I think I have always loved to travel. As far back as I can remember, I enjoyed it. I know we flew a few times when I was little, but we typically drove instead. I can remember several family vacations, and I remember enjoying them all.

On our first trip to Disney World, we drove from Greenville, SC to Orlando in a small Toyota truck. The truck was just a standard bench-seat truck, and it had a topper on the back. My parents put a mattress in the bed of the truck, and my sister and I rode back there. (It’s a wonder we all survived the 80s, isn’t it?) There was a window between the cab and the covered area in the back, and Daddy had a seal he would put in the window to allow the air conditioning to make it to the bed of the truck. We were comfortable, and it was great. Until the storm. At that time, we were not Floridians, and we were not used to the fast moving thunderstorms we now are so accustomed to. As we were getting closer to Disney, a storm came up very suddenly. It was pouring, and then, lightning struck near us or struck the truck. I’m not really sure which. I remember it striking the truck, but I could be making that up. Regardless, my sister and I scurried through that window and into the front cab so quickly, it was amazing. We laughed about it later, but at the time, it was not funny.

Of course, once we were in the cab of the truck, we were crowded. Two adults and two children in a small Toyota truck do not fit nicely. My sister and I, true to tradition, began bickering and fighting. I remember my father telling us he would turn the car around and go home. What’s funny is, we actually believed him.

We made several trips in that little Toyota truck. Then, Mama and Daddy watched a safety video about seatbelts. It compared children to a carton of eggs, and it showed what happened to the precious eggs in an accident. After that, the Eggs had to wear seat belts. The days of reclining on a mattress in the back were long-gone. Stupid egg video.

When I was sixteen, my family began taking trips to Man ‘O War Cay in the Abaco Bahamas. Mr. Everything always went with us, since, by that point, he was part of our family. Seeing the beautiful water and islands only ignited my love for travel. I learned quickly that I was born to live on Caribbean time. Everything moves a little slower, and no one got stressed out. (Except my sister when she went there, but that’s a whole different story. I’m pretty sure she’d be mad if I told it. Maybe I’ll press my luck another day.)

The summer after I graduated high school, when I was seventeen, my parents sent me to Europe for 21 days. This was a group trip through the county school system. Students could earn high school credit and college credit in humanities on this trip. Of course, I could not earn high school credit since I had graduated, but I earned college credit. We saw nine countries in 21 days.

Going to Europe was hard but fun. I was such a mama’s girl, and I got homesick so easily. I think I cried in all nine countries. I went the whole time without calling home, though. I knew if I called home, I would really fall apart.

Now, twenty something years later, I remember snippets from each country, but many of my memories are blurred. I think it’s because I was sleep-deprived while I was there. We did a lot of getting up early and going to bed late. My most vivid memories are of Greece, because for that part, we were on a cruise. We got plenty of sleep, so I could refresh my brain and actually remember what I saw.

My first accomplishment of the trip was facing my fear of airplane bathrooms. I had vowed not to go for the full flight, but when you are in the air for a week and a half (or at least, it felt like that long…), at some point, you’ve got to go. I went, and I survived. Now when I fly, I’m just lucky if I can make it through the flight and only go once. Middle age is the pits.

My group spent the first night of our journey in Germany. We stayed in a little city called Rothenburg. It was the most beautiful place ever. Ever. The city had brick streets and was surrounded by a wall. Our hotel had flower boxes on the windows. There were no screens on the windows, since there were no bugs. We could just open the windows and let the breeze come it. It was amazing, especially for Florida kids.

The funniest part of my visit to Germany was I learned what a duvet was. My roommate and I had never seen one. We thought they were really fancy sleeping bags. We each unbuttoned ours and slept inside. I think that was one of the best nights of sleep I’ve ever had. The next day, we discovered we were supposed to sleep under the duvet and not in it. Oh, well. You live, you learn.

In Germany, the restaurant fed us chicken cordon bleu for dinner.

We went through Austria and then into Switzerland. There, we took a train up a mountain to the quaint little village where we stayed. It was the most beautiful place I had ever seen - well, since Rothenburg, anyway. We took a train up a glacier and went to a ski resort for a day. There, they had caves and sculptures carved out of the ice. Many of the students went skiing. I drank hot chocolate. My mother was not happy with me when I got home and told her I had not skied. She said, someday, I would regret going to the Swiss Alps and not skiing. To this day, I don’t regret it. Maybe, the regret just hasn’t set in yet. When I’m 80, I may really mourn the fact that I didn’t ski. However, even at 17, I knew I’d rather be able to walk for the rest of the trip than to risk life and limb sliding down a mountain.

While we were in Switzerland, we had cheese fondue for dinner one night and chicken cordon bleu another. 

Next, we went to Italy for a few nights. While we were there, Italy won the world cup in soccer. We were in Rome when that happened, and the place was wild. The streets were packed with cars. People were honking their horns and waving flags. It almost looked like a riot in the streets. Our chaperons had us stay in and have food delivered that night. I think they were afraid to take us out. It really was a madhouse.

On one night there, we had chicken cordon bleu for dinner.

During our time in Italy, we went to Rome and saw the ruins there. We also went to Vatican City. I wanted to see the pope, but he did not come out to greet me. So rude.

After a few days in Italy, we boarded a cruise ship in the Aegean Sea. We were on the cruise for 7 days, I think. During those days, we discovered that European luxury and American luxury were two different things. We were not allowed to flush toilet paper at all in our room. There was a special trash can to put it in. I don’t want to talk about it. I also don’t want to talk about the fact that my two roommates and I were all having our periods at the same time. Really. Let’s not talk about it.

Our stops while on the cruise included Athens and Mikonos in Greece. We also went to Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. There, the street venders followed my roommate and me through the streets saying, “American? American? American?” We wondered how they knew. Now, thinking back, I’m pretty sure we might as well have been wearing t-shirts that said, “American.” When we did not answer, they started saying, “Sprechen sie Deutsch?”

Tugboats pulled our cruise ship through the Corinth Canal. Then, we went to Ephesus in Turkey, where we say the ancient ruins of Ephesus from Bible days. That was fascinating, and I wanted more time there.

We got back to the ship and had chicken cordon bleu for dinner.

My funniest memory from the whole trip happened during the cruise. Our curfew was 11:00 PM. One night, we crossed a time zone, so 10:00 PM suddenly became 11:00 PM. Our chaperons insisted we had to be in our rooms by 11:00 (10:00). I’m pretty sure they just needed a few minutes without us. Anyway, my roommates and I, being the straight-A student rebels that we were, attempted to refuse to go to our rooms. We were told we had to go. We insisted this was a violation of our civil liberties, since it was 10:00 somewhere. I’m pretty sure I heard one of the chaperons say, “Yeah, well, it’s 5:00 somewhere, too.” I had no idea what she meant, but I thought maybe she wanted to spend extra time with us. Anywho, we were told, no, forced, against our will, to go to our rooms. Oh, the injustice. Therefore, as a united front to show Power to the People, we stood with one foot inside our room and one foot outside the door. We stood that way for an hour, until it was, indeed, 11:00. There. That showed them.

