Wednesday, February 24, 2016

a lemon or merely lemon scented?

Lucien loves Star Wars.  He recently began coloring a picture of R2D2 but left the room briefly to discuss important matters with his mother. He returned to find his sister had turned R2D2 into a pretty princess at a tea party thanks to her pink marker and bottomless princess sticker collection.

There was a bit of yelling but then, thank God, my son realized the exquisite humor in the situation and laughed until he cried.  As did I.

R2D2 has never been so fancy.
The tiara. It kills me.

In other news, we briefly regretted our Winnebago purchase over the long weekend when a panel blew off the side while flying down the highway.  Sometimes one experiences buyer's remorse when one's vehicle starts blowing to bits at 70 mph.

It's possible this is going to become an RV blog.  Or an RV blog with a touch of  "our desert dog, seven months later, continues to destroy all of our stuff" blog.*  When we first moved into Banister Abbey, I thought this would be a home renovation blog.  And it was, briefly, but I have since gotten away from posting pictures of our home improvement.  My point is, I'm no longer sure what my point is.

(*Speaking of Natani, she knocked Coco's favorite game off the counter this week and started chewing it up.  I hate this game.  Alex hates this game.  My mother hates this game and my mother hates nothing in this world except stupid, stupid Mermaid Island.

I debated whether or not to let Mermaid Island die "a natural death" at the jaws of our destroyer, Natani the Navajo dog.  But in the end, I couldn't do it and rescued the ridiculous thing.  My mother can't forgive me.)

nom nom nom i love you nom nom

So the directionless blog wanderings continue this week with more tales of skiing (could be a skiing blog now) and RVs and bestiality.

I might as well take care of that last item now since it's all anyone will think about until I address it. We went out for Seattle Mom's birthday Saturday night and her husband, Seattle Dad, told us the story of the infamous "Enumclaw horse sex case" which happened in 2005 outside Seattle.  Some guy died from internal injuries (perforated colon, I believe) after being on the receiving end of sex with a stallion.  By "stallion" I mean a real stallion, not a euphemism for a virile male.  Truly, a horse.

Our beautiful friends out with us in Ballard.
Right after he told us the terrible horse story.
Why did he do that to me.

I haven't been able to shake that horse story since I heard it.  In addition to being repulsed by some sections of humanity, I just have so many questions about how it happened.  I mean

anyway, the takeaway from that is the human race is doomed.

We may all be headed for hot livin' in hell but in the meantime, the family and I continue to enjoy the Winnie B and more time on the slopes during mid-winter school break.

I look happy. The Loosh does not look happy.  
(Nope, he really wasn't, so mad at me right here)

The family headed for Hoodoo, a ski resort in Central Oregon, over the long Presidents Day weekend.  Hoodoo allows RV camping in the parking lot, provides an electrical hookup but nothing else.  It was our first attempt at rationing water, which we did incorrectly so ran out of fresh water from our tank on the second day.  We're learning, we're learning.

I remain the sole driver of the RV.  Alex prefers to put his feet up and avoid driving something big and scary and I have fairly debilitating control issues, particularly when it comes to my family's locomotion.  In that sense, Alex and I are perfectly paired.

I cannot overstate how excited Alex and I were at the prospect of camping at the base of a chairlift. We were near giddy on the drive to Hoodoo, imagining the extreme convenience of being able to wake up, eat a bowl of cereal, throw on our gear and walk twenty feet to the lift.  We were like kids being told they were camping at the base of a candy mountain, and when they awoke in the morning they could shovel mouthfuls of the sweet stuff into their gaping jaws immediately.

Excitement aside, the challenges began immediately upon arriving at Hoodoo and pulling into our reserved space in the resort parking lot.  An RV has to be level in order to avoid damage to both the refrigeration and slide-out wall mechanisms.  If you're parked in a non-level spot, you must put levelers under the lower wheels to even things out.  We've leveled Winnie before with our cheery bright yellow plastic levelers with zero trouble.  But that was then.

