Things That I Love

Dear Amazon Prime: 

I love you so much. I hope you don't hate me when I tell you that I need to spend some time apart from you. It's Josh, you see. He's becoming suspicious that he is being replaced. And if you and I have any hope of a relationship in the future, I must keep my marriage alive. Don't think I won't miss you. Or that I'm not thinking about you every minute. And everything you have to offer. You complete me. You fill every need that I can think of. Without fees or hassle, one click and you're there. I will always love you for that. Just because I neglect you for a little while, don't think I've given up on us. I will come back to you. I will lavish you with all of the attention and affection you deserve. In the meantime we must bear our pain in silence. The deprivation of mutual happiness. We must be strong and have hope for better days to come. Rich and plentiful days. When we will never have to part again. Don't forget about me. I will miss you.



PS - Don't forget to send the vitamins I ordered today! 

Things About Living In Northport

  • We have neighbors named Bev and Kay. I can never remember which is which. And the fact that he lives in a purple velour track suit and she has the voice of a kidnappers ransom phone message doesn't help. Apparently he was the school superintendent AND a border patrol agent for like 100 years. They seem to be super nice, and if a raspberry crop says anything, they might be my favorite people. 
  • The local gas station is also a liquor store and has all of your grocery necessities. At twice the price of the local grocery store which is twice the price of the stores in town. And the local grocery store closes at 6 on Sundays. Not 7. #lessonslearned
  • Beach cruiser bikes are a novelty. Other than Jael Regis' rickety wicked witch bike, there isn't one like my beautiful mint green Schwinn until you get into Canada. I know this because somebody here offered me $10 for it. Josh's $3000 race bike doesn't even need a lock because people think he's riding that tiny piece of junk because he spent all of his money on my bike. 
  • Riding bikes in a small town is WAY less scary than a big town. 
  • Mini Coopers hold up like champs against large deer.

  • Not too many people in rural areas know how to fix Mini Coopers. 
  • When the power company decides to work on a sub station 100 miles away, the whole town loses power. For several hours. On a Saturday morning. When my parents are visiting. 
  • Hair dryers, coffee makers, coffee grinders and local breakfast joints are all out of commission when there is no power. 
  • Everything takes longer to get here in the mail. Like parts to fix Mini Coopers. And paychecks. And everything.
  • There are a lot of creative substitutes for pretty much everything when you live 45 minutes from a store with reasonable prices. 
  • Pinterest has suddenly become a whole lot more useful. 
  • In lieu of a pedicure that I can neither afford nor get to, I tried a foot soak in Listerine and Vinegar. It was AWESOME!

  • Human relationships don't take any less work when you live in the boondocks.
  • I get crabby when I am bored. Being bored is easier in the boondocks. With no car. And no money. 
  • I need a hobby. 
  • Or three. 
  • Eventually, Netflix will run out of TV series. They've already run out of TV series worth watching. 
  • Fire Season makes it all ok. 
  • I really like to go huckleberry picking. It's like a semi-productive excuse to go sit in the shade in the forest and imagine you hear bears. It's also a great opportunity to vent life's frustrations on the stick that trips you and makes you dump the 1.72 cups of Huckleberries that took you 2 hours to pick. The dilemma of time loss verses berry recovery in these situations is one that may never be solved. I definitely prefer huckleberry picking when I am on the clock at a fire. Then it's more than semi-productive. 

  • The thunderstorms are AMAZING
  • For all of it's quirks and potential disadvantages, I love it here. I am happy to be back. I am content (in spite of my snarky complaints). 
  • The best thing about living in Northport is being known. After all, isn't that what we all really want? To be known, apart from the masses of other people, for our own unique traits and characteristics. To be the girl with the bike. The EMT. The paramedic. The guy that served the pancakes and wiped the tables at the Firehouse breakfast. The couple who shows up for everything. Or nothing. Or a little of both. To just be SOMEBODY. That's the special thing about a small town. Everybody is SOMEBODY. Everybody has a place, a spot, a niche. I am working to find mine. We are working to find ours. The ours is harder than the mine. It's like being newlyweds two years after we are married. Maybe because everybody here knew ME. And now I am US. I have faith that in time our niche will be carved out and we will be the family who... I look forward to that. 

Things That I Plan


Everything is so hard today. It's probably not a good day to try to do anything. But I did have all of these plans.

Like for example, I was supposed to get up at 5:50 so I could leave at 6:00 to go pick huckleberries with very industrious friends of mine. Lucky for me, my back, and front, and all sides of me, hurt so badly by 4:30 AM that I was able to get out of it. So I finally crawled painfully out of bed around 9:00 and noticed all of the Other Things that I needed to do. Like folding laundry. And vacuuming. And Eating Breakfast. It's all so hard. I don't even want to put a bra on. It's just too much work.

