Four Bottles Left

When I went to England, my friends had some advice for me.

“Try Strongbow,” they said. “It’s a cider they have over there and it’s really good.”

I was a college sophomore, spending the better part of a month in the UK learning about writing and British writers. I liked England, with its gray drizzle that reminded me of my Northwest home.

I didn’t like feeling like an outsider because my goal wasn’t to be the next Great American Novelist, unlike some others in the class.

But I liked the frigid, dark, rainy January evenings spent in the pub with two or three friends – others who were writing for fun, not academia or accolades – before we went back to the hotel to work on our stories or watch this weird show we’d discovered, “Doctor Who.”

I liked being of legal drinking age, and I really liked Strongbow. I liked the crisp dryness of cider, something more grown-up than the Mike’s Hard Lemonade and (shudder) Smirnoff Ice I was used to drinking at the time.

So when I got home, I wanted to try to find Strongbow stateside.

Shopping for Strongbow became an ongoing quest, something archived in my mental grocery lists for around six years. Strongbow wasn’t easy to find, at least not where I lived, but occasionally I would find myself in a liquor store or specialty grocery store that happened have a six-pack. Then, I would savor my purchase, only cracking open a bottle for the most anticipated of parties or the worst of bad days.

Strongbow was my drink of choice on my birthdays. My then boyfriend, now husband even bought me a six-pack for my birthday one year. It had a red bow on it. When one of my England classmates returned home from a semester abroad, we drank Strongbow. (I remember texting her on a winter break, having just tracked down another six-pack: “Captain Strongbow rides again!“) And when other friends went to England, I passed along the recommendation.

Roll the clock forward on those six years. I graduated. I got married. I had three or four jobs. We bought a house. And all that time, I kept an eye out for Strongbow.

It turned out that the nearby Fred Meyer carried Strongbow right there in the beer aisle, a phenomenon I hadn’t experienced before. Strongbow? Just sitting there, waiting for me? Mission accomplished! I can just grab more whenever I want!

I took it for granted. That doesn’t mean I went crazy with it – in fact, I still have four bottles from the last six-pack I ever purchased. I still wanted to save them for special occasions.

Those occasions are going to have to be very special, because they stopped selling original Strongbow in the US in 2014.

I should’ve been paying more attention. Hindsight being 20/20, I realized I had begun to notice some kind of change. The beer aisle seemed to only offer something called Strongbow Gold, a sweeter variety I had no interest in. I just assumed the market was changing and I would have to resume actively searching for the Strongbow I liked. After being served the Gold stuff in a British pub in Portland, though, I finally looked online and found out Strongbow as I knew it didn’t even exist in this country anymore.

Four bottles left. How long does cider keep? How much longer can I preserve my nostalgia?

Hopefully it’ll buy me enough time to visit Canada and restock.

Links Lundi

Have some “West Wing” trivia! Can’t decide whether my favorite is the possibility of Sydney Poitier being the President, or Madeleine Albright shaming the producers into creating Nancy McNally.

Love those Girl Scout Samoas? Sad that the box only lasts a day or two? Solution: bake your own! The recipe make FOUR DOZEN COOKIES which should last at least three days.

I’ve been getting my nostalgia fix from these recaps of “X-Men: Evolution,” a show that eventually becomes good but starts really really terribly. Favorite quote so far: “Just in case you needed an illustration of how thoroughly spending your formative years with Charles Xavier will f*** you up, Cyclops immediately apologizes for having failed to stop Toad, having been irresponsible enough to get himself knocked out while attempting to defend a hapless peer from his insane guardian’s murder playground.”

A photon’s-eye view of travel at the speed of light.

For your bookmarks: an entire tumblr dedicated to gifs of people flipping tables. Like:

or:

Which will come in handy a lot.

Magnolias

I’m here so infrequently now I almost don’t remember my password. Yikes. Well, in the effort to get myself back to writing, here is a thing I wrote about spring.

 

After so many months of slate-dark skies we lost faith

in the sun. Calendars turn purposeless

when rain follows rain and clouds

lie heavy over the cities

like dirt over old bones

which are becoming fossil –

rock, dead, but once living.

The dead don’t need sunlight, don’t care

whether it’s warm or when

or if

the sun

shatters down to the surface.

We do not want to be dead.

 

We do not want to be dead, but spring’s promise

is late, we think, so we assume the worst:

a year of mud instead of flowers

clouds instead of sky

brown instead of pink

gray instead of blue.

Our world closes in, drains our colors,

and offers only a cloudy day

a cloudy day

a cloudy day

a cloudy day.

 

When the flowers do bloom, they bare their faces

hesitantly. They are pallid, limp, ghostly attempts

at themselves. They know what they could be –

vibrant, fearless, blazing –

but they don’t know how,

not without the sun.

 

Sometimes change is subtle and

sometimes it is abrupt –

a match flares while a coal

simmers –

a car crash ends a life while another life stretches

until, piece by piece, one at a time,

it breaks down.

 

When the promised change came, it came subtly.

It came purposefully, with beauty designed,

first as a warm rain

and a smell of healing earth, then

as gentler mornings and rose-gold evenings,

and on the third day they rolled

the stone away and the rain stopped

and the magnolias bloomed,

so that whosoever believed

would have eternal spring.

Links Lundi

Well hello! I’m still here. I’ve been having lots of feels over Marvel’s “Secret Wars” announcement, all those bizarre Super Bowl ads (not to mention our nation’s idols brawling in the last few seconds), “Agent Carter,” and some other stuff. None of these ever translated into blog-worthy posts, though. I think I was on Twitter more during the Super Bowl that I’d been for the past three months combined.

It’s Black History Month and there’s lots of interesting things to read up on: the forgotten black women in American history, the hashtags #28DaysofBlackCosplay and #BlackComicsMonth, #HistoricPOC on tumblr, and the National Women’s History Museum on Facebook.

Do you know the woman responsible for saving the US space program?

Just so you know, Princess Leia is getting her own five-issue series starting in March!

Harper Lee’s sequel to “To Kill A Mockingbird” is slated to be published this July, but…under very shady circumstances.