I’m Too Sexy For My Glasses

I’ll be honest, I was hoping you wouldn’t see me this morning. Sure I had a smile on my face but I was wishing, instead, for a bag over my head.

If you see me in the morning commute, dropping kids off at the pool…er, I mean at the school–or either actually–and I am wearing my “nice mama” glasses, you will know, I have given up on the day already. At least I am strongly considering it…another story, for another day perhaps…

Nice Mama GlassesMy “nice mama glasses” are hideous. A pair of wire rimmed glasses more than ten years old, bent, scratched and really, really ugly, they were the emergency back-up pair to my “sexy librarian”, Kate Spade, tortoise-shell frames that inevitably fell victim to a puppy several years back.

I only wear the “nice mama” glasses out of desperation, late at night or mornings when getting up early enough to put in contacts seems insurmountable.

For whatever reason Orion, 4 years old, has named them my “nice mama” glasses.

“mama, can we get under the covers and watch a movie together?” he will ask.

“Aw!” Heart melting, “Yes, that sounds nice. You are so sweet.”

A satisfied smile will sweep across his whole face, then the tiniest flicker of a shadow before he will decree;

Photo on 12-16-15 at 12.06 PM

without my “nice, mama glasses”

Photo on 12-16-15 at 12.06 PM #2

with my glasses that make me suddenly nice.

“but first you have to put on your “nice mama” glasses.”

Sometimes they are my, “good mama” glasses it just depends on the day.

Weirdo little kids. Just like weirdo adults, they have ideas in their heads about what different things mean, even innocuous or arbitrary items that come off and on. I promise you, I am just as mean and nasty with my “nice mama” glasses on as I am without them.

I’d like to get another pair of “sexy librarian” glasses, I actually see a pair in the very near future. It’s tough being so sexy and not having a pair of spectacles so that everyone else knows it too…Until then, even though I hate the ratty, crooked, scratched-up, gold-rimmed, “nice mama” glasses, I am glad someone thinks they look good on me.

So then I just put on my crazy pants and took the day off…

I will trump your regular 8 hour work day, your one hour workout and your dinner-kitchen exploits and raise you; storytime, blog writing, cookie baking, friend visiting, weed pulling, power cleaning, crafting, conglomerating, adventure finding, fundraising, bug hunting, kid coaching, bird training, carnival practicing, chicken wrangling bliss…but sometimes a girl just needs a little break.

That is to say that I absolutely am guilty of trying to follow through with every “good idea” that pops into my head and sometimes…well somebody has to pay the price of that.  Clearly, not that smart, I still haven’t figured out that “someone” is Matilda.

All summer I have had one day off a week… If by one day off, you mean clumping together parts of a couple different days. I’m lucky that my work days are things I already love doing and that I have creative jobs to begin with, but in true Matilda fashion, I hate having a schedule. It’s so much more fun to choose as I go. Buck wild and full throttle.

Last week, on Thursday I went to bed, running through the next day’s “To Do” list in my head:

  • deliver 7 year old and his bud to Summer Camp by 8:30
  • proceed to the gym-no detours…
  • drop off three year old for 2.5 hours in child-care,
  • Hit the weight-room
  • hit booty-camp with my bestie
  • hurry home for lunch
  • complete animal husbandry consisting of
    • taking care of my rescue flock…the parrots;
      • birdie play time-outside
      • birdie treat time-outside
      • food and water clean/change-in and outside
      • more playtime in the sun and maybe bird showers-outside
    • feed and water the dinosaurs  er, chickens
      • clean chicken hutch… it’s been a week…ew…
  • write and publish at least two blog articles for my favorite boss.
  • but I may have to pick up the big kid and his bud from Summer Camp somewhere in the middle of writing…
  • make dinner
  • clean house
  • fold pile of laundry instead of perpetually dressing from the clean pile…

This is a normal day off…even if the writing eats up seven hours of my day…and it can…

Here’s what really happened:

at 5:40am this malicious, sleep stealing, booger eating, bed hogging, sex terminating, bath intruding, non-ice cream sharing, banshee rivaling, germ sharing, cutest brat of all time rolls onto the scene and proceeds to lay out his demands…

I shoo him off and reset my alarm…

Ten minutes pass…

He’s back again. It’s 65 degrees, he’s cold. He wouldn’t be if he’d just get into bed with me, snuggle under the covers and shut up…go back to sleep like a normal person…

I am badgered into dressing him.

Never mind that he’s wearing ratty navy blue sweats with orange pinstripes and a spiffy, new turquoise and white pollo, He’s dressed, I’m not going to dwell on fashion.

I reset my alarm

 

Very shortly he’s board.

Yes. Whatever you want.

T.V.

My ipad.

Whatever you want kid, just go play.

I reset my alarm

Then, shoes,  he’s not asking…but incessantly droning on about it right beside my sleeping head.  Oh good, go outside, where I can’t hear all your shenanigans(…the voice in the back of my head is belittling me, warning me and comparing me to a delinquent, useless parent…oh well, let go voice…)sleep. Sleep is what I need…

I reset my alarm.

