Monday, July 18, 2016

A Variation on Shrimp Tacos

I posted about Shrimp Tacos around this time last year but I've recently edited the recipe and like it much better.

The first recipe called for mangoes and they aren't all that easy to come by here.  They are expensive and I worry about all of the chemicals they've seen on their long journey.

Instead, I used peaches since it's high peach season and I can get them locally.

The original recipe also calls for so much butter I can't even write the amount.  I never made it with that much butter, even when I did it with mangoes.

So, here's the new and improved version.  This fed two people for supper  with a small amount left for lunch the next day.  The amount of shrimp left was really not worth bothering, so if you are feeding the masses, figure on doubling or tripling this recipe.  The salsa gets better with age, so plan to make more!

2 lbs of shrimp
2-3 peaches
bunch of cilantro
a medium onion- to your liking
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
2 limes
honey for drizzling
shredded cabbage- I used the bagged kind but you could shred
about a half a cabbage
cheese of your choice- I used jack because it's what I had
burrito wraps

Make the salsa first so the flavors can start blending:

Dice the peaches, onion and cilantro.  Add cumin, juice of both limes and sugar to your liking.  Depending on how much lime juice you get, you might need to adjust.

Cook the shrimp however you cook it.  I use nothing but the water I've rinsed them with.

When cooked, chop the shrimp and drizzle with a little honey.

On each burrito wrap, place some cabbage, shrimp, salsa and cheese.  Roll and eat.  So good but soooooo drippy and messy so  have lots of napkins handy!

Linking here:

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

The French Teacher Has Left the Building

As this school year ended, I was on pins and needles for a month waiting to find out if I had a new job.  I didn't blog during that time because I was so busy holding my breath and distracted by thoughts of what.was.I.doing changing things midstream???

The position of Assistant Director of Digital Learning and Library Services (it rolls right off the tongue, doesn't it?) became available and after a lot of thinking about it and people telling me I should apply, I decided to give it a shot.

Some of you just had to pick yourselves off the floor because this is the first you've read about it and I'm sorry for the shock.  I'm not sure I really know what I've gotten myself into either! 

Since I  only just started, sort of, I'm just explaining it as I understand it will be.  Basically, I will be teaching teachers new ideas in technology, making sure they are up to date with any new software (like gradebooks) that they have to use and helping them use technology smoothly in the classroom.
Clearly, not the French I've been teaching for 20 years.

When I moved to the 4/5 building 3 years ago, that was a move that I didn't initiate and it really threw me for a loop.  I was glad to have a job, glad to be in the same district and glad to be teaching the same subject.  But 4th and 5th graders are not middle schoolers, so it was a 3 year transition period for me.

I loved the kids, didn't love the old institutional feel of the building and wasn't in love with only having each class once a week.  I felt like I wasn't making connections with kids. The schedule was crazy and I repeated myself ALL.DAY.LONG because I had so many classes.

The kids I made the biggest connections with were those that I had in enrichment, which meant I had them in their regular French class plus one or two more classes.  I really need to see kids more than once a week to feel like I know who they are.

I have been teaching French since my first day as a professional teacher, and I figured I'd do it until I retire.  I was good at what I did in middle school and I loved seeing the progress.  It took me 3 years in the lower grades, but I started to  like the small progress I saw there too.

But oh, that progress was so tiny because of the lack of contact time I had with them!

The girl who had been in my new position this past year is someone I've worked with for a long time and I was thrilled for her that she got the job last fall.  I kept an eye on what she did all year and kept thinking "I could do that."  She's my age, so I knew she wouldn't retire before me, so I figured it would be something I could fantasize about when I was repeating myself for the umpteenth time this week.

And suddenly, she told me she wants to go back into the classroom, so she told me to apply.

I thought the idea was crazy because technology is something I embrace, though sometimes reluctantly, but do I have the skills to do what the position requires?