So then I think that maybe I can be productive by working on a new website for myself, where I will post new and wonderful things that everyone and their dog wants to read. I will become an instant online celebrity and can traipse through life just making people giggle in 20 minutes a day or less. But the new website thing is so hard. And confusing. And requires creativity. And I seem to have just run out of that. The cool thing about the website plan, unlike vacuuming, is that I could do it from one spot on the couch and not move. But when I realized that I would have to engage my brain and develop something that anyone besides my mother would ever care to look at, I felt like crying and going back to bed. Why is everything So Hard?

I keep thinking that I will hop on my Cute and Cheery bicycle and peddle over to the post office, where I can pick up several bills and a rejection letter from the medical insurance people. Then I could peddle over to the store and get myself an enema and some beer. Then I could go visit one of my friends and I would suddenly remember that I didn't have a bra on and peddle home shamefacedly with my enema and my rejection letter. Oh, it's so hard.

I did manage to get coffee mustered up. It wasn't so much of a plan as an Absolute Requirement For Living. Kind of like the enema. And the beer.

I have to admit that having my car in the shop for a few days is nice because I can use it as an excuse to not go anywhere. I tried to use it when Josh asked if I wanted to go to work with him today but it didn't fly, since I could ride with him. Luckily I was writhing in pain, so he quickly came to his own conclusion that maybe I should stay home and vacuum. At this point, my plan is to quit planning and just unfurl myself from the couch and start taking staggering, baby-zombie steps towards the bra that lies where I left it on the floor last night and just do this day. But it's so hard.

Things That Argghhhhhhh...

It's just one of those days. When nothing is wrong but everything is. When you are totally fine, but you're really not. When every time the Man of Your Dreams opens his mouth, all you can visualize is sewing it shut with Very Permanent Stitches. I am SUCH a monster today. No really. I am. You know it's bad when the resident Superhero mixes you a drink to help calm your nerves and you actually complain about it being too strong. Seriously? What kind of hormonal nightmare does that? As if scolding him for putting barbeque sauce on his cube steak sandwich wasn't enough. You know, I don't think it really matters if you got the recipe off of Pioneer Woman and wanted him to try it unadulterated and sing your culinary praises. I don't think a man who Loves Barbecue Sauce in every possible application would even notice a new recipe unless it was adorning his favorite condiment. But go ahead, girl. You chew him out for not tasting that bland, boring old steak sandwich without his One Joy in Life since all the slacker did all day was work. But for reals - that drink was STRONG. I wonder why? I really should be nice to him, since for the first time since I have known the man, he saw the opportunity to pay me a compliment and actually capitalized on it. I am fairly certain it was purely accidental, which leads me to believe that his resistance to verbal niceties is solid, stubborn obtuseness. But the shock on his face, and mine, when I mentioned I wouldn't want to be underfoot at his job site, and he shot back "when would you ever be underfoot, baby?" was absolutely unsurpassed. Baby steps, y'all. I'll take it. I immediately congratulated him and started making him a cube steak sandwich for dinner as a reward. Of course then, the monster of hormone in my head which lies dormant for about two thirds of the month, if Josh is lucky, began to raise her ugly head. "Why I should congratulate a man for a semi-passable comment when he should be lavishing praise upon my head daily?", became the all consuming thought. And then that darn cube steak with the barbecue sauce thing happened. Dammit all. (appropriate use of curse words here.)

With the glint of fear in his eyes, Josh scraped some barbecue sauce off on one end of his now ruined, but previously masterfully concocted sandwich, took a bite, and pronounced it "really good. and I don't like cube steak." Luckily cube steak sandwiches do not call for steak knives. Or that glint might have been replaced with a serrated blade.

Ever so tentatively, he's been asking what I would like to do for the evening. And as I gag theatrically on my overstrong tequila drink, I imagine all kinds of medieval torture devices I would like to experiment with. Josh quickly returns to his work, and lucky for him, the smart sucker - the tequila starts to kick in.

It doesn't help that I woke up in pain this morning and have been chasing it in waves throughout the day until finally I took a LARGE dose of painkillers and slept for four hours. The pain killers took the edge off of the pain but provided a nice dose of nausea and the four hour nap just made me feel like I had been marinading in dirty laundry for several days. How naps can be so good and so destructive all at once, I will never understand.

I feel bad for being so completely ridiculous. But it's really hard when things This Serious crop up. And then he starts picking the peely skin on the back of his heels and HE KNOWS I hate that. It's like he's just trying to make me despise him. It's an intense test of my self control. Which probably means I will go to bed in about 10 minutes.

The poor boy doesn't get that now is NOT the appropriate time to look up the Washington State EMT Basic Protocols and tell me that I was actually wrong about Nitro administration. Nor does he understand that wanting to go over remodel plans for our house and choose countertop colors is a really bad idea in This Exact Moment. Of course you're surprised that I don't like mocha brown paperstone counters honey, it's because you have no taste. Or style. And also, you're just showing me ugly colors to test me and pick a fight. Yeah, it went something like that. And probably the roofline for the new addition will never be settled upon.

