Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Poodles are Pokers - “Mocha, NO!” she cried.

We’ve been in the land of hemp products and gun racks for the past three days.

It’s 107 here. Forty degrees hotter than the last place we stayed. This is unfortunate, because an hour before we arrived, the air conditioner died at my in-laws house. It’s been all sweltery and hallucination-inducing, and the mosquitoes have settled in. There’s really nothing like your home town.

On Sunday the in-laws greeted us with enthusiasm as we rolled up travel-weary and dazed in the driveway, and my husband’s brother immediately talked the FBO (Formerly Bearded One) into taking a spin in his Razor (ATV). Shortly thereafter, the Razor ejected some crucial wheel bolt, did some kind of fancy cartoon Speed Racer maneuver, and then tipped over, throwing both occupants forcefully to the ground. After the Limp of Shame back up to the house, my mother-in-law clucked and shook her head, and applied copious amounts of Bag Balm* and blue ace bandages to the bulbous purple appendage that was my husband’s new right ear. Extra lengths of ace bandage were wound dramatically around the circumference of his head, creating a poignant war hero look he has since worn with pride. When he takes the bandage off to reapply the Bag Balm, the ear sticks straight out, shiny and purple. I want to flap it a little bit, but I don’t because I am a supportive wife who does not flap her husband’s injuries. When he’s awake
It really hasn’t been the best trip for the FBO, when you think about it. First there was the leg cramps, then the spittle incident, then Officer Melanoma, and now Prizefighter Ear. Wait, I was so tired last time I posted that I forgot to tell you about Officer Melanoma.

See, the FBO has an on-going adversarial relationship with Humboldt County, in Northern California. There has never, in my memory, been an occasion where my husband has been able to drive the entire length of Humboldt County without being issued a speeding ticket. Never ever. Just as that thought occurred to me, about three car lengths past the “Welcome to Humboldt County” sign, just as I was opening my mouth to say, “Hey remember how you get tickets here?” a police car appeared out of thin air going the opposite direction, performed a dramatic U-turn directly behind us, and turned its lights on.

“Damn,” said the FBO.

The policewoman swaggered to my side of the car and peered inside. She looked very much like a whippet that someone had stood upright and clothed, and the leathery quality of her face betrayed hours of productive ticket-writing in the hot California sun.

“Caught ya doin’ 80,” she said triumphantly.

My husband swears they just make up a random number. All I know is I’m pretty sure they could afford to buy Officer Melanoma some sun block judging from the contributions we’ve made to the county.

So anyway, here in Eugene we’ve been making the required visitation rounds. My mother has a new standard poodle (Mocha) at her house, which brings the total to two standard poodles, one mother, and a bunny. The poodles are, shall we say, large. Large and exuberant. I was greeted at the door by Mocha with a hearty french kiss that I frankly didn’t see coming.

“Mocha, NO!” my mother called from inside. Mocha responded with an excited aerial twist, legs flying in four different directions. I saw the tongue coming at me again, like a slow-motion replay, and sure enough, it found its way into my mouth. There was a quick swipe in and then out, and then a tongue-drag across the cheek before Mocha landed on the floor.

“He’s still really a puppy,” she said.

Mocha took a moment to fall out flat on the kitchen floor with a dramatic THWOMP. Pant, pant. So hot. Then, foolishly, I made eye contact, clearly an invitation for greater intimacy, and Mocha was up, flying furry pantlegs in all directions, and then suddenly, a molestation occurred.

“Mocha, NO,” my mother cried. Mocha looked up briefly, and resumed jabbing industriously between my buttocks with his long sharp nose. “Stop it!” Mocha did a circle around the room, and as soon as my guard was down, renewed his rear attack. I did a few pelvic thrust dance steps in an effort to get away, and then Mocha was bored and THWOMPed back down on the floor. I found a place up against the wall to stand, and kept a wary eye on the dog.

“Poodles are pokers,” she said with a shrug. “Everyone says that.”

I didn’t know everyone said that, clearly, but that’s why it’s good to be here, because I learn so much whenever I come back.

