Monday, August 3, 2015

Great. MORE THINGS to Cut Out of My Diet

I'm getting ready to go see a hormonal specialist doctor in the near future, because here's the situation.

Aside from the fact that I've been unsuccessfully fighting the same 30 pounds for about 10 years, I've been repeatedly told I "should get my thyroid checked", and I have like 9 of the 10 symptoms of hypothyroidism.

I have ranted about this before, but it's not helping, so here I go again.  I'm getting really tired of this.  I'm not used to losing the fights I fight.  When I set my mind to something, I ALWAYS accomplish it, so why the heck is this not working?  And, how does my weight continues to go UP?


My weight problems started after taking the diet craze pill called Metabolife (the original, really bad for you formula) way back in the mid-late 1990s, when I didn't actually HAVE a weight problem.  So, I'm not even sure why I tried it, because at that time, I had always maintained the same weight.  I bounced back easily after two pregnancies (where I gained 48 and 54 pounds respectively).  I liked my body then.  It was beautiful and curvy at a healthy 128-135 pounds.  It actually stopped traffic once in a terrific dress that I'll always keep as a reminder, though in those days, I always thought it could be better.  Just...why.

Back then, I could eat anything I wanted, within reason, and my weight would maintain.  Gain a few pounds, oops...cut back here and there over a few days and tah-dah--back where I need to be.  I never worked out.  I never dieted.  There's no history of obesity in our family, and don't give me that "'s just our AGE" crap.  This is not normal.

Fast forward to about 2004, when a year had gone by where we didn't have a scale.  I went in for a physical (that was last physical, but I digress), and found I'd gained 20 pounds.  I about FELL OFF the scale.

No.  That can't be possible, doc.  Move that slide-y thing back.  Back.  BaaaaaaccccckkkkKK.


Let me try it with my shoes off??

So, I bought a scale and decided to get a handle on whatever had happened to my body.

The End.


Ever since then, I have fought my weight.  I've cut various things out of my diet.  I have swum laps for hours and gone to the gym (ok, yes, sporadically, but as often as 6 days a week without weight loss...really???  That'll make you DEFINITELY QUIT GOING TO THE GYM ).  I bought an exercise bike and rode it to the moon and back, with no result.  Did Pilates.  Jumping jacks.  Run up the stairs and back down.  I have taken herbal supplements and multivitamins.  Tried to be like my Mom--read Back to Eden and stocked up on vegetarian cookbooks.  I have counted calories and done online help-me-lose-weight apps. I have been drinking hot water with lemon and honey in the morning forEVER.  I tried acai berry and apple cider vinegar.  I have cut processed foods, fast foods, GMO's, coffee, and all my beloved carbs.  I never eat any of the desserts I bake (if I bake at all anymore). I have gone on a more or less plant-based, whole-food diet, all organic.  Heck, I hardly ever even eat HOT food any more...Raw cucumbers or fruit again? YES because who doesn't love raw cucumbers every damn day?  We sort of tried to go a little bit vegan.  I work outside in the garden in the summer, EVERY DAY FOR 1-4 HOURS A DAY.  EVERY DAY.


Did I mention, every day?

I keep gaining weight.

What. The. Hell.

Oh sure, I'll lose a few pounds here and there, but as soon as I let up the relentless pressure of eating almost nothing and cutting out ALL THINGS THAT I LOVE, my weight floats up just as relentlessly.

Here's my life in a nutshell:  (yes...apparently I *can* have nuts, hahaHAHAAA  *weeps*)

Consume more than 1200-1500 calories in a day? = weight gain.

Any wheat products (even whole grain)? = weight gain (like 7 pounds in 3 days on vacation!! what the actual?)

Any processed carbs, even brown rice flour pasta or gluten-free vegan bagels? = weight gain.

Coffee with cream and sugar in the morning? = weight gain.

Other random things that aren't helping:

Alcohol.  Sugar.  Dairy (noooo, don't take my cheese and yogurt.  It's my last joy).

If I limit the above three things and cut OUT the former carbs/wheat/coffee weight will stay relatively the same, albeit 30 POUNDS HEAVIER THAN I SHOULD BE.  Oh sure, it will drift down a pound or two here and there, but if I let up for even a goes right back UP and we reset the clock and start ALL OVER.

So, to maintain, here's what I CAN have, based on my totally nonprofessional findings:


Yeah.  This is AWESOME.
I know, it LOOKS pretty.  But it's not that cool when it's ALL YOU CAN EAT.

