I'm sitting here tonight, thinking about how summer is half over. I can say this with confidence because the bug spray is half gone, the sunscreen is half gone, the peppers in the garden are half-grown and the tub of chlorine tablets for the pool is also at the halfway point.

I have a vacation coming up in a few weeks and I can't wait for it. Not that I'm going anywhere, but the thought of sleeping later than 6 a.m. sounds good. I have a few day trips planned with friends and my son, David, and I have made plans to attend the Reggaefest in Charlemont -- a full day of live reggae music combined with Jamaican food. I hope there's jerk chicken! Maybe I'll wear one of the Rasta hats I knit a couple of months ago.

Whoa! Just saw a TV commercial for a new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle movie. That is a definite must-see. When David was 4, (good Lord that was almost 20 years ago!) he became entranced with the Turtles. I'm not even sure how he first was introduced to them, but for a period of about four years, he ate, slept and watched anything and everything to do with TMNT.

He slept in a Donatello Halloween costume until it fell apart in shreds. There were TMNT sheets and a comforter on his bed and a TMNT-shaped pillow. He wore Turtle slippers, T-shirts and underwear. He had a stuffed animal Turtle and even plastic Turtle weapons.

At the time, he was also into going to tag sales with me and quickly discovered he could buy far more Turtle action figures at a tag sale than he could ever talk me in to at a department store.


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Not only that, but he extended his purchasing power to play sets, vans and everything else TMNT.

He addressed everyone as "Dude" and the neighborhood echoed with "Cowabunga!" every time he did a cannonball into our pool.

It was so all-consuming in our house, that I once saw a commercial on PBS for a show about Donatello, Raphael, Michangelo and Leonardo. Thinking David would enjoy it, I called him into the living room to watch it. We settled down on the couch -- and discovered a few minutes later it was about Donatello, Michangelo, Rapahel and Leonardo all right -- the Renaissance painters, not the TMNT.

As luck would have it, one of the creators of the TMNT, Peter Laird, hails from North Adams. I wrote a column about David's fascination with the TMNT way back then and received a card from him and a note from his mother, who remembered me as a child growing up in the Methodist Church. It was quite the moment for me.

Twenty years ago, VHS tapes were the way everyone watched movies and David had a small bookcase with all of his tapes in it. The ones he played most were on the top shelf and they were all TMNT cartoon TV shows and the three movies out at the time -- "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles," "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II: The Secret of the Ooze" and "Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III." While he liked the first two. It was the third one that held his attention. It was nothing for him to watch it two or three times in a row. The movie began with Samurai soldiers riding horses, framed by a blazing orange setting sun and "Japan 1603" superimposed over the action. I grew to dread the sound of thundering hooves. It was so bad, my husband and I could quote lines from the movies.

In honor of Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird's fantastic and ever-enduring TMNT -- and little boys everywhere who love them -- I present these recipes for Turtle Bars and Pecan Turtle Candy.

Cowabunga dudes!

Turtle Cookie Bars

Crust:

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 2 cup butter, softened

2nd Layer:

1 cup pecan halves or chopped pecans

2 3 cup butter

1 2 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1 cup milk chocolate morsels

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine first three ingredients in a mixing bowl; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until blended. Pat mixture firmly into an ungreased 13x9-inch pan.

Arrange pecans over crust.

Combine 2 3 cup butter and 1 2 cup brown sugar in a saucepan; bring to a boil over medium high heat, stirring constantly. Cook 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Pour mixture over pecans. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-17 minutes or until golden and bubbly.

Remove from oven; sprinkle with chocolate morsels. Let stand 2-3 minutes, or until slightly melted. Gently swirl chocolate with a knife, leaving some morsels whole (do not spread). Let cool on a wire rack at room temperature until chocolate is set. Cut into squares.

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Pecan Turtle Candy

12 ounces of unwrapped soft caramels, homemade or store-bought

6 ounces (about 11 2 cups) toasted pecan halves

8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate or chocolate chips

Prepare a cookie sheet by covering it with aluminum foil and spraying it with nonstick cooking spray.

Arrange the pecans in clusters of four with each pecan pointing in a different direction (like turtle legs).

Unwrap the caramels and place them in a microwave-safe bowl. If they are very stiff, add a spoonful of water so the final product will be softer. Microwave them until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds.

Allow the caramel to cool slightly, then use a spoon to drop a spoonful of caramel over the pecan clusters. They are meant to be a rustic candy, so don't worry about keeping the turtles round or about having some of the pecans poking through.

Melt chocolate chips in the microwave or over a double boiler. Spoon the melted chocolate over the caramel layer.

Allow the turtle candies to set fully, either at room temperature or in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Store refrigerated in an airtight container for up to a week, but bring them to room temperature before serving so the caramel can soften.