by Valerie Nusbaum

The Best Laid Plans

I’ve always been a planner.  That’s my nature. I make lists for everything and organize my life and projects down to the minute details.  If I’m hosting a party or an event, the plans begin months in advance and I prepare lists of guests, food, activities, and incidentals, along with a timeline telling me when I need to do all these things. People have frequently referred to me as anal, and I’ve taken it as a compliment. At least, this is the way I used to be.

Life has had other plans for me. Over the last decade or so, I couldn’t begin to list the number of things I’ve had to change, cancel, or reschedule. Trips have been canceled, concert tickets sold or unused, and lunches and dinners with friends are always subject to change. Even the weather is a factor in whether or not my plans come to fruition.

If you assume that flexibility and spontaneity (I had to look up the spelling) don’t come easily to me, you’re correct. I struggle with this issue daily, but I’m getting better at it because I know now that I can’t plan for much of anything; if I want to have any kind of fun, I have to grab it when and where I can.

Randy is also a planner and a list maker, but he’s always been more likely to say “yes” to a last-minute invitation or to roll with a change of plans. This might be, in part, because when we travel, he only takes one small piece of luggage containing a change of clothes and an extra pair of underwear, while I have to remember medicines, lotions for every body part, and enough makeup and hair products, as well as wardrobe options, for at least five kinds of weather.

 When I plan a dinner or a party, I make a list of things for Randy to do so he doesn’t have to think about it. To his credit, if I give that man a list of chores, he will run with it. I learned early on though, that I need to be specific. I can’t just say “peel potatoes” because I’ll return to the kitchen to find an entire 10-pound bag of potatoes peeled and waiting for me. I need to say “peel six potatoes, each the size of half your closed fist.” I use the fist reference because I know Randy has his fist with him and he won’t have to wander off looking for a softball and forget about the potatoes.

The mister and I love a good road trip, but lately, we’ve had to content ourselves with taking short ones.  There are so many local sights to see that we haven’t really missed those long drives and all the roadside attractions we’ve so enjoyed over the years. For example, we visited The Lion Pottery outside of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Admit it. You’ve seen all the little signs along Rt. 15 north, and you’ve wondered about the place selling mugs and fruit.  You should go and see for yourself.  There’s a similar set of signs along Rt. 32, heading toward Annapolis, advertising Jenny’s Market. Yep, we investigated that, too. Another day, we saw the signs and had to go to Mr. Ed’s Elephant Museum and Candy Emporium. It’s worth the trip, if only to see the elephant graveyard. Steve told us about a wonderful food truck in Littlestown, Pennsylvania. The truck is called “Melted” and features grilled cheese sandwiches in several iterations.  The food is delicious and reasonably priced, so you’re welcome.

Most recently, Randy and I took a semi-spontaneous quick trip to Ocean City, Maryland. I’d been invited to apply for a space in the O.C. Art League’s Arts Day event, and when I was accepted, Randy insisted that we go. This quick trip did involve quite a bit of planning because I had to send in a space fee in advance, we had to make a hotel reservation, and my brother needed to get a plane ticket and fly in from Montana to stay with our mother while I was away. We worried and agonized that the weather would be nasty since we’d be at an outdoor event. My brother texted me that his flight might be delayed because of storms outside Denver. So many things could have gone wrong, but for once, it all came together and we lucked out. The weather at the beach was gorgeous—unseasonably so for early June—and the event went well. My brother and our mom had a nice visit. 

It was a quick working trip, but Randy and I enjoyed ourselves and will store that one in our memory book. We both needed a few days away from the daily grind. On the way home, we spontaneously decided to stop at a restaurant on the Bay and get some steamed crabs to bring home. We stopped by Mom’s, and the men picked crabs until they couldn’t eat anymore.  Randy and I finished picking the crabs and made nine huge crab cakes which we enjoyed for several days. It was a lot of work but well worth the effort. And since the restaurant had given us extra crabs, we saved a bunch of money.

Sometimes things work out and sometimes they don’t. Our plan is to keep trying.

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