When you place RV levelers on top of wet pavement, slush, and a thin layer of ice at a ski resort, then try to drive your RV on top of them, those goddamn cheery yellow levelers shoot away from your vehicle with impressive agility.  You're not getting on top of those things; they're spooked gazelles sprinting into the forest.

When something isn't working, Alex pulls inward, goes silent with a steely and impressive determination.  When he goes quiet like that, I back off, disappear, don't bother him.  Trust it, he wants to be alone with his thoughts.  I instead watched and prayed silently from the inside as he tried shovels, ice scrapers, portable heaters, even put the levelers on top of our anti-slip table placemats.  The placemats were quickly shredded by the tires.  Now I need new placemats but that's neither here nor there.

It took Alex so long to get the RV up on those levelers, I had begun making dinner in the back by the time it happened.  The kids and I grew accustomed to grabbing onto whatever piece of furniture was nearby when Alex revved the engine and lurched Winnie forward to give it another go.  When he finally succeeded, our RV neighbors next door pounded on their windows and cheered.

Alex had been so immersed in getting the deed done, he hadn't realized he'd drawn an audience of fellow RVers and people waiting in nearby passenger cars.  He was like, "People were watching me?  Should I be embarrassed?" but I said, "Nah, hold your head high, man, you are the new face of determination in Central Oregon."

Alex has got serious grit.
We're barely on 'em, but we're on 'em.

we love skiing blah blah blah

Hoodoo is closed Tuesdays.  We camped Monday night and awoke Tuesday morning to find we were absolutely alone in this world --

Winnebago feels lonely and insignificant

I loved the solitude, loved having the entire place to ourselves like a giant snowy playground.  But me being me, I looked over my shoulder every five minutes and thought, "Gosh, we're really alone up here, a murderer could drive into this parking lot and kill us at any time and no one would ever know."  My thoughts are pretty dark but I take comfort in the fact Enumclaw guy's "I should have sex with that horse" is still way way worse.  

Coco and I climbed the beginner slope and went sledding.  While up there, a truck pulled into the parking lot and several men jumped out.  My heart stopped.  It was my nightmare coming true, I was sure of it.  I knew what I had to do;  I had to rush them, confront them, let them know I wasn't going to go quietly.  I was in such a hurry to confront those men about their murderous intent, Coco fell out of the sled in my hustle down the embankment back to the parking lot.

Sorry, baby
but Mama's protecting you

It became apparent, after I ran at their faces, the men in the truck were a father and his three teenage sons who didn't realize Hoodoo was closed Tuesdays.  They were dejected to say the least; the dad had taken off work for the day and the three sons had taken a day off from school.  They only had one snowboard and one pair of boots between them; the rest had planned to rent from the very closed rental shop.

Super nice non-murderous guys. We watched them and yelled our enthusiastic support as father and sons climbed the steepest runs.  They took turns using the one pair of boots and one snowboard.  They cheered for whomever's turn it was then yelled encouragement at the poor sucker as he climbed the equipment back up to them.  They made the best of a disappointing situation.

Sorry I thought you were criminals, guys.  You're inspiring in your can-do attitudes and it was a pleasure to make your acquaintance.

and it was fun to camp in a parking lot

Now back to beginning -- the Winnie B shedding her parts on the drive home to Seattle.  I looked in the sideview mirror after we'd cleared Portland to see what appeared to be a large piece of metal flying alongside our vehicle.  I yelled back to Alex, who was locked in the bathroom at the time with his computer in an attempt to combat motion sickness while answering emails (that was a mouthful and a confusing one at that, long story) I yelled something along the lines of, "WE GOT A PROBLEM, MAN."

Alex came rushing back to the cockpit and confirmed something had gone awry with his panicked, "Pull over!  Now!  The side of the car's about to blow off!" but I was surrounded by people on a major freeway with a shoulder not wide enough to accommodate the Winnie B.

