Tuesday, June 30, 2009

I'm BA-ACK.....!

Hello, my friends!!

I'm down from the mountain and happy to report there were no bears in our vehicles this time. Of course, I'll be catching you up on what did happen but we had a fantastic time. This morning though, Bo goes in to get her wisdom teeth out so I'll be nursing her back to health for a day or two and then plowing in again and dropping over to your places. Can't wait to catch up with you all!! :-)

With Love,


Monday, June 29, 2009

The Ice-Cream Man Cometh (Summer Rerun!)

It will be 98 degrees in Fresno by Monday. Two days ago it was 68. Welcome to much of California.

The beach areas and some far northern locations are usually spared. The rest of us just pray for death. Summer tends to come unexpectedly and with a vengeance. I don't know WHY we don't expect it. It happens every year. But each season we optimistically anticipate mild temperatures while failing to remember this pertinent fact: volcanoes will not erupt in our vicinity because they can't take the heat. Occasionally some outsider will make the comment that at least it's a "dry heat." Yeah, well, so is a blow torch but I'm not volunteering to stand in front of one.

And with the searing weather will come the ice cream man. This will not be the ice cream man of my youth. Gone is the fellow with the friendly, toothy smile and white Garrison cap perched at a jaunty angle on his head. Gone is the alluring truck with lovely decals advertising enticing frozen concoctions. Gone is the perfect ice cream treat that when unwrapped, looked exactly like the picture promised it would.

I think Stephen King designed the ice cream truck and driver that now prowls the city streets of California.

It would seem apparent the legislature passed a bill requiring all said trucks to be in a demolition derby before hitting the road. This should be followed by a "Thelma and Louise" style vault over and into a canyon.

When the truck body is appropriately mangled, it must be abandoned, in the rain, for at least a year. This will create the rust and dirt needed to create the "war-zone chic" effect. The decals will have been applied on the assembly line so they are now barely visible and scuffed beyond recognition.

The music blasted from the truck as it travels through your neighborhood will be as damaging to your nerves as electrocution, but far slower. It will warble and dip so as to never hit its proper pitch, even by accident, and won't pause even when parked. And the truck will not visit your area once a day but will be on a continuous merry-go-round loop passing by at least 400 times.

Should you be a thrill seeker and, horror-of-horrors, let your kids approach and buy something, you will be most fortunate indeed if your ice-cream has retained its original shape and/or coatings. More likely it will look like a science project comparing the ice-age effects against global warming; continuous freeze vs. melt and thaw.

You will also discover the ice-cream man comes in, primarily, two frightening flavors.

The first will be an ex New York City cab driver. He will hate you for trying to do business with him but you will only know this by his contorted angry countenance and volume of voice. You will never understand a word he says and when you order a Missle Pop you will receive a Drumstick. You are not allowed to protest or he will run over you. Sometimes he will have a wife sitting in the back of the truck to retrieve the items he barks out. Hopefully, she will be unchained.

The second flavor will be the reason my children will require future therapy for trauma and are never allowed to make purchases from the rolling danger wagon. They were taught when they were little to run back inside if they heard the music because I didn't even want the driver to know children lived here.

It was a friend who informed me about this type years ago. Her brother was released from prison and got a job driving an ice-cream truck. He said lots of ex-felons did this. And many of them were sex-offenders. Her brother had done time for drug charges. That was concerning to me considering he hadn't overcome his problem. But sex-offenders, including rapists and child-molesters, are allowed to drive ice-cream trucks where would-be victims come running to them. If you find this hard to believe go here. The A.C.L.U. is all for it. Apparently, they don't have children. Or brains. For a complete list of things to be terrified of with your local ice cream driver, go to "Do You Really Know Your Ice Cream Truck Man?"

Why can't we get this guy?

Or this truck?

Or this one run by a whole family, even their children, in Grand Forks, North Dakota?

Not on my street, I can tell you. I want little children hanging out of windowed ice cream trucks happily advising would-be customers. I want to believe in happiness and families working together for the common good. Maybe they even homeschool and have little desks set up in there. Can't I believe that if I want to? Can't they come to my neighborhood?

All of this occurred to me as I dropped into my friend's blog this morning. She takes interesting shots of life around New York City and you can see my inspiration here at her blog called "On The m104." She took a picture of an oncoming ice cream truck. I knew by the shiny chrome grill on the front and sheer gleaming cleanliness it exuded, our worlds had nothing in common.

So bring on the heat California. You're going to anyway. And when the urge to soothe my fevered brow seems to be provided by the creamy goodness of icy decadence, you will find me roaming the aisles of the frozen food section at Whole Foods looking for my fix. If the ice cream man comes prowling into the neighborhood, we'll be locked in the house, thank you very much.

Disclaimer: My sincere apologies to any ice cream truck driver reading this who drives in California and whose person and truck do not fit this description. You have my utmost appreciation and gratitude. Please come to Fresno. We might erect a statue in your honor.

(I have a long history with ice cream issues. If you'd like to read about about my childhood waywardness, you can go here.)

Copyright 2009

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life on the Farm AIN'T Kinda Laid Back (Summer Rerun!)

Well, life on the farm is kinda laid back,
Ain't much an ol' country boy like me can't hack,
It's early to rise, early in the sack,
Thank God I'm a country boy.

Well, a simple kinda life never did me no harm,
A raisin' me a family and working on the farm,
My days are all filled with an easy country charm,
Thank God I'm a country boy.

When John Denver penned these now famous words to his song "Country Boy" he had, apparently, never spent time out at my mother's place.

She and my step-father live in the country. They moved there when they married. I was nineteen and on my own for years. This was their exclusive hideaway. They intended it to be just the two of them and a variety of animals for food and companionship. And they achieved their goal. It just wasn't exactly from the pages of "Country Living" magazine.

I started thinking about it when I saw two dead opossums on the road this morning. 'Possums and city life don't mix well but two is a lot in one day. I wondered if they were escaping my mom's place.

Critters come and critters go and my mother has never been incredibly sentimental about separation. In the fifteen years I lived at home we moved fourteen times. Animals came and went as the wind blew. If they were a problem, they were gone. If we couldn't have them at the next place, they moved on and so did we. She was well suited for the life-and-death decision making that sometimes comes with country life.

It served her well.......I guess.

One country-charming, pastoral day, she awoke to find a coyote had broken in to the hen house. Feathers and squawking chickens were fluttering everywhere. One old girl had gotten the worst of it and the outlook was decidedly Colonel Sanders, if you know what I mean. Mom grabbed her up and, with the expertise of a washer woman, wrung her neck and dispatched her to that big frying pan in the sky. Round One.

Several hours later one of the ducks was looking decidedly dejected. She moped and laid and leaned. Mom was resolved that the suffering could not continue and the most likely issue was an impacted egg. With shovel in hand, her make-shift guillotine forever separated Ducky's mind from her problem, so to speak. My mother proceeded to perform an autopsy. Yep. Egg impaction. Round Two.

