Sunday, April 16, 2006

Forging Ahead

Carmel and Monterey are so restful and refreshing - I'm sure that is due to the fact that we're just there for a few fun days at a time, but I always feel well-rested up there. We came in Wednesday afternoon, the smatterings of rain quickly growing into deep gray downpour. From the car we watched familiar creeks and rivers swell and churn with water, listened to the shhh! shhHHhh! of the rain under the tires, made our plans. A few hours later, we were tucking into sizzling fish and chips, everything doused in lemon and steaming, giant chips, mealy in their centers. The tender flakes of white flesh and golden-crisp breading of the fish dunked in tartar sauce and whisked into our mouths, hurry, hurry no time to let them cool. Bright tangy wine (Cab Franc, of course) as a foil to the decadant fried foods, cutting the fat in what we hope was

  • the French Paradox . No matter, though, we were in the company of friends; so all the calories just went to our funny bones and dissolved as laughter. I hope.

  • Thursday, we went for a quick morning soak in a hot tub wearing just skivvies. In keeping with my families' "Naked Hippy" heritage, I would have been up for a quick skinny dip. I think S. would have gone for it, too, but it was broad daylight, in plain view of a bunch of neighbors and we were at our friends' house with someone still inside.

    Thursday was an exquisite day on the Penninsula - one of the rare days that are actually sunny and warm. There are few places as naturally beautiful as Carmel/Monterey/Big Sur, but they don't usually have really warm or hot weather for any amount of time. Consequently, it seemed like everyone who could walk, ride or sit in a stroller was out roaming the streets. S and his uncle and I sat outside at The Forge in the Forest and talked about shoes and ships and sealing wax... erm, yeah, everday things.

    Please note: For this luncheon, I was wearing some nice new jeans (thanks, babe!) and a little black shirt and The infamous pointy black BCBG heels and had even managed a complete blow-out and a little makeup, so I felt good. S. was sporting his 'good jeans' and a nice shirt. All in all, we were fairly presentable. Out of the blue, Uncle came out with the following non sequitor, at top volume, (he's pretty well deaf) natch.

    Uncle: "So.. where do you guys do your shopping?" (We'd been talking about camping in Yosemite)
    Me: "You mean for food? At Trader Joes, most of the time.."
    Uncle: "No, no, for clothes - do you go to Wal-Mart or K-Mart?"
    Me/S: "Ummm.... no, uncle" (trying to maintain straight faces and avoid sinking into the bricks with embarassment)
    Uncle: "You should go to Wal-Mart.. they have some really good deals. I got these shoes (indicates shoes) for thirty five dollars!" Said shoes...look like about fifteen dollars' worth of shoe. We nodded and smiled enthusiastically, as though we were planning to go directly to K-Mart, without passing Go, as soon as lunch was over). "So where DO you shop?" (very inquisitive, as though the "Mart" stores are our only possible options). I murmured a quick aside to S.,
    "He'd have a stroke right now if he knew you spent forty-nine, ninety-nine on these jeans."

    Uncle concluded lunch by pitching a fit over the fact that his coffee was billed as "decaf" (it wasn't), which caused me to pop up like a Jack in the box to run over and get him a 'to-go' cup... He then promptly took two sips and poured the rest of it into the remains of his Perrier, remarked that it looked like dark beer and huffed out. Such restful and relaxing times are de rigour when we're with Uncle, but we don't take it seriously. Having been coddled and spoiled and not required to display more than the barest smattering of manners his entire life, he's not about to change at this late date. Dealing with him takes a huge dose of patience, a lot of yelling, and of course the occasional break to step out and mutter to myself.

    So when he informed us that we would be going for a little hike, I rooted round in the car for my loafers and we headed for Garrapata State Park. We hiked to the middle of a gorge filled with warm sunshine, cactus and calla lilies, a clear stream cutting through its curves. When we reached the point where we couldn't go any further in sandals, we turned around. Before I started back down, I took a deep lungful of salty, minty, sage-filled air and saying a tiny prayer of thanks for friends, family and the courage to forge ahead, whatever happens.

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