No time has passed at all before my head is pounding again and I am awakened by the whiniest, most pathetic child you’ve ever heard…he may have been there for a while judging by the desperation in his voice…something about food. Aparently he is hungry…

A brief negotiation ensues to determine what food stuffs we have on hand that will not require my departure from my soft, warm, lovely, fluffy bed.  Yellow cheese and apples…Okay.

Brat, “But I need it cut”

FortheLoveofGod…Just get the block of cheese and eat it and the apple whole!!!!

I mean, “can you bring it to me baby?” he’s off, pitter-pattering down the hall. After a brief pause he’s returned. So cute…he has an apple and my aged cheddar. Precious little…punk…

Now the debate…I shouldn’t.

I know it…I throw back my blankets but quickly change my mind. BBBRRRRrrrr!!! …checking the time…6:40.

I totally had my heart set on getting up at 8:00…a brief struggle with my conscience proceeds.

6:41: “can you be so brave and get mommy a knife?”

The impish smile, implies he can.

“I mean it, no running, soft, slow, steps. Use two hands. Hold it like this. Can you do that?” A nod and his retreating pitter-patter.

He returns with the biggest Cutco Chef’s Knife I have… OMG.

Cut apple. Cut Cheese. Stow knife safely in bureau drawer.

Butcher knife's in dresser drawers is totally a normal thing...

Butcher knife’s in dresser drawers is totally a normal thing…

…Reset alarm…

I rolled out of bed 18 minutes before Camp Started, put on my bathing suit, and a t-shirt, and threw some essentials into my purse. Sunglasses, kid swimsuits, goggles and sunscreen are always loaded by the front door. Dropped the kids at camp, went straight to breakfast then the pool where I stayed for a good portion of my day.

Swimming with my three year old for an hour and 20 minutes, lazing in the sun watching him play for almost an hour, sipping large glasses of ice water and snacking on fruit. As I laid there, the pressures I had put on myself, expectations of the day and judgments about what is required began dissipating, slipping away. I felt the sun sinking into me, re-charging me. Three hours slipped by and it was just after 1:00 before I knew it.

Some ice-cream was in order, then with time flying we retrieved the big kids from camp and came home.

I'll see your crazy and raise you a flock of feathers...

I’ll see your crazy and raise you a flock of feathers…

I still had enough time to take care of my flock and write one article. Man I needed that day. I needed to not care for a few hours and do nothing, even if I did have to dress from the clean pile for one more day…

Whew! Can’t wait for another day to blow everything off!

 

Sit and Spin

You Spin me Round and Round

You Spin me Round and Round

Who doesn’t want to get paid to sit and drool on their computers while remixing and regurgitating and re-spinning entirely new ways to get you to read all the life changing things you need, right this minute. Things that will improve your lips, your life, your smile, your orgasms, give you thicker hair, better skin, longer life.

I’ve been writing blogs for big dollars. I’m so good I think I will be moving on. Climbing up in the spin world. That and I’m getting tired, bored in fact.

Does something ail you?

I bet it does.

Soft in the middle, fuzzy in the noodle?

Headaches, malaise, achy joints?

Probably from the fillings you got when you were 12, compacted by the synergistic mix of  toxins you’ve been exposed to. Everything from fluoridated water and GMO’s to xenoestrogens or worse, yellow no. 9.

In fact a conspiracy thrives in your own backyard (and this I’m not making up) to continue poisoning the hearts and minds of good, hardworking people everywhere, but especially the gullible ones. (The idea seems a good candidate for originating right here in California…if not then I’m sure it came straight from D.C.)

If you’ve already had all of your silver fillings replaced with something mercury free and only drink safe non fluoridated water, you’re already avoiding foods that mimic estrogen in the human body and staying away from that pesky yellow no. 9, then surely you also don a tinfoil hat when you get on the internet,  but it isn’t so aliens can’t see into your mind’s eye, no–it’s to jam the NSA from reading your thoughts. Good thinking.

All of those preventative measures definitely make you smart enough to keep up with me for the rest of this article. You’re savvy. You have on your tinfoil hat…that’s actually made from aluminum foil…

I’ve been writing blogs and getting paid for well over a year. I’m so good now that I think its time to start thinking about my next big gig. Time for moving up in the spin world. 

I think I am proficient in spin so I’m working on my best campaign yet. You may have heard of it. It needs some work in its current condition…may seem rather evil…maybe you haven’t heard of it. Come to think of it, those politicians are crafty, so don’t feel bad if this is all news to you.

The current government, no–I’m not working for D.C. yet–just trying to get my foot in the door–needs new spin. Clever marketing in order to turn an evil, twisted conglomerate of policy, that tries to keep all the cattle–I mean voters happy–into something a little less convoluted…or at least palitable.

