Nostalgia Tastes Like Pizza

Tom and I were born, raised, met, married, and had our son in Marshall County, West Virginia, in the northern panhandle of the state, the “upper Ohio Valley,” though we haven’t lived there since 1984.

For those who grew up in the area, one thing is deeply ingrained in our culinary culture.  DiCarlo’s Pizza. This small local chain was a staple of date nights, before or after sporting events and dances, weekend parties, or anywhere hungry people happened to be.

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It’s hard to explain to non-natives. It’s simple, plain, and doesn’t appear to be anything special. If you feed it to a friend, they’re likely to reply, “Yeah, it’s okay. Um…it’s pizza.” They just don’t understand why we rhapsodize over this no-frills delight.

Though the hometown restaurants and the franchise locations now starting to pop up outside the Valley have seating and various menu options, I’m not kidding when I say the DiCarlo’s of the 1970s and 80s was no-frills. The building in Glen Dale, the location we frequented, looked like this. This photo is a different location (couldn’t find the original Glen Dale building…it’s since moved to a slightly larger brick building next door to the old location), but this is what it looked like.

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Cement block and metal siding, narrow customer counter across the whole width, no seating, most of the work space taken up with the wall ovens and tables for cutting the huge trays of pizza into squares. On a Saturday night, the front of the store was packed solid with people waiting for the next tray to come out of the oven.

And forget having a wide variety of toppings from which to choose. Aside from sauce and cheese, there were a total of two options. Pepperoni…or no pepperoni. Easy-peasy. Back in the day, it was 35 cents a slice, meaning a guy and his date could easily fill up for under $4, which was critical, because you definitely didn’t want to cut into your beer budget too much.

Now, this is the part where we lose most outsiders. This pizza is made “Ohio Valley style.” The crust and sauce are baked–without the cheese on it. When the piping hot trays come out of the oven, they’re placed on the work table and the cheese is scattered over the whole thing, and pepperoni added after. Your chosen number of slices are put in the cardboard boxes, and by the time you get to your car or home or other designated pizza-eating location, the cheese has mostly melted and the pepperoni is warm.

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That is DiCarlo’s.

So, why is this delicious nostalgia on my mind today? Well, a franchise recently opened in Myrtle Beach, by an Ohio Valley ex-pat, and Tom was down that way visiting family on Friday, and he brought home two trays.

Let me be clear. He brought home the baked crust and sauce slices, and separate bags containing the signature cheese blend and pepperoni. Any other way would be blasphemy. Whenever his parents come to visit, they almost always bring us a tray or two in a cooler, but since this new location is not too far from his brother’s house, whenever he goes to see them, he can detour and get it for us himself.

Yesterday we had pizza, beer, and era-appropriate movie day. At first, I couldn’t figure out why he kept telling me “not yet” whenever I went to put the pizza in the oven, but it turned out it was because he bought beer, and didn’t want to start beer-fest too early in the afternoon.

He posted this picture, saying we were being 17 again. Yes, at 17 in West Virginia in the early 1980s, beer was most definitely part of the picture. I make no apologies. 😉

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So, I made the pizza, and it was perfect. We had beer. I forgot how much work it is to drink beer, being more a mixed-drink-with-kick person. You have to drink…a lot of it. And this results in frequent bathroom visits, which makes me think how much time I must have spent peeing in the bushes in my youth.

We started the movie portion of the day with The Jerk. Then, in honor of the royal wedding, moved on to King Ralph, and wrapped up with Shaun of the Dead, which isn’t exactly the right era, but neither was King Ralph, and it’s too funny not to watch when you have beer.

It was a great way to spend a rainy Saturday. Though if we wanted to be 100% authentic, we should’ve probably headed out and had the beer and pizza parked on a dirt road somewhere.

Do you have a hometown food that makes you feel like a kid again every time you have it?

WIP Weekend

I know it’s Mother’s Day weekend here in the U.S., but that’s never been a “holiday” to me, despite Anna Jarvis, the founder of Mother’s Day, being an ancestral cousin. My mom passed away on May 14, 1984, the day after Mother’s Day…which happened to be my first. My son was only seven weeks old. We spent that day, her last Mother’s Day, apart, as she was in the hospital over an hour away awaiting surgery she did not survive.

Okay, enough of the sad memories. That’s why the “holiday” is low-key here. I don’t care if The Boy remembers it or not. Tom brought shrimp and scallops from the local seafood market, and that will be dinner tomorrow. Easy-peasy, and I adore fresh scallops.

This week, I finished and blocked my first knitted shawl, and I’m pretty happy with it. It’s the On The Wings of a Prayer shawl, using Knit Picks Chroma in Drawing Room. It’s a bit warm for my climate, but I have a home picked out for it.

