Nice to see you!

Monday, August 30, 2010

Political Unrest

I found two pictures that perfectly describe both the attitudes and the leanings of the people in my house, politically speaking.

Here's Anthony.

Here's me.

Need I say more?


I am pleased.

In spite of myself, I actually managed to get quite a bit done this weekend. My neighbor built a trellis for my wisteria on Saturday and it made such a difference to the look of my front yard, that it inspired me to get in gear and get some stuff done.

So on Sunday I chopped all the dead heads off of the beautiful mums that I got (and didn't plant 3 weeks ago so all the flowers died) and since I didn't know where I wanted to put them in my English garden, I put them on the side of the house near the wisteria. That was a great idea, except that I forgot that the bed on that side is full of tulips in the spring. Surprise - planting 3 mums resulted in the uprooting of approximately 30 tulip bulbs which then needed to planted elsewhere. Sigh.

Well, since the bulbs were out and I had a fresh bed in the garden, I went ahead and tucked the tulips into the edging of the bed. Job well done. Since I was there, I figured I might as well lay down the new pieces of flagstone that were piled in the corner. And if I was going to do that I should lay down the weedguard first. Well, that was good. I stood about surveying the sideyard and realized that I really needed to get my fruit trees planted. So I dug a big hole and stuffed the apple tree into it. That was great, but I don't want the Virginia Creeper to strangle it, so I cut back all the running vines. Then I thought it would look much nicer if I pulled the weeds around it. So I sat down and managed to weed 3/4 of the entire garden until something crawled into my pants and bit me.

I jumped up and swatted at my waistband on my lower back, and then I felt something FALL INTO MY PANTS!!!! At which point I screamed and pulled my pants off and jumped around pantless in the garden, swiping at my rear end and shaking my pants out. After I determined that the attack was over and that there was no longer anything in my pants, I re-clothed myself and decided I was done sitting in the garden for the time being.

But the weather was SO fantastic (cool and overcast) that it seemed a shame to go back in. I picked up all my weeds and discarded plant pots and labels and soil bags and filled a whole trash can. Then I refilled my lettuce barrel with fresh soil to get ready for a fall crop planting. As I was walking back with my bucket I spied the pile o' rocks sitting in my grass and was struck with an idea for one of my garden beds. So I wheeled in a tipped over wine barrel (which I will half plant with hen and chicks next spring) and started hauling in buckets of rocks to fill around the plants in that bed. I killed a whole bunch of spiders and one centipede and two red ants that had taken up residence in my rock pile. I wasn't risking anything else crawling into my pants.

I finished the bed and was so pleased with the results! I was also pooped. Hauling buckets of rocks will take it out of you. So I called it a day, laid in the shower for awhile and then crawled into the recliner. Anthony will pull my garbage can around to the front of the house and dig the hole for my peach tree tomorrow.

I'd pat myself on the back if I could actually still move my arms.

Hoisted by my own Petard

I think I finally figured out my biggest obstacle for learning to do new things and become more self sufficient.

It's ME!!!!!

I realized this the other day as my neighbor was explaining to me what I needed to do to build an arbor to hold up my wisteria. I had the best of intentions - I fully intended on doing the work myself. But he started talking about 4x4's and 1x2's and wood screws and crossbeams and supports....and well, I could feel my eyes glazing over. Literally. Then I found myself staring at the roses and thinking I really needed to prune them, and perhaps I should take a ham out to defrost for la la...

So here's what I pictured in my mind as he was explaining how to build this thing.

And here's what he actually ended up building for me.

I should have been able to do this for myself. It wasn't a difficult project. So why is it that my mind just shuffles off when it's time to learn how to do something? I refuse to believe it has anything to do with me being a woman. I will admit that some men seem to be better equipped than some women to handle these sorts of tasks. But not once have I ever been in the middle of project and had to stop and say "Now, where did I put that penis?" It's not a matter of being a girl. I think it comes from spending my whole life with a man around who would take care of these things.