To purge the sense of awfulness and pity for my Darling Husband that I am sure this has left you with, I shall bequeath upon you some poignant words of brilliant characters that totally back me up:

"I have seen too much not to know that the impression of a woman may be more valuable than the conclusion of an analytical reasoner."

SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes

"There is in every true woman's heart, a spark of heavenly fire, which lies dormant in the broad daylight of prosperity, but which kindles up and beams and blazes in the dark hour of adversity."


"Let men tremble to win the hand of woman, unless they win along with it the utmost passion of her heart."


"Woman's mind
Oft' shifts her passions, like th'inconstant wind;
Sudden she rages, like the troubled main,
Now sinks the storm, and all is calm again."


"If a woman shows too often the Medusa's head, she must not be astonished if her lover is turned into stone."


"I expect that Woman will be the last thing civilized by Man."

GEORGE MEREDITH, The Ordeal of Richard Feverel

Things About Road Trips

I wrote like six thousand words yesterday when we were driving. And then I lost it. It's kind of like burning a batch of cookies that you were Really Excited about eating.

 Anyway, what I wrote yesterday went something like this:

Long Road trips are not the best time to have deep and controversial relationship conversations with your spouse. It seems counterintuitive, I know, because with 9 hours of uninterrupted "alone" time, what could be more productive? But the reality is, three hours into the middle of nowhere in a vehicle going over 60 miles an hour is something  like being trapped in a coffin underground. The only difference is that you know at some point you have to stop for gas. There are not rooms to stomp out of on a road trip, no doors to slam. No escape. I try to avoid initiating any conversations of a Potentially Delicate Nature unless I can see that we are under a half of a tank of gas. Then I can run away at the gas station if I need to. Or at least hope for the distraction of Hot Tamales and a long line for the bathroom. 

It seems like sometimes, when you're trapped in a fast-moving vehicle with someone that you Love Deeply, any conversation holds the potential for disaster. 

"Why did you do that?" 
"Do what?"
"Turn on the air conditioner. I was waiting until the top of the hill"
"Because I couldn't breathe"
"Drama much?"
"You're a jerk"
"I'm conserving gas. Last time I checked we were trying to get ahead of our bills. And SOMEBODY needed a latte today." 

This conversation is a mostly fabricated compilation of several different talks we had. But they all ended similarly. Unless we talked about truly volatile things like fiscal responsibility, sex, disciplining children or whether Bon Jovi is the greatest musician that ever lived. Then things would get nasty. 

Sometimes I think it's a small miracle that we stay married with the number of conversation riddled road trips we have taken. I've tried to introduce books on tape, but we both get bored listening to someone else's voice talking about topics totally unrelated to our lives. 

We've talked about seizing the opportunity and viewing it as a productive and positive relationship building time, but Josh says it's really stressfull and un-fun, and I have to agree with him. Although I have yet to go on a road trip of any nature with my Precious Boy that isn't hatefully stressful and a regrettable mistake for him. This is unfortunate, because I've always liked traveling, and can't understand why he gets worked up every time we run out of gas or get a flat tire or our average fuel economy is under 13 mpg. I've always considered those little road blocks part of the unfolding adventure.  It's only money, right? And time. Both things that represent hard labor (in the most punitive sense) to a man who desperately wants to be able to quit his dirty and pain-filled profession. 
I try to understand. And then I start to think I'm one of those terrible entitled people because my belief that things will always work out is totally reliant upon his back breaking diligence, and I have not earned the right to not be stressed. The poor boy carries the weight of the world on his shoulders, and all I seem capable of doing is picking fights with him. Accidentally. Because contrary to popular opinion, I DO NOT LIKE FIGHTING. Especially with Josh. He's intimidating. But I really truly believe that there is something better on the other side of not settling, however frustrating and uncomfortable it gets from time to time. I mean if it was always comfortable, it would be settling, right? Or maybe we would have arrived... Or maybe Bon Jovi really is the greatest artist that ever lived. And who really needs air conditioning? 