I’ve been working on a new shawl in sock-weight yarn, Dream Smooshy With Cashmere in Mermaid Shoes. I love this yarn so much! It’s soft and works up beautifully. I’m making this Holden shawl with a slightly larger needle to improve the drape and to make the lacy parts–when I get to them–lacier. I’m still on the body of the shawl, but I’m loving the yarn and the gorgeous colorway.

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Five-inch ruler for scale.

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Though I have two more balls of Dream Smooshy With Cashmere in different colorway, Burr, I couldn’t resist another yarn I saw on Facebook. I saw it several days ago, almost bought it, somehow resisted (this is unusual behavior for sure), but after a few days, I was still thinking about it, so I ordered two hanks (to be rolled into cakes for me) from The Wicked Knittah.

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It’s an 80/10/10 superwash merino/cashmere/nylon sock weight, and I love the colors. It’s called Cottage Shed, and it reminds me of the verdigris on a copper pot, or weathering on a tin roof of a rustic garden shed. Can’t wait to get it!

I finished a first round edit on the upcoming Mafia Prince by Bella J. yesterday–and you should totally check out book 1 in her Royal Mafia series, Mafia Princess–so I have time to hang with the Direwolves, watch Stitchers on Amazon (only one season left to go, boooo!) and knit.

If you “do” Mother’s Day, hope you have a great one! Wishing a very happy, peaceful, love-filled day to my big sister, Linda, who stepped in when we lost our mom and served as a surrogate mother and grandmother to me and the little one when we needed her most. Love you, Sister!

Shopping Splurge

Conversation this morning…

Tom: So, do you want to do something today?

Me: (purses lips and gives side-eye) When would have been the right time to ask this question?

Because as a dedicated hermit, if I am venturing into the Out, I like to know in advance. Surprise excursions do not make me happy. A better approach is to suggest something to me at least the day before. “Hey, I was thinking we should (go over to check out Washington) (take the dogs to Flanner’s Beach) (go do lunch on the waterside deck at Persimmons) tomorrow.” This usually works better on me.

But today, I had an agenda.

Me: Well, I was thinking I wouldn’t mind going to Swansboro.

Tom: (registers slight surprise that I suggested anything at all, much less something he didn’t mind doing) Okay.

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We’re in New Bern, NC, and the town’s only LYS (Local Yarn Shop) closed last year, before I discovered knitting. We have a Michael’s and now a Hobby Lobby, and I’ve bought a crap-ton of “big box store” yarn over the years. As a lifelong crocheter, those projects work up so fast and use more yarn, leading to more big projects like blankets and afghans, meaning really nice yarn with exotic fibers or hand-dyed yarn are cost-prohibitive. Knitting is slower (for me), more intricate, smaller projects, and a nice ball of yarn can last me a couple of weeks instead of half a day.

So off we went, heading for, naturally, The Salty Sheep Yarn Shop. Sad that the nearest LYS is nearly an hour away, but it’s a nice little coastal town and lots of great shops and restaurants along the water, so a great day trip.

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I really should’ve asked names, because the woman in the shop (I assume the owner) was super friendly and helpful. I looked at some of her WIPs, bought the stitch markers she recommended, and began looking at the displays of completed projects. I found a shawl I liked that appeared to be something I could do. She told me it’s the Holden Shawl on Ravelry. It’s a paid pattern, but I used my phone and bought it right away.

Which led to the yarn. So. Much. Beautiful. Yarn! I could literally spend a thousand dollars without breaking a sweat, but confined myself to two twists each of two colors of Dream Smooshy with Cashmere (70% superwash merino wool, 20% cashmere, 10% nylon). I got “Mermaid Shoes” and “Burr.” Mermaid Shoes is my always favorite purple/green/blue combo, and Burr is a more beachy blue/brown theme.

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Imagine my delight when I learned a good LYS will wind the twists into cakes for free. Love those special little touches that equal outstanding service. Takes some of the sting out of paying $32 for a 4-ounce twist of yarn.

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We walked through the waterfront downtown, in and out of shops, then had a nice lunch at the Saltwater Grill, sitting on the screened deck overlooking the water. Conch fritters and a tangy potato salad hit the spot!

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Not a bad lunchtime view.

Before we could leave, though, I had to return to Silver Line.

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It was the first shop I popped into on the way to The Salty Sheep, and the second I stepped in, I was drawn to a jewelry display at the back of the room. Sterling settings with bright sky blue stones swirled through with white. I’d never seen anything like it before, like the perfect summer sky at the beach with some high, wispy clouds.

Hmm. One has a nice Celtic band.

Hmm. It also happens to fit my right ring finger perfectly.

Inquired about the price. Cried a little inside.

It turns out the stone is called Larimar, which comes from Larissa (daughter of the guy who discovered it in the 1970s) and Mar, which is Spanish for sea. It’s found only in one very specific area in the Caribbean, and how much of it there actually is remains unknown. But I reallllllllly liked it.