As the evening wore on, she and my step-dad turned in for the night. They were awoken by a beastly ruckus in the backyard. The dogs had cornered a 'possum and had gone completely hoodlum with it, bullying it and tossing it to and fro. By the time my mother showed up, well, the grim reaper even paid attention and started taking notes. She felt a .22 would make the quickest work of it but it was the middle of the night and that might alarm the neighbors. She surveyed the yard for options and landed on it: a barbeque skewer. I'll spare you the details but suffice it to say, chicken-neck-wringing and duck-head-detachment are practically children's bedtime stories in comparison. At least the poor thing was long gone when she went back to bed and left it for the dogs. Round three.

All I have to say is this: Whenever I'm not feeling well, I steer far clear of my mother's place. I'd advise you to do the same.

Copyright 2009

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Let the Games Begin (Summer Rerun!)

I love San Francisco. I would make up almost any excuse to hit the Bay Bridge and watch The City skyline loom into view. Restaurants, museums, architecture, miles of rolling hills and narrow streets, cable cars, crystal air, the Golden Gate. It’s all there. If you have to endure Frankenstinian medical procedures to experience this, really, so what?

Yesterday I played another round of, “What the Heck’s the Matter with YOU?” at UCSF. In this game contestants dress in bizarre outfits designed to reveal their rattiest underwear while simultaneously enduring pranks thought up by the producers of “Fear Factor.”

All I can say is it was dark in my bedroom at 5:00 a.m. as I rummaged through my dresser drawer. Don’t we all keep at least a few pair of underwear that really should be thrown away but we know, when the laundry piles up, we might need them? They aren’t really fit for being in an accident but they will cover your posterior well enough for sweatpants and yard work. Well, those are the ones I wore. Of course, there was no way to discover this until I stood in the torture chamber preparing for my first round of competition.

The torture chamber is purposely deceptive and distracting. It is splashed with brilliant sunlight and designed to put you off guard. The room is fairly small but elegantly decorated. One wall displays an open-aggregate column with an arch right out of a castle motif. This would distract you except for the opposite wall which is solid windows overlooking San Francisco, the Presidio, and a huge expanse of the bay. And all this from an 8th floor perspective. The day must also be perfectly clear to enhance the effect.

It was in this environment that I donned my costume: the flimsy gown we all know so well. The one Dave Barry describes as making you feel more naked than if you were naked. However, when your underwear has gone as far south as mine had, you actually long for nakedness. Too bad. My only hope was the thought that perhaps I could lie on my back for the entire procedure and use my half-gown to cover my front half. As the “doctor” walked in she smiled and told me to roll onto my side.

Now, I put “doctor” in quotes because she wasn’t a full-fledged doctor yet. She was still in her residency. This is important because they don’t really want someone highly skilled to perform these tests. It might make the procedure entirely too painless to be entertaining for them.

As I lay gazing into the distance at the Fallon Islands, imagining myself running free and unseen in brand new underwear, I heard her voice, thick with an East Indian accent, announce, “I’m going to administer a series of shocks.” What she meant was a “series of shocks” in much the way a police officer means it when he yells, “STOP!” just before he tasers you.

In this round they are checking you for nerve responses. If your nerves are somewhat damaged your only response might be to bounce up off the table, smash into the ceiling, and land back on the table. Or you may launch face-first into the window and contort your features. If your nerves are all completely intact it could be bad for them because these shocks will catapult you across the room, leaving you in a standing position, where you are then free to beat them about the face and head with their own equipment. Fortunately for them, mine were not at the top of their game.

We repeated this step several thousand times with her shooting at me from every corner and jumping out from behind chairs. When she would find a particularly damaged and painful place, she would then proclaim, “I am going to do this nine times in the same spot.” Apparently, they don’t do it ten times because the smell of burning flesh is too unpleasant for the physician.

Next comes the bonus round.

In this event, needles are shoved into the muscles of your legs and feet. Just when you think you might black out or lose control of your bladder, the almost-a-doctor tells you to contract your muscles by using them to push against something. You volunteer the back half of her brain via the front half, but she only offers her hand. Now, at this point, you get Charley Horses big and violent enough to compete in a rodeo. She will then leave the room and come back with a real doctor so he can participate, too. He will say things like, “Let’s pull this needle out and shove it in her eyeball” or maybe he just mentions repositioning it, but it will all sound the same to you.

He pulls the needle out and jams it in somewhere else and when you don’t celebrate this by singing, “The Hills are Alive!” he will exhale dramatically, punctuated by his tongue flicking back and forth between his lips. They will continue to tag-team like this for another twenty minutes knowing they are safe since all their needles have effectively sewn your muscles together.

When they leave the room you and your ratty underwear are free to crawl over to your clothes and salivate on them. They will then return to tell you your test reveals more abnormalities but they have no idea why. At this point they will thank you for playing and invite you to return in six-months where they will introduce the newest event: “Toenail Removal for Fun and Profit.”

Your parting gift is the realization you may now head into the heart of The City to let it heal your wounds.

That’s what I did. The kids and I had already strolled the Botanical Gardens in Golden Gate Park that morning. Now it was time to limp toward comfort food and fortify myself for cultural pursuits.

The price of admission for this scintillating soiree may have been dear but, hey, so is beautiful San Francisco. I'll be back and I guess I have to bring my toenails with me.

Copyright 2009

Friday, June 26, 2009

A Bear Market - Epilogue (CAMPING STORY Summer Rerun!)

Hello there. Jojo here. Your canine correspondent. My motto: I will dig as deep as I have to for the truth or a moldy rotten bone - whichever comes first.

It has been on my heart, and weighin' heavy, that lately some things in the truth department have been twisted and bent, or left out altogether and frankly, I'm disgusted. Nice people like you outta be told when they're havin' their chains yanked. There are heroes livin' here who aren't appreciated or even recognized. I'm not namin' names but I think you'll recognize a hero when you see one. I'll let you in on what's REALLY goin' on behind the scenes and set the record straight.

You all probably know my mom's been laid up. What you probably DON'T know is I've been the one keepin' it all together for her. And I'm doin' it in spite of the fact that she has completely ignored the dog's-honest-truth about those bears and the role certain parties played. But abuse has never allowed me to shirk my duty. So first, here's what's goin' on around the house.

I think it's plain to see by this hopeless look on my face that I have my hands full. And let the record show that I am only layin' on the couch to keep that hooligan, Minky, off of it. Dogs aren't supposed to be on the couch around here and I will lay here as long as I need to, to keep her off.

