Fraidy Cat

On my recent beach trip with my friend, we had a close encounter of the creepy kind.

One evening, we got a late start out to dinner after a day on the beach… and the need to do something about our two days’ worth of beach hair. By the time we got to the restaurant, it was monumentally busy. It took some time to get served. The server was moving around like a tornado in a mobile home park, but there were just so many people. Despite her heroic efforts, we didn’t get through with dinner for about two hours. When we got back to our condo, it was around 10:00pm. I am old. I live in central Florida, which is “early bird special central.” I do not usually dine at eight and I do not usually stay out quite so long after dark. Still, I am a grown woman and should be able to handle myself past sunset just going from the parking spot directly in front of our condo to the condo door. It was a distance of about twenty feet.

Not so. I got out of the car and chatted with my friend as she gathered up her stuff in preparation of making her own exit from the vehicle. I happened to look over to the side of the parking lot and saw something moving under a large pile of leaves. I could not see specifically what it was, but I thought I spied a small, pointy face peering out from a tube of moving leaves. This was something creepy… in every sense. It was some creature- probably a mammal because the part of its face I could see appeared to be covered in fur. It was cylindrically shaped. I estimated it was about fifteen inches long and had a diameter of about five inches.

I was intrigued at first and wondered what it was. Then, the blasted thing started moving in our direction. Most animals will move away from humans, but this whatchamacallit was making a beeline directly towards us. It was not fast, but it was purposeful. I did not want to wait around to see how long it would take for it to reach us, so I mentioned it to my friend, who had all kinds of questions about the approaching critter. My friend is a curious person. She is talented at asking good, insightful questions that should generate helpful, informative answers. I was not that curious nor was I particularly good at supplying those helpful, informative answers at that particular moment. All I wanted was to get in the condo, safe from the creepy critter.

When we locked the front door behind us, barring the mystery animal from following us into the condo, I felt better. I began to wonder what the creature was. I did some googling to try to identify it, but never did nail it down. The leaf-incrusted tube of terror creeping towards us did not match any of the possibilities that either I or Google had. The closest thing seemed to be a shrew, but, if it was a shrew, it was clearly some kind of science experiment gone wrong because shrews are much smaller than the creepy critter on our front lawn.

I eventually gave up and figured this encounter was going to be the stuff that nightmares are made of if I did not stop thinking about it. My friend, however, was less daunted than I was.

“You were really afraid, weren’t you?” she asked incredulously.

“Yes,” I responded. “It was coming TOWARDS us. Besides, don’t you realize that I am afraid of EVERYTHING?”

It baffled my mind that my friend who has known me for five years could be so unaware of the terrified nature of my personality. Fear has always been my emotion of choice. I get scared before I even have a chance to realize what else I feel in any given situation. This tendency towards terror makes life a little difficult. I would not say it limits me unduly, but I do find existing in the real world to be a ton of work.

Let me be clear. I am not a coward. A coward does not do things because she is afraid. I, on the contrary, am incredibly brave. Even though I am afraid of everything, I overcome the fear to do the things I want and need to do. Most of my life, this has meant fighting my own impulses and acting against what my brain is telling me to do. In its fear and paralysis, I must summon superhuman strength to catapult past my emotions to accomplish the life to which I aspire. In my life coaching process, I have been working on not forcing myself to catapult past the emotion. I am learning to do two things. First, to find the emotions that lurk just under the surface of the fear… the desire, the love, the anger… and use them to propel myself forward. In that way, instead of using my energy to keep the fear emotion at bay, I am using the momentum of the more positive motions to fuel my efforts. Secondly, I am learning to befriend the fear. Maybe I do not have to catapult past the fear. Maybe I can take it with me. Maybe there is strength to be had from allowing fear to be my traveling companion, but not the tour guide.

On the other hand, I am just as happy that the jeeper creeper in the leaves was NOT my traveling companion back into the condo!

What gives you the creeps? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com.

Have a not-so-fraidy day!

Terri/Dorry 🙂

The Not Crummy Bun

Some of you may recall my inherited fascination with a little confection called the “crumb bun.” Not the “crumb cake,” which is an altogether different animal. The “crumb bun” was a staple of Italian bakeries in New York during the 1950s and 1960s. My mother was crazy about them. She passed the crumb bun gene on to me.

When we moved to California, my mother mourned the absence of New York crumb buns. Vendors tried to palm off different types of crumb cakes and some questionable, decidedly crummy, crumb buns. Grocery stores did not have them. Specialty shops did not have them. Even bakeries showed a suspicious lack of crumb bun knowledge.

When I was a little girl, cross country travel was still relatively exotic and we were a solidly middle class family. We rarely returned to New York after our move. Every time we did go, however, the first thing my mother typically put in her mouth after the plane landed was a real New York, Italian bakery crumb bun.  As time passed, though, even New York did not have a steady supply of New York crumb buns. Family bakeries, like many small businesses, were dying as big box stores and grocery chains moved into the neighborhood.  My family members who lived in New York were oblivious to the catastrophe that this entailed. They had been on a gradual crumb bun withdrawal process. To my mother, it was cold turkey.

My mother reacted to the disappearance of the greater New York crumb bun, by going into mourning. Still, she lived in denial. When we moved to Florida, she decided we needed to search for crumb buns. She reasoned that we were now on the east coast. She reasoned that a lot of people retire to Florida and maybe there were a few former New Yorker bakers who enjoyed getting up at 4:00am to make crumb buns. She did not believe the crumb bun was extinct. She believed they were just elusive, like some exotic bird that ornithologists stalk with great enthusiasm.

I did not know whether crumb buns were extinct or not, but I was perfectly happy to travel the state looking for them. I do not know if I had quite the level of enthusiasm and commitment that my mother did, but I did my best. Time after time, the crumb bun rumors proved unfounded and we did not find an acceptable rendition of the traditional New York crumb bun. We found a few possibilities, but none quite measured up to our standard. One of them felt like sawdust in the mouth. Another one had way too much lemon taste in the base. A crumb bun should not taste like lemon cake with cinnamon all over it. The most common problem with the crumb buns we sampled was an insufficient crumb to bun ratio. It was a sad state of crumb bun affairs.

Once, I thought I had an answer when I discovered that Buddy Valastro, owner of the Carlo’s Bakery of Hoboken and star of television’s “Cake Boss,” had a bakery in Las Vegas where there was a pretty good imitation of a true crumb bun. When I heard he was opening a store in Orlando, I was excited to introduce my mother to this “almost authentic” confection. Unfortunately, he did not stock crumb buns in the Orlando store. I take it as a personal failure that my mother never got another “real” crumb bun before she died.

When I went on my little beach getaway with my friend recently, we went to an Italian bakery in Fernandina Beach called Nona’s. When I looked in the window, I saw something that looked suspiciously like a REAL crumb bun. Finally, it looked like I had found my quarry.

I bought a crumb bun… and, eureka! It was moist and sweet and spicy. It had the perfect crumb to bun ration. There was no lemon aftertaste. It melted in my mouth, enveloping my tastebuds in a smooth, rich, delicious blanket of awesomeness. It was one of the best lunches I have ever eaten.

#Lifegoals!

What is a delicacy that you remember from your childhood that no longer seems to be around? Please share your perspective by leaving a comment. In the alternative, you can email me at terriretirement@gmail.com

Have a delicious day!

Terri/Dorry 😊