Thursday, October 31, 2013

Halloween Spirit Endures



Mysterious Halloween Jack-o-lantern | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Who was responsible for the mysterious
jack-o-lantern delivery? 
When the boys were little, we participated in all the family holiday clichés. We baked cookies, prepared Valentine's, dyed eggs, and carved pumpkins. It was a lot of fun, albeit a bit time consuming, costly, and physically exhausting. And while Santa and the Easter Bunny still make annual appearances in the middle of the appropriate nights, as the boys got older and began to lose interest, we slacked off on other activities. But in our defense, Hubby and I have been going on the assumption that the boys just weren't into it anymore.

But they are my boys. They have my genes. I should have known better.

In their creative ways, and with the help of their friends, they've reminded me that activities that define a holiday never get old. At least, I assume it was my children and their friends. It could have been the Spirit of the Holiday.

Childhood Pumpkin Carving Memories | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My oldest mentoring his little brothers on
pumpkin-carving etiquette. 
This year, I barely decorated for Halloween. We have a wreath on the door and a few skeletons dancing in the breeze as they dangle festively from our trees. I also strung up some lights. But we keep forgetting to turn them on. Meanwhile, I never did get around to picking up a pumpkin for carving. And I've fallen into the habit of putting off purchasing candy for trick-or-treaters until an hour before they start ringing the doorbell.

My youngest child, the one who still lives at home with us, never mentioned anything about pumpkin carving this year, so I wasn't worried. But someone was worried. Because we do have a jack-o-lantern. And we were instructed to make sure it is lit tonight.

Throwback Thursday Halloween | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My middle and youngest work hard
to prepare the pumpkin for carving.
While I was out yesterday, a car slowed down in front of our house. My youngest was outside walking his dog. The people in the car identified themselves as siblings of his brothers' friends. They handed him the carved pumpkin and drove off, but not before noting that it needed to be lit on Halloween night.

When I arrived home, I asked my son about the jack-o-lantern. Had he purchased and carved it on his own? A feeling of guilt washed over me. But he didn't buy or carve it. He explained the odd drive-by drop-off. He told me we were to make sure it was lit on Halloween night.

Did his brothers arrange the delivery? Or did the Spirit of Halloween decide to call me on my lack of holiday spirit? We may never know. But I can assure you the jack-o-lantern will be glowing tonight to greet costumed children while I offer up delicious treats.

Jack-o-lantern Memories | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
The final results of the collaborative
efforts of my children, when they were
young, with a little help from their mom.
And just so the Spirits of other holidays know, we will bake cookies for Santa this year. We will dye Easter eggs in the spring. And next fall, our yard will be filled with intricately carved spookiness of the squash variety.

HAPPY HALLOWEEN! 

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
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Saturday, October 19, 2013

Red Okra



A couple of decades ago, when I could still remember what it was like to be "Northern," I made my ex-husband's family stewed squash. That was a Thursday evening. On Saturday morning, his mother taught me "how to cook." She took out a big iron skillet, a tub of shortening, and a sack of corn meal. The vegetables from her garden were stacked on the counter. We prepared everything from fried green tomatoes to fried okra. That night, alongside the venison, we had freshly fried squash.
Red Okra | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
Preparing my red okra for frying was a
pleasant, non-sticky experience. 

While I loved stewed vegetables, especially with a little tomato and basil mixed in, the fried vegetables were also good. All but one. The okra she grew and I learned how to fry was green. When we sliced it up, a sticky, slimy goo emerged. Even breaded and fried to its golden crispy glory, I could not bring myself to eat the okra.

For years, I avoided okra. In the South, that's not an easy thing to do, especially during the summer and fall. Okra grows like dandelions around these parts and turns up often as a side dish, in salads, and in soups and stews.

But a couple of days ago, I was in one of my childhood mom's garden. She is the mother of one of my childhood friends; and when I was a child, you listened to and respected your friend's mom the same way you did your own. Our families spent a lot of time together in the 1970's and early 80's. But then my family moved away from New Jersey. As fate would have it, my friends parent's came to retire in the same small town in North Carolina I call home. My mom moved in with us and had an instant old friend. Recently, my childhood friend also moved to town with her kids. So, a couple of days ago, while all the kids were in school, moms and daughters got together for a lunch and shopping outing. At the end of our adventure, my other mom gave me that tour of her garden, which brings me back to my original story about okra.

Now, when she mentioned she had okra, I made a face. But she instantly replied to my pursed lips and scrunched up nose with, "Oh, it's red okra. I don't like the slimy kind. The red okra is not sticky. And it's delicious."

Red? Red okra? I walked over to the tall burgundy stalks and my other mom started picking the red okra pods. She then handed them to me and said, "We have plenty. Take these and try them."

Southern fried red okra | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
This delicious red okra never
made it to the dinner table. 
For supper that night, my son wanted me to heat up the fryer and make homemade chicken strips. I hesitated at first, because the chicken was still frozen and after shopping all day, I was planning to heat up leftovers for supper. But even at 16, my child can still melt my defenses. While the chicken was thawing, I thought, why not cook up that red okra?

So, I pulled out some corn meal, sliced up the red okra, and fried it in our deep fryer. As soon as it was cool enough to taste, I popped one in my mouth. WOW! It was delicious. By the time the chicken strips were done cooking, all the okra was gone.

For decades, I assumed there was only one kind of okra. Of that gooey, slimy kind, I am not a fan. But now that I know there is a red, delicious alternative, okra has been added to my list of things I do love about being Southern. And after over 30 years in the South, I am much more Southern than I am Northern. Just ask my cousins in New York.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
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Thursday, October 17, 2013

Travel Feet


It was an honor and privilege to have the opportunity to travel to Ecuador with a dear friend, recently. My senses were filled with new tastes, sights, aromas, and more. I did my best to make good use of my camera, capturing at least 1000 photos, 958 of which I did not delete. While we flew to Quito and rode in cars and even a train, my feet did lots of work as well. Since they were responsible for ensuring I got the most out of my trip, here is a synopsis of our travels from the perspective of my feet.
Equator in Ecuador South America | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My left foot is in the Southern Hemisphere,
and my right is in the Northern Hemisphere.
My shadow rests on the Equator! 

Papallacta Volcanic Hot Springs Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My feet had the opportunity to relax beyond
anything they'd ever imagined in the
volcanic hot springs in Papallacta.

Quito Bus Tour Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
On the bus tour of Quito, were these feet walked
the peak of El Panecillo for an up-close view of
the statue of the Virgin Mary and a panoramic
view of the city of Quito, Ecuador.

San Pablo Lake Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
After lots of walking at the market in
Otavalo, it was nice to relax lakeside
at San Pablo Lake.

Tren Tour of Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
On Friday, my feet settled in on the train for
a beautiful tour of the countryside of Ecuador.

Pacific Ocean Ecuador | Navigating Hectivity by Micki Bare
My left foot was the first part of my body to
experience the Pacific Ocean. The sand was
so soft and the water was warm and inviting.

Micki Bare, mother of three, wife, daughter & writer is the author of Thurston T. Turtle children's books. 
Email: mickibare (at) gmail.com
Connect with Micki on Google+
Like Thurston T. Turtle on Facebook
Follow Micki on Twitter: @TurtleAuthor
View Micki's pics on Instagram @mickibare