Went about my shopping day, but couldn’t stop thinking about that ring.

Realized tomorrow is pay day, so screw it. MINE.

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And now I’m home, and these two missed me. Apparently.

Checked in on work, so now I can get back to the shawl-in-progress using Knit Picks Chroma (in “drawing room”) that I’ve been working on. Because the sooner I finish it, the sooner I can play with my beeeeeeee-youuuuuu-teeeeee-ful new cashmere blend.

Two In A Row

We did go out last night, and I didn’t die. I did talk to a bunch of people whose names I don’t remember, despite having asked them several times, and I met a nice dog named Zoe, because I always remember dog names. I also snuck a couple pictures of some random guy because he had the prettiest long blond hair I’ve ever seen, but Tom convinced me I should definitely not give him my card and tell him he should seriously consider being a cover model because it’s almost impossible to find good stock photos of guys with long blond hair.

Now, brace yourself. I went out today too. Two days in a row, shower, bra, public. Me. It was a beautiful, warm, sunny day, so we took the Direwolves to the beach for a few hours. We usually go to Fort Macon State Park because it has plenty of parking, and a nice walkway over the dunes.

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Mozzie and Oliver are maniacs going to and from the car, but once we get to the beach,  they’re both so good I can’t even believe it. They walk nicely, splashing in the surf, not reacting to people or dogs we pass, and lie calmly on the blanket when we get back to our spot.

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Standard poodles definitely attract attention. Two people asked if Oliver was a standard, and one of them even noticed he has his full, natural tail.

I am absolutely exhausted. I’ve walked more in the past two days than in the previous two months, so I’m going to sit here watching TV and knitting until it’s time to watch The Walking Dead tonight. I’m finally almost past the orange part of the yarn, thank goodness. I hate orange, but you can’t have “rainbow” anything without it, although if I were in charge of the color spectrum, I’d definitely change that.

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The Direwolves have just reminded me I absolutely can’t sit here the rest of the day, because it’s supper time, and they’re hungry. They have me very well trained.

Hermit Out and About

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Hermiting is hard. My answer to “Do you want to go…” is nearly always “No.” But from time to time, I have to suck it up and go somewhere, because holding Tom hostage at home isn’t really fair. Staying in and having some adult beverages and watching Netflix used to be an option–my favorite–but apparently we don’t do that anymore. Well, I do, every night when Tom goes to bed, but I guess that doesn’t count.

Tonight is one such night, when I have to dress like a normal person and go out. There’s a 17021379_855781954559544_4158933835694194326_n“battle of the bands” at our favorite bar, The Brown Pelican, and he wants to go…so we’re going.

I used to love music, and we followed one particular band, going on multi-day roadtrips to catch several shows on consecutive nights. But a falling-out (lead singer/guitarist turned out to be a ginormous ass-crumpet) led to me no longer liking music…at all.

Back in those days, going out involved meticulous planning, with every detail of my hair, makeup, outfit, shoes, and accessories carefully coordinated. Now, I’ll get a shower. Probably.

While the main challenge is that I’ll have to converse with non-canine individuals, today has another obstacle. It’s March 31, technically spring. It’s also Easter weekend, or so I’ve heard, since I’m non-religious, and that’s considered a spring holiday. But it’s also a little chilly, with the temperature expected to be around 50 degrees this evening when we head out.

Definitely too cool for my cute summer tops. I tend to be cold, so even a short sleeved top is probably out. But if I wear a sweater, will I look like an idiot? Too cool for my new sandals…but black boots? Too winter-apparel-y?

I thought about wearing a garnet-colored long-sleeve top with my first knitted scarf, 29571342_10214115474733336_8294067764251296272_nwhich is light-weight and could be okay, but that might look like I think I’m still in Minnesota rather than eastern North Carolina.

So, what to do? Barring a meteor strike or robot uprising, we’re going. I’ll probably spend an hour standing in my closet and staring at the available options, which is almost like shopping because I go out so rarely that I find myself saying, “Oh, hey, I didn’t remember I had that.”

Probably too late to knit myself a light spring sweater, especially since I’ve only been knitting for a month and have no idea how to go about sweater-making, and it takes me two weeks to make a stupid scarf.

Whatever I end up wearing, the strategy will be what it always is, which is to reach the correct blood alcohol level to make me temporarily forget I’m a major introvert and avoid a panic attack. I probably won’t have a terrible time, but it’s not even 10 a.m. and I’m worrying about it, and that’s a lot of hours getting myself worked up over nothing.

See? I keep telling everyone hermiting is hard, but only other equally-dedicated introverts believe me.

(DISCLAIMER: As an editor, I desperately want to punctuate the graphic at the top of this post. I normally won’t use any meme with spelling, punctuation, or grammar errors, but I love Bugs Bunny too much to pass this one up.)

