Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

A Perfect Day

June 4, 2010

I’ve been accused of embarrassing my daughter on this blog, so here’s a disclaimer:  

No matter what I embellish…ever so slightly…for the sake of humor, she’s one of my very favorite people on the planet.  She’s very smart (on her university’s President’s list), highly motivated (working two jobs while going to school full time), very funny (she even laughs at my jokes sometimes), and she infuses positive, heart-warming energy into every person whose life she touches, and into every situation and circumstance she finds herself in.  (Aw, gee, now I’m going to have to do follow-up brag sessions on our two sons.) 

Anyway, I hope that disclaimer will cover me while I write yet another post about this very wonderful person. 

As the sunny warmth of Florida beckons us to run off to the beach, I think back to a very perfect summer day I enjoyed with my daughter a few years back. 

I was working at my husband’s office when she dropped by.  She had more time on her hands back then, in the pre-boyfriend era. 

“Do you have any work for me?” she asked. 

I glanced away from my computer monitor to take a good look at her.  She looked a little bored, which was exactly how I felt on that irresistibly sunny day. 

“Want to play hooky?” I asked. 

“And do what?” 

“How ‘bout we go to the beach?” 

Her eyes lit up, matching mine.  It was all systems go.  We drove home to get our swim suits and some water bottles, and headed for the beach.  In no time at all, we were jumping over waves and soaking up some sun.  Not a care in the world…just enjoying the refreshing, clear emerald water cooling off our hot bodies.  (OK, so maybe hers was “hot.”  Mine was just a temperature-related thing.) 

After enjoying the surf a while, I asked, “What should we do now?  Hey, want to see a movie?” 

Her eyes lit up again.  “Sure!” 

“How ‘bout we go to that new theatre on the beach?” 

Her smile widened.  “OK!” 

We showered off on the boardwalk, changed into something dry, and headed out to the new, mega theatre.  It was clean, and the seats were so comfy.  No matter what was playing…anything would be fine. 

As a matter of fact, I can’t even remember what movie we saw that day.  I just remember that we had fun watching it.  When it was over, we headed out the door to find our car. 

“Where did we park?” I asked. 

“I don’t know.” 

“Should we go right or left?” 

The whole area was so new to us, and we had no idea where we were going.  We went right. 

“Hey, do you hear that?” I asked.  “They put in parking lot music.” 

“Yeah.” 

We walked around the entire building until we finally found our car, slightly to the left of the entrance.  But on this side of the building, the parking lot music sounded louder.  We noticed people walking with lawn chairs and coolers toward a new park next to the theatre. 

“Hey, that’s not parking lot music.  It’s live…a concert in the park!” 

“Want to go?” 

“Sure.” 

We walked over to the park, laughing about car hunting and “parking lot music.”  When we arrived, an idyllic slice of Americana lay before us.  A band played classic rock, and people filled the park…on lawn chairs and blankets with coolers.  People threw Frisbees for their dogs.  Kids ran around chasing balls, toys, and each other. 

“Let’s sit here,” I said.  The scene was too perfect to miss.  I wanted to sit on the outer edge of the park, watching everything going on while the music played.  I wanted to relish this freedom we enjoy in America. 

The sun slowly set, the concert ended, and people started packing up to leave.  We headed to the car and drove home. 

I couldn’t recall the last time I had spent an entire day alone with my college-age daughter…especially to play hooky. 

I’m glad we did…wouldn’t trade it for anything…the spontaneity of running off to the beach, taking in a movie in a brand new theatre, and the serendipity of finding a free concert in the park.  Just us girls, with not a care in the world.  A blessed, perfect day.

Young Entrepreneurs And Lemonade Stands

March 20, 2010

Spring Break is in full swing, and before you know it, the heat of summer will be upon us…beckoning us to barbecues, beaches, and thirst-quenching, ice-cold lemonade.  Ah, how lemonade explodes with a burst of sweet memories on my palate!

The street I grew up on back in the 60’s was not without the entrepreneurial spirit.  It was a spirit born of necessity…many of us baby boomers had parents who went through the depression, with a mindset fixed on saving, and very little thought of spending…ever!  In our family, any monetary gifts we received from Grandma and Grandpa or anyone else had to immediately be put into a savings account.  The only hope we had for any spending money at all at the local penny candy store was money we earned…cold, hard cash…“under the table” in today’s vernacular.  For those of you born in the mid-sixties and beyond, a penny candy store had a wondrous glass counter filled with bins of a multitude of candies you could actually buy for a penny…string licorice, candy corn, jelly beans, lollipops, Bazooka bubble gum, Mary Jane’s, Peppermint Patty’s, Atomic Fireballs, Bit O’ Honey’s, jaw breakers, Tootsie Rolls, wax bottles…ad infinitum into sugar heaven!

But alas, in the pre-allowance days of our baby-boomer childhood, we had to devise the means to obtaining these wondrous treats.  And on a hot summer day, what better way to make all those pennies than with a lemonade stand? 

So, on one such day, my older brothers set up a stand, made the lemonade, and we were in business.  Kids from the neighborhood gave us their nickels for glasses of that cold, sweet stuff.  My brothers were quite content with their little enterprise, and I was happy to witness it all as an eager assistant.