I went from my fathers house to my husbands house to my next husbands house with very little time in between. And I always had male friends who would help out with things. Prior to getting my home I had an apartment and there was a maintenance guy that took care of everything. I have never HAD to do anything on my own and never had the desire to do it. I can distinctly recall a number of occasions where my dad would be fixing something and he would explain to me what he was doing and I would just smile and nod and let it go in one ear and out the other, because I knew I wasn't going to have to do it.

Well, look where that has gotten me. Now zoning out has become automatic and I can't seem to prevent it from happening. At the same time, I was able to look at pictures in a book and build my upright garden trellises with no problem. Am I going to have to resort to figuring out how to do things by reading about them? It's entirely possible. And that's not a completely bad thing. But it's so much EASIER to let someone else do things for me.

It's amazing what you learn about yourself when you decide to head off into a new and previously unexplored direction. I always thought I was pretty self sufficient, but I'm discovering that I really do rely on the kindness of others to help me to keep things running and in working order.

My father is coming to visit and help me fix the guest room toilet in two weeks. I can hardly wait.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Fruit Trees and other Stuff

Yay me! I stumbled across a great deal on fruit trees this weekend and ended up with a Honeycrisp Apple and also a peach tree. The peach is self pollinating - good thing, since I don't know of any other peach trees by my house. The apple needs a cross pollinator, but my next door neighbor has an apple and I'm sure there are others in the vicinity. With any luck I'll be harvesting my own apples, peaches and cherries in the next couple of years.

We had a windstorm with gusts to 68 mph last week. I got up early and went to Lowes and on my way saw a number of downed trees including one giant cottonwood that came up roots and all and somehow managed to miss the house it was next to. It did however take out the fence and the phone, electric and cable lines. Half the town was without power all morning. I was very pleased that I didn't have large trees and hadn't lost anything. Turns out, I'm not that observant. As I pulled into my driveway I saw that my wisteria was hanging half into the yard, having pulled it's trellis right off the side of the house, shattering it into pieces. Crap. Anthonys sister, being sentimental as she is, said "Cut it down!". My mother also suggested I cut it down. I have news for you people. Wisteria are juvenile until they are about 8 years old. Mine is 6 years old and produced a flower for the first time last year. I have been waiting 6 YEARS for this thing to bloom - I am NOT cutting it down and starting over. So, my neighbor volunteered to help me build an arbor for it, give it a little more support and hopefully prevent another catastrophe.

So, having solved that problem, I went into the house and had a clear view of my backyard from the front door. Sigh. I have climbing roses at intervals along the back fence. Ten feet of climbing rose came down, trellis and all. That one I will just cut off at the ground. By mid summer next year you won't be able to tell at all. We're supposed to have high winds again tonight and the arbor isn't done yet for the wisteria. Believe it or not I have every intention of bungee-cording that sucker to the fence to prevent it from hurting itself.

I grew a fabulous crop of mosquitos in my side garden. They're like birds. You can actually feel them land on you. I hadn't noticed a bucket filling with water whenever I turned on the sprinklers. So now it's a feeding frenzy when I go over to work on the side yard.

The one thing that I thought for sure I'd get a bumper crop of was the tomatoes. Alas, they have blossom end rot. Unfortunately, that is my fault, as it is caused by irregular watering. If I'm a good girl and water appropriately and religiously, I may be able to pull this one out, as only a few tomatoes have been stricken at this point.

My bell peppers are just now flowering. Very late. The melons quit growing. The zuchinni and the pumpkins have been taken hostage by squash bugs. My onions are gone. I don't know where they went. I know where I planted them, but they are not there anymore. Weird. That's the second batch that's gone missing this year. I got some really weird deformed cucumbers. They're like art. I have five volunteer Roma Tomato plants in the wrong garden. I didn't put them there. The green beans look great - they are starting to flower. So apparently, we will have beans this year. Just beans. Oh - and oddly enough, my lilacs are preparing for a second bloom, which I've never seen them do. What an odd summer.

What I have learned this year:

-Start growing my own plants early indoors. Do not wait for the nursery to get them in.

-Put the plants out early, regardless of the weather. Protect them from the elements with floating row covers and/or Wall-o-Waters.