As time went on and the position was posted, two more people actually came to me and said I should apply.  I am not one to make rash decisions, and change is the last thing I seek in my life, but when THREE people came to my door and told me this is something I should pursue, I thought maybe I better get on it.

It's a total leap for me because I will not be a classroom teacher.  As in, no teacher's union.  For those of you who don't believe in unions, I have to say that on many occasions in my 2 decades of teaching, our union has put a stop to some very ugly things that were happening from above and it's been something that I have happily been a part of because of the support they've given me.

To be out on my own is very scary for me.  I actually had to sign a new contract!

So what will I do?  We have 6 schools in the district, so I will be in and out of all 6 of them.  I will have mandatory things that I have to make sure everyone knows how to use, but then I will also be available to see individual teachers or small groups to share some exciting new apps, new ways to use technology, help them figure out why something isn't working, etc.

I will also have to teach a grad course in the spring and summer, which is something that people have always looked forward to because it opens so many doors into the tech world and using tech in the classroom.  It was one of those tech grad courses that helped me learn how to blog and I also  found a French woman with whom I did penpals for years.

There's also a lot of mystery to what this job will entail.  Some of it is carved in stone and I will just fill in the blanks.  But, I can also start new endeavors and sort of take it where I want to go.  That kind of freedom and unknown is really scary for someone who has lived by the bell for 20 years as a teacher, but really, my entire life because I went right from being a student to being a teacher.

I have no idea how to not jump up every 50 minutes to welcome the next class.

I've also never spent any time in an office.  I was never a receptionist.  I've never made phone calls in front of people.  And my desk will practically be on top of the secretary in the tech office, so to say things will be tight and not private is an understatement.

I will be like a wild animal in a cage, I imagine.

But then there's the bright light of not really being tied to a desk because I will be all over the place.

It's 15 more days than my current teaching schedule but those 15 days are not determined for me.  So, I could work some days during a school vacation and take other days off when everyone is in school.  I can decide when to go in during the summer and count those days.

Remember all the time I spent in August getting ready for school?  Now those will be legit work days and I won't be sweating and swearing getting my classroom ready.

After all that work to get a cabinet in my room the first year I was in the lower grades, packing this year meant actually packing to leave.  Most teachers just put everything away for the summer.  I've always been good about having my system of where everything goes.

This year, I had to pack to leave but also figure out what is  mine and what is theirs. There are many things that were given to me or donated over the years.  Thankfully, I always labeled everything as the school's or mine so I could just go through and sort.

But that was a lot of sorting.

And I didn't find out for sure that this job would be mine until the  morning of the last day of school.  So, my packing was not quite as organized or as pleasant and I had hoped.  I thought I might know in early June and would start bringing things home early.  Since I didn't know that early, I didn't start bringing stuff home in the event that I was actually returning to my classroom.

No sense bringing everything home only to bring it all back in 2 months.

I brought several car loads home but on the afternoon of that last day, I really needed the dumptruck to bring home those final big things.  I didn't want to leave that giant bookcase that we just made last year.

And after all those years that I refused to spend money on my classroom, I actually caved and bought some things because that classroom had no storage the first year and I couldn't live out of rubbermaid tubs on the floor.

But, that also meant I had to completely rearrange my storage space upstairs in my house to fit all of this in.  I knew how I wanted to do it, but it was a matter of moving all kinds of things in my house, just as I was moving things out of  my classroom.

And that last week of school was pretty  hot.  And humid.  Not the kind of weather that inspires moving a muscle, let alone actual furniture.  In the hot upstairs of my house.

And to top it off, I was planning to go to my sister's for a few days the weekend after we got out, so everything had to be in place before I left since I literally put most of it on the lawn under a tent when I first got home!

I left a cabinet full of things for the replacement they get for my position.  I have a year leave of absence, so if this isn't the job of my dreams, I can go back, having lost just one year.  I assume they will get a French teacher to take over while I am running around sharing the joys of technology, so I left some things in my room.  I left posters on the walls and some paintings that I had collected that I have no use for or interest in.  I left all of the materials that were from the district in that cabinet.  And I left 3 years of memories that went by in a blur.

