My Trusty Steed

19 Nov

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This year I’ve had to get back in the saddle–the bike saddle, that is. Back in the day, when I lived in Chicago, I was a somewhat dedicated bike commuter, and I had no problem riding my bike around the city.

Moving to Massachusetts changed some of that — true, I tended to ride less because the Boy doesn’t have a bike (it’s no fun to do long, leisurely rides on your own), but living in a place where the drivers are flat-out lousy really scared me out of riding much. But needing to live better scared me back into it.

I used to have access to our car during the weekday, and I tended to fit in most of our errands during the week so we could avoid weekend store crowds and traffic. The Boy commuted by train to his job and got a little bit of reading time.

Well, that changed this year when the Boy’s office shuttle service disappeared. The train station isn’t near the office, and to be honest, adding the price of a cab ride onto the cost of a train ticket wouldn’t be any cheaper than driving. So he took the car, and if I need to go anywhere during the workday, I have to figure out how to get there.

For a while, I walked to wherever I was going, and if it was really far, I hopped on a bus or commuter rail. This often took a lot of planning — a 30-minute physical therapy session often required a couple of hours round trip on the bus, because the bus schedule is a little more sporadic where I live. Even walking to the nearest grocery store meant budgeting a minimum of one hour–and that’s if I flew through the store. And I could only take home as much as I could carry, which meant “not much.”

“But Jill, why didn’t you just start doing your shopping at nights and on weekends, like everyone else?”

I’ve seen you people. I might slit my wrists if I had to battle everyone else on a Saturday. Even weeknight shopping can be a combination of many near-miss car accidents, long lines and irritable people who just want to get home. And I say this with a lot of experience doing grocery shopping during senior citizen hours, when a busload of seniors gets dropped off at the store for their weekly shop and then only know how to move slowly and have their carts take up entire aisles [the bonus of shopping during senior citizen hours is that it’s a reminder to go home and exercise so that I maintain some strength and mobility and hopefully age more slowly]. Plus, the Boy hates errands, so why burden his free time with them if I don’t really have to?

Anyway, this summer I got tired of how small my world had gotten due to the limitations of walking, so I pulled on my big girl pants and started riding my bike on the mean streets of Massachusetts, where if the potholes, garbage and debris in the roads aren’t going to get you, the Massholes might.

Even though it’s scary–and the Boy worries like crazy–my trusty steed and I go out on an almost daily basis. I still mainly do errands, but I’ve learned how to carry 100 empty bottles and cans to return them to a recycling redemption center. I’ve managed to tote a bunch of office supplies in my saddle bag and lug 22 pounds of groceries four miles–while a massive truck towing a bulldozer sped past me (honking furiously, like I could magically jump the curb)–all while managing to get the eggs home in quite decent shape. And I’ve learned how to rig up bungee cords to attach big boxes onto my back rack so I don’t have to awkwardly walk them to UPS.

All in all, since mid-August, I’ve put 150 miles on my bike (and that’s with me being out of town a lot), and gained about the same amount of confidence. Even though it’s getting colder and is a lot less fun to ride, the freedom the bike gives me is totally worth it. I try really hard not to be a cyclist Masshole who runs red lights and stop signs, and I still fear that some idiot is going to hit me some day. But I can’t not get out there and live the better life that the bike gives me.

 

CHIPS (of the Credit Card Variety)!

2 Oct

Yesterday was an exciting day, as big changes were afoot in the world of credit cards. Did you notice? Did you care? Did you celebrate as I did by spending some money?

Yes, yesterday was the deadline for liability shift with regards to credit card technology. I have a weekly gig writing about credit cards, so it’s something I’ve been paying attention to–for years, actually–and yesterday marked another tiny step that America took in catching up to the rest of the world.

I’m talking about chip cards. Have you been getting replacement credit cards that have a little chip on them? I have–and haven’t. I have five credit cards in my wallet: a MasterCard, an American Express, a Discover card and two Visas. Because I write about cards, I believe I should have the major brands. One Visa gives me hotel rewards. The other Visa I got specifically because it has a chip. I needed it for a trip to Europe, since over there, there are places that simply don’t accept magnetic stripe cards anymore and I didn’t want to get myself into a bind. At the moment, only two of the cards in my wallet have chips on them–the two Visa cards.

