happy thoughts


So, 2010’s in the history books, and not a bit too soon for me. I’m looking ahead, though, not back. Kind of like a teenager texting while he drives.

I’m going to be realistic, just not fatalistic. Life’s never just a bowl of cherries, or a box of chawklets, or any other cliche you can pick. It’s a roller-coaster, and I’d probably be bored if it weren’t.

That’s not to say I won’t welcome a few more ups than downs this year. But I will continue to remind myself of all of the good things, even as I marvel at the weird things and lament the sad things and rage against the stupid things.

The “good things” continues to be the plethora of amazing restaurants in Dallas. One of our new faves is Mena’s, a Tex-Mex place with the coolest chairs ever — big, heavy ones carved out of what look like whole trees straight out of the Mexican forest. Oh, and the food rocks, too. We’ve been there twice and loved it both times, although it hasn’t knocked the Original Uncle Julio’s off of my favorite places list. Mena’s salsa is that greenish-red, spicy, smoky-flavored kind I like, none of that bright red, tomatoey kind.

It also has the added benefit of being relatively close to our house, which is helpful during those evenings in which D and I both get home late from work and irritated about something which occurred there. In the best of times, when I get hungry, I have been known to get a wee bit cranky. And at the worst of times… you don’t want to know.

At those times, the best thing to do is slooooowly push food toward me, using as long of a pole as you can find and averting your eyes so you don’t turn to stone. So having Mena’s close when the only thing in the house to eat is a pack of stale peanut butter crackers is fabulous.

We also stumbled into Fish City Grill, another nearby restaurant. It’s a happy little neighborhood seafood place, although we go for the Cajun twist. Their gumbo’s fab, and lord knows I’m picky about my gumbo. (All Louisiana recipes, even those for things like a glass of ice water, start with “First you make a roux…”)

They make a mean red beans and rice, and even a passable jambalaya, although not quite as good as mine (she said modestly). FCG also has a “no schmucks” policy that I find amusing — they say they won’t deal with any supplies or workers who aren’t decent and honest. It does share the friendly, laid-back feel of one of New Orleans’ many open-to-the-sidewalk restaurants. I’d say FCG ranks a 4.35674 on a five-point scale.

Still haven’t made it to Cuzco’s, the Peruvian restaurant we’ve been wanting to try. That’s a goal for this month, I think. We did find another Peruvian restaurant, Inca’s Cafe, in our neck of the woods recently. It, like many Dallas stores and restaurants, resides in a strip mall. (Dallas is home to the most strip malls in America, according to the unimpeachable source known as “Looks That Way to Laurie, Anyway.”)

Inca’s was good, though not great. The fried sweet plantains, one of D’s favorites, were lovely — perfectly crispy along the edge, but sweet and soft inside. I prefer the salty patacon, or fried green plantains, which are much like the Puerto Rican tostones I fell in love with many years ago. D also can pack away handfuls of cancha, or toasted corn-nut like things, which taste kind of like stale popcorn to me.

(OK, you an admit it… All this restaurant stuff makes you want to visit, doesn’t it?)

No new “bad things” recently, except for a New Year’s visit from some of our best friends that had to be cancelled due to a sick puppy. (While our friends aren’t exactly normal, I wouldn’t call them “sick puppies,” exactly… they really did have a real, live sick puppy.)

And, of course, there was Santa’s unfortunate decision not to bring me the flying lessons I so desperately wanted. My argument to the fat red guy was, if I’ve survived some of the stuff from my recent past, then I should be allowed to take my chances with zooming off into the sky in a tiny metal tube with only one small engine to keep me afloat. Right? I thought it was a sound argument, too.

However, Santa merely laughed derisively, although in a voice that sounded much like a certain forensic scientist I know. Mr. North Pole Snarkypants also didn’t bring the guitar I wanted, either. Why would he care that I sing off-key? He’s a whole continent away. Sheesh. I want to be ready to turn my words fetish into music one day. He sure won’t be mentioned in my liner notes, that’s all I have to say.

Good thing I have my own checkbook. Heh heh heh heh.

My perfect, awesome little remote-controlled helicopter, though, continues to be a joy. Despite those first few crashes (into the wall, the light fixture, the dog, the dining room table, an irreplaceable piece of R.C. Gorman art, the ceiling fan, my bedside lamp, and the dog again), it continues to whirr right along. I haven’t even had to replace the rotors yet.

I was so enamored of the little bugger that I went online to order myself a few more right after Christmas — a red one, and a purple one, and another blue one. Alas, JCPenney was out of stock on them, a fact they told me only after I had gotten all the way through the ordering process. This had the unfortunate result of lifting my tiny little heart very high, then hurling it downward with the force of Thor tossing a lightning bolt. I was sad. Bereft. A tiny little tear slid down the corner of my left eye.

But in keeping with my upbeat positivities for this year, mine still does fly, even if it’s lost all of the paint off of its nose and it sits a bit catawampus on the takeoff pad, which currently is a KenKen puzzle book.

D has introduced me to KenKens and also forces Sudoku on me occasionally. Apparently at lunch, the forensics team at Orchid Cellmark DNA lab spends their time away from statistics, probabilities and massive mathematical formulas to work on puzzles that use statistics, probabilities and mathematical formulas. Uh, OK.

Personally, I think she’s trying to keep me from becoming more of a blubbering idiot by the time she stashes me away in the old folks’ home in a few years. Shhhhh, don’t tell her that I’ll be quite happy to go! TV all day, naps in the garden, a few simple games with other old coots… my idea of a good rest.

About wordsmith1313

Now: Somewhat retired, although I don't do it very well. Formerly senior director of Communications and Marketing for the Dallas Zoo. Journalist. EMT. Writer. Breast cancer survivor. I love to travel, and will always return from a trip with a new friend or two. Those fortuitous meetings bring velvet to the rough edges of life.
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