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Mrs. Sundberg's Recipe Collection - 12 tried-and-true--one for each month of the year--featuring an introduction and tips from Mrs. Sundberg herself

A Real Gem

July 9, 2007

Listened to the show Saturday and it was not bad. I rather like repeat shows. Gives me a chance to gather what I may have missed, and oftentimes it's a real gem. Seems things get out of hand in a life with a husband who flies away for days on end, whose dry cleaning bill is right up there and who calls now and then to request a fax, and three children with questions up the wazoo and missing socks, and needs for protein and rides to a friend's house. It gets a bit wild, yes, and when things get wild, it's time to take a break.

So Mr. Sundberg and I are going on vacation this week — leaving the kids with my mother in Owatonna — and all the preparations have made a kind of chaos only a vacation can create. Because Mr. Sundberg couldn't take off work until Wednesday, the day we leave, travel preparations have been pretty much my thing. Plane tickets and tour plans, hotel reservations and passports, and a rather impressive shopping list beginning with Dramamine and ending with Tums. Oh, and a roll of quarters for laundry. I sure would like a glass of wine and a hammock about now.

At the moment, though, there are three suitcases to fill (those are just for the kids) and drop off times to coordinate and questions to answer. "How long will you be gone?" "What if we get bored?" "Why do you have to go?"

Well, now, I tell them, I wouldn't say ten days is all that long, and boredom is all about how you look at things, and you won't get bored if you choose not to. And we don't HAVE to go; we WANT to go. Just because we're grown up doesn't mean we don't have needs. They're just different, and a big one of mine is to find a town somewhere where no one knows me and put on my sundress and walk barefoot along the pier and wave to people on ships and eat some fish and some pastry and maybe even something I've never eaten before. I need to hear another language and buy something you can't find anywhere else in the world, and see how the sun sets from even farther east. I need to fly above the clouds a while and stare at the ceiling of a church older than any building I've ever seen, and smell flowers that grow in another climate and try to figure out just what species of bird that is floating out there on the waves. I need no telephones and no neighbors with sacks of vegetables from their gardens which I love but certain people just won't eat. I need to look out a window on a landscape I've never seen, and I need to hear what night sounds like in a place far, far away.

The kids look at me as if I've lost my marbles. What? I ask them.

"Will you miss us?" they ask. Oh, my. I let out a big long sigh. Of course I will miss you, I tell them. I already do. And let me tell you a secret. It will be a nice break for us, but the wonderful thing is how our vacation is really a ten-day journey back to you. Now go get your toothbrushes.

Sure, I'll count the days. Maybe not the first two or three, but I'll be counting. Nothing quite like finding, again, the people you love.

This is about the simplest, most delicious salad you can throw together in ten minutes.

Ten Minute Taco Salad

1 lb lamb, fried and drained and seasoned with taco seasoning
1 head lettuce, chopped
4 green onions, chopped (optional)
2 chopped tomatoes (optional)
1 can dark red kidney beans
8 oz grated cheddar cheese
16 oz Kraft Creamy Italian Light dressing (if you can't find it, keep's out there)
Layer, beginning with meat, ending with dressing.
Crush Doritos over and serve.


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