-Square foot gardening grows square feet of weeds. I repeat, does not cut down on weeds. At all. I don't care what the book says.

-Quit growing squash. The bugs freak me out.

-Hire small children to pick the raspberries.

-Cover the entire yard from fence to roofline with mesh or accept that the birds will get into the fruit. I'd rather they ate the squash bugs.

Sadly, I have accepted the fact that if I had to rely on myself to produce the food for our table, we would all starve. I don't consider it a complete failure. I did learn from my mistakes and I'm already formulating my plan of attack for next spring. This year, I'm still going to do fall crops of lettuce and peas and get some garlic in for next year. And I am still planning to make and can apple butter this fall and also practice making home made bread. I'd really like to try to can up some peaches before the season is over, too, but I don't know if I'll get around to it. Time is running out.

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Cabelas, The Final Frontier

I know that Disneyland is known as "The Happiest Place on Earth", but I beg to differ. After 5pm, with all the tired little people and the exhausted parents and navigating the lines and the crowds after a day of eating junk food, it becomes "The Crabbiest Place on Earth". Fathers can be dragged to Disneyland, but have you ever actually seen a grown man skipping through It's a Small World? Probably not. But I've seen one skipping through the fishing department at Cabelas.

Okay, maybe "skipping" is an exageration. It was more like that fast run/walk you do when you're really excited and can't wait to get somewhere but you have to restrain yourself because you're a "grown up". It's the closest I've ever seen to skipping in a man. Especially a rough and tumble, huntin, fishin, big-boy truck drivin man. There's something about Cabelas that turns men into little boys. And it is a sight to behold.

Take a grown man to Cabelas and you'll get to see what he was like at the age of five. Let him press his face to the glass aquarium in the fishing department. See his eyes light up as he watches all the trout and bass swimming around, as peaceful and serene as he imagines sitting in a boat trying to catch them would be. Getting him out of the fishing department past all the gear will be like taking a toddler down the cereal aisle at the grocery store. Hold your ground. There are no Marlin in Idaho - he does not need 80lb test line and a deep sea fishing rod made of graphite.

On the way to the back of the store you will have to pass through the household decor section. He won't pay much attention through here unless he's really looking for a new travel coffee mug with a duck decoy decal. You can get through here with a minimum of fuss. At the back of the store is the "General Store". He will find all kinds of cool man stuff, like meat and fish seasonings for his grill and a variety of salsas and condiments for game as well as a few "guy" deserts like malt balls named cute things like "Moose Nuggets" or chocolate covered raisins in a container marked "Rabbit Poop". But more importantly, this is where YOU can come to get fudge. You can sample every single flavor of fudge they have and then buy your favorite. By this time, you probably need some chocolate.

After purchasing your man some "Rabbit Poop" to snack on, take him to the center of the store where the main taxidermy display is. These guys do a beautiful job of recreating wildlife tableaus. There are a variety of areas where you can sit and stretch out for a minute. Depending on your man, you may even have time to take a little nap while he wanders around daydreaming that he's the one who brought in that 12 point trophy buck. He can go face to face with a snarling mountain lion or scan the fake hills for record setting big horn sheep. There's plenty to keep him entertained.

I know how hard it is to get most men to go shopping for clothes, but take him into Cabelas and he will stuff himself into down filled coveralls and a layered, waterproofed, camouflaged jacket even though it's July and 100 plus degrees. If you find him covered in camouflage crouched down and hiding in a clothing rack he's just trying to see how comfortable he'll be sitting in a deer blind for hours on end. The only way I know of to get him out is to tell him you'd like to talk about your feelings, since he's just sitting there anyways.

After you've peeled him out of his deer/elk/duck hunting gear, convinced him that the 6 coolers he has stacked in the garage are sufficient and he doesn't need one with a gas powered, back up generator and purchased his obligatory Cabelas T-shirt, you will need to drag him kicking and screaming past the gun and ammo department, conveniently located to the right of the registers. They do that on purpose. It's Cabelas equivalent of the splurge spending rack at the checkout counter of your local grocery store.

