Thursday, July 31, 2014

Time Traveler--Summer 1977, Year of the Tent

Ready for more hippie child family history?  Good.

If you've been following the Time Traveler posts, you know we moved to Idaho from California in July 1977 in a van with a goat.  We arrived safely at our heretofore-unseen new property in Idaho, which was basically just 20 acres of forest, 25 miles from nowhere, where any phone and electric lines had yet to exist.  Which was kind of the whole point.
This is from 2012.  If you look closely, you can see a dark gap in the trees. That was our driveway in 1977.  It's grown over now and you have to walk in, but I used to stand out in that turn-out IN THE DARK at 6:40 a.m. and watch for the bus to come down that road.  At age 7.  No, that wasn't scary, but thanks for asking.

We pitched a tent to live in while we started building our house--a pole structure that my dad had carefully designed on the backs of various napkins late at night.  Dad set poles to soak in 55-gallon drums of creosote about halfway up the driveway, and got started.

There were five of us at the time, because we had my parents, 7-year-old me, my 2-year-old brother, and Patrick, who was one of the nomadic 70s friends who lived with us on and off through those years.  He had come along for the move from California, and he doubled as a big brother/babysitter for us, a carpentry/building assistant for the house, and a drinking partner for my dad.

We camped out in a square 4-man tent, all five of us, until like October, and then we moved into the one semi-finished room of the house, which would later become the kitchen.

I remember keeping our food cold by packing it around blocks of ice in a big Coleman cooler, and I remember packing gallon jugs for water, which Mom tells me we did for 7 years.  SEVEN YEARS? YOU GUYS.  OMG.  It makes me want to go and stand in our shower right now, just thinking about that many years of no running water.  So, that's why I recall taking baths at other people's houses...because we did it for. SEVEN. YEARS.

Oh sure, we were able to bathe at home.  In a metal tub.  With water we heated on the wood stove.  We weren't entirely heathens.

This is probably 1979, two years later, and yes, there I am, packing water.  So, yeah.
I also use the term "semi-finished room of the house" loosely.  It was "finished" in the sense that it had a wooden floor and ceiling. The walls, however, were clear plastic, I guess because LIGHT, (besides, who'd use black plastic for walls? There'd be no windows.  Everyone knows this).  Dad had nailed a blanket in the doorway, so, other than not sleeping on the actual frozen ground and having wood heat (and even more smoke) from a temperamental potbelly stove, plus a little more square footage to put all our sleeping bags on the (not earth) floor, it wasn't a huge improvement.  Still, at the time, it felt like we were pretty Uptown Now, with the added bonus that the chickens and goats couldn't get in as easily any more, mostly because they had to come up two steps to get through the blanket, and that's just a nuisance if you have four legs, or those little chicken legs.  Ever see a chicken go up stairs?  

I also remember having to duck outside the blanket when brushing our teeth, to spit, so obviously we didn't have anything inside during that first winter that would qualify as a sink or a drain.  Mom had been doing dishes outside on the ground, sometimes with chickens supervising, (not even kidding, check out the one next to her right elbow), but of course now I can't remember HOW Mom did dishes in the plastic-walled room that winter..Buckets?      Mom? How the heck, woman?  

Dad had definitely improved on THIS situation, by October.  I think.  I'm also really sure he never did dishes, ever.

This also should make it self-explanatory that my mom and I both severely dislike camping , unless it involves a microwave, running water, and a door that locks.  It may have been an adventure for me, and probably definitely was one for my dad, who spent a lot of time drinking and scribbling on napkins, but I can't imagine being the "mom" in that situation.  sorry, mom!!   Someone needs to build a statue in her honor, I'm pretty sure.  Or a fountain, with actual running water.

So, to wrap it up--by the end of that first year, 1977, we were definitely up off the ground and safely behind the locked blanket/door, and the goats were outside where they belonged.

Which reminds me, I also distinctly recall having problems with mountain lions being attracted by the sound of those stupid loud screaming Nubian goats, because Nubian goats have two volumes: loud screaming goat sounds, and WE JUST GOT OUT AND ARE RUNNING DOWN THE ROAD INTO THE WOODS AND YOU'LL HAVE TO CHASE US THROUGH 20 ACRES OF UNDERBRUSH ALL THE WAY TO THE RIVER HAHAHAHAHA.

More to come, but right now I'm inspired to go do dishes, laundry, AND take a shower.  Don't forget to appreciate the simple fact that you can turn on water INSIDE your house...

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

More Awkward Encounters--My Earliest Awkward Memory

If you've read much here, you may know I have a dorky tendency to always blurt out the wrong thing either in the wrong way or to the wrong person, so it got me thinking...when did this start?

I immediately knew.

I will try to make it brief.  (I said try.  Not promise).

When I was about 8, there were a boy and girl (siblings) who I equally adored (her) and loathed (him).  She had saved my life once, for real, when I managed to slip and fall down in the fastest current of our local river swimming hole, and found myself suddenly sputtering and tumbling along in a part of the river that was strong enough to CARRY ME ALL THE WAY DOWN THE WHOLE RIVER AND POSSIBLY THROUGH THE DAM WHERE I WOULD SURELY DIE.  aieeeeeeeee

She saved me by simply stepping into the water and grabbing my scrawny self, and saying, "Put your feet down".  It was like 6" deep.  But I was reallyreallyreally sure I almost died, right there; and Diane saved me, for real, so I adored her.

