Monthly Archives: December 2011

Today’s Best Moment: Lake Tahoe, CA – Take 2

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Lake Tahoe, CA – Take 2, December 2011

Last Day Snowboarding: Today, more snow, less people, and still there is that lake.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Today’s Best Moment: Lake Tahoe, CA

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Lake Tahoe, December 2011.

End of snowboarding day.  Not enough snow, too many people, but there is always that lake.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Today’s Best Moment: Santa Cruz, CA

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Sunset in Santa Cruz,  California –  Surfers grabbing the last waves of the day. December, 2011.

Mid run to the water entrance, a surfer stopped to catch a moment of the sunset. We caught it with him.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

When All Else Fails…Cry

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What is worse than baby screaming lungs out on airplane?  Being the parent of baby screaming lungs out on airplane.  Wait, no, it wasn’t me. I mean, aside from the possible ramifications of confiscating ipods that could produce hysteria to rival any 6 month old, my kids at 10 and 12 after much experience, have grown into seasoned travelers.

No, on my recent trip, the unlucky parents of 6 month old travel baby happened to be sitting across the aisle from me. Clearly, the parents were newbies to the joys of Airplane Travel with Baby. How do I know this?  Well, when baby began to holler like a horror movie scream queen not long into the 3 1/2 hour flight, the look of terror in the parents eyes told all.  They began to all but dumpster dive into their “appropriately” sized bag for items of distraction:  teething toy, bottle, cuddlys, electronics,  Mom boob (ok, well, that was not in the bag) – all to no avail.

And as their desperation rose, I began to feel anxious for them. I wanted to share with them some of my experiences.  Comfort them so they would know it was fairly unlikely the flight attendant was on her way to escort them to seats on the wing, designated for disturbers of the peace. To assure them they were not alone.

For example, the first time I flew with my, then 4 month old, son, and he screamed all the way to the coast, body stretched in ridged stress, like stick man shrieking out his dying breath. I was sure I was headed to that seat in the wing (at least I hoped anyway).

Or, the time my, then 18 month old, son decided everyone sitting behind us (which was basically the entire plane) was fascinating and proceeded to over and over again force his way off my lap into the coveted standing position in order to socialize over the seat. Which honestly, I could have handled had it not been for the unsympathetic flight attendant who continually demanded I restrain him to sit on my lap (right!). Finally in exasperation I suggested that if she had any constructive ideas as to how to accomplish this, I was very open to suggestions.  She had none to offer, but I swear I saw a flash of something involving ropes, a gag, and horse sized sleeping pill flash across her face.  We did not get our Chocolate Chip cookies that time.

And then there was the time when, due to overbooking, we were all seated individually – scattered throughout the plane.  After gallant efforts by desk attendant, we were finally told we would have to board, sit in scattered seats, and see what could be done.  There we were, on the plane, standing ambiguously in the aisle when it suddenly dawned on my, then 5 year old, son the grim possibilities of having to sit next to a stranger (AKA: one who must be an undesirable ‘cause I don’t know you and might smell funny).  No sooner was this realization reached did big fat tears began to roll down his face accompanied by soft puppy like whimpers.  In an instant, the plane was filled with Jack-in-the-Boxes on crack as people popped up in order to give us seats together and rescue traumatized child. Thus, the birth of travel motto:  When all else fails, Cry.

I wanted to warn them against attempting to change a diaper in the plane bathroom; to tell them to never allow accidental upgrade to first class when travelling with a lap baby; to advise them to always bring an “inappropriately” sized bag for that unexpected 7 hour delay; to always know where the barf bag is; and to inform them that when their child begins to read, explain that “cocktail” on the plane menu is NOT Shrimp Cocktail to be ordered from Flight Attendant during beverage service.

I wanted them to know that not every flight attendant will treat you like Rosemary and her baby, and some will even be kind.

But, in the end, at the flight’s conclusion, I just gave them thumbs up, told them they did a good job and promised it would get better.

