Milk, glorious milk

Remember the days when the milk man left a crate of freshly bottled milk at your door step? Course you don’t. If you do, then you’re the most computer-savvy resident in your nursing home.

Anyway, back to the ye olde days of milk delivery. Martin and I are ‘that’ close to re-living days gone by. We’ve got the farm fresh milk in heavy glass bottles. Just haven’t worked out that doorstep delivery yet.

And it’s not just milk. It’s Chocolate Milk. Martin got me hooked a while ago.

There’s an orchard/farm stand not far from us that sells local produce, along with milk, cheese, butter, etc from a creamery just over the state line. And one summer day, while picking up corn and peaches, Martin snagged a bottle of chocolate milk as well.

Now, I’m not a chocoholic. I’m a vanilla ice cream person. I don’t groove on Hershey’s syrup or Ovaltine or any of those things. But Martin kept pushing this stuff. So I tried it. And got hooked. Big time.

I’m mean, this stuff is amazing. Like creamy, dreamy, milky perfection with a healthy hint of chocolate that just makes you feel….complete. Guaranteed, one taste of this stuff and you will NEVER drink store bought choc milk again. Once, in a moment of desperation I tried, and it was a vile, palate-scarring experience.

So instantly, life went from, “hmm, that milk’s not bad,” to “you forgot my chocolate milk?? Quick! Go back and get it!”

What do they say about addiction? “Do you crave a drink every day? Do you drink alone? Do you drink to forget your problems?”

Um, YES! But my fix is of the chocolate persuasion. I’m itching just thinking about it.

And pretty soon we weren’t just stocking chocolate milk. Bottles were multiplying in the fridge. Red top for whole, blue top for 2%. And the brown top? Well, that goes without saying.

The fridge was getting pretty crowded. Because the kids plow through the cow juice. And I sure as hell wasn’t giving them MY milk. They were getting the plastic jug, store-bought milk from your average hormone-enhanced, pesticide-treated-grass consuming cows. Why waste top-shelf stuff on them?

Replenishing the supply was a no-brainer until winter when the farm stand shuttered for the season. I was distraught.

“You need milk this winter?” one of the orchard workers asked as I clutched a bottle to my chest. “Write your phone number of this scrap of paper.”

A couple of weeks later I got a call from the orchard owner. The directions were simple.

“The milk comes to the orchard at 3 am Tuesdays. Come anytime til 7 p.m. There’s a chain across the entrance so you need to drive in the back. The building looks closed but the red door is unlocked. If you come at night, bring a flashlight. Get what you need out of the fridge. Leave the money in an envelope.”

I relayed the pickup instructions to Martin, my mule.

martin: “Are you kidding me? It’s like we’re buying milk from the mob!”

me: “Just get my stuff and don’t forget, okay?”

And that’s been the drill every Tuesday since November. Only I make the milk run myself. In all the weeks I’ve gone, only once have I seen another customer. Some lady pulled in behind me while I was loading my crate. No words were spoken. We just nodded to one another.

She could have been getting farm-fresh butter. Or eggs. Even half n’ half.

But I’ve seen that semi-crazed look before. I’d bet money she was getting her chocolate fix.

Liquid gold: perfection in a glass.

Ski Report

Amazing! We survived the slopes of Utah without breaking any bones or losing any children. Permanently, that is.

I think that everyone had fun, though it’s hard to gauge impressions from the 3 dependents on this adventure. One can’t say anything, one can’t remember anything, and the other answers “yea” to most questions (as in: Cayden, did you like skiing? “Yea!” Did you wash your hands? “Yea!” Do you want to eat poop for dinner? “Yea!”)

So who really knows. But Mom, Martin and I had a good time. Ski conditions were primo, Alta has tons of slopes, it wasn’t too crowded. Or frigid. Or icy. The hotel was pleasant in a homey sort of way. Good food. Kids traveled well. They stow nicely under the seat in front of you or in the overhead compartment.

