Tag Archives: can’t complain

Family Camp

Standard

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.

Advertisements

Moving is Such Joy

Standard

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.

Home Rearranged

Standard

So we here at The Swamp are pretty much packed in like cordwood, and so The Lovely Rhonda and I have been discussing the merits of moving house.

Three years ago the conversation went thusly:

TLR: I think we should look into buying a bigger house and moving.

Me:  NO I HATE THAT IDEA IT STINKS WE ONLY JUST GOT COMFORTABLE HERE WHY DO YOU HATE AMERICA.

Two years ago, it was more along these lines:

TLR: I think we should look into buying a bigger house and moving.

Me: YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH RIGHT NOW.

A year ago:

TLR: I think we should look into buying a bigger house and moving.

Me:  DAMMIT WOMAN WHY YOU GOTTA DO ME LIKE THIS OMG.

A few weeks ago we were coming home some random Sunday afternoon and noticed an Open House sign three doors down and totally on a whim went and had a look.

Oh, internets.  The.  House.  Was.  Beautiful.  Gourmet kitchen!  Travertine in the bathroom!  Open floor plan!

Also: no back yard to speak of, so definitely unsuitable for us.  We have dirt farmers for children, and we have dogs and cats, and everything about this house was grown-up and polished and lovely.  We are not Those People who could live in such a house.  We would live in constant anxiety about the carpets and so forth.

But, we went home and babbled incessantly at one another about the whole thing, and then we had this conversation:

TLR: I think we should look into buying a bigger house and moving.

Me:  WHY DID YOU WAIT SO LONG TO SUGGEST THIS AMAZING IDEA.

The next house we looked at was so shabby in comparison that we couldn’t stomach it at all, but the third house was gorgeous.  But we couldn’t get it because mortgage blah blah blah FHA blah blah blah no.  The fourth house was pretty awesome except a) giant lake in basement, b) yard a complete bog, c) backed up to busy street, d) funky cobblestoned driveway unsuitable for motorcycle enthusiasts.

By the way, always look at houses when it’s raining if there is a basement involved.  Pro tip.

Then we went back and looked at the second house again.  It wasn’t really shabby, just not drop-dead beautiful.  It was like meeting Mary Ann right after you’ve met Ginger.  Or Rhoda, after Mary.  It had everything we wanted, the yard was good, and it was nicely situated to the school and a park and blah blah blah new roof blah blah blah new water heater blah blah blah basically perfect for us.

So we put down an offer and the inspection was yesterday and we move in a month.

The End.  And also The Beginning.

 

The thing wherein I have a birthday

Standard

So on Sept. 7th I turned A Certain Age.

Really my age is no secret, although the closer I get to fifty, the increasingly strange it feels to say how old I am.

I’m 46.

I did some math around all this and came to the conclusion that in four more years, I’ll be fifty.  I’m not really sure how to feel about that, except possibly for IT SUCKS AND I HATE IT.

Then again, I find that I’m having more fun lately and part of that is the freedom of being the age that I am, so there’s that too.

So we had some Birthday Fun on Friday evening (the 6th) with the children, and Rhonda and the girls gave me an awesome pair of sapphire earrings.  Who doesn’t like fine jewelry?  NOBODY DOESN’T LIKE IT, that’s who.  NOBODY.  Especially not me.  So, aging process: 0, Me: 1.

Then the next morning we took the little darlings out for pancakes and then came home to watch what we thought would be “Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs” on Netflix.  Sadly, Netflix doesn’t have that one.  So we poked around and found “Chitty Chitty Bang Bang” instead.  And the children watched it, and they seemed to enjoy it.

Then we went to a friend of mine’s house.  This friend is someone I went to high school with and we haven’t laid eyes on each other since 1985.  Well, except that she lives along the route I drive to and from work and one day recently she saw me ride by on my motorcycle.  I have a bright orange motorcycle and my red hair pokes out the back of my helmet, so I’m fairly easy to see as I flash by.  But I haven’t seen HER since graduation day.  At any rate, she had taken a tree down in her yard and had a lot of wood for the taking so The Lovely Rhonda and I dropped by and loaded up the Family Truckster with a bunch of it.  We like a firepit now and again, so this will come in very handy.