Take your man-child home, feed him some supper and tuck him into the recliner where he can watch River Monsters, Unhooked. He'll be a happy guy all night long. I realize it sounds like I'm making fun, but really it is quite enjoyable to see a man get so excited about going to a store. My fathers, my stepbrothers, my brother in law - all cut from the same cloth, so I know what I'm mocking..I mean talking...about.

Too bad you can't place personal ads on their bulletin board. I know. I asked.

130 Shopping Days til Christmas

Whatever. Don't hate me because I'm more prepared than you.

I love Christmas. So even though it's August and I'm just now starting to harvest my garden and it's 100 plus degrees, I have Christmas in my heart. My lists of gift recipients have been made, orders have been placed, ideas have been written down and discussed with spouses. I'm on my way. I've decided upon and bought the supplies to make my co worker gifts. I have decided on the baked items that will go in this years gift baskets and know that I need to start my rum balls next month and the Swedish cookies in October. I haven't done rum balls since I accidentally used Bacardi 151 one year and got my vets office staff all liquored up. Along those lines I also need to start a batch of Badger salt curing for all the grill-guys and get a couple of batches of Lemoncello started no later than the end of October.

I've had the stocking gifts for the girls done since March. The guys are a little tougher. I have 1 or 2 stocking gifts for them. I have decided to go the route of the gift card for anything resembling a teenager, because I have realized that I am neither young nor hip, and I have no idea what kids like or what half of it even is. What's the difference between an IPOD and an M3P player?! How do you get the music on them? Blackberries, and IPads and WII's, oh my. They're getting giftcards.

I have mobile parents who do the fifth wheel, travel around the states thing. This leads to challenges in that whatever I get for them needs to be either small or disposable. Gift cards are ideal and my poor fathers usually end up with Cabelas cards every year. I feel bad - it's not very original, but they love them and then they can order whatever they need for hunting or fishing. Heaven forbid I should try to pick out an effective trout lure or the right brand of deer urine.

My favorite gifts are for the girls. I love homemade gifts. I love getting them and I love making them. My grandmother makes me pajama pants - I call them my Grammy-jammy's, which she loves. And I suspect she's making me a new apron this year. I suspect this because I bought a pattern I liked and sent it to her.... The younger girls wanted new scarfs, so I'm going to make them each a boa scarf this year which involves me learning to READ A PATTERN. Yay me! I'm going to add to my nonexistent crocheting skills. This is the year of the memory board. I have several of those going, in addition to rustic signs. I must have those done by September, as my dad will be passing through and I can pawn off everything on him to deliver to the folks back home. Saves on postage. Not to mention the pre-holiday nail biting while I wait for packages to be delivered intact and prior to Christmas Day.

All in all, it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas in my guest room. To get you in the Christmas spirit, I have included a family Christmas story on the next post. Reminds us why we like to spend the holidays with our families.....

A christmas story

Christmas Ain’t Christmas Til Somebody Cries

Aaah, the holidays. That special time of the year when normal families are thinking of peace on earth, good will to men and the like. My family, on the other hand, has been spending the last few months trying to figure out the best way to make somebody cry on Christmas morning.

For some reason we are just not happy until somebody cries. Apparently gifts mean more when they make people cry. There were the years of the restored Mustangs, oak roll top desks, and the year I HAD to have the Chicago 17 record. I realize I just dated myself. There was the year my mother got a wooden duck decoy wearing a ribbon, and she sat there for almost an hour smiling and looking for all the world like she had really wanted a wooden duck decoy for Christmas, not realizing that under the ribbon around its neck was a strand of pearls.

My grandmother now receives “Grampie” jewelry for Christmas. The year after my grandfather passed away Gran bought herself a ring. When my mother told her she really couldn’t afford to do that, my Gran said, “Well, your father would have bought it for me.” Good one, Gran. Now she gets a piece of jewelry every year from “Grampie”. One year we did get her pretty good by putting a diamond ring in her stocking.