It goes something like this:

  • The oil company gets a tax subsidy to maintain their profits.
    • We pay taxes on the gas we consume…purportedly to support maintaining the roads.
    • So who’s paying the oil companies?
      • (There must be a magic money tree at the white house too…just like the one I have in my backyard…)
  • The car manufacturers are required to produce cars with a higher average MPG. This keeps things looking good on paper but not in reality.
    • So they make one shitty hybrid that they don’t even want you to buy. This in turn lowers their company’s overall gas mileage “on average” based on ALL the model types they offer. (They aren’t the effers you want to think they are. They just play by the rules, rules our government makes trying to keep the asses the masses happy.)

Government thinks there are too many people who are too stupid to follow logic so they play spin games. Unfortunately, it mostly does work for them.

It gets even more convoluted…

  • Gas Taxes we pay at the pump are supposed to go towards road maintenance.
    • But if you drive in a regular vehicle as a significant part of your job (i.e. use the roads and the gas more than I do…you get a tax write off to offset the cost)
    • If you buy a hybrid…and don’t buy any gas…but still drive as much or more (which is likely) than I do (why else would you justify a hybrid…just to “goGreen”? Riiight) you get a federal tax credit. I guess it serves as a shiny green distraction to offset the “where the hell did this money come from?” thought that you should have had, and make you feel good for being such a good citizen and saving the air and fossil fuels.
      • In fact the Federal government has been offering tax incentives to buy green cars for so long that the carrot seems to be working.
      • Working well too because now the government is proposing that drivers of electric cars pay a road tax to help pay for the roads they are driving on.
        • So they get a carrot to buy the car but then don’t get to count the dollars they are saving because they aren’t buying enough gas…in fact, if Uncle Sam had his way we would pay a big enough tax to equal what we are saving.

Wait a minute…What about the hundreds of dollars in car registrations Californians get to pay…Every. Single. Year…that’s supposed to go to roads too…I can’t even touch this part yet.

Does all of this sound like it smells? (Because it totally smells like poop) Now. Imagine if I can make all of this smell as pretty as I do after a good 8 mile run…admit it, that would be an improvement, and about as much as we can hope for…imagine the big bucks I could rake in.

Here is the truth. Government hopes to keep us ignorant. Chasing carrots and totally only looking at what is in front of our face. They really don’t have a choice, they want to keep their good jobs and good healthcare so they have to feed us half truths and keep us mostly in the dark.

It will stay that way until people want to get rid of all the BS, all the spin doctors, all the loopholes…and since I don’t see that happening…what’s the saying? If you can’t beat ’em, join em.

Your Genie is a Carpet Ride Away

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I gave up shit for lent…

Today is Ash Wednesday, and wouldn’t you know it, the neighborhood power is out for “routine maintenance,” (NSA setting up better recon on the guy down the street…or me…not sure) eight hours of not opening the fridge, and all I can think about is lent and how when I was growing up dad always encouraged us to give something up for lent.

Lent is never mentioned in the bible, but I still like it. Think of lent as actively praying for forty days. Rather something like this “…dear god, why would I ever think I was strong enough to give up wine!” …or chocolate or whatever you love to indulge in…

Upon my reflection I realize I gave up “shit” for lent: dumbshits, shit heads, bullshit, piles of shit, gives of shit, shit holes (assholes), shitty food, and shit, literally…

I mean, crap, I have been cleaning up someone else’s shit for more than two decades. W.T.F. Really. With dogs, parrots, a cat, chickens and kids, there’s a lot of shit around here that needs cleaning or hiding…

I have been wiping kid-ass for more than twenty years. Let that sink in. I’ve worked at vet clinics…on ranches and in kid care…wanna talk about shit, I’m your gal. By the time I’m done wiping kid butts it will be my moms turn–(sorry mom) and then my husbands and then after fifty years of up close and personal with everybody else’s little brown-eye, you guessed it, then it will be my turn…for someone to wipe my ass.

So before it’s too late to take a break from shit-I’m doing it, right now, for lent…In one more hour because the fucking dog has shit stuck to his butt, AGAIN, (he needs to quit growing hair) and I can’t turn on the clippers to shave his ass until the power gets turned back on…

Then I’m done with this stupid shit! At least for lent.

I know that’s backwards-we are supposed to suffer in commemoration of Jesus and his forty days he fasted and suffered in the desert before he was crucified…I’ve been suffering…I’m giving the “shit suffering” mantle over to someone else for a bit…

It probably won’t last and I’m probably just freaking out because I’m stuck with shit (literally) until the power comes back on…that and I’m starving since I won’t open the fridge until the power comes on…I cleaned all the junk food out of the cupboards (no-I didn’t eat it-I threw it away days ago…originally I was just giving up shitty food for lent…) and I need some protein!

Later I will feel shitty for exposing you to shitty language (just the silent ramblings I usually keep to myself), you know-after I eat, then clean the dogs behind-so apologies ahead of time.

If You Hate Running, Even Better

Everything matters.

Or at least I want it to. All of it to have meaning and lessons and prove some petty need for validation that “I’m special”. Except, try as I might…I just don’t have it in me to give a rat’s behind about ALL of it.

I read books. Meh.

“That was okay.” I’ll think.

I’d take that day or those days back.

“I could do better.”

But I don’t. I just sit there replaying the weak parts…
I read your blogs…lots of them some days.