I’m getting a little ahead of myself here. If you don’t know what chip cards do and why it’s such a big deal, let me give you a quick explanation. Our typical credit cards have a magnetic stripe on the back, and that stripe contains the personal information needed to make payments. It’s old technology and is relatively easy to steal.

The next version of technology is EMV, and that’s the chip on the card. The chip is actually a little microprocessor, and all of your personal data is stored on that chip. To make a payment you stick a card into a payment terminal and then you  authenticate payment with a PIN or a signature.

EMV’s a lot more secure, which is why it’s kind of crazy that the U.S. has waited so long to implement it. Oh, I get it. Change is expensive and takes time. It’s expensive for retailers to invest in the equipment. It’s expensive to make new credit cards. It can take a lot of time to install all of the equipment and make sure it works. Getting cards mailed out takes a while.

But I’ve had my original chip card for almost three years. THREE YEARS, and I haven’t been able to use the chip function in this country. Don’t even get me started on chip and PIN. When I got the card, my choices were few, and getting the PIN feature was really expensive (like a few hundred dollars that I wasn’t willing to spend). For that, whenever I travel outside the U.S., I get raised eyebrows because retailers don’t expect to have to ask people to sign for purchases anymore–you’re supposed to be able to type in your PIN and that’s it. But noooooooo, they have to print a receipt, and I have to sign it, and it takes forever. Forever. I feel like I should apologize every time.

Anyway, yesterday marked a big deadline in the U.S.’ shift to chip cards. The liability shift. That means if there’s a data breach, fault is going to be assigned to whoever isn’t up-to-date. If a retailer doesn’t take chip cards, they’re going to be on the hook for fraud. If a card doesn’t have a chip on it, then the issuer’s going to be at fault (so for me, that’s my Discover and two Citi-issued cards). Could be a big problem, particularly if you’re a small business.

I was at dinner with some friends last night and heard Target had turned on their chip terminals, so after dinner I hightailed it over there and bought some stuff. And paid with my chip card. And was so very happy (well, not about the whole chip and signature thing, but still). Target’s had the chip card readers for a long time too, and you haven’t been able to use them–everything had to be swiped. Not anymore!

I thought for sure this was the beginning of a better system……and then I went to Hannaford today for some groceries and even though they’ve got the chip readers, the chip feature wasn’t turned on yet.

It looks like it’s going to take just a little more patience. We’ll be caught up to the technological present soon, I hope. Just in time for something else to take its place.

#SuperBloodMoon – The Transcript

28 Sep

In doing a quick look at the all-important Twitter this morning, I noticed that no one seems to have live-tweeted the #SuperBloodMoon eclipse last night. This was a big opportunity missed–I’m sure that if I had posted just the right pithy or moving tweet, news reporters everywhere would’ve jumped on it and given me some good exposure.

That’s not to say that I can’t share my distinctly special take on the lunar eclipse with the handfuls of readers who tune in (or accidentally click on) this blog. Here’s how it went down outside of Boston, MA:

Jill (pausing the DVR on “Project Runway”): It’s 10:00! Time for Super Blood Lunar Eclipse!

The Boy: I don’t think that’s exactly what it’s called.

Jill dashes out front door.

Jill: You can see it!

The Boy comes outside and stands by Jill on the front walkway. The moon is about halfway covered up at this point.

The Boy: Wow. It already started.

Someone across the street hacks up a lung.

The Boy: Let’s see if we can see this in the backyard.

They dash to the back of the house. The view from the back porch is perfect.

Jill: Wow, that’s amazing.

The Boy: Yeah. That’s amazing. Where are my binoculars?

Jill: I don’t know. They’re your binoculars. Maybe in the front closet.

The Boy goes back inside, quickly finds the binoculars and comes back outside.