I slowed down, put on my emergency flasher lights, prayed for an exit ramp, told Alex he was going to have to run into the highway to grab the piece if we lost it before I could stop.  (Alex has grit, remember.  I don't.  He was the obvious best candidate for the job.)

It was then I realized what people had been trying to tell me.  Not two minutes earlier, a couple had pulled up alongside me and honked their horn.  Then the man made some emphatic gestures.  He pointed at his own eyeballs with two fingers then pointed at the Winnie B.  It was the ole "I'm lookin' at you" gesture and it struck me as very rude.  I wasn't doing anything wrong, wasn't speeding, was well between the lines, hadn't cut anyone off.  How dare he.

I began making the same gesture back at him.  Two fingers pointed at my eyeballs then pointed at his eyeballs. "Oh yeah?  You're lookin' at me, buddy?  Well I'M LOOKIN' AT YOU, TOO.  I can look at things, too, and I'm lookin' at YOU.  What you gonna say about it?"  He eventually floored it and took off in front of me with a shake of his head.  What a jerk.

Except as I pulled off to the side of the road with part of my RV detached, of course, it became evident he wasn't a jerk at all and was instead trying to give me an important message, that it was time to take a good hard look at my vehicle.

I should perhaps evaluate my suspicions regarding the motives of strangers.  I am an island!

I finally eased to the side of the road on a desolate off-ramp.  Alex jumped out the side door -- straight into a pile of dog poop.  What are the chances?  What are the chances of pulling onto a rural exit ramp and jumping into a pile of dog poop?  That's just how life happens for us.  We embrace the unpredictability but not the mess.

Alex hopped around a bit, some expletives, decided he never wanted to see that pair of shoes again and took them off  right there on the side of the road.  He wrapped them in a plastic bag for later disposal and asked the children to retrieve his slippers.

It didn't take much effort to pull the panel off; it had been dangling by a mere thread.

there used to be a piece there...

...but it is now in here

Al hopped back in and we pulled back onto the highway, slightly rattled but relieved.  Not five seconds later, the battery warning light illuminated before me, a glaring red light that seemed sent from the devil himself.  I hesitated before delivering the bad news to Alex, who was happily wearing his slippers and chatting about our near disaster on the highway.  "Err...Al....?"

One exit later, we were back on a rural off-ramp reading our owners manual.  The manual said if the battery warning light came on, we needed to stop the RV immediately, pop the hood, and inspect the somethin'-somethin' belt for a tear.  Okee dokee.

We didn't know what a somethin' somethin' belt was.  A few Google searches later, we popped the hood and stuck our heads way down inside the bowels of the mechanics of the Winnie B.  The somethin' somethin' belt looked awesome, in fact looked brand new, because it is.

When we took off again from our second emergency stop of the hour, the battery warning light turned off and stayed off.  But still, we were jittery and spent the rest of the uneventful ride home Googling things such as "Is my new RV a lemon or merely lemon-scented?"

We've since learned it's fairly common for everything to go wrong in the first six-ish months of RV ownership.  The thing's never been used before and there are a zillion things that can go wrong with such a complex piece of machinery -- so a lot of them do, brace yourself.  So far, in our four initial trips, we've had a broken slideout wall (now fixed) a dead house battery (fixed) a dead GFCI outlet (fixed --user error, oops), a panel blown off the side (not fixed) and a battery warning light (what the hell was that about).

Yep, this could turn into an RV blog. Or skiing. Our dog is still crazy, too.

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Ski hounds

I had a question about Sarah Palin recently so went to Google to get it answered.  I soon forgot my question because I got distracted by somebody else's --

Is she made of crab meat?  
And if she is, would that explain things
or provoke further questions?

I've got skiing on the brain thanks to a healthy snowfall up in the mountains. In my family, skiing was one of those things you couldn't avoid, much like mowing the lawn or picking up all the Legos stuck in the shag carpet.  It didn't matter if you wanted to do these things or not; it was something you did for the benefit of the family.