It was pretty weird to take this sign off the door, knowing it will not go back up in August.

I'm excited, curious and mostly unsure about what's coming.  The director of technology will be my boss and I've known him for a long time.  He's witnessed everything I've done with technology in my classes, so he knows what to expect.  The technology techs will also be in the office with me and I know them well because of the wildly insane things that my computers have done over the years requiring work orders.

People keep saying "oh, so you won't be a teacher anymore?"  All of my teacher friends reading this know, once a teacher, always a teacher in every.single.aspect of your life!  I will still teach, but my audience will be adults more than kids.  I certainly won't hesitate to work with kids and there will be times when I will be in a classroom and can help kids.

But I've always taught at the gym.  I can't help putting on my teacher hat at the barn when someone has a question.  When I used to do promotions for liquor, I would find myself giving long explanations of the product.  I even teach my plants in my garden who's boss.

So while my position has changed, I'm still a teacher.  You can take the teacher out of the classroom, but you can't take the teacher out of the teacher!

Thank goodness I know how to blog so I can tell you all about it!  I'm also on instagram as @thesassytechnologist where I plan to share all of my wildly juicy secrets about technology in the classroom!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Patriotic Quilt #1

K-ster's cousin recently graduated from college and is a commissioned lieutenant in the Marines.  I decided to make a patriotic quilt for her, but it took me a while to figure out what I wanted to do.  They sell fabric that has the Marines symbol on it and other military inspired logos but that didn't seem quite right.

It's not like she'll forget she's a Marine, so I don't need to make something so in your face.

Instead, I thought red, white and blue would be appropriate.

I've been wanting to make these stars for a while, so I thought this might be just the place.

I found all of these great fabrics really quickly at Joann, which is rare for me.  I  usually agonize over one or two forever and end up not completely thrilled.  These just fell into my hands and I still love them!

I made enough stars to make a whole separate quilt since they are just lap quilts, so I think I'll make one for myself.

I thought I loved this backing fabric but it has silver stars with glitter that are kind of rough.  I wouldn't use it again because it really would scratch your face if you rubbed it just right.

I quilted this one again with my wavy zigzag on an angle.  I think my walking foot might need to be replaced.  This wasn't a huge quilt but I broke 8 needles and finally realized that the foot is a little loose and the needle hit it a few times.  I don't know if all 8 broke for that reason but the last couple were definitely because of the foot.

I've ordered a new walking foot, so no more quilting until I get it.

I also bound this one slightly differently than before and I loved how it came out.  There was a great tutorial on that explained how to make a smooth join for the beginning and end.  usually, I just tuck them up and it's bulky but this made a smooth join that you can't see, so I will use that method again!

Linking here:  

Friday, July 8, 2016

The Zipper Virgin

In recent years, I've gone back to garment sewing thanks to my sister encouraging me to tackle knit fabrics with my serger.  The online garment designing community is amazing.  I don't know how anyone sewed anything back in the days when you just bought a paper pattern, cut out that terrible tissue and tried to translate the directions into something reasonable, without being able to contact the designer in the middle of the night with burning questions!

Maybe if you had actual sewing lessons, this method worked.  I learned by feel and intuition, so I struggled a lot with those old patterns and had no idea how to resize or tailor anything to me.  And didn't have the patience to go research it.

Back in those days, I had never heard of making muslins.  Muslins are your test attempt at making the pattern.  Usually, people use less expensive fabric since it will be possibly torn out a bunch of times if you have to redo or resize.

I always hope to have a wearable muslin.  I figure if I don't actually wear it, I'll give it to Good Will, so I don't do crazy things like using different fabrics for different pieces.  And I actually do all of the finish details too, so I'll know what I'm getting into when I make the real deal.