Her brother, Dale...I loathed.  I don't even remember *why*.  I just remember despising him.  I remember that he was bigger than us, and he was hateful and greasy and mean, and us younger kids all hated him, especially me.  I hated him with the fire of a thousand suns, with all the hate an 8-year-old could muster.
Still waters, guys.
One day, Dale was teasing someone--my brother, me, or one of the other kids, and it must have been just the last straw with this boy, because I remember I just--snapped.  He was giggling and tormenting one of us over who knows what, and I clenched my fists and gritted my teeth and glared at him.  I summoned up the worst thing I could think of, feeling like I wished I could rip him apart with my bare teeth and he would exist no longer (I still remember how angry I was).  And I screamed at him:

"You're BACON!    AND I LOVE BACON!!!!"

Wait.  What?

I meant that to sound like..."You are the one thing I want to rip with my teeth and just...destroy."  Instead, there was this shocked silence from the other kids.  Then:

Them:  AaaaahhhhhahahahahahahaHAHAHAHA.  You LOVE DALE!!  She loves Daaa-aaale!

Me:  NO!! Aughh!  I hate him! I want to BITE him.  (I actually had a bit of a reputation for literally biting people at that age, but that's a different story)

Them:  Stef and DAy-le, sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G!!!

They would not be dissuaded.  Hysterical childish laughter still echoes in my head.

*shrivel*  *hiss*

I've been saying dumb stuff like that, pretty much ever since.

What's your earliest awkward foot-in-mouth memory?  Didn't we all have that one kid we wished would just disappear?

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Queen of Awkward Ice Breakers-- More Awkward Encounters

Recently I stopped at a grocery store, (which fortunately wasn't one I normally shop at), where I was UNpleasantly surprised to find that the parking lot was hosting what appeared to be a good-sized loud, public argument.  It looked like a Jerry Springer/white trash convention of screaming, crying, arm-waving, jumping-up-and-down random adults and small children, all of whom appeared to be attacking each other VERY LOUDLY.  And apparently it's always a good thing to include the small children if you're going to have a complete screaming cursing meltdown in a public parking lot.  Start young, is their motto. This whole thing was happening one car away from where I parked, because of course I'm not a savvy driver enough to notice a small gang war going on in a parking lot, so I accidentally parked right next to this giant drama.

I actually hurried to get inside, while trying not to listen for possible gun shots behind me, because, yes, it was that dramatic.  One lady was actually jumping up and down.

Like this, only with way more tattooed people.  And babies.
I got up to the check-out, and the cashier was this nice 20-something girl with a lovely foreign accent.  She asked for my I.D. for some wine, then she very flatteringly did a double-take at my age and then looked back at me, and back at my driver's license, and was like, "What?  Seriously?  No way you're that old."  I smiled and said, "Aww, thanks!" because there is no better compliment on the face of this earth.  

She went back to checking items through, then stopped and actually came back to study my face closely, then:  "Seriously.  You look GREAT."  Again, "Thank you.  That's so sweet."  She did it a third time.  Not even kidding.  By now the kid who's bagging the groceries is sort of staring at me, so I looked at him and said, "It's OK...I'm actually 120 years old.  Don't tell anyone."

She was so sweet about it, and she kept going on about it in this lovely foreign accent, and it was very flattering.  Of course I wanted to say something witty and grateful in return, so I said, "Could you just come home with me?"

I MEANT it to sound like "Could I just adopt you, and you could live with my kids and teach them to always tell me I look young and beautiful every day, forever? Even when I wake up all cranky and snarling at everyone?"  But the shortened version of that thought...didn't come out sounding right.  Instead, it sounded kind of ...weird.

She kind of laughed and was like, "Oh., I can't."  *pause*   "Not that it's not a nice offer..."

Oh.  Oh, my Lord...   No.  Wait.

I didn't even have the sense to be like, "Oh, no. I meant it like 'can I just adopt you?'" I just ignored the whole part where THIS JUST GOT WEIRD and decided to babble on about the frackas in the parking lot.  "Did you guys have to send someone out to settle that big fight in your parking lot a little while ago?"  They were like, "What fight?"  So I described it, and she let us know, in her cool European accent, "Yeah, that's an AMERICAN thing," so apparently Europeans keep their big noisy fights at home or in back alleys or something.

Then the bagging kid decided that he should probably walk me out to my car, because by now it was getting dark, and remember...I'm possibly 120 years old, and no one wants to see an old lady get knocked down in a gang brawl.

He followed me most of the way to my car and apologized for the fight, like it was his fault--"I'm so sorry you had to see that."  Still, I could tell he was probably wondering if I was going to ask HIM to come home with me, too, judging from the careful distance he kept behind my cart.


I'm just glad it wasn't my regular grocery store.

Monday, July 28, 2014

School Lists and Little Cheese Dudes. My years of 'No Television' are Showing.

Back when my oldest was going into first grade, I remember taking her school-supply shopping with The List.  You remember The List, right?  That full-page of #10 font, single-spaced, 3-columns of SUPER IMPORTANT STUFF like this:
 "One full 987-piece pack of erasable color Sharpie brand fine-point nontoxic washable markers including neon and white (please make SURE they're washable. Mrs. K's classroom has just been painted again)"

Yeah.  She just graduated, but I SO do not miss those Lists. Of course, next month she starts college, and there's still a list, only now it has *just* two things on it.
1.  $700.00 worth of text books.
 2.  New Apple Laptop of $900 value or better.


moving on

I still remember that first-grade shopping trip, though.  We'd picked out a cute little-girl backpack and cute little-girl pencils and lunchbox and clothes and socks and shoes and the 987-pieces of erasable whatever, a pink ruler, highlighters in 10 colors, a pencil box, a container of 500 erasers, and a pallet of Kleenex, then we turned down the...notebook aisle.  She had to have several notebooks, of course, because learning to write takes LOTS OF PAPER.

