Archive for the ‘humor’ Category

The Unexpected   Leave a comment

So two blogs back, I listed the top ten favorite places or memories from the recent trip we took to California, while delivering our oldest to grad school.  I knew on this trip we would head into new territory simply because while our family enjoys camping in our pop-up in the west, we have never ventured so far before (mainly because it’s a heckuva drive and requires too much vacation time).  We have camped in Texas, New Mexico, Utah, Arizona, Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, and the states you must drive through to get to these places from our home.  But we had never continued past western Wyoming.  So when we reached Salt Lake City and went, well, beyond, I knew it would be different.

However, until you’ve been there–to Nevada–to California–you can’t know how different it will be.

Some of these differences are just wonderfully striking.  California seems to be a land of extremes, all different types of biomes and so many amazing giant plants.  Then there’s the unsurpassed Yosemite Valley.  There’s no place else like it on earth.  So all of these things were glorious.

But we had all other sorts of unexpected moments.  Those of you who are well-traveled know that on any trip, alongside the wonderful memories, the beautiful places, and the great pictures, you also experience the Other Stuff.  Stuff that is bizarre–the strange–the unusual–in short, the unexpected.

Here are the highlights.

First, it is disorienting but delightful to be able to travel from one biome into a different one when traveling up and down the Coast range in California.  You are in a golden, grassy field with the wind blowing through, and thistles, and twisted trees, and then you take a winding two-lane road sharply downhill past some vineyards, and just like that, you’re in a primeval forest of giant trees.

Food was definitely less expensive than at home–I could get, say, plums, for one-third of what I’d been paying all summer.

Also, the location of the entrance doors for grocery stores in California seemed to be a secret only locals understood.  It took me a while to figure out how to get in, since the doors I always walked up to were clearly marked “exit”.

We also had various adventures that were mostly created by the challenge of having one group of people driving two vehicles cross-country.  These included our scenic tour of the Salt Lake City airport, when our intention was just to find the last gas station before the Great Salt Flats.  The airport access and apparently the entire airport were under construction and the road followed a meandering route similar to what food experiences moving through your intestines, so it took us a while to find our way back to the interstate.  I’m sure the jet-setting departees from the airport were amused to see a golden yellow Penske truck crawling through the detours, closely followed by a dirty minivan towing an old pop-up trailer.

We also took an accidental detour into a semi-truck weigh station as we approached the agriculture check after entering California.

Then, once we got back out of the line for the weigh station, I discovered that while I was doing a great job driving the moving truck, the one thing I did not actually have with me in the truck was the key for the padlock we had put on the back compartment to secure it.  The key, which yes we needed when they asked us to open the back, was conveniently located in a very safe location: the glove box of the other vehicle.

We also had the door of the pop-up camper take a ninety degree flop to the right.  This is normal protocol and would have been ideal if we were setting up camp at the time.

Instead we were hurtling downhill from Donner Pass.  But thanks to the two-way radios, the people in the moving truck were able to alert the driver of the pop-up rig before any supplies came out to decorate the shoulder.

I did not expect to spend an evening helping my son pick baby ticks off himself in Kansas.

I did not expect to have ants invade the cooler at the RV park in Sacramento West.

Or to have a man invade the bathroom at the RV park in Sacramento West.

But he wasn’t the only man I found in women’s bathrooms.  There were routinely men in the women’s bathrooms in Hodgdon Meadow campground in Yosemite.

Perhaps this was because the men’s urinal was non-functional and full the entire time we were camping there.  This may have been caused by the sheer difficulty of bringing in plumbing supplies to a location so remote.  That was another unexpected–the sheer remoteness of the places we visited in the mountains.  I had no idea looking at a map that the roads would be so winding, the elevation changes so extreme.  There was nothing remotely resembling cell reception at either park we stayed in.  In fact, even after we drove out of the redwood valley park on our way back toward San Jose and were cruising the top edges of the ridges, where you’d think there wouldn’t be any large obstacles blocking signals from cell towers, there still was no reception.

But that was actually part of the charm of the state park we enjoyed.  Portola Redwoods State Park has not yet been discovered by the masses.  They don’t give change at the gift shop, and they don’t accept outgoing mail.  It is quiet and un-busy there.  One of the most rewarding events during our stay there was that Portola has been discovered by the masses–masses of vivid yellow banana slugs.  We got to meet them and play with them on our second day after a light rain brought them out trolling the campground for treats.  So I’d have to say another unexpected thing about California was the sheer number of luscious banana slugs.

Also, we learned that a yellow jacket is strong enough to take off with a bacon bit in her mandibles.  I did not know that.

She landed on someone’s salad plate after dinner, found an abandoned bacon bit, checked it out, grasped it firmly and then to the surprise of all managed to lift off!  Sure the flight trajectory was a bit sloppy, and she buzzed my forehead as she took off, but she left with that bacon, and came back later for more.