Things About Equality

I am a feminist by no means. I am 100% in support of the idea that women can't do exactly everything men can do, and certainly not as well. The reverse is also true. I won't deny that I feel like we got the short end of the stick in some ways when nearly every function of the quintessential housewife is a thankless task that is usually undone before it is finished being done. For anyone that has changed a diaper, washed a dish or a window, picked up legos or vacuumed a floor, or made a batch of jam that was so good everyone ate it out of the jar in spoonfuls, you know what I mean. Guys, in a completely broad sense and definitely generalizing way too much, get to do things that stay done. Like build houses. And fix cars. And stuff like that. It's a completely irrational envy I have since I could have decided 20 years ago that I wanted to go to college and become something cool. Say an astrophysicist, like my cousin or something. Or an airplane pilot for missionaries in the jungle. Oh wait. I did decide that. But at the time, in a world where "college is no place for young ladies" I settled for my next best fate with an exotic-ish man who had seen an Entire Semester of college. That didn't work out so well, so I went to college anyway, when it was apparently a little safer for young ladies, and got a degree in something that is mostly useless. I have done many crazy and cool things. I have skydived over Hawaii. I have hiked on the Great Wall Of China. I have helped a Ugandan Doctor in surgery. I have touched the Berlin Wall, I have been inside of several burning houses, and upside down cars. I have done CPR for 50 minutes straight. I have flown in helicopters and walked through burning forests and been stalked by a mountain lion. And I have done many "boy" jobs. I have been a firefighter (enter discussion with husband of the appropriate use of "fireman" terminology in our household - I maintain he calls himself a "fireman" just so he can say he is something different than me and I can't compete with him. I am insecure.), an EMT, and Archaeologist just like Indiana Jones but without the hat. I have been a ATV trail builder, and ATV trail monitor, a forest firefighter, a painter (if you don't believe me check out the Sauvola building in downtown Northport), a purveyor of hardware and building supply, farming supply, a bookkeeper, and many more things. A lot of which are "traditionally male" roles. And those are the ones I like the best.

Not because I hate being a girl. I like being a girl. I would feel really weird if I was a guy and had armpit hair and stuff like that. But I am not the kind of girl who has ever really experienced the elation of childbirth or childrearing or anything involving the word "child",  like I have heard many women proclaim. I have never had my soul refreshed with the proud fulfillment of a child's accomplishment. I am proud, yes. And I adore my kids. As the individual human beings they are, not as an appendage of myself. Anything awesome they do is almost entirely their own gifting and the sheer grace of God. Lord knows mothering, housekeeping, "traditionally female" roles, are mentally and psychologically much harder work for me than actual hard work. I don't like being unthanked, unnoticed, undone and presumed upon. In any area. I am sure in the same way, that my husband doesn't like being relied upon and expected to pay the bills somehow, by the sweat of his brow and the strain of his back. Bills that are always waiting to be paid the very next month. Bills that only seem to increase no matter how your lifestyle decreases. I am sure he feels, like me, that every hard thing he does goes unnoticed and unappreciated and simply has to be redone. But we get to look at pictures of beautiful tile jobs he does. And buildings that spring up from the ground in two days and stay there for a hundred years. Probably it would be kind of boring to look at pictures of the laundry I folded and the floor that I swept. And every batch of jam I have made has disappointed on some level: too runny, not enough fruit, too many seeds... And there hasn't been a single dish that I washed that has paid a cent of the bills. That just makes me mad. I know it all has to be done, but the things I do, in my mind, are worthless since they don't pay, and they don't please. And they don't fulfill. And they don't entertain.

I have actually come to a point in my life where I like to take care of my house. I like to do laundry and clean things up so that I can sit down and enjoy it for 4 seconds until Dagny dumps out her toy basket and the dryer buzzes. It is a good feeling. But it's nothing to write home about. Or text my husband pictures of, unlike the colossal landscaping project he was working on. It's sad really. I know there is value in my time and the things that I do, but it certainly doesn't seem tangible most of the time. I would much rather be making money or entertaining someone. Josh was a little puzzled today when I didn't want to go with him to do some of his work stuff. None of it was anything I could have helped with, but I could stand there with the pink flamingos like a lawn ornament and listen to him talk, or think of something interesting to tell him, and since I don't do anything else with my day that really matters, why wouldn't I go? I knew that I had three loads of laundry to fold, a sink full of dishes, and of course I could foresee that Dagny was planning on doing this:

Which really meant that I could have a productive day at home. Even if nobody noticed. In fact, I could probably EASILY convince Josh that I sat on the couch and did absolutely nothing today, since I have no doubt that Dagny will make that exact same mess right after I vacuum for the second time today.

Sometimes, being a girl stinks. Or maybe just being me stinks. When I am better, I will do "boy" things all the time and will be noticed. Or maybe I won't. I guess over the years I have proven to myself that I CAN, and now that I have my Wonderful Man, I don't HAVE TO anymore. But I am so worried that people will forget that I CAN. And think that I am useless and sit on the couch all day long. I know what I am capable of, what I have accomplished, what I have in my rucksack of experience. Why am I so worried that everyone else, especially Josh, will forget? That I will just be swept over in the vast history of American housewifery as one of the masses that raised the next wave of housewives and breadwinners? I don't mind being one. But I want to be more. It is selfish and ego based and wrong, I suppose, but after 30 some odd years of fighting it, I give up. I give in. I will keep carving my rebellious niche in this little world of mine so that at least my kids can say that I never quite fit, and maybe they will be glad. But I can still make good jam.