Judging by the not-as-defeated smile the Mom gave me, and the I-needed-to-hear-that look the Dad imparted (don’t you know he was contemplating their possible 17 ½ year ban from flying), I am thinking…It was enough.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!

Word-Up: Poop

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I love words.  I love to laugh. You can only imagine my glee when I discovered the funniest word in the English language is  Poop.  I know this to be true.  I know this because I have proved it: methodically, scientifically and sometimes ruthlessly.

I submit for your consideration the following data.

Hypothesis: Whether by delivery or receipt, when in audible range of the word Poop, laughter will ensue.

Observations: I was fortunate to be able to conduct environment controlled experiments in three locations: Home, Work, Mall.

  • Home: It was in the home environment where the Poop  phenomenon first presented itself.  Once I had an inkling of the possibilities, I had to probe further. I began to insert the word Poop into various conversational situations.  For example:

In answer to what’s for dinner – Poop,

in reply to  complaints about school/friends/brother – Poop,

in response to husband asking how much I paid for a pair of jeans – Poop,

 at random, unsuspecting moments when subjects were otherwise engaged – Poop.

The results were indisputable and consistent –giggles, laughter, guffaws. However, I fear future repercussions as a result of extended, somewhat addicting research on the subjects are imminent.

  • Work:  During the experiment phase, I was asked to Substitute in the third grade at a local school. On this given day, after clearly losing my audience during an apparently not so scintillating reading lesson, I suggested I knew the funniest word in the world and could prove it. Thus began our lesson in scientific exploration.  I presented the test subjects with the opportunity to see how many times the experimenter (me) could say the word Poop and still evoke laughter from subjects (them). We proceeded. Unfortunately laughter was so raucous and contagious, 9 year old lab assistant failed to keep accurate count but offered “It was a lot” as evidence. Experiment was concluded when no end could be reached – oh, and principal came by for a visit.
  • Mall: This experiment was born out of necessity to prove to home-test-subject (i.e. my son) the infallibility of the Poop phenomena. Thus, while walking past random teen in local mall, I casually vocalized the word Poop in passing.  Although accompanied by a strange “what’s wrong with you lady” look, the goal of laughter was nonetheless achieved.

Conclusion: Poop is, without a doubt, the funniest word in the English language.

Final Note: If you attempt these experiments on your own, please keep in mind, your overall appearance of normalcy and sanity may be permanently affected.  But, you can laugh all the way down that slippery slope.

Lastly: For enhanced laughter a few ‘o’s can be added for optimal effect as in: PoooooooP

Poop out.

Shaun White Move Over

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Today, I feel giddy!  Winter snow sport time is almost here.  Since relocating from CA to MO winter is a time to dread, fear, eat my weight in chocolate.  However, since my discovery of snowboarding, winters now have a redeeming qualitywell, that and not having to shave my legs for weeks on end.  My fledgling adventure into snowboarding (or some might say, one way ride to Crazy Town) went something like this…

The day I turned 40 was a dark day.  4….0…forty? Turning 30 was no big deal.  I had just gotten together with my soon-to-be husband.  I was looking forward to leaving the smog and traffic in LA behind.  It was the beginning of a new chapter in my life.

But, turning 40 felt like an epilogue at the end of my book that read “She was in a big hair rock band, and then she turned 40…The End”.

So, I resolved to do something I had never done before – but what?  For days, I racked my brain.  My ultimate teenage goal of marrying Richard Gere seemed pretty much out of the question at this point (according to my husband, anyway).  And, becoming a professional ice skater looked like a dim prospect since, well, I couldn’t even really ice skate.

Then, it came to me.  Of course, why hadn’t I thought of it before?  Just because my one and only foray into this activity 20 years prior had ended in complete disaster was no reason to think I couldn’t succeed now!

I’ll ski!

