Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Never done, Won't Ever do now!

RHYS BOWEN: Since we're all in reflective mode at the end of the year I thought I'd revisit this post to see what things I had done during the year that pushed me outside my comfort zone. I'm sad to report that I have not been up the Amazon, nor swum the English Channel, nor climbed any major mountain. I haven't learned Mandarin or to play the viola or make a good souffle.

The only thing I've done during the past year that was pushing the limits a bit for me was to agree to write a third book this year. Usually I write one Molly Murphy book and one Royal Spyness and I find that quite enough, when combined with research, travel, book tours etc. But I'd written a Christmas book for Penguin and it did well, so my other publisher asked me to write one for them. Of course, I said. No problem. (thinking that it would be the one book of the year, as it had been for Penguin). Then I found out it was AS WELL AS. I tried to back out. They pleaded. They kept coming up for solutions to make it easy for me. Finally it was easier to say yes, but it hung over me all year, knowing I'd have to come up with the energy and enthusiasm to write it.

I'm happy to say the first draft is done. Mission accomplished. It's called AWAY IN A MANGER and it will be out next November. And it's a sweet Christmassy story too.

So here is the post that got me thinking:

RHYS: Like most people I subscribe to Groupon, Living Social etc. I thought I filled in a profile when I joined so they would know what my interests might be. However recently I have been offered discounts on such diverse things as tandem skydiving and pole dancing.
Do they really see me as a sky-diving type? Or a pole dancer?

So I'm coming to the conclusion that there are some things I've never done in my life and now will never do. I will never sky dive. Since I hate the fast rides at the carnival the idea of hurtling toward the ground and praying that the chute will open does not appeal to me.

I will never shoot the rapids on the Colorado River (having known friends who were flung out of the boat and bashed against rocks for several miles. Uh, no thank you. Not my idea of fun.

I will never eat a fried Twinkie. I didn't know they existed until the twinkie factory closed and then there was a big uproar. I might have tried one in my youth, but now I watch my sugar and calorie intake this seems like a suicide mission.

And regretfully I'll never marry Robert Redford. Rats.

But there are other things I'm not ruling out. I may learn to pilot a plane, drive a race car. I really hope to go on a safari in Africa. It's one of the few things not accomplished on my bucket list.

So Reds: are there things you know you'll never do now? Any regrets? Any things you are still determined to do, however crazy they may seem?

LUCY BURDETTE: Oh Rhys, I thought we were twins separated at birth with the skydiving and rapids rafting and definitely Robert Redford! But I am also not interested in drag racing or flying planes. Nor climbing Mount Everest or any other scary mountain. When that story broke about the Sherpas (heartbreaking!), all I could think was those people are insane. And I will be shocked if some of them continue to climb in the wake of the terrible loss.

I'm basically a weiny when it comes to physical risk-taking, and that's okay with me:). As I told my sister, I like my adventures in my mind...

HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: I will never eat ham salad. Or sweetbreads.  And I'm iffy on lima beans. Sky-diving? Not a chance on this planet. Rock-climbing, nope. Motorcycles, anything to do with motorcycles. Forget it. I'm even unhappy on bicycles, since I  broke a collarbone when I decided it would be easier to go OVER the curb when I was going too fast at the Newton rotary--and I  learned you cannot go OVER the curb. I HAVE white-water rafted. Level five rapids on the Chatooga. It was actually great. So I am absolved from  doing it again. 

Yeah, I know I will never win a Pulitzer. That is SO sad.

RHYS: Hank, I adore sweetbreads (if a French restaurant cooks them). And I have come to accept that I will never win that Edgar (okay maybe lifetime achievement when I'm too old to enjoy it). I completely agree with the lima beans. No reason to exist. (And when I went to find this picture of them there was an article called 8 Poisonous foods we commonly eat. Nuff said.)