Bear in mind that I have spent most of my life, and hers, without any TV, and especially without cable.  Or Nickelodeon.  So I had no earthly idea what I was looking at, on some of the folders.  I recognized Hello Kitty, because...hello...that cat has been around since I was in 2nd grade.  But the rest?  I didn't recognize any of them. What even ARE Bratz?!  You guys!!  They look like Angelina in size 14 shoes from some weird disco/roller derby nightmare.  Scary.

We stopped in front of the folders, and to this day we still laugh about the conversation:

Me:  Ok--Folders.  They have rainbows, Hello Kitty, puppies...some little cheese dude...?

Her:  Mom.  That's SpongeBob. He's not cheese.

Me:  Who's "SpongeBob"? He looks like Swiss cheese. Why are his eyes bloodshot?

Her:  He lives in the ocean. Can I get that one?

Me:  I guess so.  But not the one with the bloodshot eyes.  That's just weird.

After that, we actually started watching SpongeBob now and then, and once you get past the close-ups of the bloodshot eyes or the semi-gross jokes in some of them...he's pretty cute.  I get it now.

Little cheese dude... 
Sorry kids.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Time Traveler--Yes, That's a GOAT In Our Van...Why?

If you've read any of the Time Traveler posts, you have heard about our 1977 move from California to Idaho, with a goat in a playpen in the back of our van.  I don't have a picture of the playpen, but I DID find a picture of the van.  This was our family car lot of years.  There was also a whole period of time where my mom has told me that neither door worked, so she had to crawl in and out THROUGH THE WINDOW YOU GUYS.  With a 2-year-old.  On main street.  I can't even--

Sweet ride, huh?
It never looked any different than exactly this, and it was in fact three different colors.  It was a stick shift with a big Naugahyde bench seat in the front, and no seat belts.  I imagine it had a second bench seat, but I never used it because--hello, back then, if you were 6, you rode standing up behind the front seat, remember?  No wonder I have pretty good "sea legs"...

Dad also had a CB radio in it, in case we broke down a million miles from anywhere, because of course everyone had CB's back then. ( Dad was "Papa Bear").  Unfortunately, no one answered on that one time when we DID actually run out of gas, 10 miles up a river road.  Yeah.  Because that's what happens when you move to somewhere where they haven't even invented radio antennas yet, Dad.

Mom drove that van from Sonoma County, CA to northern Idaho in July of 1977, with me and my 2 year-old brother in the back.  I distinctly remember there being just a mattress on the floor in the back for the move, and we had all our stuff lining the sidewalls.  It was just like an awesome, moving fort. (Remember forts?) To us kids, it was super cool.  I don't remember if Mom was having as much fun.  Possibly not.

For the trip, they had put an old wooden playpen just inside the back tailgate, so the goat could ride along for the move.  I'm not even kidding.  We always had Nubian goats, (and even had a 3-legged goat once - pictured below), and I guess this was better than putting her in the back of the pickup truck (also below).  

We stopped at a KOA for the night on the way, because it's like a 24-hour drive, which is a long drive anytime, but an especially long drive in an antique van with a 7- and a 2-year-old and a goat in the back, I don't care who you are.

At the KOA, there was a bus-load of kids from Back East staying that night, probably on their way to California, because, hello--1970s California was pretty much everyone's dream at the time, riiight?  (Except for the Californians, who were migrating to Idaho to get even MORE back to the earth--like us).  Yeah.  We need to be further away from everyone...!  Let's go build a cabin in the middle of nowhere in Idaho!  Ok.  As long as we can take the goat, though.


On the overnight at the KOA, we had opened the back tailgate and tied the goat to the back of the van, so she could eat grass or not sleep inside the van with us or whatever.  Of course, we were soon discovered by the Back East city kids, who had apparently never seen a goat or read a farm book, (ever?).  They somehow couldn't grasp that anyone would travel with anything that wasn't a dog, so of course they kept asking us "What kind of dog is that??"  Dad came back from the showers in the morning and said that we were the talk of the whole campground.  Apparently everyone was asking everyone, did you see that van? I've never seen a dog like that before... What IS that?

Seriously?  A dog that screams 'BAAAAAAHHHH' All morning?  Where'd these kids come from?

We thought it was hilarious, like, "Ohhh, those CITY kids" but of, I can't even fathom the idea of a goat in a playpen in the back of a vehicle, for two days.  

I have such a strong memory of it that OMG I ALSO DREW YOU GUYS A PICTURE... (you can click on it to see it better).

Exactly like this.  

I remember stopping along the way at Mt. Shasta and getting out because SNOW, but not much else.

We made it to Idaho, where we set up a tent in the middle of the woods, which the 5 of us lived in until October, using an outside homemade shower with water piped across 20 acres from a nearby creek, cooking in an outdoor kitchen, and trying to keep the goats and the chickens OUT of the tent.  Mom also spent a summer washing dishes ON THE GROUND outside the building site, with random chickens supervising:

You can't make this stuff up, guys.  See?