The Boy (through the binoculars): It’s so cool. Want to see? You might need to adjust the focus.

Jill holds the binoculars up to her eyes.

Jill: That’s so cool. I think the shadow is starting to move past.

She fiddles around with the focus and hands the binoculars back to the Boy.

The Boy: What did you do to these?

Jill: Sorry.

The Boy fixes the focus again.

The Boy: No, it’s almost covered up.

He hands the binoculars back to her.

Jill: Oh, you’re right. Let’s go back in and watch some TV.

******

Repeat a few times. I won’t do that here, because really, time-lapse photography was a much better way to experience this event, rather than reading our lame conversation and my eventual bad attempts at jokes (you really don’t want to read those). Right now, I bet you’re looking around your shoulder for Robert Goulet.

I’m not saying that the eclipse wasn’t cool–it totally was, and I even succumbed to the lure of taking a picture on my phone, knowing that the massive 4.0X magnifying power of the lens wasn’t going to be anywhere near something like these gems. See?

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There’s a tiny red sliver around the center of this photo. SuperBloodMoon eclipse! Think I should enter NASA’s photo contest? Think I’m delusional enough to?

Still, sometimes you can’t beat the wonder of science. We got lucky and for once had clear skies to see this pretty amazing occurrence–which isn’t going to happen again for a VERY LONG TIME, even though it seems like we’re always having eclipses, each of which is very special and different and won’t happen again for a VERY LONG TIME–probably not in your lifetime–so you’d better hope for good weather, or else you are missing out on life.

Or at least something pretty spiffy to look at and not necessarily talk about.

Getting on the Right Side of the Law

25 Sep

Citizen Police Officer (in Training) Jaracz reporting for duty!

Wait — what? Jill, the closest you’ve ever really gotten to policing is talking about cop cars. Are you really training to be some sort of authoritative police person taking down criminals and busting jaywalkers in Massachusetts?

Well, as nice as it sounds to crack down on pedestrian crime (which is a topic for another post because pedestrian right of way is taken to a whole new level of crazy here in Massachusetts), no.

No, for the next twelve weeks I’ll be attending Citizen Police Academy, a program in the ‘Ham (what the Boy and I call our town) that teaches citizens about all the different things the police do in our community. It’s a pretty extensive way to do some educational outreach, but I imagine it goes a long way toward building rapport between citizens and the police officers (and hey, I get to see my tax dollars at work).

There are about 30 of us in Class 27, and we range from high schoolers who are interested in becoming cops to college students majoring in criminal justice to groups of neighbors who decided to take it together. One guy’s a repeat customer–took it ten years ago and wanted to see how things have changed. I’m here because one of my neighbors went through it and said it was really interesting.

How interesting? Well, during our first class we visited the training gun range, the intake area, the cell blocks, and the main on-duty/monitoring room. I learned that cops have gun training twice a year, and they’ll train for extreme weather conditions. The ‘Ham uses bean bag rifles for deescalation purposes. An officer hasn’t fired his weapon at someone in the line of duty for many years.

I also learned that if you want to drive after drinking, it’s good to make sure that you have $40 on you and that you’re wearing (or carrying) socks. The $40 will get you out of the cell block, and the socks will protect your feet while you’re in the cell block. They take your shoes away when they put you in a cell, and the floor is pretty nasty.

Actually, the cells are pretty nasty, especially the women’s. They each contain a cot (no blanket) and a toilet. There’s a phone where they can make collect calls (good story–they’ve had detainees call the station while they’re sitting in the cell block and just say, “You assholes!”). The men’s cell block is made out of plexiglass-covered bars–because you can’t have the bars exposed, since someone might try to kill themselves–but the women’s cells are solid walls with a solid door that has a small window at the top. And they smell. I’d imagine it’s pretty easy to go nuts in there (ladies, no matter how cute the shoes are and how small your purse is, carry socks!)

However, the Commonwealth mandates that officers check on people in the cell blocks every 30 minutes. The ‘Ham checks on them every 15. Perhaps that alleviates some of the stress.