But then the spirit of competition kicked up in Mikey Warren, three houses down across the street.  He proceeded to put up his lemonade stand!  My brothers scoffed, “He doesn’t have a chance!”

And then the unspeakable happened.  His mother helped him insert an umbrella into the center of his patio-table-turned-lemonade-stand!  How could we compete with that?  As we sat in the sweltering sun, Mikey Warren’s customers could sit and sip their golden nectar in the shade of that huge, inviting umbrella!

And then the unimaginable happened.  All of our kid customers came back to us and demanded their nickels back.  Why?  Because we didn’t have an umbrella like Mikey Warren did!  I couldn’t believe they were asking for refunds, and I certainly couldn’t believe it when my brothers obliged them.  Had they gone soft?  What was up?

After some discussion among them, I found myself helping my enterprising siblings load our lemonade pitcher and cups into our wagon (the red metal kind, that made a lot of cantankerous rattling as it rolled along on its way).  I ran to keep up as my brothers fiendishly implemented their ingenious plan.  There was a lot of construction going on in our neighborhood, and those workers were thirsty!

Our first stop was the new apartment complex down the street.  We rolled in, and were greeted by a somewhat amused and very thirsty construction worker. 

“How much?” he asked.

“A nickel,” said John, my older brother.

“How much for the whole pitcher?” 

Our eyes widened as our jaws dropped. 

After a clumsy moment of stupefied silence, he boomed, “How ‘bout two dollars?” 

Two dollars!  Our eyes got wider and our jaws dropped lower.

“OK,” said John, trying to play it cool.  He handed him the pitcher.

We gawked in amazement as he chugged down the entire half-gallon pitcher right before our eyes.  Yes!  We were in business!

We spent the rest of the day rolling and rattling at high speed to nearby construction sites with our trusty lemonade-laden wagon, running home to make refills, and then back to bring in more sales.  What a day!  Yes, Mikey Warren got the neighborhood kids’ nickels, but we got filthy rich with the dollars of mighty-thirsty construction workers. 

Did we ever tell Mikey Warren about our day’s haul?  I don’t think so.  But we knew we had dominated the market that day.  Oh, the sweet taste of victory!

I don’t get to see many lemonade stands nowadays, but when I do, I stop…without hesitation.  It doesn’t matter what they’re asking, or how “unhealthy” it looks, I buy it.  I don’t care much for sugar, and I usually pour it out at the next stop light, but I still feel good, knowing I’ve encouraged the entrepreneurial spirit in a new generation!

Let’s Do Something Different

February 27, 2010

          Yesterday was a gorgeous, sunny day, so I called my husband with an idea.

          “Let’s do something different, instead of me just cooking dinner at home.  How ‘bout we go out?”

          “O.K.,” he said.  “Let me think about it and I’ll get back with you.”

          He called back in an hour.

          “I’ve got an idea,” he said.  “Let’s call some friends and go camping at Torreya.  We can bring the tent and the cots.  The weather is perfect.”

          Being my ever-gracious self, I said, “Are you out of your MIND?”

          Somewhere along the line I became a softy.  Nowadays my idea of a nice weekend away isn’t shivering in a sleeping bag, tossing and turning all night, and getting up to walk across a cold, dark campground to the restroom two or three times throughout the night, just to break up the monotony.  Give me a Hilton resort any day, where I can sleep with half a dozen amazing pillows in a cozy bed—one I won’t even have to make in the morning.

          We tent-camped in the years B.C. (Before Children), all the way through two pregnancies.  I started losing my “woodsiness” when Steve planned another campout by Disney World, with me about eight months pregnant.  I made him bring an extra tent and a porta-potty, so I could easily indulge my pea-sized bladder throughout the night.

          After baby number two, Steve said, “Let’s go camping!”

          I said, “Let’s get a camper!”  I love the woods, but air conditioning, walls, and an indoor bathroom sure make it nicer.  We enjoyed several years of family fun in that camper…that is, until Steve and the boys took up backpacking.  Somewhere along the line the boys talked us girls into joining them.  We all went on about four or five backpacking trips on the Appalachian Trail (possible future blog posts).

          I remember the last trip clearly.  I was trailing behind, trudging up an endless mountain with a 40-pound load on my back.  My knees and spine creaked with sharp pangs of pain when I came to a sudden realization.

          This isn’t fun.  I could be soaking in a spa in the Keys.

          The next time Steve and the boys went backpacking, that’s exactly what me and my daughter did…Key Largo, Key West, sunshine, snorkeling, sailboats, warmth, and hotels with housekeeping.  My idea of fun.

          Steve recovered quickly after my rejection of his “great idea” yesterday.  We ended up doing something different anyway—going to a great little oyster bar close to our house—the kind with autographed dollar bills covering the walls, families laughing with little kids running around, loud conversations from the bar about fishing and scuba diving adventures, mouthwatering oysters with to-die-for horseradish, steamed grouper with buttery vegetables, a roll of paper towels on the table for napkins—where a glass of merlot isn’t on the menu, so you order what suits the down-home ambiance—a cold, refreshing light beer. 

          I may be a softy now, but life is good.