God Bless the Bloated Road

It’s not often a person can brag they went around the world in a month, but here we are.

It wasn’t just me, but my entire family that went on this journey and we never left our kitchens.

I left December a few pounds heavier after the culinary road trip that took us to Germany, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and of course, the deep south.

Every year at Christmas my family picks a food theme that will cleanse our collective palates of turkey.

This year we chose Mexican food, and my Mom’s house was full of tacos, enchiladas, guacamole, queso, enchiritos and sweets – all homemade. We are amazing when we travel together, and even moreso when we cook together.

Nobody messed up, and there will be nobody to bring paper goods to the next event, so we’ll probably travel to the Sandwich Islands next year.

A week later, the culinary adventure continued in South Carolina when my daughter (who is not Italian, that I know of) greeted us the first night there with her homemade spaghetti. The next night they took us to Brazil with some great steaks, then off to Germany when my son-in-law made Schnitzel.

When it was my turn for the trip’s itinerary, I chose our roots.

This means I went all the way to the redneck branch of the family that likes to sit on the porch with our crazy and a mason jar full of … homemade (of course) beverages.

That’s right, my leg of the trip wasn’t to a glamorous place, unless you consider banjos elegant dinner music. I took us to the woods where Spam and potatoes are fried together openly and with no shame whatsoever.

And it was good, as long as you don’t consider my husband’s opinion about Spam and the people who eat it.

We ran out of year before he could take us to his country where the food is brown and vegetables that aren’t spelled p-o-t-a-t-o are not on the menu.

It just occured to me what I really got for Christmas. Pounds – delicious ones and a lot of them. And I have just enough time to get into shape before our next trip.

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And now, a word about Freak Flags

I was walking the dogs in our neighborhood Sunday afternoon when I came across something that snapped me out of a weekend coma.

I’ve run into a lot of things on the walks over the years that startled me – dogs in strollers and bicycle baskets, men mowing their yards in speedos – but nothing as amazing as this:

As I passed a driveway a few blocks into the walk, I noticed the garage door was open. Then I noticed a woman kicked back in a recliner and reading a magazine …  in the garage. The garage also held her Buick and – this is an important detail –  was carpeted in leopard print.

I thought to myself, “This is no accident. This is on purpose.”

This, I assume, is her well-thought-out and self-proclaimed ‘happy place,’  where she is free to fly her freak flag.

And everyone has – and should have – a freak flag. Actually, I think we all have several.



Not everyone, however, flies them for everyone to see.

Freak flags are not necessarily bad things. Some don’t care who sees theirs while others care deeply. A fear of being judged is most likely at play here, and based on how judgemental I believe our society is becoming, probably rightfully so.

So to be oneself and “fly that freak flag” may be an act of courage, if you really think about it.

But I think we all have them, simply because I believe a freak flag is something that makes you uniquely happy, even if other people may thinks it’s weird.

Since I’m feeling brave, I’ll admit one of my particular freak flags is car dancing and, of course, singing. But many of you already knew that, especially if you pass me on the road.

It makes me uniquely happy to perform an entire concert in my car, complete with choreography. This horrifies my sweet husband, who tells me often I listen to my music entirely too loud. And, I’m going to hurt the dog’s ears, he is sure of that. He also doesn’t appreciate my singing voice as much as a loving husband should.

Also, I love Spam … the meat product not unwanted emails.

Still, I don’t deny myself something that hurts no one and makes me so happy. So while the Bobby would never join me in my freakiness, he tolerates it like a reluctant champion.

I hope I see the magazine-reading woman with the warrior’s heart as long as the weather holds out. It gives me hope that people aren’t afraid to be themselves in a world that tells us we shouldn’t chance it.

So, what’s your freak flag? And where do you fly it?

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