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Handcart Days Kick Off

I’m in the wrong state for Handcart Days but they were celebrated all throughout my childhood by the people around us. It was like Christmas in the summer. It took me years after I left there to stop thinking of July 24th as a holiday. Years. And we weren’t even Mormons. We were just the weird Catholic family on the block (for years the lone one) who couldn’t boast to having a handcarter in the family tree but us kids always loved fireworks, the more the better. So we spent those long, hot Utah summers basking in the 20 days of fireworks from the 4th to the 24th. I remember the snap crackle and pop that always flared somewhere in our neighborhood just as the sun stared dipping out of the sky over the lake in an angry bath of reds and oranges and purples while the night crept in from over the tops of the Wasatch. Some kid somewhere was setting off firecrackers, probably the good illegal stuff from Wyoming.

This year, Pioneer Day weekend is a true long one and I haven’t thought of the holiday for a few years now. Today, I had the day off, the first Friday off all month. I had espied it from the relentless days of the hottest June I remember and made a spa appointment to take advantage of the three days. What good are massages if you have to go to work the next day? I got a full 90″. And no, I didn’t feel like it was too long. It was just right and I may give up facials just so I can get the 90″ massage. After the spa, I went to the local Nicole Miller to shop for a dress for a September wedding. One dress was okay but then I thought people from work will be there and it was more like a hot date dress and not a dress to be seen in when around co-workers. I hated the rest of the dresses. What good is a sale if you don’t like what they’re selling? My mission continues.

After that, I walked slowly though the hot streets to the Garces Trading Company. I wanted to see if they had new wines in their store. I had nearly settled on a verdejo, even if it’s a seafood type of wine and I’m not into seafood much, when I saw a small row of rosés by the sparklers. A Spanish rosé with 50% Garnacha and 50% Tempranillo called out to me. It was a beautiful strawberry color and promised more weight than the Provençal rosés. I asked the woman but she hadn’t tried it. I have it in the fridge now. It looks beautiful and at only $10 how can you go wrong?

I was hungry after that and went back to Old City to Amada for lunch. Their tuna salad is not what you think. It had a tangle of frisee expertly dressed and decorated with some crisp haricot vert. The tuna salad didn’t have a whisper of mayo and was mounded generously on three slices of bread painted with fresh tomato. The tuna was bonito, heavy with olive oil and salted just like I like it, which is generously. Oh, delish. I had this with a glass of rosé cava since it’s still a wine that’s hard to find in this town. A perfect summer lunch. The tuna salad is a steal at $8 and if you have no alcohol, you could eat at one of the city’s finest for $10. The food trucks sell a styrofoam box worth of greasy street food for $7ish. Think about it. Thanks, Chef.

Second Street is home to The Book Trader, one of the city’s best used book shops. It’s packed full of books, books on every subject, books from one end to the other, high over your head, in tight corners, all those thousands of pages yellowing as you read the spines. There’s no AC, just a few fans churning mightily in the heat. The guys at the front were processing more books and talking about Glenn Beck. I’m so glad the Book Trader moved from horrid South Street to my beautiful neighborhood. I found a Complete Works of William Shakespeare in a modern printing for $10. The second floor has all the literature and I boldly went up even if the heat smacks you in the face as soon as you step off the staircase. Warm air rises… The smell of books is more pronounced up there thanks to the heat and the windows being closed. I stumbled upon the mystery section and book I had been wanting to read since I saw it reviewed in a publication years ago when it first came out, The Amber Room. It’s supposed to be wicked hot tomorrow and reading an art crime book that’s short on the Great Literature aspect might be just the ticket. It’s too hot for the end of Karamazov.

The books were furiously heavy and so was the wine by then, but I managed to make it over to the Franklin Fountain for some ice cream. I have never been disappointed there but I was today. I got a small Rum Raisin to go. There were raisins in the smooth ice cream but the rum was difficult to find at all and my scoop was so way tiny, I may consider avoiding that particular worker from now on out. Other people’s were way bigger than mine and they also had smalls. Wench. That place still reigns supreme as far as their perfect, sophisticated pistachio ice cream. It’s their best, though Cherry Vanilla with the ridiculous, no-corn-syrup anywhere hot fudge comes in a close second. I may only order those two things from them from now on. It’s way too expensive there to have something that is not perfection.

I came home with my bags where I will lie on the couch and watch TV. What a great day off.

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