For instance, in the last two days I have learned that if you are a pasty woman the size and shape of a sumo wrestler and you are trying to beat the heat, you should put your hair in a tiny pony tail on top of your head, set up a big plastic pool in your yard in front of your trailer, and hunker down in the water with your cigarette. For fun, scowl at cars as they go by.

Or, if you are unfortunate enough to resemble a circus clown, complete with red fright wig and natural mouth grimace, you can beat the heat and throw people off your clown trail by removing all clothes except for a miniature pair of dolphin shorts, and riding around town on your bicycle.

In Eugene, if you find you need to go to the mall, be sure your ensemble is appropriate. You really need something breezy and functional, and something that also tells fellow shoppers a little bit about your interests.
For example, in Eugene, we have a lot of rivers. Probably you should wear a fishing hat to the mall to connect with your river heritage. Make sure you have a lot of lures dangling from all sides. Facial hair, the bushier the better, is a must. Use some gel to twist a point in the end of your beard.

Shoes should be comfortable. Probably Crocs. Dress socks are optional. Clothing this summer should be loose, allowing for ease of movement, and air flow. A light cotton robe, like a hospital gown, is an excellent choice. Be sure to cinch that belt down securely!

Finish your shopping ensemble with a murse (man purse) and a rolling backpack, for those heavy purchases.
Because I knew those of you who are not here might have trouble picturing the correct mall outfit, here is a picture of a man I chased with my camera at the mall today, a man who knows how to dress for successful Eugene shopping:
stylish man
His voluminous gown is actually a cheerful lavender, not blue.
I’m looking forward to passing on more of my handy tips, just as soon as I can. Tomorrow I’m maybe picking cucumbers for my 90 year old grandmother, and if I don’t pass out and die in her garden, I’ll be on the job, because this is a full-service blog here. I know you count on me.

Remember, poodles are pokers.

*Bag Balm is used to soothe the cracked udders of milk cows, but is sold in drug stores for use by people even though doctors will act all shocked if you admit you’ve used it. It’s greasy and a little disgusting, but has magical healing properties.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Welcome to the Hotel California.( In Which the Mood Darkens.)

You know how when you get an opportunity to spend time in enclosed spaces with your family, (and we’re talking DAY AFTER DAY AFTER DAY here) it just brings you closer, and means in your golden years your children will look back fondly on these times of bonding and feel motivated to bring you denture-friendly takeout and terry cloth slippers when you’re in the Home, even if it isn’t a holiday?

Well that’s nice for you, and also shut up, because I’m having a Family Vacation here, and it isn’t pretty. Not pretty at all.

I’m typing this from our third hotel room since we left town on Wednesday. It is close to midnight. The room smells like all the Carpet Fresh available in the world was used to mask possible dead body residue, or maybe someone’s pet alligator, and I can’t stop sneezing. I have had to tell my son four times now not to rub his head on the floor, which, of course, makes him want to do it even more. The lamp shades are wrapped in cellophane, probably to keep mold off them from the briny ocean wind that is blowing through. We are in Crescent City, California. The ocean is, allegedly, right outside our window, but it is so foggy right now ( 54 degrees in July) that I will have to take that on faith.

Maybe I should backtrack just a little. Remember how we were on our way to Solvang? Pretend you remember. It was full of Scandinavia-ness, as promised, and also a lot of elderly white men with alarmingly burned foreheads. I looked around for the perverts that allegedly lurk behind the Belgian lace displays, but there must have been a pervert convention out of town because everyone was behaving okay. Except my pants. I developed recalcitrant pants on the streets of Solvang, which means they had grown very large apparently from the altitude, and were intent on falling around my ankles. I wasn’t really in the mood to frighten Danish people, so it became an afternoon of belt hunting, with a brief stop to photograph the doggie drinking fountain, and a windmill:

IMG_0370 IMG_0363

Also they have ostriches there, placed strategically by the side of the road to drive my dog to the brink of insanity. His hysterical barking had no impact on them whatsoever, and their insolence was almost more than he could bear.