After we left the cruise ship, we went to France. There, we saw Versailles. I did not enjoy that at the time, as it was yet another museum in a sea of museums. However, now, I would love to go back and see it again.

We went to Paris and visited museums. The highlight for us, the American teenagers in Paris, was to eat at Burger King. We were outraged to find out they charged more if we wanted to eat in the dining room, so we opted to sit on the curb outside and eat.

While in Paris, we had dinner in the Eiffel Tower. It was chicken cordon bleu. We also took a cruise down the Seine River.

Our final stop on our 21 day tour was England. We visited Canterbury and stayed in London. I can’t say I was all that impressed with London. It was just a big city that was busy and dirty and crowded. I almost got run over by a Ferrari in front of the Hard Rock Café. The boys in our group were much more excited about that than the chaperons were.

One night when we took the subway, also known as the tube, in London, I could not get my ticket to work. I stopped a man who worked there and asked for his help. He acted as though he could not understand me. Meanwhile, my group was leaving me. I said again, “My ticket won’t work.” He said he could not help me until I spoke proper English. The man actually made me use the Queen’s English before he would assist me. This was a challenge for my southern self, but I finally channeled my inner Brit and made it through. I resisted the urge to give him a good English punch in the nose.

As we were walking back to the subway station in London, we saw a large group of paparazzi and onlookers outside what looked like a theater. We walked over to see what was going on. We arrived just in time to see Princess Diana get out of a limousine and walk inside. I did not know at the time how significant and special it was that I got to see her in person, but I did. She was beautiful. And I’m pretty sure she waved at me.

On the day we saw Big Ben and Parliament, I was so tired, I could no longer hold my eyes open. I remember my friends waking me up and saying, “Look! It’s Big Ben.” I looked out the window, said, “Yep,” and fell back asleep.

That night, we had, you guessed it, chicken cordon bleu.

By the time the trip was over, I was so happy to be home. I never wanted chicken cordon bleu again. At the same time, I was sad to leave all the beauties and wonders of Europe. I saw things and experienced things there I will probably never get to see in person again. It was a magical place, and I’m thankful my parents found it important to send me there.

I definitely learned a lot about humanities while I was there. (Though I protested every time I had to take a test. I still say, who makes you take a test when you are riding in a bus, going up a mountain? Seriously! There is no amount of Dramamine strong enough for that!) I also grew my love of travel. Since then, I have looked for any opportunity possible to take a trip. Where are we going? Orlando? Tennessee? Antigua? I don’t care where…. I have a suitcase, and I’m ready to go!   -Al

PictureA Great Place for a Nap!
The resort where we are staying is a beautiful place. It is set up with many small cottages and abodes instead of just big “hotel” style buildings. The sidewalks sort of wind through the buildings, so there are lots of little corners and alcoves. The owners of this resort were smart as they set up various sitting areas and fire pits for people to relax around and unwind. This is a couples’ resort, after all, so there are love seats, hammocks and swings. It’s an amazing place in paradise.

Mr. E and I have found our way around the resort and have tried out a swing here and a loveseat there. We are enjoying just having time to unwind and decompress. I’ve actually been off work this weekend, so it has been great to do nothing.

Yesterday, we found the ultimate place to do nothing. It is an area above the pool bar of the main pool. There is a staircase that leads up there, and in the little sitting area, there are soft, comfortable chairs and loveseats. Because it’s up high, you can hear the noises and music of the resort, but they are in the background. You have a great view of the water, and a light breeze constantly blows. It was an amazing discovery.

When Mr. E and I reached the top of the stairs, we immediately selected a loveseat that looked comfortable to us. I grabbed the extra pillows from the other seats, and we arranged them to make ourselves comfortable. I’m pretty sure we were both asleep within 2 seconds of hitting the loveseat.

We had the most amazing nap while up in this little balcony paradise. We were alone, and we were comfortable. The breeze kept us cool, though it was pretty hot outside. It was wonderful.

Occasionally as we napped, I would wake up and look at the water. Most of the time, I woke up because Mr. Everything’s snoring woke me. That man can snore. He holds the world record in raising the roof. In his defense, he has sleep apnea and normally sleeps with a CPAP machine, so he really can’t help it. I know that when I’m awake, but when I am asleep and he keeps waking me with his booming snorts, I just want to put a pillow over his face and make it stop.

I finally reached the point where I was sort of blocking out his snorts and sleeping anyway. I had my legs draped across him, so when he would wake me, I would just wiggle my leg, and he would stop. I did not even have to open my eyes. We napped for over an hour that way, and it was wonderful. And then.

And then, in the midst of our heavenly rest, I heard a man clear his throat. I opened my eyes, and a man was sitting in the chair across from us and his wife was standing there. They were staring at us. I had sunglasses on, so they could not see my eyes get as big as saucers as I realized they were sitting there. I was so embarrassed. I tried to act as though I had not been asleep. Then, I realized Mr. Everything was still snoring.

Without acknowledging the strangers, I leaned over and nudged Mr. E to wake him. I tried to act natural and say, “Is your head feeling better?” I was sure they believed he had a headache. He just shifted in his seat and went back to sleep. I nudged him again, still not acknowledging the strangers staring at us. I wouldn’t want to tip them off that I was alarmed by their presence. After all, I had been awake the whole time, so I knew they were there, right? Hopefully they bought it.

Mr. E woke up, lifted his hat off his face and looked over at me. I had sunglasses on, but I was trying to give him the “look over there” look with my eyes. He wasn’t getting it since he couldn’t see my eyes. I didn’t want to say, “There are strangers staring at us,” so I continued the “look over there” shift with my eyes. Finally, Mr. E looked around the outdoor room and saw the strangers. At this point, I was about to laugh aloud at this crazy situation. I really was so embarrassed. In my mind, I would say, “Are you ready to go walk?” Mr. E would wake up. We would get up and walk the walk of shame down the stairs, knowing these people knew we had been sleeping. However, I should know my husband better than that.

Instead, Mr. E put his hat back on his face, shifted in his seat and went back to sleep. I almost died from trying to stifle my laughter.

By this point, the strangers had begun looking at their camera and distracting themselves so it did not seem as though they had been watching us sleep. Actually, come to think of it, they were probably deciding on which shot of us to post online. So, since they were probably looking at pictures of us asleep, I did the only logical thing. I took their picture.

PicturePretending They Don't See Us.
They would not have known I was taking their picture if the camera sound on the phone had been off. That and the flash were probably dead giveaways. So, here we were, the strangers who had watched us sleep, my sleeping husband and me, the random photo taker. It was a sundry gathering.

The strangers never spoke to me. We never made eye contact with each other. We all pretended like we were not in the same outdoor room together. They stayed a few more minutes. Then, the husband stranger said to the wife stranger, “Are you ready to go walk?” That was supposed to be my line.