*sigh

“that’s the best; Best title? Best topic? Best intro? WTF? Did they just read thru everyone else’s blogs and regurgitate? Are we all supposed to be talking about how Mia Angelou saved us or how Harper Lee changed our lives? (No mention of the literary teacher who likely forced these authors on you or you’d never have read them…) yapping endlessly about fashion or fame? Or sex? (Okay-keep up the sexy talk, at least that’s not yawn-worthy all of the time.)

Gag me.

I guess I do care, right now, in this second, because I’m fed up. Rest assured. I’ll get over caring-you’re not that big-a-deal.

While I do care, I’d like to take this momentum and draw attention to all the people that turn everything into a point of contention, a bitch-fest. It’s starting to feel like I’m talking about everyone, including you…[with the exception of my *sisters*, all of whom are bright spots in the universe.] Instead I reference all those people who care what kind of person Miley Cyrus is or Emma Watson for that matter?

Who cares if the next James Bond casts a black Bond? Really?

Why are so many people so eager to go on a Big One for things trivial and, mostly, absurd? Why are we obsessed with getting our opinions validated on everything from peanut butter and jelly’s to feminism to religion?

If all the people who are good at caring about everything actually gave a turd about anything real, like preserving Native American lands and culture, feeding the hungry preserving coral reefs, sex trafficking, reducing our collective human footprint, corruption in government or saving my ass from destitution when I’m old (economy collapse) then maybe the state of the Union would actually stand a chance of getting better.

Instead we all stick our noses up Kim Kardashian’s butt, interject ourselves into any trite experience, carry around our little paper cups full of hot liquid showcasing a two tailed mermaid on the front, and use it all as an excuse to blow off the quality of our work, our health, our moments to connect to each other, a child, a community; shiny distractions that we dump energy and time into while we get slow and soft in the middle (and in the grey matter.)

Wake-up! Go running, run until your brain is empty, your body feels nothing and the petty little distractions melt into oblivion.

If you hate running, even better…the pain is good, helps clear the mind of insignificant and worthless junk.

I’m sure my rant is lack-of-run induced. It’s been two days and my brain is having withdrawals…

When you’re done, you just might find out you don’t have time for the clutter of caring about everything. Maybe, just maybe, with some practice, we can all learn to care a little bit less.

I Got My Whitewater Team-Bring It 2015

I must have made some kind of silent wish, listened to that story and let it rekindle some barely alive spark still smoldering. It fits, I’d listened to that young man and his tale, thought it the perfect call to adventure, and somehow wished it upon myself. He was young, approaching 19 and still in awe of all life held before him.

He’d stood in front of us, gathered to celebrate the passing of time, the beginning of adulthood and the end of high school. It was early summer and graduation parties for young men and young women were abundant, so was the excitement of new adventures and big dreams. I don’t remember his name, barely recall what he looked like, young, handsome, tall with waves in his light brown hair, but it’s vague. What’s not vague is the story he offered up and the wish that he bestowed upon us all.

“It was going to be the trip of a lifetime.” He started, ” three generations together, one epic journey to commemorate their solidarity, their love and to forever bind their hearts to each other. My grandfather, my father, my brother and myself were stepping out the door to tame the wild, slay dragons and navigate the the treacherous Rogue River down deep in the wild wilderness of southern Oregon. We had signed up for a guided trip, with other strangers looking for adventure, it was the summer before my brother would leave for college and everything would change.

My grandfather had booked the trip and now we all sat in the car at our rendezvous point with our group.

‘Before we get out,’ my Grandpa said, ‘I’d like to offer up a family prayer.’

This wasn’t abnormal for our little tribe and so each grabbed another’s hands and silently bowed their head. We probably should have paid attention to the building anticipation, been afraid of how things just fell together too easily, recognized it as an omen that time offs were granted, and schedules cleared, but we were oblivious, the smell of excitement filling our noses, testosterone coursing through our veins…heads hastily bowed, ‘hurry’, was my prayer, ‘before someone uses up all the fun.’

Grandfather inhaled, let it out and began, ‘Heavenly Father bless us that we will encounter all the adventure that we can handle. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.’

That was it. I was left wondering who was this guy and what had he done with my long winded grandfather, I quickly decided I shouldn’t question it, maybe God answered my silent prayer, the Lord works in mysterious ways, after all. And so it was that we all excitedly exited the car grabbing arm loads of gear and coolers of food. Enough, in hand, to last us three nights and four days in the wilderness, and we were off. Off on the adventure of a lifetime, we could not contain our enthusiasm.

The first half of the day was un-eventful, as far as rafting trips go, fun…predictable, there was a brief midday stop for grub but I hadn’t had time to build up an appetite. We nibbled on turkey sandwiches and drank bottled water, mingling with our new companions. My brother and I were filled with anticipation and excitement and saw this lunch break as unnecessary, spending much of our break skipping rocks across the burgeoning waters, full from the spring melt following a record year of heavy snowfall.

When lunch concluded and we began the process of relaunching half a dozen rafts we were armed with a brief run down of the next stretch of river and what to expect. Class 3 rapids were up ahead–I was going to see some action after all–and in the next half hour, adrenaline was swirling, I was on pins and needles.

