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.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Health Food Nut



As my 50th birthday approaches, a silent panic sets in by the demand for a heart healthy lifestyle.  I'm keenly aware that a midnight movie binge with buttered popcorn and liters of soda don't fit into the image of the 50 year old me that I have in mind, but the joy in those midnight treats still calls to me.  In an effort to tame the snack monster that rides around on my shoulder whispering sweet nothings, I purged my kitchen of all treats tasty and wondrous. As the Doritos, trans fats and hydrogenated oil products disappeared into the trash, I knew I must be on the brink of something wonderful and healthy that my family would embrace.

I would like to point out that health eating is expensive eating as indicated by my $250 grocery bill.  I stocked my pantry with nuts, grains, fruits and seeds - all whole foods promising energy and wellness.  A 24 pack of assorted chips used to last two weeks.  A $9 can of pistachios lasted two hours.  I watched in dismay as hungry children gobbled up banana chips, sunflower seeds and pecans.  It took half a bag of oranges to get enough juice for a few good drinks and I wondered what the true cost of all of this would be. My worry set in and I sought out a Reese's cup and Coca Cola, but none were to be found. I downed a few sunflower seeds and pieces of beef jerky.  While tasty, they didn't give me that sugar rush I wanted from chocolate and soda.

After a day of healthy eating and drinking lots of water, I settled in for a good night's sleep, proud that I was making healthy choices for my family.  It was about 2:00 a.m. when I woke to the feeling of being run over by a truck.  I thought these healthy foods were supposed to make me feel better!  There wasn't a joint in my body that didn't hurt.  Perhaps it was withdrawal from the buttery goodness that once filled my cabinets and possibly the spaces between my joints. I sought comfort in a jar of natural peanut butter and a bottle of Motrin,  my new midnight friends.

Out with the old and in with the new.  Fifty may be screaming at me from the horizon, but I plan to greet it in a pair of running shoes with a bottle of Fiji Water in hand.  After all, this is just the beginning of the next fifty and I want them to be grand!