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A Missive from Snowageddon 

Hello, Everyone!  I hope all of you had a wonderful holiday season, and that 2010 is getting off to a great start for you.   

Having just dug out from a 32” snowstorm—and another 8-15” expected tonight and tomorrow—can I just say that I’m more than ready for spring?  And this, from someone who was lucky enough to take a 12-night Caribbean cruise just a few weeks ago.  I know—I’m whining, and I’m sorry—I hate myself for doing it.  I’ve always sneered at people who grumble about the weather.  Not much point in wasting all that effort; after all, it is what it is—as my sister, Kathy, often says--and no amount of grumbling is going to change anything.  But now, I find myself doing it.  When the weather guy first mentioned this latest storm—just three days after our whopper storm, my response was to turn to the TV and scream, “What the fu_______???????” 

I can just hear you people up in Minnesota and North Dakota snickering and calling me a wimp.  Well, yeah, I guess I am.  I don’t mind an occasional snow event, but two in a row of this magnitude is just too damn much!!!   

Okay, enough already!  I need a smack upside the head.  I need to just get over it! 

(Deep breath.)  Let’s talk about more pleasant things.  Frank and I went on our second cruise in mid-January—this time, a 12-nighter to the Eastern Caribbean with ports in St. Thomas, St. Croix, St.  Kitts, St.  John’s and St. Maartin.  The morning we docked in St. Thomas, I called my daughter, Leah, to see how she was doing.  She was due to give birth to our second grandchild on January 30th.  She sounded very chipper when she answered the phone—much more chipper than you’d expect from a woman in her 9th month of pregnancy.  Turns out there was a good reason—she’d given birth to Gabriel Beck, 8 lbs, 4 oz, just five hours earlier.  We were thrilled, of course, but a little disappointed that we weren’t there, and would have to wait until little Gabe was over a week old before we could meet him.   

St. Thomas and St.  Kitts turned out to be wash-outs with heavy rain throughout the days, but St. Croix, St.  John’s and St. Maartin were wonderful!  Especially St.  John’s where Frank and I swam with stingrays!!!!  What an experience that was!  Yes, I know it was a little unnerving, seeing as to what happened to Steve Irwin.  But we all know that was a freak accident. Stingrays are quite docile creatures, and it really wasn’t all that scary.  A boat took us out to this sand bar where the water was only 4-6 feet deep, and the stingrays were everywhere.  They’d nudge up against you, and surprisingly, they didn’t feel slimy or fishy at all.  One of them swam right at me and bumped me in the stomach, then gently swam away.  And no, it didn’t hurt.  It was a fantastic experience, and if you ever get the chance to go to St.  John’s, you should check it out.  Here’s the website: 

http://www. stingraycityantigua.com/  

Our ship sailed out of Baltimore, and of course, seeing that it was January, the first couple of days at sea were a little chilly, but by day three, we were off the coast of Florida, so it was nice on deck.  The return trip wasn’t quite so pleasant, with each day growing colder, and the seas growing more turbulent.  On the last day at sea, seasickness was rampant, and there was a steady line at customer service for anti-nausea pills.  Luckily, I was fine because I’d been on a steady diet of Dramamine since Day # 2 when I was waylaid by seasickness so bad that I had to miss the first formal dining—which really ticked me off because I’d brought two gorgeous gowns to wear, and I don’t get that many opportunities to dress up. 

Anyway, since it was too cold to be out on deck—and the seas were so high we weren’t allowed on deck—we had to find diversions elsewhere.  Since I’m not a gambler, the casino had no appeal for me, so I decided to go to the Celebrity Theater for a “Chef Cook-Off” where two sous chefs went up against each other.  They asked for volunteers from the audience, and I was chosen, along with another guy.  I went up onstage, having no idea what I was expected to do.  They presented me with a chef hat to wear and showed me this table laden with ingredients and told me I had 15 seconds to choose what my sous chef would make.  I didn’t know where to start!  But I grabbed some fresh salmon, some carrots, broccoli, green peppers, onion, and blackberries.  Then we were told we had 15 minutes to prepare a meal with those ingredients, including some staples on our table.  As my sous chef from Jamaica chopped the veggies, I marinated the salmon in lemon juice, olive oil and seasonings.  It was quite crazy with the cruise director playing commentator and moving back and forth between the two teams.  As we cooked, they chose three judges from the audience, and the executive chef of the cruise brought out wine to complement our meals.  (One of the judges appeared to enjoy the wine more than our food.) The 15 minutes counted down, and as the last seconds ticked off, we plated our meals and presented them to the judges.  (My team went second, so our food grew cold as the judges tried the other team’s meal.)  They were a little ambitious, I think, having made two entrees instead of one—a veggie stir-fry and filet mignon with penne pasta.  The judges said the filet was too dry and the pasta not cooked thoroughly.  Then it was our turn with my salmon filet and a side of veggies.  (Oh, we’d (the sous chef) quickly made a sauce for the salmon and topped it with a blackberry as garnish.)  Our entrée earned high scores from all three judges—and we were proclaimed the winners!   And the cruise director revealed that my sous chef had never won against the other guy; in fact, the other guy had been undefeated in this challenge—so that was pretty cool.  The executive chef signed my chef hat and presented me with a bottle of champagne.  If you check out the photos on my Facebook page, you can see a picture of me in my chef hat, and other photos from the cruise:   

http://www.facebook.com/ profile.php?id=1049116991#!/ album.php?aid=46788&id= 1049116991  

I’m hoping by the time I write my next newsletter, I’ll have good news to report about SHEPHERD MOON, my novel set in the 50’s.  Back in December, I received an e-mail from an editor at Pocket Books, who, incredibly enough, had rejected this book last March.  She said she couldn’t get it out of her mind and wanted to know if it was still available.  Believe me, that never happens in publishing.  Once a book is rejected, that’s it.  So, I’m thinking that a miracle has already happened—that she wants to read it again.  If she makes an offer, then it will be a true miracle book.  So…cross your fingers for me.  This book is so very important to me because it was inspired by my mother’s life growing up in Kentucky.  Although she’s no longer here to read it, it would be my tribute to her life, and I want so much to share it with all of you.   

Congratulations to my February contest winner, Terry Elliott from Millsboro, DE.  She won copies of my books and this custom-made necklace set of coral, lapis, turquoise and millifiore beads.  Be sure and enter my new contest at www.CaroleBellacera.com. 
 

Until next month… 

Blessings,

Carole

February 2010

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