The strangers walked down the stairs. I was pretty sure I heard them chuckling as they went. Then, I woke Mr. Everything, and we went for a walk.  -Al

I don’t know if y’all realize this or not, but I don’t sit still very well. I’m not sure when that happened. When I was little, I sat still and was obedient. I remember a time when I was in preschool that my class was told to sit still in the story circle. I obeyed. In fact, I sat very still, even after I had thrown up. I just sat there with vomit in my hands and waited until the teacher told me I could move.

That’s always the beginning of a good story, right? When vomit is involved, you know it’s only going to get better. Okay. I’ll stop saying vomit. Vomit.

Back to my point. I am just not good at sitting still anymore. I think it’s because I’m usually busy, so when I stop, my body wants to keep going. If you ever sit by me in church you will find this to be true. I scratch and fidget and scratch some more. In my defense, I’m itchy! My head, my back, my arms and my legs itch non-stop. I’ve had an itch on my foot for 8 years straight. I’m not exaggerating. I wake up in the middle of the night scratching my foot sometimes. The itch never goes away.

I’m apparently easily distracted when I am sitting still, too, because I have now gone off on 2 tangents in 3 paragraphs. It’s a new record.

Back to what I was trying to say. I am sitting on an airplane as I type this. I have been sitting still for 33 minutes, 14 seconds. I have 2 hours and 30 minutes to go. No problem. I’ve got this. By the way, while I sit on this plane, I hope there will be no more mentions of vomit.

So far, I have figured out how to read a crochet pattern. I have made one and one third crochet roses. (I told you I get distracted easily.) I have dropped my crochet hook and yarn three times. (Sorry to Mr. E, who keeps having to bend down and pick them up for me.) I’ve searched my backpack to find my ear buds. I’ve tried to watch the inflight program, but the sound system on my seat is messed up. (It’s like a cruel joke…now I have NOTHING to do for the rest of the flight.) I have fully analyzed everyone around me and made up stories for each of them. They have some pretty interesting lives, just so you know.

Now, I am writing. Why not? Maybe I can make it through a blog without getting distracted and moving on to something else.

The flight attendant just gave me a cup of coffee that I downed in about 10 seconds. Caffeine and sugar. That should help things.

So, as I am sitting here, I have a few observations about my experience thus far:

1.       I said this on Facebook the other day, and I stand behind my decree. If you are chewing gum and those around you know you are chewing gum, you should not be allowed to chew gum. Period. In fact, I may put on my angry teacher face and walk around the plane with a trash can. I’ll make each chomping passenger spit it out or sit in time out. I don’t mind gum. I really don’t. If you can behave while chewing it, you can have it. However, if you can’t, consider yourself warned. (And by the way, just be glad I’m more lenient than Mr. E. He does not approve gum. Ever.)

2.       Shoot. I just touched my face with my hands. There’s no telling where my hands have been. Well, okay. That’s not true. I know where my hands have been, but I don’t know where the hands have been that touched the areas that I touched with my hands. That was a really awkward sentence, but you know what I mean. I need to quit touching my face.

3.       The guy beside me has a nice enough butt. Really, he does. However, if he sticks it in my face one more time, I’m going to pinch it. I would take a picture of it for you if could. If I tried to bend over to get my cell phone, I would probably drop my yarn and hook again. Mr. E would not be happy.

4.       If you are going to look out the window, that’s fine. Knock yourself out. On the other hand, if you are going to go to sleep anyway, please, for the love of all the migraine sufferers in the world, close your shade! The glare from the windows around me is enough to permanently sear my brain. I’m considering climbing over people and closing their shades for them. Really, people. Listen to me. I already made Mr. E close the shade of our window. This consisted of reaching over the napping woman beside him. Now, she’s awake and is slowly inching the shade back open. I’m about to have to slap her hand.

5.       I just touched my nose. Stop it!

6.       Isn’t the seatbelt sign on? Seriously, man. Sit down and quit putting your butt in my face.

7.       I love a good laugh. Really, I do. However, if you have a really loud and annoying laugh, please try to snicker instead. Save your hilarity for after you get off the plane. You’re headed to Antigua. There will be plenty of time for games and recreation there. I wish the man behind us would heed this advice. He has the biggest, loudest, most irritating laugh ever. Apparently, he is watching something funny and has ear buds in. We can’t hear what he’s laughing about, but every time Mr. E and I start to settle in, the man laughs. Other than the irritation factor, it has actually become quite funny. I may start my big booming laugh soon. There he goes again. It’s funny. Whatever it is he’s watching.

8.       I just rubbed my eye. I’m going to die of a communicable disease.

9.       There’s the butt again. Maybe I should poke it with my crochet hook.

10.   I am definitely onboard with Breast Cancer Awareness month. I have a friend going through the battle right now, and I will wear pink every day of the year if that will encourage her to be strong. At the same time, though, I really think companies have gone overboard with the whole “Pink in October” thing. Before they started serving drinks, the flight attendant announced that pink lemonade was available for Breast Cancer Awareness month. How does this raise awareness? I’m not really sure. I found that odd. I’m pretty sure they said it was freshly squeezed lemonade, too. That was right before they cracked open the cans of Minute Maid.

11.   I just rubbed my chin. It will probably be the flu. Or Ebola. Or that other virus that everyone is freaking out about. Whatever it is, I’m going to catch it if I don’t quit touching my face!

12.   The guy behind me apparently thinks it’s funny that I’m going to die. Thanks, laughing man. I love you too.

13.   I am 41 years old. You would think, by now, I would think to take a jacket when I am flying. I should have listened to my mother.

14.   I should have listened to my mother when she told me not to touch my face, too!

15.   Oh, now the butt man’s wife is standing, too. Yoga pants really shouldn’t be sold in certain sizes. At least she wore a blue thong so there was no panty line, but really, I’d rather not look at the blue thong.

16.   We are all freaked out by Ebola. Truly. Considering the fact that we keep hearing about Ebola stricken patients getting on planes, it is in everyone’s mind. Perhaps, though, it’s not the best idea to loudly discuss the issue while sitting on a plane. Really. I don’t want to know all the symptoms. I don’t want to know how many days it will be before I die. Let’s let it be a surprise, shall we?

17.   Why does my nose keep itching? I just touched it again!

18.   Would y’all just sit down??

19.   To the man who keeps trying to stifle his cough, just let it out, man. I’d rather hear you cough a real cough than to do that weird hold-in cough thing you’ve got going on. Besides, the tickle in your throat is not going to go away until you let it out. We won’t wrap you in plastic and scream, “Ebola.” Promise. (Okay. I can’t really make that promise, but take a risk, man.)

20.   The cough is no worse than that laugh.

21.   I already have Ebola anyway, because I just touched my face. I might as well just lick the seat in front of me.

22.   My cousin licked the dash of a family car once at a funeral. He didn’t die, but I guess death isn’t really contagious. Well, I guess it sort of is.