Knits are a breeze to make because they flex and shift and don't have to be all that precise.  It had been years since I had attempted to make anything out of another fabric but I gave it a whirl with the Cheyenne Tunic and had decent results.

On instagram, I saw people showing pictures of themselves testing a pattern for chino shorts.  Immediately, I knew I HAD to make these Chi Town Chinos from Alina Design Co.  In all of the pictures, the waist was exactly where I like mine and I knew if I could figure them out, I'd make a bunch.

In case you're wondering, the waist sits below my belly button.  Being very short waisted, this is the only place I like my shorts, pants and skirts to hit.  Otherwise, I could tuck them under my bra.

The day the pattern was released, I printed it and put it together and got to work with an old linen I had bought a hundred years ago.  I think I wanted to make a dress out of it, back when we liked to wear dresses that looked like couches.  I think that style is coming back, so I should hang onto the rest.  It's a fairly heavy linen so I figure it had enough body to work for the shorts.

I had never done a zip fly in anything before, so that was my biggest worry.  The pattern made it seem like the easiest thing to do and it was!  Sadly, I used a recycled zipper, since this was just a muslin, and didn't think about making a stop at the top.  In my thrilled state of actually having a functioning zipper, I put them on, pulled it right up and off came the pull right in my hand.

Not to be deterred, I tried to put it back on.  I recently repaired a dress for a friend whose zipper had come apart.  For her, it was the other end that was the problem and from the bottom, I was able to get the pull back on with total success.  I spent a lot of time trying to get this one back on but I failed.

Eventually, I cut out the teeth of the zipper and put in velcro.  You'd never know.  I got the velcro idea from a pair of pants that I bought at a discount store once that had velcro behind what looked like a real zipper flap.  I never knew if that was intentional or a replacement for a defective zipper.  I have since bought 2 pairs of shorts over time with the same velcro type closure.

I thought I'd make the pockets out of a lighter material since that's what I'd do on a real pair.  I'm glad I did because this fabric is much thinner and doesn't make the pocket bulky.  When I sewed the waist facing down, I somehow caught one of the pocket bags in it, completely bunched and twisted up in there and had to remove the stitching to get it out of there.  Be careful of that!

I worried about these slash pockets because they have facings.  This was one of those times in a pattern where I spent a ridiculous amount of time reading and rereading and turning the fabric and trying to imagine what it would look like.  I was sure I had it inside out.  This was the only point in the pattern when I thought I might be in over my head.

Once I trusted the pattern and did exactly what it said, I realized I had done it correctly and I didn't have to tear anything out.  That's how all of this pattern is.  It's very clear and when it tells you to do something, just as you're wondering if it means xyz, the next sentence clarifies!

I like back pockets in my shorts.  I don't care if they are welt pockets or with flaps.  I need something there as distraction!  I had a really hard time getting equal angles on the bottoms of the pockets, so might just do good old square corners on the next pair.  I won't bother with buttons on these even though they have button holes.  I usually end up leaving pockets flapping anyway.

The biggest issue I had was entirely my blindness.  The are two darts in the back.  I've done darts before, but I always winged it.  I did these as the directions said but somehow, I missed that little circle there with the 10.  I was supposed to make them that long.  I won't show you what I actually did because they look ridiculous and I was way too far in to fix it when I realized they were not right.

I never tuck in shirts in shorts, so no one will see unless I'm waiving my hands in the air like I just don't care.

And if I'm doing that, I won't care about how the darts look.

In case you're wondering, the dart is meant to go down into the pocket area.  I did about 2 inches of a dart so it does nothing that it's supposed to.  It's pretty half assed.

At this point, I'd like to point out that one of the things I've started doing when I sew is look at ready made clothes that I own.  I have several pairs of shorts in this style that I really like, so I got them out to see what the darts looked like on those.  This was when I realized I must have done something wrong because the darts in those shorts went much farther down than mine did.  If you have good quality clothes, you'll notice the details they used once you start doing them yourself and then you can do little cheers when you realize you're up to snuff with the likes of Ralph Lauren :)

This was also how I decided on the length of the shorts.  I looked at where my favorite shorts hit and then measured the inseam.