SUSAN ELIA MACNEAL: I've eaten grasshoppers and worms in Mexico and who-knows-what in Japan — but those days are over, since I'm now a vegetarian-trying-to-be-vegan. However, like Hank, I'm iffy on lima beans.

Just two years ago, I broke my knee trying to skateboard. (Yes, I know. My son asked me.) Since then I seem to have lost my fearlessness and approach everything a bit more carefully....

HALLIEPHRON: I heart lima beans. Really I do. And I have a recipe for the best creamy lima bean soup... will post one day soon. Sweetbreads not so much. Ditto almost any of the organ meats. And okra cooked slimy leaves me cold.

While you ladies pole dance and sky dive, fly planes and bungee jump, I'll be over there on the bench sitting with Roberta, sipping tea and eating homemade linzer cookies.

What I'm sorry I missed (and quite sure that I have): wearing sexy shoes when I still could.

DEBORAH CROMBIE: I've been getting the same sky-diving Groupon!  Must be a trend! But I think I can say with certainty that I will NEVER sky-dive. Or bungee jump. Or go white-water rafting (much to hubby's disappointment.) (Although I'm very proud to say that I have been sculling on the Thames, which was probably the most exciting thing I've ever done.)

I won't climb Mount Everest, although I have for years been fascinated by those who do.

I will probably never drive again in Mexico City, or, God help me, Rome.

But I'm with Rhys on the African safari, and with Hallie on the lima beans:-) And unlike Hank, I heart sweetbreads.  My mother used to make them regularly and I miss them, but hubby will not eat them so I don't cook them.

And I would really, really like to take a narrow boat holiday in England, and spend a summer cooking in Tuscany or the south of France.
Anyone want to join me?

RHYS: Yes--me! Me!  I've been intending to do a narrowboat holiday in England. How about a writing retreat/narrowboat holiday next year??
JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: May I come? That's one of my dream vacays. Write all day as you float along the rover, drinks and good food in the evening...  but our topic is things I've never tried, and now never will. Hmm. Doing basic car maintenance. I thought for years I ought to be able to change my own oil, but I have now surrendered to the realization that I'm never going to do this when I can head over to Jiffy Lube instead. Make fancy cakes and cupcakes. Always thought I ought to, because my mother was such a whiz at it, but nope, it never happened.

Some of my never-wills have to do with my kids ageing out: I'm never going to create elaborate holiday customs for them (harking back to earlier this week.) I'm never going to make those needlepoint Christmas stockings I always planned to, but never actually took the time to get started. Never going to do mother-daughter or sister-sister dresses. If I'm wearing the same thing as my 21-year-old Smithie, one of us is really not doing it right, and the only way my daughters are going to wear the same dress now is if they're both bridesmaids in a cousins' wedding.

No to bungy jumping, but I never wanted to bungy jump, even in my youth. The narrowboat writing retreat, however, may just rise to the top of my bucket list after this.

RHYS: So let's hear from you. What things have you never done and now never will? Any regrets?


  1. Sounds to me like we need to start a never sky diving club. We can hold meetings safely on the group and talk about how stupid those people who jump out of perfectly good planes are.

    I'll be the president.

    However, I really would love to do some white water rafting. As big a scaredy cat as I am, I do love the water. Just not heights. So I will raft down death defying water, but I won't jump into it from a high rock.

  2. There will be no skydiving or white water rafting [or anything that has anything to do with large bodies of water] in my life. Nor will there be any bungee jumping or mountain climbing. And I’m saying, “No” to those “thrilling” roller coasters or anything even remotely resembling any of those scary-fast-huge-drop rides that are supposed to be fun. The carousel is my idea of a great ride.

    Absolutely, hands down, lima beans are one of my favorite vegetables. I even grow them in the garden. [But I recently had lima bean soup in a local restaurant, and I’m sad to say that it wasn’t at all what I expected . . . .]