23.   I wonder if I’m a germaphobe? Apparently not, since I keep touching my face with my germy hands!

I think that’s all my observations right now. My brain was focused on writing a story for you, but now it has moved on to something else. Maybe I should start crocheting again. I could make myself some sleeves to wear since I didn’t listen to my mother.  -Al

This may seem terribly ironic to you, given what my occupation is, but I hate shopping. Really, I do. I like to shop when I'm being paid to do it. However, just to go shopping to shop is definitely not my cup of tea. Sometimes, though, it has to be done.

So today, while I was having my cup of tea (literally...Willow and I met for high tea), I made a decree that I would go shopping and I would buy myself some new underwear. I know. This seems like a strange decree to pronounce in a tea room, but I'm not average.

The reason I made this decree is because I have been washing laundry constantly to clean my very few pair of underwear I have left. I made a rule that I would start throwing away anything with holes in it. Needless to say, I'm down to the bare minimums. Plus, I had pulled the pair I was wearing out of my butt for the 13th time of the day. (I like to call them Indian underwear...they keep creeping up. I know, I know. That's not politically correct, but "Native American Underwear" or "Indigenous People Underwear" just doesn't have the same ring to it.)

So after tea, I pulled my undies out of my butt, gave myself a pep talk and went to a store. I ended up in three different stores, looking for underwear. In the first store, I was momentarily distracted by the clearance section of clothes. Saving money does make shopping a little more tolerable. They had no underwear, but I found a nice shirt!

Throughout the three stores, I had an ongoing dialogue in my head, and I figured I would share with you some of the things me, myself and I discovered as we shopped together. So, without further ado, here are my random observations while shopping. (By the way, don't look for the meaning of life in these deep observations. You won't find it here.)

Observation #1: One size does not fit all.

Observation #2: Just because something says it's your size does not mean it is.

Observation #3:
The retailers have a cruel sense of humor.

Observation #4: To get people to move out of your way, just laugh hysterically while behind the closed door of a dressing room. When you come out, people may look at you strangely, but they will, indeed, move out of your way.


Observation #5: A security tag, strategically placed, can actually cause temporary blindness in the eye it hits as you try on a shirt.

Observation #6: If you come out of the dressing room, covering one eye with your hand while hysterically laughing, people will move out of your way even faster.

Observation #7: Just because something says, "Tummy Control," does not mean it is.

Observation #8: Refer to observation #3.

Observation #9: Yoga pants should be illegal after a certain size.

Observation #10: Unless you actually do yoga, it's probably not advisable to wear yoga pants in public.

Observation #11: While yoga pants are made in much larger sizes than they should be, normal, comfortable, non-lacey but non-granny-panty panties are not. It is impossible to find normal underwear in larger sizes.

Observation #12: Refer to observation #7. This applies to underwear as well, because there is no way THESE panties will make your stomach look smaller.

Observation #13: Refer to observation #3.

Observation #14: Apparently larger sized women have bigger crotches. This is the only possible explanation for the extra 3" of fabric in the seat of larger panties.

Observation #15: Did I mention the retailers have a cruel sense of humor?

So, all in all, it was not a very successful day. I had to go home eventually, with or without comfortable underwear. I guess it's time to do the laundry. Again.  -Al

We used to laugh at my grandmother for all her worrying. That woman could worry about everything. She worried about the light bill. This was evidenced by the single 35 watt bulb that would be burning in her house when we would arrive there after dark. She didn’t want to waste electricity, you know.

She worried about what the trucks were doing at the grocery store across the street from her house. She called the corporate headquarters so many times, I think she had them on speed dial (except for the fact that she refused to get a dial tone phone and instead, used her old rotary). I’m pretty sure they knew her by name at Bi-Lo supermarket, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t because she was spreading goodness and joy.

My grandmother worried about everything. Most of all, she worried about my cousin. We’ll call him Johnny. He was the oldest, and it was very apparent he was my grandmother’s favorite. Grandmother loved him best of all. There was no denying it. Even she did not deny that.

When my grandmother would hear a siren, she would immediately say, “I hope that isn’t Johnny.” It didn’t matter where we were or where Johnny was. As soon as a siren was heard, her brain immediately went to him. He lived out west for a while and we were in South Carolina, and Grandmother would still say, “I hope that isn’t Johnny.”

“No, Grandmother. I’m pretty sure we would not hear a firetruck 1500 miles away.”

It was never logical to us, so we laughed about it. My silly grandmother and her silly ways. We did not understand why she was such a worrier.

Fast forward a few decades, and I am beginning to understand. I have a child who is driving. All at once, he has grown wings and is flying around town. (Hopefully, he isn’t really flying….I really hope he did not inherit his father’s lead foot.) I find myself worrying when I hear sirens. “I hope that isn’t Beetle,” I sometimes say out loud. Then, I look around to see if my grandmother is in the room. She’s not. It’s me. The Worrier.

I don’t think I was a worrier before now. Honestly, my normal response to stress has been just to fall asleep. You may think I’m kidding, but I’m not. If Mr. Everything is scaring me with his driving, I just go to sleep. He asks constantly why I sleep so much in the car. Why, I can be asleep before we make it out of our town!

When bills were weighing heavy on us and the phone kept ringing with bill collectors, I slept. When our business burned down, I stifled yawns while waiting for updates on the fire. When I drove home from the trauma center after leaving Mr. E and his burned face, I had a hard time staying awake on the drive. Sleep. It’s the perfect cure for stress.

In the case of the Beetle, however, sleep isn’t working. Instead, I find myself obsessing over the things he could possibly be doing wrong. The poor child faces the sniff test every time he walks in the door. The nose will know if he’s been up to something. Every time he is near me, I have to resist the urge to ask lots of questions. Sometimes, the questions leak out anyway.

For the 2.4 minutes I was awake in bed last night before falling into my normal comatose state, I pondered why it is I am worrying so much. The Beetle is a good kid. Sure, he has done stupid things. They all do. Overall, though, his goodness to stupid ratio is pretty high. I trust him. I do. Sort of. Well, until my imagination gets the best of me. Then, I freak out and wonder if the sirens I hear are headed to save the Beetle from his vehicle that is dangling over the edge of a cliff. Then, I remember we don’t have cliffs in Florida.

I don’t know why it is I worry so much. If the poor child survives me, he should get a t-shirt. “I survived life with my crazy mother.” I don't know why my mind automatically goes to the worst case scenario. Maybe it's genetic.

I wonder if there is a worry gene that I’ve inherited. Overall, it seems to have skipped a generation. My mother does not seem to worry like my grandmother did and now I do. However, the other day, I told her I had a sore throat. Her response was, “I hope it isn’t Ebola.” She was kidding. I think.         -Al

You wouldn’t think having doctors see various parts of my body would bother me so badly. I’ve been going to the doctor for a long time. I mean, it all started 41 years, 9 months ago when the doctor saw me completely naked. Unfortunately, having to get naked has been a regular occurrence since then.

