Friday, October 24, 2014

Hot Yoga


  While driving down the road, my child asked me if I would like to do Hot Yoga with her.   With great excitement, she explained how you do yoga in a very hot room, detoxifying the body while getting an excellent workout.   I turned to look at her and said, "Do you know me?"   I have never taken heat well and become an entirely different person as the temperature rises. The thermostat in our house flies back and forth as I continuously seek out the perfect comfort zone. I can think of nothing worse than beginning exercise in 104 degree heat.  I am the last person you would ever want for Hot Yoga.  

  This was about the same time my son pointed out that he needed some running shoes that didn't make him look like he was running away from something.  His description immediately stirred my curiosity.  As a young man who fancies dress shoes, he explained that you cannot run in such shoes because it gives the appearance that you are running away and not simply running for fun.  It was suddenly very important that he have the right kind of shoes so he didn't look like he was running from a burning building every day.   Running shoes were purchased that very afternoon.

  As I thought about how my daughter needs no shoes for her exercising and the fact that my son no longer looks like he was dressing for a meeting when a fire broke out, I looked at my own shoes and secretly knew that they were just the right kind to run away from Hot Yoga and fiery buildings.  I'm happy to wait outside in the cool of the car as my daughter tackles her downward dog in the desert-like heat.  When she is finished, we can move to the track where I can walk laps with a chilled beverage in hand.  When the temperature rises above 100 degrees, I can move to my stationary bike carefully positioned under the air conditioner vent in my home.  

  I'm unsure why people feel the need to make difficult things all the more difficult.  In the same category as Hot Yoga, should come the following challenging activities:

Waterless Laundry
Utensil Free Cooking
Reading Without Light
Driving Blind
Hands-Free Water Skiing
Frozen Gardening
One-Legged Kickball






Sunday, October 5, 2014

Thrice Baked Potatoes



  My son came home from college for the weekend and like any good mom, I was determined to cook his favorite meal and host a sit down dinner.  Realizing that we are a generation of drive-thru diners and often eat meals while standing, sit down meals are not as common as they should be.  My mother helped to lighten my load by providing twice baked potatoes that she had prepared in advance.  All I had to do was heat them in the oven and serve them with dinner.  Thinking ahead, she made extra that I could freeze for another meal.

  Not wanting to miss a minute of quality time with my child, I let time slip by and suddenly dinner time was upon us.  I had to throw things into high gear to get everything ready.  As I dredged chicken through flour, cut up veggies, and boiled pasta, I tried to stay engaged in the nearby conversation.  Time was ticking and I stepped up the pace.  Unfortunately, I've realized lately that when I multi-task, something peculiar happens to my small motor skills and I begin underestimating my strength and speed, both important factors when working in a small space. It doesn't help that my depth perception isn't what it should be, either.   I overreach for things and knock items over, hoping nobody notices

  As I was slowly destroying my kitchen, my mother pointed out that the potatoes would never be done in time.  I cranked the oven up to 400 degrees and kept cutting and chopping.  Still worried about the potatoes being ready in time, she suggested that I stick my finger in one to see if it was hot.  Not only should I have steered clear of such a suggestion for obvious reasons,  I should have remembered that I never told her I turned the temperature up.  As I retrieved my finger from the now screaming hot potato, I instinctively stuck it directly in my mouth without thinking.  It didn't take long to realize that the 400 degree potatoes were not only ready, but were, in fact, now searing the inside of my mouth.  Moving in quick jerky motions, I grabbed the pan out of the oven and slung it towards the counter, sending all of the hot potatoes crashing to the floor.

  My mother never said a thing as she took the remaining potatoes out of the freezer and we tried one more time to cook twice baked potatoes.  I was able to finish the meal without further injury or loss and the entire family sat down for Chicken Marsala, Thrice Baked Potatoes and a large bottle of much needed wine for the cook.











