I met my first husband just after high school. It was love at first sight. Eleven days after we met he proposed. I enthusiastically accepted. My parents, when told, did not share this enthusiasm. It was not that they did not like my future husband particularly, more that they barely knew his last name. In addition, they viewed me as a maturity challenged eighteen year old who’d just quit playing with Barbie dolls three years prior. As I rarely turned on a burner, never laundered my own clothes, and considered housework a form of corporal punishment, they did not consider me the ideal candidate for marriage. Looking back I feel they gave me too much credit.
Caught in the web of my first “real” love, I was not easily dissuaded. Eight months later we walked down the aisle in a beautiful high mass at the local Catholic church and that, as they say, was that.
Our plan, discussed at length, was to get our degrees under our belts then start a family. Three months into the plan I realized I was late. Not late as in late bloomer, or late for work, but late as in a line on the little stick. Ugh. Eight months later our little girl arrived, five years early, but on time according to her calendar. On to Plan B.
Plan B showed up on the ultrasound three months following. The neatly folded maternity clothes just stored in the garage, were resurrected and hung back in the closet. At this point we tossed the plan book out the window shifted into full panic mode. Two children in two years for two parents barely capable of tying their own shoelaces. What were the powers that be thinking?
Somehow we managed to muddle through my second gestation period without permanently damaging our first baby, and had logged enough baby miles to feel a little more comfortable when the new addition was born. The year following his birth was a blur. Between sleepless nights, juggling child care arrangements, maintaining a full-time job, plus school, Nurse Ratchett with her Dixie cupful of happy pills was a breakdown away.
Finally, my son nearing his first birthday, and my daughter moving toward her second, they both began sleeping through the night and an uneasy truce settled over the household. School had been put on hold temporarily, at least for me, so that eased my time constraints considerably.
Working as an inside salesperson, our company had monthly incentive contests to keep us motivated. In the early spring I chocked up an impressive number of orders and won my first $300.00 bonus. Whoopee!
Since we’d signed on to the baby brigade, little time was alloted for vacations, nor much extra cash for such luxuries. I had come to consider my dentist appointments as mini-vacations since I got to put my feet up for thirty minutes. Although my parents had not put their full support behind the marriage, they made up for it when the children came along. They approached babysitting in a sort of man-on-man defense, each taking full responsibility for the care of one baby. They considered it a gift to be allowed to keep them overnight, as did we, as it was the only uninterrupted sleep we got.
After dozing off at the table during dinner one night, my mother suggested we take the bonus money and get away just the two of us. Opening one eye, I nodded in agreement. Reviewing a number of brochures, we chose a Hansel and Gretel style bed and breakfast in wine country recommended by my husband’s uncle, the monsignor. Not that he frequented bed and breakfasts often in his line of work, but he had occasion to visit a beautiful old convent and monastery in the area and this inn had been recommended by a friend.
According to the literature, part of the “romantic weekend package” included a picnic lunch and a bottle of local wine. As I’d nearly forgotten at that point how it was we’d acquired the children in the first place, and had begun telling people at parties that the stork actually had brought them, it sounded like an ideal place to rekindle the fire.
Late Friday afternoon we dropped our charges off at my parents and drove north. Halfway, we stopped at a roadside inn and lingered through a wonderful leisurely dinner. It seemed strange to carry on an adult conversation without the usual ear drum splitting din of our daughter playing high chair boogie woogie on her tray with her silverware, or our son providing back-up vocals. Peace and heavenly quiet. Amen.
Arriving at the inn it was, if possible, lovelier than pictured. Grape arbors, vines heavy with fruit, dominated the side yard. As you walked through the front door the air was filled with the sweet perfume of gardenias growing along the walls. Our room was decorated in early country inn motif. By the window a brass bed overflowed with large overstuffed pillows covered in dainty patterns, strewn haphazardly across a puffy down comforter. In one corner, an old style rocker with a crocheted afghan tossed over the back.