When I was sixteen, my doctor sent me home with the news that I had lumps in my breast, and I needed to see a surgeon. I was hysterical, as I’m sure you can imagine. First, my mother ripped the doctor’s head off and handed it to him on a platter. (Her exact words were, “Don’t you ever, ever, ever send a child home with the information that she needs to see a surgeon! What is the matter with you??” Note to self…never mess with a Mama Bear’s cubs.) Next, we called the surgeon. I had to go to the hospital and have a needle biopsy. They did not call it that, though. They called it “aspiration.” I’m pretty sure they were banking on the fact that the high school sophomore did not know big words. Anyway, the aspiration consisted of the surgeon reading the instructions while in the room with me and then performing the procedure. You can image what my mother did to him when she realized he was reviewing his Cliff’s notes before sticking large needles in me.

I’ve been to the doctor plenty of times in my life, and I’ve been in many precarious positions there. I mean, after all, I’ve birthed two babies. People said I would lose all modesty after childbirth. They were wrong. I was horribly modest then, and I’m horribly modest now.

So, when my primary care physician said I needed to go to a dermatologist for a full body scan, I told her I did not like the sound of that. She said it wouldn’t be so bad. I told her, unless the scan involved something science fictionish, like beaming me to another location, I was pretty sure it would be so bad.

I hesitantly made the appointment for The Scan. Like a dumb dumb, I made it for the day after we got back from vacation. Good plan, Al. Eat unlimited food for a week and then go stand naked in the doctor’s office.

All the way to the office, I prayed for the doctor or nurse practitioner to be fat and middle aged. At least let her be heavier than average, I prayed. I’m pretty sure it’s wrong to pray for that, but I was desperate. When I arrived, the very young, thin and pretty nurse walked me back to the room. She told me I could leave my bra and underwear on but would need to take everything else off. I asked her if I should take off my bra, since one mole that needed to be checked was in that general area. (I know…way too much information.) She said to go ahead and take that off and to put on a paper gown. Yay.

I sat on the table and waited for my fate. I was still praying for an old, fat lady. Hold on to the hope, right? There was a knock on the door and in came, you guessed it, a pretty, petite, blonde, beautiful young woman. Kill. Me. Now.

Doctor Beauty introduced herself and reached out her tiny little hand to shake mine. I thought I might break her sweet little fingers. She said she was going to examine me for moles, and she asked me to stand up. Doctor Beauty began at the ankles and worked her way up and down and all around. I kept picturing myself as the giant from Gulliver’s Travels while this tiny doctor and her little assistant moved around me.

At one point, not only was my gown shifted to reveal way too much, but Doctor Beauty was lifting my underwear and looking underneath. At that point, I asked why I had left the underwear on if they were going to peek under it anyway. Doctor Beauty said they tried to allow the patients as much modesty as possible. I tried not to laugh.

A moment later, I accidentally said out loud, “Yep. This is just as humiliating as I imagined it would be.” Neither tiny person commented or acknowledged me. It was better that way. They probably wished the giant would just hush so they could finish their examination.

Doctor Beauty decided to shave six moles from me for a biopsy, and she circled each one with a marker. She left the room, and the sweet nurse started preparing needles and razors. I liked the nurse more than Doctor Beauty.

The nurse and I started talking as she sliced layers of skin from my body. At least it distracted me from the needles. I thought the worst part was over since I was no longer standing half-naked in the middle of the room. Then, the most painful part of the experience occurred.

As the nurse and I chatted, I made a horrible discovery. It turns out this grown woman who was cutting pieces off me was the child of someone I went to high school with. I asked her if she could just stick me with another needle because that would hurt less than the knowledge that I was old enough to be this adult person’s mother.

When the nurse was finished, I got my cane and my bifocals, and I found my way out of the office. I cranked up the radio on the way home and played rap songs just to prove I still had it. I’m pretty sure the guy at the red light was impressed.

At least my body scan was over, and all I had to was await my results. I got the call and five out of six moles were just fine. The sixth was a little iffy, so I will have to go back and have it removed. At least it is just on my back. Hopefully, I won’t have to completely disrobe for that procedure. All I know is, Doctor Beauty is going to be hard-pressed to get me back in for another body scan in a year, as recommended. No. Indeed. It will take much longer than that before the memory fades enough for me to volunteer for another examination. -Al

I will just issue a warning here: Men and young people, read this at your own risk. There’s nothing TOO bad, but you may just get more information than you really want to know. Consider yourself warned.

I’ve been going through a lot of tests lately. I don’t mean tests, as in trials and tribulations. I mean, sure, sure, I’ve had those too, but that’s not what I’m talking about. I mean tests. As in, “This will only hurt a little.” As in, “Mrs. Not Your Average Al, you may just live to see next week after all…” Suffice it to say, middle age sucks.

It all started a few months ago, when our generous president made sure we got health insurance. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not making a political statement there. I have my own thoughts about Obamacare, but they are just that…MY thoughts. So, I’ll keep those to myself.

Whether we like it or not, Mr. Everything and I now are the proud owners of a shiny new health insurance plan, and for the first time in a gazillion years, we can actually go to a doctor when it’s not an emergency. So, we eagerly signed up for appointments. After all, he and I both needed bloodwork so we could get refills on some medications. Our previous providers had officially cut us off, so we had to do something or we would surely die.

The Mr. went first, brave man that he is. His outcome was not horrible. It consisted of bloodwork and an ultrasound to check out a growth on his thyroid. We thought it would be no big deal. Little did we know, that would turn into a trip to the ENT, where the kind doctor looked up Mr. E’s nose (I’m still pondering what his nose had to do with his thyroid…) and felt his throat before asking for a mere $202 out of pocket. Sure. No problem.

In the style of “If You Give a Mouse a Cookie,” Mr. E’s visits progressed. If you go to the doctor, he’s surely going to feel your throat…. and if he feels your throat, he will think there’s something wrong…and if he thinks something is wrong, he will definitely send you for an ultrasound…and when you go for the ultrasound, it won’t come back okay….and when it doesn’t come back okay, you will be told to go to the ENT… and if you go to the ENT, the doctor will feel your throat….and then after he feels your throat, he will send you for a biopsy…if you have a biopsy, it will not feel good…and after it doesn’t feel good, the one thing that will feel worse will be the amount of money you owe out pocket….and when you pay the money out of pocket, you will be told everything is fine….and when you are told everything is fine, you will surely wonder why you went to the doctor in the first place!

Next was my turn, so off to doctor I went, where I eagerly awaited my opportunity to be weighed in public. That is, after all, one of my favorite things to do. Luckily, they did not have to bust out the lift to weigh me.

Anywho, I went in expecting to be sent for bloodwork. I did not expect to have the full gamut of tests run, from head to toe. I left the doctor’s office with a huge stack of orders.

The bloodwork was the least of my worries. There, they drew six vials of blood. I was a shade paler when I left the lab.

Next came the thyroid ultrasound. Mine was fine, so I did not have to give the mouse a cookie, thank goodness.