The most recent outstanding Christmas memory has come to be known as The Three Ring Circus. A little history on my stepdad – he is one of those people that likes to give you a really big box with a really small present and fill it up with rocks and wood and newspapers and the like. He’s a sick man. So, this particular Christmas the washer and dryer had croaked just a couple of weeks before the holiday and he told my mother that the new machines were her Christmas present. Christmas morning he even put a big bow on them.

This was the year that the diamond 3 stone Past, Present and Future band was all the rage, and my mother had said that was all she wanted. So of course, she expected that she would be getting it, regardless of the whole washer/dryer thing. The whole family was there for Christmas, including my Dad and Stepmom. This was also the first year my husband was with my family for Christmas.

Christmas morning dawns, and my Stepmom shows up with a beautiful 3 stone band from my Dad. We all ooh and aah at it. Present opening proceeds. My mother receives a variety of gifts, including some very nice Black Hills earrings, but no really large “main” gift. Present opening concludes, and she still has no ring. But she still thinks she’s getting one, because by now she has convinced herself that the ring my Stepmom has on is really for her. We have breakfast and everyone can tell my mom is agitated and is still waiting for her ring. My stepfather continues to assure her that the washer and dryer are her gift. Honestly, at this point, my sister and I are taking bets on my mother tackling my stepmom at any minute and snatching the ring off her hand.

By midday, my mom is on the verge of tears, my stepmom is watching her back, we kids are walking on eggshells, my husband thinks my family is crazy, and my father finally tells my step dad that “for the love of God, if you got her one, just give the woman her ring!”. He tells my mom she should do some laundry. Finally, someone, and I don’t remember who, goes out and takes the ribbons off the washer and dryer and there in the dryer is my mothers Christmas ring. Now mom is happy and denies being upset in the first place. Good times.

We do not speak of that Christmas.

Last year, my grandmother put in my Mom’s stocking some letters she had found. They were letters my mom had written to Santa when she was a child. She mostly asked Santa how he was, told him about herself, and then asked for a new nightgown and a toy for her cat.

We all cried. If only she’d needed cat toys that one year…..

Friday, August 13, 2010

Of Cable and Men

I would love to have 5 minutes alone with whoever invented the television. And I want 10 minutes with whichever man came up with the NFL package.

Once upon a time, I was a television junkie. I had 132 channels with nothing on them that I wanted to watch, as the joke goes. I wish that were true. In reality, there was plenty I wanted to watch. The Travel Channel, the History Channel, PBS, The Discovery Channel, and every other channel that ran syndication of a half dozen sitcoms that I liked. It didn't matter that I had seen this episode 5 times - I was happy to sit and and watch it again. Which meant NOTHING got done around the house. My husband and I would both do this. Sit and stare. Eat our meals in front of the tv. Conversations were reduced to grunting half answers to questions we didn't pay attention to. And we were content. Our lives were full of canned laughter and other peoples problems, and occasionally, we learned something new which justified the addiction.

When we separated, I needed to cut some expenses and Cable was the first thing to go. Oh, I was lonely without my imaginary friends. Would Ross and Rachel get together? Would Jerry be the Master of his Domain? How would I know? And more importantly, how ever would I fill up all of those hours between work and sleep? What if the GlobeTrekker people discover a new vacation spot that I will never get to go to? And, oh dear Lord, what about the weekends? No cartoon network? No Spongebob? I could cry.

Turns out, after the initial couple of nights of silence thundering in my head as I stared at the blank, glossy, black void of my now useless television, I got bored. And then my other senses started to kick back in. I'm not talking sight or hearing. I mean, my sense of purpose. My sense of determination. I regained my creativity and my need to express myself. Suddenly my evenings were spent scrapbooking, visiting with friends, cooking new dishes, playing with my dogs and calling my family on the phone. I filled my evenings with conversations with REAL friends. Turns out real life can be just as dramatic as tv life. I remade my own home instead of watching the Extreme Home Makeover people do it for others. I went to yard sales looking for vintage pieces instead of watching Antiques Roadshow. I developed...wait for it....a life without TELEVISION.

Then, I got a boyfriend. During football season.