When we toured the men’s block, there were a couple of prisoners in there, detained for whatever reason (no bail, no bail yet, have to wait until court’s open, etc.), and you could tell they weren’t too thrilled to see a big group of law-abiding citizens parading through, trying to avoid eye contact.

The other very important thing I learned was that if you jaywalk, you could be fined. One dollar. Multiple offenders? Those next offenses will also set you back $1 per offense. The only reason the sergeant who told us this knew about it because he writes the grants for pedestrian safety in the ‘Ham and had to look it up. No officer in their right mind would be ticketing pedestrians. What a waste of time.

If my citizen policery came with any actual powers though, I’d be spending my patrol time writing those tickets. “Crosswalk’s five feet away, ma’am. Let this one dollar ticket be a stern reminder to use it next time!”

So my twelve weeks of fun begin. On the schedule are visits to the 9-11 center, defensive tactics, field sobriety/breathalyzers, violence prevention, elder affairs, S.W.A.T. and more. We also get to shoot Glocks and go on a ride along. It’s going to be an exciting fall, my friends!

Postcard from Cleveland

22 Sep

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Hello Readers!

Somehow summer has almost completely passed, and although I’ve thought about you a lot over the last few months, I really haven’t done my part to keep up. Time to get back on track though, so I’ll start with some of my summer travels that caused disruption in my routine.

In August I went to Cleveland to officiate the first WFTDA D2 Playoff of the season, but I’m writing to you not to talk about the tournament (fun) or the officiating (which I thought went really well), but to  mention how smitten I am with Cleveland.

I’ve visited a few Rust Belt cities over the last few years, and I’m thrilled that many of them are experiencing a renaissance, with downtowns going through revitalization, people moving back in and interesting places opening up. You can feel a buzz of optimism, and it’s catchy enough to make me want to move there (Buffalo, I’m looking at you too).

If I had to move to Cleveland, I’d like to be able to live where I could regularly shop at the store pictured here. Oh, you thought it was the interior dome of a museum or something? No. It’s a grocery store. All right, Heinen’s didn’t build it that way, but they did keep The Cleveland Trust Company  building that is their downtown location pretty much intact from its good old days as a bank.

Heinen’s is on the fancier side in terms of grocery stores. They stock a couple of flavors of Polar, which is nice because you don’t always see Polar outside the Seltzer Belt (New England). They also have Noosa yoghurt, which you know is fancy because “yogurt” is spelled with an “h” (you should look for it in your local stores though–it’s totally delicious). Other froo-froo items include the parmesan-stuffed dates and some fancy tortilla chips that probably didn’t contain a lick of corn that I bought to fulfill my snacking needs for the weekend.

The best part about Heinen’s is its prepared food section (well, maybe the upstairs beer and wine tasting is better, but since I can’t drink and officiate, I didn’t even go up there). And here’s a tip: If you want a salad, skip the pay-by-the-ounce salad bar, and go to the global grill counter. This is where you can get things like meat and rice in a bowl or a themed salad OR you can make your own bowl.

I was in the mood for a big salad and thought about the salad bar, but I knew that with what foods I wanted, I’d quickly have a $15 salad on my hands and would have to hold back my tears at the cash register while I forked over the money and told myself I’d better be licking the plastic container clean.

Then I saw the bowl station had prepared salads, so I sauntered over there to get a Mediterranean salad, which would have fit the bill. Then I noticed that you could build your own, and they had maybe 30 different toppings, which was pretty much like the salad bar, except minus the cottage cheese, which I don’t eat anyway.

So I ordered a build-your-own salad, and the employee asked me what I wanted on it. I said, “Everything.”

“Everything?”

I scanned the rows of ingredients. “Well, maybe just two of the three coleslaws…and we can skip the kimchi. And I guess I’ll do just one kind of cheese.”

Raised eyebrows. “All right.”

Best damn salad ever. You can totally mix salsa and two kinds of coleslaw with spinach and peppers and feta and have a delicious concoction called “lunch.”

