Dudebros and Dirty Hippies


So last weekend was Labor Day weekend, which we celebrated by driving for hours to the middle of nowhere and camping in a big wagon-wheel campground. We did this with I don’t know, several thousand other like-minded individuals from every walk of life. We camped and then in the evenings we went to see some music. Some Brandi Carlile and some Dave Matthews Band.

You may recall that I am now lightly disabled in that my glorious feets decline to carry me for long without discomfort that progresses into bona-fide pain. I’m still adjusting to this idea. But in the interest of being able to go to the zoo, the fair, Disneyland, etc, we purchased a scooter off of Craigslist recently. And I now have a disabled parking pass, because on a bad day a trip to the grocery store is pretty iffy and every step saved is a blessing. It’s kind of ridiculous. And sad. And it really, really pisses me off.

But it is what it is, and so because I didn’t think I could manage the long hike to and from the campground we inquired as to what accommodation could be found there.

So it happened that we found ourselves in the ADA part of the campground, which is closest to the general store and the shuttle and so forth. And as I understand it, it’s somewhat quieter than the standard campground, although a surprising number of people have zero compunctions about having loud conversations at 7am in a campground full of sleeping campers. More on that later.

If you’ve never been to the Gorge Amphitheater, you’re missing out. It’s pretty much perfect.Kinda amazing, no?

I’ve seen DMB here on a couple of other occasions but had reserved seats each time and stayed in hotels.  This was totally different.

For starters, we got lawn tickets.  Above the flat area where the reserved seats are, where there would be balconies in a theater, is the lawn.  It’s a terraced hillside and it’s general seating aside from a small reserved area.  We had intended to sit on a blanket in this area, perhaps with event chairs, and while away the afternoons.

But then we saw the ADA section.  If you camped in the ADA section or parked in ADA parking, you got a wristband like so:

247… Which in turn enabled you to sit in the ADA section of the amphitheater, and also to use the ADA restrooms which are quite nearby.  The top photo shows the view from the ADA section.  It’s not bad, right behind the reserved boxes, and nobody stands up and obscures your view like on the lawn.  It’s first come first served, but this wasn’t really an issue if you got there in time to see Brandi Carlile perform, which we did.

The shows were amazing.  DMB performed Long Black Veil which I am told they NEVER do, and also Crash, which they NEVER play, and also Spoon, which THEY DON’T EVER PLAY IN CONCERT OMG.

We had our personal fanboy Robert along, and he was very enthusiastic about the aforementioned factoids.

Robert is a bartender and all around awesome guy, and we had a great time camping with him.  For starters, we found that we could bellow ROBEEEERT! at him very satisfyingly.  He showed us the ropes of camping and was a delight to have around.  This is him:



The Lovely Rhonda was also in attendance, of course, and our friend Joni whom we know from nursing school.  Here they all are at the first night’s show.  Note how tidy and well-groomed everyone looks.


They may have sold some adult beverages at the show, which we might have enjoyed. Maybe.

The real fun, however, was in the camping.

For starters, TLR is not a camper.  I was told early on that she required hotels, hair dryers, lattes, etc. to travel.  There will be none of this “camping,” so I was told.

Then Robert said we should camp, so suddenly we were camping.

Yeah, I’m not sure what happened either, but there it is.

We actually purchased a tent.  And these foam futon-y things we found in the As-Is section of Ikea.  Originally we were going to sleep in the back of the Minivan of Justice, but then we got the tent.  Why?  I don’t know.  It just kind of happened.  Because TLR said so, that’s why.

The ADA section is interesting.  It’s also overflow for “Premier” camping, which is basically ADA amenities for 75 dollars more per night and a fence around the area.

Behind our site was a big fifth-wheel trailer.  After a while a guy who we named The Nicest Man in the Whole Wide World ambled over.  He was from Montana, and his son has had ALS for seven years.  Here they are:


This is not the best photo of them, it must be confessed, but it’s the only one I have.

The son can barely move or speak.  This is what he wanted to do, said TNMITWWW, So here we are.