    I did the fancy birthday cakes, the sister/sister and mother/daughter dresses when the girls were little; I sewed and decorated skating dresses when the girls were skating in competition, but these days my sewing seems to be limited to not much more than mending. Sadly [and regretfully], tatting will probably continue to elude me despite the fact that my grandmother really wanted me to learn to how to tat lace . . . .

  3. If it involves heights, speed, or cold, count me out-- so not only are sky diving and mountain climbing among the things I'll never do, skiing is something I've done but will never do again. As for piloting a plane, only now that we enter through a jetway instead of climbing those outside stairs, so I don't have to actually see the plane, can I fly with any comfort.

    I love lima beans (especially in the chicken or turkey soup with mushrooms, barley, and lima beans that I make all winter). I also like liver.

    On the other hand, I have eaten ham and simply do not like it, and won't eat it again. And I won't eat octopus because they are intelligent and affectionate (squid are another story).

    I've resigned myself to the fact that I will never travel in space or go to the moon (when we landed there in 1969, I had hopes-- and yes, I see the contradiction with the fact that I don't like heights).

    Bucket list? I'd like to go back to Italy and the Caribbean again, and maybe China, but not to France, or to Holland (been there, done that). And I do wonder what it would be like to live in a BIG house, but not if I had to take care of it myself.

  4. Sorry, computer skipped-- that was my post about heights, cold, and space.

  5. Such aversion to lima beans!

    I have white-water rafted, and traveled around West Africa. And run a marathon and earned my black belt in karate. But absolutely no jumping out of anything! Stuff of nightmares. I'll be VP of the club, Mark.

    I know I won't trek in Nepal. I hope I still get to Australia, New Zealand, Tuscany, the Galapagos, and back to Greece, Japan, and Sweden. But I might not.

    I didn't have daughters and don't have grandkids (yet), but I delighted in sewing matching dresses for my eight-year old friend (my virtual grandchild) and her doll as a birthday present recently. And I hope to complete two quilts my master-quilter mother started and couldn't finish.

  6. Looks like I'll have a lot of Hallie's lima bean soup!

    and I'm definitely in on the narrowboat writing retreat. And probably the safari too, Rhys.

  7. Never have, never will, and regret: have a child. I turned 46 yesterday and I'm pretty sure that ship is too rickety even if it can still sail.
    I have been whitewater rafting and had a blast, but was so tired and sore afterward that we ordered room service instead of walking around the pool to the hotel restaurant. I still have hopes of visiting England, Australia and New Zealand some day.

  8. Never say never. Two years ago I'd have sworn that I'd never get to go on a safari, but this past October we did exactly that, and it was fantastic. (Although my tailbone will never be the same, after jouncing along in the safari vehicle for ten hours every day for 12 days.)

    And I just heard an NPR report on a 94-year old track star, a woman who did not even begin this activity until she was 77. Which inspires me to go back into the martial arts, which I really enjoyed in college.

    I have whitewater rafted on the New River, and that was grand fun. I even jumped off the 30-foot high cliff into the water, which I'd never do in a million years now. And realizing I could snorkel by wearing a life vest was a wonderful revelation in the Galapagos.

    But I'm fairly sure the skiing ship has sailed (to mix metaphors badly), and I don't think I will ever be the famous singer or actress I always wanted to be. The jury's still out on whether or not I can glue my butt to a chair long enough to write another book.

  9. Yeah, I'm pretty much with you Karen, on Never say never. EXCEPT I am the first lieutenant in MArk's never-skydiving club. Yes, sir.

    Space travel? We MIGHT be offered the chance. But--would you go? Remind me to tell you a story some day..but right now, I'm off to Colorado Springs to the keynote at the PikesPeak Writers conference! Looking forward to it..


  10. No sky diving here either. Heck no. No bungee jumping either.

    A group of us usually go white water rafting and zip lining (at this great place in West Virgina) every other year or so. This year is an "on" year, but I have opted to spend my time reading and will go stand-up paddle boarding on afternoon. Getting too old for this adventurous stuff.

