Friday, January 15, 2016

There once was a pig in prosser

Its 2016 -- the year I finally do the things and meet the goals.

I'm writing this post in the Winnebego.  There are cleaning ladies inside my home, their monthly visit to deal with our collective grime, so I've moved out to the driveway.  It's a pretty sweet setup.  I can still connect to our wifi, make a cup of coffee, take a nap.  There's also a box of Rice Krispies in the pantry for when I feel like emptying a few fistfuls into my mouth, which will be often, and likely messy.

The Winnie B is my favorite thing even though I've never been afraid of driving a vehicle before and now I'm pretty much scared all the time.  Alex feels the same.  Whichever one of us is driving nervously asks, "Am I between the lines?  Am I between the lines?" repeatedly all the way down the highway. The other usually responds, "Well it looks good to me but that guy just honked at you so....anyone's guess, honey."  My jaw aches from the clenching but it's a terror-tinged euphoria. I am elated to be a member of this elusive subculture, even around the most harrowing of hairpin turns.

Driving something as big as the Winnie B makes you bolder. Before her, I would earnestly try to work it out with someone on our narrow old Seattle neighborhood streets, attempt to find a win-win situation for both of us, do my best to pull over or back up if necessary.  Now my mentality is more of a shrug and a "That person must move or else we sit here until we die."

People are pretty self-interested that way; they realize I can't back up, and also realize I'm going to win if it comes down to metal-on-metal so are usually pretty quick to back the hell up and get out of my way.  They sure don't look happy about it, though.

We took our maiden voyage to the Oregon coast after Christmas and broke the Winnie B our very first night.  We couldn't get the slideout wall to slide out, which meant Alex and I could not properly unfold our sofa bed.  We stood in the dark holding flashlights and staring at the slideout with rain dripping off our hoods.  Best we could manage were a few "Hmm"s because we know absolutely nothing about this vehicle yet.

The problems continued indoors where we continually popped the fuse on our electrical hookup. Being an RVer involves knowing the electrical draws of everything in your rig and doing math as you turn things on and off to make sure you're not exceeding the amps on your hookup.  We don't know the specific amps of our things yet but have learned a few basic equations.  Heater + several lights = good fun times.  Heater + a couple lights + microwave = lights out, sucker.

As for the water heater, it must use a lot of amps.  Water heater + 0 = only way to go.  That thing should be used on its own as you huddle in the dark and cold without delicious microwaved burritos.

Without the slideout wall, Al and I had to scrap our sofa bed and sleep with the kids.  It was not restful for me because Coco is an aggressive spooner.  I awoke many times to find her leg thrown over my body or her arm wrapped around my neck like that possessed clown doll does to Robbie in Poltergeist.

Even given the winter weather and the tight slideout-less living quarters, we loved being out there in our new home away from home.  Unfortunately, our dog did not share the warm fuzzy feelings.  Natani hated the RV.  She shook the entire time she was inside of it.  When we took her for a walk at the campsite, she refused to get back in.  She planted her legs firmly in the mud outside the door and locked them at the knee, turning her head as far as she could to the side as if to say, "if I don't look at it, maybe it won't exist anymore."

She slipped out of her collar as we wrestled her and then bolted towards the trees.  Thankfully Natani is also a scaredy cat so she didn't get far in the dark Oregon woods.  How sad she must have felt when she realized we were truly the best option.

We took the RV in to the dealer to get the slideout fixed but, of course, the slideout worked fine for them.  It also worked fine for us back at home for awhile but now it isn't working again. I don't see a lot of fun times ahead in terms of dealing with the intermittently problematic slideout.  Please don't make me sleep with Coco again.

This next tale is not for the vegetarians amongst us.  This one goes out to the meat-eaters.  I'm not kidding, vegetarians, get out of here, this will not please you.

Alex and I recently joined with two other families to purchase a pig.  Not a pig like a pet, but a pig to grow on a farm and then eat.

The farm was recommended to us by Seattle Mom's chef cousin.  He said their organic pasture-raised pork was the best pork ever so we pooled money until we had enough to buy a bacon, I mean a pig.  Soon after we signed up for the pig, the farm began sending pictures of our pig -- the live pig, enjoying his life, walking around in the grass and breathing air with a pig smile playing just below his snout.

Why would they do that?  Why would they make us love our pig and look at pictures of him and say "awwww, cute" when they know our plan is to eat him?  We couldn't help but wonder if the farm was actually run by cunning vegetarians.  Did they really want us to eat the pig or was their ultimate goal to make us feel bad enough about wanting to eat the pig that we break down into guilt-ridden sobs and succumb to their vegetarian-bully agenda?