After I hemmed them, I realized that the shorts I used as my hem model actually go a little lower than I usually like, but I love the shorts so much I hadn't noticed.  My next pair will be slightly shorter.

I emailed Alina, because she said to ask any questions, about the the dart issue and she got right back to me.  I also asked her about the width of the legs.  These seem slightly big around the leg, which is usually the opposite for me!  I have a booty and big thighs for my size, so chino shorts can sometimes be almost snug.  She suggested maybe I should taper them on the next pair.  They are fine, but I think I would like them to be slightly narrower.

I don't know what to do with myself when I'm not constantly rearranging my shorts :)

So, I have to confess a little something.  Even though I've been around for 4 decades and I know all about the mean tricks that companies play on us with sizes, I am still very  much stuck on certain sizes for clothes.  I seriously will not even try on a size bigger than 4 in a store and if that doesn't fit, I decide it's not meant for me.  When I can wear a 0, 2 or 4 depending on the store, I just won't allow myself to go any higher.

I'm well aware at how stupid that thought is, but it's my thought, I own it and I'm ok with it.

So, when I measured myself for this pattern, I literally keeled over when it registered at a 10!  A 10?????  DOUBLE DIGITS?  The measurements for a 2 and even a 4 were way below what I probably could have worn even at my skinniest in high school.  This isn't a cut against Alina, it's just an illustration of the way sizes vary.

When sewing with knits, my sizes have always been around a 4 or small or whatever the smaller end of the scale is.  To suddenly jump up to the middle of the sizing on this pattern was so strange for me.  But, I knew there wasn't going to be any kind of give like with knits, so it was either go with the 10 or not do it at all.

I also had to take into account that I haven't ever made something just for the bottom.  My top is smaller than my bottom, and I've been making knit dresses and tops, so it would make sense that a size for my bottom half wouldn't match.

I'm not kidding when I say I debated this for a while.

After deciding that this did not mean I had suddenly gained enough weight to go up 3 sizes overnight, I went with it, kind of hoping they would be so big, I could laugh about that time I mismeasured and thought I was a 10.

Not laughing.  They actually fit.  There is the slightest possibility I could go down one size.  They are so comfortable as to make me think that wearing them all day might stretch them enough that the waist would be floating around.

And if my hands are in the air....  I probably wouldn't care about my open waist either.
And maybe the leg would be slightly.

And when I fold them next to my ready made shorts, they are the same size.  They are just a 2 digit size instead of the lesser end of the number line.  And since I don't put size tags in my clothes, I won't be constantly reminded of the size whenever I put them on!

I guess we could call these my big girl pants.

Overall, I love these shorts.  The details made it so much fun.  I'll never wear a belt but the belt loops are another one of those essentials for distraction that I want on my shorts.  I don't actually need a lot of shorts because I currently have some that I love, but I want to make sure I have some backups, so I am off to find some material.

I definitely don't want to use something too light.  When I first thought about them, I thought a light seersucker would be great but that would be ridiculous.  These shorts need structure.  I keep touching a pair I got at J.Jill that are the most amazing twill and I  know I will not find the likes of that at Joann fabrics.  But, I don't have the patience to search online and wait, so I will make another pair, possibly in an 8, out of something I find and then see what happens.

There's also a skirt option which I will make for sure.  I used to really dislike this style of skirt but I found one in my closet this spring that I wore a lot and like the way the waist sat, so I am pretty sure I need to make a few.  I'm already envisioning colors that I know don't exist so this will be an exhausting search for the rest of my summer.

If you've never put a zipper in pants, I suggest trying it.  It seriously want to make a bunch just so I can clap when I see the zipper placement!  It's far easier than any dresses I ever put zippers in.