Most rapids get smaller in the spring as the deeper melt-off water adds cushion to the underlying boulders, this upcoming area however was the exception to that rule. With vertical cliffs on both sides, a giant boulder more than ten feet tall pinned between them and a matching ten or twelve foot drop off the back side of said boulder. Lower water levels, meant a bigger drop off the backside but slower water too, thus making it easier to navigate your approach. The approach here is what mattered.

The boulder marks the first in a series of rapids. Entering these from the right side of the boulder is paramount to safely negotiating the next hundred yards of peril. It sounded fun, we were ready. Our boats began spreading out, making room for each other to chance the Rapids safely spaced out, we were the fourth boat with two following us. When the infamous boulder came into sight. The first three boats each took their turn paddling hard towards the right cliff, finding their mark and sliding effortlessly over the large rock of death.

Suddenly it was our turn and we were hurdling toward the left side of the cliff, we dug in our paddles, a singular and perfect effort…until the current ripped dads paddle from his hands. In his effort to retrieve the paddle he fell from the boat, the right side of the boat. Cliffs ever looming and fast approaching he scrambled trying to climb back in, each of us grabbing hold of his life jacket. Suddenly our raft was hurled into the left cliff with all the force of a raging river, we ricocheted off the left wall, then slamming into the right cliff and over the top of dad. He was gone, just like that; lost in the white water. Because of the manner of traversing the path over the Rock of death, we went over the water fall in a spin and to the left.

I barely had time to worry about the safety of my father when I found myself swimming in the icy water, our boat having flipped upside down at the base of the falls, all of our supplies and gear sliding out into the fast, swirling, rushing waters. My head broke the surface of the water and I felt the scream leave my lips but could not hear my own voice over the rush of the water.

If I tell you that it was maybe eight minutes of solid rapids that’s not doing the experience justice. Climb into an extra large washing machine and try to stay in it for seven or eight minutes while it’s going. It’s a better idea of what riding those rapids, outside the boat, felt like.

White Water Rapids

While I won’t deny I was afraid, I didn’t entirely have time to really consider how scary, just trying to find air and land, when I finally did, I saw my grandfather on the other side of the river, safety on land and sitting up. I could see a cut on his forehead but he looked okay. In the distance I could see the last two boats far away, upright and getting smaller and smaller on the horizon, our gear strewn about, some on the shore but most of it smack in the middle of the river and on a course far out of reach to us.

I looked up river from where we’d come and saw raging water, boulders and fallen logs all creating a hazardous maze of rushing white water. Standing on one of the boulders lining the opposite side of the river I could see my big brother, Joe. He was standing, arms in air waving at us, the orange life vests downstream. I could not yet see my father and a sense of doom seemed to grow in my heart.

Behind me was a small rocky beach and cliff sides that would soon prove inescapable. My granddad was yelling at me, I couldn’t hear him but understood the indication to stay put as he picked his way over rocks and boulders back to my brother. I watched and soon realized that below my brother my father was laid out on a rocky landing barely big enough for the boulder resting there, dad’s feet were still in the water and I could not see his head, my view obstructed by other obstacles between us.

It seemed hours passed but eventually my grandfather and brother had my dad between them and were carrying him back down towards my position. When they got into clear view I could see dad was hurt but conscious, weak but standing. Whew, thank God.

It took us a lot of time to realize that, though safe from the river, I was also trapped. After scraping every part of my body, and eventually falling from too many feet up I decided I could not safety climb the rock face buffering the river. No one was going to tell me to jump back in the water, there were still a dozen yards of white water. If I jumped in to cross the river, I’d be swept into it and though fine now, there were no guarantees I could pull that stunt twice and live to tell.

While the other side of the river brainstormed, no doubt discussing leaving me there and going for help, I became impatient. I felt prompted to act. I’m sure waiting would have left me weaker and less able, more exposed to the elements and in bigger jeopardy. I couldn’t wait. Dad and grandpa were arguing, again, I couldn’t hear the conversation but I could tell that emotions were running high. I looked at my brother, I must have a ‘tell’ because he stood up like he had a rocket in his butt. He said no words but walked directly to the edge of the water, staring me down. His eyes broke away for just a second and so did mine while I looked down river at what I was facing, when our eyes came back together I jumped in.

helping hand giving to drowning man in sea

That’s when he started yelling and screaming, running down and over all the hurdles in his way, trying to converge on my hopeful landing point. I was lucky. I did make it to the other side, some yards down river, one thing is for sure though, I wouldn’t have without my brother Joe. He was thighs deep and braced against the current on green slimed rocks when he reached out and grabbed me by my sweatshirt-hood hanging from the back of my life jacket, barely grabbing, then dragging me to shore. I don’t know how he did that unless by some miracle.

When the four of us regrouped we stood there for a time, heads together, arms draped over each other’s shoulders, smiling, shivering, laughing. We were sure we were goners and something made that fantastically funny.