Our campsite in Yosemite was totally unexpected.  The ranger at the check in said he wasn’t sure how we’d park our pop-up in site thirty-three but we thought he was joking–until we got to the site.  We look at it.  Silence.  Then my husband says, “I’m sorry.  I had no idea this site was like this.”  It really wasn’t his fault that it was approximately forty feet from the road to the picnic table and bear box, and downhill steeply enough all the way that, no, you really couldn’t level an RV of any kind on the provided pad.  We had to camp parallel to the road crammed in behind a large dumpster.  The compensations were that we ended up cooking outside at the table near the bear box, since that’s where all the food was anyway, it was actually quite pleasant, and we were reminded that we could survive without using the super galley kitchen inside the pop-up.

I guess I should have expected something groovy and relaxed, since we were on the beach in California, but I was not quite ready to see a naked old man dive into the freezing surf at Point Reyes.

However, as I say, this is California.

One of the last unexpected things actually happened at home.  Our pop-up has an awning we use sometimes and like most such awnings, it stores rolled up, attached to the length of the pop-up by adhesive.  When you’re driving at highway speed and it’s an unusually windy day, you will see the awning bag flop up and down when looking in the rear view mirror.  It did that all the way across Kansas (because why would it be windy in Kansas?) and I remember thinking “of course this awning is designed to handle the stress of being blown like that.”

We were unloading the supplies the day after we got back.  After taking a short break, I went back out for the remainders, to discover the entire awning lying peacefully on the doorstep of the camper.  After thousands and thousands of miles on the road during which it could have given way to bludgeon the vehicle behind us, instead it waited until we were at home to drop to the ground.

Now that’s unexpected.

 

 

 

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Posted October 24, 2017 by swanatbagend in humor, travel journal

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Still Learning   Leave a comment

There are always surprises in marriage.  As I wrote a few weeks ago in this blog (https://swanatbagend.wordpress.com/2016/08/17/why-hes-so-flexible/), I learned something new about my husband during the process of negotiating plans for a weekend with extended family.

But that’s not the only thing I have learned about him recently.

Do you know how long we have known each other?  We have been married almost 3/5ths of my life.  We have known each other for thirty-one years, which is more like 31/49ths of my life (reduce that if you can).  Thirty-one years is a long time as far as human life spans go, and you would think that after that amount of time nothing your spouse could do would really surprise you.

You would think

Board games have never been a big thing in our family.  One reason was some of our children couldn’t handle playing them when they were smaller,  so we basically stayed away from competitive games for family time and were more into hiking, camping, playing outside, and horsing around in the den and knocking end tables over.

The other reason is that as far as I could tell my husband did not like board games.  He was willing to play Pictionary or Trivial Pursuit if pressed at larger family gatherings, but he never, but never asked the kids and me to play a game with him.

So, logical conclusion: he must not like games.

But this is what happened.  I gave our youngest son a game called Survive for his birthday last year.  I knew he liked it because good friends of ours had introduced the kids to it and I’d heard a lot about it when he got back home.

We were at the beach on vacation at the time, so during our afternoon siesta we all sat back sipping Pineapple Fanta and tried a round of Survive.

The daddy man loved it.

He wanted to play again the next day.

Requests to play the game continued fairly regularly over the next few months, and then his comments made something go “click” in my  head.  He was wondering out loud how the game would turn out, (aside from the fact that each game is inherently different because you set up the game board variably each time using three types of tiles that represent rock, sand and jungle) if we all shifted our strategies a bit, stopped playing so nice, if he put his high value tokens in another area of the island, and so on.

Aha.

This year, things got even more interesting around our house, because my son received another game–Settlers of Catan.

We have now laid the myth to rest.

Between Catan, Doctor Who Risk, and Survive (oh, and chess!), there is strategy and game playing going on at our house.

And I thought I knew all there was to know about that man.

 

Posted September 18, 2016 by swanatbagend in humor

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I Have a Part-time Job!   Leave a comment

Time is money, and after I manage the household I spend a good deal of my time homeschooling the kids, shopping for their needs, researching any treatments or supplements they may need, and taking care of my own health.

But hey, I want to add this part-time job to my resume!

It’s definitely a trending thing so it should be worth quite a lot in the market.  I can use the word “artisan” for just about every aspect of this work.  That adds a lot of value right there, as hand-made, artisan items are the latest thing.

I wonder what other people are getting paid for the kind of work I’m doing?

It looks like a pretty involved one too–it’s about 20 hours per week.

 

 

Seven hours for dinners.

I do three of the lunches at our house but I rely heavily on leftovers, so let’s call that one hour total.

I do four full home-made breakfasts so that’s probably another four hours total.  I’ll throw in one more half hour for straightening up counters and putting food away, and don’t forget, I’m not counting clean up, i.e. scraping, stacking dishes, loading the dishwasher, washing the big stuff, unloading the dishwasher (which thankfully I don’t usually do–that’s what the KP roster staff is for).

Then, let’s see, an hour or two for menu planning and preparing the shopping list. Three hours for my big shopping trip I take every two weeks.  Another hour for the smaller trips when I stop by the store to get bananas, lettuce, milk and cheese.  Oops, I forgot about Aldi’s and the foods I buy online, not to mention the butcher shop in town and the man I buy the eggs from….so maybe another hour per week?