So.  I'm getting started with some labwork as soon as possible, as well as the long-overdue physical, also partly because "you're not getting any younger" is one of the recurring themes when I can't sleep and my brain starts reminding me of cool stuff to not forget about at 2:45 a.m., or lists I should be making.

Part of me hopes it will turn out be something like my thyroid, and not that I have just epically failed at something that should NOT be impossible.  The other part of me will be really pissed if I've just wasted 10 years being 30 pounds overweight because of a hormone imbalance.

Sorry to go OFF, but I'm just so really totally sick of busting my butt (apparently *not enough*), eating nothing I enjoy, and getting on the scale to see the number has gone...UP.   again.


Somebody tell me I'm not a fat, epic failure today...I really need it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Small Town Kid Awkward Moments

Here's a story I always forget to tell.  About Shane, actually...

We both grew up in small town north Idaho.  The kind of small town where, if you're a good drummer in the high school band, the band teacher may or may not actually approach your parents and ask them if they'd be willing to allow you to drum with a local band. IN A BAR.

 At age 17.

This is what actually happened to Shane.  There was a band playing in town, who needed a drummer, and he was the best in town (at 17).  Or possibly the only drummer in town.  His parents went and talked to the owner of the bar, because they all went to school together back in the 50s, and they all agreed that it would be OK, even though he was underage, as long as he stayed on the bandstand and wasn't, of course, served any alcohol or molested by cougars (although in the early 1980s, I don't think those had a name yet; they were just older scary drunk women...)

ANYhoo, off he went, after his mom threatened the bar owner that she would go down and raise heck if anything happened to him, because he was an innocent.

Like this

So...being the innocent that he was, one night he came down off the bandstand after a set (I think that's what it's called) to sit at a table with some people (and no, I don't know *why* he was at a table, instead of outside waiting for the music to start again).

The people were lining up piles of white powder on the table in front of them and rolling up dollar bills.

As far as my farm kid sweetheart could tell, there was just a mess of white powder all over this table.

He had no idea what they were doing, so...he pulled up a chair, looked in distaste at the table covered in lines of white powder, grimaced, and said "Geez, these tables need cleaned", and proceeded to wipe all of these people's cocaine off the table onto the floor.  He thought someone had spilled the salt or something.

He wondered afterwards, why that whole table got really quiet when he was done.


He said there was just a stunned silence, so he figured, "Wow.  This table's kinda boring," and he left them sitting there with their mouths hanging open and went back up to finish drumming.

Looking back now, he says he's probably lucky they didn't actually take him outside and beat the crap out of him...

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Yard Sale Time

Our house has gradually gone from "tidy and organized" to "pretty cluttered but comfortable" somewhere in the last decade.  It's been starting to feel really cluttered for about the past 5 years, but I like to live by the rule of let's not get carried away...we can organize that tomorrow, so it's been getting worse.  Lately it's been feeling like it's actually closing in.  I can't see any wall space that isn't hosting some piece of random furniture, stack of books, or orphaned ottoman.  Don't bother trying to put anything away BECAUSE THERE'S NOWHERE TO PUT IT.  We have a lot of space, but unfortunately, also a lot of stuff.

We all know what that means:  It's Time.

So, two weeks ago I finally gave in to my family's repeated suggestions of "Why don't we just have a yard sale?", usually said in the same tone as "Hey, why don't we just go for ice cream?" I've been resisting this suggestion for about a year, because I remember the last yard sale being a nightmare of sorting through our entire house, dragging it all outside, and then spending two days talking myself hoarse (I actually lost my voice) selling it and chatting with neighbors, then loading up whatever was left and donating it to Goodwill.

I think the clutter is possibly worse this time.

Our youngest doesn't really remember the last (only) time we had a yard sale, which was about 8 years ago, so she's like how hard can it be? We put some of our extra things outside, and people come to our house and give us MONEY for our old stuff.  Sweet.


When you've had 28 years of life together and raised two kids, and have only had one real yard sale, you don't simply "put some stuff outside".

You guys.  We have been tearing our house apart, drawer by drawer and shelf by shelf, for the last two weeks.  Picture basically moving out of your house, but without actually opening the door.  Every single thing we own, every book, every DVD, every collectible, every garment, every dish and plate and craft item and box of crayons and set of matching bathroom soap dispenser/cup/trash can/rug/shower curtain...has been taken out of its previous resting place, considered, and either put in the "out" pile(s) or cleaned and put away.  Every.  single.  thing.

