty surprised when a lone wolf trots by around Christmas.

Aside from the sad reality that the man committed suicide before freeing his animals, and that many of these animals have been killed, and that children could be eaten while playing in the backyard, it is kind of funny, isn’t it? The thought that you could be walking to your car headed to work, coffee in hand, when a cheetah springs from the bushes to swipe your muffin—or you. Death is hardly funny, but these feel like my dreams, manifested. And you can’t help but root for these animals that have known only a cage and that at last are enjoying a taste of freedom. Go, giraffe, I want to yell. Run on your spindly legs!

So tonight, I lend my wild animal dreams to the people of Zanesville and hope that they find a permanent home in slumbering Ohio.

Food truck festival

While my mom was visiting earlier this month, I convinced her to hit the Food Truck Festival in Plymouth, and though she initially thought we were visiting a truck stop, she soon got the picture when a cluster of gourmet food trucks circled their wagons around the crowded green at the Pine Hills community, doling out tacos with grass-fed beef and Kickass Cupcakes.

Apparently, Boston is loosening some restrictions on truck ventures, so Boston should no longer be the poor little sister of New York and LA that have embraced the idea of the wandering canteen. We’ve got Clover and a few others, but I can’t wait till we have enough to warrant a whole show on the Food Network. Working in Boston, you’d think the options are plentiful, but Subway, McDonald’s, D’Angelo’s, Rock Bottom, California Pizza Kitchen, and some suspect places in Chinatown, do not a good lunch make.

Dear MBTA

Dear MBTA,

Thank you for the heads up about the T delays in Boston the other day caused by the presidential motorcade passing through the city. The subway, though, is underground, and the motorcade is above ground, so I’m confused about the traffic delay on the orange line. Wait, is Obama using the secret tunnels? I knew there were secret tunnels.

Waiting on the platform,

Tired commuter