I received word Sunday afternoon that “A Good Year for the Roses” has been selected as a finalist in the Tampa Writers Contest for 2010-2011. The email was certainly a bright spot for me, having just received word from a New York agent that the novel, my first, wasn’t “the right fit” for her agency.
The uplifting news from Florida provides some positive vibes, along with some credibility and validation. The bothersome part of the good news is that this has been one long-delayed contest by the writers group based in the Tampa, Florida, area.
I originally submitted my entry in late September with the expectation that winners would be announced in January. That’s what the rules said. January rolled by, as did February. Finally, in mid-March an announcement was made by the group that complications in the judging process had delayed everything. Now, in late April the finalists have been announced, with a tentative awards banquet scheduled for mid-May, when first, second and honorable mention winners will be revealed.
I’ve got my doubts if that event will actually occur in mid-May. Given the track record so far, let’s shoot for mid-September. Still, the recognition is nice. Thanks, Tampa!
The natural current takes you gently from one end of the beach to the other as you snorkel about. A couple of wooden picnic tables on the sand, a lifeguard stand, and local families out for a bar-b-que dot the surroundings. Off to the left side of the beach, rocks stand guard on the oceanfront, making it difficult – and pretty senseless – to try to get in the water from there.
I as snorkeled offshore about 50 yards, I saw parrot fish bigger than any I had ever seen. Something bumped my left arm and I whirled around to see what was underwater that was so close. Oh! A giant sea turtle. She was beautiful and very close as she floated by me. Wow, I thought. Never had that happen before.
Back up on the beach, a protected Hawaiian seal snoozed away. A few ropes marked off her boundary. She didn’t care as she slept the hours away. Her friend showed up after a while, swimming back and forth and occasionally raising his head out of the water to make sure that was her. Finally, he hit the beach. The crowd gathered around the ropes. A sign nearby warned of the seals rather zesty mating habits and to stay back. “Give ‘em room” was the basic message. Still, people of all ages crowded around, video cameras rolling, kids looking and tourists gawking. The male seal started nudging his friend, trying to get her to wake up. A few barks were thrown in too. Finally she opened her eyes. “Oh, you,” she seemed to say and shut her eyes again.
Fear no more. Here’s the recipe you’ve been waiting for: the Three Olives® Cherry Vodka Limeade. Be sure you get the Three Olives® Cherry Vodka for this too. Experts have advised me, so I’m just passing that along. In fact, there’s some really awful flavored-vodkas out there, so don’t mess around with this key ingredient.
Anyway, start with a 16-oz glass. Fill it with ice. Squeeze in a couple of lime slices, maybe even a couple-a-couple of lime slices. Add a shot of Three Olives® Cherry Vodka. (The original recipe I came across called for 2 ½ oz of the stuff, but that will kick your butt, so be careful!)
Next, pour in a couple of splashes of sweet-n-sour mix. And then, finally, top it off with (your choice) of ginger ale or club soda. I’ve also found that Cherry 7-Up is a nice thing to add instead of ginger ale or club soda.
Stir, add a straw, sit back and sip this delicious little cooler-offer. Watch the temperature climb. You won’t care, I guarantee it!
Got a favorite recipe? Let’s hear about it!
Near Playa Flamingo, Guanacaste Peninsula, Costa Rica, April 2010 — The boat was small, maybe 14-feet long. Two-by-six inch pieces of lumber lay across the width of the boat for seating. Twisted pieces of rebar made for an interesting looking anchor, which sat at the bow of the boat. There was no deck, no canvas top, no windshield, just a completely open little skiff to take us out into the Pacific.
Our guide, Gala, was powerfully built, had on mirror sunglasses and wore a gold chain around his neck. Barefooted, he pushed the boat into the surf from Playa Conchal, hopped in and cranked the small outboard motor until it fired up. Soon he had to take a cell phone call. He talked rapidly in Spanish to the caller and laughed. We kept going into deeper water, on the way to catching red snapper.
We stopped after probably three or four kilometers. He began to cut up bait, using a sharp knife he had with him and using a two-by-six piece of lumber, similar to our seats, as a cutting board. He asked us questions about some English words, wanting to know more about how to speak English. He laughed a lot, baited our hooks and threw our lines overboard. Soon we were catching red snapper. It was an unforgettable day on the ocean. Nothing fancy. Just real.
Afterwards, we took the best of our catch in to a local restaurant, where our new friend, “Kevin,” grilled them up for us. A delicious way to celebrate!
I’ve got a poster of the original. Paul Gauguin painted the masterpiece “Two Tahitian Women” in 1899. It’s worth $80 million. On Sunday at a Washington, D.C., museum, a woman apparently freaked out over the wanton display of women’s breasts and “homosexuality,” as she put it, among other things she didn’t like and tried to rip the precious piece of art from the wall. She didn’t succeed, but didn’t give up either. She started hammering on it with her fists, but fortunately the painting was protected by plexiglas.
This whole thing is perplexing. I thought everyone knew about women’s breasts. Didn’t we all watch the Super Bowl halftime show with Janet Jackson? Guess not. Guess we don’t appreciate priceless art either. Gauguin himself left his accountant job and then his fellow Impressionists for Tahiti. Not a bad idea at the time. Who doesn’t want to go to Tahiti? Oh, yeah, that lady. Hope she doesn’t find out about who he lived with over in the South Pacific.
Not stranger than the woman’s actions, but just as perplexing is the way the local TV stations in the metro area tried to report the crime. One station ran the scroll that’s usually on the bottom of the screen right across the strategic part of the women’s breasts, lest viewers be offended. Another station cropped the painting to a head and shoulders shot.
I can hear it now: “Hey, Marge, how come they’re reportin’ on this art thing?”
The end of civilization is near, don’t you think?