I found things I didn't even know we owned.  Curtains that have never been used.  Duplicate copies of books and movies.  Lamps we forgot about in the backs of closets.  Unframed Monet prints. Rabbit feeders. Seven packs of playing cards, three of them unopened.  (UNopened.  Just--why).  It turns out I still have three (THREE) Kitchenaid stand mixers, from my bakery days.  Something like 8 springform cake pans and 10,000  bottles of unopened food coloring and airbrush colors.  There's a giant bowl full of what looks like enough pencils to put the whole third world through grade school.  I pulled out all Those Clothes that haven't fit in a decade, tried to avoid saying wow, was my butt actually that small? out loud, and pretended to be unsentimental about putting them out.

It looks like there was an explosion in a Pier 1/Toys R Us/Michaels/Macys strip mall, and it landed in our dining room, office, and spare bedroom.

Actually...there's a lot of really cool stuff here. We're definitely not getting rid of any's more like we're just downsizing our life.

We started week before last, and I think we're finally more or less done conquering the downstairs at this point, after spending literally all day again yesterday until 8 p.m., doing an even more ruthless sweep of "If you haven't used it in the last year (or decade), get rid of it!"

I still have to go upstairs (cue Jaws music) and see how it looks, but our youngest has got a good start on it and has torn apart the whole floor already, so if I'm right, I *should* just have to go through the bookshelves and decide do I really need EVERY one of Tom Clancy's novels?  Will I ever use this knitting machine that I bought in 1988?  

Then we just have to carry all of the upstairs...downstairs, and then outside.

Of course, we still have to sort through the garage storage racks, all my old cake decorating tools, a storage shed, the attic, and the garden shed, set it up and label everything, and we're home free.

What does feel great is that, in every room, we have literally cut the volume of stuff in each space by at least a third.  The bookshelves, cabinets, shelves, and closets are now all perfectly cleaned, organized and very sparsely and tastefully populated.  There are actually a lot of empty shelves in some of the closets and cabinets, because what's left is the stuff we actually use.

I feel like Martha Stewart is definitely my spirit animal this week...

I'm not looking forward to the rest of this week, but I am REALLY looking forward to seeing some uncluttered spaces in our house again.

And...I've promised myself a comfy new living room chair (or two) with the money we raise, because the ones we're still using are unfit for use unless you throw a sheet over them.  Not even kidding.

Friday, July 3, 2015

Peace Out, Man

I thought about writing a whole post about people who should be nicer than this guy from my last post, but then...I looked outside at the sunshine and the daisies and echinacea blooming together outside my office window this morning.  There are at least five different kinds of bees going about their business, birds are singing, and the garden is sparkling where the water droplets have clung to the flower petals and the dill heads, and I thought  you know what? no.

Today, I'm just going back outside.  We are fortunate enough to live on our own 5-acre oasis of calm that is a world away from the craziness everywhere, and though I complain more or less constantly about the overwhelming number of things that need done outside on any given day...I am grateful for every inch of the little piece of heaven we are blessed to live on.  Less weeds would be great, but still.

There are currants to pick in the shade of the weeping birch this afternoon, and the raspberries and blueberries are ripening faster every day.  There are bushels of gorgeous roses blooming.  We have mint/lemon balm sun tea soaking up the heat on the back deck, and there is a hammock ready for a sunset break with a good book.  What else could I need?

It's going to be 100 degrees today, so it's also a perfect day for the beach, and there are tons of choices around here. Later I'm making potato salad and my mom's cucumber salad, and panna cotta to go with the berries after our BBQ dinner tomorrow to celebrate this great country's independence day.  We can watch all the big fireworks displays in the county from our hot tub under the full moon tomorrow night, with no crowds to fight, no traffic in sight, the cel phones off, and I will be with two of my favorite people in the world.

If you stop and take a breath sometimes, you realize how much you have to be grateful for.

Have a fun and safe 4th, you guys.

My little piece of heaven

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

More Customer Service Nightmares

As I may have mentioned before, we have a lot of awesome customers, except for the Chosen Few who feel that it is their job to occasionally call me and behave like a total (insert favorite adjective *here*).

Or, as Aussa at Aussa Lorens so succinctly put it..."throw some shade".

I had another of these lovelies call me the day before last, at 7:30 a.m.  I should have known.  Because my FIRST rule of phone etiquette is to never answer my business phone before 9 a.m.  Never.  NOT. EVER.