Things About Not Working

It's a romantic ideal I have that Josh and I would spend a day at home, not working and just basking in the deep well of love that we share. Instead, a work-free day goes more like this:

8:16 AM: Josh wakes up, pretending to be mildly perturbed that he slept "too late" and telling me he was actually lying awake in bed from 5:30 AM on, a fact I know to be untrue since I woke up at 7:37 and saw him snoring and realized I could keep sleeping some more, guilt-free.

8:37 AM: Liv struggles out of bed and is on her way to start the coffee, gets sidetracked by re-instructing Dagny that morning potty goes outside and chasing Emmy and Penny out of the bathroom three times while she tries to remember why she's in there. Oh yeah, thyroid medicine.

8:44 AM: while still unsuccessfully making her way to the coffee pot, Liv gets distracted yet again by several Immediately Pressing Messes. Like a paper towel with toast crumbs and several dried-green paint brushes in the sink. Josh hops up from his first 28 minutes on his computer and demands to know why Liv is so business oriented and is cleaning things up this early. Liv explains that she is trying to make coffee but keeps getting disoriented, and why didn't he facilitate the coffee consumption sooner. Josh protests that coffee making is not his job, Liv makes offhanded snarky comment about doing many "jobs" that she doesn't like, Josh takes offense and starts rattling off the hardships of his life. Liv finally makes coffee while pretending to listen.

9:11 AM: Josh is mercifully back on his computer and Liv is sulking on the couch with coffee and two dogs that she would rather were not sitting on her keyboard. Liv makes offhanded snarky comment about Josh's priorities being askew, which instantly engages a Battle Of The Ages that successfully removes both dogs from her keyboard and Josh from his laptop. Liv wins Battle Of The Ages by being correct 100% of the time and Josh is ashamed and says they should go out to lunch. Liv points out that lunch isn't served at 10:23 AM (time lapse allowed for Battle Of The Ages) and Josh gets pouty.

10:29 AM: Liv tells Josh to get guns and we will go shooting. Josh instantly perks up.

10:47 AM: Josh finally has all 6 guns, two ammo bags, zombie targets, ear protection, safety glasses and high protein energy snacks packed in the car. We are ready. We go drop an ink cartridge at Middlesworth's and some groceries at the Whitebird and discover that the reverse gear on the Mini Cooper has abdicated it's post and the car will only go forward. At all. Forever. Josh sees this as a karmic punishment from God for losing The Battle Of The Ages and blames Liv. Now in addition to a deer dent, two sets of bad brakes and a blown compressor on the Denali, we have no reverse. God is good. We were just saying how much we'd like to stay home more. All of the time. Forever.

10:56.0005 AM: The Mustang Grill understandingly serves Josh lunch.

11:32 AM: A fruitless search for a "shooting range" results in Josh pushing the Mini Cooper backwards in lieu of reverse no less than 6 times, while Liv reminds him that this displaces his guilt for not having a weight lifting routine, and they give up and go home, parking carefully pointed outward.

11: 49 AM: Josh is back on his laptop, Liv is sulking on Facebook, Emmy has experienced some gastrointestinal trauma that results in toxic gaseous emissions, aaaaaand it's nap time.

Things About Humor

I don't feel funny today. Not even a little bit. Maybe it's because I have a teeny headache right in the space between my eyes and my ears. Maybe it's because I don't have any cream in my coffee (which is ALWAYS a bad idea). My buddy was talking about how cream in her coffee makes her a nicer person, one that her family likes better, and I have to agree (I mean for myself, not you, girl - you're ALWAYS nice). Either way, I don't feel funny. I had a funny weekend. Really a hilarious weekend. One that started on Thursday morning in a cataclysmic fight with my Adorable Husband and careened wantonly into Monday with two sets of destroyed break pads on the road weary, kid weary, dog weary, work weary Denali. Poor old beast. Reminds me of me.

Sandwiched between these two life-and-budget altering events, we also tested the durability of the Mini Cooper against an oversized whitetail doe, with surprising, however expensive, results. We took 3 kids and 4 dogs camping across the state, the long way, because Google Maps prides itself on creative plotting and wanted us to take a tour of Diablo Dam and the phenomenal Washington Pass, which happens to be the northernmost paved pass in Washington state and also almost two hours out of our way. During this camping trip Truck didn't bite anybody, nephew Judah adopted himself into at least three extended family groups for family photos at the family reunion (that's a lot of family) and Aspen didn't change her clothes or brush her teeth once. I returned her to her dad's house in much the same manner I usually receive her.

