Why don’t we take off all alone? Take a trip somewhere far, far away?
We’ll be together-all alone again, like we used to in the early days.
It’ll be just like starting over. Starting over. John Lennon-paraphrased
Here I thought our ‘downsized’ house was small. No, the condo rental is small. Twenty steps from the front door to the balcony sliders. That’s the farthest I can walk without taking a sharp left at some point inside. (5 doors, all on the left side) It’s a hoot! Loud colors on the walls, positive, inspirational beachy signs hung throughout, including the shower curtains. We knew this coming in so I’m not surprised. But I didn’t think it would remind me so much of the early days of our marriage.
The condo is very nice and there’s really no comparison to our early years but for size. Three flat screens, 2 bathrooms, 2 bedrooms, dishwasher. We have a great view of the Gulf of Mexico across the road. How many get to enjoy that for 2 months? But it’s the little things that remind me of being young marrieds all over again. It’s about the size of the house we rented in 1970 when we brought home Shannon, our firstborn. The only bedroom was filled to capacity with a queen sized bed and one of 2 dressers, the other dresser claimed a spot of the living room (as did Shannon’s crib).
We arrived here just over a week ago, around 6 pm so it was pitch dark. We unpacked, put away the frozen food, hung up a few duds and collapsed in bed. Woke up to warm temperatures, blinding sunshine and huge waves rolling in from the Gulf. I skipped walking every morning for 3 travel days so that was my first goal. Get back into my walking habit (and not get lost). To my delight, a blacktop walking path runs East/west off of the busy road in front of us. I walked (what I felt was 3,000 steps, playlist wise), checked my pedometer (pretty darn close), marked in my head how far I’d come and turned around.
Made a list of staples needed and suppers I was hungry for, showered and we headed for the grocery store (in 8 days I’ve been to the store 3 times. Hubs has accompanied me ALL THREE TIMES!) Until this trip he hadn’t been to the store with me 3 times in the last 5 years! Brought home $185. worth of food, leaving out a whole chicken (soup) and 2 pounds of lean ground beef (spaghetti).
When perusing for this place, I meticulously went through all the amenities, noting pots, pans, dinnerware, appliances sheets, towels etc. Reality set in when I had to decide NOT to make soup the first night. Normally I’d cook the whole chicken (sorry super healthy folks, it’s the skin and bones that gives chicken broth it’s good flavor. Well that and I’m a darn good soup maker). I bent down to the cupboard, home to the extensive pot and pan collection. And laughed. The largest pan fit in the palm of my hand. Ok, a slight exaggeration but it wasn’t very big.
So I had Hubs cut the legs and thighs off the chicken. No, not so the rest of the chicken would fit in the pan, that would still be a stretch. (I gave Jovi a play set of real pots and pans for Christmas last year. They honestly rival the size of the pans the condo has). I decided for the duration of this snowbird trip I had to rethink my quantities cooking. Normally when I make soup, I keep some in the fridge for leftovers, freeze a quart and give Ari and Jovi a quart. Too much soup for this place. So I made fried chicken with the legs and thighs the first night, thinking I’d only be able to make about 2-3 quarts of soup total in that little stinking pot.
Who wants to spend a fortune on a pot I’m gonna use for a few weeks? Went to Walmart looking for an inexpensive solution. Hubs (now my constant grocery sidekick) comes around the corner of the aisle with the biggest shit-eating grin on his face, holding a pot. “It’s 8 quarts, stainless steel and only $6.97.” (Honestly, I swear my heavy duty Reynolds aluminum foil is thicker). And it was shaped kinda different too, about 10 inches in circumference and about 4 feet tall, guaranteeing a new arm burn every time I stirred something, but it would suffice. Once the clerk scanned the pot, she carefully placed it in a plastic bag, which dented the side. It’s fine, everything’s fine.
Another new cooking experience awaits. Using one of those glass top, surface stoves, which took 37 minutes to reach a boiling point for my now leg less, thigh less but big breasted chix. (I had reached the boiling point so much sooner). You need to stand around, checking every few minutes until you can turn the burner down to simmer, remove the floaty stuff, then cover and let it cook while you chop up the veggies.
My point is the kitchen made me feel like the Hubs and I were starting out again. No tongs in the drawer to grab the fried chicken, tiny salt and pepper shakers that belong in a picnic basket, bowls the size you use for toddler snacks, cups that render your coffee tepid in 3 minutes flat. The kitchen in the condo is a vacation kitchen. Not one supplied with the necessary tools, cookware, or spices needed by someone who cooks often. That’s not why people stay here. They’re not here to cook suppers every night. They’re here for a vacation from their everyday mundane life and want try out different restaurants, taking a break from their normal routine.
However, we’re here a bit longer and there’s nothing less appealing (to me) than going to a different restaurant every night. Ugh. So some adjustments are needed. We have company coming and I offered to make a cake (we’re going out for supper as a birthday celebration). The dilemma? There is a cake pan (yay, a 9 x 13, not layer pans which is prettier) but no mixer. I think I can beat the cake mix into submission by hand, but the Twinkie frosting requires several minutes of more than I can do by hand. I either have to buy a hand held mixer or convince her that German chocolate cake and frosting (made on the stove) will be as tasty as Red velvet with Twinkie frosting. Funny, the things you get used to and take for granted until they’re not at your disposal for a few weeks.
Still, all in all, I’m enjoying our time here immensely-if only I had my kitchen…