Monthly Archives: May 2014

Have Kids, Will…Seek Solace in a Roasted Red Pepper!

It’s a dreary day and I should be doing any number of things, but I’m not.  Instead, I’m indulging my funk.  I’m feeling a little worn out. There are mountains of laundry molding away in hampers, dirty dishes crusting into blocks of concrete, wilting plants that need to be put into the ground, and a pair of legs that will be expected to run 13.1 miles this weekend.  I’m not taking care of any of them.

On days like this, when I don’t know what to do with myself because I don’t want to do the things I should be doing, I cook.  And I don’t mean cook in terms of mixing up some mac n’ cheese or heating hot dogs in the microwave, I mean cook cook.  In the winter I’ll make enormous cauldrons of soup…enough to feed my family of six, freeze in multiple containers, share with friends, and eventually, throw away.  Now that it’s warmer out and the farmers’ markets are up and running, I turn my attention to all those deliciously fresh fruits and vegetables.

This morning, after attacking my fridge with the voracity of a starving jackal, I pulled out some berries and rhubarb, red and yellow bell peppers, and a few languishing tomatoes.  The tomatoes went out to the chicken yard as compost.  The rest, though, have served as my salve, my drug, my relief from the monotony of household chores.  The berries and rhubarb made a nice crisp for dessert, which is a treat since we don’t often have dessert at home (yes, I’m one of those moms). The peppers, though, are vegetables that my kids won’t touch but I absolutely love.

As I was slicing into the peppers, especially the red ones, I was struck by how gorgeous that rich, dark color is.  It’s the color of the organs that pulsate inside of us.  Removing the inside membranes and seeds revealed a finely textured surface with just a little bit of juice gently dripping off the edges.  It was downright pornographic! Why are oysters given all the credit for boosting sex drive when they’re gray and slimy and ugly?  Red peppers are where it’s at!  I was a little sorry that I had to pop those luscious gems into the oven.  They went from being smooth, perky 20-somethings to squishy, wrinkled middle-agers.  The solace I found in this analogy for aging is how damn sweet those roasted red peppers taste!

Now I better go for a run.


Have Kids, Will…Road Trip!


While many families I know recently took lovely spring break vacations to relaxing, tropical locations, this year I decided the best thing I could do for my family was to take a road trip.  We’ve been starving for some sunshine and time on the beach, but flying a family of six to Florida was not part of the equation.  And who doesn’t love a road trip?  As it turned out, the vacay included me, the only adult and driver, and my youngest three boys, so we drove as far as my nerves allowed, which was to Charleston, SC.  That’s a 10 hour drive without traffic.  Before you pat me on the back, let me tell you the rest of the story…

I made reservations at a county park that offers camping-style cabins, only much nicer and much bigger.  The park was beautiful and it was only four miles from my brother’s house–a definite bonus!  We stopped along the way to check out the South of the Border racist tourist trap and visit a really cool petting zoo and bee farm (you know I’m currently obsessed with bees).  We arrived at the cabin ready to kick back and relax.  That’s when the mosquitoes descended upon us like hyenas on a baby zebra.  Let me tell you, these things were the size of airplanes!  Of course I didn’t think to pack bug spray–we had left home in jeans and jackets!  After racing into the cabin with our luggage, dodging the insect kamikaze, my dear brother showed up with a cooler full of beer and all the food and supplies needed for a cookout.  God bless that man!

Since Max is still in an orthopedic walking boot/cast after breaking his leg in February (it feels like it’s been an eternity for both of us!), he stayed in the cabin the next morning when Ben and Fritz begged me to go bike riding…at 6:25 in the morning!  Of course, this is what families do at campgrounds, right?  Did I bring our bikes?  No.  So, instead we opted for an early morning walk along the same lovely paths we would have biked…with the same oversized mosquitoes that had feasted on us just seven short hours ago.  Now, I  will freely admit that I have the worst–WORST–sense of direction out of anyone I know, so when I’m someplace unfamiliar I rely heavily on signs and landmarks.  This beautifully maintained park did indeed have signs, but only indicating where you were at that given moment.  There were no signs saying “Go this way to the fishing pier” or “Take a left to find the camp store.”  There was nothing!  And when you’re in the woods, all the oak trees covered in Spanish moss look the same!  We found our way back…five hours later.

I called my brother to say we were going to head into town after lunch, and the brave soul decided to join us.  We went to Patriots Point and took a tour of the USS Yorkshire, a World War II era aircraft carrier.  It was really cool and very interesting to almost all of us. Unfortunately, indulging my girly ways, I had decided a skirt was in order when I changed after our really long morning walk.  Do you know how you get from one level of an aircraft carrier to another?  By steep ladders!  I’m pretty sure there were a few men and teenage boys who went home really excited about their USS Yorkshire tour.

Completely exhausted the next morning, I thought we needed to squeeze in some time at the beach before heading home.  I packed up the minivan, cleaned out the cabin’s refrigerator, and stripped all the beds.  We checked out at just the right time and drove to Folly Beach.  My brother joined us again (really, he’s a glutton for punishment) and we talked for a couple of hours while the kids played in the sand and water.  It was a great way to finish off our trip, but it was time to go.  Since we were getting a late start, my brother warned me about the traffic, but I waved him off knowing we would likely stop for the night somewhere halfway.  After a day on the beach, I was in no hurry.

About 20 minutes into our drive home, the kids and I were caught in Charleston’s commuter traffic and talking about our fun adventure.  That’s when it suddenly occurred to me that the three nights I had booked in our cabin were mysteriously reduced to two. How did that happen?

“Max, what day is today?” I asked my 14-year-old.

“It’s the 24th.”

“Please pull that reservation paper out of my purse and tell me what day we’re supposed to check out.”

“This says the 25th.”

Oh. My. God.  I’ve lost my mind.

If none of you have ever experienced anything like this, I am here to tell you it feels awful–like an elephant sitting on your chest while hot coals are being held to your eyes kind of awful.  I had checked out a full day early and thought nothing of it until we were actually talking about how many nights we had spent at the cabin.  Truly, I scared myself and was totally convinced that I must have a brain tumor.   Instead of checking into an institution for the mentally impaired, I pulled over and called the park office.  After explaining what had happened, but not knowing how it had happened, I hung up my phone with the sound of the ranger’s laugh ringing in my ears.  Then I called my brother.

Once again, like floundering refugees, we were provided a wonderful dinner and a fun evening, but there was definitely an air of concern hovering over me.  I also called my husband to let him know about my lapse in ability.  He just laughed and said, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you when you’re middle-aged and have totally lost your mind.”  Uh, excuse me, this is it.

So, now that I’ve been able to put this all into proper perspective, next year’s spring break will be in an all-inclusive resort that is truly south-of-the-border, with a kids’ club and a full-service bar.  There will be no history, no nature, no itinerary…just babysitters and bartenders.  Mexico, here we come!

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