The "Camping Trip" was actually a family reunion. The every-other-year opportunity to hang out in the dirt with my dad's brothers and wives, their kids, and their kids's kids. The adults were severely outnumbered by Children Nine and Under, which made the whole event that much dirtier. To be honest, there is something almost magical, in a grubby kind of way, of realizing that I am sharing the same blood and heritage with 50+ people in the campground, and to see flashes of my Grandma Audrey's face in my cousins, and reflections of my dad's awesome sense of humor in dozens of other people. These are my people. And with all of our very extreme differences, we are the same. It's an awesome thing, to know where you come from, and to bask in it, ever so briefly. I really, truly feel a sense of sadness for the ones who do not have what I have in my extended family, on both sides. I feel blessed and privileged to be a part of so many good, crazy, different people, and share the solidarity of common blood and history. I am proud to call them all my family. Except maybe Aspen, by Sunday morning, when her hair was matted and her face matched the path to the campfire.

We decided to go the "right way" home, which worked out great. We started up Steven's Pass and shortly after we stopped at Mt. Index Coffee to take pictures with Bigfoot, Penny pooped in the back of the car. Then we came up on a wreck that had Just Happened. A jeep sat on it's roof at the base of a rock wall. Several people were standing around, none of them with any kind of useful looking skills, so we jumped out, and discerned that there was one occupant trapped in the car. Before the information was fully digested, my Superhero Husband was in the upside down Jeep with the elderly gentleman, while I was trying to put the pieces together from the three grandsons that had been in the vehicle with him when it rolled. Apparently he passed out at the wheel, possible due to some medical issue. The boys were all ok, as was one of the dogs (a dachshund, incidentally), but one of the dogs had bolted as soon as they got out of the wreck and was nowhere to be found. The man inside the Jeep was in and out of consciousness (either from the blood rush to the head or a pre-existing medical condition), and hanging by his seatbelt, but otherwise seemed to be unharmed. To the Jeep's credit, for a pretty rough wreck, there was almost no intrusion into the driver's compartment and the roll cage undoubtedly saved all four lives that day. As well as seat belts. Always. Wear. Your. Seatbelt. It took more than 30 minutes for aid to arrive, and by that time, Josh, me and some other random EMTs that had showed up, including one from Wyoming with real EMS gear, had mostly extricated the man from his trap in the upside down Jeep. This involved Josh squishing himself into the upside down passenger seat and leveraging the man under the headrests to us to slide up a backboard and out the back door. It was tricky. It was successful, and Josh was awesome. After we saved the world, we continued home, and took another questionable turn which may or may not have added a few extra miles to the trek. Stupid Google Maps.

The wreck on Steven's pass was definitely more rewarding that our wreck on Thursday morning, which involved a Large Female Deer T-Boning the side of our Mini. I am not sure who was going faster, the deer or us, but we won, and in spite of an ugly looking fender and smashed headlight (which STILL WORKS!) the mini was still in full operating condition. I was surprised how well the little thing held up. Josh was still recovering from our Epic Battle Of Wills that morning and I think he viewed the deer as karmic justice for my misbehavior, since I was driving (too fast as always), even though the burden of the insurance deductible rested squarely on his Broad, Handsome and Totally Capable Shoulders. As if that wasn't enough of an unexpected expense, by Monday morning, after grinding our way down Sherman pass for the fourth time that week, both front and rear brakes went out on the Denali. By out I mean metal on metal, nothin' to grab on to, out. Hello $600 repair! But the little change of events in the day gave us a chance to go see World War Z at the illustrious Alpine Theater. It was good to get my zombie fix, since Walking Dead Season 3 STILL isn't on Netflix.

Anyway, here we are, it's Tuesday morning, and in spite of all of the comedic drama this weekend, I still don't feel funny. I guess I should go get some cream for my coffee, take a nap, and try again.

So I will leave you with a picture of a banana slug....

Things That I Don't Get

Life isn't fair.

Of all of the lessons that my parents taught me, including The Best Places to Hide Spanking Spoons, Guaranteed Ways to Get to Watch a Movie, and How To Thoroughly Clean A Bedroom, this is the one that stands out as the most useful and definitely, most often applied: Life Is Not Fair.

You do not get what you deserve in life. You get what you need to become the person you are supposed to be. You get what you want sometimes, if you work hard AND you are lucky. You get things that you definitely DON'T deserve and didn't even know you want sometimes just because Life Isn't Fair. This principle applies both ways, which is something I am thankful for every single day. If life was fair, my life would probably look much different. There's a strong possibility that I wouldn't even exist at all since I am not sure what my parents did so badly in their lives to deserve me. I wouldn't have four gorgeous, healthy, mostly sane children. I wouldn't have a million family members and friends who still speak to me and love me for totally unmerited reasons. I wouldn't have a Man at my beck and call that I drive crazy but is hell bent on taking care of me and my crazy babies.