Because not only is she gettin' her out-of-control self up ON the couch, she's stealin' my dad's coffee cup right out of his work bag. The fool dog likes coffee. No one can leave a cup of it sittin' around anywhere but that she's got her fat schnoz stuck right in there and drinkin' it. If I hadn't caught the culprit right in the action, my dad woulda grabbed this out in the mornin' never knowin' she had drug her lollin' tongue all over it. And she tries to pull off this real innocent look while she's in the middle of the crime!

She even tried to steal his cup and drag it away where she could have coffee all by herself. And you know once you start drinkin' alone it's really all over with. I believe she has all the makins of a bonafide juvenile delinquent. But nobody cares much for what I have to say. Even about bringin' her home. They even tried to tell me she was for me, a present of sorts, to keep me young. Wow. Some kinda present. Apparently, makin' a list is pointless. But movin' along.....

While all this was goin' on, I was tryin' to take care of my mom. She was just layin' around lookin' all dejected and miserable. And though she hasn't been fair with me about some things I'm gettin' ready to tell you, I can't help but treat her honorably 'cause that's just who I am. I went to her bed and took her this:

Now if that's not one fine specimen of a good, broken-in bone that anyone in her right mind would love, I don't know what is. But did she chew it? No, she just said, "Ew! Get that disgusting thing off of my blanket!" and threw it on the floor. I took this abuse and turned the other cheek. I just knew my next idea would do the trick.

The doc always tells you to have a lot of water when you're sick so, I led her to the toilet and told her to get a drink. She just looked at me and then sat down on my water bowl. Nice.

I racked my brain and came up with the suggestion we go to the park and told her she could roll around in that nice poop I found over there the other day. I did. It was great. But with her? No sale. She's even still mad at me for jumpin' in. The woman canNOT be comforted. And frankly, I'm outta ideas. So, I figured, I'd post for her and give her a break and, in so doing, I would tell you the truth about the bears and my sleepin' habits.

I read the bad press I got about not waking up when I'm called or when things are going on. This is ridiculous. You need to know that I slept through her calling me when I was in bed with The Wild Man that night, because it is good for her to practice not gettin' so hysterical. I knew she wanted me but she needs to relax and learn to handle her panic better. I wasn't gone. I hadn't run away or been dognapped. And when I heard all that caterwallin' I decided then and there: that is NOT healthy. So I just kept my eyes closed and played dumb. I'm sure you can see my good work and motivation here.

And as far as sleeping through the bear, that was exaggerated, too. I knew the bear was out there! If I had growled or barked, these people of mine would have gotten up and tangled with them. I was trying to keep it quiet. What's a little car damage when your family is at risk? No one gives me any credit for having good sense.

And not only did they not give me credit, they put me in the minivan and went back to bed! I was NOT afraid. I WAS afraid that pitiful excuse for Yogi and her bratty kids wouldn't come back and let me tear a souvenir out of their backsides. That's the look my family saw on my face. It had nothing to do with the smell of bear in there. In fact, I was able to stand on the door handle, open the door, and head out to hunt those mangy maulers the rest of the night. We had a few serious tangles and I left them bloody and horrified. When I was satisfied they wouldn't come back for the night, I got back in the van and conked out. These people will never know what I did for them because I'm not one to brag on myself.

The next night it was me leading the charge in the bear hunt. I tried to drag Grizzly the right way but you can't tell him anything. He's got a gun and a flashlight. Apparently, that trumps guts, a nose, and pure brawn. I don't need a gun. I hate guns. I bark and try to tell him they're dangerous. I've hated them ever since he and The Wild Man got Nerf guns for Christmas when I was only a couple of years old. How I got caught in the cross-fire I'll never know but I had to take a bullet for both of them. And they want me to be excited about this craziness.

I got drug in all the wrong directions the whole night. And all the while Yogi was stalking my mother. I know it was a vendetta for my activities the night before. That she-bear knew I was out looking for her in all the wrong places and she had plans to digest my mother figure. Thank goodness my mom heard that wicked thing behind her and I was able to bark and charge forward. It was my sheer ferocity that saved her but, you didn't hear it from me.

Anyway, I'll get back to figuring out how to help her out around here. I thought about saving her some of my dog food this morning but that seriously challenges all I know to be sacred. I had one piece left....I even took a picture of it and sat for a long time givin' it some serious thought......

And then I remembered how she spun this story against me. She'll just have to do without MY dog food. That'll show her. I'll keep you posted if I see any more flagrant lying.

And don't worry. You'll ALWAYS get the straight story from me. From Jojo - The HONEST one.

Copyright 2009

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Bear Market - Part 3 (CAMPING STORY Summer Reruns!)

We still had another night to go. We knew they'd be back. And they were. This time we would be waiting for them. So would Bear Bait.

We slept restlessly but the kids slept great. They were a little miffed when they woke up and realized what had happened and no one woke them. JoJo was a little miffed, too. And a lot older. But the kids had fun checking out the mess and JoJo hit pay dirt eating what the bears had left behind.

We saved what food we could. They had left two packages of Little Debbie Snack Cakes completely untouched. That should tell you something about Little Debbie. Grizzly was happy. He had breakfast. But we had to make a grocery run. We found enough left to snack around on for the kids and I but by lunchtime, everyone wanted real food. We decided to hit the dining establishment at Huntington Lake before we headed to town.

We drug ourselves into the Lakeshore Lodge restaurant looking like we'd just stepped off the set of "Deliverance." I think the Wild Man was even missing some teeth at the time. And Hannah Bo and I have exceptional hair. Get it dirty, add a little moisture and you can see the family resemblance between us and Albert Einstein who gave "big hair" a whole new meaning. We had been camping for six days with only baby wipes for pretend baths. We beat our clothes and dusted off but the fact of the matter was, we were disgusting.

We just didn't care.

We chatted up the waitress who tried to serve us from as far away as her arm would let her. We ate heartily and tipped well. It was the least we could do. And as I've been known to say, I always try to do the least I can do.

Our full bellies gave us renewed energy and we began to plot and plan for the evening events we knew were coming. We stopped by the campground offices which were down the road and across a main bridge. We found out there had been another bear incident. A guy had left dog food in his truck and mama bear bashed the window in and sent the kids after the goods. It made us glad we had forgotten to roll up the window. At least it wasn't broken. But, now that they knew the food was inside, they wouldn't let a window stop them. The ranger said to expect them. Maybe smart people would have gone home at this point but we have never been mistaken for smart people. Besides, we wanted to squeeze the life out of our last day. We weren't about to hand it over to a bear or three.

We grabbed enough grub to get us through another night, including marshmallows, hot chocolate, and coffee. Our plan included sitting around the campfire long enough to let them head for the car and then we would chase them off. If we had to sit up half the night in the cold, we at least wanted to be fortified with caffeine and sugar.