Linking here: 

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Potato Salad, Endangered Birds, Sand Spiders and the Fat Bastard

The first 4th of July that k-ster and I were together, he had grand plans that we would take his truck camper out on the beach and spend the weekend there.  Because that is what he did summer weekends for his entire childhood.

I wasn't especially excited about this idea for a lot of reasons, but the major one I will point out is that there were thunderstorms predicted for the weekend.  Psssshhhht, he said.  We'll be fine.  If it rains, we'll go inside.

Have you ever been inside a truck camper?  Two people in a truck camper in the rain, on a beach, for a weekend;  it's a recipe for madness.

Reluctantly, I got everything ready.  And by everything, I mean I made potato salad with a lot of onions.

I was 22.  Apparently I thought that was high class beach food.

I can't remember bringing any other food or drink.  

So, off we went on a very sunny day, to spend 2 nights on the beach, enjoying the 4th with  whomever happened to show up at the beach.

I had been off roading at the beach a total of once before this and it wasn't really my thing.  Making your truck moan and groan up and down hills in thick sand doesn't really excite me, but the views are lovely and it's nice to be out there.  Sort of. So maybe it's worth it?

I'm not really a get-me-away-from-civilization kind of person.  I like convenient things like running water, electricity and bathrooms.  Yes, a truck camper can have all of that.

Except this one was older than both of us and really heavy on his truck.  Unlike today's campers which are made of fiberglass and weightlessness, that camper felt like it was made of concrete.

And it didn't have a working bathroom.

Surely I've mentioned somewhere on here that I have a bladder the size of a flea (as in, the size of a flea's bladder, not the size of the whole flea) and I HATE going to the bathroom in non bathrooms.  I'll do it, but it's not my choice.

So, we crawled up and down the hills to get out to the farthest point we could, which back in those days was about 30 minutes further than you can drive today thanks to erosion.  The whole way, the truck moaned and groaned (he'll say it didn't but I heard it whining) and I was sure the camper was going to just roll right off.

When we got to just the right spot, I of course, had to pee, so off into the dunes I went.

The dunes are not really as private as they appear, so basically, when you run up into them, it's like having a spotlight on you so the whole beach knows you are going to do something "secret" up in the dunes.  The choice is the dunes or the ocean.  And the water is cold enough that most people don't do a lot of casual swimming, so if someone's going in, it's likely they have to pee. 

There are no secrets on the beach.

I kept thinking: what have I gotten myself into????

Once we parked, k-ster had a plan to make a spot for our portable toilet outside the camper.  It involved digging a hole to set it in and tying up tarps for privacy.  This was way before they made those little pop up tents that people use for changing during triathlons and stuff.

As I sit here writing this, I feel like this story took place in the dark ages.  This was way before wifi was prevalent, I hadn't even thought of owning a cell phone, k-ster's phone was about one step up from a bag phone and people still did things like write letters and have patience for packages to arrive weeks after orders were placed.  On landlines.

But I digress.

So, with the help of some friends who had shown up, k-ster's friends who I didn't know, the outdoor bathroom was set up.  I had a flashing thought of "what if we have to leave in some sort of hurry?  We'll never get this all put away!"

This must have been about 2pm.  Still glorious weather, rolling surf, and me wondering what I was going to do on the beach for 2 days with a bunch of people I don't know.  I'm not a sun worshipper, the water was FRIGID and I didn't have a wetsuit back then, and really, I still wasn't thrilled about any of this.

But, at least I had a toilet to go in so I didn't have to brave the water or the dunes.

The onions in the potato salad in the refrigerator were starting to permeate everything.  And if there's anything gross when you're stuck in a camper of any size, it's the smell of from the refrigerator punctuating every breath you take.

