Katniss Everdeen has nothing on us…except for a little extra accuracy in her archery skills. We joined the growing ranks of Hunger Game wannabes and tried out archery. And this time we took an extra on our outing – my 15 year old son Will. It was a good and bad choice to take Will. Good in the sense that he had fun and took to it right away. Bad in the sense that he was good and therefore made me look even worse. Will and Erin got to keep moving their target back; I, on the other hand, had to wait a little while to improve my skills up close.
Even with my lack of skill, this was a fun “We Never.” Our instructor did scare us a bit, warning us of the possibility of ramming the arrow in our partner as we pulled them out of the target or burning our arms if we rubbed the string too close. Neither of these happened and if we had had the time, I would have shot all day.
Erin and I drove to Balboa Island (the cutest island around) to try out Seaweed Sok, the only pure seaweed bathhouse in the U.S. We each had our own batch of seaweed, which had been flown in from Ireland where it has been harvested for over 100 years. Apparently, this is the best seaweed around – full of nutrients and great for your skin. My skin did feel smoother after soaking among the slimy leaves and finally emerging from the fishy smelling bath. I wouldn’t rush back to do this again but the owner was incredibly welcoming and we did get to bring home our seaweed – now being used to help Erin’s husband’s roses grow.
This “We Never, ” which turned out to be a surprise. We drove to a house with bars on the windows but when we walked around to the back, we opened a door to reveal a spectacular fully-stocked bar. The guy who gave the class loved what he did and knew his stuff. He was all about real drinks. Forget the fu-fu stuff and guessing how much of each ingredient to mix into a drink. We learned to make drinks with precision and with an appreciation for combining flavors. The four-hour class was also a walk through alcohol history: pre-prohibition v. post-prohibition drinking, historically wealthy v. poor man drinks, and the increasing loss of the science of drinking. The 8 of us sitting at the bar each had a hand at making a drink and then of course we all imbibed, passing around each concoction. What a fun way to spend 4 hours. Cheers!
It doesn’t get better than this – at least in the world of jam-making. We picked the fruit in Erin’s backyard, added some sugar, lemon, and fresh-squeezed orange juice. It was about as homemade as anything I’ve done before. Making it even better, we had two other of our favorite people in the kitchen helping us out. If you put together four fun people, the “work” involved doesn’t seem like work at all. Chopping, straining, stirring goes by faster when you’re chatting and laughing. And at the end, voila, orange marmalade. Erin’s husband, Geoff (who has a British mom), gave it a thumbs-up. I wasn’t quite so generous. Next time, we won’t cook it as long and we’ll put in a little less rind to reduce the bitterness.
Yes, I appreciate that we have already made jam so this is not THAT exciting. But different from jam, we actually picked and cleaned and peeled this fruit. It came from the orange tree in our yard. The long and short of it is that we are too conservative and once again over-cooked our jam/jelly. We are just too worried about our natural pectin and the spoon test does not seem to work for us. So we are going to make another batch and jar it 10 minutes before we think it is ready. It tasted pretty good but was just a bit too think. Live and learn!
Eating in the dark is liberating. You can leave your elbows on the table, eat with your hands and lick your fingers. And I engaged in all those uncouth behaviors when we ate at Opaque, a restaurant that is completely dark and has sight-impaired waiters. I enjoyed our experience but wouldn’t necessarily do it again unless someone out there wants company so that they can try it. We brought our husbands on this “We Never” and mine didn’t like it at all.
It did take some getting used to. We arrived and placed our order in a lit room. Then when they were ready for us, we linked hands and were led through a small series of winding panels – I assume so that the room we were about to enter would have no light from the outside. After we were seated, it took me awhile to get over a strangely claustrophobic feeling, a feeling my husband never really overcame. Also, the room seemed so loud. Conversations at other tables, I’m sure no louder than any other restaurant, were annoyingly amplified.
The point was well-taken — strip yourself of one sense and the others grow stronger, even in that short experimental period of time. Sounds, flavor, feel all had to be and were heightened to enjoy the dinner. The biggest take-away though was a true appreciation for the ability to see and how tough it is for those who don’t.
What a fun week! Lisa and I and our husbands went to a restaurant called Opaque – where all the wait staff is blind and you eat in the dark. Yup, total darkness. We are guided in by our waiter and she shows us our seats (by taking our hand and putting it on the back of a chair). We then sit down and it is dark. Not night time dark – pitch black “I can’t see my hand an inch in front of me” dark. I had a few observations. First, you definitely are more attuned to the smell and taste of your food when you can’t see it. I noticed first that I could smell my cold salad! Secondly (not news), people talk louder when they can’t see. Imagine what that meant for me – I feel so sorry for my dinner guests! And finally, like many things out of your comfort zone, some people are bothered by it and some are not. It did not bother me in the least – I found it fun and liked that I could yawn without covering my mouth all night – even in the middle of someones’ story! Lisa apparently had her elbows on the table all night. I ate with my fingers – why bother with a fork or knife (could end up cutting off my own finger after all). But I have spoken to others who said people left their restaurant during dinner – they just did not like it. Do I feel grateful for my sight? Of course. Do I feel grateful for such a interesting night out with good friends? Yes to that one too.
Muay Thai – I just liked the sound of this We Never. If nothing else, I thought we’d feel tough for one hour while we learned a form of mixed martial arts. Not only were we the only women in the class, we were also the only humans over 25. So needless to say, we were a bit out of our element. But that’s ok – it’s what We Never is all about. We started with our warm-up, running around a mat and jumping rope for longer and faster than I have since grade school. Then Erin and I moved on to taking each other down. Holding a large pad, we took turns taking shots at each other with punches and kicks. As is typical of these sorts of We Never’s, we had a hard time taking each other seriously. We may not have learned much to protect ourselves but the laughter will have added years to our lives.
Imagine what Lisa and I looked like on a random Wednesday night when we showed up for a local kick boxing class and the other 8 classmates were boys from the age of 13-23. One even played t-ball with Lisa’s daughter when she was 5! The second surprise was that the warm-up was the hardest part of the darn night! Laps, weight lifting, jump roping… and no boxing gloves yet! But when it all played out, it was fun! We kicked, punched and blocked. We fought off phantom attackers in a phantom parking lots. And for 60 minutes, felt like part of a secret society – truly part of a boys’ club!
We have been made fun of for this one. Whatever the specific rag, they all had to do with us being old and boring. But if you’ve never played bridge before, I don’t want to hear from you. Bridge is actually a fun game with a lot of strategy. If you’re ready to enter your 50’s like me and your memory isn’t great, it becomes especially difficult. You can’t pick It up in a day or even a string of days – so we took a weekly course for 6 weeks. Unfortunately, none of our other friends has ever suggested getting together for a bridge game so we may have to put off the serious playing for another 20 or so years.