    They want to go "camping," but the closest I would agree to was a cabin in the woods with heated towel racks and a jacuzzi. That is my version of roughing it.

    I do enjoy lima beans as well, but that might have been ruined by this poisonous story Rhys posted. ;)

  11. Fresh lima beans! Never had them. Never SEEN them in the store. Definitely on MY bucket list.

    That narrow boat sounds good. Ditto cooking classes.

    And I hope I'm done with camping and white water rafting. A few more roller coasters would be nice, though.

  12. Thank god Hallie stepped in in defense of lima beans, otherwise I'd have to bid the Reds adieu!

    There is nothing on this planet as yummy as fresh-picked limas beans. I spent a significant part of my childhood (or it felt that way, anyway) sitting in a rocking chair next to my grandmother, shelling lima beans or field peas from the garden, and listening to her talk. I have recipes for lima bean soup, lima beans with ham, lima beans and chicken. And they are all delish! I have even eaten a lima bean-Jello salad, but we should probably not go there.

    Other stuff: I am the most undaredevilish person invented. I consider crossing the street an adventure. And I am okay with that.

  13. Okay, Rhys - the image of you and pole dancing is, well, amusing.

    No sky diving for this girl. The husband is a paratrooper. I say why jump out of a perfectly good airplane (my definition being one that is still flying). No bungee jumping. But I did whitewater raft once and had a blast. I would totally do that, or climb Mt. Everest, if it wasn't for a bum knee.

    I like the image of motorcycles, but not riding them.

    I used to wear cute shoes. Before the knee problems forced me to flats (there are cute flats, right?).

    And I'll pass on the lima beans, thanks.

  14. I'll never eat raw oysters. I don't care what you dip it in, if you swallow it whole it can't be good. Same with snails. I had them once, though, at Lockober's. Why?

    I will never walk out to a big pile of rocks at low tide again, because I tried that once and almost didn't beat the tide back. It was a swirling kind of spot.

    I was in the hospital once. Let's just say it wasn't anywhere in New England. We had hamhocks and Lima beans for supper. I didn't know what they were, never mind how to eat them.

  15. Another vote for lima beans here. My husband likes them, too, but he did not do our girls any favor calling them "slimies". Sheesh. When I was pregnant with my first child, in 1970, I craved lima beans swimming in butter, and that is still my favorite way to eat them.

    I bought some fresh limas at the farmers' market once. They are fiddly to shell, similar to English peas. You work all day and get a puny little pile of innards. But so yummy.

    Not bungee jumping, and not mountain climbing, and not parachuting/paragliding/cliff diving, or any other activity that involves hurling oneself out of or off of a high place. I've broken enough bones just falling from a standing position, thank you.

    Reine, I used to say that about oysters, too, until last year when my friend and I stayed in Biloxi with her brother. He took us to an oyster bar two blocks from the Gulf and we had fresh oysters four different ways. It was divine! The amazing Bloody Marys might have added to the enjoyment, too.

  16. Rhys, I think you should consider the pole-dancing ad a compliment. They're noting that you still have the figure for it. :-)

    No skydiving, bungee jumping, whitewater rafting, or anything of that ilk. I have found that life will toss plenty of "excitement" and threats to my life and safety in my way as it is, so why should I seek them out? (And may I say that I find it abhorrent that all these rich people pay obscene amounts of money to be towed up Everest by poorly paid Sherpas who take most of the risk for them?)

    Lima beans, on the other hand, are exquisite. And I am totally in for the English narrowboat writers retreat. I do love to travel, and when I do, I like to spend my time among the residents of the place rather than more tourists. Otherwise, I could just stay home, couldn't I?

  17. I love lima beans, and can't wait to eat them again. (Note to self: put lima beans on shopping list.)

    Oysters: I tried them once, to be polite. NEVER AGAIN.