We then bombed home, cleaned up and headed out to some BBQ with a friend.  I mistakenly ordered a “big” beer, thinking this meant a pint.

But no.

It was bigger than a pint.  And by God, I drank it down.

After that we did some stuff, and some other stuff.  And then we went to a friend’s Delayed Gratification party, a sort of “we got married a couple of years ago in a hurry for various good reasons not involving pregnancy and now we’re celebrating it” party, which was also a fundraiser for marriage equality in Oregon.  This, even though they are heterosexuals who can marry anytime they like and nobody makes, literally, a federal case out of it.  These are the kind of great people that we have the privilege of knowing.

After that we went home.  And I woke up the next morning and was still only 45 in my head.

Actually in my head I’m variable ages, usually 15 or so most of the time which is why I still laugh at farting.

This thing which happened, part 4

Standard

So anyway, at last the day arrived.  Dad and I had spent Friday afternoon (before shopping for helmets etc) frantically cleaning out the adorable miniature garage.  This used to be a normal two-car garage, provided the cars were small and didn’t mind being very close to one another, but we had built a bedroom out of half of it.  The back half.  So you open the big rolling overhead garage door and are met with a space that only goes back half as far as it used to.

Coincidentally, this depth exactly accommodates a motorcycle front to back.  Or two, if it comes to that.

It’s amazing what you can accomplish in an hour and a half given a bit of assistance and a great deal of motivation.  I’ve been moaning about that filthy garage for months but BAM!  It was reasonably tidy by dinnertime.  Dad even installed a rubber flange-thing across the bottom to keep the worst of the leaves and dirt from blowing in as they have for all the years we’ve lived here.  One cannot subject one’s brand-new motorcycles to such tawdry conditions.

Finally after breakfast when we were just starting to wonder if we’d dreamt the whole thing up, the man with the trailer phoned ahead to make sure we were home to take delivery.  And half an hour later, here came a truck with a big enclosed trailer behind it, and then a very nice fellow unloaded two of the shiniest, most ridiculously clean and bright motorcycles to the curb.  IMG_0488

We ooh’ed and aah’ed and took photos, and then Dad and the delivery guy stood around and swapped stories and lies for a little while.  Finally off the guy went and we were left in the street with two shiny, perfect motorcycles.  Two shiny, perfect motorcycles that I was terrified to touch.  They looked bigger than I remembered.  Also?  They were completely unspoiled.  Who was I to smudge them all up and very possibly damage them in some way?

Luckily Dad was perfectly willing to garage them for us, because not long after delivery we had to run off to some errand or another.  When we returned, we prevailed upon the neighbor lady to watch the kids for a short while so that we could go on a ride.  Dad rides a Gold Wing so he took The Lovely Rhonda with him while I rode my own bike.  The one with twelve miles on it, eight of which I had put there myself on the test ride.

I managed not to embarrass myself too much, and re-learned an important lesson.  We hadn’t gotten the mesh jackets yet and it was just as hot as hell, so I rode in a t-shirt.  (Yes, after all that discussion about safety gear, I rode in a t-shirt.  It really was hot as blazes and it was a short ride.  Don’t judge.)

At around forty miles per hour, a t-shirt will ride up in the back.  Like, all the way up.  Like, Hi there fellow highway travelers, please check out my foundation undergarments.  I rode most of the way back with my left hand on my hip, holding my t-shirt in a death grip.

This thing which happened, part 3

Standard

So it was that we signed papers on two brand-new motorcycles.  It turns out that if  you buy two brand-new motorcycles, the dealership will trailer them right to you even if you live across the river in another state.  We eagerly awaited the delivery day, which was Saturday.  We signed on Wednesday.  We had to wait Three. Whole. Days. for delivery.