We eventually built an awesome house, with help from a revolving door of itinerant hippies who would stay with us over the years, trading carpentry skills for room and board.  The house was finished over the next decade, though it burned to the ground in 1986, and our lives turned upside down, but that's another story.

Some more pictures from my limited collection (because pictures don't survive house fires...)
Our OTHER family car, a black-and-primer 1950ish Chevy truck.  I rode everywhere in the back, because WHY NOT?
That's me, my mom and Duncan the dog.  

Me in front of the California house, c. 1975-6

Dad with proof that, yes, there was a three-legged goat.  Awesome, huh?
THE goat in front of the half-finished house, with my monkey bar at right.  I lived on that bar.
That is the ONLY picture I have found of the goat who rode in the van. She's in front of her little homemade 'goat/dog house'.  Actually, she used to stand ON TOP of it a lot, too.  Also--note that there's no fence, so, she's either tied to the goat house or she's loose...  

P.S.  We also learned in those years that the best way to attact mountain lions is to live in the middle of nowhere with loud Nubian goats.  

P.P.S. The sleds leaning up next to the door were the way we GOT DOWN THE DRIVEWAY all winter. It was so steep that we'd park at the top, mom would sit on the back of the runner sled with my brother between her legs; and I'd sit on the other one, with a 5-gallon-bucket of water between my legs, and we'd ride all the way down to the house like that.  We packed water for quite awhile, as I recall.  Good times.

But, more about all that some other time... 

Friday, July 25, 2014

So, Mom--What DO You Do All Day?

A few weeks ago I was talking with my youngest, who prefers to be on the go A LOT and can be reduced to catatonic staring at a wall in boredom if she has to stay home for like, a whole day during the summer.

We had this conversation, while talking about the fact that I have spent the last 18 months with no car, except the one I share with our oldest, who works full-time now, so basically I'm home a lot, ALL THE TIME EVERY DAY FOREVER (which is where I love to be the most--they don't understand why my perfect day is a day when I don't have to drive anyone anywhere):

Her:  I can't for the LIFE OF ME figure out what it is you DO all day...

Me:  Well.  Basically I just hang around, painting my nails, reading, taking naps, studying French, fooling around on the internet, and WHATEVER ELSE I FEEL LIKE.  All day.  While you're at school.

Her:  *nothing*

In all fairness...between manicures I also manage to run our business, do all the books, scheduling, customer service, and taxes; take care of 2 acres of landscaping, an acre of grass, a 5,000 sq ft vegetable garden, laundry for four, keep 19 chickens, an orchard, 100 rose bushes, keep the house up, preserve all our own food for the year, make sure that there's always food in the fridge, the cats are fed (yes, every day), beds have clean linens, bathrooms are clean, and everything gets done on time and everyone gets where they need to go, and dinner is always delicious.

I also sometimes write blog posts, knit sweaters, and work on a cookbook that will hopefully be published in my lifetime.

Nothing much.

So--Here's to working, stay-at-home moms everywhere.  Because we ROCK, even if no one can see it.

Sorry--Can't help you.  I have wet nails.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Time Traveler--Nice to Meet You...Your Friends Call You- WHAT?

As you may know, I had a back-to-the-earth, we-don't-need-money, 70's kind of childhood. The 70s were the best decade to have that kind of childhood, because MOTHER EARTH you guys.  That's all you need, man.

I loved it at the time, but I didn't realize entirely that not everyone lived that way.  Hence, I get lots of strange looks when I talk about my experiences growing up.

Today I was recalling some of the people I met along the way.  Pretty much everyone we knew then was living "at one with nature", and I guess the first part of being at one with the universe was that you have to have a way more nature-ish name than *whatever your parents named you*.  Like, Ed.  Ed is not a nature name.  Sorry, Ed, nothing personal...

Anyhoo--I ended up meeting a LOT of people with these awesome hippie/granola names, like The Artist Formerly Known as John But Now I'm Just MORNING STAR.  Seriously, when I was 6, we lived in California, and my favorite relatives lived on a hippie commune, where I met the following people:

Ocho:  This giant black man with a 70s afro, who owned the two gorgeous palomino mares in the pasture (named Mahara and Okeemo).  I never really saw him, but I thought someone who owned and rode horses that big and that beautiful...pretty much had to be awesome.

Keeja-Ho:  A toddler who wandered around, apparently without parents, wearing nothing but a diaper, and for some reason, she also always had a quarter taped over her belly button.  Just...what?  At the time, I supposed it was to make her giant "outy" belly button somehow be less "outy", but...what shaman prescribed that, I wonder.  Maybe it was...

Rainbow:  A faceless man who I only remember because of his name.  Because, who wouldn't remember a man named Rainbow?  He was also present in the room, if memory serves, when my mom gave birth, in her bedroom at our house, to my brother.  There was a circle of chairs in the room for that event, and Rainbow and I had front-row seats.  I was 5.  (I never wanted to have kids, after that experience.  But by the time I was 26, after much reassurance by my OB/GYN that ANESTHETICS ARE GOOD, I talked myself into it, and it's been great.)

Eurydice:  A girl who was slightly older than 6-year-old me, who I idolized.  She rode horses and jumped them.  She knew how to ride in an English saddle, and had the cool English riding outfit, complete with the jaunty hard-hat thing that they used to wear before everything required helmets, because now of course nothing is safe unless you wear a helmet for the love of God what are you doing bareheaded right now??!! You should probably put on a helmet because you could fall off that office chair and get a concussion and then I'd be on the hook because I didn't warn you to wear a helmet.  I pretty much wanted to BE Eurydice, with her cool name and her English style...
The only picture I have of the commune/house.  It was my happy place in 1975. That's me at age 5ish, behind my aunt, on the horse I learned to ride on and had a bad horse wreck with.

