We have returned from St. Paul, where we spent the holiday’s with the huzzband’s family.

In addition to preparing and serving two tofurky roasts for the family, we went on a 6-mile hike near an old fort, ate Cambodian food, drank beer at a place called the Happy Gnome and watched Brendan’s uncle try to kickstart a chocolate fondue fountain to no avail.

Also, while Brendan watched a hockey game, I got a “deep-tissue” massage at a local spa, which left me with two long, red bruises down my back (I looked like a hockey player, post-game, I guess) while my mother-in-law and sister-in-law also got pampered, but to a far less tortuous degree.

It also was the fateful meeting between Charlie and Maddie, which we somehow had put off until now. It didn’t go well, but could have been worse — they both emerged from the encounter fully furred, pride and ear flaps intact.

Charlie and MAddie

Infested with turkeys


Several years ago, Brendan and I went camping at South Llano River State Park in Texas (prounounced Yah-no). It’s in the Texas Hill Country, where, in addition to lots of tourists, deer and turkey thrive. When we first turned into the state park, we were pleased by the┬ácedar trees and┬álimestone cliffs abutting the river, and we slowly made our way down a road that led to the campsites.

That’s when we realized we weren’t in the Big City anymore.

First, there was a ram-like sheep-thing in the road. A mountain goat? I have no idea. We had to honk at it to go away. Then there was a big black male turkey. And then another. And another. And another. And another. And another. By the time we got to the campsite, we felt like we had invaded a vacation spot for turkeys.

As it turns out, we actually were visiting the Disneyworld for turkeys. The park is a protected roost for Rio Grande Turkeys (this is not allowed), and “represents one of the most substantial and oldest winter turkey roosts in the central portion of the state.”

After we got our tent set up, and I headed to the bathrooms, I couldn’t hear any other campers, just lots and lots of loud gobbling. At every turn, and almost at every step, a turkey was underfoot, sometimes with babies trailing behind her.

And oh yeah, we had countless encounters with white-tailed deer, as well. But since they aren’t going to be served in millions of households tomorrow, I’ll save them for another day.

Happy Thanksgiving.

He likes some of his Kibble and Bits

We recently bought our dog, Charlie, a new type of dog food. It promises to give him a “healthy radiance.”

While we’re waiting for that to happen, Charlie has taken note of his new food, too. Like a cat, he scoffs at some of the food’s assorted kibble shapes, and when he grabs one he doesn’t like, he chooses to leave it on the floor. I only recently caught him doing this — I had previously just thought he had suddenly developed a messy eating habit.

Charlie in action:

Here, he has sorted out several offensive kibble pieces.


Here, he spits one out.


And back for more sorting/eating:


Channeling Augustus Gloop

A co-worker recently attended the New York “Chocolate Show,” which was really just a press event meant to garner publicity for chocolate companies. (More cocoa-kookiness here.)

As a result, the chocolate companies keep shipping her a daily stream of chocolate goodies that, if melted, would easily match the quanity of Willy Wonka’s chocolate river.

Each work meeting lately begins with her saying “Yes, I have more.”

And we all squeal and dig in. What better way to start a meeting? But, then, minutes later, the regret hits.

Today it was Belgium milk chocolate with hazelnuts. I ate half of a bar, then asked a co-worker to eat some, and when he refused, I threw it into his trash bin.

That is the only way I could avoid eating the other half.

Like most of my favorite foods, chocolate is native to Mexico, derived from the cocoa seeds of the cacao plant.

Hot pink mustaches and Lone Star beer

Last night we celebrated our friend Jason’s 29th birthday. First we had dinner at an Italian restaurant in the East Village, and then we walked over to a bar called Doc Holliday’s.

Jason, Brendan and I met working at the Caller-Times newspaper in Texas. The three of us know that there are many things to love about Texas, in spite of its general reputation among blue state residents. Doc Holliday’s is a bar that channels Texas, from the rockabilly on the jukebox to the Lone Star bottled beer to the dusty cowboy boots hanging from the ceiling.

It’s a place that feels a bit like home, even if the atmospere is supposed to be ironic.

But, lest you get too lost in the Texas daydream, there’s always the men and women in mustaches, and the pirates. First, it was a tall man wearing a Abe Lincoln top hat and a hot pink crowbar mustache. He sat at the table next to us. A short woman, wearing an olive green outfit and Che Guevara hat, came in and sat across from him.

They chatted, and I watched out of the corner of my eye as Pink Mustache Man took a large, fur-like piece of black-and-white fabric out of his backpack, and began trimming it with tiny scissors. His creation eventually began to resemble cat whiskers, but furrier. He placed them on the woman. She smiled like a Cheshire cat.

Near the entrance to the bar, I noticed a tall woman, who in her snug red minidress, looked a bit like Venus Williams, but prettier. I looked closer. Was she wearing a Band-aid above her upper lip? No, it was just a light grey mustache. (Oh. Of course, I thought.)

Soon, everywhere I looked, I was meeting the glances of people wearing fake mustaches. I looked back at Pink Mustache Man, who had begun trimming his long cotton-candy goatee while staring into an equally hot pink framed mirror.

I can say, quite emphatically, that this was the first time I had been in a bar watching a man trim his hot pink mustache. Finally overcome with curiosity, I asked my friend Dora, who was seated the closest to him, to ask what was going on.

“It’s mustache night,” he giggled. “Tell everyone — it’s the International Night of Mustaches!”

Shortly after, all the mustache people got up and left. It got quiet for awhile, until about an hour later, 10 people arrived dressed as pirates.

So, yeah, so not Texas. But (sometimes) just as fun.

Yawn: Times Square

Times Square

(photo courtesy stock.xchng)

This morning I went to the New York Times to get my employee ID (With it, I get free admission for me and several friends to all of the city’s best museums. Too bad I never go to them.)

I emerged from the subway right in the middle of Times square craziness. And I efficiently walked to the NYT, got my photo snapped, and headed back to the train to cruise down to Chelsea. I was mildy amused to ride the elevators of the best newspaper in the world, and I liked looking at my reflection in the gold art-deco paneling of the elevators.

But overall, ho-hum. And later it dawned on me: Perhaps you become a “New Yorker” when you fail to notice the tourist frenzy that is Times Square, or that you’re walking through the epicenter of the free world.


We’re going back to Tulum, Mexico, in February, along with a visit to Mexico City to see some friends.

This time, we’re spending our entire Tulum visit at, in a little thatched hut cabana. I find myself using metaphysical terms when describing Copal, because my brief visit there two years ago was like stumbling into my idealized afterlife, where I dine on fresh papaya and pineapple for breakfast, snorkel all day, and at night sip margaritas made with lime plucked from a nearby tree with only candelight serving as my guide (the cabanas do not have electricity) as I walk from the restaurant to the cabana, or the beach, or whereever I wander.

Above all else, the water was azure, and I could not take my eyes off of it.

Plus, I totally dug that our showerhead was a conch shell. And that 3-foot wild iguanas were perched in the trees, and pretty much anywhere you looked.

I’m stopping myself before I get lost in this daydream, again.