“The Painted Queen” by Elizabeth Peters:
Y’all, I’m about to pass out. 2017 might be a great year. I mean, we have Obama for another week, and now A NEW AMELIA PEABODY BOOK IS COMING OUT. Hold on a second, I’m literally crying. I’ve thrown myself on the couch to get myself together. I’ll never be together. I’ll never be the same again. Reader, for years, there have been whispers online that Barbara Mertz was working on a new Amelia Peabody book before she died. The fandom of these books is hardly large, but it’s existent, and there were frequent hushed mentions of The Painted Queen. At some point, a large print version of the book was listed on Amazon, but there were no details, no cover image, nothing but constantly changing publication dates. To my absolute joy and unexpected bliss, a cover and a date and the ability to preorder came out yesterday. I screamed and flailed my hands and slapped my credit card information into the computer to preorder my copy. July 25 is going to be a blessed day. I ordered both a physical and a digital version, so that wherever I might be in this big, beautiful world, I will be assured to be with Amelia. I’m not sure on the specifics of the story or even how it came to be, but I’m ecstatic. There is another author listed on the cover, so I assume that Joan Hess took Barbara’s manuscript and fleshed it out. How lucky she is! As I made mention a great number of times this summer, this is something that I dreamed of doing myself. I wanted to carry on Amelia’s legacy in the fashion of many dead writers. Of course I am an utter unknown in the world of publication, but ancient Egypt is my food and water, and I write extensively every day of my life, so I have no doubt that I could resurrect Amelia with some success. I understand the characters completely and utterly, and there’s nothing that would bring me greater joy. Alas, that wasn’t to be, but I’m all right and no less enthused about The Painted Queen. And I must give endless thanks to Barbara Mertz (a.k.a. Elizabeth Peters) because unbeknownst to her, she alone reignited my lifelong passion for Egyptological studies and for writing. She brought me joys that nobody else has ever been able to do. I was too serious before in my writing, but she taught me that there is absolutely nothing wrong with having a bit of fun. I’m so lucky. I’m so blessed. 2017 is going to be my year.
Spaghetti Pie at Old Chicago:
Last night, I went to dinner for the first time at Old Chicago. I’ve been before for a drink, but I never had any interest in a sports bar for dinner. I think that’s what it is, I’m not entirely sure. It appeared to me to be a place where bros go for beer. That’s not my scene, reader, but I think you might be well aware of that. So, I wasn’t all that enthused when Jessica wanted to go, but it was somewhere that we hadn’t gone, so off we went. As I perused the menu, I found something that I thought looked tasty, a concoction called a spaghetti pie. This intrigued me, since it looked so fun. It was alfredo soaked spaghetti that was baked and then cut into pie-like wedges. This was served atop a sauce of your choosing and then broiled to perfection. I thought it would be all right, reader, but I hardly anticipated squealing in glee. Who squeals at Old Chicago? Probably just me, but the spaghetti pie was one of the most absurdly tasty things I have ordered in quite some time. The flavors were rich and good and didn’t taste as if they had been poured out of a Prego jar, which is the usual crap you find in chain restaurants. I forced myself to only eat half of it so that I could have some for lunch the next day. I am hella inspired, reader, by this magnificent and supremely delicious spaghetti pie. I think I’m going to start making my own at home so that I don’t embarrass myself again. It can’t be too hard. And it’s so good. And this isn’t the most exhilarating installment of my blog for you to read because you weren’t there to experience what I experienced, but have faith, dear reader. And get yourself to Old Chicago at once!
Moroccan Chickpea Soup:
I have been feeling poorly since Christmas Eve, so I suppose you could say that I have been sick all year. Annoyingly, this ailment never gets better or worse, it’s just this constant sniffle, the occasional cough, and irksomely as of late, body aches. It’s hardly debilitating and doesn’t seem to have anything at all to do with my Multiple Sclerosis. I’m very thankful for that. But I’m still annoyed at how persistent this cold is. Yesterday I felt like actual shit, so I stayed home to wallow in body aches, headaches, and gloom. I thought that chugging a gallon of mint tea would help, but delicious though that was, I didn’t feel all that better. Finally feeling peckish, I raided my cupboards for ingredients to make…something. One of my goals this year is to cook everything in my cupboards. They have become obscenely overstuffed with crap I grab at random. I could probably survive a good month off what is available in there, so I determined to make something delicious. I found cans of tomatoes and chickpeas and Middle Eastern spices, so I determined I had better make a spicy stew. That would surely cook the crud out of me. I scoured the internet for chickpea soups, and to my great surprise there were hundreds of variants. I finally found one on the Food Network website — which I generally avoid like the plague unless it’s an Ina Garten recipe — and liked the look of a Spicy Moroccan Chickpea Stew. It sounded simple enough, so I changed it up a bit and loaded up my Le Creuset pan and let it go. The recipe called for a hearty spoonful of cinnamon, which I loathe, but I never tweak a recipe for the first time too much, so I tossed it in with a glare. To my great delight, the cinnamon added a warmth to the stew, not a pungent flavor. #blessed After simmering for an hour, I puréed about half of it with my immersion blender and ladled it up. Reader, I didn’t have tremendous expectations, but I was genuinely thrilled by how good it was. It warmed me up wonderfully, and I really did feel better after finishing my bowl. I’m going to be making this all winter long. It’s cheap, and so good, and so easy. Head to the kitchen, reader!