We convinced the Wild Man he had to go to bed by ten. He was eight at the time so his droopy eyelids helped seal the deal, and Lassie was more than willing to climb to the bottom of his sleeping bag and keep his feet company. But Hannah Bo was determined to make it all night. She had always been a night owl and this was worth staying up for. Grizzly had a plan and excitement was in the air.

Grizzly frequently has plans.

There was another camping trip, this one out in the wilderness of the National Forest, with no one around for miles. We were getting overrun by mice. We didn't know it until a few days later but someone had dumped some garbage near our site weeks earlier. It had become a mouse haven. We found HB's purple knitted gloves with the fingers chewed out. When we opened the engine compartment of the van, we found a little purple glove nest on top of the battery. The mice ran up and down our tent trailer in the night. The pitter-patter of little feet kept us up and aggravated. Grizzly was done.

He sat outside the next night with his shotgun in one hand and his night vision monocular in the other. Meanwhile, I laid on the bed with a three-year-old Wild Man, sound asleep, and a very excited Hannah Bo wearing her dad's gun muffs clamped on to her head. He would yell, "Ready?" and I, in my gun muffs with my hands pressed over Wild Man's ears, would yell back, "Go Ahead!" and we'd hear the roar of the shotgun's report. This happened about six times. Grizzly would watch for movement through the monocular and then blast away at the mice. It worked...uh...great.

The next morning it was evident that the world was now safe from folding chairs. They were shot to heck and were the only thing he hit. The mice rebuilt the nest on the battery the next day.

So we were primed, once again, to take on our latest forest nemesis. Grizzly would be armed in case things went terribly south but there would be no shooting. We just wanted to keep them from destroying our car and show them they couldn't bully their way in everywhere and damage property. It seemed like a humanitarian mission. We had pots and pans and noise makers. We would honk the horn and scream and yell.

Wild Man drifted off to sleep and the three of us hunkered down around the fire. The campground grew dark and quiet. It wasn't well populated because it was mid-week and off-season. A few fires could be seen in the distance but they slowly flickered out. Our conversations grew fewer and more hushed as the night crawled slowly into the wee morning hours. No signs. No sounds. Grizzly grew restless. He felt eyes boring into him but couldn't see anything. He decided to scout the perimeter and weave in and out of the trees. HB wanted to stretch and go with him. They grabbed the night vision monocular, with JoJo at their heel, and headed out.

I wasn't about to leave my son or the car so, with my .38 snuggled deep in my pocket, I pulled my parka in tighter, my hood up farther, and tucked down into my chair (one without shotgun pellet holes). And I waited. All that could be heard was the occasional pop or crackle of the campfire. At times I would hear or see my three bear hunters working their way through the trees. Eventually they would come back, wait for a bit, and then head out again. Grizzly was getting frustrated. There was just no sign. He absolutely knew the minute we hit the sack they would be at the van. I mentioned that mama could have easily treed herself and the babies and be watching them every time they passed underneath, and they would never know. That gave him a new mission: scouting out trees with the flashlight while he hunted.

The hours drug on and 5:00a.m. approached. We thought maybe we would see daylight before we turned in. Grizzly decided to make one last trip through the forest. Hannah Bo and JoJo set out with him. With my chin resting on my chest I fought sleep. My bones had turned to columns of ice and I wasn't sure I could move if the need presented itself. I found out I could.

Off in the far distance I saw the sweep of the flashlight and knew the posse was headed back for camp. At the same moment I noted a sound right behind my chair. My eyes shot open wide and the hair on my neck stood up. I froze. Was that just a little animal making its way through the underbrush? Don't panic. Then came a very heavy footfall an arms length from me. I screamed and jumped from my chair. By that time, Grizzly was within shouting distance up the road in front of me.

"It's okay!" he yelled. "It's just us!"

"No it's not!" I cried out.

Thunderous paws ran down the hill behind me as I turned to watch.

"She was right here! Right behind my chair!" I shrieked. And she vanished into the forest depths.

The breeze had been blowing gently toward me and she hadn't caught my scent. I was downwind. My dark green parka had blended in perfectly with the night. I have no doubt she never saw me. But the jig was up. We scared each other to death, equally.

Dawn was a short time away and we all crawled into our sleeping bags, exhausted. We were confident she wouldn't be back with so little darkness left. It would be long enough to give us a few hours of sleep. We drifted off finally, warm, snuggly, and dim-wittedly victorious.

I have no doubt there is a bear out there right now, with a blog, telling all her readers about how she almost ate a woman once instead of a Ding Dong.......because the description applied so perfectly to both.

Copyright 2009

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

A Bear Market - Part 2 (CAMPING STORY Summer Rerun!)

I wasn't prepared for what I saw next.

The whole van was rockin' like a frat house on Friday night.

Two cubs were inside while the mama stood on her hind legs, face pressed to the window pointing out the items she wanted them to throw out to her. They had entered through the driver's side window but she was too big and fat to fit. I feel her pain. But you can never be too fat if you're a bear. They don't spend anytime feeling badly about themselves because they don't fit in windows. In fact, they do this thing called "hyper feeding." It happens as winter is coming on and they will eat as many as 20,000 calories a day in preparation for hybernation. I think I did that last time I went to Baskin Robbins. I don't think I hybernated but I'm pretty sure I lapsed into a coma for a few days.

Now, you may wonder, "Why in the world did you two idiot dingbats leave the window open on your car?" And you would be perfectly right in asking such a succinct question. That's why I hang out with you.
Here's how that happened. Grizzly went to bed first, with the kids. He figured I'd make sure everything was secure for the night, being the mom and all. I was staying up for a bit to sit by the fire with the dogs and have quiet time. I figured he, being the man and all, would secure our perimeters before turning in. So naturally, neither one of us did anything. We frequently work well together like this.

We had heard there were some bears around and half the sites had lock boxes. Ours didn't. We were told to keep food out of sight. Not a problem. We always kept everything in camping boxes anyway. Just so you know for your own personal information: a camping container to a bear is like gift wrapping a box of See's candy. It just heightens the thrill anticipating the creamy center.

As we looked out the tent we could see the bears having a heydey in the van. One of the cubs had thrown a bottle of cooking oil out to mom and she had ripped off the the top half and poured its greasy goodness down her throat, over her face, and onto her paws. She then pressed that same big fat face up against the windows of the van, along with plate-sized paws, and left lovely pressed-art pictures of herself.

The ground was littered with crackers, chips, pop tarts, flour, butter, pancake mix, and syrup. All of the items were in various states of having been demolished or devoured. I must interject that we do not normally keep all this c-rap around our home and I am an organic cook most of the time. However, camping requires copious amounts of Death Food in Boxes. (Sounds like a good name for a band.)

Grizzly ran out into the freezing night yelling and clanging pot lids. Of course the guns could not be fired. This is California. Guns are just for looks in a campground. You can't shoot bears or discharge a weapon. If we had left the guns in the car then the bears could have legally shot us, sat in our chairs, smoked a cigarette (not that we had any but they travel with them), and slammed back a beer to wash down the Ding Dongs.