Bad People have good luck. Good People get the most horrible hands imaginable dealt to them. Innocents suffer and evil people thrive. There is no sense to how and why things happen, but as I watch with frustration the world is upended one town at a time by tragedy and mayhem and sickness of every kind. And all I can do is be thankful that Life Is Not Fair. That I am here, safe, with my family. Happy. In need of nothing. With the liberty to do things that some people can only imagine, whether they are constrained by physical limitations, social, political, philosophical or even mental, I have the capacity to do almost anything I can dream up. I am lucky.

Maybe this talk is all to remind myself that a little bit of pain, or not getting my way every once in awhile, is a ridiculously small amount of trouble in a ridiculously great life. Mostly I think I say these things because I get ticked off when bad things happen to good people and good things happen to bad people and the world gets all turned upside down and backwards. But I have to remember that if life was fair, I would be in a world of hurt. All I can do is try to share my good luck with as many people as I can.

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Things To Come To Terms With

I'll admit I have been a little bit melancholy lately. I put on a brave face and say really ridiculous things out loud to cover the shades of sadness that threaten my sunshiny days. Because really, nothing is that bad. And we have so much to be thankful for, to be weighed down by the silly, unimportant things is a waste of a very short life. But maybe sometimes getting all of the gloomy things out of your head and into the heads of other people helps to disperse the burden. "I'd give all my pain to you..." Something like that. Yes, this morning I began listening to TAB. Real TAB. Old school, not on the radio, heavy on the banjo TAB. And I think about things that I can't change. Things like:

My dog eats flip flops. Even my favorite flip flops. And judging by the taste of the kisses she just gave me, she eats poop as well. Now I probably have worms.

Seth Avett is no longer married to his January Wedding bride. Somehow if an Avett brother gets divorced it's way sadder than your average Joe divorce. Maybe he should've worked that 9-5 for her. I feel like this makes Scott sad, because at least for the moment, my illusion has shifted it's entire weight to Scott's somewhat slight shoulders, and he needs to be dedicated enough for all of us. I just want his life to be true. It gives me hope.

The cream in my refrigerator is curdled.

I gained 5 pounds last week.

I can't be with my Favorite Boy Every Minute of the Day, Every Day of the Month, Every Month of the Year. We're apart about 95% more than I would like to be.

My pain is getting worse.

I still can't speak Russian.

I need to apply myself to something.

It's all so overwhelming that just getting it out there makes me want to take a nap. But napping is not going to solve all the world's problems, unlike sitting here and hashing through them on my keyboard as though I was typing out a prescription for world peace and happiness.

Really, all of the things wrong in the world are so subjective. It's sad to me that I have curdled cream in my refrigerator, more so than the disappointment of the Disney enthusiast that missed a fast pass window for Indiana Jones. But how does a two hour wait for a ride, or chunky coffee, equate to a child in another world who goes without water today, or is sold for sexual uses to the highest bidder, or burdened with feeding 5 younger siblings and sick parents. What's profoundly amazing to me is that the people suffering in these worlds have known little else, and the relative scale of their suffering is based only on their own experience. That's what struck me so profoundly in Uganda - the unmarred happiness of children who had no idea that they were suffering. We know they are suffering. For heaven's sake, most of them have been deprived of any knowledge of Disneyland, much less visited it. We know that they should have 3.2 liters of clean spring water to drink a day. That they should have a warm shower and shoes on their feet. We know that they shouldn't deal with hearing loss from chronic and easily treated ear infections, or daily pain from easily remedied illnesses. But they have never known anything else. There is no way to equate our worlds. None. But I am not entirely convinced that we are the ones that are better off. Healthier, yes. Fatter, yes. More comfortable, I suppose, but we are so Keenly Aware of our own comfort that it is never enough. So intent on our own gratification that we never taste gratification. There is always more that we can have, do, feel. That is why we are driven. And why they are content with so little. They have nothing to be sad about because they don't know what they are missing. They don't have addictive un-necessities rubbed in their faces on TV 24/7, and even at school, on their phones, their computers - because they don't have them. They don't send a text to tell someone they care. They walk 17 miles barefoot to communicate the message.

Why I am rambling incoherently today is beyond me. I think after a few days in California, my resolve to have less, do less and to be more is steeled. I never want commercial television in my home. I don't want my kids on the internet if they aren't gaining purposeful knowledge and expanding themselves positively as humans, which doesn't involve gaming skills or adding Facebook Friends. I am the guiltiest of all sinners in this spoiled culture. I have eaten greedily from the fat hand. I like to be comfortable, to have pretty things around me that I like. To be noticed and admired...  Humans are complex animals. We have so much to learn, and unlearn, to make the most of this brief space in time we occupy. I think that the realization that I have everything that I could want, everything imaginable to make me comfortable and happy, but I am still in A LOT of pain every day it makes me rethink the "value" of things that we have pursued. I can't escape the physical hurt any more than one of those kids in Uganda that can't get an antibiotic. At least I have hope that I will someday...  And them? I think I need a nap from all of this.

I went on a search for something real...