I am of the opinion that they were perhaps the three longest days in recorded history.

My dad happened to call on Thursday night.  He was in town and unexpectedly free and wondered if this was a good time to visit maybe?  He lives about five hours away.  It is of note that he has ridden motorcycles pretty much all his life and once toured parts of Europe on — wait for it — a Triumph Bonneville, in about 1970 or so.  My mother rode on the back, having stashed us wee children in the care of total strangers another Navy family for a MONTH in Rota, Spain, where we were stationed at the time.

I kid.  I’m a kidder.  I have no memory of this because I was a tiny tot but we probably stayed with their best friends who had kids a little older than us.  Probably I should ask her.

So I told him, “You know, it’s funny you should call just now.  I have to work tomorrow but then the next morning a trailer is going to pull up to my house and deliver two shiny new motorcycles!”  Not surprisingly, he opted to stay and enjoy the show.

We went out to a shop on Friday night and bought new helmets and jackets, and also gloves for The Lovely Rhonda. Gloves are important.  I knew this already, but it was really made clear when I had patient during clinicals for nursing school who had dumped a bike while wearing no gloves.  I think he was wearing a helmet but little else in the way of protective gear.  Anyway the skin on his palms was essentially torn off, like to the dermis.  Wear your gloves, people!  This kid was facing months of extremely limited use of his hands, if not skin grafts or some other kind of reconstructive surgery.  Ugh.

Helmets have come a long way in ten years.  My first helmet was an open-faced half lid, which I had to augment with a face shield.  I was riding first a crusty old Honda with no fairing and then later a BMW that had a little cafe-style fairing on it, but because the rest of the bike didn’t really put me in a cafe-style riding position, the mini-fairing served only to funnel the wind directly between my eyeballs, necessitating supernatural neck strength to prevent my head from being torn straight off.  This is probably what led to the degenerating disks in my neck, come to think of it.

Then I had this one girlfriend who insisted that I get a full-face helmet, which made my head feel like it was in a packing crate.  This definitely kept the wind out of my eyes but was hot in summer, fogged up if it was damp, and prevented verbal communication.  Nowadays they have these modular helmets where the front part can be flipped up so you can expose your face, say when stopped at a light so other riders can hear you, or if it’s really effing hot out like is now and you’re riding at low speeds.  And!  They have a little flip-down tinted sun visor inside the helmet, like a little pair of sunglasses, so you don’t have to try to cram your sunglasses into the helmet — especially useful for people like me who wear glasses.  I do have prescription sunglasses but it’s nice not to have to wrestle with them or even carry them around.  Plus as a bonus you look like you’re going to pilot an F-15.  Srsly.

We got jackets as well, three-quarter length ones with zip-out linings and armor in the sleeves and shoulders.  It’s been so hot that we then had to go get mesh jackets, similarly armored but made of a heavy mesh that allows the breeze to filter through admirably.  The thought of putting the heavy jackets on and riding around in the ninety-degree sun was unbearable.  The mesh jackets are still pretty warm in the sun if you’re not moving, but it’s the price you pay for protection.  Motorcycling in the summer is a sweaty affair.

TLR felt it was important to also order a communication system, which arrived today.  I have spent the past hour installing half of it into my helmet, and presumably the next hour will be spent similarly installing the other half into hers.  This thing is crazy — you can play music, talk on the phone, communicate with other riders in your party.   I’m not sure I need most of this but it will be nice to have a better way of signalling that I need to pee, which happens rather more than I’d like to admit.  Generally you ride up alongside your fellow motorcyclist on the freeway and tap your tank to indicate that you need gas, rub your belly to let them know you are hungry, or just make a broad sweeping gesture toward the right with your left hand to say, “Hey, let’s take a little break at that truck stop, I need to drink some spectacularly shitty coffee,” — but if you have to pee, it’s expected that you humiliate yourself by pointing at your junk.  Oddly enough, all my “let’s go drink coffee” stops include a stop at the restroom, sometimes a stop at each end of the break just to be safe.  I am fairly convinced that many of your more antiquated motorcycle enthusiasts take up smoking just to have an excuse to get off the road and pee every hour.