I grew up in Ohio, which is not a state known for mountainous terrain.  The best we could do in such a place was head to upstate Michigan where the hills afforded us a bit of height and a bit of pitch. As  I mentioned in this previous post, my first year on skis, at the age of 6, I hit a tree and broke my leg.  It was not a glorious beginning but Mom and Dad made me get back out there the following season anyway.

Once a year we went to Colorado for a bigger ski trip, almost always with family friends with whom we rented a slopeside condo.  Those are good memories, particularly the time our fireplace chimney clogged at Snowmass so the condo began filling with thick black smoke.  My dad's law partner, Mort, grabbed the burning logs with tongs and ran to the balcony where he threw them overboard into deep snowdrifts down below.  We always wondered what the downstairs neighbors thought as burning logs fell from the sky.

That was the same condo that had a line drawing of a butt hanging on the wall.  I thought it was the funniest thing I'd ever seen because I was about 10 years old and, much like Lucien today, thought butts were hilarious.  I studied that drawing and practiced replicating it during our vacation.  By the time I returned to school, I was a butt drawing expert, which impressed my fellow fourth graders.

I didn't always enjoy those family ski vacations, in fact often found them unbearable as freezing rain pelted my face or subfreezing temperatures made my fingers and toes go numb.  I remember on more than one occasion begging my parents to stop so we could go inside as unhappy tears froze on my face.

Yet here I am, all grown up and inflicting the same cold torture upon my children that my parents inflicted upon me.  Tradition!

Our most recent ski outing began in an exciting way when our neighbor/dogsitter for the day texted to say, "Oh my god, there's stuff thrown all over your house, we think somebody broke in." My heart raced for a minute until I remembered the state in which we'd left earlier that morning.

I responded, "When we left, there were outgrown ski clothes tossed frantically all over the dining room, Coco has taken up three rooms with an art supply explosion because she apparently needs that much space for her most recent elaborate masterpiece which involves many wads of crumpled paper and Natani has shredded four of her toys in the past 24 hours so there is stuffing and ripped pieces of fabric littered throughout the kitchen and dining room and on up the stairs."

A few minutes later came a sheepish reply, "OH. I'm so sorry, never mind, it's just as you said." Well that was embarrassing.  Onward!

that's him being him

Alex and I were in the middle of a contentious argument that ski day about an important matter.  We decided that, in order to preserve the enjoyment we feel when skiing, we were only going to discuss said contentious matter if we were alone on a chairlift.  At all other times, we were going to have FUN.

The plan worked well.  Tense discussion ended when skis hit snow at the top of the lift.  We each enjoyed our runs, sometimes stopping to soak up the view and offer pointers on each others form as usual (Alex says I don't bend my knees enough and turn with my shoulders I KNOW I KNOW) After a particularly enjoyable run, there would be high fives at the bottom and enthusiastic, "Wow, that was amazing!"  Then as soon as skis lifted off the snow on our next ride up, we would turn towards each other and begin again with something like,  "I can't believe you said that, jerk!"

It helped diffuse the tension and made the fight manageable.  We worked it out better than we would have at home because it wasn't able to boil over thanks to the built-in fun breaks.  Next time a fight is brewing, we're headed for the slopes.  We'll just suddenly take off in the car, leaving the kids blinking and looking at each other in confusion in the kitchen.

she was crying in the morning 
but refusing to stop by the afternoon
skiing does that to you

We stopped at IHOP on our way home for a dinner of pancakes.  Our server was an odd bird.  We alerted her on her way through the aisle that she was pouring tea continuously from a kettle she was holding at a precarious angle.  She shrugged and said, "Well I'm always spilling something, aren't I," and just kept walking, a steaming tea trail following her all the way back to the kitchen.

This wasn't a great post about skiing.  I wrote a better one here.

Best I can do today!