Within the first week, I had gone out and bought one of those digital cable converter boxes, since cable went to digital during my hiatus. Gives you a dozen channels, 4 of them PBS, and the main channels - ABC, CBS, NBC. It was enough for him to be able to come over on Sundays and watch the game while I flitted around playing good girlfriend, making him lunch and curling up on the couch and rooting for his teams.

Now it's a year later, the honeymoon is over, and there is no way he is going to survive the winter without cable and the NFL package. With a DVR (what the hell is that?). And, as a side note, my internet is too slow and I pay too much, so he wants to bundle that, too. Fine. After tons of debate, I gave him permission to have a dish installed on my house, under these conditions:

1) I am not paying for it
2) It is not to be attached to my name or credit in any way
3) There is to be no contract for which I would liable should
we go our separate ways.

He agreed to that. Then later he said that if I wasn't going to help pay for it, I couldn't watch it. So I told him if I couldn't watch it, he couldn't use my tv in my house to watch his games.

I win. And I don't even WANT to watch his cable. Give me strength.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Hell Camp Continued

We made it down the mountain, although Anthony picked up a rock in his windshield, which he was amazingly calm about. Out of gratitude for his patience and understanding, I did not complain when he insisted on going to every store in Stanley looking for Citronella oil, which he finally located and paid 20.00 for a gallon. But he was happy. While in Stanley I had to use a gas station restroom which I actually took pictures of because it was resplendent in its awesomeness. I have never before used a bathroom with plywood walls where the the toilet seat is held together with duct tape.

We headed out to the lake, and I very nearly got my first deer. Fortunately, I saw her waiting on the side of the road planning to commit suicide in front of my car and was able to thwart her plans with my ingenious brake slamming and car swerving. My car and I were both pleased.

When we arrived at camp we discovered that of the 37 groups of people who had RSVP'd for this trip, only 3 had come. And that included my group. The person who had arranged this trip didn't even make it. Nor did a single person from the town we had planned it closest to, for their sake. While disappointed, I wasn't really angry. However, other members at the site were extremely angry, and so we did get to enjoy a rousing display of poor sportsmanship and poor friendship, for that matter.

So, we set up camp. Away from the main camp of angry people. Anthony made a valid attempt at helping me set up the tent, and did a good job. We managed to get through set up without a single arguement. And it was a good thing we brought the tarp, as I haven't waterproofed my tent, and sure enough we got to enjoy an evening of thunderstorms. Once the lighting started getting close, I opted to sit it out in the car, since I had set the tent up under a nice tall pine tree right next to a big empty field. (Remember Science 101? Me and electricity.) The tarp held up well and other than running back and forth for cover throughout the evening as storms sprang up, it was rather pleasant.

Slept in a bit on Saturday. I was the first one up at 830am. And the only one not hungover. I got a fire started, made coffee and breakfast over the campfire, which I even served to Anthony in bed. I was ready to go fishing! I had a one day license. Oh, but wait. Anthony refuses to use a toilet that doesn't flush, and our ice has already melted, so they are going into town. Fine. It's 18 miles up the road. I should be able to go fishing in an hour. They come back 3 hours later and when I ask if we're going to go fish, the response is, "Well, it's too late now. Fish won't be biting until the evening." So everyone starts drinking. yay.....

Have some lunch. Sit around and watch people drink. About 6pm they decide they are ready to fish. But instead of going to the lake we're staying at, "we" (being everyone but me) want to go to a different lake. Up an unmaintained road. Five miles an hour over a five mile trail makes 1 hour to get up there. No fish in this lake. Lake is not, I repeat NOT, stocked with fish. And it's so shallow you can walk a quarter way out to the middle. So we practiced casting and fighting off mosquitos for an hour.