After that, came the leg vein ultrasound. I thought if one more person said, “This won’t hurt a bit,” I was going to slap someone. In fact, when you have varicose veins, an ultrasound on your legs hurts like a beast. Besides hurting, it’s extremely awkward to have to, “Turn this way, put your leg out flat, move your other leg out of the way, don’t forget to breathe, now act natural and don’t forget to smile, don’t mind my head right here, leaning over you in a very awkward place, now, I’m just going to dig this little ultrasound thingie into the bend of your knee while I squeeze your ankle. Relax. This will only take a minute.”

Back in my pregnancy days, when asked if something was going to hurt, my obstetrician would say, “This isn’t going to hurt me a bit.” At least he was honest. Some ultrasound technicians I know could stand to learn from his wisdom.

Along with my various ultrasounds came the big M, as in Mammogram (with a capital M). I’m just going to tell you, you have not lived until you’ve had someone reach over, lift your breast and put it on a shelf. Then, the experience is complete when they clamp a cold plastic plate down on it. Good times, people. Good times.

I left the radiology location so happy all my tests were finished. I figured I was probably glowing from the amount of radiation I had just been exposed to between the X-Ray and the ultrasounds. I was so glad that was over and behind me for another five years. Woo-hoo!

Two mistakes there… First, I found out at my age (“Women your age” is the most dreaded phrase…dreaded for the doctor, because my response is to punch him or her in the nose.)….at my age, I have to have a mammogram yearly. I don’t want to discuss it. The second mistake was in thinking it was over. Oh, no, my friends. I had not even made it out of the parking lot of the radiology office before I got a call saying I had to have another mammogram done on the right side. Oh, joy.

Later the same week, I went back to have the second mammogram done. I thought the first one hurt. I was wrong. On the second go-around, the technician once again lifted my boob (something I’ll never get used to) and sat it on the shelf. She pancaked me pretty good with the squisher. Then, just to ensure it was flat enough, she began manually cranking the squisher down tighter. Words went through my mind, but they were not nice, so I just bit my tongue. I thought I was going to black out there for a second. I envisioned myself, unconscious, hanging by my boob from the mammogram machine. It wasn’t a pretty sight. I actually started laughing as I pictured that. The technician looked at me like I was crazy, but it was better than crying, right??

I survived the mammogram and was so glad it was over. Then, they said I needed a sonogram. Oh boy. Allow me to disrobe in front of one more person. Yay. At least this sonogram did not hurt, and she did not have to squeeze my ankle to look at my boob.

I left the office, relieved it was over. I felt good that I had done something for myself. (Though I decided I should rethink ways of caring for myself….a massage, a pedicure, a cup of tea….these all seemed like better ways). A few days later, I got a call from the radiologist’s office. The woman said they had messed up. They were supposed to call me back for repeat images on both sides, so they still needed to re-do the left side. And so it began again….

The left side was not nearly as painful as the right. The technician who did it was much kinder and gentler. I pledged my undying love to her. That was kind of awkward, since she had my breast in her hand at that moment. I want to request her in the future, but I’m pretty sure I’m on her “do not treat” list.

So, the results of the mammograms were mixed. The left was fine. When the woman called to tell me my boob was fine, I said, “Oh, girl, don’t I know it? It is fiiiiine.” She did not find that funny. I really think I’m now at the top of her list. The right side was inconclusive, whatever that means. I was told they found nothing…no masses, no bumps, no hidden microphones or microchips, but they could not conclude anything. Well, thanks for that. That was money well spent. Now, I have to go back in 6 months to have another one done. Maybe by then, I will have paid off my out of pocket costs for my crazy mammogram-palooza.

So, the only thing that was left to do was one final doctor’s appointment. It was a thrill. Let’s just say it involved me, a doctor, a nurse and a razor blade. Come back next time, and I’ll tell you all about it.  -Al

Click the picture for my story.
My reaction to the recent news story of the girl who was suspended for saying, "Bless you."
Well, finally, I’ll get to the point of this whole trip down memory lane. You can’t say I didn’t warn you. I told you at the get-go that it would be a long story long, and I did not disappoint, did I? It has been a loooong story! So, if you are still with me and haven’t lost interest in Chalet Suzanne yet, bravo to you! (By the way, it might be time to find a hobby…)

During my last two articles, I told you about our many experiences at Chalet Suzanne, a sweet little inn in Lake Wales, Florida. It’s a magical little place, and sadly, it is closing. In fact, I think, as of today, it is closed. *Sigh.* No more Swedish pancakes. Now, what do I have to live for?

The infatuation of this inn started for me when I was 17 years old, which was like, a million years ago (or at least 100), according to my kids. The love for the inn never died, and that includes this last trip we took.

When Mr. Everything and I found out Chalet Suzanne would be closing, we knew we had to make one last visit before it was eternally too late. (Okay, that might be a little dramatic, but it’s my story…) I made the reservation, and we counted the days until we could return. We had not been in at least 5 years, and it had been at least 10 years, if not more, since we had eaten dinner there. We decided to go for the whole sha-bang. I mean, why not? It was our last chance for all eternity. (I’m on an eternal kick today, can you tell?)

Last weekend, we finally got to go to the inn. As we drove down the driveway, I knew things had changed a little. The grass was overgrown. This was something that would never have happened back in the day. Also, there was a lawn mower broken down by the main drive. That would explain the overgrown grass, I suppose.

We checked in, and the staff members were not nearly as warm and welcoming as we remembered. I mean, they weren’t unfriendly, but we were not called by name or anything.

PictureMr. E is only 5'10".
We got to our room, and while it was clean and comfortable, we realized one reason the inn must be closing. The low ceilings, while charming, were also claustrophobic. The bathroom, while cute with the pink and green tiles, was so outdated, it wasn’t even funny. Okay, it was funny. Mr. E and I joked that it was a good thing neither of us has thick hair (or much hair for that matter). It would have taken days to rinse the shampoo out with the drip, drip, dripping speed of the shower head. The towels were worn out. The tiles in the bathtub were starting to fall off the walls. Yep, the time had come for the inn to admit defeat.

Don’t get me wrong. We still completely enjoyed our stay. We could just see the wear and tear in the groaning little building where we stayed. I’m sure the owners of the inn were faced with a multi-million dollar overhaul or allowing the inn to give up the ghost. I’m pretty sure they made a wise choice. CPR on this place would have been very difficult.

As we walked around the property, we noticed the rotting wood on several buildings. We found our tile with the “cow-pig” in the autograph garden, and it had mold on it from the weather and overgrown plants nearby. The mold did not detract from the quality of my artwork. It was hideous to start with.

When we went to dinner, we were surprised to not find Kenny Rogers, the maître d’ who had been there during each visit we had made to the dining room. You’d think we would have learned the man’s real name over all those years, but “Kenny” worked for me. Instead of Kenny, we found the owner’s wife acting as the hostess. Apparently, Kenny had not informed her of the rules, because she was just letting anyone in. In the past, we had seen men turned away for not wearing jackets and ties and women given shawls if they wore sundresses with straps. But, like so many parts of Chalet Suzanne, those rules had withered away. We saw people in jeans and in shorts. One lady had a bandana on her head! It was a travesty, and we knew Kenny would never stand for it. We decided that was why he was gone. He had probably quit because they told him he couldn’t enforce the rules anymore. They were just happy to have business coming in, but Kenny wanted decency and order. The poor man was probably alone and heart broken, wearing his suit and tie, sipping his coffee from his China cup. It was a sad picture to envision.