It dawned on us that we hadn't brought drinking water, or if we had, it wasn't any kind of sufficient amount for 2 days, so k-ster must have used his newfangled cell phone to call people who were going to be coming out later.  He had one of those 5 gallon water jugs in his room and told someone to fill it.  I remember thinking it would be filthy because it had been sitting in his room and what guy is going to think about washing it out first.  I imagined we'd have dusty water that no one could drink.

Eventually, the water bearing friends arrived.  As they got fairly close to where we were parked, the passenger, whom I'll call Frank (no names except k-ster's are real, to protect these fools) hopped out of the truck.  And didn't close the door.  The driver, whom I'll call Pete, kept driving, and then, I'm still not sure why, he backed up, with the passenger side door open.  And promptly folded the door back against the truck as it hit a pole that had a sign warning that endangered birds were nesting nearby and to stay away.

I didn't know doors could do that.

I felt impending doom.

They managed to get the door going the right way and it closed, so on they came to continue setting up this camp that I kept thinking would never come down and get put away easily.

What if someone had an attack of appendicitis?  What if someone broke a limb?  We'd never get off this beach in time and we'd be driving off a corpse in the camper.

At some point, I must have gone in the water or took a walk or did something to occupy myself because time went by and night came.  And along with night, a lot more people arrived.

Including Ted and a separate group of people whose names I never learned.  I'm not even sure k-ster knew most of the people in that group.  Ted mentioned that he had a fuel tank that was leaking.  I wasn't impressed that he brought a leaky truck onto the beach, but he too had spent every summer weekend of his childhood on the beach with k-ster, so what did I know?

These boys were pros, right?

Time marched on, people came, potato salad may have been eaten but those onions were now stinking up everything within a 10 mile radius, the bottle of water was too big for me to manhandle myself to pour into a cup to drink, I was sandy, it was damp which is not fun when you're sandy, people were drinking and I was not, and I just kept thinking this had to be a dream.

And then the fireworks came out.

I think fireworks are one of the dumbest things ever.  To sit there and watch little bombs explode-- another rant for another day.

But fireworks in the hands of 20-somethings who have been drinking just pushes me over the edge.

K-ster assured me they'd do it away from us.  Because we had a propane tank and scuba tanks in there, both of which would go up like rockets.  Lighting them  near us would be ridiculous and if there's anything a group of drunk 20 year old boys isn't, it's ridiculous.

A few firecrackers were lit, the boys all cheered and oohed and ahhed and then the group of people who none of us really knew, hauled out the big boy.

Out came THE FAT BASTARD.  In my memory, this thing was round, like a slide carousel from old slide projectors, and FILLED with all sort of explosives.  I remember the leader of this rogue group being super excited about THE FAT BASTARD and it soon became the talk of the night.  They were all excited to light it off.

I must have heard the phrase THE FAT BASTARD 400 times.  This was before the Austin Powers movie involving the other FAT BASTARD but whenever I hear it, the firework is still the first thing I still about.

The time came, and they were far enough away from me that I wasn't worried it might kill me, but I figured it would cause such a ruckus, the beach police would come and escort us all off the beach, forever banned.

But first, they'd have to wait like 3 hours while we disassembled everything before they could escort our sorry butts off the beach.

THE FAT BASTARD was lit.  It sparked.  It spun.  It shot things out.  And then it somehow spun under a truck.  The truck driven by Ted.  Remember Ted?  He had the truck with the gas leak.  And THE FAT BASTARD was currently spinning under it.

The wreck and carnage I envisioned from the sparks from THE FAT BASTARD setting the gas leak on fire- it's indescribable.  I was really sure this was the end.  I can still picture what I imagined it would look like. 

When they came to get our bodies, I wondered, would they drive all the way out on the beach, or would they take a boat across the channel from the other side since it was quicker?

I think after a few more sparks, THE FAT BASTARD actually died out.  All I remember is that the truck didn't explode, no one was maimed and we didn't get thrown off the beach for recreating Hiroshima.