They managed to get a message to Dave Matthews asking for an autograph, and Dave signed the freaking set list for him.  Because Dave is awesome.

263When it was time to pack up we shook TNMITWWW’s hand.  We said we hoped to see them all next year.  But I’m not sure we will.

Elsewhere in the campground we saw so many interesting folks.  Like this lady, who spent the majority of all three days wandering the ADA section of the campground talking on her cellphone.  From the bits of convo I overheard, it was all gossip and chit chat.  WTH lady?!


Hastily snapped photo with finger.

At one point I did attempt to shower, but the line just to get into the shower, disabled or not, was at least an hour long.

Welp, looks like another layer of deodorant it is!  The Lovely Rhonda stayed for the shower but I just couldn’t sit there that long.

By the time we got home, my hair was starting to form actual dreadlocks and TLR stayed carefully upwind of me at all times.

Next: Going Home

Flu sucks.


So I am currently hosting some kind of convention for crappy viruses and the upshot of this is that I feel really, really crummy.  This has been going on since Sunday afternoon when instead of running a few errands, doing a little housework, and settling in to a few carefree hours of masters-level homework, I found myself paralyzed by fatigue in my Really Big Kinda Ugly Leather Recliner.

I failed to really seize on the importance of this until bedtime when I began to shiver uncontrollably.  This is when the whining began.  The Lovely Rhonda can attest:  “Man, I feel crappy.  This is like tuberculosis crappy.  Nobody said I would feel this crappy.  I don’t know if I can go on feeling this crappy.”  I spent the rest of the night alternately sweating and mourning the loss of virtually all of the strength in my entire body.

Yesterday (Monday) I spent laying in bed.

Those of you who know me, even only through FB or similar, may note that this is unusual for me.  While I am admittedly lazy, there is also a limit to the amount of idleness I can stand, so eventually, even when afflicted with pneumonia or the actual bona-fide flu, I will still do laundry or alphabetize the bookshelf or something.

Oh, not yesterday.  I laid in bed so long that my back hurts.  I did shower and had grandiose plans of going to a store to purchase soap and root beer, more out of needing a small errand to get me out of the house than any urgent need for either item.  But then I sat down to put my shoes on.

I wear orthotics in my shoes and transferring them to a different pair of shoes (because motorcycle boots don’t really go with shorts) was more complication than I was prepared to handle.  I went back to bed.

I have virtually nothing to show for yesterday, and that for me is pretty impressive.

Today is slightly better in that I actually emerged from bed and then made coffee and toast, and sat watching Carol Burnett DVDs for a little while.

Now I’m going to go lay down and gather strength for showering and looking at work email.

Family Camp


So five years ago The Lovely Rhonda and I decided to drag the children to our church’s camp for a few days of Family Camp.

We took only the older two girls as the youngest was barely two years old and we thought summer camp + diapers = misery.  We were kind of correct in this regard.  The baby went to Grandma’s.

The camp is only about an hour from where we live but it might as well be on Mars, in some ways.  It’s set on something like 200 wooded acres, with a stream or two running through it, and sometimes you can see deer wandering along in the evening.  And every night the bats start flapping around after dusk, just in time for campfire.  The cabins have sturdy wooden bunkbeds in them (and, thank God, modern plumbing) and meals are served in the lodge.  College-age staff members keep the kids amused, and the boring old grownups sit around talking about boring old grownup stuff.  There is a lot of crafting.  It’s fun.

We have gone every year now for five years.  The first year, the middle child made it two nights but lost her ever. loving. mind. in the morning after the second night, when the pink Play-Doh was already in use.  She had such difficulty that Grandma had to come whisk her away.  She does not tolerate change well sometimes.

The second year we brought the youngest with us too, and it was she who required Grandma’s rescue services after a couple of nights.

The third year we all survived the entire ordeal.  Yay us!

Last year TLR felt that we should up the ante and stay the entire week.  By Thursday we were pretty much all losing our ever. loving. minds.

This year, TLR came up with the brilliant plan to go for the entire week but only bring the children in halfway through, thus enabling us to relax a bit before the onslaught of whining/bug bites/dissatisfactions/misbehavior that our children excel at.