Eventually dad and I sat on a rock together unable to really function at full capacity and Joe and grandpa gathered what they could find of our belongings. This included: one smashed turkey sandwich still dry and sealed in a ziplock bag, one empty cooler, two cans of soda and by some other miracle a neon green, plastic tube with a watertight, twist off lid and 13–still dry–matches.

We gathered together all the dry bits of leaves, grass, twigs and sticks we could find and proceeded to build the tiniest, most pathetic fire you’ve ever laid eyes on. Being early summer/late spring most things were too green to burn or had already been swept away by the raging river. No matter, we were sure if we could just hold on, rescue crews would arrive in the next few hours.

Dark fell on us and still we’d herd no rescue choppers nor had we seen any other boaters. We knew our group saw us go over but we did not know they had no way of contacting search and rescue until later the next day. We were lost, deep in the thick of some of Oregon’s most remote wilderness and we’d just pulled ourselves from water barely over fifty degrees Fahrenheit… For perspective that’s only a few degrees warmer than your refrigeraters, to top that we had no food, (not counting the one, smashed turkey Sammy mentioned earlier) had skipped lunch, no dry clothes, no cell phones, no blankets, six dry matches–don’t ask–and a fire you could put out with one boot.

Rogue River temps drop significantly at night, even in the summer and I later learned the temperate that night hit a low of 48. We could see the glow of fog leave our mouths illuminated by our teeny tiny fire and a hush crept over us. When you have enough time to get out of survival mode, that is when dread smacks you in the face. We all reached that moment together as the night noises grew louder and the still air got colder. Finally granddad stood up, pulled one of dads arms up and over his shoulder and said it was time to get going. No one argued, Joe and I stood and followed, happy to let grandpa take the lead, hoping he knew something we didn’t.

We walked, hobbled, limped and shivered through the dark all night finally coming to a barbed wire fence. Knowing fences usually go somewhere we followed it on into the morning dawn. The fence eventually led to an old logging road where we took a break and shared our smashed salmonella sandwich…which is a lot like a smashed turkey sandwich that has been shoved in your pocket for 18 hours. I know we all felt guilty for eating, thinking each of us might need it more than the next but grandpa insisted.

That logging road held so much promise and we felt so hopeful even after morning turned to midday and we still hadn’t seen any other signs of civilization. Eventually after noon we came to a paved road that crossed the logging road and followed that another six or seven miles before we came to a rest area along, you guessed it, the Rogue River. This too gave us hope and renewed belief that we would be rescued soon.

Our father, in desperate need of some rest and surely having suffered a concussion was nauseated and dizzy wanting to lay down and rest. Grandad said there was no time for sleeping that we needed to get found and allowed only for a half hour respite from being on our feet. He set my father down on an ample rock big enough to be a small arm-chair and went to check for running water.

All of the sudden we heard this strange sound coming from the rock. The sound of a giant hornet on steroids or a mini freight train, if you will. I had never heard anything like it but some animal instinct in me knew it was bad, no chance it was something soft and fuzzy… Dad instinctively pulled his feet up on the huge rock and peered past his knees I took a few steps back and studied the rock, it’s then I saw the enormous timber rattler that had laid out its body along the south facing base of the giant chair rock. The snake had been startled from a snooze by our clambering and climbing on his rock and now, feeling threatened wanted to stake his claim.

Joe approached with a handful of pebbles and succeeded incompletely pissing the snake off until he was tightly coiled, buzzing his tail like mad and peering at us, ready to strike. Thats when dad stood up and lunged off the backside of the rock. We all began to argued how to best get rid of the beast and avoid getting snake bit in the process. Meanwhile, grandpa had seen the commotion, picked up a long walking stick sized tree branch, sharpened one end by rubbing it at an angle on the asphalt, walked quickly back to the ensuing mess, held a hand up to silence us, waited for the snake to lay his belly back in the silty sand and start to slither off then lightening fast, stabbed that snake right in the top of his head pushing the stick as far into the sand underneath as he could.

Then while the snake coiled and writhed on the stick grandpa scolded us saying that had we left the snake alone it would have caused us no harm and been on its way. I just stood there staring at the deadly pit viper, that wasn’t going to hurt us yet still managed to find a wooden spear in his or her head…I felt high but I think that was just hunger…

It was easier to find materials for fire here in the day use area so we gathered tender and wood and build another fire in a pit we made in the sand and circled with rocks (but not before we carefully inspected and kicked each rock, checking for any “harmless” pit vipers that might be hanging out.) Once that fire was sending out little glowing dust bunnies grandpa treated us all to cooked rattle snake. I wish I could tell you we were hungry enough that it tasted like fine dining but if you’ve ever had moms cooking you know the bar is pretty high…it was not fine dining and I could not pretend the sand was salt and pepper…but by the end of that chewy meal I did feel certain that all was right in my world and that things were going to be just fine. Ready for some smooth sailing…

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It must have been my guardian angels whispering to me because just before nightfall a car came down the road to the day use area. It was a local man, alone, on his way home from a working out of town, he’d stopped here to relieve his bladder and was as surprised as us. We must have looked awful because after explaining the entire affair the man still looked nervous about taking us with him. It was momentary but even I could see that he thought he was making a mistake.