Back to Pismo Beach. Dinner at Giuseppe’s. Or Gipetto’s. One of those. We had heartburn on a roll. My son(11) disappeared from the table, looking for the restroom. When he didn’t return, I worried the pervert convention was at the beach, and sent my husband in to find him. My son was discovered in the kitchen, hanging with the kitchen staff. Apparently he had gone to explain to them that the meatballs were too spicy. He was drinking a soothing glass of free milk and telling embarrassing family anecdotes when my husband showed up.

That night I slept a total of an hour and a half. Father and son snoring of the Hallelujah Chorus (with actual harmony) kept me awake and cursing the swayback bed.

Next day, hours on the road. The 101 took us through Soledad, which means ‘Loneliness’ because it is in the middle of nowhere, and also it has a signature onion and manure smell, not to mention a lot of inmates down the road. The FBO had to stop at Radio Shack. Twice.

soledad etc

Then some unscheduled loops through the unsavory sections of Palo Alto/Menlo Park, looking for a gas station that was always just ahead, but turned out to be a mirage. This is where the serious elbowing and eye-poking began in the back seat. Also some threatening, and whining. And show-tune singing.

Last night: San Francisco. Family mood by the time the FBO had taken fourteen thrilling wrong turns before turning on the GPS in the car and actually locating our hotel? Surly.

My husband was the least surly, at least until we attempted to walk three blocks to an outdoor restaurant square for dinner (dogs aren’t allowed inside. We’d leave him at home, but he has issues. ) It was oddly cold for July, more like March, with a good wind picking up around the corners of buildings. At one point I thought I actually felt a spray of rain, but it was only a big, glistening glob of saliva from a man on a passing MUNI bus. The glob of saliva passed right by my face and landed on the FBO’s back. Then we were all equally foul-tempered, and after stomping around and bickering for awhile, we gave up and went back to the hotel room.

The hotel room was nice, but everything was an extra charge, and after the humorless bellhop explained that there were sensors on all the food in the display basket and you shouldn’t pick stuff up or you’d be charged even if you didn’t eat anything, my son felt compelled to poke each item repeatedly, inducing an actual nightmare in which I received a minibar charge from the bellhop (now wearing a hat made of paper birds, don’t ask, I don’t know) of three thousand dollars. Another night of fitful sleep.

IMG_0425 IMG_0458

Today: Eight hours of driving. Northern Californians love to whittle things out of whole redwood logs, like a little house, or Bigfoot, or totem poles. Also they love cowgirl mud wrestling. And dancing topless in a field to summon galactic energy. They have Elk Warning Radio just outside of Fortuna (“Elk can run up to 35 miles an hour. Male elk will attack people on foot. Be alert for herds of elk who may be crossing the highway”) We stopped for a second to visit Paul Bunyon and his Big Blue Ox, Babe. Babe’s head fell off a year or so ago, but you’ll be glad to know it’s been reattached. She looked good.

IMG_0474 IMG_0469

And now we are here. The wall lamp in the room turned on okay, but once it was on, it wouldn’t click off and it can't be unplugged. Someone did some swearing, but it wasn't me. We may be spending the night with all the lights on. The dog has had Chinese food for dinner. This was a miscalculation on our part, I'm pretty sure.

Night number three of no sleep.

Tomorrow we arrive at the in-laws.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Back off, Seahorse. The Adventure Begins.

In the tradition of the Griswolds and the Clampitts, the Clan of Vic has taken to the open road.

You may have noticed my absence here the past few days.  Or not.  It’s been hard to find time to get online, but I’m going to try and sneak in some blog reading and posting over the next week or so while we’re gone, I promise. I miss my blog buddies (that’s you.)

So, remember how earlier I was whining about being trapped in my house with no prospects of a vacation? Poor poor Vic. Then my in-laws called and reminded my husband that it’s their fiftieth wedding anniversary in a week. They live a thousand miles away.  Flying was not an option, for reasons not interesting enough to talk about here. School starts for us here in a little over two weeks.  There was discussion.  Some bargaining and begging. Some selfless, steely resolve on my part (I ‘m like a saint.) Last minute packing and gassing, etc. The dog was thrown in the back along with five suitcases, some beach hats, and my netbook, and we were ready!