We decided to name our pig "Cuddles" because what the hell, let's make the thing even more tragic by giving it a cute name.  We spoke of Cuddles often as he grew.  They notified us on his butchering date.  They assured us he never felt a thing but still, Cuddles died that day and we all felt sad for that.

Don't underestimate our love of pork, though.  We were trading pork recipes with renewed excitement when another blow came from the butcher -- Cuddles wasn't anywhere near Seattle. Cuddles was waiting for us three-and-a-half hours away in the small town of Prosser, Washington, and the butcher didn't do delivery. It was a detail the chef cousin neglected to mention.  We all agreed it was a pretty big detail to omit.

Anyway, that's how our friend, whom I'll creatively call Seattle Dad, and I came to be crossing the snowy Snoqualmie Pass through the Cascade Mountains on Monday on our way to Prosser, WA.  The rest of our village stayed behind to collect all children from school and get them to music lessons and other assorted activities on time. But Seattle Dad and I were roadtripping all day long.  We're coming for you, Cuddles.

Prosser is a cute town with perhaps a handful of inhabitants.  We stopped in a tavern for lunch before heading to the butcher.  When we walked in the door, the guy standing behind the bar actually said, after scanning us up and down, "You ain't from around here, are you?"  I didn't know people said stuff like that in real life!

Good news was Small-Town-Stereotype Guy made the best burgers we've had in a long time.  Don't get me started on his onion rings.  It may be worth the drive just for lunch again sometime.

We wandered around the corner to the butcher (everything is close by in Prosser) and were confronted by a surreal scene involved animal carcasses hanging from hooks and friendly cleaver-wielding people.  We took some pictures in there but I'm not going to post them.  If any vegetarians have made it this far, I respect that and don't want to push them over the edge.

We drove the 3+ hours back to Seattle (it was a long day) and divvied up the meat on the floor of Seattle Mom and Dad's house --

It looked like a drug deal

It was then we realized they'd forgotten to give us the bacon.  All that trouble for zero bacon?  We decided it was Cuddles from beyond the grave, giving us a final "eff you" before sauntering off to pig heaven.

My family is here visiting.  They're with my sister and sister-in-law today at their new home on a nearby island.  I'm going to write about all of them next time because there is always something noteworthy to mention when they come around.  For example, yesterday we had a conversation contemplating why cows can't milk themselves.

Guess I'll go inside the house now.  I'm getting cold out here.  I'm afraid to turn on the RV heater because our exterior outlet shares a circuit with the outlet the cleaning ladies use for the vacuum cleaner indoors.  I'm not sure there is amp-le power.  Did you get that amp joke?  Pretty bad, I agree.

We'll leave this post with Alex and The Loosh in a go-kart.

Sure enough -- looks like a Rice Krispie explosion happened in here,


  1. Hello! I'm back again!

    When I was a kid we momentarily lived on a farm, and I had three cows that my parents had named Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner. To a smarter child that probably would have served as enough warning not to get so attached to them.

    When I read "I'm writing this in the Winnebago" I pictured you out on the road somewhere having a grand adventure. So I laughed muchly at the mental image of you sitting in the RV out in your driveway, eating Rice Krispies, living the life.

    Absolutely classic photo of Alex and Lucien btw :)

  2. well mj I read this yesterday but I had to skip the part about the pig and then my stomach hurt imagining what you had written so I couldn't comment yesterday... I had to spend the entire day thinking about what I didn't read-so instead today I figured I would just say yippee for the maiden voyage in the rv so cool and I really admire that you can drive it-- I damn near OVERTURNED A UHAL VAN WE RENTED TO MOVE A SOFA YIKES -I was driving over curbs and sidewalks-it is amazing I returned it and us in one piece-I like too that you are able to double purpose it..the RV-- as an artist studio where you can get your creative write on---or an author's den if you prefer-where you can smoke cigarettes or whatever and drink copious amounts of coffee or whatever-- write super great blog posts and finish birthing that Paris book-THIS IS A GREAT THING ALL AROUND!

  3. My daugher, her husband and a couple of her not quite grown children live in the country, not a farm really but they have several acres and few neighbors to complain about the few chickens they have, for eggs. So they decided to raise a pig for slaughter. After a smelly summer the butcher picked him up and returned with all kinds of neatly wrapped packages of pork. She has cooked some of the chops, a roast and what she said was the best smoked shoulder she has ever had! Enjoy, Cuddles would want you to!