Saying our good nights, the owners left us with a breakfast menu, suggesting they prepare us a picnic basket for the following morning. After a delicious ranch breakfast, they handed us our basket along with a map of the area highlighting all the hiking trails and several swimming holes found along the river.
A warm early spring day was provided with the basket at no extra charge. Butterflies flitted among the abundant varieties of wildflowers blooming in the fields. After hiking several hours we rounded a sharp bend in the path. Glimpses of water somewhere below could be seen through the trees. Sliding down the long hill we found that the base opened up on a large swimming area surrounded on three sides by tall cliffs. A small waterfall, most likely from the spring runoff, drooled lazily over the top of the highest rock. Hot and dusty, we stripped down to our suits and dove into the inviting water. Cool and nice. Following the quick swim, we lolled on the bank to eat our lunch, washing it down with the excellent Pinot Noir provided to us by the inn keepers.
It was very secluded, or at least no one had passed since our arrival. The only sounds were the birds and insects hovering in the foliage. Feeling a bit puckish after the wine, we decided to take a quick dip as nature intended us to. Laughing we shucked our suits and dove back in the water.
Shortly after surfacing, I heard muffled female voices coming from the woods. From behind the trees seven or so nuns emerged. Not in full habits, instead they wore lightweight, short skirted uniforms with bandanas covering their hair. Speaking in hushed tones, several carried baskets, and one towards the back had blankets over one arm. “The hills are alive”, Oh-oh.
Our blanket was on the side of the hill to our backs. Hopefully, they couldn’t see it, or us, but we certainly couldn’t reach it without being seen, really seen, including all the original parts. The only place where we wouldn’t be visible was behind large rocks to our right. Hiding in a small shaded pool, it suddenly occurred to us they might be planning on taking a dip themselves. If that was the case, we would hear a lot more “oh my Lording, and Amening” going on than originally anticipated.
Peeking out several times, it appeared as if they were getting more comfortable. We, on the other hand, were not. Starting to get cold, our bodies had begun to shiver and our skin was puckering like a couple of raisins in the sun. Speaking in our “inside voices”,we discussed a way out. After they’d eaten, all but two of them reclined in the shade, eyes closed or reading.
Like two capricious forest nymphs we rose up from the pond, stealthily slinking and weaving along the rough terrain. We held leaves and brush behind us less we give the ladies more of a view then they’d bargained for, and moved together in the all together crouching low to the ground. At last at our blanket, we pulled it over our heads and wriggled into our clothing. Gathering our belongings we crept quietly back up to the path undiscovered.
Back at the inn the rest of the weekend passed restfully, and uneventfully. When next we saw him, Father Bob asked if we’d seen any nuns from the convent during our stay. We said yes but they hadn’ t seen us.
After the break we couldn’t wait to see our little ones. My parents were happy to see us as well., Hair disheveled, clothing splashed with formula and vomit, they stood in their once immaculate house littered now with toys and debris and held the children out at arm’s length, saying nothing clearly legible.
This is such an easy recipe and sooooo good you can’t stop popping them. Great for an appetizer or as a side for a roast or grilled meat. Just yummy.
Bacon and Red Potato Poppers
28 baby red potatoes
14 slices bacon, halved lengthwise
1/4 cup olive oil
Lawry’s garlic salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Sour cream and green onions
Preheat oven to 450 degrees. (This temperature is important to the outcome of this dish.)
Wash potatoes. Place in large bowl and toss well with olive oil until well coated.
Cut each piece of bacon in half lengthwise. Wrap each 1/2 piece around each potato. Secure with a tooth pick. Place in dish with toothpick sticking out of top but not on the bottom. Sprinkle liberally with garlic salt and freshly ground black pepper.
Place in oven and cook for 30 mins. Bacon should be crisp and crunchy. Watch carefully so not to burn. Drain on paper towels.
Serve with sour cream and chopped green onions. Smashing.