When the children got tired and the adults processed the alcohol in their systems and required refills, they decided to head back. Anthony took me to Pettit Lake where I figured I could at least throw out a couple of times before the sun went down. So I threw out a couple of times while he stood behind me and told me how I was doing it wrong. Then he tells me that I need to weight my line. Again...very shallow. But I let him put a weight on my line. Next cast out I get snagged on a log. I didn't care for the lure and would have been happy to just cut the line, but being "responsible" I figured I'd better try my best to recover it. It looked shallow enough to walk out to the snag, and it was - until about 2 feet in front of the log, where I fell in up to my waist. Recovered the lure though. Nothing on under my shorts and soaking wet, I ended up having to strip on the side of the road, and ride bare assed back to camp, and then get out of the car and walk to the tent with no pants on. I was, however able to find a sweatshirt to hold over my shame while I marched to my tent. No need to scar the children for life.

After a fairly wasted day, I didn't want dinner. I decided I wanted a Smore for dinner. I'm a grown up, I can eat what I want. Guess what happens to marshmallows if you leave them in a car all day? Just like putting them in a microwave. I was still having one. Imagine taking a jar of Marshmallow fluff, scooping it up with your fingers and trying to stick it on a metal pole. Now imagine that you succeeded at that and are now holding the melted marshmallow fluff over a fire, trying to turn it golden brown. Good luck. However, you CAN catch it on fire, blow it out, and scrape it off the pole with your graham cracker, creating something that is as close to being a Smore as you're going to get.

Unable to take in any more drunken merrymaking from the rest of the party, I retired early figuring I could get an early start on packing up camp in the morning. My mattress was surprisingly half full. No matter. I just refilled it, nice and firm. I woke up at 3am being informed by Anthony that he was cold. Well, he had gotten under the sleeping back on top of the airmattress, which is the barrier between the sleeping person and the cold ground. He wants me to get under there, too. I try to explain to him that he would be warmer if he got on top of the sleeping bag. No go. At this point, I realize that my mattress is completely flat. He wants my side of the bed, because it's warm. Fine. His mattess wasn't flat. So I traded. Apparently warmth is more important than not having a rock in your back.

So I got up early, started loading everything up and fully intended on being on the road by 8am. Anthony didn't get up until 9am. I considered tearing the tent down around him, but figured that would start a fight. I needn't have worried. The day could not have been worse even if I had wrapped him up in the tent and thrown him in my trunk. Actually, it might have turned out better. We didn't leave camp until 11am. By the time we got to the nearest town it was 1130am. Small town, one restaraunt, and they were done serving breakfast. And he was NOT happy. I drove through town while he gassed up and found no other options for breakfast. In the meantime, he somehow lost his gas cap. Long story short, between no breakfast and a lost gas cap, he was not a pleasant being. I'm so glad we took separate cars.

I love camping. But I have never been so happy to be home in all my life. Next time, I'm going alone and I'm keeping the marshmallows in the cooler.

Isn't Anthony cute? All tuckered out when we got home.

The camping trip from hell

Sometimes things sound like a good idea. You plan for them, you have an idea of what to expect, you've done this sort of thing should be easy.

Take camping for example. You throw your gear in the car, you pick up some food and ice, you pick a spot, you set up, you camp. Then you tear down and come home. The end. Oh...I wish.

The 1 year memorial camping trip for my late husband was set up months ago by his friends and there was to be a whole group of people going. Thirty seven parties responded, and since many of them were a good distance from where I live, the location was desigated to be about an hour and a half away from the majority of his friends - 4 hours away for me. But fine - I was up for it. I put in for the Friday off so we could have 3 days to camp, getting up there by noon at the latest if we got out at 8am.

ha ha ha ha ha

On Monday I put a list on the fridge of everything that needed to be done before we left on Friday. This included household chores, gathering things for the trip, grocery shopping, etc. I worked all week, my boyfriend had Wed and Thurs off. He tells me - don't worry, I'll get this stuff taken care of on my days off. First day off, he decides he needs to relax and he goes rollerskating. I got home from work, did laundry, mowed the lawn, did basic household chores and paid bills. His second day off, which was Thursday, I sent him an email and said I was cleared for Friday off, we needed to get everything done today. I started a camping grocery list and he would run to the store that night. In the meantime, he would get the chores done.

