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Staycation – Part I

July 7, 2010

Sorry for the silence — graduation, end of school, and then 2 weeks off from work threw a monkey wrench into my routines and kept me away from my computer (oh, the horror!)

As I’ve stated before, work stole my family vacation at the end of the summer.  I am not yet done being bitter about that.  But in an attempt to ensure that the family could still frolic together while the kids were out of school, I took off two weeks before the stupid trial starts making work crazy, and before my presence is required on a regular basis.

Because of the timing of the weeks off, however, the budget was not as free as it would have been in August (you know, the time that I planned the vacation for?  Along with a vacation spending account, etc.?)  Couple that with higher prices around the 4th, and we quickly realized we weren’t able to just reschedule the same trip.

My husband suggested a camping trip.  Exceedingly affordable, and in the past, a really fun time for the family.  But I still had my seaside rental home in mind, the one with 4 bedrooms, a hot tub, and a deck overlooking the ocean, and frankly — 6 nights of sleeping on the ground with rocks sticking into my back, nightly trudges down a path to the toilet, and less showers than makes me happy was NOT an adequate substitute.  If we added a camping trip to our summer agenda, I would have loved it.  But I just could not stomach it as an alternative.

My bitterness is clearly self-destructive.

But as the days moved on (without the case settling), we kept thinking about what to do with my time off.

We decided on a series of daytrips.

Day 1

We started out with a trip to my parents house in Connecticut, where we had some nice meals in and out, got to see my very young niece and nephew, and somehow managed to get L~’s face burned with a grilled cheese sandwich.  We tried desperately, both nights, to get home made ice cream at the sounds-creepy-but-is-really-cool ice cream place in the middle of a corn field, but missed the closing time by moments both times.

No, really, my daughter was burned in the face by a grilled cheese sandwich.  Over a week later, and she still has a mark to prove it.  The story:  L~ is a vegetarian.  She is the only one in the family who refuses to eat meat.  Actually, if S~ has to go even one day without meat, she will revolt.  Chicken, as far as S~ is concerned, is not meat.  Meat is either pork or beef, either of which she will eat until there are no more cows or pigs in the entire U.S.  L~ however, no.  My dad is a huge meat/grill/ribs/eat with your hands kind-of-guy.  He’s also hyper conservative, and maybe not all that sympathetic to ANY of the reasons that someone may have for being a vegetarian.  Fortunately, her vegetarianism coincided with his new fishing hobby, and so he usually takes great delight in placing a plate full of salmon in front of her, while telling stories of how he caught it, where he caught it, and how big it was.  On this particular afternoon, however, he was grilling leftover ribs and chicken, and wasn’t up for defrosting one of the Mighty Salmon.  We also had plans to go out to eat that evening — to a steak house — and we knew salmon may be her only option there.  So she requested a grilled cheese sandwich.

My dad made the sandwich in the house on a frying pan.  He then brought the frying pan directly from the stove to the outdoor deck where we were all eating.  He thought it would be oh-so-cool to not just take the sandwich out of the pan with a spatula, as most people owuld, but rather to FLIP the sandwich onto her plate.  He was standing behind her – plate in one hand, direct-from-the-burner frying pan in the other, and made some (deficient) flipping motion.  The sandwich fell and landed on L~’s shoulder.  Open.

She swiped at the bread a little frantically, but then just helped my dad to clean it up.  I saw her eyes were a little glazed, and she was acting a little weird — but couldn’t quite figure out what happened.  But she had cheese in her hair.  Then I noticed a spot on her jawline was all red, and growing.  So I took her inside, and asked her what was wrong.

Then she starts to cry.  “It hurts!”  We pulled her hairback and saw there was a hand-sized spot on her face where the cheese (or the tomato?) had landed on her, and was burned.

We put ice on it, marveled at the fact that my mother, who is a nurse, and who takes care of my toddler nephew and infant niece on a regular basis, did not have any aloe in the house, and then WD and I went out to procure some aloe.  L~ wasn’t really bad off.  It was definitely a first degree burn – no blisters, and only mild pain.  We found some great aloe extract at a natural food store, and within an hour, the spot shrunk to a finger’s width.

She was good natured throughout.  She seemed more concerned about hurting my father’s feelings (probably because I was already bitching at him – even before I knew she was burned) than she was about her own face.  She wasn’t too happy when she looked in the mirror the next day – after the pain was gone – to see that there was a blotchy spot; “It’s ugly!” she complained.  She has enjoyed telling all her friends, and is currently calling this the Summer I Was Burned By A Grilled Cheese Sandwich.

Day 2

Left my parents’ house and drove north to Six Flags New England.  S~ and I had been about a year ago, but L~ and the husband never had.  I started out thinking “wow, I’d rather be on Block Island,” but we ended up with a great day, happy kids, and great memories.  And we were exhausted.

Less than pleasant memory from that day:  We were waiting in line for a water ride, and all of a sudden, I felt something hit my leg/foot.  I looked down, and there was a young boy on the ground, with his head down.  Simultaneously with my looking at him, his mother said to him, “What are you doing on the ground?!  Get up!”  (not in a concerned tone, but rather as if he’d spent the entire day on the ground, just to bug her).  The boy then got up.  I assumed he was just horsing around with his brother.  But then he started swaying a bit (again, it looked like he was pushing his brother in the chest, but I think he was trying to hold himself up), and then FAINTED again!  His mother  then picked him up and rushed him out of the line.  I really felt horrible that when he first fell on my foot that my first reaction wasn’t to be concerned, or ask if he was okay.  It ended up that he had medical attention, and he was dehydrated and suffering from heat exhaustion (it was in the high 80s).  He was eventually wheeled out in a wheelchair, still looking woozy.  My husband had already decided he wasn’t going on this particular ride, due to excessive spinning, and so when he left the line, he went directly to buy us all gallons of water.

