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Posts Tagged ‘Beam and Coke’

Day Nineteen: General Nostalgia

03 Jul

There is frequently a gap in my travelogue once we are in residence at Chez Tison. Is that because nothing noteworthy occurs, or there is nothing to report? Far from it! It is because we keep ourselves so busy, with activities, but also with the pure pleasure of just hanging out together. There is little I love more on a summer night than just hanging out around the fire pit (or sitting on a park bench!) conversing with these two. And since we stay up well past our old people bedtimes, acting like our college selves, I quite happily fall behind on documentation. But I also want to be sure to get everything down, because I don’t want to forget a moment of this. To that end, I will revert for today to a less narrative and more bullet point style list of our exploits in the fair town of Fairfield…

Breakfast: How do you know when your college friend still knows and loves you? When she buys you a box of Lucky Charms, and then forbids the 5 children in the house to touch it. Cannot even begin to fathom how many bowls (pounds?) of Lucky Charms I consumed in the Letitia Pate Evans Dining Hall from 1991-1995. But for the kids, Joe stepped up behind the griddle and cranked out batches of pancakes. Their kids eat reasonably portioned meals, mine fall on the things they like like hungry wolverines. But he managed to make enough to satisfy them all. Pro tip: when replacing the egg in pancake batter, sweet potato baby food makes an excellent binder, that turns out slightly sweet pancakes. And when you run out of sweet potato baby food, applesauce makes an reasonable substitute as well. The mango peach kind made for a slightly tropical and delicious pancake.

Outdoor Activity: A hike around Lake Mohegan. It was nice to head into the woods. Only time I felt vaguely bad about not having Remy with us because not only were dogs permitted, but there don’t seem to be any leash laws in Connecticut. He would have loved this place. It was a fairly easy (only a few uphills), not overly technical hike through the woods, along a stream. Nice to be outside breathing some fresh air and getting some exercise. (Relevant side note: Holy crap am I woefully out of shape. Ironic side note: I was wearing my Krispy Kreme t-shirt.)

Indoor Activity: A field trip to a little slice of heaven called Bass Pro Shops. I’ve been in a BPS before, but it was nothing like this one. They have really come a long way in terms of decoration and design over the years. It was AMAZING. Unfortunately, I didn’t really get a chance to look around much because I got stuck at the indoor catch-and-release kiddie pool. Seriously. There was an indoor pool filled with an assortment of fish, and they were letting little kids fish for them on little rod and reels. There were a bunch of employees baiting hooks with worms, and while Beau and Harper, Sam and Trey, rapidly caught their fish and posed for their picture, Avery was having no luck at all. And it wasn’t because she was doing anything wrong at all, no, her form was perfect, and her patience was that of a saint. But the guy baiting her hook just wasn’t doing a good job of it, so these wily, been caught a million times before fish, were able to steal her worm without a single chance of her being able to set a hook. It was frustrating. At least to me. But she took it like a champ, just shrugging and saying, oh well, sometimes you don’t catch anything. Meanwhile I wanted to jump in the pool and catch one with my bare hands just to shove it on to her hook. This particular Bass Prop Shops, also happens to have the most insane underwater-themed bowling alley. We didn’t bowl, but we did partake of a late lunch at the attached restaurant. Which was surprisingly rather good – at least they didn’t mess up my bison burger, and they had delicious fries.

Dessert: How could it be a trip to Fairfield without a stop at Sunny Daes Ice Cream shop?

Backyard Fun: Joe dragged the small bouncy house out of the basement and the kids went crazy. Some were in and out of the hot tub. There was a corn hole smack down (See, Tony, you’re not the only one who falls to the champion.) A gorgeous afternoon – sunshine, decent temperature, a little overcast, but it kept it from being beastly hot.

Dinner: Taco Night!! Tina puts on a serious spread.

Dessert: S’mores over the fire pit. I became the beneficiary of the children who love to roast marshmallows, but were forbidden by their strict parents to eat too many of them. Can I roast another marshmallow and give it to you? Yes. Yes, you can.

Celebration: After forcing the children to bathe for the first time in days, it was time for the Tison Family Backyard Fireworks Display in Celebration of America and Tina’s Birthday. It started with running around with sparklers in the backyard, as the fireflies flashed. Then it was time for the main event. Joe had picked up an assortment of ground-based fireworks. He and Beau went halfway up the backyard to set up, and the girls set chairs up along the edge of the patio for a viewing station. They also worked hard earlier in the day to make scoresheets for everyone. The idea was that before every firework was lit, Beau would, with a pithy comment, announce the name of it. We, the viewing audience, would find the firework listed on our scoresheet, and mark a score from 1-10 for each individual firework. At the end, there was also a space for us to name our favorite firework shown. It was quite an extensive list. The full display had some really cool fireworks, some that looked exactly like the three before it, some that were surprisingly good, and only one that was a dud. Then the girls tallied the votes, taking longer to do this than the actual fireworks display, and reported back the rankings. The clear winners were Razzle Dazzle and Pyro Fire. Or rather, the clear winner was me. I mean, really. How lucky am I to have friends like this to spend the 4th of July weekend with?

