Wednesday, August 28, 2013

You Betcha

Time tends to become irrelevant on vacation, yet can still be a point of curiosity. The clock on the dashboard of the 1997 Chevy Tahoe read 4:56, as we left our morning jaunt to the beach. We had no idea how many hours and minutes to add or subtract for the correct time. We reserved our higher math skills for interpreting the tide chart. My stomach was growling, but that was not necessarily a reliable indicator that an actual meal was approaching.  As we rumbled down the road, packed into the slightly shaky and mighty sandy beach mobile, with a sun-bleached crab as our compass, I asked around for the time. It was 12:28, and thankfully lunch was in fact near.

My father provided an elaborate explanation of why the clock was off, and how the battery was no longer being drained during dormant times. We all understood, but I seemed to be the only one interested in why the clock was never reset. I took matters into my own hands, no pun intended, as the clock was digital. My declaration of success was interrupted by my brother’s voice from the back seat.

“I bet you that in twenty-four hours the time is wrong again.”

“Excuse me?” (Did he think I couldn’t set a clock?)

Suddenly my husband’s voice chimed in, “I’ll take that bet.”

I felt a small sense of pride that my husband supported me, but felt compelled to double check. “Whose side are you betting on?”

“I’m with Mike.”

Clearly these men were blind to the fact that I bet against myself all the time. I found myself offended by the thought that they did not think I could accurately set those straight lined digits. I demanded to know what was at stake. What did I stand to lose by siding with myself?

“One small order of onion rings.”

Oh the coveted Liam’s snack shack onion rings of Nauset Beach…mmmmm. I paused to consider whether or not I would have to purchase two orders if I lost, but then realized that if I won, two orders would be mine. I needed to have some faith in myself.

“You’re on!”

My children could be heard muttering about their best chances to be aligned with the victor. Any supportive words were merely a selfish ploy to find their hands greasy with batter.

“I cannot believe you guys are betting against my ability to set a clock!”

I swear I do not know how to take things, other than personally, much of the time. I hid my surprise as I slowly began to understand that they were betting against the car. I was so gung-ho to stand up for myself that I failed to grasp the notion that I had put my chances for fried delight in the dashboard of a sixteen-year old tank.

I started sputtering exceptions and exclusions like,  “If any young children are seen in the front seat of this car in the next twenty-four hours, all bets are off!” I felt a little thrill at the risk I had taken, while realizing this meant I should probably get out more often.

When we boarded for our beach excursion the following day, the verdict was clear. The clock had kept time! I was giddy with excitement over the onion rings, while a small part of my brain celebrated the thought that this victory was a significant personal achievement…but it was mostly about the onion rings.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Reviving the Random

Soooo, I see a lot of you have shuffled your kids and hundreds of dollars in school supplies back to school already. Classes start for my kids one week from tomorrow, aaaaaaaand this is the part where I distract myself and try to pretend that doesn't make me sad. Let's see here...
No, that probably won't help at all, but I certainly did appreciate the friend who texted me the pic before she fled from the store.

Well, bacon is supposed to make things better, no?
Somehow I feel like a bacon flavored lollipop would just lose a little something, like grease? I was going to buy one, until I saw they were $7.50, then decided to share it with all of you for free!

How about if we play "Can you find the leaf bug?"

We could read a book! Did you know people still buy books? (Thank goodness it isn't just me...oh for the joy of turning actual pages). Check out my step-mother and her brother on the beach reading the same hardcover book. Cracks me up!

I have been keeping busy in the kitchen. There was some salsa (not dancing, silly)...

And then I was jamming (blackberry)...

But today I found myself in a pickle when realized I had run out of lids. (We had just gotten back from the store, where I smugly walked by the canning display claiming to need nothing.)

We made calzones the other night. I cut the vents in my husband's project, only to find them covered up when I went to put them in the oven. I cut a new vent, and creepy calzone guy was born...

I saw this shirt today, and loved it so much...
I thought maybe I should start running just to have reason for the purchase. Then I wondered if my love for cupcakes alone somehow warranted it. Then I saw the "you are ridiculous" gaze of my daughter's eyes. This was not MY back-to-school shopping outing.

Well, I think that is all for today. I have to save a little something to keep you coming how I won a bet, the garage tidying (as it certainly isn't clean)...good stuff like that. I mean seriously, how intrigued are you? Hurry back?