Each year we get to know the other families a little better.  They are all fantastic people, and they keep coming back year after year; some of them have been coming literally all their lives — and they are older than I am.  We all look forward to this all year long.  There are certain customs: hand-cranked ice cream, afternoons at the swimming hole, crafts everywhere, night hikes, singing and skits at campfire.

We created our own customs.  One night at campfire, usually the last night, we (along with our delightful friend Kirsten) bring s’mores supplies and everyone makes s’mores after all the skits and songs are over.  We bring plenty so people can have all they want, and there’s a lot of chatting and spontaneous bursting into song that happens.  And kids with marshmallow and chocolate all over their faces.

And on the last night, if possible, we bribe the counselors into hanging out in the cabins that have small children in them so the parents can go to the lodge and play table games.  We bring snacks and junk food and everyone — even the salad-eating Knierim family — gobbles everything up so we don’t have to be bothered with taking it home.  We have a wonderful time.

This year was especially relaxing because I had just completed my BSN the week before camp.  It was a beautiful thing, to spend a week in the woods with such good people at this particular point in time.

Bee Ess En.


So about eight years ago I made the decision to go to nursing school.

I made this decision because I was at a kind of a crossroads, and I needed a profession that would support me and my daughter.  And also one that I found interesting and satisfying.  And?  It had to be fast.  Because the crossroads wasn’t somewhere I could stay for long.

I applied to an associate’s degree program in nursing at Clark College, which takes so many prerequisite courses that it really ought to be a bachelor’s program.  I didn’t have to take that many prerequisites because of all the math and chemistry I’d taken for my first degree.  I got into the program fairly readily and I did well there.  In December of 2009 I graduated, and a few weeks later passed my NCLEX.

Voila!  Registered Nurse.

Along the way I met The Lovely Rhonda.  She was one quarter ahead of me and graduated in June of 2009.

A year and  a half ago Rhonda got this wild hair and decided it was time to go back and get the BSN.  I was reluctant.  There was a lot of heavy shit going down in our lives, particularly mine, and I didn’t really want to go back to school.  But I did.  Because Rhonda made me.

It hasn’t been easy.  It turns out that I suck at saying, But honey.  We can’t go do the fun thing.  We have to stay home and do the schooling. 

Instead I say, DO ALL THE FUN THINGS!  Until a month before I have to wrap the term up, and then I say SHIT I HAVE SO MUCH TO DO!  YOU DID THIS TO ME!  And I make Rhonda feel terrible about making us go back to school.

A couple of days ago I turned in my practicum paper, which is the final project for the BSN.  And then I commenced with the hourly checking of the computer.  Did they grade it?  Did I pass?  Would it need revision?

I sent my mentor an email this afternoon.  Still no results.  Am losing mind.

Hang in there, she emailed back. They’re grading it right now.

We went to a concert this evening and afterward I checked again.  I fully expected it to say, This paper sucks and you’re bad and you should feel bad.

Or at least the dreaded Needs Revision. 

But what it said was, MEETS REQUIREMENT.


So I have my BSN.

And I’m sorry I made Rhonda feel bad.  It was the right thing to do, going back to school.

You were right, darling.  And I was wrong.

Thanks for being right!




So about a week ago the youngest child, Cindy Lou Who,  came down with a nasty cold.

Yesterday The Lovely Rhonda started to feel crappy, and today she spent all day more or less in bed and says she doesn’t know if she’s EVER been this sick.

I just sneezed four times in a row and my eyes are scratchy.

I think it might be coming for me.

Here’s the thing, though.

When you TYPICAL people feel a cold coming on, it’s like you get to spin a wheel like on Wheel of Fortune.  And here’s what YOUR wheel looks like:

spin the wheel for normal people

Don’t pretend this isn’t your wheel. You suck.

But I’m not LIKE you people anymore, for reasons that my nurse practitioner cannot fathom, and when I feel a cold coming on my wheel looks more like this:

spin the wheel

I hate all of you until the cold medicine kicks in again.