This thing which happened, part two

Standard

So we arrived at the dealership.  It was a Harley and Triumph dealership.

Let’s just get this out of the way.  I’m not really a Harley person.  No offense, they are fine motorcycles, but just like some people are cat people and some people are dog people, some people are Harley People and some people are Not Harley People.  It’s just not my thing.

Also, I’m not really a cruiser style bike person.  Cruiser style bikes are all leany-backy and stuff.  Your feet are in front of you.  No me gusta.

Nor am I a street bike type person.  Street bikes tip you up so your behind is in the air.  It’s not comfortable and makes me feel like I’m going to fall on my face.   (Also, what if the wind hits me just right and I really do have a buttsong?)

I’m not an off-road type, even occasionally.  Me likey the pavement.  So no “adventure” or “enduro” bike for me.

I want something small enough to ride in town, which leaves out the big old touring bikes with all kinds of niceties like fairings and luggage and cruise control and reverse and stereo and cup holders.  My dad rides one of these.  I affectionately refer to it as a Hondabago.

So that pretty much leaves what is called a standard bike.  Your feet are below you, you aren’t leaned forward or back, it’s pretty comfy.  The engine can be biggish but it’s still nimble enough to muscle around in town and you can get a ways out on the highway without feeling like you’re riding a skateboard.

At any rate, we were met at the door by a tall, slender guy whose shirt patch declared him to be — I am not making this up — “Slim Dave.”  Apparently there is another Dave and rather than call that guy “Chunky Dave” or “Tubby Dave,” they decided to call this guy “Slim Dave” for purposes of differentiation.

Anyway I told Slim Dave, “So if anybody had ever told me I’d be walking into a Harley dealership…” and he looked at me very seriously and said, “AND Triumph.”  And I said, “Which brings us to why we are here.”

We admired the various models of Triumph and Slim Dave inquired about whether I might like a test drive.  The Lovely Rhonda mentioned that if there was, perhaps, an orange Bonneville lying around the shop, well, I might like to see that one.  Possibly.

So we moseyed up the elevator to the warehouse, which is this big room stuffed full of shiny new motorcycles, and there it was: the orange one.  That one orange one.  I was nearly struck dumb, which if you know me at all you know that this is almost an impossible state for me to be in.

They lent me a helmet and gloves, I let them photocopy my license and signed an impressive looking paper saying I wouldn’t steal the bike or sue anybody if I got hurt, and would be a good girl and follow the rules of the road and not break any laws or anything.  Evidently when you test drive a brand new motorcycle you are not allowed to be Sick of the Man Keeping You Down.

I had not ridden in ten years and did I mention I have anxiety issues?   So the butterflies were thick and fast, but Slim Dave was comfortingly trusting so I figured I’d go with it.  He rode alongside me on … some kind of motorcycle.  No idea what.  We rode around for a little while, and I learned some stuff:

If you rode a motorcycle for around ten years, and then you didn’t for another ten years or so, you will not have forgotten how to ride.  You will be a little rusty, but you will still know how to ride.

A brand-new motorcycle with four miles on the odometer is delightful to ride, but you’ll be terrified to drop it like a noob.

Everything works on a brand-new motorcycle, including the throttle.  I was so used to crusty old bikes with sluggish throttles that I felt like a jet pilot on that thing.

If you loved to ride ten years ago, you will still love to ride.

When I got home I learned another new thing:  you will still fit into your old gloves, which are coincidentally the only thing you kept from ten years ago when you gave up riding.   They are nice lined gauntlet gloves that I got at Langlitz Leathers back in the day, and they are nicely broken in and comfy.  They are old friends in glove form.  I’m so glad I kept them.