Great Pyramids of Iowa:
Since I bought my car last year, I have had intentions of taking road trips and exploring the world around me. I find it absurd that I know the streets of Paris better than the tiny town where I work. I have never before had any reason or ability to make any kind of discoveries of Iowa, so this new vehicular ability is exciting. One location that I have been meaning to visit is something called the Great Pyramids of Iowa. These are located in a cemetery near Avery, Iowa, in the middle of nowhere, and aren’t the most beautifully constructed of pyramids, but theie very existence is intriguing enough for me to drive two hours to see them. So, on New Year’s Day, I gussied myself up, turned on a Rihanna playlist, and hit the road. Hours later, after a lovely, mindless drive, I was in a strange part of Iowa. There were winding roads and massive houses and hills, and unknown to me, a plethora of ranches. There were cattle and horses everywhere, and the newness of it all to me was interesting. In the midst of a bunch of these ranches was the Hickory Grove Cemetery, surrounded by baying cattle, and rising up rather surprisingly were the three pyramids. I had not expected them to be impressive. I thought they would appear derelict and unworthy of my time, but they weren’t at all, and I was glad that I had journeyed this long distance to satisfy my Egyptological fervor. I made my way to them, and the bigger pyramid was much bigger than anticipated, and I found myself quite gobsmacked by them. It was windy and cold, so I made my examinations quickly. The two subsidiary pyramids were crumbling but lovely, and the big one was probably fifteen feet tall. There is a burial chamber that extends from one side of the pyramid and is now filled with beer cans. Disrespectful. I was quite happy with my exploration of the pyramids, and felt quite sad about them. The man who built the pyramid intended for he and a friend to be embalmed and sat up playing cards until Judgement Day. Isn’t that gay and fabulous? Unfortunately, he and his friend were not buried together. They weren’t even buried in that cemetery. Now, the monuments stand as an Egyptian dedication to eternal friendship. I hope they’re playing cards up in the sky. It was a good day and a fun way to start the year.
Jordan Creek Town Center’s Apple Store:
Reader, I have been a ho for Apple products since I was in high school. A teacher I had was a major fan, and he convinced me that the ease of use was worth the extra price. So I mowed lawns and I redeemed cans and I scrimped and I saved and eventually I had enough cash for the first generation white MacBook. Oh reader, I was so in love with that laptop. It treated me well for years and years. And over the years, I have never deviated in my affections for the company. When I finally had my MacBook Pro and my iPad Pro and my iPhone 6+ and my Apple TVs (four of them…they’re fabulous) and my Apple router, I knew what it was to live the good life. And technologically, I could not be more happy. My laptop, which I have had for nearly five years is gently telling me that it is time to upgrade. I mean, it still works perfectly fine. I’m typing on it now and I know that it’s going to keep working for another five years just fine, but I can’t travel with it anymore. The battery dies in a couple hours, so that really cuts into my productivity. I have installed it in my office connected to a huge monitor and it’s just perfect. But I want something to travel with, and even though I have nickels in cash right now, I decided to go take a look at what is on offer since I haven’t popped into an Apple Store in the longest time. I was gobsmacked by the remodel done at the location at Jordan Creek Town Center. It is monstrously big! There are rows and rows of tables filled with computers and iPads and phones and watches and I wanted everything. The newest generation of laptops are so thin and so gorgeous. The MacBook Pro now has this touchscreen bar on top that seems like it’d be useful, even though I don’t know what for. I think I was the most intrigued, though, by the golden MacBook. It would match everything I own and it is so small. I could easily take it on trips with me. I learned how irritating it was to try and blog from my iPad. It can be done, but it is not worth the effort. So when I’m no longer paying off my iPad, I will probably grab one of these wonderfully thin and long-lived computers and live my best life. In the meantime, I’ll drool at the shop every time I pass it. It’s gorgeous.