So yeah.  You can all just bite me.


Many frustrate, such sad


So the past few weeks have been fraught with turmoil.

We moved, and that’s good.  But stressful.

Rhonda’s ex-mother-in-law passed away rather suddenly.  She was not someone I knew well, but she was family to Rhonda for many years and was her girls’ grandmother.  That was sad, and stressful.

A good friend was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis.  That was really stressful, especially for her and her family.

I grow weary of having to remind grown people how to behave.  That’s all I want to say about that, aside from the fact that it’s frustrating and stressful.

On the other hand, we watched two people whom I love dearly finally get to marry one another, and that was perhaps one of the most awesome things I’ll ever see.

I’m finishing my BSN in a month and that’s pretty great.  (but stressful)

My practicum is actually about something that interests me and I’ve met some neat people (and a few nuts) in the process, so that’s cool.

There’s still a shiny motorcycle in my garage and that’s pretty neat.

Right now life is a lot like eating bridge mix.

I don’t like bridge mix except when it’s raisins.

This bridge mix doesn’t have quite enough raisins, but the raisins it has are pretty great raisins.

More raisins, please.




Moving is Such Joy


So last weekend we moved into the new house.

Actually we moved on Friday, but I was absent because payroll was due and then there was a training that nobody else could do.   So The Lovely Rhonda was forced to begin the move without me.

We hired some thugs and a truck because a) we have a lot of crap, b) some of it is very heavy, and c) I have these terrible feet.

I have new orthotics but they only help so much.  The last time I saw the podiatrist I told her that I had accepted the fact that even with good shoes and orthotics I still have only so much foot-time on any given day.  She told me that it was good that I had accepted this because it was true.

Pretty much from this point forward, this is my new reality.  Trips to Disneyland will always involve a rented scooter.  Big projects in the house or yard will always involve painkillers and more than likely, hired help as well.  The temporary parking pass may become permanent.

At the end of a typical day, my feet might be a little tired but I don’t require pain medication.

But, moving house is not typical.

So the hired thugs stuffed our crap into the truck and moved it and then they went back for more crap.  They worked hard and they didn’t slack off at all, and we tipped them pretty generously.  At the end of the day, most of our crap was in the new house, and anything that wasn’t a piece of furniture was piled in the garage.

You really get to know who your friends are when you’re moving.  Kimberly came over on multiple occasions and helped us pack, which was so enormously helpful I can’t even form words around the concept.  My mouth just hangs open when I try.  Another friend, Jerry, came and helped us paint the kids’ bedrooms in the new house and hung curtain rods and such, and then helped paint the old house (which is now a rental).  He won’t accept any money for this.  When we posted on FB that we needed a plumber and couldn’t get anyone to call us back, he came over and fixed a leaky sink at the new house as well.

The day after the main move we had a bunch of friends and family volunteer to come over and help with various things.  Heather helped me unpack a lot of boxes.  Anhata and Frank and their kids came and packed up the last of the junk at the old house, along with friends Sarah and Joni and my cousins Carmen and Emily.  Between Frank, Jerry and my Dad, we got all the appliances hooked up.

And of course our Best Handyman Kenny is in the house (literally), installing the baseboards and the new dishwasher in the rental.  He’s not a volunteer but he’s family anyway.

At the end of the weekend we had the basics sort of unpacked — unfortunately, since I wasn’t there to grab the last-minute essentials (hair product, Minecraft game disc, etc) we have all been without a few of our Favorite Things for a solid week.  I’ve had to find other methods of taming my hair, and the kids have been forced to entertain themselves by going to the park, unpacking boxes in their rooms, and playing on alternate electronic platforms, but somehow we all survived.

Essentially I’ve been on my feet about three times as much as usual in the past week with painting/packing/moving/unpacking, and some of that time I’ve been shifting boxes around, so the moral of this story is rapidly becoming the following statement:  codeine is my friend.  The temporary disabled parking permit has gotten a workout, because any step saved is a blessing to me right now.

Also?  The new house is nice, and I think we will all like it here.