Sunday, April 29, 2012

Strawberry Fields Forever (Or Yesterday)

First, the soundtrack. . .

There. That's better.

When this weekend rolled around, I didn't have high expectations. A husband who has worked nights for 13 years and has to "cover" Sunday nights usually means the Kidlet and I fend for ourselves in the world of weekend diversions.  There are only so many manicures, movie marathons and cozy-up-with-a-cup-of-tea-and-a-good-book days you can have during a grey winter and rather damp spring, but we've managed. Kidlet's love of Animal Jam and Webkinz websites may have become an addiction, but it's a too-convenient way to manage her love of animals while we live long (but not exactly prosper) in an apartment that is 1/3 of the size of our house in Texas (that we still own). She also visits her menagerie of stuffed animals in the garage (weekly) - as well as her Razr, Razr Vespa, and bicycle (daily, weather permitting).

For those of you who haven't been nagged, here's animal ownership without buying stuffed animals (although, a paid premium membership is available - of course.) Animal Jam - National Geographic.

And the site where many a shopping/gaming/stuffed animal ownership addiction begins: Webkinz.

As much as Kidlet loves these, there are only so many times I can walk over to admire the new online outfit, accessory or home furnishing she's bought for the online zoos she's managing, so I was hoping we'd find something else to do this weekend.

Who would've thought Hubby would be the source? Since December, he'd been suggesting that I meet one of his co-workers, and maybe work out with her at Planet Fitness. Of course, what with his Y chromosome, he didn't understand that most women do NOT want to meet another woman for the first time while wearing exercise clothes and glowing so profusely from exercise that the sweat stains look like odor-enhanced Rorschach tests. It's not as if she's going to stand near the door carrying a cardboard sign with my name - like a limo driver at the airport. However, with my luck, she'd be wearing these - with a smile - and Botox-paralyzed sweat glands:

Flower power can be highly overrated - and over-used in fashion.
Photo courtesy:

She's the mother of three, so it wasn't likely, but it was possible. (Admittedly, I am the "glass is not only half-empty, but the glass is cracked and the liquid is poison" kind of person. It's part of my charm.)

Fortunately for all of us, busy season at their office meant no "workout blind date" - and although they have to work tonight - Sunday - Hubby suggested we all go berry-picking at a Strawberry Festival near our new-ish hometown. I admit when I first heard the idea, the Von Trapp children popped into my head. (Scary how my mind works sometimes, but there it is.)

Marta: Friedrich told you, Father, we were berry picking.
Captain: I forgot you were berry picking!
Children: Yes! yes...
Captain: All afternoon?
Children: Uhmhm!...
Louisa: We picked thousands of them!
Captain: Thousands?!
Children: Yes!

It sounded like fun, especially since we prefer fresh fruit that tastes, well, like fruit - and the Carolinas do have that, in abundance (in addition to Republicans). Produce at the mega marts tastes like preservative-infused plastic in various colors, much like toddler toys.

Hubby got off work at 7 am, was home by 7:30 and announced, "I'll sleep for an hour and a half and then we'll go." After Prince Charming awakened from his slumber, we got ready for the fields. It was another gloomy, grey 60-degree day in the Carolinas, which meant people were either in hoodies and jeans, or shorts and a tee shirt.  (They say Texans are strange.)

Thankfully, Hubby's co-worker, Amanda, turned out to be very nice. She, too, dresses like a mom who would be berry picking with her kids after getting off work (solid color tee and jeans - like I did) and we did what all moms and long-marrieds do: discuss our "other child" - the husband.  It was part of Hubby's plan, of course, when he commented on the way there: "I think you two will hit it off. Her husband is a mechanic and there's a broken down boat and car in her yard. You can complain to each other." He knew this would work because, as all wives know, at least the other woman will be LISTENING.

So, in his defense, he was right. She and I are part of the sisterhood whose husbands who are responsible. . .AT WORK.

Oh, yes! What else did we do? The berry picking. It was less Sound of Music/Strawberry Fields Forever and more, "Mom, can I eat this berry?" (times 20) and "Mom, can she come over to our house?" (Not today) and "Mom, can we go to the park together?" (No, because we have two parents who are going to have sleep-deprived mania if they don't get home soon.)  Four adults and four kids had a pretty nice time. Oh, and those berries? AWESOME!

Handpicked with love - and greed.

We went on a hayride (free), got our exercise taking the scenic little walking trail (free), bought a strawberry slushie ($2.50) and picked berries ($11 for a heaping gallon - and we get to keep the farm logo-laden bucket). A band performed - and pulled pork barbecue sandwiches were available for sale, too. Nice folks. Nice time. The festival is the only time you can pick your own berries (I think), and Kidlet made a friend, so it was all good:

Native Carolinian on a 60 degree day: shorts/short sleeve tee/brother's hiking boots (because it was muddy).
Native Texan: jeans, old sneakers, long sleeve tee AND add'l short sleeve shirt (because we were COLD).
Amanda (the co-worker) and I "hit it off" - I think - and we did the exchange of contact information. Now, the wait begins.  The good signs: In addition to the shared understanding of what it means to be a wife who doesn't want to have to act like her mother-in-law (!) in order to get things done, Amanda complimented my hair (which was a mess) and my phone case (which is, I admit, kinda purdy - for an Otterbox):

Available from Amazon - like most things in my life. :)

The bad? She has no internet access at home, can't get on Facebook at work - and, oh yeah, also works third shift. It will be another person I can't see very often because she, well, sleeps during the day.  Kidlet and I know the drill - and the drain it puts on a family. Amanda and I  agree that humans aren't meant to stay up all night and sleep all day, but you go where the work is and do what is required (we both are beholden to that reality). So, we'll see.  Fingers crossed and phone checked not too neurotically for texts/e-mails/calls. (She's working tonight. . .remember?)

"Living is easy with eyes closed," John Lennon sang, but for us, spending time in a Strawberry Field yesterday, living here - far from home - felt a bit easier. Period.

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