I have also learned that ANY call that comes through on my phone caller I.D. as "Restricted"...also do not answer those EVER.  Because anyone who PAYS to have their phone number hidden is hiding something.  Like the fact that they're an ass.

But I was caught off guard the other morning, namely because I thought it might be the Sheriff's office calling.  Not that that's a normal thing around here, but our daughter had her smartphone stolen the night before (insert lots of cursing about thieves *here*), and I had talked a couple of times with an officer by phone.  So I was thinking it was the nice sheriff guy calling at 7:30 a.m. the next morning to tell me Hey, we found your phone, because we're awesome, and here's a winning lottery ticket, too.

No.  UNfortunately, it wasn't the cops.  It was a customer, whose name may or may not be RICHARD.  I didn't answer the phone as a business, BECAUSE IT'S AN HOUR AND A HALF TOO EARLY FOR THAT.  I just said "Hello", because it's 7:30 a.m. and I'm thinking it's the cops, so I may as well just answer as myself.

This guy doesn't even pause.  He jumps right in, ignoring the fact that IT IS 7:30 A.M., which is a time of day that my brain only has certain sectors functioning--namely the Take Out The Dog sector and the Is There Coffee Made Yet sector.   So my ears heard this:  "I ordered from you last year, and my delivered product was too short.  I ordered 16" and I had stuff that was 12-13" long in there."

Me:  *blank stare at my phone because no coffee yet*

Him:  And I have some other questions too.  I just sent an order online just now and I haven't had a response yet.  Did you get my order?  Did it not go through?  Because I have some concerns about last year's order.

Me:  *blank stare at my phone because no coffee yet*

Him:  Hello?

Me:  Yes.  Hi.  I'm not at my desk for another hour and a half, so I haven't had time to check my e-mail yet, but I will call you back after I get in, OK?

Of course my office is about 20 feet from the couch, but if I don't set some boundaries, I will have people calling me at 10 p.m. to talk about their orders, so I'm very strict about my office hours.

We hung up.

I called him back at 9 a.m., STILL thinking at this point that this is a normal customer.  As in, someone who just needs to place an order, and who is also probably an early riser.

hahahaHAHAAAHAA.  Oh, no, my dears.  That would be too easy.

I'd try to make this shorter but...I can't.  You're here, so you know that already.

He morphed into a total condescending, snide, pompous, JERK.  The third (or fourth, I lost count) time that I spoke with him, Shane was actually sitting here, so he is my witness.  I never lost my cool, and I was never rude to this guy, but he was one of those people who just kept pushing and pushing.

I double-checked his original order, and he had in fact ordered 14" wood, so the 12 and 13" pieces would make sense. I told him this.  He disagreed, even though I have the 14" noted in three places on his account from last year.

moving on

He then also "needed to ask" me about the type of wood he got (a year ago).  He's pretty sure it wasn't all the right variety.  I cheerfully said I couldn't possibly know what was on that truckload, because it was a year ago, but I'll make a note to MAKE SURE that we get the species right this year.  Because Shane, who can tell what kind of tree it is, by the sawdust it leaves, couldn't possibly know wood species as well as a realtor.

NEXT, he needed to to point out that our delivery fees also "aren't fair".  Because he checked, and we charge $40 to come to him (he's across a state line) and yet we "deliver for free to towns in our state that are, in fact, further away" than him.  I said, yes, that's right.  We charge $40.00 any time we cross the state line even if you live one inch over the state line.  We had to draw a line somewhere, dude.

He wouldn't let it go.  He was like " charge more, even though I'm closer.  I understand, then, from what you're saying, that you treat your Idaho customers better than you treat your Washington customers.  I see."

Me:  No.  We just charge a delivery fee to your state.  For anyone  in   that   state.

Him:  I'd like to know why you have that policy.

He actually argued this point AT SOME LENGTH, stating repeatedly that it's unfair, because he's closer than some of the places we go for free and he doesn't "understand our policy".

He just wouldn't let it go.

Me:  *wth?*  We've had our delivery fees in place for twelve years, so I couldn't probably tell you why they were put in place, but I could probably have Shane call you.

Him:  Yes.  I'd like someone to call me and explain to me why you unfairly charge a delivery fee, when I'm not actually that far away.

Me:  *gritting teeth*  I will make a note of that, but the fees will still apply. *brilliant idea* You may be able to find someone closer to your location there, who could deliver for free, if you check around.

