All posts tagged friendship

Good Friends, Great Time

The recommended pizza place with our “dear friends.”

Middle-aged people should frequent middle-aged vacation spots and middle-aged lodgings.

We batted 1000. Meeting our Florida friends in Florida wasn’t even on our radar a few weeks ago. But unused vacation points beckoned the Gordons who beckoned us. We couldn’t turn down a free stay in Ormond Beach, Florida. Since becoming farmers, we’d hardly taken a day off, much less six.

We packed up, tucked Mom in with competent caregivers and hit the road. I’d never traveled to that part of the state so I googled it.

“Tom, it says the city is a great quiet place for middle-aged couples.”

“What?” Tom asked.

Arriving at the beachfront hotel, our friends hovered over the balcony. A smile spread across my worn face.

“We’re in luck, they have shuffleboard!” Michael grinned.

I felt as if I’d been in a dessert and reached an oasis. An oasis of friends and memories and fellowship. We walked the beach and talked. We ate “Sticky Burgers” that combined a hamburger, peanut butter, bacon and cheese on a bun at a local hangout and watched college football.

The next day, our other friends, the Brinkers, made the three-hour trek to visit for a few hours. We crowded into the apartment and laughed, snacked, and reveled in just being together. Priceless.

Tom and I haven’t made much money over the last 18 months, but I feel rich. Those friendships didn’t bloom overnight. They took years of cultivation and feeding and pruning. Now we have a beautiful strong friendship that’s endured storms and even neglect–because like a magnificent tree, it’s rooted and established.

On Monday the four of us traveled to St. Augustine.

“Oldest city in the country. How appropriate.” Tom said.

Overwhelmed with touristy venues and parking, we stopped a mailman to get a quick restaurant review.

Without hesitation he said, “To be honest, all the places around here are overpriced and the food is (expletive).”

“Gee, tell us how you really feel,” Diane added.

We ended up at a pizza place he recommended. It was near the chocolate factory we toured earlier in the day. Lots of “early birders” there, too.

The Gordons left yesterday and Tom and I spent the evening alone last night. That part is a secret.

Today we see our son and his wife at their apartment. We also meet the Grand dog, Kratos. Tomorrow we head home.

I don’t miss Florida. I miss walks on the beach, sure. Mostly, I miss my friends. I’m making new friends in North Carolina, but friendships take time.

For now, I’ll remember great times with good friends.

If I can remember.



It Takes a Village To Can a Quart

Most people have a bucket list. Challenging, fun things like repelling the Grand Canyon, Climbing Mt. Everest, hiking the Appalchian Trail, or canning a few quarts of tomatoes.

Today, for the first time in my 54 years, I chose the latter.

I should have attempted Everest.

Actually, “The Canning” was a group effort. My two canning friend experts supervised the event.

Since there was no dishwasher in the farmhouse, we hand washed several mason jars. Since there was no room on the counters, we spent approximately 57 minutes clearing them.

“Pauline, the jars are dirty,” my helpful husband stated after our dishwashing marathon. (By the way, he was not part of the canning committee. Just an opinionated onlooker.)

So we spent another 28 minutes rewashing the jars. While we washed, we heated approximately enough water on the stove to bathe the Dallas Cowboys.

“Canning’s not hard, Pauline. You just mix the tomatoes and run them through the food processor. Then you pour them into jars. You heat the jars on the stove in a water bath and you’re done,” my friend Sue said.

Easy for her to say. She left.

Then Sue’s husband, Bill, and I cut 20 pounds of tomatoes which took approximately 49 minutes.

I settled on a soup base with okra. We looked it up and Bill read the directions.

“It says we have to cook the tomatoes.”

Sue arrived home. “Why are you cooking the tomatoes?”

“The recipe says so.”

She read the recipe out loud. “I see you decided to change the recipe we agreed on.” Her eyebrow lifted as she spoke. Bill and I slinked away, pretending to wipe counters.

I answered. “I figured they’re all about the same. How long do we cook it?”

“About fifteen minutes’.

After we processed the tomatoes and rewashed the counters, we ladled the tomato mixture into a pan on the stove. “What are all these pans for?”

“One is for the bath, one for sanitizing the jars, and a smaller one for the lids.”

I wondered if they’d forgotten about the absence of the modern appliances.

“How much water do I need for the water bath?”

Bill answered. “A lot. But first you have to sanitize the jars.”

I started to add the squeaky-clean-jars to the bathtub water we’d been heating for over an hour. The kitchen temp topped 105. “Don’t put the jars in yet!” Bill shouted. “You have to heat them as you pour the tomato mixture!”

“How do you know that?”

Bill and Sue chimed in together, “We read the directions!”

“Wait a minute,” Sue said. “Did you say you added okra? If you did you up the time to 45 minutes.”

“Yeah, and what’s the altitude? That changes the time too.”

“How much headroom do we leave?” I wondered why they were talking about their car.

“The recipe says one inch,” Bill stated as he munched on an apple. It had been four long hours since lunch.

We used tongs to submerge the the jars in the Cowboys’ bath and a special tool to take the jars in and out of the bath. We bathed the jars for an additional 45 minutes. Finally, we poured the fragrant mixture into glass jars through a special canning funnel, placed the lids on and waited. They popped.

All six of them.

After about nine hours of manpower, $20 worth of tomatoes and and a hundred dollars worth of equpment, I figured we could have eaten at Carabba’s three times. The whole bucket-list-canning-adventure struck me as hilarious. No wonder pioneer people died young.

“It takes a village to can a quart of tomatoes!” I spouted as my belly shook. We all laughed.

After we gained our composure, Sue took out a Sharpie, “What are you going to call this?”

“Village soup, of course. And when I pull out my soup, I’ll call you at your place in New Jersey and you can eat yours, too.”

Some bucket list adventures are just about friends.

And it’s worth it.