Our meal was slow. I mean, really slow. I kept reminding Mr. E that it just meant we had longer to enjoy the ambiance of the dining room. Before it was over, we’d had plenty of time. Believe me. It took us twenty minutes just to be able to order our food. We were pretty sure we would be living there for a while. I was okay with that idea as I was surrounded by miscellanea at its finest. I don’t think the Mr. was in agreement. He likes for his plate and bowl to match, thank you very much.

During the meal, we couldn’t help but notice the decline in service. Not that we were complaining. It was still a really nice meal, and we had a great time. However, little things, like a spoon to stir my coffee, were overlooked. In the days of old, that would have never happened. Back then, someone would have been there, with spoon in hand, calling me by name and offering to stir the coffee for me. Now, they had gone all modern on us…the new motto was, “Do it yourself.” At one point, I considered getting up and pouring myself more iced tea, but I was afraid Kenny’s ghost would come back and smite me. (Oh wait, I don’t think he’s dead – at least I hope not! So, maybe he’d have an out-of-body experience to come and smite me.)

We determined quickly that we were seated in the “uncool” dining room. The beautiful, tall, skinny, fashionable people were all led to the other dining room. That was the “cool” room. Apparently, they didn’t think we fit in there. If Kenny had been there, things would have been different. (He probably would have made us eat in the kitchen after that whole “V Day” incident…) Our dining room had the short, the fat, the old, the ugly, the man blowing his nose on his linen napkin. (Seriously, people. If you do that, please stop. The rest of us can hear you. And if your husband is the one doing that, make him stop! You boss him around on everything else. Why are you allowing that?)

In the cool room, the fashion was higher, the high heels were taller, and the hair was sleeker. They were well adorned with jewels and baubles.  There was one table in our line of vision who we named, “The Happy Table.” The party of six polished off three bottles of wine, by our count. There were also a few bar drinks to add to the mix. They were really, really happy. They kept toasting everything. “A toast…” “Let’s toast….” “Toast, everyone….” It got to the point of funny to us. We were greatly amused just by watching them. I’d bet they weren’t nearly as amused or amusing the next morning. Come to think of it, I did not see a single one of them at breakfast the next day….

PictureI don't know who they are, but he knows Eric.
We weren’t sure how we ended up in the uncool room, but we had no doubt how the couple seated next to us got there. They were so completely annoying. They kept talking to Coke Bottles, the piano player. (We’ll get to him in a minute.) They also kept dropping names. Every time the server would come near them, the man would say something about “Eric.” Apparently, Eric was the owner of Chalet Suzanne, and somehow, this guy knew him. All I knew was, he didn’t know Eric well, because this man was, after all, seated in the uncool room. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard anyone drop names more than this guy did. At one point, I was pretending to bend over and pick up the names as he dropped them. At least Mr. E found it amusing.

Then, Mr. Everything decided he was going to start shooting spit balls at this guy every time he said something stupid. Thankfully, these were just pretend spit balls, but it was funny anyway. Every time the guy said anything, Mr. E would take his straw and blow through it like he was shooting something at the man. It was hilarious, and don’t worry, the guy was too busy talking about Eric to notice us making fun of him.

PictureDon't let that innocent face fool you...
So, on to Coke Bottles. When we arrived, we were the only ones in the uncool room, other than the piano player. He greeted us from across the room, and we said our friendly hellos back. Then, we assumed we were finished talking to him, but we were wrong. He came to our table to expound on how his evening was going. He had glasses so thick, they were (you finish the sentence) like Coke Bottles, thus the name. He wore a nametag that said his first name, which I can’t remember, and it said, “I play for tips. I sell CDs.” Nothing like a little tactful hint.

Coke Bottles tried to make conversation with us. I’m pretty sure he wanted a tip. Little did he know, we’d left our millions in our other pants. We were polite enough but did not engage. This is a trick we learned a long time ago when dealing with the mariachi band at the Mexican restaurant. Don’t make eye contact, and don’t engage. You’ll regret it if you do.

Coke Bottles circulated the dining room five times during our meal. Each time, he attempted to chat with us. Each time, he got a polite, “Uh-huh,” and nothing more from us. We are skilled at this game. So, we got out without having to have a real conversation with Coke Bottles, and we did not buy one of his CDs. We really did not want one of his CDs. Really.

All in all, the evening was a great time. I can’t say the service lived up to our expectations, but the food was fabulous. You haven’t lived until you’ve had lingonberries on chicken. It really did not matter that the service was lacking. It just gave us more time to have fun and enjoy our little restaurant for one last hoo-rah. I’m so glad we went, and I wish we could go back, just one more time….  -Al

You can tell, since this is a continuation of yesterday’s story, that Chalet Suzanne was definitely a part of our history. Mr. E and I loved that place and visited whenever we could afford to (which, sadly, was not often). Today, we’ll continue our trip down memory lane. I told you it was a long trip!

On one anniversary, it might have been the 10th or 11th, we managed to go to the inn for one night. We even splurged and had dinner there, as well. For most years, we had not opted for the dinner as it was just more than we could pay for. On this particular trip, we were rushed in packing and getting out the door. My parents were keeping the Beetle and the Goose, so we took the kids to their house. As we were getting close to Lake Wales, where the inn was located, we got a call saying the kids had forgotten to get their pillows out of the trunk of our car. So, we turned around and drove back. My parents met us halfway, bless them, and got the kids’ belongings. We patted their little heads (the kids’, not the parents’) and left them for a second time. This time, the Goose decided she really, really wanted to go with us. She begged. She pleaded. She cried. We said goodbye. I felt guilty for about 1.2 seconds, but I knew she was fine. My sister and I have always referred to my parents’ house as “Disney World” for the grandkids. It’s a much more magical place than it was when we lived with them, that’s for sure. Anyway, I knew she would be fine, and if not, I’d see her in less than 24 hours. That which doesn’t kills us makes us stronger, right?

We were so happy when we finally got to Chalet Suzanne. Even the drive down the long driveway was magical as we knew we would soon see the enchanting pinkness of the inn….. and there it was! I really did love that place!

We got checked in and settled into our room. I took my dress out of the suitcase and hung it up so it would not get wrinkled. Mr. E decided he’d better do the same with his suit. I placed my shoes out by my dress, and he went to do the same. Except, his shoes weren’t there. He’d forgotten his dress shoes. Ugh! The only shoes he had were white Reebok tennis shoes.

So, here’s the thing about Chalet Suzanne’s dining room. It had a dress code – a serious dress code – and Kenny Rogers, the maître d’, meant business! I had seen that man require guests to put on borrowed coats and ties, and I knew he wasn’t letting Reebok tennis shoes into his dining room at dinner time. So, we went shopping.