Well, not quite.  First my husband felt the need to clean out the garage, an hour before we needed to leave, so he could park the other car in there.  Never mind that we have been unable to park any car in the garage for the past ten years. (By the way, we have ninja housesitters staying at my house, and also the silent Chinese neighbors are watching the place, so don’t get any ideas about coming over and stealing my betta fish while we’re gone.  I mean it.  Behave.)

The FBO worked for two hours in the 120 degree garage.  He worked up a powerful sweat.  Developed a bit of a hydration issue. One we didn’t know about until we were about an hour and a half up the 101 freeway, in an area where you can’t pull over.  Have I mentioned that the FBO is prone to leg cramps?  Massive, incapacitating leg cramps?  Brought on by intense physical labor and mineral imbalance issues? We remembered this, on the freeway, when he suddenly shrieked in the driver’s seat, accelerated abruptly, and went full-body rigid.  It was pretty exciting.

So then after a swerve to the shoulder of the freeway, I drove the next few hours, until we got to PIsmo Beach, our first stop.  Here’s proof:

pismo -July 22 09 036 pismo -July 22 09 003

(beach below our hotel room)

This morning we had complimentary breakfast consisting of self-serve Belgian waffles (the batter comes out of a vending machine!) and Choco Balls cereal.  It’s too cold on the beach this morning, so we’re fulfilling a childhood dream of the FBO’s and visiting Solvang.  Solvang, if you don’t know, is a town in California that specializes in all kinds of Scandinavian doodads and the buildings are all kitschy, apparently. I’ve never been. To get to Solvang, so far we have driven through beautiful downtown Guadalupe, population one extended family (home of Chaco’s BBQ Shack), and through miles and miles of dill fields. My daughter has shared with us the very real possibility that we are ruining her life. We are making memories, people!

We were behind this large combine/tractory- thing outside Guadalupe for twenty minutes:

Picture 002

Finally, and without warning, the FBO sped up to around, oh, 700 miles an hour, and then, jowls flapping in the wind, we hurtled around the tractor and down a steep hill.

“I just barfed a little bit in my mouth,” remarked my son from the backseat. 

“What did that sign say?” asked the FBO.  “We went by it too fast.  I think we were supposed to turn off back there where I passed that tractor.”

“It said, ‘Back Off, Seahorse’”, I replied. I know it doesn’t make any sense.  I don’t know why I said it.  But it may be that I am feeling just a tiny bit passive aggressive.

Next stop, Solvang.  I’ll keep you posted.

Friday, July 17, 2009

The Bubble Lid Makes It Funner. Ditto the Optional Replacement Tongue.

A Starbuck’s barista/wise man told me this as he handed me my coffee today. “We’re out of regular lids,” he said. “But that’s okay!! The bubble lid makes it funner! Right?”

I wasn’t sure at first. It seemed too much to ask from a lid. But then his hedgehog hairdo made me think that this was an individual with great discernment. Could the bubble lid really heighten my enjoyment of my caffeinated beverage?

Oh yes it could, and it did. It did make it funner! That lid was so bulbous and sort of sci-fi, like if I looked in through the top I would see new worlds. Crazy kaleidoscope coffee. Lilliputian sea adventurers in the hot brown surf. Hey little Captain Nemo in there! Watch out for that foam!

I probably spent hours squinting through the hole in the top of the dome. I can’t remember a better time with coffee, frankly.

It’s revelations like this that help me see the bigger picture. To understand the world more completely. Bubble lids are so profound, when you think about it.

So are sex dolls. I never really thought about sex dolls until I watched a movie called Lars and the Real Girl last night. It was a good movie about a guy who falls in love with a sex doll he orders off the internet and then the whole town decides to pretend she’s real too, and they make friends with the sex doll named Bianca but nobody ever has sex with it, and then Bianca dies (oops! spoiler!) and everyone is so sad. And relieved.

But she doesn’t die until way after the sister-in-law loans her some sweat pants, which is good because Bianca came out of the crate wearing some pretty slutty clothes, if you ask me. Also I think fishnet tops are illegal in most Canadian provinces during the winter months. Sex dolls don’t fare well in jail, probably, so that sister-in-law really did Bianca a solid.