WD’s photos of some roller coasters:

Day 3

Okay – we were boring.  S~ had a 2:30 p.m. guitar lesson, and because she’s out of town for 3 weeks, she didn’t want to miss it.  WD and I figured it wasn’t horrible to have a day to catch up on sleep and do some laundry, etc.  I had some things to take care of for the girls’ school and clean up volunteer work.  I think I also spent some time fighting with my Ex, because THAT is fun.

Days 4 & 5

After a few loving spouse-like arguments about timing and whether or not I packed the night before (I didn’t – even though the girls did, and so did WD), we left our house at 8:20 (20 minutes past the range of 7:30 – 8 that we agreed upon) and started a drive to Provincetown on Cape Cod.  We used Price Line to get a hotel for one night, and were excited to spend some time on the Cape.

And it was great.  Our hotel was about a mile away from the center of town, and we walked that mile at least 6 times – the only complaints came from WD during our walk back to the hotel after our evening out on Tuesday night, because his bladder wanted the hotel to be much closer.

Some stories:

  1. WD and I got married on 2/2/2007.  I am frustrated by the fact that this is our official “anniversary,” because it is disingenuous (to me).  We first started to create our family back in 2004, when we still lived in California.  When we decided to move back east together, we had no intention to get married.  It seemed superfluous to us – especially with us both having been married in the past – unsuccessfully.  In Berkeley, CA, unmarried yet permanent couples were not unusual.  It wasn’t all that “progressive” or “liberal” or “non-traditional” of us there.  But when we arrived back in New England, at least my perspective changed.  I didn’t like that we went from being an accepted couple to “oh, so your boyfriend lives with you?”  The term “boyfriend” wasn’t cutting it for me.  When I tried to use the term “partner” instead, people assumed I was with a woman.  The girls also wanted a more definitive term for WD.  They didn’t feel comfortable with “my mother’s boyfriend,” and also felt dishonest using “step-dad” when we weren’t married.  And so, we got married.  Almost 3 years after the time that we became a family.  We had a very small civil ceremony in Provincetown, over a frigid weekend in February.  Only us, the girls, and the Justice of the Peace.  In the P-Town Town Hall:That was a good weekend.  Good enough that when we asked S~ if there was anything she’d like to do during our week off, she said, “let’s go back to where we had your wedding!”  And so we did.
  2. We went to the beach both days we were there.  The first day, we went to a beach at the very tip of the Cape.  The water was very deep, very quick.  The girls are both strong swimmers, so it wasn’t a deal breaker, but I was a little more on edge.  I really wanted to SWIM, and knowing that they’re strong swimmers, they wanted to swim with me.  But it turns out there was quite a current going on.  Since we were at the tip of the Cape, facing north (not east), the current was not directly parallel to the shore.  It kept pulling us down the beach from our home base.  L~ and I even ended up a little nervous one point, as we were far off shore and swimming and swimming and swimming without getting anywhere.  We were getting a little tired.  So we floated for a bit, and then swam with the current and waded back once we could touch again.  WD says that was a rip current.  I’ve always thought those things were supposed to be dangerous, but we never felt unsafe.  I kept an eye on L~, to make sure she wasn’t getting too tired, but there was nothing close to panic.
  3. Same  trip to the beach — I ended up a player in an Alfred Hitchcock feature film.  I went for a walk down the beach (which was NOT crowded in the slightest – probably under 100 people with us on the entire beach).  I was coming to the end of the protected (i.e., lifeguarded) area, looking at the rocks and shells on the ground, when I started to hear the squawking of a bird.  I looked up and noticed what looked like a small seagull with black lining its wing span.  oh, pretty bird.  I then noticed that the area furthest from the shore, close to a cliff, was roped off as protected.  Then the squawking was louder, and more persistent.  I looked up to see this bird swooping down at me!  It kept circling in a very tight area above me, and swooping down sooo close to my head!  It scared the absolute crap out of me.  Absolute crap.  I ended up running away from the thing, with images of people with their eyes pecked out racing through my head.  I later looked it up, and found out it was likely a Plover.
  4. On the second day, we went to a different beach in the mid-Cape area.  This one had better waves, and didn’t drop off as steep as the day before.  I again went deep for a solid swim.  It was fantastic.  The waves were just rolling that far out, and were really awesome to be swimming amongst and against.  Later, while back on the beach reading my beach-quality book, WD pointed out to the water and said “what are those?”  I said, “I think they’re dogs – I saw them before.”  We kept watching the black furry bodies in the water.  Both of us noticing how long they stayed under water, and how very hippy they were.  “Those aren’t dogs.  They’re seals.”  Later at one point, L~ had to go to the car to get something, and I went with her.  We stopped at the top of the stairs to watch and saw the seals relatively far out, and to the left of where we were sitting.  But when we returned to our home base on the beach, we saw them again.  “Uhh, isn’t that where I was swimming?” I asked WD.  “Yes,” he said, “that’s exactly where you were!”  I cannot imagine what my reaction would have been if I was swimming out in the waves and ended up face-to-face with a seal.  I definitely would have shit my pants.

Some pictures (thanks to WD):

More to come …

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