Postcards from the edges (of the country)

By Jack Sparacino
I’ve enjoyed writing this column, from the silly or tongue in cheek to more serious pieces. The feedback I’ve received so far has been supportive and informative.  Much of it was from people who approached me on the street or in stores.  Or wrote to me from both coasts.  Here are some examples, starting with the subject of the column and ending, in some cases, with my comment on the comment in italics.

Random thoughts: pineapple wine.
After I wondered why practically all wine is made from grapes, this note came in from the Pacific Northwest:
“By the way, you can get pineapple wine in Hawaii.  I had it years ago and was expecting it to be sweet but it was rather dry.  I’m sure you can make wine out of any fruit that has sugar in it.”
Thanks, Mr. R., good to know!  Sounds like another good excuse to visit Hawaii.
“Jack, I have only a minute.  That piece was SUPERIOR.  No ifs, ands, or buts.  Where do you get the time — away from fishing — to do all this reading?”
Thanks so much, Jim.  Actually, I don’t read very fast at all, unfortunately, I’m just persistent. Same with fishing, I’m more persistent (or lucky) than good.
Random thoughts: grits.
“Jack, nice article but you must not have had grits done right. We love ‘em and you should try again.”
OK, Mrs. D., it’s on my list.  Promise.  What time should we come over?
Time travel.
“I LOVE this piece … wild and wacky!  It would be a great assignment for a history class. It would really give the teacher some insight into what the kids learned.”
All of them.
“Your sense of humor is like my husband’s, keep it up.”  “You think like me.”  “How do you do it?  Where does all that come from?”
Well, imagine an old barn that’s stacked floor to ceiling with boxes of miscellaneous stuff.  That’s something like my brain. I just grab a box, so to speak, take a look inside to jog my memory, and then start typing.  Google really helps, too, when I only half remember something.
“Just wanted to tell you how much I thoroughly enjoy reading these!!  I can hear your voice in my head as if you’re reading them to me — what a trip!  You have no idea how much I look forward to them.”
“The steamed clams over linguine were fantastic by the way.  Tried a recipe that added chorizo, clam juice, pepper flakes, and cream to the white wine and lemon juice.  Just a bit of a kick, though, and with all the garlic … well, let’s just say you want to be in the company of good friends.”
I didn’t think you could ever put too much garlic in a dish!
On the 10 best things since sliced bread:
“Honorable mentions? HD TV, IPODs, the freezer, Gortex, flown in fresh vegetables and fruit.”
“Jack, Great article. Never thought about the items you outlined.  Just one thing I can do without: CELL PHONES. You take your life in your hands when you go out in the car.”
“Hey, Jack, you forgot to mention all the great pharmaceuticals that are now making people’s lives better by lowering cholesterol, improving their mental health, etc.  You should do an entire column on this.”
Thanks, Mr. B., I can see it now: “Pills ‘R Us”!
On my New Year’s resolutions:
“I think I’ll just resolve to gain weight, at least that way I know I wouldn’t give up on it by January 16.  I could probably make that one last all year.”
Gee, Mrs. R., Let’s introduce you to Mr. B.  He may be able to recommend a weight loss (or gain) medication and one for keeping your sense of humor!
On “Have a Rice Day”:
“This is great! Lots of interesting facts! You reminded me of a stop that M. and I made on our trip to Louisiana in early December.  We saw America’s oldest operating rice mill!  You may be interested to read the history on their website, http://www.conradricemill.com. It was really neat, and the rice was delicious!”
On “Shoot to Kill”:
“Good job keeping the lessons from your cancer experience simple and to the point.  Hopefully it will motivate at least one additional man out there to get tested if he needs to and to catch the disease early so it can be cured.”
Thanks, Mr. M., that’s really the only reason I wrote it.  Let’s keep our eyes open.
On the 10 greatest pop songs:
“My all time favorite is “What a Wonderful World”   by Louis Armstrong. Good article and it got me thinking. Thanks.”
“A very good top 10.  I probably would have put a Beatles song in there because they were the most influential rock band of all time, in my opinion, but still a very respectable list.”
“Some great songs.  Just curious, was the Eagles’ “Take It Easy” considered?”
Leaving out the Beatles was a calculated risk—they were incredible.  That Eagles song was a real contender.  Next time we won’t fly by it so quickly.
On the 10 worst things since broccoli:
“#3. Mosquitoes: I’ve often questioned their assignment on the planet. Once we cure cancer, they’re next up. Call it spending on infrastructure. Less is more. Sell it. #2. Yellow linoleum floor:  Just picturing it gives me the creeps. Looks so dirty you can feel it crawling. I can see half of it in my mind’s eye, but I know there is trash on the other half. I must have received more than a shot on one. Probably sat on one with a fifth of cheap vodka.”
“FUN article.  I enjoyed reading it.”
“Agree with many of your 10 worst but have to disagree on sake.  I bet you have only had the warm kind served at Japanese restaurants. Good sake will cost you at least $25 for a bottle and should be served at temps around 60 degrees.  It has a very nice flavor with lots of aroma.  I just had a sake tasting at my house.  We did six at various price ranges and they all tasted quite different. There’s a store here that only sells premium sake, nothing else.”
“We must have similar palates — I also hate sea urchin, radishes and sake!  However, I am OK with fried clams.  In fact, a great place for them is Bob’s Clam Shack in Kittery, Maine (the first exit off of 95 once you get to Maine). If you ever find yourself in Maine, their lobstah rolls and fried haddock are also great!”
OK, Laura, that does it — we’re on our way. Maybe I should bring along some fishing gear? (Right, and also remember to breathe.)
Thanks to all for your comments.  I’ve really enjoyed hearing from you.

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