Saturday, September 20, 2014

Brewster In The Hen House




     Brewster, the beautiful rooster, lives in a hen house in our back yard.  He is the tallest and most magnificent of all the birds there.  There are six red and six white fowl residing together and sadly, the pecking order was determined and poor Brewster, my red, red rooster stands in the corner avoiding the bullies in the yard.

     The white hens are fat and fancy and have no time for poor Brewster.  They are self absorbed and like to be petted and adored. Brewster stands to the side, avoiding being pecked.  He has just begun to crow and it's much like a boy going through puberty as his Cockadoodledoo is raspy and broken.  It's more like an "Er-er eh." I'm hoping he will puff that chest out, get a good breath of air and put those hens in their place.

     While they are rude to Brewster, they are exceptional egg layers and we get a dozen fresh eggs every morning, six brown and six white. Strangely, I've found much enjoyment visiting the hen house to collect eggs.  It's like an Easter egg hunt every day.  You never really know how many eggs will be in which nest.  The girls beam when you enter, proud of their day's work.   Brewster stands in the corner with the five red ladies and tries to avoid eye contact.

     With a dozen eggs a day, we've been giving them away to everyone we know.  There is something magical about a carton of multi-cultural eggs split down the middle with six white and six brown eggs. They make great gifts because if we don't give them away, I'll quickly have dozens of eggs in my fridge.

   
     At 4:30 this morning, I sat on the patio hoping to hear the rooster crow.  As I sipped my coffee, I made rooster sounds in an attempt to mentor the poor guy.  No crowing was heard. When the last of the coffee was gone and the sun had still not come up over the horizon, I headed back in to bed.  Just as the door was almost closed, there was a faint "Er, eh" sound from the wood line.  My boy was up and the day was ready to begin.

     Because it was still dark outside, though, I returned to bed for a few more hours of sleep.  The ladies were busy laying, I was sleeping, and Brewster was crowing.  The farm is well.






Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Man In The Attic

  The attic in my house is much larger in my children's minds than it is in reality.  It is a place of mystery that has led to wild thoughts and scary stories about who or what might reside there. They say people fear what they do not know and at the top of a set of pull down stairs with creaky hinges and a pronounced instability, lies the great unknown that keeps my children and their friends awake at night, listening for sounds of anything that shouldn't be there.

  A place of unfinished floors, filled with boxes of treasures that were once important, the attic sprawls out in every direction with tiny walkways of plywood leading into the dark spidery corners. The children were never allowed into the attic when they were young, for fear that one wrong step would send them through a thin layer of insulation and straight down to the floor below.  

  Giant stuffed snakes, won at the State Fair, and over sized Teddy Bears who were simply too big to manage, rest at the entrance of the attic and oversee the coming and going into this world of Christmas decorations, discarded luggage and dozens of boxes marked "Do Not Throw Away." While simply a graveyard for things once loved and unfinished craft projects, it is a world of old memories and favorite things.  It is this exact mix of old and familiar, dark and light, known and unknown that crafted the idea in my children's heads that a man lives in our attic.  It didn't help when I shared with them the story about my childhood friend who did have a man living in her attic.  Unknown to her family, a friend of a friend had set up residence in their attic and would come down at night to eat and drink as her family slept.  My own children cringe at the thought of this.

  I cannot explain why boxes frequently move in my attic or why we once found an empty coke and bag of chips up there, but I am certain nobody lives there.  Perhaps the cable installer left his snacks when running line. Maybe it is squirrels who make the faint sounds above our heads at night.  I would believe the toys were coming alive and rearranging the contents of the attic before I believed that a man was living up there.  

  This mystery resident in the space above our heads has grown famous as the tale of his existence has spread from one child to another.  It was not long ago that a man at church asked me about the man living in my attic and I just had to smile.  

  The more I think about it, I grow jealous of the man living rent free surrounded by the good things of my life.  If there is a man in my attic I have a "To Do " list for him that is long overdue.  He needs to bring himself down from there while I'm at work and start on the laundry, pick up the house and do a little yard work.  It would be great if he could start dinner before I get home and then return to rest among the six foot plush snakes and bears that live overhead.  There is a roof leak that I'm certain he should have noticed by now and he could lend a hand with the repairs.