Once the kids were finally shuffled off to bed, it was time for an annual tradition. A very exclusive W&L reunion at a very exclusive location. About 4 years ago I created a check-in location on Facebook called The Firepit at Chez Tison. (Tina suggested that we also need a check-in location for their new hot tub – I believe we’ve settled on The Hot Springs Spa at Chez Tison.) But anyway, sitting around the firepit, drinking, laughing, reminiscing, to me, it is one of the sweet spots of summer. And there are certain things that are quintessentially Washington & Lee University. If you went there, you know. One of those things is a perfectly mixed Beam & Coke. Sure, other people drink them, but they are, or at least used to be in the early 90s, the signature cocktail of W&L. As I had my first sip of the cocktail Joe had mixed me in a Class of 1995 20th Reunion Tervis mug, I thought to myself, this tastes like nostalgia. Taking a look at the Trident on the mug, I said, “That’s it. Henceforth, this simple cocktail (a perfect proportion of Jim Beam & Coca-Cola with a wedge of lime) shall be known as a General Nostalgia.” It’s going to be a thing. Just you wait.

A few hours later, the readily available wood was burned, a few General Nostalgias down the hatch, and laughter all the way around, it was into the wee early morning hours and time to retire. But not before wishing Tina a hearty Happy Birthday, and determining that, indeed, what every PTA needs is a dad who looks like Rob Lowe…

 

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Days Six and Seven: Discovering the spirits and reaching the Creek

14 Jun

Our Friday morning in Fairfield began in a lazy way. Which was fan-freakin’-tastic in my opinion. I think that’s one of the reasons I love our stops at Chez Tison so much. Because it feels like home. No sense of urgency, or what we are “supposed to” do. So we lounged about. The kids watched tv. Tina and I chatted at the breakfast table. Good stuff. But I had promised my kiddos a visit to the nearby aquarium, and Tina had promised her kiddos she would pull them out of school a little early so they could spend some time in the afternoon hanging out with their “Florida friends,” so despite the late start (11:00am-ish – Wowza!), we headed out the door.

The Maritime Aquarium at Norwalk is a great little aquarium. Maybe a little pricey for what it is, but a good morning spent nonetheless. One of the kids favorite things was the “Jiggle a Jelly” exhibit, where they actually got to touch jellyfish! (Except don’t call it a jellyfish, because it’s not a fish, so call it a jelly.) My favorite part of the aquarium also involved jellies. They have a darkened room with a lighted cylindrical tank filled with jellies. It’s like a living lava lamp. So beautiful, and peaceful to watch them floating there. They also have some other nice tanks with some regional fish – cod can get pretty big! Out back they also have a lorikeet house. I refuse to pay extra for nectar, on general principal, but there are always enough other people feeding them that you can get a really up close look without getting your arm pooped on. As we were leaving, one landed on top of my head. It was a bit shocking, though I can’t really blame the poor thing for thinking that my rat’s nest of humidity frizzed hair looked like a comfy resting place. The funniest thing was, as I felt its little talons pricking my scalp, that none of my children had any reaction to the fact that a colorful, tropical bird was perched on the top of my head. When the bird flew off I raised my arms, and said, “What? No reaction to the bird on my head?” Beau and Avery just shrugged, but Harper cocked her head, stroked her chin, and responded, “It’s a step up from what you usually wear.” Touche.

From the aquarium we made our way to meet the Tisons at Our Backyard Play Place. (Side note: That name really bothers me. I don’t know why, but it’s so corny it’s creepy.) Name aside, it was an awesome place. It’s one of those huge, warehouse type spaces filled with inflatables – bounces houses, obstacle courses, etc. With the addition of several climbing structures and a horizontal climbing wall, maybe 7′ in height. Of course, immediately after we pay our $10 per kid for 90 minutes of play time, every single one of our kids immediately requested money to play video games. Le sigh. No. That’s right, kids, the answer is no. And in other news, 90 minutes of play time is a really long time. But at least I can feel good about my road tripping, sitting on their butts much of the day children getting some quality physical exercise!