Just like with the bubble lids, I was a doubter. Who would think a life-size silicone doll was real and love it? How can you love something that is always gazing off vacantly at the horizon? Okay, the FBO does that sometimes, but that’s not my point.

The point is, the company that made Bianca in the movie is real. I know because I am a quester of knowledge. It’s called “Realdoll” and don’t go there from work or with your kid standing behind your chair, because already on the first page are nipples. I learned a lot about these dolls. For instance, they support 400 pounds. Good to know. They enjoy hot baths and have a convenient bolt at the back of the neck for hanging. Hmmm. Also they come with an optional replacement tongue for a small additional fee. That’s good value.

What interested me the most, once I got over some initial sadness and nausea, were the testimonials. Here are a few excerpts for you from the site:

Jenny's presence here has had a dramatically positive effect on me psychologically and emotionally. A far more positive effect than I had ever expected. During this time, I have done many things that I feel I would never have done if I didn’t have Jenny. - John A.

She’s just a doll, but as I never had a real close relationship, she’s a bit more, some level of its own somewhere in between a doll and a real girl. .This one will even allow me to kiss and hug her, to even have sex with her. - Anonymous in Germany

Having a RealDoll has opened up wonderful new experiences for me and has given me a wonderful peace of mind I could only dream of!!! -CJD

(quotes from

These men are in love with their doll-friends! Also the sex dolls are clearly changing their lives for the better.

I feel so guilty now for underestimating plastic. I resolve from here on to trust in the ability of molded plastic to make my life funner.

But probably I’ll just stick to the bubble lids, and maybe a bounce house or something.

Not that I’m judging if you’re heading over to Realdoll to make a new friend. Tell Bianca I said ‘hey’.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I Have Mary Jane Armpits and You Don’t.

I don’t mean to. I guess it’s a gift, like synesthesia, or like scrambling every watch I’ve ever worn with my natural animal magnetism.

I blame Steamy, because she wrote a post about how great her new deodorant smelled, and I got all jealous, because my armpits smelled pretty average. You know, not smelly, but not delicious either, more like a laminated vanilla bean. This began to feel like settling somehow, like somewhere out there I might find a deodorant that would fulfill and complete me.

At Target I couldn’t remember exactly which deodorant it was she bought, so I picked the one that said “Scent Expressions” in shiny gold foil. That was wrong. Especially beguiling was one called “Coco Butter Kiss”. I should have been tipped off by the less-preferred spelling of “cocoa”, because it’s like when you go to a fast food place and it says “McDorald’s”, which means a Vietnamese family has bought the building and didn’t spring for a brand-new sign, just a new letter, and now they’re serving peanut stir fry instead of Big Macs. “Coco Butter Kiss” doesn’t smell like cocoa. Or cocoa butter. Or butter. It mostly smells like old lady perfume while in the container.

Once combined with my unique body chemistry, however, “Coco Butter Kiss” smells like pot.

Hoobastank. Doobie. Smokage. I have hippie lettuce underarms is what I’m trying to say.

You need to know at this point that my personal experience with pot is nonexistent. I never smoked pot. Not once. I’m like a ruler I’m so straight. I’m like the road to Albuquerque. (It’s really straight. Just trust me on this.) So it’s not a residual cellular thing, unless it came from sitting too close to the percussion section at football games.

But I know about the smell of pot because when I was ten I used to babysit for the hippies next door. They had rhyming names and long frizzy hair and a cup of penis-shaped pens in a jar on the kitchen counter. Ms. Hippie had been a Playboy bunny cocktail waitress in a former life, and still had her ruffled apron and a big stack of Playboy magazines, which her small daughters liked to look at instead of picture books. (One of them was born in the back bedroom. She was handed out the window to me like a wet package only a few hours after her birth, so that I could hold her while standing in the backyard next to their compost heap.) They didn’t believe in deodorant; they rubbed rock crystals meditatively under their arms. They also used a lot of pot. A lot. Of pot.

So anyway, lately I’ve been thinking the Chinese person who lives next door and smokes on the front stoop every night (we still argue about whether It is a girl or a boy; so far we can agree that the person is short and square and inscrutable) must be smoking a lot of weed.