So I dug out my frighteningly dated, thrift store snow clothes, shoved my feet into some very unattractive boots, strapped a plank to each boot, and headed for the nearest chair lift.  Kindly said, my first attempts were… ungraceful.  I was more down than up and I quickly learned the literal meaning of “eating powder”.  But,  I was determined and no amount of bruises, shouts of “wipe out” from smug little teens floating on the lifts overhead, or hikes around the mountain to locate runaway skis after executing something I liked to call “the flying stop”, was going to deter me.  Little by little I began to improve.

And even as my friends and family quietly looked on in disbelief, (yeah, like the time I wore tie-die leggings to my brother’s wedding wasn’t unbelievable enough!), I went from beginner, to intermediate to, on a really brave day,  an advanced run or two.

But, I wasn’t done yet. As if strapping two planks to my feet and heading down a steep incline wasn’t mind blowing enough, I decided it was time to strap both feet to one plank and attempt to snowboard.   Oh yes, I ate even more powder, acquired more bruises and was heckled by more of those smug little teens.  But, one time floating down a mountain of powder like a surfer in the pipe and I was hooked.

Now finally, after several seasons (although Shaun White need not stress too much), I can at last call myself a “snowboarder”; which, as I said, makes me giddy.

But, honestly, even better than giddy was the proof.  Proof to myself that turning 40 did not mean my only adventure left was getting out of bed in the morning to make coffee (although sometimes, that is pretty harrowing).

And with this evidence, I have proceeded to kick and scream through my 40’s –  looking for new beginnings,  facing challenges, smashing through self-imposed limits and remembering that nobody ever really looked good in spandex.

Not The End

Where’s The Beef?

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Man cannot live on broccoli alone…or so my husband and kids tell me.  The truth is, as a singleton I attempted to prove the opposite.  I starved out more than a few guests who, looking for a snack, found only broccoli and water in my refrigerator.  But even I had to admit after a time, a re-acquaintance with chicken and fish was necessary. And with the advent of husband and boys into my life, even the occasional meeting with pork loin had weaseled its way into my culinary repertoire.

But, when my growing boys began to ask, “Where’s the Beef?”, I knew I was in trouble.  You see, I have never been on good terms with Beef.  We don’t like each other, and my attempts as a newlywed to prepare Beef resulted in varying forms of barely edible shoe leather – proving, Beef and I just did not play nicely together.

However, one night, while perusing a cookbook, I came upon a recipe for Beef Brisket.  In light of recent requests (demands, threats to hide my ipod) and excitement over mentioned recipe, I decided to take on Beef once again – beat him at his own game.

So off to the store, list of ingredients in hand, I went.  The first sign I was in over my head was at the meat counter.  I ordered the recipe required poundage whereupon the butcher began piling hunk after huge hunk of meat onto the scale.  It probably would have been back to the fish counter for me, but butcher-guy, seeing my deer in the headlights look, quickly suggested I cut the recipe down and try one hunk of Beef.  And once I solved the “consommé” vs “beef broth” mystery and got over my fear that liquid smoke was not just some guys dying breath in a bottle, I was ready to begin preparation.

However, from the outset, Beef and I suffered misunderstandings: First being that, Beef had to marinate for 24 hours (oops, “spaghetti for dinner tonight?”). And second, the following night after 24 hour marinating, discovering that Beef did not cook for 40 minutes but for 40 minutes PER POUND (umm, “dinner at 9:00 tonight?”). Nonetheless, hunk of Beef and I finally came together and completed the meal.

So finally, the moment of reckoning had arrived. I gingerly took Beef out of the oven.  Beef looked good.  Beef smelled really good.  I cut Beef into slices and served Beef to my, by now starving and salivating, victims family.  Whereupon we discovered…I had made… the most wonderful…possibly first time ever…Beef Brisket Jerky. It wasn’t flaky, or tender, or delectable.

Nonetheless, either out of fear this would be my last foray into Beef’s world or out of sheer pity; my patrons verbally declared it a rousing success:

“It tastes good”,

“At least its beef”,

“It’s not that chewy”,

“I like jerky”,

“It tastes like some I had in a restaurant once” (note to self, never go to that restaurant again).