Tina cooked us an amazing dinner that was super yummy – pulled pork, homemade mac’n'cheese (no, not Lindsey baked linguini and cheese, but baked cheesy cavatappi), and a vinegar based slaw. So. Good. And I was super proud of Beau for cleaning his plate. They were small portions, but he ate everything. I’m so proud when we make positive strides with food. Bath time was an adventure, and then the kids split up for some slumber party fun. Beau got the entire bonus room to himself, which pleased him to no end. Harper shared Sam’s room, and Avery shared Trey’s. They made cute pairings, and were so exhausted from our long day that they even fell asleep early enough to get a good night’s sleep. But the best part about them being in bed was….

It was time for the Annual Retreat at the Chez Tison Fire Pit. Since Saturday was National Bourbon Day, we did what any observant people would do, start celebrating on National Bourbon Day Eve! And if a group of W&L folk are gathering to drink bourbon, you know it’s going to be Jim Beam. After a few pre-firepit Beam & Cokes, we switched to Leinenkugel Summer Shandy. Ahhhh, summer + Chez Tison = summer shandies. Luckily the fierce rain storms that swept through in the early evening had made their way past, and we had clear skies, if dripping trees, for our fire pit rendezvous. And while nothing could possibly compare to the epic all-nighter that we pulled last year , we weren’t even trying, because it wouldn’t be possible to recreate something that happened organically. This was the year of passionate and heated discussion, and nothing was off the table: religion, guns, politics, books, movies, and, obviously, the Rangers. But there was still plenty of laughter and frivolity (that’s what she said!), and much reminiscing about our W&L days, and eager anticipation of our 20th reunion next spring. There is little I look forward to as much as our annual retreat around the fire pit. And this year, once again, did not disappoint. And that four hours of sleep I got after going to bed at around 3:00am, well, it was 4 hours more than I got last year, and it made all the difference in the drive I had to take today.

So, we were up and at ‘em, got ourselves all packed up, enjoyed a great pancake breakfast for the kids & yummy egg sandwiches for the grown-ups. (Side note: Here’s a helpful life hack – if you eat an egg sandwich with Tabasco on it, try not to rub your eye. You’re welcome.)

We set off from Chez Tison (after I stamped my foot and said, “I don’t want to go to Maine!) at 10:17am. The odometer read 24,319. It was a much easier drive this year! Amazing the difference a little sleep can make. But we took our time, stopping once for lunch and once for pit stops, and arrived at the Boston Children’s Museum around 2:00pm. The BCM has the most amazing climbing structure right in the center of it. And I wish we had more time to spend there so that the kids could spend more time in it. But there are lots of other exhibits that the kids love there, especially the construction zone. Beau built an amazing creation out of the shaped wooden blocks, Harper and Avery constructed a house out of the large building pieces. Another cool thing that was happening just today at the BCM was a visit by schoolchildren from Kyoto, Japan. They were set up in a large common room teaching visiting children games they play, and doing crafts like folding newspaper hats, origami of all varieties, making necklaces and decorating hair clips. It was fun to watch the kids interacting with other children who had a limited grasp of English, and being exposed to children from another culture in general.

We had a really nice afternoon at the museum, and we stayed longer than I had originally planned. The kids’ dad was originally scheduled to fly into Boston at 9am this morning, but JetBlue (I freakin’ hate that airline!) cancelled the flight on Friday afternoon, and rescheduled him for the 7:15pm flight out of JAX. Grrrrrrrrr. The kids were disappointed that he wouldn’t be able to meet us in Boston, but they understood it wasn’t something either of us could control. Still, I was inclined to let them play longer, even if that meant delaying our arrival in Maine. We left Boston at around 4:30pm, and leisurely made our way north. We made a stop at the New Hampshire Liquor Store. Um, I think its required when a liquor store has it’s own exit off the highway that you make a stop. Then we stopped at a grocery store for a few morning essentials (with the weeks’ shopping to be done tomorrow with a comprehensive list). And at 7:00pm we rolled up to the cottage in Kennebunkport. It was like returning home. Just put the milk in the fridge and headed down to our beach. The tide was out, so the kids could climb on the rocks. Beau was disappointed to see the beach strewn with kelp (or some type of marine vegetation – sorry if I’ve offended any locals who know exactly what the brown stuff is. I welcome education!) But they are definitely looking forward to tomorrow. Time on the beach, with old summer friends. We got the van completely unpacked, even got the suitcases completely unpacked. Everything is squared away. The house is set up. The windows are open – thus the reason I’m wearing a sweatshirt right now! (YAY!) Time to start phase two of CMRT; Ahhhhh…. Maine. The way life should be.

Final odometer reading for the northbound portion of CMRT: 24,570. That’s 1,335 miles behind the wheel, folks. As for the license plate game? Missing five. Montana, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and, you guessed it, North Dakota.

 

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© 2010 Krista Lindsey Willim