I went back to Heinen’s the next day and had the same thing, different dressing. Again, fantastic and joy-inducing, and I’m not sure if that’s because the food was good, the employees were super friendly or if shopping in such a beautiful building made the difference. I just know that it’s making a difference in a city–that still has a long way to go to get back to its glory days but is definitely showing a lot of signs of life. I’ll take that and look forward to the next time I go to Cleveland.

Now, if we could all work to get Gary back on track….

Winning at Lammington Roulette

4 Jun

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Back to Australia, where we’re on our last day on the road, and I still haven’t found a proper cream-filled Lammington. After leaving Buchan, we stopped for an excellent breakfast in Bruthen. I had high hopes for the small town’s bakery, but it didn’t even have Lammingtons. Onward.

We kept driving toward Melbourne and while going through the much larger town of Sale, I saw a bakery and we stopped. You know how you go to Europe and try to pronounce the name of something, and they have that way of correcting you where their tone of voice implies, “You ugly American. Our vowel pronunciation is much more civilized than your nasally twang. Always, always are our ‘a’s’ pronounced ‘ah”? It now doesn’t really matter where I travel, I automatically assume that if I’m outside of the United States and Canada, an ‘a’ is always pronounced ‘ah.’ Hence in Sale, I called it “Sah-lay.” Susy immediately corrected me. “It’s Say-el.” Gah! I’m showing not just my ugly American, I’m pulling out my ugly, pretentious American!

Anyway, Sale is where we hit the jackpot. They had Lammingtons! They had cream Lammingtons! They had cream Lammingtons in both chocolate and strawberry coating! JACKPOT! I got one of each–even though they were huge, I couldn’t resist–and back into the car we went. I scarfed down one of them throughout the rest of the journey and saved the other for breakfast the next day.

Both were fantastic–and they had jam in them as well! Cream and jam Lammingtons? BONUS JACKPOT! While they were completely delicious, I almost had to agree with Kill C.’s sentiment that, “The best part about finding cream Lammingtons is that I don’t have to eat anymore Lammingtons.” Until one of our clinic students found out we liked them and made a batch for us that night. Homemade, they were even better because the frosting was spread really thickly. Man, I can still taste those now. It’s a good thing I don’t have a recipe (yet) or that America hasn’t heard about this treat–we’re hip to the cupcake, whoopie pie and donut now. Lammingtons could be just around the food trend corner!

Weird Spontaneity

3 Jun

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Yesterday I was supposed to go to roller derby scrimmage. That’s my practice time–and I’d intended to use that time to get used to the new plates I had put on my roller skates.

Except that I needed a ride, and when I was asking around, one of the skaters said they weren’t going to scrimmage because they were going to see Weird Al at the Wilbur Theater. I mentioned this to the Boy, who said, “Weird Al’s in town? Oh, man!”

Quick, to the Interwebs! Al’s 7:00 show was sold out, but tickets were still available for the 10:00 show. I also had a Ticketmaster gift card burning a hole in my wallet, so after a little deliberation, I decided to skip practice, the Boy would hightail it home after a late conference call, we’d eat dinner quickly and head downtown. For a late concert. On a Tuesday.

We haven’t done something that spontaneous in a while, so it was a pretty awesome feeling, not to mention an awesome show. We’ve both seen Al a few times, and he really knows how to perform. Lots of new songs and parodies, several medleys, his latest polka, and a bunch of old parodies reworked (“Eat It” to the acoustic version of “Layla,” for example). Lots of costume changes, but that left room for a great video reel, including a trailer for “Weird,” the Al biopic that really needs to be produced (it was doubly funny to us because we just finished watching “Breaking Bad” and had been talking about how good Aaron Paul was as Jesse Pinkman. He also does a great Al).

After the show, I waited in line for merch, which isn’t something I normally do. I have a million t-shirts, so I don’t need another one, and the non-clothing items aren’t usually interesting to me. Except Al’s latest album “Mandatory Fun” was on vinyl, and even though I don’t currently own a record player, the second I saw it, I knew I had to buy it. Why? I had to see if he continued the tradition of putting a little message on the vinyl between the grooves and the label.