Highlights from the trip: skiing back-country slopes against craggy rock faces; racing each other down the mt; watching gray, snow-packed clouds roll in; feasting on big breakfasts; and witnessing Martin’s instant transformation from beginner to savvy skier.

Actually that last one isn’t a highlight. It’s downright irksome. And it violates the natural law of skiing. Normal people perch nervously at the top of a slushy run the length of a suburban driveway, then inch their way down in snow-plow fashion. That’s just what they do. A college room mate (and most excellent skier) called these people “Spores”*. (see below).

That should have been Martin, with his next-to-nothing experience, back in 8th grade, at a rinky-dink ski resort in western Md.

But we plunked him on equipment at the top of the mt, and swoosh, off he went. Skis hugging one another together, cutting evenly through the snow. By day two, he was tackling black diamond slopes. So irritating!

Behold, the evidence. “hmm, don’t see what’s so hard about this skiing thing…

I will say this, however: skiing in powder stumped him. Once in powder, that natural style was replaced with that herky-jerky, what-are-these-waxed-sticks-doing-on-my-feet movement. He wiped out in yard sale** fashion.

Martin also suffered from acrophobia on the lifts. He was okay the first few days, but two incidents fostered his fear. One, when he told me he was getting spooked dangling in a chair up in the air, I felt this sudden urge to push him off to see what would happen.

And I told him that. Frequently.

Secondly, in one of his many dementia flare-ups, Dad failed to get himself on the chair lift. As it rolled along, he flailed around before falling off…

…taking Martin with him.

They only fell about 8 feet and the operator stopped the lift, dug them out of the snow and got them back on. But still, it freaked Martin out. (Dad promptly forgot.)

My father was a wild card the whole trip. Mom must have said “Peter, come on” or “no Peter, this way!” about 80 times a day. He skied just fine, but stalled out when the time came to get on a lift. Sometimes he forgot to get off as well. He lost a ski here and there, and did his gosh-darn best to lose himself on the mountain, despite being guided and monitored by a leader/follower combo.

Then he’d yell at us when we tried to give him directions…which made me want to lose him a few times.

We wrapped up each day on a lighter note: springing the kids from daycare and shuttling them back to our hotel. Transport options consisted of a local bus or ski tow-ropes. Too impatient to wait for a bus, we skied along the tow lines and piled the kids on this boogie board-type thing. It took a few runs to work out the kinks — we lost them a couple of times when the tow line got taut (like “crack the whip,” for any who remember that game). They tumbled off the board like trash from a truck, rolling over and over until they finally stopped, clumped together on the snow. But they figured it out.

Bottom line, I’d go back to Alta. But I’d take the advice offered by two veterans of the hotel: pack a hip flask. That place is a police state in the booze department!

*”Spore” is an acronym for “stupid people on rental equipment.” Admittedly, I’m probably Spore-like on occasion.

**”yard sale,” to fall down leaving a trail of gear behind you.

On Holiday

The last few weeks — looking for work, holding down the fort here — have been exhausting. All the TV I’ve had to watch and the nachos and pop tarts I’ve had to eat. It was just too much. A break was in order.

So with plane ticket in hand, we’re swapping frigid mid-atlantic weather for more of winter — but at least we’ll see the fluffy stuff. The whole fam-damily is voyaging to a land far far away. A little-known mountain country, accessible by plane or donkey. The locals fondly call their exotic nation: Utah. Others call it “the Mormon State or “the where can you get a drink around here?” state.

I’m not sure our journey can be classified as a vacation. Does a ski trip accompanied by two toddlers, my stressed-out mom, and my dad with advanced dementia, meet the definition of vacation? We shall see.

They’re laughing on the inside, trust me.

To my loyal readers — all 4 of you — I promise to return with a suitcase full of stories. Toddlers and diapers, dementia and ski lifts. Hilarity ensues.

Have a happy week, all. Enjoy February’s last nicotine-racked breaths. (I guarantee that February inhales.)