    It was always in the back of my mind to someday try sky diving, if I could get up the nerve to do it. Then I found out about tandem skydiving and I thought that might be an easier way for me to try it out. The opportunity never came along, though. I now know that I will never be able to try any form of skydiving, due to extensive back surgery. When I brought it up to my physical therapist, merely as a joke, he turned pale.

    I'll never have the money to travel overseas or even across country. So authors, keep on writing about places I can't visit. I'll "see" them through your eyes!

  18. No skydiving for me! Not even when I was younger and more ready for adventure. Forget the bungee jump too. I can see them making the line too long and splat! I did whitewater raft once years ago and it was fun. I have no desire to scale a mountain. I think the laziness and fear of heights on my part dictates that. But I did zipline once and did just fine. It was fun. I have no wish to learn to scuba dive; I have enough issues with snorkeling I'm trying to work through for hubby's sake. My brother-in-law bought a sailboat recently and I do look forward to sailing on it with him. Lima beans are a big NO. Oysters YES.
    I didn't think I would hang upside down and kiss the Blarney Stone, but darned if I didn't do it after all. And no, I didn't have anything to drink beforehand. I always thought it would be wonderful to learn to fly a plane, but I don't see that happening now. Or going to space.

  19. Susan, I'm with you on the veg trying to be vegan! My downfall is cheese--creamy, smelly French cheeses. :-)

    I'm also with e: no heights, speed, or cold. I don't get people who ice camp. Hike up to a glacier and camp -- THAT'S fun?

    Guess I'm not an extreme kind of person. Sit me by a fireplace with a glass of wine any day.

    I tried succotash -- ripe with lima beans -- for the first time a few days ago. Yum -- I liked it. (Susan, great vegan dish.)

  20. Count me in as one of the lima lovers. My mother would fix them (frozen ones) with half and half (1/4 cup per box), a teaspoon of flour poured into the water where boiled. Before serving add some butter and black pepper, and oh, momma, delish! I also add lima beans (canned) to beef stew. I guess I lova my lima. I can't believe I've never had fresh ones. I'll have to address that soon.

    No sky diving, bungee jumping, or mountain climbing for me. I'll join your meetings on the ground, Mark, and I'll be in charge of wine and cheese. Also, the nearest I'll ever get to white water rafting are the river rafting rides at amusement parks, although I prefer joining Joan on the carousel. My days of thinking I should go on roller coasters are gone, too. I will not ever feel compelled to try any rides that involve speed and heights again, not that I've tried them much at this point.

    I did do one activity recently, last September after Bouchercon on my continued trip to Niagara Falls, that was something I normally have an aversion towards. I walked across the bridge over water from the Canadian side to the American side. However, walking across the Rainbow Bridge was made easier because there is a nice wide area for pedestrians, so I could hug the inside edge. The Arlington Memorial Bridge in D.C. is another one where the pedestrian space is so wide that you don't realize you're crossing over a river. If I face a bridge with a narrow sidewalk to cross over a body of water, forget it. I won't budge.

    Now, let's talk about that narrow boat vacation in England. Debs, you and the other writers are going to need someone to take care of you all and make your tea while you are creating your wonderful tales. I volunteer for that position. It may be a sacrifice, but I'm that dedicated to my favorite authors.

    The most wished for item on my bucket list is a trip to Great Britain that includes England and Scotland. My ancestral home of Stoke Canon, right next to Exeter, still contains the church where my Boone ancestors worshiped in the late 1700s and the cemetery where they are buried. I'm thinking that I could do that trip after the narrow boat trip with the Reds.

  21. I hate flying so the thought of diving out of a plane leaves me cold. And I can't swim (weird childhood, I know)so white water rafting might be a bad idea. I would love to rent a Corvette and drive Route 66 across country. I would also like to drive the Coast Highway in California from north to south. Spent my youth watching Route 66 and 77 Sunset Strip, maybe this would have been a better idea when I was in my 20s ?? Still it sounds like it would be fun.