I discovered this back in junior high, when I was hanging out at my friend Tracee’s house and we were looking at an Al album. While flipping the vinyl around, Tracee noticed that it said, “Eat your broccoli!” in that little space. What?! On the other side it said, “An accordion is a terrible thing to waste.” We quickly looked at our other Al albums, and they all had a little message in that space. It was the best Easter egg discovery.

I couldn’t even wait until we got to the car before I slit the plastic wrapping and wrangled the album and liner notes out (oh, man, I forgot about liner notes! And it’s incredibly weird to see only 5-7 songs per side–it’s not one big playlist?), all with the Boy warning me to be careful and not break the record. Sadly, no such messages with this album. It’s kind of a bummer–though not a complete waste. I’ll find a way to listen to the vinyl and it came with a digital download. It’s honestly a nice souvenir too–I’d forgotten the fun of vinyl records, and I’m looking forward to listening to the scratch of the needle as it settles into the groove.

It was weird to take away a normal Tuesday and replace it with something fun, but I’m awfully glad we did it. Even though it made for a rough morning, it was a good kick in the pants to keep an eye out for those little opportunities to enjoy life a little more.

Postcard from Buchan

2 Jun

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In blog time, I’m still in Australia, near the end of our road trip. We had one more night on the road, and Susy found us a place in a tiny town (population: 326) in the hills called Buchan (rhymes with “truckin'”). We had to drive along many winding roads in the dark, and we actually had to deal with wildlife crossing the road several times. Twice, wallabies decided it would be fun to hop right in front of the car. Another time we had to stop for a wombat who darted across the road. Then we had to sit and wait for another huge wombat who decided it would take its own sweet time getting out of our way. The look on its face as it stared us down said a little more, but I’m not sure that’s fit to blog.

Needless to say, we weren’t quite sure what we were in for by the time we reached Buchan, but we knew instantly that we were in a place where we’d missed the dinner hour (earlier in the day we’d pretty much missed lunch and settled for a fried seafood feast in Eden, and we were all still hurting from that). Luckily, the lovely owners of the property where we were staying had some frozen pizzas on hand and beer and wine, so we paired that with cheese from Boden and had ourselves a little feast.

When we got to our cabin, we were sorely sorry we couldn’t spend another night here. The place had a great setup with three bedrooms, a living room, a rather large kitchen and an enormous bathroom with a tub and a separate shower that had body jets. We were all excited about the shower, although we were told to watch our water usage because it came from a tank attached to the house (and you wouldn’t want to run out in the middle of someone’s shower). Said shower was great until you opened the shower doors at the end and discovered that water had sprayed out all over the floor. Slight detractor on an otherwise lovely place.

The next morning, I took a little walk around the town, such that it was. It had a general store, a cafe (temporarily closed), a bar. Buchan’s known for its caves (which we didn’t have the time to visit) and it used to have a decent butter factory. I also found out that John Flynn, the guy on the Australian $20 bill, was a Presbyterian missionary in Buchan from 1905 to 1907. He later went on to work in the inland and became known for his work in setting up hospitals in the outback and creating the Royal Doctor Flying Service.

Sadly, that’s pretty much all the time we had for Buchan. A short, but glorious evening and morning in some beautiful countryside with sunny fall weather, cockatiels flying in the trees and a little bit of relaxation before we hit the big city of Melbourne.

Flipping the Calendar

1 Jun

Dear Readers,

I seriously don’t know what happened to May. Travel, yes. Writing, yes. Roller derby, yes. But blogging? No.

That will change as I flip the page on the calendar and decide that June will be better. I’ll finish up the Australia trip–apparently some of my postcards to you got lost in the mail. Then a friend of mine got married and had a lovely backyard wedding and reception, which meant for a very fun weekend. Then I went to Colorado and almost didn’t see the Rockies.