Their heartfelt accolades were so sincere and insistent I almost began to believe them; enough, at least, to consider casting my lot with Beef once again.  I guess you could say we may never be BFF’s, but at least now, Beef and I seemed to be on speaking terms.

But, just so Beef would not get the last word…

I made Carrot Cashew Soup for dinner the next night.

Come Fly With Me

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I love to fly.  Let me rephrase that – I love going places and since flying seems to be a necessary part of “going” I find I must endure the experience.  In truth, over the years I have developed a random fear of flying.  As a trip approaches, my growing anxiety blooms into full blown fear by the time boarding ensues.  At that moment, the only thing that propels me onto the plane is the comfort of strangers.  I reason that surely all these people around me would not be stupid enough to board a plane that is going to crash and burn, right? Clearly, they collectively have the inner track to divine knowledge.

And with this comforting although misguided sense of security, I am able to climb aboard, buckle in, and finally, breathe easy.

However, on recent trips, a flaw has developed in my strategy.  You see, the longer it takes to board, the longer I am privy to the behaviors, phone conversations, and smells of my fellow passengers. And, with every glimpse of their humanity, I begin to doubt their collective mystic abilities. Unfortunately, unless one is flying Southwest Airlines – the champion of boarding for the masses – the wait to be called forward and given the honor to climb aboard can seem interminable.

It used to be that all were only made to wait for the First Class passengers to comfortably take their seats – which seemed fair.  I mean, you should get something more than a big seat and hot towel for all that extra dough.  But, lately, the list of “preferred travelers” i.e. more important, special passengers who get to board before me, seems to be growing.

Case in point: My most recent trip over Thanksgiving.  There I was, with the mob of fellow travelers, poised in the most optimum spot to jump in line when my assigned boarding group was called, fear bubbling in my stomach, when finally, the boarding process began.  It started out in the usual way as the attendant called:

“People travelling with small children and those needing assistance” (drat those too old, kids of mine who refuse to board on their knees and do not have any broken bones at present to take advantage of)

“First Class Passengers” (not in this lifetime)

“Gold Elite Members may now board” (gold…that must be good, right?)

“Bronze Elite Members”  (clearly, not as good as Gold)

I began to get anxious in the waiting.  I could feel my stomach climbing up to my throat as the attendant continued boarding groups:

“Priority Frequent Flyers”(nope)

“Now, Frequent Flyers may board”(still waiting)

In my panic the question occurred to me.  How long could this go on?  How many groups could possibly be called before it was my turn to board??

“Those who drive BMW’s”

“Passengers currently in possession of an Ipad2 may now board – proof required”

“Niemen Marcus shoppers, welcome”

“Those with full benefit Medical Coverage”

I mean really, the possibilities at this moment began to seem endless!

“Passengers traveling with a Chihuahua or other appropriately dressed dog”

“Those who still have a 401K”

Current residents of California, welcome“

 “All those traveling with more than one Apple product feel free to join us”

And as my panic began to overtake me, I feared my wait was not yet over.

“Boarding now, passengers who shop at Walmart”

“Those who watch WWF on TV”

“Those who watch WWF on TV, in their underwear”

“Those who pick their nose, while watching WWF on TV, in their underwear”

Then finally, I was roused out of my musings and impending panic attack as the attendant finally called:

“All remaining passengers

There it was! The words I had been longing to hear. My group had finally been called.  I, and the guy next to me wearing mis-matched clothes and flip-flops in winter, shuffled forward. I pretended to confidently hand the flight attendant my, by now, sweaty boarding pass – Hoping that there was still room in the overhead bins for my carry on, scheming how to gain access to a more prestigious group on future flights, smiling as more possible ‘groupings’ popped into my head, and praying that the guy who could potentially have boarded in the group right before me was not my neighbor for the next several hours.

For more Sweet Spot Travels: Go Here!