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Wave and smile

My main travel concern was major traffic tie ups, but then I tried to shift the worry to something under my control, like whether or not I had packed enough snacks to sustain us for a six-hour car ride. Eventually, I let my mind wander to the possibility that the weather forecast would have just a shred of accuracy to warrant the full bag I dedicated to sweatshirts. I tried to keep my focus off of the possibility that our annual trip to Cape Cod would somehow be less magical now that we had two teenagers in tow. I was afraid that leaving behind some electronics and the groove worn in the couch might provoke a general sense of surliness that no amount of sea mist could wash away.

Songs we hadn’t heard in quite some time were beckoning us from the car’s speakers. We all knew the words from when the CD was on a constant loop during road trips and errand running. Thoughts were shared about the days we danced around our family room, out of breath as the chorus took all of the wind we had in our pipes. Eventually, even the back seat caved in and sang along. I started to relax as I realized that there was still plenty of childhood spirit left inhabiting those much larger bodies.

The next sound I heard was the fumbling of DVD cases as the power cord for the player was passed forward. I have listened to so many movies from the driver’s seat, and eagerly awaited the afternoon’s selection. What images would I need to conjure in my mind to go along with the dialogue? How many times would they patiently let me know which part of one of our favorite classics we were on? In a matter of moments, he was watching Avatar and she was watching Perks of Being a Wallflower. Both of them were wearing earphones and the van was silent. I have never even seen either of those movies. The fear that these children of ours had outgrown the fun we could offer crept in again.

The sign that the tides would be changing in my favor came when we literally saw the sign “Welcome to Cape Cod 2013”. That was the moment when we knew we only had another hour to go, the point when we have always sprung back to life. We crossed the bridge, and everyone laughed at how nervous it always makes me. As usual, I shouted my dismay and envy that they all got to enjoy the view of the Cape Cod Canal while I was white-knuckling the steering wheel just trying to stay between the lines. Everybody was on the lookout as we passed places with funny names like Sandwich and Mashpee on route 6, waiting for exit 11. We were still laughing and chatting as we pulled into the driveway.

The thrill of seeing our family, the anticipation that built surveying this year’s tide chart and planning the departure time for the beach, the comfort of claiming their beds in the room they would share…the sweet simplicity of just sharing each other’s company. I saw no pouting and heard no unpleasant tones.

As we visited the beach each day, I felt those anxious tendencies wash away just like the foamy surf, as we were mesmerized by the waves.  We saw at least twenty seals during our stay, and each one was just as exciting as the one that came before. There are some wonders we may never outgrow…thank goodness.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Returning random

We just got back from vacation, so as soon as I finish digesting some of what the beach had to offer...

I was going to say that I found the sunburn more startling than the bathing suit, but you know me too well for that to fly.

The line at the snack bar was so long, it took me six days to get the onion rings I won in a bet. Oh, no we didn't wait on line for six days, rather just kept checking each time we were at the beach.

 ...I will be back to share some more fascinating tales with you. You are on the edge of your seat, aren't you?

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Sugar-coat it...please

I like baked goods and candy. There, I have said it. We can talk about sugary confections at length, provided you are going to offer me something that has some general resemblance to what is being discussed. Brown sugar, molasses and enriched flour? What could be more soothing? It probably seems, to the untrained or unfamiliar eye, that I do not like or know how to relax. While my methods and practices may appear unconventional, relaxation does manage to find its way into my life.

I understand the part exercise can play in a rational person's path to unwinding. I just often prefer to pave that road with rock candy, turn on the headlights, and search for gummy bears and other forest crullers critters. Sorry, I got distracted. So as I was saying, I have nothing against exercise. You can feel free to engage in aerobic fitness at any time, provided it does not interrupt my own relaxation time. Just to clarify, here are some examples of exercise that bother me:

  • If I am sitting on the beach, I have no appreciation for a man doing his stretching and push up routine in the sand behind me. Granted, he was not blocking my view of the waves, but just knowing he was back there had a negative impact on my lounging. 
  • When I sit down at the end of what I have deemed a full day, I do not take kindly to the sound of my husband on the elliptical. How can I enjoy a handful of m&m's and a soft sofa cushion with the sounds of those foot pedals taunting me in the background?

Make no mistake, there are some rare occasions when baked goods fail to lull me into a carefree confectionery sugar dusted haze. This is not to say that I will send a mini-chocolate chip encrusted cannoli packing. That would be rude and wasteful.
However, when the accompanying bakery box that is brought home has a disproportionate amount of goodies in relation to the number of snackers in our house, I get nervous...especially when the husband reveals his plan to eat none of the gluten fest selections.
My sugar racing mind, that has been fueled by cannoli cream has nowhere to run except to some sort of Hansel and Gretel scenario. Why is he trying to fatten us up? How much energy does he think two teenagers expend on one summer afternoon to warrant such a caloric landslide? As if checking his pedometer, running away on the elliptical and his sauntering through the kitchen in his gel lined bike shorts aren't enough to remind me of his commitment to healthy activity. Then he has to display self-control and willpower as well? Nothing spoils a perfectly decent brownie quicker that gloating, or at least the illusion of gloating I have created.