It seemed like every night for the last couple of weeks I’d smell it blowing in the open back window. But then I started noticing it other places as well. Like at the grocery store. And around the dog. And in the car. Pretty much anywhere I was. Everyone seemed to be smoking a lot of weed.


Finally, today, as I was reaching for the salt shaker, I had a revelation. Wafting out of my armpit was the distinct odor of chronic. A quick double-check sniff confirmed. What have other people been thinking about me? Probably they’re all calling me “Ganja Vic” behind my back.

So I either have to go buy some new deodorant tomorrow, or embrace a completely different lifestyle. I have to go to the grocery store again anyway; we’re out of food already.



Thursday, July 09, 2009

You Had Me At "Rectal Bleeding"

Or, Theater of the Absurd, In One Act.
Or, A Visit to the Dermatologist

Me: "Are there any side effects to this medication? Because I think I've heard there are side effects."

Doctor: "Side effects? No-ooooooo...heh heh. " Brushes meaty jowls expressively with hands. "Maybe just a little dryness, nothing to worry about!"

Doctor scuttles from room like a Kafkaesque roach man in white jacket.

Nurse looks apologetically at me, and daughter, who is actual patient in question. One eye looks apologetic. Lazy eye is more uninterested, I feel.

"Let me just get The Book," she says, and disappears also. Returns with John Deere catalog. Only not John Deere catalog. It is the Book of Dire Warnings.

Nurse: "Now. You'll need blood work every 30 days, two additional prescriptions, registration in a data base complete with social security number, and to take and pass a test. Written. Every 30 days. Also, the blood work must be in an exact window of time, or you will have to begin the entire procedure over for that month. We will need to be able to reach you at any time. Okay so far???"

Me: "Ah. Wel-"

Nurse: " Now. Side effects include: (reads from catalog) Headache, dizziness, stroke, seizures, bowel pain, diarrhea, rectal bleeding, weak bones, stoppage of long-bone growth, hearing loss, vision loss, high cholesterol, joint inflammation, decreased red and white blood cells, diabetes, and serious allergic reactions resulting in severe face and tongue swelling that can stop breathing.... Also, a little dryness and skin irritation. How are we doing?"

Daughter: "Bleeding?"

Nurse: "Many of these can be permanent if not caught early. Also, there are withdrawal symptoms. Mostly occasional rage, and depression. Also suicide." Nurse looks up, closes book with air of achievement. Checklist reading and patient counseling, done and done.

Me: "Wait! You were in the room when I asked the doctor if there are any side effects. He didn't mention any of those. Was he lying to us?"
Nurse: Shifts slightly in rolly chair and taps front left tooth with ballpoint pen. "Maybeeee......I should get the doctor back?" Rapid, rapid blinking.

Me: "Is he going to read to us from the book?" There is a sarcastic tone.

Doctor returns.

Me: Sarcastic tone is now full-blown agitation, in manner of Woody Allen. "I asked you if there were side effects, remember? I did! You said 'a little dryness'. But now we hear there are a whole list of serious side effects. That's not 'a little dryness'! Why didn't you tell us about those? How common are they? I need some idea. Like.....1 in a million? 1 in 10,000? 1 in 100? "

Doctor assumes thoughtful back-of-book-jacket author pose. Crosses feet. I see he has little pointy shoes. Meaty jowls and tiny feet.

Doctor: "Oh, well, uh, not very common, I imagine..... Hard to say.... Heh. But, you know, for her (gestures vaguely in direction of daughter) it could be a 100% chance. Who knows? I certainly couldn't say."

Doctor chuckles at personal wittiness. Leaves room.


Nurse: Clears throat. "Um. " Blink. Blink. "My son took this drug. He couldn't stand it. He had...." Leans forward intently, voice dropped to dramatic whisper, "full body chapping. Even the bottoms of his feet. " Raises pen hand in air and pumps twice, as in Can I get a witness up in here?? "Then he had trouble blinking. His eyeballs were all dried out."

Pause. More silence.

"Don't tell anyone I told you this, okay?" Lazy eye, in particular, looks worried. Nurse places John Deere catalog on chair.

And then we are alone. We stand. We race-walk from building.

Daughter, slightly breathless: " So, what's rectal bleeding again?"