  While my children fear the man in the attic, I welcome the extra help that could come along with such. There is no time in my household for crazy psychopathic attic dwellers and anyone who sets up residence there will certainly be given their fair share of the workload. Next time I pull down those creaky stairs and look upon the big red snake head that stares down from overhead, I hope to find a plumber or electrician hanging out up there, too.  Now that would be real treasure to find!









Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Seeding The Beach



  It was the late 60’s, somewhere near St. Petersburg, Florida when my grandparents took my brother and me to the beach.  While I was too young for many of the memories to stay with me, I vividly remember two things…the red, green and blue lights that lit up the Palm trees at night and walking on the beach, holding my “Pop Pop’s” hand as we searched for seashells.  We would get up at the break of day to ensure we were first to walk the sand and find the very best shells.  They were large and whole and came in a variety of shapes that can only be found today in the shell stores that line the beach highway.   It was a wonderful time.

  When my children were born, I knew that I would treat them to the same experience one day. When that day finally arrived and we pulled up to the beach in our giant conversion van with buckets, shovels, floaties and more, I knew the magic was about to begin.   Since it was late afternoon we had missed all the good shells and made plans to walk the beach earlier the next day.  We had a large bucket to collect the many seashells such early risers were certain to find.

  Just after sun-up, my son and I hit the beach only to realize that some unexplainable scientific phenomenon had occurred, as all the shells were gone.  A few broken pieces of shells were scattered along the shore, but the ones like those of my childhood were nowhere to be found.   I promised my son it would be better the next day, but it wasn’t.  My mind filled with shell theories and doubt about those shell stores that obviously had an insider connection to shell gathering.   Giving no thought to the outcome of my actions, I purchased a bag of beautiful shells in all sizes and shapes.  And then it happened… I pulled my husband into my conspiracy and made him walk ahead of me on the beach, secretly seeding it with cleaned, bleached, polished seashells.  My child squealed with delight as he filled his shell bucket with treasures from the sea.   Other parents looked in our bucket of shells with great doubt as our son pulled out conch shells and horn shells and ones that looked like little ashtrays.   He was so happy.  We were so wrong… but it continued even as the second child was born and two parents and a brother seeded the beach for the next child to enjoy. 

  Unfortunately, as the second child aged, so did we and it happened that we weren’t quite so discreet in our shell placement. My husband would walk ahead of us and fling shells from his pockets.  My daughter was about ten when she looked up at me and said, “You know I can see Dad, don’t you?”  I smiled and gave her that same look as when she questioned Santa.    She knew, but it was more fun to continue believing. 

  The kids continued to grow up and we eventually stopped seeding the beach.  We came to accept that the days of great shelling were over.  This past year, as an older version of us visited the beach, I watched as other families kept the hope alive and searched for any sign of treasure from the sea.  None could be found.  After a week of algae filled water and diminished hope that the gulf would clear up for swimming, we woke to crystal clear water.  It was as if God had brushed His hand across the sea and returned it to its beauty.  The kids grabbed their snorkel gear and jumped in the water only to discover a world of beautiful shells just short of the shoreline.  They gathered shells for hours and reveled in their find.   The magic was still there, just waiting to be found.  

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Memory Lane Is No Place For A Picnic


 

  Some ideas are better in theory than they are when realized.  My family learned this, recently, when we thought it would be a good idea to stop during an eleven hour road trip through the Deep South for a picnic lunch.  This would be a good time to point out that if you can avoid exiting the vehicle while traveling through the Mississippi heat, you should do just that.

  The first mistake began with a GPS re-route around the thee hour traffic jam that is the Mobile tunnel.  We skirted across lower Mississippi traveling back roads that had not seen beach traffic in forty years.  My mother could not understand why there were no roadside parks on this two lane highway through the middle of nowhere.  My husband would have opted for pulling over on the side of the road and eating off of the tailgate of his truck.  The kids wanted something from the modern world such as a Chili's or Zaxsbys.   We were set for failure from the beginning.