Serene Saturday

It’s a bright, sunny Saturday, if a little cool. The Husband has already been out to the gym and for his morning walk downtown, sipping coffee and taking photos of beautiful historic downtown New Bern. He’s a morning person, and I…am not.

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He took the above shot of Christ Episcopal Church downtown, hands-down the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen. Hope he doesn’t mind my sharing.

We might go out for a bit, mainly to get me out of the house. I don’t really need anything, but I haven’t been to Target in over a year, so I’m pretty sure I could find a thing or two, especially if we also go to the craft store.

What I actually have planned, though, is to finish up season two of The Santa Clarita Diet, which is the most hilarious show I’ve ever seen. Then back to season 10 of Doctor Who. And, of course, continuing my steep learning curve in knitting.

My second scarf is coming along, and I’m already itchy to start something else and learn new skills.

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Not finished or blocked, of course. It’s not that misshapen, I swear! 

I think the below blanket might be next. It’s called “Pemberley.” I’ll learn some new stitches, and while it looks like cable, it’s really a lace that resembles cable. I have two cakes of Mandala yarn in “gnome,” which is rainbow, but might see if some other yarn looks like a better choice.

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Sounds like a pretty good day to me!

Good Boundaries Make Good Neighbors

I’m not a people person, but I’m especially not a kid person. The only one I’ve ever cared about was mine, and he’ll be 34 tomorrow, so even that is well in the past. I do not want to hold your baby. I don’t want to hear the cute thing your toddler just did. I am not even remotely interested in your daughter’s dance recital.

However, if your puppy caught a grasshopper, I totally want to hear about that in great detail.

As I mentioned in THIS post and THIS other post, we have new occupants in the rental K1361house across the street, and this is causing me some anxiety. When we moved here four years ago, it was occupied by a 30-something single woman with an elderly dog, and then a couple of young Marines. They were good, quiet, friendly, but boundary-respecting neighbors, and I was okay with that.

A little more than a month ago, people appeared over there. I had a hard time figuring out who the residents were, as the various individuals spotted seemed to vary. But after a month of observation, I’m fairly sure the ones who live there are a woman and two younger-teen boys.

Yes, I realize the “normal” thing to do would be to walk over there to say hello and introduce myself. If you don’t know anything else about me, you should be aware that “normal” is not a word ever used in any way regarding my social skills and interactions, unless it’s prefaced by “ab-“.

My issues come from the numerous other children who are there on a regular basis. The woman must do some sort of daycare, either for relatives or as a business, as two toddlers (maybe more…honestly, kids all kind of look the same to me) are usually present. There are also a boy and a girl of approximately middle school age. Maybe others. I should probably keep some sort of logbook.

This is a lot of kids.

Plastic outdoor toys started to show up in the yard. Then a portable basketball hoop was placed at the end of the street. Our house and theirs are the last on our respective sides of the dead-end street, and I have to admit that’s a pretty good setup for a basketball hoop. What they don’t know, however, is that patch where the road ends is considered overflow parking for our two houses. We only have a small gravel drive in the front of the house, so if you have company, that’s where they go.

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Kid-faces blocked, because even I realize that’s kind of wrong.

Now the truly horrifying part. I’ve noticed these kids, who are definitely school age other than the toddler-types, are present throughout the day. Know what that means? Home school. These other kids who I don’t think live there–it’s only a two-bedroom house–might be part of the home school setup. Maybe she has some sort of cooperative with other families in her church or something. She has a “pray” sticker on her truck, and that seems like the sort of things church families probably do.

I’ve also noticed the boys tend to be out playing basketball at very regular times, suggesting home school “recess.” Our late-great dogs Darwin and Brody would’ve been very upset by this, slinging bark-drool all over the front windows and destroying the blinds. Mozzie and Oliver will take off barking if they hear a distinct noise or kid-related squealing, but other than that are doing pretty well. In fact, I have a feeling Mozzie might actually like kids–much to my dismay–because he’ll sit at the window quietly and watch them play.

I’m generally the tense, curmudgeonly one…but for some reason this basketball hoop is bothering Tom a lot more than I’d expect. The ball bounces into our front yard, and he gets all territorial. I’m supposed to be the territorial one. He’s supposed to be the laid-back, friendly, tolerant one who will chat with the neighbors when they cross paths outside, finding out who they are and letting them know we’re harmless but have definite boundaries. Now I’m finding myself saying things like, “It’s no big deal. They’re not hurting anything,” when I’m more accustomed to saying, “They’re out there…all the damned time.”

I don’t like it. I don’t like any of it. I have this shifting herd of non-adult humans running around out there, and I’m not sure how I’m supposed to feel about it. Luckily, the room where I spend 90% of my time is in the back of our house, away from the road.

I’m really, really glad they don’t appear to have a dog, though. A dog running around out there would not be appreciated by my dogs–or by me.