Him:  Oh, I see.  So, just to be clear, so I understand you, you're saying I should find someone else to buy from?  Let me tell you something--

Me:  No, I'm trying to help you.  You could definitely save money if you look around and find someone who can deliver for free.  OR you can come pick it up in Idaho and save the $40 that way (YOU TIGHTWAD).

Him:  I see.  Let me tell you something.  When I call a business for a service, I expect to get that service.  I do not expect to be told by that business to go shop somewhere else.  Because that is what you're saying.  Just so we're clear and I heard you right, I'm calling you to order a service, and you're telling me to find another company to do business with?    


Him:  And when I call for a service, I also don't expect to be told that "Shawn" will call me back.

Me:  Shane.

Him:  So yes, I would like "Shawn" to call me back, because--

Me:  Shane.

Him:  I'm hearing sarcasm now.  I do not expect to hear sarcasm from a business.  I want him to call me back and explain your delivery fee policies to me.

Me:  His name is Shane. (you idiot, if you're going be insulting, at least get the name right). I will pass all of this info along to Shane, and he can help you from there.  Good bye.


WHO does this?  Seriously??? Does he think we're going to call and explain to him our decision-making process from twelve damn years ago and possibly field arguments as to why it's unfair?  I could scream.

Neither of us ever raised our voice, but he was calmly nasty and condescending and, I don't know...(word, word, what's the word?)...when someone keeps trying to cause a fight? Confrontational? Antagonistic.  That's what it felt like.  Like he was trying to upset me.

I hung up, screamed and waved my arms around at Shane for a bit, wiped my tears (because I always cry when I'm really mad, which kinds of sucks), and poured a really strong drink.  Two, actually...

I haven't heard back from him.  Possibly because I blocked his email, because I also know from experience with jerks like this, that they LOVE to have the last word.  After a nasty phone call, they ALways sit down and compose an even nastier email, saying how unhappy they are with our service, or our company, and how they can't believe how rude I was, and how much they hate me and that I am possibly also responsible for world hunger and the Fall of Man.

If he does call back, I'm ready to explain to him, so there's no mistake, that, we aren't suggesting you shop around--we're telling you:  We won't sell to you, ever.

unfortunately, I work BOTH desks...

Yesterday I spent almost all day outside in the garden with my animals, listening to the breeze and the chickens, weeding and picking berries for currant-raspberry jam.  Today I have been out there again all morning, shaping the roses and enjoying the sun.  And I'm going back out there now.

At least with plants and animals, you know where you stand.

hold my calls, I'm hanging with Bindi today

PS-  thanks for listening.  again

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Survived RV-ing. Got the T-Shirt.

Make 2000-mile round trip in an RV with family and giant dog.  Check that off my bucket list.

You guys.  We got home at 1:28 a.m last Thursday, after driving straight thru for about 9 hours one day and 14 hours the second day.  Shane drove the whole entire trip, both ways, because he is the actual model that they used for Superman, except that now I think he needs a vacation from our vacation.  His superpower is that he can drive for two days straight and still smile.

At my prior post, I was packing the RV with our wholeentirelife, plus possibly some stuff we never use because what if we have a medical emergency and someone needs a wound stitched ON THE ROAD; plus enough stuff to have a yard sale to raise gas money for the trip home because we always have some financial crisis whenever we leave town and find ourselves scrounging under the driver's seat for cash for that last tank of gas; plus EVERY CRUMB of food in the house; plus EVERY SINGLE PIECE of clothing in the house, because what if it gets too hot/cold/windy/wet/dry or we need to go swimming in a river suddenly; PLUS my husband, our teenager, my mom and all of her luggage, AND a 70-pound English mastiff puppy for good measure, because who wouldn't want to take a 70-pound dog in an RV with no tip-outs, with walkways the width of your kneecaps? Bindi has added "knows how to back up while standing in a moving RV" to her short but growing list of handy tricks, so we feel like she's definitely special.
Who could leave this face at HOME?