But we hadn't left the guns in the car so the master mind of the heist ditched the babies and took off into the trees. The cubs scrambled around inside the van hunting their escape hatch, the window, and then bailed out as fast as their bloated bodies would carry them. The dogs were now awake. Reluctantly. I know I keep saying dogs and have only mentioned JoJo. Our other dog du jour was Lassie. Now Lassie was a four pound chihuahua who never really belonged with our family. My persuasive aunt had talked us into keeping this walking snack food but chihuahuas are not exactly your great-outdoors camping types. She spent most of her time in the mountains shaking and praying for death to overtake her. (We have since rehomed her with my aunt where she is receiving therapy for post traumatic stress disorder.)

With the bears out of sight we lifted the back hatch and surveyed the damage. It looked like a bomb had gone off in a Walmart. Camping boxes were ripped in half (what the heck? All they had to do was lift the lid, for Pete's sake!). Same for the ice-chest. Top removed at the hinges and it wasn't even locked. Bloody meat packages lay with only hints of what they once contained. Flour was everywhere. Bear hair hung from the ceiling. Bear musk hung on the air. Puncture holes decorated the interior and my emergency brake, now flattened out, had reported for its last emergency.

We knew they were watching from the perimeter. It was three a.m. We didn't want our car destroyed. What would YOU do? I know what we did. We swept off a spot on the back seat, rolled up the windows, and called JoJo to lay there and do guard duty until the light of day. She would forever after be known affectionately as "Bear Bait." You've never seen a dog with bigger eyes than one who is about to be left by herself in a car that smells like a bear is sleeping in there with her. I'm not sure we made the right decision. JoJo is positive we didn't. But the car was safe. At least for the rest of that night.

We still had another night to go. We knew they'd be back. And they were. This time we would be waiting for them. So would Bear Bait.

To Be Continued........

Copyright 2009

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Bear Market - Part 1 (CAMPING STORY Summer Rerun!)

(Inspired by a post about dog peculiarities.)

No one loves their dogs more than I love mine but, the reality is, JoJo, our Border Collile/McNab, is only incensed about people breathing or moving when she's wide awake. At that time, she's all guard dog and barks faithfully at all our friends. But when she's asleep and no friends are around, all bets are off.

I once called her to give her a hug goodnight. The rest of the inmates here at the asylum had already bunked down. No Jojo. I called again. Nothing. I searched from room to room and called outside, up and down the street. MIA. I shook the over-sized bed bugs out of their sheets and mounted a posse. I didn't want to panic alone. Flip flops were employed. Car engines started. Frantic hollering commenced. No Jo. In one final moment before complete bedlam prevailed, my son, the Wild Man, threw his covers around looking for his coat. There was Jo, tucked in, eyes rolled back in her head, sound asleep, and oblivious. She lifted heavy lids and peered out just long enough to say, "HeLLO. I was warm. Could you knock it off and put the blanket back?"

It was just this type of edge-of-your-seat, sound-the-alarm guarding that allowed a mother bear, and her two cubs, to grocery shop in our car one night while we were camping.

I don't know about you but I think most moms sleep with one ear open from the minute the doctor says, "It's a girl! Or a boy! Or this shouldn't be such a hard call!" Dads, on the other hand, tend to only wake up in the middle of the night when you, sleep deprived and weary from nursing the baby, roll over and latch that baby on to HIS chest. If you haven't tried this, you should. Thus, my now normal sleep state is to hear dust collecting on the furniture.

And when you are camping in the black of night, in the middle of the forest, and you hear a "thunk" in your sleep, even though neither of your two watch-less dogs perk up an ear, and your husband snores on in near comatose disregard, you trust your gut.

"Grizzly.....did you hear that?"

Now, I have to tell you that Grizzly may sleep like the dead but the moment there is an opportunity to use flashlights, guns, knives, bazookas, or inter-gallactic missiles, he is awake. Immediately. And armed.

"What'd you hear?!" he immediately interrogated.

"Well, I don't know but I just thought I heard a "thunk" outside, by the car," I stated cautiously as he seared my retinas with his flashlight. Now he was ripping open the zipper on the tent.

"Robynn, stay where you are," he ordered, staring through the door flap. "There are bears in the car."

It would seem relevant, at this point, for you to know the dogs still weren't barking and were, in fact, snoring right beside the kids.

Now the statement, "There are bears in the car" is not a sentence I had ever considered forming or hearing. So I had never presupposed my response. I did, however, immediately know it did not include staying where I was. I don't tend to run away from things that scare me anyway; I run toward them because being scared just makes me spitting mad. And I had children to protect.

And Cheetos. And Hostess Ding Dongs.

What I wasn't prepared for was what I saw next.......

To Be Continued......

Copyright 2009

Monday, June 22, 2009

Punxatawny Phil and Gopher Guts (Summer Reruns!)

Don't you just hate those days when a gopher has a death grip on your shoe and you can't launch him off no matter what?

I am thinking of gophers today since it's Groundhog Day and Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, officially sentencing us to more cold weather. I'm in California. If it gets any colder in Los Angeles it'll be summer. Winter never fully arrived in some parts of our state. If you're in London, what with the blizzard and all today, you probably think Phil is a bloody genius and wish we would swap him to you for Madonna. Frankly, I think we should leave things as they are. I don't know what you ever did to deserve Madonna but hey, she's yours to keep. She says she wants to go back to New York now that she's gutted Guy Ritchie. If I was NYC I'd hang out the "No Vacancy" sign.

But speaking of things you don't want, I'm glad our gophers aren't as big as Punxsutawney Phil. Your leg could get a cramp trying to shake them off. It was hard enough trying to dislodge an average sized rodent.

When our house was being built every gopher in the neighborhood waged war with the encroaching humans. The gophers were tough and big and carried small semi-automatic weapons. One afternoon, we pulled up to our house to check the progress and the Godfather met us at the curb. He stood up and stuck his chest out. Grizzly Adams, my husband, yelled and stamped his foot in a show of brutal authority. The gopher clutched his heart and staggered, fell down laughing, then leapt to his feet, possessed-red-eyes flashing, and buried his Bucky-the-Beaver incisors into the toe of Grizzly's sneaker.

My husband is no Jackie Chan but he's got pretty sophisticated ninja moves when vermin are attached to his lower extremities. He whirled and kicked and jerked and whacked and sprinted down the curb, still sporting two long teeth and a pair of beady eyes, and that wasn't even counting the gopher. I very helpfully ran along yelling, "Get him off! Get him off your shoe! Kick him! Fling him!" These helpful utterances offered him valuable insights that might not have occured to him otherwise. But it didn't matter. When the rubber hit the road, it did so with the thud of vibrating gopher flesh and there was no sign of retreat.