I suppose it stands to reason that baked goods fit into my meditation plans more often than yoga. I tend to use the excuse of how much time exercise takes, as in probably one-third of the time it took me to sit writing this post. It is just not that easy to eat rice crispy treats and do pilates at the same time.

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Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Road trip Random

Yay! Cape Cod time! The only thing my kids like more than the six hour car ride is when I won't let them get out at the rest stop until they pose for a picture.

I think these seagulls may be the mentioned "video surveillance" working beach security...

While the scratches on my arms from blackberry picking are still fresh, (I took pictures, but felt they were not clear enough to garner an appropriate amount of sympathy) I decided to bake a little something for dessert this evening. It is important to mention that I made that decision about fifteen minutes after returning from the grocery store. We could feed people for days with the provisions around here, provided sugar and flour are not necessary. I did my best culinary MacGuyver and substituted some crushed graham crackers for what I lacked in flour and sugar. Here is the result...
Not bad!

That's all for now, as I just wanted to check know, to let you know that we are on vacation...not to make you jealous or anything...of the vacation, not the baked goods!

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Forgetting to remember

My grandmother‘s short-term memory is not very reliable these days, and it can be tedious to maintain a smile when repeating something for the fourth time in even a brief conversation. It is no surprise to me that ninety-one years is a lot of life for one mind to catalog. In our history together she has been at once impossible, yet sometimes so easy to please.

I called her one morning to let her know I was coming for a visit, and asked if she needed anything She did not need milk or bread. She can exist for days on bread to toast for her apricot jam and milk to splash in her tea. I asked if she liked blueberries, since my daughter and I had just picked some. She likes blueberries in her pancakes, and asked if I could pick up some pancake mix. Of course I could. I put some berries in a small container, secured the lid, and left…as in left the house, and left the blueberries on the counter. I had forgotten the one thing that my grandmother was sure to remember from our chat. I did not realize my mistake until I was on the highway, and began to devise an alternate plan. .

It seemed pointless to show up with pancake mix if I did not have the blueberries to accompany it. Arriving empty handed felt wrong as well. Since I had to stop at the store for the pancake mix, I would just buy some locally picked blueberries, as somehow this gave the sense that they would be berries I very well could have picked. However, I couldn’t just show up with a pint of berries, as that would be far too many for her and possibly cause some suspicion. I started looking around the car for something I could put her portion of blueberries in that would be plausible as a carrier I brought from home. I had nothing. The first cup of blueberries I saw at the store was comically small, and she would never have believed that was all I brought. The next container was way too big. In my finest goldilocks move to find “just right”, I added something from the food storage aisle to my grocery list, and ended up sitting in the car pouring an appropriate amount of fresh produce into one of my five new pieces of plastic ware. There were no small pouches of pancake mix available, so I ended up buying a box that may last her the rest of her pancake making days at her one-pancake-makes-a-meal rate of consumption.

The whole business wasn’t much of a big deal, and my grocery tab was under ten dollars. I hope the blueberry pancakes she makes taste as good as the ones in her memories. I am sure my grandmother and I would have shared a laugh at my forgetfulness, but I was afraid the humor would be lost by the third time I might have had to remind her that no blueberry pancake fixings had arrived. It would have been like disappointing her over and over again. On the other hand, she may have taken some comfort in knowing that her mind is not the only one that tends to escape. 

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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Some random is better than none...maybe?

We were away for the weekend, and the kids promptly transformed the hotel room into their very own counseling office. Surprisingly, I did not hear my name come up at all during their session.

We did not go canoeing, but I did see this sculpture of sorts outside the art gallery.

My son casually swinging the car keys as he tries to avoid the sketchy sub sandwich handing out Icee samples, as well as his mother who is trying to get a photo of it.

Well, this certainly was a meager offering of random. Would you feel better if I gave you a cake?
It doesn't matter that your name isn't "Gamp", as I don't think anyone's is since this arrived with the bakery donations at Meals on Wheels this morning. (Poor Gramps?)

I can't leave you like this. How about a little story? What? Only if it has pictures? Well, then it will have to wait...

Stacy is very busy packing up all of her random to take across the country!