I get home and he's just finishing the first of the chores - mopping the kitchen and the living room. Turns out he slept in, played some cards online, visited with the neighbor and in general just fumdarted around. The kitchen and living room looked real nice though..... But nothing is packed. Fine. We spend an hour trying to figure out what we want to eat at camp. I give him the shopping list and he goes shopping while I gather the camping gear. I get the gear gathered, load all the light stuff in my car, make stir fry for dinner and to pack for lunch at camp, finish cleaning up the house, water the lawn. FIVE HOURS LATER he comes back from shopping. Drops all the stuff on the counter for me to start prepping while he washes coolers, and when I asked why it took so long I was informed that he had to go to three different stores to get everything on the list, and what had I done while he was gone?

Breathe in....breathe out.

I prep the food, stack everything on the bottom shelf to be put in the coolers in the morning and go out to see how things are coming along. He has decided that the car windows need to be Rain X-ed because he read that it might rain over the weekend. Not wishing to be indicted for murder, I go back into the house and get my shower. He says he'll make the burgers and then when I get out of my shower he'll rub my feet and we'll go to bed. Okay - we might salvage this evening. I get out of the shower and he still hasn't started the burgers. I'm ready to go to sleep. But I make the mistake of mentioning that we'll need the tarps. One of the tarps is under a stack of flooring in the garage. We didn't HAVE to take that tarp, but the other tarp is at his sisters. Now I'm in trouble for not mentioning the tarps before. So he wants to run over to his sisters RIGHT NOW and get the tarp. It's 11pm. Big ugly fight over big ugly tarp. We finally agree (disagreeably) to stop by his sisters in the morning on our way out.

He tells me to go in the house so he can rub my feet. Frankly, now it's midnight and I just want to go to bed, but he insists. So we decide to finish loading in the morning, he rubs my feet, we go to bed. THEN he asks me what time to set the alarm. I make the agregious error of saying between 6 and 7 am. WHAT?!!! Egads! how could we possibly get up that early? Why do have to leave so early?! I try to explain that it's a 4 hour drive, we still have to load up and go to his sisters and since I took the day off so we would have an extra day to camp, I'd like to get up there by noon or so. That puts us into an argument that lasts until 3am and ends with me telling him to leave and him saying fine, he'll go to his sisters.

Oddly enough, he wakes up at 7am and is in the shower before I wake up. We're still snarky with each other, but we get loaded up, hit the gas station, and go to his sisters where he grabs the tarp and decides we need firewood. We don't need firewood - we're going to the freaking forest. There's literally firewood growing on trees! So he goes and raids their wood pile and ends up getting stung on the ear by a wasp. Are you kidding me?! I mean, I feel bad, because I know that hurts like hell, but if you hadn't been dinking around in the wood pile to start with.... breathe. Breathe. Breathe. At least we are taking separate cars.

We get to Idaho City, about an hour out of Boise and I stop to grab use a restroom. For whatever reason, he gets into his trunk and discovers that he can't find the citronella oil he bought for the tiki torches he had to have. Now I have to say that I was against the tiki torches from the beginning for several reasons. Number 1, I've never found that they helped with the mosquitos. Number two, we're talking about lighting up torches underneath dry pine trees. Christmas Vacation anyone? I don't want to be the one to say, "Yes, my boyfriend started The Great Boise National Forest Fire of 2010". So now we're in the forest and he's trying to find citronella oil. We go to every grocery and hardware store in Idaho city with no luck. And he is PISSED. I'm feeling very bad for the WalMart people who forgot to give him the the bag with his oil in it right about now.

We head up the mountain and here is where he makes up for eveything he's done that has irritated me. I have been on this road before, but always as a passenger and my late husband always made me lay the seat down and put a coat over my head. I figured it was because the road was narrow and windy. I had no idea how high it was. Two lane, narrow, windy, and big cliffy drop offs with no guard rail. I made it halfway up the mountain and had to pull off the shoulder where boyfriend had to peel my fingers off the steering wheel and get me to stop hyperventilating. As far as I was concerned, we were going to have to live there now, because there was no way on Gods green earth that I was going to get back on that road. Finally, he led me up over the mountain at 25 miles an hour until we reached flat land on the other side.

At this point he was my hero.

Camping will continue on the next post.