As I looked around wildly for a stick or missle launcher, Grizzly gave one last massive kick. I watched our miniature nemisis sail through the air as though shot from a cannon. With a final show of dominance he stuck the landing and dusted himself off, glaring down the road at us. I always hoped he was the one my cat laid at my feet several years later.

Kitty Baby made it her life's mission to divest the neighborhood of this evil element. She relished her job. It wasn't enough to merely kill the things. She felt if you could not enjoy your work there was no point doing it. She frequently showed up in the backyard circus playing "Flying Trapeeze," in which she would throw the gopher and then fail to catch it on the other side. This provided hours and hours of great cat fun. When she grew bored, she would skin them and lay them out on the front porch for the rest of the rodent clan to view. In her spare time she made jaunty little hats for herself out of the leather.

I like to think she was avenging me from a childhood attack.

When I was seven I walked to second grade by myself everyday. It was about two miles and that was a lot of time to think up hair-brained ideas like how great it would be to catch a gopher in a paper bag. The thought first occured to me when I spotted a furry brown thing scooting along the ground one day. It was my foregone conclusion, as it was when I saw any animal, that it was lost, desperately lonely, and would undoubtedly die but for my timely intervention. And then there were the show-and-tell possibilities. No one ever pulled a wild rodent out of a sack. I was sure to be popular.

The next day, with brown lunch bag firmly in hand, I set out for school hoping my gopher rescue would go off without a hitch. As soon as I spotted him I dumped my lunch and closed in. He saw me and sat up. I lifted the bag for rapid capture. I was successful except for the fact that I had caught him by the teeth with the fatty part of my ring finger. He was firmly attached. I screamed bloody murder and ran like my tail was on fire. He wasn't the least intimidated. I shook my hand, my arm, the earth on which I stood. We were one.

I think he gave up when I entered the third grade.Supposedly I never contracted rabies. But I have raged around and foamed at the mouth a few times to the point that the shed and being shot have been mentioned in my actual presence. Which reminds me of the time I had a feral cat plastered to my head via teeth and claws and actually did get rabies shots. But that's a story for Halloween when my booster is due.

Copyright 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

False Teeth and Pastors (Summer Reruns!)

My pastor has been on my mind and heart lately because he has been through so much in recent days. He is an incredible man with a true heart for God and for people and, when that's who you are, you go through a lot. He lives his faith. He's the real deal.

So naturally, this has led me to think of false teeth. Not that he has any, false teeth I mean, he has actual teeth (though I haven't tried to remove them so I'll do that and get back to you). But I had another pastor I dearly loved when I was four years old and he had enormous false teeth. This one fact can highly recommend you to four-year-olds, especially if you take the teeth out on demand. You must then extrude them from your mouth just far enough to resemble a scene from "Aliens." At this point you should snap and clack them a few times, and then suck them back in. What is not to love here?

I constantly demanded that this fabulous talent be demonstrated and he never let me down. In addition, from my diminutive perspective, he was at least thirteen feet tall. I would ask to be lifted up and he would perch me on his shoulders. This afforded me a view of the surrounding countryside as well as a direct look into his snapping jaws. I could bend over, twist my head around, and watch from two inches away with abject horror and complete fascination.

I had no idea this man was my pastor. His name was Brother Whitaker but every single man in our little backwater Southern Baptist church was Brother Something-Or-Other. Nothing about the title caused me any sort of appropriate awe or reverence. I presumed he had been created for my entertainment. Apparently, I paid no attention in church or I might have noticed him in the pulpit. I was too busy flirting with Ronnie Miller.

Ronnie Miller was about 18 years old and as handsome as a movie star. And he sported his own teeth. My mother always sat towards the front but Ronnie was in the back. Every time I would sashay by, and I made frequent excuses because I needed to take a good, long look at him in all his glory, he would talk to me. He would never fail to tell me he was going to marry me when I grew up. I believed him without doubt. On Sundays, I would smooth out my crinoline and shine my patent leather shoes to be sure I looked like marriage material. And he would not fail to remind me that we were an item.

One Saturday, he two-timed me and married a girl named Sharon. He walked her right up the aisle I had walked down a hundred times just to stare at him. She had nothing on me as far as I could tell and it made absolutely no sense. My heart was a shambles and I never loved again until I was eight. Even now I run into him at get-togethers and always remind him that he left me at the altar, sort of. That's how un-petty I am.

I soothed my little soul with dental entertainment. Brother Whitaker and his choppers were good medicine. Food helped, too. One time he took my brother to church camp and let me ride along up to Hume Lake. Those were the good old days when kids could stand in the front seat and launch through the windshield when you had to stop fast. Along the way he bought me a whole pack of Oreo cookies and a carton of milk. These were rare treats in my life. By the time we had traveled up and back and spent nearly a day, my milk was sour. I took a big drink, spit it across the room, and howled. In typical good-guy fashion he took me to the store and bought more milk. Some guys know how to treat a lady.

I will always wonder what became of Brother Whitaker and his teeth. He and his wife left our church not long after those days. I doubt he ever found a more appreciative audience for his special talent but he certainly laid down a fondness in my heart for pastors who are willing to go above and beyond.

And now, having come full circle, I appreciate a pastor who tends to my soul and does not feel the least compelled to share his dental work with me. So, maybe I won't check his teeth. He has been a gift from God and you should never look a gift pastor in the mouth, unless you're four.

Copyright 2009

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Toothaches and Technology (Summer Reruns!)

I have a major toothache. My Bluetooth is killing me. In fact, it may be listed as the cause of my demise on the coroner’s report: “Death by safety device.” Ever since the new California law was passed last January I have become the equivalent of a six-year-old with car keys. I weave, I slow down, I park in the fast lane of the Freeway, I accelerate while making tight, left turns on overpass exits and go Dukes-of-Hazzard over the side walls, launching into the air. The landings are taking a toll on my car’s suspension and my spinal column. I’m doing all this in the name of safety while I attempt to use my “hands-free” equipment.

I had none of these problems before. One hand drove and one hand held my phone. I used voice commands and could actually utilize my eyes to watch the road. Now, I drive with my foot while simultaneously looking through my purse and pulling everything out searching for my Bluetooth. Once I’ve located it, the dangerous part begins.

As I left San Francisco recently, I headed out on the Bay Bridge. My girlfriend called me to firm up directions to her house in nearby Benicia. Just as she was telling me which lane to get into, the earpiece went dead. This meant I had to get the charger out of my purse while trying to navigate three lanes of speeding, maniacal drivers perched hundreds of feet over shark-infested waters. Once plugged into the cigarette lighter I now had to insert the other, miniscule end into my Bluetooth. This is best achieved with a skilled surgeon, floodlights, and magnifying glasses equal to the Hubble Telescope. Somehow, while nearly sitting on the steering wheel, I made the connection. I took my seat, hooked the thing over my ear, and, just as I was about to give it a command, the coil of the charger sprang back into place and launched the device off my head and into the next dimension.