  I stopped at a small gas station in Laurel, Mississippi and asked for directions to the public park.  Tired from trying to meet the dining expectations of the ten people traveling with me, I pulled up to the first picnic table I saw.  Our tiny caravan of beach goers pulled in behind me and we offloaded lunch.   The heat was sweltering.  The boys chose to stay in their Fiat and requested drive through service.   They did not get it.  

  The picnic table had an unusual design as it was very tall and the seats were set oddly close to the table. When you sat down, you were tucked in so tight that your chin could rest on the table top.  While this position was fine with me as I was ready to lay my head somewhere, it was not functional for dining.

  We ended up eating from the tailgate of my husband's truck after all.  My mother had prepared a feast of chicken salad, pasta salad, deli meats and cheeses, fresh fruit, homemade cookies and lemonade.  Eleven people inhaled the lemonade as the Mississippi heat enveloped us.  About the time the food was laid out, ready to be consumed, the flies smelled the sweet nectar that was our lemonade and the battle was on.  We swatted the beasts out of our way as we tried, in vain, to make sandwiches and serve up sweet treats.


  Everyone ate as fast as they possibly could so they could return to the comfort of their cars to escape the flies and the heat.  It was the shortest picnic I have ever been on.  I suppose it was a good idea pulled from memory when we traveled in a station wagon with no air conditioning and a stop at a park was a welcome change.  Our modern day travelers who move with climate control, a bird's eye view of their path, stereo sound, and a Starbucks latte in their cup holder are not looking to escape the confines of the wonderful environment they travel in. Never again will we choose to picnic in Mississippi in the summer heat!   Some ideas should remain just that...ideas, thoughts or simply a good memory that belongs only on memory lane.





Friday, June 20, 2014

Changing Seats


 
  Better planning on my part would have prevented the untimely arrival of my long awaited dream car in the very same month that my daughter received her learner’s permit.  While I mistakenly assumed the new car belonged to me, I should have noticed the tiny Cadillac reflections in my child’s eyes.  My heart sank and her excitement grew, thus tugging at opposite ends of the wellness spectrum.   No one had explained to me that the arrival of her license to drive meant the end of my place in the heated seat behind the wheel.  Without fanfare, the pecking order changed and suddenly I was on the wrong side of the ATM and unable to catch a full view of the drive-up menu ever again.

  After weeks of driving down unknown roads and failed attempts at parking between the lines at the Sonic Drive-In, my child had quenched her thirst for grape Slurpees and gained the skills needed for safe driving.  She had learned that the rear view mirror was not placed in the car for her to watch herself drive.  She learned that turning the wrong way on a one-way street will cause immediate screaming from all passengers and someone in the backseat will capture it on film and place it on social media for all to see.  She had become a good driver and had rightfully earned the paperwork entitling her to a driver’s permit.

  As she smiled for the camera, excited about her license, the agent asked her, “Do you want to be an organ donor?”  Time stopped.  We were not prepared for this question.  While organ donation saves lives, I could foresee the 2:00 a.m. cry from my child’s bedroom, “I gave away my liver!”  Unable to change her answer from yes to no at 2:00 a.m., a few layers of plastic laminate would prevent me from stopping the oncoming panic attack that was headed our way, just like the cars on the one-way street. 

  I chose to postpone any personal commitment to organ donation until we could sit down and talk about it at length.  In the past, I had reserved such important talks for those times my child was trapped in the passenger seat and we were driving down the road at 70 miles per hour, thus making her a captive audience.  She had learned the truth of Santa, Sex and the Easter Bunny all while I clutched the wheel of a moving vehicle, unable to make direct eye contact with her.  No longer able to hide behind the wheel of my car, I realized future talks of life will be given from the passenger side of my daughter’s new ride.