So it was, with no money, no I.D., no leverage or proof we were rescued by grace. He drove us to his house where loved ones, and eventually authorities were contacted and we were fed and clothed and ushered back into the arms of loved ones.

Joe said, In the back of the State Troopers SUV, on the way to a local hospital to be treated for dehydration and exposure, ” I know I must be insane for thinking this but I am so thankful for the last two days. I feel like I witnessed miracle upon miracle and I definitely had ‘all the adventure I could handle’ thanks for that prayer Granddad, how else would I have such clear proof that there is a God and he does listen and answer prayer.”

He was right you know, my brother Joe. I will be much more careful what I pray for from here on out!”

So I think about that young mans story in summer of 2013 and I’m sure the adventure gods heard my snicker when I had the thought that I could handle whatever they threw my way…cuz last year is proof of that!

Some of my favorite team mates.

Some of my favorite team mates.

I’m still ready for some adventures, I feel sure 2014 was gunning for me but I could be wrong, maybe 2014 was trying to teach me some survival skills, ready me for an even more epic endeavor…one where we are not doomed. Just to be safe, I put in a few request this time and conceded that I would prefer that this go around it’s not ALL white knuckle…but bring it on 2015. I’ve battened down the hatches, steadied my paddles, and thrown on some extra rope and matches for good measure, and though they might look like monkey’s, up close they are the real deal–hardcore, never backdown, never give up, fighters–I got my whitewater team and we are ready.

The Meek Shall Inherit the Earth

For more than twenty years I have been driving cars around on roads, legally. Today marks one of the very few “firsts” I have left to experience in a vehicle, while on the road. I’m still not sure how I feel about the whole thing.

I’m talking, of course, about metered merging on the on ramps.

I sat in line, waited my turn at the flashy light and sped off to join the enormous zipper of cars stretching up the highway. Except I couldn’t help and reflect, as I waited patiently, we mighty humans need a flashy light…don’t ants do this sort of thing without fancy lights?

I’m taking it as a biblical sign that the end is near.  You know the line? “…And the meek shall inherit the earth…”

 

If It Has Tires or Testicles…

I look at him, he looks at me.  Something is wrong, it’s excruciating to say nothing, I manage but he can read my thinly veiled concern. At a mere 60 miles per hour, and an hour late already, the last thing he needs is me saying anything, sounding as though I doubt his ability to manage a crisis. He is plenty smart, and more capable of critical thinking than most, so I just look at him.

He’s taking the exit off the highway.

“Wow, that was lucky.” I say.
I’m hoping he knows what is wrong and why the motorhome is making such terrible noise…and I’m hoping he will volunteer the info.

“No doubt.”

That’s the best he can do?! (…Deep breath…)

“So…? Flat? …worse?” I ask, all nonchalant like.

There’s a long pause, he’s reviewing his options before he speaks.

More silence as he scans up ahead.

“Uh, I have no clue, sounds like a flat–doesn’t feel like one.”

Balls.

I can tell he’s already shutting me out of the equation, he likes to work alone. Just wants to handle it all by himself,  he thinks it will be hours of our time and a fortune. Time and a fortune we don’t really have, least not to tow and or repair the old girl, thirty miles from home.

Little more than an hour down the road a dozen friends and family wait in the wilderness for our rendezvous. Tents pitched, coals lit, beverage in hand, they are waiting for us…the thought that they’re waiting in vein enters my mind. Won’t be much of a party without us; we have virtually all the food, least all the good stuff.

At last we are off the highway, onto a side street at the far end of Petaluma, seeking a place of refuge to get out and survey the situation. Why did he just drive by the little tiny gas station with no cars and a garage?!?!?!?!?!

Steady, I tell myself, breath...I do my best, temper myself, (almost) silently freaking out that the further he drives the more broke whatever is broke will be.

I smile apologetically.

“Should we pull over at that gas station?”

We’ve been together too long for him to not hear it like it feels in my head; “PULL THE HELL OVER!!!!!ARE YOU INSANE??? THAT WAS A PERFECTLY GOOD SPOT TO GET OUT AND SEE HOW FUCKED WE ARE.”

Fortunately he calmly replies, “Lowes is one block away, besides having more room to work, they are more likely to have tools or parts if we need them.”

It sounds like part of the front end has ripped off and is thrashing wildly to get free. At last Big Bertha (aka, the motorhome) rolls to a stop in the Lowes parking lot. We climb out and gather at the front driver side wheel.

Impressive and we are so Lucky. That’s what ran through my head over and over, this is going to be okay–I think.

I inherited the motorhome from my grandpa five years ago. It’s a bit more than 20 years old. It’s saving grace is that it lived in his RV shop with virtually no miles on it (12,000) when it came to my house. I love it. I cannot be in it and not think of how much he liked a good adventure. His drive to explore and how much he loved having his family with him. Without being cliche, I feel like he’s there when an adventure is underfoot in the motorhome.

Grandpa Joe hanging out with Grandma back in the "day".