We crammed all of this into a new(to us) RV that we'd never test-driven further than the nearest gas station, made sure the basic things worked like lights, water, and the generator, slammed the door, and drove it ALL THE WAY TO ALAMEDA, CALIFORNIA, because we keep pretty strictly to our code of living by the seat of our pants.  From our house, Alameda turned out to be exactly 1,006,000,000,000 miles away, but we thought we could take turns driving and it'd all be a hoot, right?  I pictured us playing Scrabble along the way and telling family stories as we cruised through Washington, Oregon, and California.
Image result for rv traveling

Oregon turned out to have A LOT more uphill climbs than I remembered.  After living there for 5 years and driving back and forth to Idaho a lot, I remembered, like, ONE.  There were actually about a thousand, give or take.  It turns out that I-5 through Oregon is JUST HILLS.  It's literally just...a freeway--straight through the middle of a mountain range.  I remember it being much more fun to drive when we were younger, in our (then) new BMW 328xi, but the whole experience in a 28' RV shaped like a giant SAIL was somewhat less exhilarating.

And we didn't play Scrabble OR take turns driving.

Because WIND.  Add to the nonstop hills, the fact that the wind blew, hard.  The. Whole. Way. Picture riding inside a breadbox inside a windtunnel inside a hurricane, pretty much all the way right up to my aunt's doorstep in Alameda.

I may or may not have seen this out the window at one point

Because of the WIND, we didn't switch drivers except that one time when Shane laid down in the back bed at a rest stop, in need of a nap, and I figured I could definitely drive this thing down a straight freeway in the Columbia River Gorge for awhile, because how hard can it be, right?  I think he lasted all of five minutes on the bed before he tiptoed up to the front, stepped over the dog, and said lovingly in my ear Pull over.  You're going to kill all of us.

In my defense, I was totally staying between the lines, even though I think I maxed out at a speed of like 47 mph.  No wonder the drivers of RVs always look like they're 100 years old, all hunched over and crabby.  The wind pushed us around so much that the only place that felt safe was the front seats.  The further back you got, the more it felt like you were in a shuttle launch, with all the crash-warning alarms blinking.  Every time any of us went in the back of the RV, we thought this is it.  This is how it ends.  We're just going to be blown out of control and roll over a hundred times and we'll all die.  I don't want to die in an RV bathroom in my pajamas.

We also ended up driving through northern California in the midst of a 3-year drought and a heat wave at about 5 p.m., so there were lots of OH MY GOSH HOT comments every time we stopped, which was about every hour, because the RV needed gas in every town to compensate for our 8 mpg fuel consumption, and the dog needed to get out at pretty much every single rest stop for the entire length of I-5.

Just kidding.  It was actually more like every *few* rest stops.

And as an aside, can I just say for the record that Oregon has some of the nicest rest stops I've ever seen in my life?  Like, you could live there.
Image result for plantation
OK, not THIS nice.  But still.

Then things started going awry.  About halfway down I-5, we realized the generator wasn't going to work for longer than a few minutes at a time before it died, even though on all our test runs at home, it had worked fine.  It was also so loud that we knew that if we started it up within an acre of any humans, we'd cause a evacuation, so we'd been hoping to run it while we were driving, to keep things charged and possibly use the air conditioner, because Sacramento.  Apparently there was an issue with the relay breaker flux capacitor fuel pump thingie. generator = no A/C + no charging of the things.

Having no way to charge our phones along the way, I realized that mine was at about 22% battery as we approached Sacramento, and we still needed it to navigate into San Francisco.  I can not even imagine how we all ever did this stuff with just...maps.  Oh. My. Gosh.  I turned my phone off and hoped that the battery wouldn't die in the dark, in the middle of San Francisco traffic.  Because the one thing I did NOT pack was a map.

Right about the same time, I realized that the wet spot on the carpet by the sink wasn't from the dog splashing her drinking water.  Our hot water tank was leaking under the cabinets, (yes, the same hot water tank we had spent an entire 98-degree evening struggling to fit back into a hole that was, I promise, not as big as the tank itself). The spot was spreading.  I looked under the sink cabinet area and assessed the situation.  All the cleaning supplies I brought...soaked.  All the dishtowels and washclothes we brought...soaked.  RV kitchen carpet...soaked.  Wait--Who puts carpet in a kitchen??  

stay focused

I stuffed a large towel under the sink to soak up the leaking, and we stopped at a rest stop north of Red Bluff and laid our motley batch of wet towels to dry out in the sun on a picnic table.  The staff at the rest stop gathered around to ask us, nicely, if we were doing our laundry?  Because if so, it's probably not really appropriate to lay out your laundry to dry on the picnic tables, ma'am.  We reassured them that they were just wet towels, and since the surface of the tables was 1,000 degrees, the towels dried in about 30 seconds, and we were on our way.