THEN in 1977, we moved to Idaho, where the names got even more interesting.

We lived 25 miles from a really small town, and there was another hippie commune a mile or so away, where I was somehow allowed to go, by horse, by myself, at age 8, and spend as much time as I wanted.  (Because back then, we didn't have cell phones, we just turned up whenever, and it was OK).  I also met my BEST FRIEND EVER up there, who I still adore.  So I remember warmly those tepee-dwelling, schoolbus-living hippies who changed their names to:

Morning Star (and Carrie):  HE was Morning Star.  She was just...Carrie.  Apparently she didn't change her name.  Or maybe she did.  I just remember that they lived in a tepee, and he liked to garden...naked...and I remember the evenings up there, where everyone would stand in a circle holding hands around the fire at dusk, singing these songs in what I think was possibly a native American Indian language.  That acapella song still haunts me sometimes, and I wish I knew what it meant.  Or...maybe it's best if I don't.  We could have been calling on the spirit of the earth to bring us more weed or whatever for the season, and I wouldn't have known the difference.  But still.

Rock:  This was a couple.  They BOTH went by "Rock".  I grew up with their kids, and we eventually all went to the same 80s pentecostal church, after outgrowing the hippie phase, and they changed their names back to their original (unmatching) names.  But at the time, my 8-year-old self couldn't get over, "How can they BOTH be 'ROCK'?  How do I call one instead of the other?  Is your mom Mrs. Rock?"  Also, it just occurred to me (like, 35 years LATER) that their two kids were named after stones.  I won't use the real names, but basically pick two precious stone names, and you have it.  A family of  I get it!

Earth:  I'm not sure, but I think this was a short heavyset lady named Constance who was very odd to talk to and used a lot of big hand gestures, but I may be mixing her up with...

Wind:  Not sure if this was a name, but I figured I'd throw it in here.  It was a long time ago, guys.

Fire:  My friend's parents, (I think).  Again-- BOTH were just..."Fire".  SO difficult.  They lived in a tepee, too, which means I HAVE TOTALLY SLEPT IN A TEPEE FOR REAL you guys.  Not camping out.  Living.  If you're 8, that's awesome.  I'm not sure how it translated for the grownups at the time, but I'm pretty sure the moms were not all feeling the coolness factor.  Like, "Seriously, Fire.  If you step in my cooking-fire and get into our bedroll with those dirty bare feet ONE MORE TIME I will hang you from the lodge pole and put hot rocks down your loin cloth.  Savvy?"

Red Fox:  Another big guy with an afro.  All I remember about him is that his name inspired me to ask if the name "Yellow Snow" was taken... (I was 8, so cut me a break here.  I thought it was hilarious at the time).

Laleña and Blake:  The two next-older kids that I recall living up there.  I didn't know him, but I played with Laleña a lot.  She taught me to ride horses bareback, barefoot, and with just a halter for control.  Us kids also all made *cough* brownies *cough* one time with a "special ingredient" that the grownups didn't know about and watched from behind a blanket/wall to see if they'd notice, giggling our heads off.  (HOW did we know to do that?? Wth, parents???).  I spent overnight sleepovers with her in a converted school bus, counting the stars through those weird school-bus windows, and I thought she was awesome, but I don't know where she ended up, or whether she had another name.  I also just realized that her name could mean "the firewood" in Spanish.  So there's that...

Kyrat:  The huge bay quarter horse that I used to dream of being big enough to ride.  I did get to ride him eventually, and it was one of the highlights of my pony-riding childhood.  He was so huge to me that it felt like saddling up an oil tanker.  I'M THE KING OF THE WORLD!!!  Ahmigash! Do NOT trot!!!

Magic:  Actually a guy named Jerry.  I think his last name may have been something like Majk or Magyck or something, hence..."Magic", or "Madge", as we inner-circle friends called him.  He was a carpenter who helped us build our house and then disappeared into that vague mist of unrecalled memories.

He worked with a really good carpenter named, (not kidding) Jumping Mouse, who also helped with building our house.  Yes.  He answered to that.  Or sometimes just "Mouse" for short.  You can't even make these names up, I swear...

I'm sure there were others, but these are the ones I remember. They probably all went back to their real lives in the 80s, and now they're just Ed or John again.  I still remember those years fondly, but seriously...what a truly ODD decade that was.

 Not that you needed to hear any of this...but I'd love to hear about any oddball 70s names or people that you remember.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Look, I Wrote You a Post...With a PEN

I was totally going to start telling more Time Traveler stuff about our move from California to Idaho in 1977 with a goat in an old playpen in the back of a 1950-ish van, (yes, a goat.  In a playpen.)  That story never fails to make people go…"Wait.  What?  A goat?" because of course goats make everything more fun.  Except, like, weddings.  I've never been to a wedding that would've been improved by a goat.  Although I have been places that would have been improved by LESS GOAT, like…the back of that van, Mom.  But I digress…(I promise I will totally tell that story soon, though.  Seriously).

Moving on-

I have something even cooler right now.  