Hmm, really, the three off days when I don’t make a full breakfast, I’m probably doing dinner or lunch prep.  So I’m going to call that one more hour.

I might be making fresh kefir.  Or starting the broth for the soup.  Or salting and toasting nuts.  Yep, these things are definitely artisan for sure!  I don’t do it all myself, like bread, or tortillas, or noodles, and I don’t weave my own place mats–but I do find that homemade beef or chicken broth really is worth the time.  I’ll tell you what’s a real motivator.  When you read the labels of what’s in the store-bought versions?  After I do that I don’t mind taking the time to cook chicken bones in water all day with some vegetables and vinegar to get the minerals into the broth.

So here I’m up to 20 hours a week.  Busy weeks with special events it’s probably more, so I think I can fairly say it’s about twenty-one hours a week.

 

 

And that, my friends, definitely qualifies as a part-time job.

It’s a very good thing that I like to cook!

 

Posted March 19, 2016 by swanatbagend in humor

My Bathroom Scale Isn’t Helping   Leave a comment

In more ways than the one you undoubtedly thought I meant.

Yes, it is not inspiring to mount the scale and find that you have gained a pound after eating a dinner consisting of one small chicken breast stuffed with garlic and spinach, half a baked acorn squash, and a romaine salad.

But our bathroom scale takes it further than the basic insult of finding out you’ve gained weight despite eating healthily.

If you stand on the new digital scale (I saved the old one, guessing that at some point the computer chip will fail), it gives you a message if you stand on it too long.  I’m not sure how long, but it isn’t more than three or four seconds.

It throws a pile of numbers at you about your goal for weight loss, and then at the very top, there are two little words.

They are “Get off.”

I laughed out loud the first time I read them.  I have laughed again, because this keeps happening.

When I’m standing there, other words spring immediately to my mind because they should precede what my scale keeps telling me: “I beg your pardon, Madam, but–”

Only my scale isn’t as well-mannered as Zazu.

 

Posted January 14, 2016 by swanatbagend in diet, humor

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Ways of Removing a Loose Tooth   2 comments

You’ve seen the videos of children with floss or string tied around their loose teeth, squinting and grimacing at the camera and lisping out some variant of “Daddy, is this really gonna work?”  There are other ways to remove a loose tooth, however, which you probably have not seen.

I have a method to recommend that is pretty much foolproof.

Take the children with you to the grocery store.

Preferably do this at the end of a long day when everyone is already tired and hungry.

Put the two and a half-year old in the cart.  Obviously the seven-year old can’t go in the cart; he’ll have to walk.

Take the kids up and down every aisle to be sure you haven’t missed anything.

Look for them to start poking each other every time you stop at the cereal, baking supplies, produce, meats, etcetera.  They’ll be bored enough they’ll have to find something to do, since you are traversing every aisle.

By the time you get to the check out lane and all lanes are of course quite full, you’ll have to wait a few more minutes, so that will get them really warmed up.

When you have made it to the conveyor belt and unloaded everything, and the clerk is ringing up your order, just watch.

Your seven-year old will be dancing around in front of the cart, and trying to poke the two-year old in her adorable belly.  She will have had enough of his nonsense at this point, and drawing back her small, firm, powerful fist–she will punch him right in the mouth.

His tooth will pop out and go skittering across the floor, to the great amusement of you and the clerk.

You can’t go wrong.

 

 

Posted September 20, 2015 by swanatbagend in humor, parenting

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The Other Woman   1 comment

I’ll tell you, I really don’t like her.  My husband took up with her last fall and I’m still trying to get used to his relying on someone else.

He used to turn to me for directions to a friend’s house.

He used to ask me for a phone number–although it was annoying that he wouldn’t bother to look it up.

He used to ask me to look at the map, and find an alternate route when the interstate got backed up.

He used to ask me where we should get gas.  Now he asks her.

So I suppose there is something to be said for the BeattheTraffic app, but–

I have mixed feelings about the smart phone he got through work.  Can you tell?

I think it might be because when she’s around, he has a tendency to gaze into her face instead of mine.  Sure I’m not guiltless, as I spend a lot of time staring at the screen of the household computer that’s in the kitchen where I am most of the day.  But I still wish we didn’t have one more screen in our lives.

Especially one he can lovingly hold in his hand.

 

Posted November 13, 2014 by swanatbagend in humor

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I’m a Superhero!   2 comments

Why?

Today, I saved a friend’s toddler from a belligerent chicken.

I was at my friend’s house and had gone inside to use the bathroom when I heard someone screaming loudly from the west side of the house.  I thought all the kids were on the east side, in the cottage.  As soon as I could I ran out of the bathroom, still tucking in my shirt, and ran around to the back–no kids in sight on the way.

In fact, no extra kids in sight anywhere in the back; only one very scared toddler, holding a white rooster at bay with her screams and her little bitty Crocs.

I shooed the chicken and picked the toddler up, turning back toward the front, and there was her mother.

So I didn’t get to hold the toddler very long, but it did make me feel kind of important.  It’s nice to be needed.

Although I thought her idea with the shoes was pretty smart for a one-year-old.

 

 

Posted November 11, 2014 by swanatbagend in humor

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