There are severe issues with voice recognition as well. This is an example of a recent conversation:

Bluetooth: “Please say a command.”
Me: “Call.”
BT: “Command not recognized. Please say a command.”
Me: “Dial.”
BT: “Command not recognized. Please say a command.”
Me: “Call.”
BT: “Well why didn’t you say that in the first place, you idiot? Please state the name or number you wish to dial.”

Now, at this point, Artificial Intelligence basically takes over the planet and we are all at its mercy.

BT: “Did you say ‘Humpty Dumpty?’ ”
Me: “No.”
BT: “Did you say ‘Howdy Dooty?’ ”
Me: “No.”
BT: “Did you say ‘Jabba the Hut?’ ”
Me: “Yes.” I have discovered this will actually activate the command known as “Jamie at Work,” thereby connecting me with my husband.

He is experiencing a dysfunctional relationship with his safety-accessory as well. He said he couldn’t hear anything in the Bluetooth over the roar of his truck so he went with the type that mounts on the visor. This, too, was supposedly designed to be simple to use while driving. All you do is push a button to activate and start talking. But he still can’t hear anything so he just yanks it off the visor and shoves the whole thing up to his ear. It is approximately the size of a clipboard. This comes in handy when he has to attach it to his hair and hang it off the side of his head. He says when he is pulled over by the police he will protest saying he is, in fact, using a “hands-free” device.

After I left Nancy’s house from Benicia the next day, I made a final attempt to connect with the outside world from the confines of my car. I had checked messages and knew another friend, Teresa, was trying to reach me.

Southbound I-5 stretched out before me like a comfy couch, my headset was charged; all systems seemed to be a “go.” I managed to navigate my way through voice commands and actually connect with the right person. The only problem seemed to be the volume. I mean the volume in the way a jet engine might sound two feet from the fired-up burners, only much louder. It was the demon now flanking my head. I pushed every button to no avail. I was apologizing, while attacking my ear, when the thing flew off again, this time landing under the seat. “Keep talking!” I yelled, zooming down the freeway using the sound of her voice for homing assistance. With my legs hanging out the driver’s side window, I hung upside down to peer under my seat and found it hiding behind an In-and-Out Burger napkin. I had only changed lanes seven times and driven under a big-rig once. No harm done. I resigned myself to the roaring volume and, with my right hand, held the thing three feet from my head, still managing to suffer hearing loss.

With my nerves jangled and a ringing in my head, I pulled into Starbucks in Los Banos. I figured I needed a hot cup of coffee to complete my driving maneuvers. While safely stopped in the parking lot I managed to fix the problem du jour and attempted to phone my children. “Command not recognized while flip is open,” my nemesis taunted. “Flip is open?” I yelled. “Which flip? Phone? Bluetooth? WHAT?!” “Command not recognized. Did you say, ‘Beans and weenies?’ ”

I feel much safer now with my Bluetooth. I know everyone else does, too. We’re all keeping the law as we narrowly careen around one another in death-defying destruction derbies. Maybe next they can invent something to help you drink your coffee while you drive down the road. I don't know….maybe a spigot right above your head could automatically pour boiling java all over you. You could lick at the drips while your skin falls off.

Copyright 2008

Friday, June 19, 2009

Summer Repeats

Being so Hollywood-like in terms of my VAST popularity (ahem......) it would follow that I shall now presume upon your good nature and broadcast my reruns.

We find ourselves in the bosom of felicity. Why you ask? Because we're going camping! All of a sudden. Just like that. No preplanning. The time off simply dropped into our laps. And our housesitters have not a CLUE about blogging (translation: even older than ME) so there you go. I cannot cajole them into guest hosting. Consequently, I am forced to stage repeats and will also apologize in advance for my absence on your blogs. I know there are many new readers here so, hopefully, the repeats will be entertaining for you. For my old friends, maybe you will enjoy the second showing or else feel light and airy with one less blog to keep up with. Reruns will begin Saturday. I wish you all a relaxing summer week and will probably rejoin you before you even know I'm gone!


No, not the "White Anglo Saxon Protestant" type. Minky recently redefined it into "Whirring Angry Stinging Pestilence from the Pit of Perdition."

On Monday, Minky went one round with these little beasts of barbary and lost badly with a TKO (technical knock out for you non-pugilistic types). And I think it was our fault. She loves to snap at flies and we have encouraged her every time they find their way into the house. It has become part of her job description. We forget she isn't very discriminating when it comes to small, buzzy, and wing-ed. I think that tripped her up early Monday morning when she was outside.

Grizzly called my name while I was still in bed and he was downstairs making coffee. He is up early for work and sometimes finds me already at my desk. But if not, he does his thing (after turning off the snooze button at least eight times and no I am NOT even CLOSE to exaggerating), and takes off for work.

There are only a few exceptions to this routine. They all involve horror. The very second my name is called or he appears at my bedside, something has gone desperately or freakishly wrong. It stops my heart every time. My only response to hearing my name under these circumstances (or when he uses that tone) is and will forever be, "WHAT'S WRONG?!!!"

A sample list of his responses:

"They've attacked the World Trade Center." (Clearly the worst one ever.)

"Somebody bashed out the window of your car."

"There's something dead down here (cat hunting by-products)."

"I think Bess is home." (A beloved cat who had been missing for months - it wasn't her. It was a demon in white fur who summarily tried to rip my head off. He doesn't always check his facts before mustering me in my groggy state.)

I have never been summoned to breakfast, say, with the table all set and waiting for me. No exquisite sunrise has been announced. No bouquet of roses ever beckons. No, my name in the morning equals calamity. I really think he better balance this out one of these days or I may suffer a major coronary before hitting the floor running.

Monday morning, I heard my name. "It's nothing," he intoned. "I just want you to see something." Uh-huh. I bet it's not breakfast. "Minky's face looks swollen. I gotta take off and I just wanted you to keep an eye on her. I think she got bitten by a black widow and it could be crawling around the house somewhere." Okay then, honey. Thanks. I'll go back to bed now. Why would I worry? Have a good day. I'll try to remember to fend off poisonous attacking arachnids as I watch our dog go into anaphylactic shock. Bye-bye, now.

I took one look at Minky and either something bit her or she had taken up the habit of chewing tobacco and had perfected the art of stuffing her gums. The left (your right) side of her face was swelling. I grabbed the not-so-great camera (because I still can't remember we have a better one) and snapped this:

She looks a little concerned.