We went camping last weekend, only this time I stayed connected to my little world, instead of staging my usual self-imposed exile/mutiny from anything with batteries, at least until my phone completely gave up the ghost and refused to stayed charged.  Like, you're camping, woman.  Give up.  I stayed connected by casually holding up my phone in every square inch of airspace in the camper until OMG YOU GUYS, 2 BARS! RIGHT HERE!  Which was awesome, except that the only 4 x 6" space apparently in the whole entire campground with any cell reception was in the far corner of the back windowsill of the camper, which meant that I could get texts and emails and check my blog feed, BUT I could only answer anything by typing on my phone with it up in the windowsill, while kneeling backwards and hanging over the back of a small rocking easy chair.  But I did this, because I'm loyal like that. 

And thank goodness I did, because I would have missed an email from my friend Michelle at Rubber Shoes in Hell, asking if she could mention me in a blog post.  I said yes, of course, as long as she made me look tall and thin, which of course I'm not.  But she's loyal like that, too, so of course she said OK. I feel taller and thinner already.

Then I realized she was tagging me in her post as an "interesting blogger" and I kind of freaked out because I'm afraid that's a bit of an exaggeration.  Oh sure, my friends find me interesting and funny, and I make myself laugh my head off, and sometimes my kids, but that's about all I expected from my blog.  So it's like I accomplished a little goal, right there...*check*

I also don't know any other bloggers personally, though I read a lot of tremendously funny and inspiring blogs that make me laugh and think and cry and then laugh some more.  I know a few who comment here, and I LOVE THEM FOR THAT, but I don't know them well enough to ask them to answer questions for me, without them being all Seriously? I already did one of these.  Or…Stef who?  Then I'd be all, "Michelle made me do it!" and I think she said it's supposed to be uncomfortable, WHICH IT TOTALLY IS, so I guess I'm doing it right.  Right?? 

The idea was to answer these four questions, then tag four other bloggers who might answer them in turn.  Michelle also mentioned that this whole thing could be a pyramid scheme, so I expect I'll be super rich at the end or something, and you can all say Yeah.  I knew her when-

So, here goes…

1)      What am I working on at the moment?  Well, right this actual moment, I'm working on this post.  Oh.  Umm, and some socks I'm knitting (because I may get old someday, and I need the practice).  And a cookbook.  And all the laundry from camping, which never really ends but just goes on and on and on and on and on, andyouwillneverbefinishedmuahahahaaaa.  I'm also studying French every day.  For HOURS every day.  Because that's what bored work-at-home housewives do, I guess.  And because we are, of course, moving to Europe with all the money I'll make from this pyramid scheme.  (<-not true)

2)      How does my work differ from others of this genre?  *muffled snort of laughter* This…genre? I didn't know I had one.  Umm, well…it's not as funny as most of the humor genre and not as inspirational as the inspirational genre, so there's that.  Too wordy?  Yeah, probably that.  Definitely that.  People with red pens have been telling me for years to EDIT. EDIT. EDIT. FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT'S HOLY WOMAN, PLEASE CUT THE WORDINESS.  I can't.  I give up.  Sorry, it's not happening.  If you wanted something brief, you've already read too far.

Also…saying I even have a "genre" makes me feel like I need to "up my game", or it makes me think of convention-type people standing around with cocktails, asking each other so how's your genre doing? Are you marketing to the right audience?  Do you have a book deal yet? or about their golf games or something.  So I guess I differ in that I don't follow any genre.  

P.S. "Genre" sounds French, doesn't it…? 

Stay focused. 

3)      Why do I write what I do? 
a) To avoid laundry and dishes.  
b) Because I closed a bakery, have no car, and need a creative outlet?
c) So I'll be  discovered, they'll make my life into a Made For TV special, and I'll be RICHHHH?
d) For myself, and my kids, and their kids.  So they can read back through these posts someday and hear my actual voice on the page.  So we will have a record of some of the small everyday stories that made us laugh together.  So they can hear about my childhood, which was anything but normal but seems endlessly fascinating to them.  Some of the stories have to be written in an edited-for-all-audiences-including-the-people-involved way, which means there may be a BOATLOAD of stuff that won't be written here, but I'm not that comfortable putting everything out there for public consumption (sorry, public).  So they can read tidbits of our family's history, before the stories disappear.  If they aren't written down with each generation, they are forgotten and gone forever.  That's all, really.  If no one reads this but them, I'd be fine with that.  

*wipes a tear and clears throat*               moving on

(Also, I LOVE it if I can make people laugh, so if you have ever laughed at any of this…then you are the only other reason I write). 

4)      How does my writing process work?  I keep to a strict "by the seat of your pants" method…which means, if I find myself in random awkward or funny or annoying situations that bear re-telling, I come home, sit down, blast them out off the cuff, and hit PUBLISH.  Then…I go back and spell check, gawk at my grammar, and thank goodness that my College Prep Comp teacher has probably long since died of old age and/or doesn't know how to use the internet.  I used to be a much more formal writer.  Now I write exactly like I talk, and there's just the one draft, which of course is rambly and parenthetically full of rabbit-trails and would make him probably pass right out, but it's easier for me. (Sorry, Mr. W!)  

Seriously, other than that, I do keep a running LONG list of titles or key phrases that remind me of stories I still want to tell, and sometimes if I find myself sort of composing a story in my head overnight, and that is how I decide when it's time to write something.  In between my real life and my random blabs about nothing, I try to make time to write those down and track down the family photos to go with them.   I don't actually think of myself as a "writer" other than the fact that I like to ramble and I'm a pretty fast typer (typist?), so the idea of blogging as an online journal seemed really cool.  The fact that strangers read it always seems amazing to me.