It’s silly, a metal and wooden box with six wheels, but when I go out exploring in that box I always feel like grandpa came along for the ride. There are almost no highways or freeways on the West Coast he hasn’t had not driven.

When I told him I was moving to Santa Rosa he told me all about the various highways and freeways into and out of Sonoma and Napa. He cracked a smile and storied up a few memories of driving truck through here (one of his many ventures; he owned a freight liner company) and delivering or picking up livestock from various ranchers on the West Coast.

He paused to grin and remind me that when he started his trucking biz, big rigs were still gas (instead of diesel) engines. He shook his head recalling the paces they’d put a truck through around the San Francisco area, up and down those big ‘ol hills with a full load,  rpm’s pegged out accelerator to the floor barely moving, when a/c was referred to as “2 down (or 2low) and 60” meaning you were hopefully going 60mph and had both manual windows rolled down.

He laughed mid sentence and brought to life a day when he’d been pulled over by a Stater…again. Recalling the time of year and the milepost marker he’d just past, all details I’ve long forgotten, explaining that he had a long history with that particular stretch of road. This time the trooper, feeling exasperated, asked him how many times in the last year he had already pulled over my grandpa, not how many times he had been pulled over, how many times “have you and I met in person? ” my grandpa smiled, at me. Six, maybe seven, he couldn’t rightly recall is what he reported to the Trooper but grandpa assured me it was closer to ten times that he had entertained that particular officer in recent months. He obviously liked my grandpa or was just out if ideas and desperate, so a bargain was struck that grandpa wouldn’t go more than ten miles over the speed limit anymore and that if the trooper pulled him over again grandpa was forfeiting his license. No ticket, no fine, ‘get back on the road young man and I never want to see you again’, that’s what the officer said before he turned around and walked back to his patrol car.

Anyway, I’ve been on a bit of a tangent, suffice it to say, these are the memories recalled when I’m riding shotgun in Big Bertha, wind in our hair and road stretching before us.  When you know someone long enough you can read them, dance with them just by paying attention. Everything in Mark’s expression and mannerisms are saying his day is ruined. The tire has shredded off of the wheel and inner tube. It is hanging in twisted shreds, like a hula skirt around the old inner tube and the wheel–that tire is toast.

“Thankfully that tube held together; should we just put on the spare?” It seems logical but Mark isn’t moving.

“I’m calling AAA. That’s what they are for.” He says.

I scoff. It feels like we just gave up.

Mark sees my resistance to this idea. “…besides who knows if we even have any tools…let alone a jack.”

“There used to be all that stuff.” I say, body in motion…

“That was five years ago and two teenagers ago. Who knows where any if it is now.” He’s already got his phone to his ear, I feel like he’s giving up.

I walk around the motorhome, I don’t take defeat well, rarely even acknowledge it (generally to my detriment.)  I know two things–well, at least two–1. AAA service providers always take their sweet time (we will be here hours if we wait for them), 2. if grandpa ever was predictable at anything it was roadside preparedness (for godsakes!).

My first car, grandpa let me drive it home then took away the keys until I changed a tire and the oil…in front of him, and by myself. You didn’t get far talking the talk with him–put up or shut up. Two or three years later he did the same thing with my next car.  No amount of protesting was going to get me those keys and I knew it.

I could tell a dozen stories about him and his rigs…that’s a whole different post, the point I am making here; he’d have had everything on hand and there was every reason to believe it was all still in inventory.

Think what you want, (I am generally not so open about things that seem crazy,) but he was there, right then, and I had the conviction of knowing he was guiding me (I usually don’t sound like such a nut job.) I tell you I saw it all unfolding, like i was being shown what to do. He was in his element and feeling feisty about getting the show on the road.

I saw the Jack and the leverage bar, and a host of other tools I had seen for years in the storage compartments , and never considered what they were for, they suddenly flashed in my head. I even envisioned, like a movie playing in my head, where the jack was supposed to go under the Beast and heard his voice reminding me how to tell where it’s safe to put the jack…Pictures in my mind’s archives, think what you want…I set to work gathering a variety of things, some of which I was relatively unfamiliar with, except I knew that I needed them.

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I was undaunted by remarks about corroded lug-nuts, nuts being put on at the tire store with too much torque, or various other comments about my likelihood of success. I was impervious to doubt and apprehension, I pressed forward, clear and sure of the outcome. And like I stated before, it was as if someone was playing a movie in my head. Call it what you want, conditioning, conviction, survival mode, but know this, I didn’t feel like I was in a crisis. I generally have no problems letting Mark decide what to do in a crisis and when I’m alone, and the “fit hits the shan”, I hold my own. There was no shaking it, or ignoring the feeling to go do it myself, not wait.

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In the end I have to admit, I am a princess and princesses know to not steal all the glory. (Plus it’s my birthday weekend.) …so I let the boys lift the heavy tire into place, tighten the lug nuts and put on the finishing touches.

The Moral of the story, one of my favorite life lessons; If it has tires or testicles, it’s bound to give you trouble.

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(But don’t worry, you can totally handle it…)

😉