  22. Yes to limas, no to skydiving. Scariest thing I've ever dared? Rapelling. Knee-knocking, teeth-chattering scared until I got over the edge. So excited on the second trip down the guides had to haul me up again and cram my helmet on!

    On my bucket list? Travel--to Ireland, to England, to France--and New Zealand would be wonderful! And the narrowboat, well, let's just say it's been a dream ever since I read Ngaio Marsh's mystery in which Agatha Troy took a relaxing vacation on one.

  23. Rhys:
    Although my never did/never will do list hasn't changed since this was originally posted [and I still love those lima beans], I have to say that I'm really glad you agreed to write that extra book. I'm really looking forward to reading it . . . .

  24. Wonderful revisiting this! I really, really think we should make that Jungle Red Writers narrowboat writing retreat and wine sampling tour a reality.

  25. Julia, I'm all for a writing retreat on that longboat, although if we combine it with wine tasting, I'm not sure how much writing will get done!

  26. Because I get motion sick in a hammock, pretty much everything is out. Deep water freaks me out because you don't know what's in it; I went in a cave once and HATED it, and space, where you're relying on technology to breathe? No thank you. I am not an adventurous eater -- Andrew Zimmern is fascinating to watch on TV but I will not copy him. I have accepted long ago that I'm not a supermodel, I don't like pictures or film of myself, and performing on stage scares me. What I haven't accepted yet is that I may not be able to read everything I want to before I die, I won't know everything I want to before I die, and I'm still holding out for having a million dollars someday. :)

  27. Yes, Julia, I think we must make the English narrowboat writing retreat a reality. Since I can't drink wine (or anything else) anymore, I volunteer to be the designated driver/pilot, so the rest of you can get totally sozzled. :-)

  28. I've been blessed to do the long boat tours twice. My grandfather took me for 10 days when I was in college and again when I was in grad school. I cannot recommend it enough. We met the most interesting people and the entire atmosphere was almost magical. It also led me to find my most favorite place on earth: Llangollen, Wales.

  29. Linda, I don't drink much either. I'll be the navigator.

  30. Since I won't be writing, I'll be glad to step up and control the wine intake and other creature comfort duties on the narrowboat trip. In fact, I think there would be enough volunteers for each writer to have your own personal attendant. Hahaha!

  31. Ready for the trip! And still hate lima beans and motorcycles. Maybe ever MORE.

    Rhys! LOVE the title! Hurray.

  32. And reminding you: the winners of TRUTH BE TOLD from yesterday are:

    Libby Dodd, and Elizabeth! And hey, why not, also Lyn (Jody-David Speer.)

    Email me at h ryan at whdh dot com with your address!

  33. Happy holidays, Rhys! I remember this post! I still stand by my previous comment. :-)

    And I've got something new to add: for a white elephant exchange I landed -- get this -- an INSECT cookbook. No joke. This wasn't a tongue-in-cheek cookbook. Published by a reputable publisher, very nicely done, and all about sustainability. (Saving it for white elephant next year.) Looking at the chili con carne (carne = worms) recipe, I realized that I'll never be an insect eater. Call me bad for the planet, but there you go. :-)

    P.S. Narrowboat writing retreat? Hell yeah!

  34. I'm still in on the narrowboat drinking expedition--errr--writing retreat! so nice of you all to volunteer to watch our wine intake:)

    Rhys, I'm still in awe. I can't imagine being able to physically or mentally write 3 books in a year!!

  35. Julia, you HAVE done mother and daughter dresses. They were cotton A-lines with buttons on the shoulder straps. Your's was size 3.

  36. If the narrow boat writing retreat is an option, I will gladly sign up and carry the luggage of others if needed! (Also, similar to Lady Georgiana, I wield a mean feather duster!)