P.S.  I ALSO wanted to point out that for THIS post, just this one…I actually wrote this in a notebook while camping, WITH A PEN, which was both painful and messy.  See?
I know right? Exactly like Hemingway.

Now I'm having to reread what I scribbled at 1 a.m. and turn it into a post.  Plus, I've revised it entirely, so basically I've WRITTEN IT TWICE YOU GUYS.  You'd think I could have made it shorter, but I've given up (hence the name of this blog.)  I'm totally going back to the one-draft thing, and thank God for laptops!

Ok, Ok, OKAAAAY.  Almost done.  The other point of this was to refer you to four other bloggers who I love to read.  I didn't tell a couple of them that they will be part of this, so we'll just let it be a surprise…riiighht?

First:  My daughter.  She and I got the idea to blog "together" at first, and we started this blog:  Running With Cookies at  I branched out on my own not long after, and she kept the original blog, where she writes and does FREAKING HILARIOUS DRAWINGS that make me laugh my head off.  She shares my odd sense of humor, and her artwork just absolutely brightens my day.  I am endlessly proud of her, and I love laughing with her.

Next:  Check out The Yeti's Wife at   I stumbled on her blog, and I love it.  She is an American living in Nepal, and her stories of life there are hilarious and insightful. 

Next:  AmberLynn at One Girl Breathing at  I love Amber's posts about being a runner and a mother, and she was kind enough to agree to being included here.  And I bet she's actually tall and thin.  Plus she is always encouraging in my continual battle between my carbaholic side that wants to eat baguette sandwiches smothered in salami and mayo, and my AHMIGASH INEEDTOLOSEWEIGHT side, and is kind enough to comment on my posts, even when I feel dorky about them.  Muah!

Last but not least:  Eli at It Just Gets Stranger at  Eli is amazing and hilarious, and he also has this deep wisdom and ability to write incredibly heartfelt posts that make me laugh and cry, sometimes simultaneously.  Plus, if you've never read his posts about Snuggy Texts, make a cup of coffee and go check those out--Right now.  He also doesn't know I sent you, but I'm pretty sure I can talk my way out of that.  *looks up legality of linking to blogs without permission* 


 And Michelle…THANKS FOR MAKING ME LAUGH A LOT AND CRY A LITTLE, but in a good way.  I love you, sister.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Of Hot Coffee, Camp, and Navigation with Kids

So, today, I had to drive my youngest to camp at the crack of 9 o'clock, first thing this morning.  ALL THE WAY TO THE ACTUAL CAMP YOU GUYS.  Usually, we just meet at the church (10 minutes away), throw a bunch of teenagers and their gear at some grownups and a bus, and leave.  Then we come back next week and do the whole thing in reverse.  Everyone wins.

Apparently things have changed in the camp insurance world, though, due to probably the last two decades of grownups suing other grownups over every-little-ridiculous-thing, until one can drive anyone anywhere ever NEVER EVER, but I didn't know this until about 12 hours ago.

We just got back from camping last night ourselves, unloaded OUR stuff from the camper, threw HER stuff in the laundry and BACK into another bag and into the trunk.  Then I happened to check the email for the info on her camp, for this morning.  I stopped at the part where it said "Hi guys! We're meeting at the camp this year."

*...*  It's an hour away.

What?  Ok, it wasn't actually that big of a deal.  I'm off, I have the time.  I even have a car, which is a rental, so woo hoo, because FREE MILEAGE.  Except for that thing I hate above all else:  I had to set an actual alarm clock.  I hate mine like you can't even believe, so I made coffee for the road.  As we turned out of our road, I handed it to my daughter and said, "Here. See if this helps."  Because hello, it was 9 a.m., and I'm pretty sure no one should be driving at that hour without coffee, plus don't forget we just got back from a long hard weekend of nothing, and we were both kind of groggy.

I forgot that she is completely unlike me, in the sense that she likes her food and drinks...lukewarm, whereas I like them to be still actually sizzling on the plate.  So she takes a sip through that dangerous little siphon-top on my travel mug, and I hear:

Her:  WOMAN!!!

Me:  What?

Her:  HOT!!!!!!!!  

Me:  Oh.  Sorry.'s hot coffee.  You weren't supposed to guzzle it.  But...sorry.


What was really cool was that she set my phone somehow to navigate the trip for us, with that voice that tells you when to turn, and if it hadn't been "on", I'd have taken an actual wrong turn at the last minute and probably ended up in Albuquerque.  So the navigation voice was like the coolest thing ever.  I didn't even have to look at the phone, or zoom in on a map to see where we were, or pull over and look up directions.  I feel so modern.  Then she was like, "Mom.  Seriously?  You've never used navigation?"

I haven't.  Trust me to find out how cool something is, right about the time it's almost obsolete.  Yeah...I'm crazy techie like that.  (and, yes, I know they can steer you wrong...I'm not that old).

Anyway.  I'm back.  And oh!--I have a cool post to write coming up that I was invited to do by a fellow blogger who thinks I'm way more talented than I am, but I'll let that be a surprise.  Or like a surprise that you know is coming.  Or you can just act surprised later.

So, keep an eye out for that, but first I have to sort out four days' worth of business voicemail, glance at some random bills that probably needed my attention a week ago, unpack the camper, and do  ALL THE LAUNDRY from camping, which somehow multiplies between the camper and the laundry room, until it seems like we must have had about 100 people with us, judging from the heap of bedding and shorts and beach towels.