Workwise, I’ve gotten a few new assignments that are keeping me busy, and of course, there’s roller derby–committees to be on, games to officiate, laps to skate. Last week I learned the hard way what it’s like to skate with no toe stops, which is something I’m not quite prepared to repeat.

Hmmm. I guess I see what happened to May–it’s just all up in my noggin’, which isn’t doing anyone any good. Time to open up the hatch and let it spill out. More tomorrow, my friends.

Your pal,

Jill

The Anzac Biscuit that Got Away

20 May

I’ve been home for a week now, and I’m still thinking about this one Anzac biscuit that I did not purchase and devour. Mistake?

Let me back up for a second and explain the Anzac biscuit (note to Americans: biscuit = cookie). This biscuit is in honor of Anzac Day, which is on April 25 and honors the anniversary of Australia and New Zealand’s first major military action on Gallipoli during World War I (Anzac = Australian and New Zealand Army Corps). As time passed and the globe experienced another World War, the day’s come to be an honor and memorial to those who’ve served in the Anzac armed forces, To an American, Anzac Day is basically Memorial Day on steroids. It’s a big deal. BIG deal. Everywhere you go, you’ll see billboards and public transit ads promoting memorial services and marches. I think it’s pretty cool, and although I’ve never been able to be in Australia or New Zealand for Anzac Day proper, I can appreciate how they honor those who’ve sacrificed for their country.

One of the traditions that go along with Anzac Day is the Anzac biscuit. This is a treat I found out about on an earlier trip to Australia, and now I know that if I’m there in April or May, I can find them. I’m sure that food manufacturers and bakeries have found a way to offer them all year round, but I’d like to think of them as something special, like a Reese’s Peanut Butter Egg, that you only get once a year. The Anzac biscuit is a non-chocolate, non-egg cookie that was made for soldiers in the war. Eggs were in short supply, so they used a golden syrup to hold this rolled oat, flour, butter and coconut mixture together. The result is a golden cookie that I find to be pretty tasty.

Since I got to Australia after Anzac Day, I wasn’t sure I’d find them (my Qantas flight–sometimes a good source for them–didn’t come through, so on the flight over I thought I was too late); however, it didn’t take too long after we got off the plane to find a cafe that had a jar of them. After spotting a manufactured package of them at the grocery store, I have a feeling that they’ve turned into something similar to the Reese’s (insert holiday-shaped peanut butter cup) phenomenon, where you can buy them year-round. I kind of hope I’m wrong about that, but Aussie reader, you can clue me in. Of course, soon thereafter, I embarked on my lamington challenge, which pretty much took up the share of stomach I was allowing for sweets, so I eyed most Anzac biscuits from afar, including the one I saw at the Bodalla Dairy Shed.

Once we picked up our Bateman’s Bay cabin and packed up the car, we headed south. First stop: Cheese. The Bodalla Dairy Shed produces small-batch cheese and yogurt and milk (and delicious-looking milkshakes, which I also passed on). The cheese is delicious–and they have a bunch of interesting varieties. As we were checking out, I saw the Anzac biscuits. Big ones. Delicious-looking ones. However, I’d stuffed myself with kangaroo breakfast burrito and had just tried every kind of cheese they sold. In the back of my head, I thought about the amount of weight I’ve gained over the last few months and how I really should work on getting that back off at some point. I didn’t really need a giant Anzac biscuit. Even though I’m on vacation. Even though I don’t see them at home. Even though it looked absolutely fantastic. And in a major display of willpower, I passed.

At our next cheese stop in Bega, which was more of a commercial outfit than Bodalla, I caved and got a sugar cookie with Smarties in it. It tasted pretty bad, and I didn’t even eat it all. So much for will power. The bitter, crumbly disappointment of this disaster made me wish I’d just gotten the Anzac biscuit and somehow not gulped it all down right away. It was big. I could’ve portioned it out. So much for plans and futile attempts at personal improvement. So much for what may have been the best Anzac biscuit I’d ever tasted. Or maybe not. Maybe I took a tiny step in the right direction. Maybe that Anzac biscuit was just a concrete disk. Maybe it was the better choice after all.

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