Me: "I'll tell you in the car."

Monday, July 06, 2009

Heidi, Forrest, and the Independence Fairy

It’s after midnight here, and instead of sleeping, I’m up simultaneously contemplating a blog post, and being fitted for a milkmaid’s yoke*.

I can safely report to you, dear readers, that it is almost impossible to type while someone is pushing a pine 2 x 4 down on the tender vertebrae at the back of your neck,  and saying things like “Pretend you’re carrying pails of milk.  How does that feel?”

Well, it’s a little hurty, actually.

Just prior to the yoke fitting, the Formerly Bearded One was industriously (and loudly) creating mounds of sawdust with the saw in the garage and also alienating the few neighbors that still speak to us after all the after-dark lawn mowing that’s been going on around here.

I can tell it’s going to be a long night here on the cul-de-sac.  Just now he came in and asked me if “maybe a little naughehyde” would help pad the part where the neck goes.  Like we have a bunch of spare naughehyde lying around the house.  Like I know what naughehyde is.

Anyway.   To answer the burning question in your mind, we had a good Fourth of July again this year.  Hopefully you did too, if you live somewhere where you even celebrate American independence.


We have wonderful old (as in long-standing, not elderly) friends that invite us down to their house in Huntington Beach almost every year for the fireworks.  I know this has to be against their better judgment, because my family has a talent for creating unexpected complications at holiday gatherings. 

For instance, last year we walked to the beach from our friend’s house.  It’s about a mile, which is a nice walk, except for the gauntlet of drunk partiers peeing al fresco alongside buildings and calling out to you to come and look.  After we watched the fireworks over the Pacific Ocean, we headed back with the rest of the crowd. On the way up the street a group of hooting guys in a car hurled a water balloon out the window and hit the FBO squarely “in the nuts”, as he reported later.  Without warning, the FBO pivoted 180 degrees on the sidewalk, leaned forward on the balls of his feet, and sprinted off into the night.  We lost sight of him after he ran out into traffic and turned the corner behind the car in question.

So there the rest of us stood, in the dark, on the sidewalk, waiting for him to come back.  Which he didn’t.  Come back.

After some awkward and self-conscious chit-chat, we finally gave up and walked the rest of the way to their house.  Almost an hour later he appeared at the door, out of breath and still wet.  “What happened?? Where have you been?” we asked.

“Oh, nothing.  I just wanted to see where they went.”

This is all the explanation he has ever volunteered.  I still picture him running up Pacific Coast Highway like Forrest Gump.

This year my fourteen year old daughter and our friend’s son decided to walk to Starbuck’s to escape the adults.  Unfortunately they decided to jump the community’s security fence instead of going around to an unlocked gate. Then there was a panicky cell phone call summoning help to the fence.

This is the sight that greeted curious onlookers, and rescuing fathers :

eilidh_Photo  (Artist’s rendering.  Shoes have been subtly added.)

Somehow, on the way over the fence, my daughter got the leg of her shorts caught on one of the spikes at the top of the seven foot fence.  Unable to lift herself off the spike, and unable to jump down, she was forced to dangle decoratively from the fence**.  A few people approached, apparently with the intent of exiting through the gate, but as my daughter was, at the time, hanging from the gate, they rode their beach cruisers the other way.  Cars driving by slowed as they passed, faces pressed to car windows.  It was like seeing a Fourth of July fairy, I imagine, just hovering in midair.  I wish that sparklers were still legal.

Fortunately she was uninjured, and once she was removed from the fence they continued on their teenager way.

There have been other holiday incidents, but I don’t have time to tell you any more right now.  I’m being called to the garage for more yoke testing.  Pray that he doesn’t want to fill the pails with actual milk, because then I’m probably going to the store.


* The milkmaid’s yoke is a costume element he volunteered to make for the theater production  (Oliver!) here in town. I am just a milkmaid dress dummy. At least that’s what he claims and I need to believe him. The alternative is too frightening.

** You may have noticed that I don’t mention my daughter much in these posts.  That is because she is fourteen.  And a girl.  You will be happy to know she has graciously given me permission to share this story.  Also, I am buying her things, I think.