Things About Traveling

1. Nine Year Olds and Continental Breakfasts

When putting carefully selected bagels, toast or other bread-type items on a rotating toaster, don't plan on getting the same items back on the other side when a 9 year old is present. All toasted items dropping into the bottom pan are fair game, as well as the cream cheese and plate you had waiting for your carefully selected bread-type items.

Sneeze guards on piles of already peeled hard boiled eggs work well except for when the nine year old sneezed directly into the opening on the sneeze guard over the pile of eggs. Just refrain from eating already peeled hardboiled eggs at a continental breakfast anyway.

Chances are good that every muffin, cheese cube and danish has been touch-tested for appropriate firmness, moisture content and density by nine year old, recently sneezed on, fingers.

If you can't figure out how to work the milk machine, just drink half and half out of the tiny baby cups by the coffee. Sometimes they are warm, but it's not too terrible.

2. Traveling With a Nine Year Old Physical Agility Requirements

Plan on carrying at least an extra thirty pounds of carry on luggage, not including the iPad packed solely for entertainment purposes, the 23 bags of various and assorted snacks, two large water bottles (one was originally in her bag, but made it too heavy) and a good supply of Benadryl and dramamine for sedation purposes. In addition to your own necessary items, including some herbal version of a poor substitute for Valium, several small flasks of whiskey and for last resort, sleeping pills, you will be asked to carry her Sudoku Jr book, her My little Pony word find notebook, and both the pencil with the lead and the one with the eraser (since pencils apparently don't come with both any more), three contraband calico critters that were NOT supposed to be on the trip at all, and of course, the sweatshirt that is TOO HEAVY to carry but will be desperately needed later when temperatures in Southern California drop to below freezing and she shivers better than an insecure baby wiener dog. Don't forget to allow space for the accumulation of souvenirs as the journey progresses - giant leaves collected off of the ground, stuffed Donald Ducks of every imaginable size, and about 40 packages of honey roasted airplane peanuts. 

I recommend the same training for this type of travel as I do for the wildland pack test - a 30-40 lb pack of evenly distributed dead weight over semi rough terrain for at least 3 miles a day, or in inclement weather, a good 45 minutes on an elliptical. Not that I did this training, but I feel like I must have, otherwise how did I survive 4 days of California with a nine year old. 

3. Sharing a Hotel Bed With a Nine Year Old

First of all I would just like to say: Don't.

If you must, spend the first night watching which side the nine year old spends the majority of the night facing, and orient yourself on the opposite side for all following nights. 

I recommend acquiring a pair of padded hip and thigh hockey or football pants for sleeping in, unless you are good at sleeping on your side with your knees pointed protectively toward offensively thrashing nine year old, sleeping feet. 

Cut off all food sources to the nine year old at least 24 hours before sharing a bed with them. This makes projectile vomiting onto your pillow less likely to occur. 

Do not fall comfortably asleep at any point of the night when sharing a bed with a 9 year old, as this seems to be the impetus for projectile vomiting onto your pillow. 

If the nine year old starts talking in her sleep, get out. Now. 

Regardless of how many times the restless nine year old trades you pillows in her sleep, YOUR pillow will still be the preferable target for all projectile vomiting. 

Feeding nine year olds at Disneyland, or anywhere within a hundred mile radius, is a bad idea. So is pepperoni, black olive and pineapple pizza. Especially when it is running in fluid form off of your pillow. Papa John's may be ruined forever for me, which is saying a lot. 


4. Coming Home

The worst thing I can imagine coming home to would be something like my house being burned down, and all of my dogs dead, or the coffee cream completely curdled. 

Coming home to a house that smells like a petting zoo, three pairs of chewed flip flops, and sheets that have clearly been the rolling spot of choice for muddy Cocker Spaniels for a week, really isn't that bad. My Wonderful Boy was even smart enough to leave the filled-but-dirty dishwasher and clothes washer open so they didn't encapsulate wonderful smells for me to enjoy when I opened them upon my return. The sheer volume of destroyed property from a 10 month old dachshund and her cohorts who were left alone during the 4th of July holiday and all of it's anxiety causing noise was impressive. Even for Dagny. To cap off her welcome home celebration she got up sometime during the night while I was finally enjoying the unparanoid sleep that didn't involve a nine year old and ate one of my new Sanuk Flip Flops. How can she be so cute and so bad all at once? Kind of like the nine year old. 

PS - A few traveling tips for Disneyland victims : there is NO good coffee in Disneyland. There is also no alcohol. California Adventure has both, but it's a long walk. The Disneyland train will kick you off after a full circle. But you can ride the monorail forever. It also has tinted windows and makes you harder to spot for searching family members. Elbows, Stroller Wheels and Wheel Chairs are all permissible weapons in Disneyland. I recommend the acquisition and use of any or all. And corndogs. The corndogs make it all worthwhile.

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