I hauled the kids out of bed and said, "Hold her while I shave her." I was, of course, looking for the telltale sign of two puncture points indicating spider fangs. Looking through hair is impossible so I needed access. Shaving is my immediate answer. If you ever develop head lice, don't come and see me. There'll be no nit-picking. I will shave you bald. Here's how poor Minky appears this morning:

Doesn't she look depressed? Well wouldn't you if I'd only shaved HALF your face? I promise, if I see you, I'll shave your whole face, eyebrows included. Oh, and the vet commented I removed her whiskers, too. Critics. I was trying to save her life. From a black widow. Who was stomping through the house heat-tracking us.

In the next few hours after Mr. Shock-and-Awe left for work, Minky's face swelled to three times this size and her eyes became red and puffy. I had dosed her with Benadryl but it didn't do much. So, it was off to the vet for a MONGO shot of Benadryl and then a steroid injection. And by then we could see little pin-pricks rising under her chin and on her snout where it became obvious the black widow was non-existent and a wasp, or wasps, had been the culprit(s).

Minky will be a wiser dog now, I hope, though she won't be ready for any close-ups on the silver screen with her unfabulous hair-don't. And the house has been temporarily restored to a bastion of safety against marauding black widows, and that is a comfort.

However, Grizzly remains a serious threat to my health.

(Legal disclaimer: Grizzly insists he also mentioned wasps as a possibility. My hearing was temporarily disconnected after I heard "black widow." The End.)

Copyright 2009

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Observational Twitter 18

Famous Quote:

"Gravitation is not responsible for people falling in love." ~Albert Einstein

Obscure Quote:

"Gravitation is absolutely responsible for my falling arches, falling ratings on the 1-10 scale, and frankly, I think it's clear my plummeting IQ score is involved." ~Robynn

P.S. I'm AWAKE! (and headed to a party...but then....where ELSE could I possible be going? Oh, there was that scintillating few hours at the vet with Minky, on Monday, when she got into a wasp nest and her nose swelled up like a light bulb......)

Copyright 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Sleeping Sickness

I can't stay awake. I'm napping every time I hold still for more than 3 seconds. Usually my problem is I can't sleep.

Maybe I should try a contraption like this. When I fall out of bed onto one end of the teeter-totter, somebody could jump on the other end and launch me into my life. That might work for a wake-up call.

I think it might be a solid few weeks of not getting to bed before 3 or 4 o'clock in the morning. Some of that is sheer busyness with life, family, and party preparations and another part has been seizing the only opportunity to grab a few hours for myself. Simply put, I've had too many 30 hour days compressed into 24. And then there are the 640 graduation parties, including Bo's. But wait! There's more! If you act now we will include a going away party this week along with two more graduation parties all for the same low price!! I can't stop myself from dialing.

I believe I may wrap up this graduation season by inviting everyone to MY graduation - to the next life. You can throw me in the ground and cover me with mortar boards! Goodnight (no, really)! You've been a great crowd!

(P.S. I just left a comment on someone's blog and my word verification was "supinnap." Eat and sleep. Do you feel this was a message from God? I'm taking it as a clear directive with express permission.)

Copyright 2009

Monday, June 15, 2009

Observational Twitter 17


"An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." Benjamin Franklin


"A pound of prevention isn't equal to an ounce of really good chocolate." Robynn

Copyright 2009

Friday, June 12, 2009

Breaking News!

Mrs. M at I've Changed My Name to Mommy just notified me this late night (which is actually early morning - party preparations and all) that an interview she did with me last week is up and posted on her blog today! I can't believe it but it's there. I hope you get a chance to pop over and check it out and peruse her blog as well. You'll like her. And if you follow her, you will be entered in a drawing to be featured. Isn't that the most generous thing? I LOVE her blog and she is quite the interviewer as well as writer. I hope she teaches a class. I'll take it! THANK YOU MRS. M!! You are gangs of fun!

(My regular post appears below - don't miss the Fuplers!)

The Fuplers Kick off the Party!

Tonight is graduation party night. Rock on. It's time for luau and karaoke and scores of friends. Bo here, and Miss Maddie, are making a night of it by combining parties. Should be a great time!

But, parties put me in a silly mood and I'm thinkin' by the time midnight rolls around, I'm gonna be pretty hysterical. I'll be laughing at everything and nothing. And I want you to be laughin' with me. So I just HAVE to share the following video. Oregon cousins brought this to us and well, we've been tuning in regularly just so we can split seams all over again. If teenage boy descriptions of a body part everyone possesses offends you (no swearing involved), then I advise you not to watch. But if you are in possession of children, especially siblings, you will find this tame (unless yours are completely unlike mine, never fight, and always say only the sweetest things to each other.) That ain't life around our house and I think this may feature my mom mojo, especially the five-o'clock shadow.

The funniest thing is one guy plays the part of mom, dad, teenage brother, and little sister. Do yourself a favor and put your coffee down.
(P.S. Video run time is actually two minutes even though it says two-and-a-half.)

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Dearly Departed......

And then there were none.

The last of my visiting cousins left early this morning to head back to Oregon. That group comprised Joey, his wife Laurie, and their girls, Elizabeth and Ashley, the 19-yr-old twins, Katie, The Wild Man's age and in full possession of a sensitive and curious mind, and Julianna, 11, the spitfire. We got to keep Elizabeth for the night on Monday (she is at college so she and Bo had a lot to talk about). And most came for lunch yesterday as we hung out and had great laughs. Ashley had to miss out on this part because she headed for Ukraine on a missions trip.

On Saturday night we hosted the Illinois/Iowa cousins. Kristen (on the left here) and Stasha (on the right) came rolling in for dinner and stayed into the wee hours of Sunday morning. I had never met Stasha. She moved to California in 1993 and, being the functional family we are, no one ever told us. The fact is, no one really has much of a relationship with anyone else and truth-telling is at a minimum. (If the craziness on both sides of this family tree gets any deeper, the Grand Canyon will look like a mud puddle in comparison. Ah, Egypt....I do NOT long for you. I LOVE the Promised Land!) In fact, she never knew she had family in California. And Kristen we saw, for the first and last time, once, when she was 15.

So here we are, the remnant, the truth-tellers. Some of the cousins and one Aunt, from both sides of my family, willing to look the facts in the eyeball and move forward. Willing to do the hard work of changing family legacies, by God's goodness and grace to us, and then gladly Lampooning everything within range, for sanity's sake. No "Leave It to Beaver" here. In fact, I think most everything must have gotten left to Beaver. Except the humor - who has more fun than a bunch of refugees from wacked-out families? And what we lack in family numbers we make up for in the largest and most supportive group of true friends - some of them refugees themselves. And the best thing about friends is you get to pick them. O yea, O YAY!

So goodbye, family. Thank you for the reconnect. I hope it grows and blossoms as we've all headed down our different paths of reconstruction. God bless us everyone. Especially the goofballs like Junlianna here with as many grapes in her mouth as she can shove in.

Copyright 2009