You mean, we have to UNpack it, too???

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Hammers At Dawn

I may or may not be writing this from a camper.  Ok, I'm in a camper.  But it's more like a small perfect house, because I don't campIf you've read any of my Time Traveler posts, you may understand why not.  No, wait.  I haven't written *that* post yet... The one where we lived in a tent for most of a year in 1977.  Five of us, with my brother in diapers.  Outside shower, outdoor kitchen, washing dishes in a pot on the ground, with goats and chickens that came in the tent.  Oh, yes.  I will write that post eventually...but-

So, yes.  We're in a camper on a mountain by a lake.  My oldest and my husband had to leave at 5 a.m. this morning for the one-hour commute back to civilization because WORK, so we got that kind of relaxing 5 hours of sleep you get when you are relying on the alarm to go off on a Droid with 60% battery left and no electricity, plus the requirement that "If I miss work, I will be fired.  Mom. Are you totally sure your phone won't die?"

Of course I said yes.  Because I wanted her to sleep without worrying that she may miss work, get fired, not be able to go to college, and end up living in a van down by the river.  All because her mom wanted to go camp by the beach. 

The good news is that my phone didn't die, and that horrid Droid alarm did exactly what it should do...which is: wake up everyone except herI'm kidding.  She eventually got up, after I was completely awake, and they left on time.

I snuggled down to go back to sleep because hello--NO ONE IS AWAKE THAT EARLY.   Seriously.

I thought a lot of time had passed when I heard another camper start up....their generator... in the absolute still quiet of the forest.  With no clock in sight, I mentally forgave them and assumed that it must be later than I thought.  "Well, yeah.  It's probably like 7.  They are probably morning people and were kind enough to wait until 7 for their coffee." I drifted back towards the sleep I still hadn't really had.


Gun shots.  Six.  I counted.  Where we are, this isn't really cause for alarm, so I tried to sleep again.


Hammering.  I kid you not.  Now that I'm awake, I'm not sure why hammering is more alarming than guns?  All my windows were open, so it sounded like someone was building something IN THE NEXT CAMP SITE.  At first I thought "Ok, sure.  They're probably just tapping the end of their picnic table together so they can have breakfast safely.  It's cool.  They'll stop soon."

Guys.  It didn't stop.  I sleep light, so this was a total deal breaker.  Bam.  BamBAM .BAM



I shut the windows and tried to sleep anyway.  It went on.  I tried to imagine WHAT COULD YOU POSSIBLY NEED TO BUILD RIGHT NOW!!???!! 

Finally I flung the covers off and actually went outside in my jams barefoot and stood in the road looking for the source of the noise.  I couldn't see anything.  The next camp site was still quiet.  I did my best *arms flung out* gesture that universally means WTH, GUYS??? WHAT ARE YOU HAMMERING? DO YOU REALIZE THERE ARE PEOPLE SLEEPING RIGHT NOW?? Not a soul was visible.  Just the sound of hammering.  Two hammers, actually.

I gave up and went back in the camper.  Glanced at the clock.  I had to squint...the big hand is on the... 9. Little hand allllllmost on the ...6..  Wait. 

It's 5:45? 


It did finally stop, and I was able to sleep. I woke up at 10:45, which felt great.  Kind of like being on vacation.

Plus, I found two bars of service on the windowsill of the camper and woke up to an email from one of my favorite blogger friends, so it looks like today will be ok after all. Except I have the added joy of customers being able to reach me while I'm camping, so that's a love-hate kind of thing. Yeah.  The service is patchy at best hereSorry I missed your call while at the beach...really!

P.S.  They are still hammering...someone must be building a house, or a mountain-top monastery, or something.   Gah. 

The view from my door right now.  With less hammering.

Friday, July 11, 2014

I May Have Exaggerated A LITTLE

If you have people in your life who are known for accidentally (really?) ending up with your stuff (clothes, books, camping gear, coffee mugs, etc.) after visiting your house, you will understand this.

My oldest daughter is a huge fan of hot coffee and tea, and a huge fan of vintage stuff.  Our family lurks around antique stores a lot on our beach/camping weekends, because we're cool like that, and on one of these rambles, she found a vintage, ceramic Starbuck's coffee mug in perfect condition.  Of course she grabbed it because OH YES IT WAS THAT AWESOME.

It's like the holy grail of cups at our house.  No one touches it but her.  When I wash it, I put it caaaarefully to dry and then caaaarefully find a spot in the cabinet for it, because there is probably not another one anywhere on the planet and why is this even IN the cabinet when it should be in the antique-dishes-glass-fronted cabinet-thingee where no one can touch it?

Anyhoo--Recently we had company, and one of them was walking out the door to go home in the morning, and he was actually carrying her Starbuck's mug as he headed for the door, like, "Well--See ya."  I wasn't awake, because I try not to be out of bed before 9 in the summer (it's sort of a rule), but my husband is much more alert to that kind of stuff, so he stopped him and made him dump the coffee out, and Put. The. Cup. Down.

My younger daughter and I shared a laugh over it afterwards, because this kind of stuff happens a lot in our family.  But for some reason, when I explained how the conversation went, I made it sound like this:

"...So then Dad said, 'Do NOT leave here with that cup.  If you take that cup and break it, my daughter will hunt you down and kill you, and she will glue the broken pieces of that cup back together with the molecules of your soul.' "  *wipes a tear*  What good are we, if we can't embroider a story now and then?