I also had an opportunity to actually YELL at my very first complete stranger, because Bindi is very shy around new people and dogs (as in: she panics if they approach too fast).  This woman pulled up in her Mercedes to a rest stop and let both her dogs out, unleashed, where they proceeded to pee everywhere except the area marked PET AREA.  She then watched unconcerned as one of her dogs ran straight for us, where we were sitting with Bindi at a picnic table, on a leash, like normal people do.  Bindi saw the strange dog and went into full panic-reverse mode, straight backwards up Shane's leg.  I completely forgot my diplomacy skills and shouted at this lady, "Leash.  Dog on leash please.  Leash your dog.  LEASH WOMAN!!!"

She huffed off to her Mercedes and drove away.  No apology.  Not even, "Oh, I'm sorry, but I'm just way too special to follow leash laws.  Those scratches look like they hurt."

I've never yelled at a stranger before, but it felt kind of freeing...

We continued on.  The wind never let up for the entire trip, but I speak for both of us when I say that the last 45 minutes into the Bay area at 9:30 p.m. that night ranked in our top 2 scariest road trips.  We paused about an hour outside the city to text my cousin and suggest that maybe we should spend the night at a campground and come into the city in the daylight the next morning. "Oh, no, you're so close! It's only another hour! Just come the rest of the way!" We were like, "Right.  Because, how hard can it be?"  So we headed back onto the freeway, checked my phone (19% battery), and hoped for the best.

Imagine trying to handle a giant box of an RV in strong gusting head-winds, driving 70 mph on a 19-lane 5-lane freeway full of crazy city traffic, while trying to navigate to an unknown destination in the dark.  Shane's a great driver and the calmest man I know, but I've literally never seen him so stressed.  It took all his concentration to keep us upright and also not run over the various insane drivers who kept cutting in front of the RV at 70 mph with like 3 feet of space to spare, without signaling.  

We were both getting tenser by the minute.  Our daughter gave up watching through the window and decided now would be a good time to face the back and PRAY.

Our conversation the last few miles consisted of fun stuff like this:

Him:  We're in the middle lane.  What lane do I need to be in?  What lane WHAT LANE WHAT LANE?!?  WHATLANE???

Me:  Hold on.  My phone's still powering on.

Him:  Hurry UP please.  The freeway forks in 1/4 mile.

Me:  Almost done...I can't make it start up any faster.



Google Navigation Voice:  In 1/4 mile keep left to take the exit towards I-580 south Alameda/San Francisco/Mexico/Brazil and I-880 south San Francisco Airport/I-80 west Fairfield/San Rafael/Napa/blahblah.

Him:  What?? I just need to know which exit.

Me:  I think we keep left.  Ok--Yes.  This is good.  So...Stay left.  LEFT.  Change lanes NOW.

We find ourselves off the freeway under a tangle of what seems like all the freeways and overpasses ever built, driving in the dark, in the industrial part of Oakland.

Google Navigation Voice:  Keep left at the fork.  Keep right at the fork.  Slight right onto Jackson. Use the left lanes to continue onto Central Ave.

Us:  ...did it just say keep left AND keep right? WHICH fork??   AH MIGASH.

Him:  We're going to die.  Can you see any street signs? Where are we?

Me:  No, it's too dark.  Wait.  It says Jackson on the sign there, behind that tree branch.  I think.  No, wait--that's Santa Clara.  Nevermind.

Him:  Just TELL ME WHERE TO TURN, because there are four lanes here, and I can't get across all of them in one block.  Why can't we see any SIGNS?

Me:  I've never been here, so I know as much as you do right now.  Yes, wait-- OK, we're on Central. OK, turn left up here.  You need to be in the left lane.  I think.  Yes.  Move over a lane now.  LEFT.  LEFT LANE RIGHT NOW TURN HERE.

Google Navigation Voice:  Your destination is on the right.

We made it.  Then we saw the alley my aunt was directing us to drive into with this 28-foot motorhome.  C'mon back!  You guys.  It was the smallest alley I have ever seen.  Like the kind of alley that was probably installed when the milk man delivered milk with a one-horse cart, and it is used by apartment dwellers who drive those little electric hybrid city cars, very slowly.  It was lined with brick apartment entries on one side and a solid wall of hedge on the other, and it was exactly 8 inches wider than the whole motorhome.

On our first try, we went in at the wrong angle, caught the trees with the RV stair that had somehow slid out, and bent it all to heck.  When I tried to open the door to check out how badly we'd mangled the step, I could open the door about an inch and a half before I hit the trees.  The step was ruined, so it couldn't be pushed in.  Start over.