By now, it must have been around 10pm.  I was seriously over this whole weekend on the beach thing.  I was clammy, sandy, irritated, not drunk and fairly sure this would not be a regular thing for me.  I was thinking about how clammy I was going to be while I was sleeping.  And how I hate damp sheets.

Around this time, there might have been a small bonfire or a grill or something that gave heat and light because I remember sitting around something, shooting the breeze with a bunch of drunk people.   Pete told me a ridiculous story about how out at this beach, these sand spiders come out at night and they are really creepy.  No, those are crabs, I said.  I'm a local, I know these things.  He's from out of state, so he wouldn't know.

And then I saw them.  Actual spiders like daddy longlegs, running around on the beach.  K-ster said there is no way they were spiders.  But I know they were not crabs.  I saw them with my completely sober eyes.  I'd never seen them on a beach before, day or night, and I've never seen them again.

And then it started raining.

And then I  remembered that it was supposed to storm.  A lot.

And it really started raining, so I went into the camper.  I think those who didn't have campers might have started leaving at this point.  I was inside and dry, but still beach clammy and probably sandy.

And then I noticed the tide coming.  And coming.  And coming.  And way past the point when high tide was supposed to have come and gone, it was still coming.  And we had parked pretty far from the shoreline but I was seeing water outside the window, much closer than I was ok with.

Now I was certain I was going to be carried out to sea, in a camper that reeked of onions, with no bathroom, by myself.  Because k-ster and some of the guys were out digging a trench between the water and us.

Because surely, the raging ocean would not come past a manmade moat, right?

I kept thinking about leaving but I knew we had so much gear outside the truck, the storm would be over before we got it all inside.

And then it started thundering and lightning.  I was in a camper, on a truck with rubber tires, so I wasn't so worried.  Even though we were on a beach, with no trees or anything else for lightning to hit.  My brain said rubber tires will save us.

And then the door opened, and k-ster said "we're leaving".

I was so relieved I might have whooped with joy, but I couldn't imagine getting everything put away and then driving the 45 minutes off the beach before dawn.  And what had made him decide we should go?

Lightning bolts in two places at the same time.  Apparently, that's the final straw.  One bolt at a time?  No problem.  2?  All set thanks.

So, in driving rain, we set out to haul everything in.  Everything that had been staked down and tied to the truck.  Our outdoor bathroom.  Grills, chairs, everything beach related.  And somehow, Frank was still there,though his driver Pete had left in his truck, the passenger door buckled and broken.

With Herculean strength and speed I wouldn't have thought possible, we managed to pick it all up, throw it into the camper within minutes and the 3 of us hopped in the front seat.  I didn't know Frank from Adam, and we were so soaked and crammed in, but I didn't care.

That drive off the beach was agonizing.  I was excited to be leaving but it was so slow and laborious because of the camper and the stuff we had haphazardly tossed into the camper was shifting and banging around.  And the storm was still raging. 

And to get back to k-ster's house, which was about another 40 minutes away, we needed to put air back in the tires.  So, since it was now like 2am and he didn't want to chance the gas station air not being available, we pulled out the scuba tanks and filled his tires.  Except the scuba tanks were in the defunct bathroom which had a door.  Which was blocked by the myriad beach things we had thrown in to get out of Dodge. 

We got the tanks out and filled up.  I thought about the many stories k-ster had told me about going to the beach for the weekend as a kid and how much fun it was.  Because he was a kid.  He didn't have to be the adult, making decisions about what to bring, when to leave, what to do.

I never slept that night at the beach, or any other night and I'm not disappointed.   The camper is long gone, the truck has been replaced with a newer model, the beach is fairly inaccessible for weeks of summer due to the birds and the kids that k-ster spent all of those weekends with are now adults who are fed up with the birds, don't have campers and have mostly stopped going.   

I'm OK with never sleeping on a beach.  I have a legend in my memory that will never be forgotten and whenever someone mentions THE FAT BASTARD, I smell potato salad with onions.