But I can't let Halloween get by without sharing the high and lowlights of the past few days at FriedOkra Manor. And I think you'll nod your head in vigorous agreement when I say that run-down is perfect for a Special Seasonally-Themed List®, in fact, really nothing less would do!
1. Al's been traveling non-stop now for what seems like an eternity. And that man can't drive past the EXIT to the airport, much less get on a plane, without contracting a nasty cold, so he's all stuffy and headachey and miserable as he globetrots, which y'all know if you've ever done it is just TREMENDOUS fun. So, taking a page from my sister's book, I recommended he start popping the probiotics and mega-ever-lovin'-doses of Vitamin C. He came home for an overnight stay on Tuesday evening and I put a little pile of pills beside his orange juice glass at the dinner table, which he unquestioningly ('cause he's good like that) horked down with nary a pause. (I know, how handy is THAT for future reference?) Trouble is, y'all remember how the probiotics and massive-ever-lovin'-dosage of Vitamin C were having their way with MY digestive tract? Well, I won't go into details here about the impact on Al's guts, but lemme tell you that the night in question I was finally, after several thunderous eruptions with eye-watering aftermaths, forced to abandon the marriage bed and camp-out in the guest bedroom for the night. He slept right through it all but it caused me to start off my Halloween Day in a bit of a haze, both literally and figuratively speaking.
2. Also on Tuesday (Tuesday was an insane day here, are you gettin' that?) I realized I had not passed along the Boo'ing to the next victims in a timely fashion, partly because I am a LOSER and partly because of Al's constant gone-ness and my strong disinterest in attempting to perpetrate the standard after-dark Boo-age with a three-year-old, who of late speaks in ALL-CAPS AT ALL TIMES, at my side, and so gathered my cute bags of goodies together and attempted to BOO in broad daylight as my neighbor Jennifer and I did our routine morning walk. Since I was doing the deed in the daylight, I felt it only wise to select victims from among the households in which both parents purportedly worked, thus preventing discovery. Well. I'd chosen the home of a friend of mine who decorates her front porch in a manner that causes me to cease breathing when I drive by her house as it's so dark and foreboding. Yet duty called, so I pushed Bean's stroller up the walk, put on the parking brake (safety first!) and left her sucking her fingers in perplexidity as I timidly crept up the front steps, tiptoed across the porch, willing myself not to make eye contact with the ginormous hairy black spider leering at me from its web or to accidentally brush against the life-sized grim reaper guarding the door, and I dropped my Boo bag on the "Enter if You Dare" welcome mat and turned to flee, WHEN! The door opened with a loud crunch and a groan. At which point I simultaneously jumped 4 feet in the air, gasped, and squealed like a little small pig, while scrambling down the steps and fumbling frantically to release the stroller parking brake and get myself and my innocent lamb off the property. However, the wheels of the stroller became mired in the damp grass and though my feet were spinning like Shaggy-on-Scooby-Doo's, Bean and I budged not an inch forward but were propelled straight upward by the force of our sheer determination to escape. My friend's husband sauntered out to the daylight guffawing, holding the Boo bag, and teasing me not to tear up his grass. Jennifer was doubled over laughing without making sounds, and Bean was saying, MAMA WHY'S DAT MAN LAUGHING LIKE DAT?
3. Because Al was coming home early especially to go Trick-or-Treating with us girls, I wanted to do something extra special for him, just so he'd know how glad we were he'd thought to organize his travel schedule around a mid-week family occasion. So I made him a sour-cream apple pie with brown sugar struesel topping AND, more importantly, I'd shelled a pound of shrimp and had it waiting in the fridge to be whipped up into some shrimp and grits (a favorite dish of his, and my father's, by the by, interestingly enough). When he arrived I pointed out the pie and he nodded, drooling, and thanked me profusely. "And," I said, "Guess what's for dinner?" "Take out Chinese?" he replied. "Better! Shrimp and grits!" And we trick-or-treated like bandits one short step ahead of the law because that man was in a HURRY to get home to his pie and his shrimp and grits and quite possibly the warmth of the homefires because y'all, it was colder than a well-digger's buns out there last night. Well, we got home and I fired up the stove and had the sausage sizzlin' away merrily and Al came in and hugged me and said, "Mama, you're so sweet, thanks for making shrimp and grits for our Halloween night treat!" "Oh I'm happy to do it! I've been looking forward shrimp and grits all week!" and then "FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUDGE!" because at the moment I finished that sentence I reached up into the cabinet for the grits canister and peeled off the lid only to discover no more than 9 grits lying pitifully at the bottom of it. Which brings me to the Treats list, because...
1. We had a new family favorite for dinner Halloween night: Shrimp and Cheesey Rice. Which I may even be able to tempt these grit-fearful Midwesterners to try at some point! It was darned good, too.
2. Then we dug into the pie I mentioned above, which was delicious and transported Al and me right back to Halloween night four years ago, right after we were engaged, when we drove up here and spent the day hiking (Atlanta and North Georgia folks, if you haven't taken this little daytrip, put it on your calendar for soon, okay?), then had dinner at the resort, which we topped off with, you guessed it, sour cream apple pie with brown sugar streusel topping. And Al remembered, and we talked about that trip over dinner and laughed about getting lost in the woods (it wasn't funny at the time) and remembered how beautiful the view was from the back porch of the main lodge. We sat out there in rocking chairs and drank coffee, inhaling the fresh night air, fragrant with a hint of smoke from the valley chimneys and the fresh, earthy smell of autumn leaves. What a beautiful night, four years ago, and what a beautiful night, last night.
3. We Trick-or-Treated with a wild pack of our closest neighbors' children, the adults walking along laughing, freezing, and taking pictures, the kids running, trudging and toddling from house to house, some ahead of us, some behind us, all jumbled up together, Moms, Dads, kids, and even a Grandma. Gosh we are blessed to live here among these sweet, loving families. So far from our home yet so much at home among our friends, always. Sniffle!
4. Alex made an adorable duck. She became insensed though, when our neighbor Vince insisted on clucking at her. "I'm not a CHICKEN! I'm a DUCK. I go QUACK QUACK QUACK!" She quacks me up, that kid of mine. She was very much into the Trick-or-Treating and seems to have her father's serious work ethic. Again this year I think she would still be out there shivering and trudging along from house to house cheerfully ringing doorbells and collecting candy in her pumpkin. Once you give that kid a mission, she does it with purpose, determination and tenacity. And oh, how I love watching her go.
4. OH YEAH, and it looks like I'm gonna win those buttons.