He backed up, out into the 4-lane street full of Friday-night traffic, straightened the RV more, and tried again.  This time we were lined up right, but the alley was so narrow that he literally was pushing through all the bushes the whole way back for about 100' to where the parking area was. One really stubborn bush actually broke off our exterior running light and left a set of 4 scratches the whole length of the RV.  As Shane passed one brick apartment entryway, he reached out the driver's window and gently pushed their potted plants out of the way so he could inch past it.


The whole way down the alley, I was following him with a flashlight, wondering are we going to have to back out of this alley? Because if we are, we'll just have to sell the RV in pieces, right here in the alley and fly home.  I wonder if I can put Bindi on an airplane? We can NOT afford plane tickets.  It turned out to be a U-shaped drive-through, so we didn't have to sell the RV.

By the time he turned off the motor, I think my skin was the only thing actually holding me together.

Once parked, we knew we couldn't use the generator in the small space we were in without somehow building a new muffler for it, but we figured no problem, we'll just plug our 60' power cord into my aunt's storage unit outlet.   But no, because the outlet turned out to be 70' away.  Which didn't matter, because the outlet was the wrong amperage anyway.

Holding firm to our "wing-it" creed, we used the onboard batteries all week, got a jump-start when it was time to leave, drove out the other entrance to the apartments (which turned out to be much wider, thank goodness), and did the whole trip in reverse, in daylight.

About an hour outside of San Francisco, we realized we're out of water, toilet, no shower, no washing dishes.  Also still no generator, so also still no A/C or charging of the things.  And why do I smell the septic tank??

Break time.

We found an overnight RV camp ground about half way home and were able to plug into actual electricity, refill our water, dump the septic, charge the things, and continued on home.  I won't even bother marveling at the small-ness of the camp spots at this lovely, shaded RV park by a river.  I stepped out of our door and nearly hit my face on the slide-out of the camper next to us.  Yes, they were that close.  On all sides.  Because:  Hey, suburban life is a drag.  I know! Let's go CAMPING, so we can live EVEN CLOSER to our neighbors. 

this is roomier, by comparison...not even kidding

Aside from the stressful trip getting there and back, it turned out to be a seriously awesome visit with a group of my family that have never before, and may never again, all be in the same city at the same time, so everything was worth it.

And we got to see some beautiful scenery.
Heading down the Gorge

Columbia River

Mt Shasta 

Cool hills outside Fairfield, CA

Unloading.  Because why not?

Shasta again on the way home

Mt Hood from Portland freeway, after going 21 miles in stop/start rush hour traffic. why

But hey--I had time to knit this sock...

If anyone's interested, we also have an RV for sale.

Thursday, June 25, 2015

Things Are Looking Up, but Pink Hasn't Called Yet...

Today I found myself driving back and forth between our two local metro areas, looking for random parts for Shane.  Most of the things turned out to not be available, because yeah, we don't have that.  But thanks for driving an hour out of your way to show me this thing that we can't sell you.  Crazy traffic, huh?

I had to deal with slightly nightmare-ish traffic on the freeway, because for some reason BOTH cities have decided to simultaneously host major sporting events--ON THE SAME WEEKEND.  Which means there are 10 million  about 350,000 extra people in both towns, combined, this weekend.  Good luck getting a hotel anywhere within 50 miles of here right now.

But IN SPITE of the fact that all million of them appeared to be on the freeway with me at 4:04 p.m. today, I decided to try to enjoy the drive, live dangerously, and max out my car's stereo volume ("listening to music at the highest volume is not recommended") and rock out, to kill the time.  I may have even been singing.

What made me laugh, though, is that, the way things have been around here in our bank account (or lack of...), even buying small extras can often seem like a big deal.  Heck, some weeks buying freaking milk seems like a big deal.  "Are we out of it yet? Then we don't need it."  Yet, today I had a customer prepay for an order, so we had...ahem...some extra money in the bank to buy milk AND all the things I was in search of, even though they didn't have them in stock. (thanks a lot, people)

Because of this slight uptick in fortune, I found myself singing along with Pink (or however you spell her name) to the lyrics of I Got Money Now, at full volume.
You don't
Have to 
Like me
cause I've got money now
I don't care
What you say
About me
cause I've got money now

Ok.  So, it was like $600.00 extra dollars...  

I KNOW.  But today, it seemed pretty much like the same thing.  

So, that's how *my* day was.

How was yours?