This was in the days before the mall was built in Lake Wales, so there was not much to choose from in the sleepy little town. Mr. Everything finally settled on a pair of black dress shoes from Payless. They squeaked when he walked and left black marks on the floor everywhere, but they were black, and they met the requirements.

Since that trip, I have never let Mr. E forget his shoes again. In fact, I’ve also never let him live it down. On our recent trip, he almost walked out without his suit. Luckily, we remembered. We joked that Kenny would have banished him for life. Little did we know how much things had changed. We’ll talk about that next time.

Our overnight stays quickly became trips to the inn for breakfast. The breakfast was at least 25% of the magic of the place, so I was okay with that. The Beetle, the Goose and Mr. Everything took me there several times for Mother’s Day. It was so much fun, and I loved getting to visit. Then, the kids got older and began trying to kill each other any time we were in the car for more than five minutes. At that point, I decided it just wasn’t worth it, and even the breakfast trips ended. We considered just going without the kids, but somehow, a Mother’s Day celebration without my children just didn’t feel right.

The breakfast at Chalet Suzanne was amazing. Everything about it was magical. Just thinking about it takes me to my happy place. (Excuse me while I pause….I’m envisioning pancakes.)

The coffee was the best I had ever tasted. The fact that it was served from silver kettles into eclectic China cups didn’t hurt either. Then, there was the food. Oh my goodness, the food. The eggs were scrambled with chives. While that sounds disgusting, with a little Chalet Suzanne magic, it’s actually quite tasty. The bacon and sausage were good, as well. However, anyone who knows me knows I was never there for the protein. Oh, no. It’s all about the carbs, my friends, and the carbs were AH-mazing! First we received these tiny little cinnamon rolls that were thick, chewy (in a good way) and delicious. We also got a stack of probably 10 to 12 pancakes. Before you think that’s a lot, realize these pancakes were small and paper thin. A stack of 10 to 12 was probably an inch tall and 2 ½ inches in diameter. The taste was wonderful, and the texture of these tiny pancakes was almost crepe-like. The pancakes were served with lingonberries.  Yeah, I didn’t know what they were either. They are almost like cranberries, but sweeter, and they go surprisingly well with pancakes! Of course, I’m a traditional girl and just want syrup and butter, but Mr. E loves him some lingonberries. The best part of the whole breakfast was we could get more! The servers would walk around with a plate of pancakes and serve as many more as we wanted. I discovered several trips into it that I could get more cinnamon rolls too, if I just asked.

On the trips with the kids, the staff members were so sweet to them. I was a little nervous about taking my little beasties into a dining room with all that old China and the antique furniture. Though I knew they could be well behaved, I also knew it could really, really wrong really quickly. The ladies there just loved them, though, and made them feel welcomed. They even gave them bags of old potato rolls so they could feed the turtles in the pond. While I did love turtles, I also really loved those potato rolls and considered snatching them from my children and eating them myself. Old or not, those suckers were amazing. However, my love for the turtles and my kids won, and I sacrificed the day-old bread for them.

When we would go feed the turtles, they would see us coming. As we walked toward the pond, hundreds of turtle heads would pop up from the water and start moving toward the shore. By the time we got there, the whole city of turtles was waiting for us, as though we were the royal family and they were looking up at us to pay their respects. Either that, or they just wanted the bread. The kids had a ball feeding them. It was the kids, of course, who loved it, because I’m much too mature and grown up to get my kicks from turtles. Really.

On those days when the kids would take me there, we would walk around the inn and look at the antiques and alcoves. We would sit in the gazebo on the air strip and watch planes land or take off. We would also walk around and peek inside the planes that were parked there. Those are some great memories.

The Beetle had gone to Chalet Suzanne with us a few times before the Goose was born. Her first trip to the inn did not turn out quite as well. It was the day that forever changed what I remembered when reminiscing about taking my kids to Chalet Suzanne. We’ll call it “V Day.” “V” would be for Vomit. I’m pretty sure I’ve told you this story before, but it’s worth repeating, much to the Beetle’s chagrin.

On this trip, we took my mother-in-law with us. It must have been a combined Christmas gift for her and birthday gift for me. I know it was Christmas time, because there’s a Christmas tree in the picture. We enjoyed our breakfast, and the Beetle was enjoying more chocolate milk. Even the chocolate milk was refillable at this place. He loved that, because I usually limited him to one glass, if we were paying for it. The Goose was demanding more pancakes. (Like mother, like daughter.) We were enjoying feeding her and relaxing in the dining room. All at once, the Beetle grew pale and said, “I don’t feel good.” These were not words I wanted to hear from this kid. His other nickname was, “The Puker,” because he had barfed in public more times than I care to think about. When she got older, if the Goose had said she didn’t feel good, I would have told her to sit back and rest for a minute. She would have been fine. However, this wasn’t the Goose. As soon as the Beetle said it, I grabbed his hand and started for the bathroom. We only made it two feet from the table before he started vomiting. I grabbed a napkin – a cloth napkin – and told him to hold it over his mouth. He tried, bless his heart, but it was just too much vomit. We ended up leaving a trail of vomit from the table all the way to the bathroom, which was, of course, at the front of the entire building. This wasn’t just any vomit, either. This was chocolate milk vomit. If you are a mother, you know that smell. If you aren’t, consider yourself blessed.

PictureV Day - Notice my white tank top he's wearing and the wetness of his overalls....
By the time we got to the bathroom, the Beetle was finished puking. He was wearing overalls, and the vomit had run down between the bib of the overalls and his shirt. His shirt was covered, and he was holding a pukey napkin. He asked me what he should do with it, and I considered the possibilities. I could take it and hand it to Kenny Rogers, the dress code Nazi, or we could just toss it. So, in the trash it went. I felt a little bad, but I was pretty sure they didn’t want it back. The Beetle asked me what to do about his shirt. I told him to take it off so I could wash it out. However, as I looked at it, it went in the trash too. (You may not realize this, but I have a weak stomach…like, the weakest of weak. I gagged while changing my own children’s poopy diapers, and I have never, I repeat NEVER, dealt with puke. That’s the Mr.’s job. So, the fact that I was trapped in this bathroom with chocolate milk vomit was pushing me to the brink of sanity. It was the shirt or me.)

The Beetle could not just walk around topless at Chalet Suzanne. Luckily, I was wearing a tank top under another shirt. Though I was not fully comfortable going without the tank top, I figured it was better than him going without a shirt at all. Since the Beetle felt better (he always felt better after he puked), we went ahead and walked around the inn. It was still a good day, but my breakfast memories were forever marred by The Incident.

The next time we visited Chalet Suzanne was another breakfast trip. This was at least 3 years later. We walked in at breakfast, and Kenny Rogers said, “Oh, I remember you…” That really wasn’t what I wanted to be remembered for.

Next time, I will tell you about the visit that sparked this whole voyage down memory lane. -Al