Friday, July 31, 2009

It Was An Accident! Honest!

I have a brother (we'll call him Waldo) who's 13 months younger than I am.  Because of our closeness in age and because my older sister thought we were total pests and refused to have anything to do with us, we used to hang out together a lot.  And it was usually my brother who came up with the good ideas for things to do.

When he was in about sixth grade  Waldo got a paper route.  He'd go out every day to deliver the daily news to the neighborhood... almost like the old fashioned town crier.  I was in awe of the great wealth he amassed from this gainful employment.  As a man of wealth, Waldo got to buy all sorts of swell stuff.  

Now, being children of the 50's, our heros had always been cowboys.  After playing "Cowboys and Indians" with pearl handled cap guns and suction cup bows & arrows for so many years, Waldo was finally able to buy a real live bow and arrow set!  

I still remember the day he brought it home.  We marveled at the sleek bow, which had to be carefully bent with a powerful arm to attach the string.  And the arrows! Wonderful pointy ends, the shaft fletched with real feathers.  So cool!

Not wanting to miss out on a moment of fun, Waldo ran outside to set things up.  The neighbor kids were also excited.  So much so, that one offered to hold the target for him.  

That would be the paper target.  

That he held between his two grubby little hands.

And he stood steady on as my brother notched the arrow onto the string.

And pulled back.

Whish!  Away the arrow flew!  How graceful!  How dramatic!  It arched upward into the air, sailing, sailing, until it found it's target!  

Lucky for the neighbor kid, Waldo had not yet perfected his aim.  He missed the bulls-eye.

No, it's not what you're thinking!  GEEZ!  How crazy do you think we are?  

Waldo only managed to wing him in the hand.  Seven stitches later, we had all learned our lesson.  

Or, so we thought!

In the attempt to avoid further accidents (and lawsuits) my parents started taking the entire family to a nearby indoor archery range.  It was really cool.  The targets were on conveyor belts so that when you were done shooting, you could simply push a button and the target would come to you so you could retrieve your arrows from the bulls-eye... or surrounding area.

One day, as we were enjoying the range, I was poised in the lane next to my older, more refined sister.  (She actually condescended to join us on this family outing and got dressed up for the occasion.  She was wearing a skirt, sweater and hosiery to impress the young men at the range... I'm sure she was looking really hot.)  This time it was I who notched the arrow, drew the string back to my ear and aimed at the target.  

As they say, always keep your eye on the target.

Just as I was about to let go of the arrow, someone said something to me and I got kinda distracted.  My fingers slipped and the arrow went flying.

No worries, though... it was headed in the right direction.... almost.

It only went slightly off course, making contact with a steel beam strategically placed between the lanes.  (Shit!  Who put that there?)  

Was it my fault the sucker ricocheted off the post, causing it to come flying back in the opposite direction and hit my refined, well dressed older sibling in the leg.  I mean big deal!  

You'd think I'd done it on purpose, the way she went on, screaming and yelling at me and shit!  I mean, it hardly even bled or anything... it didn't even stick in her leg for more than a fraction of a second!  And she didn't need any stitches like the neighbor kid did.  What a whiner! I think she just hated me and wanted to get me into trouble because it ran her nylons.

Anyway, neither Waldo nor I ever made it as Olympic archers.  Our interest in archery began to wane soon after that incident.  But it's not like the experience was all for nought.  I simply added this to my store of cautionary tales to share with the kidlets at school.  They all think I'm very wise... if somewhat accident prone.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

They Call Me Mellow Yellow-Yellow

Figures... according to the New York Times "Yellow-Yellow", a black bear living in the Adirondack High Peaks area, has defeated the BearVault!    It's a simple container, much like one of those freakin' medicine bottles that you can never get open when you have a migrane.  

Here's how it works:

Now, I may be a complete tool but even I know that you shouldn't be posting those kinds of instructions where bears can be reading them... like on the side of the BearVault itself. Especially with such nice, easy to decipher graphics.  Not to mention the fact that I've seen a bear reading a stray issue of the Times (that a foolish camper left laying around) picking up handy tips for foraging for food.

No wonder "Yellow-Yellow" was so successful.  

But as long as she's getting all those tasty snacks out of the BearVault, as least she won't be tempted to dine on campers.  Having a full tummy makes her a "Mellow Yellow-Yellow."

Friday, July 24, 2009

Playing With Fire

I went camping again this week, but this time just to add novelty... I actually camped with some other people I know. Imagine that! 

I had posted a "World's Worst Camping Trip" contest several months ago and my friend Wendy won for her story of little Jacob's suitcase floating out of their tent during a flood many years ago.  

Nanodance also won, but she "claimed" to be sick this week so she couldn't go.  Likely story.  I know she was really staying home watching stupid shit on YouTube and trying to sneak cats into my house.  See what you missed, Nanodance! You could have been relaxing with Wendy and me in the idyllic setting shown to the right.  But, NOOOO!  You had to be sick!

Anyway, Wendy not only participated, she brought her entire family with her!  Yes, Big Bill, Sweet Natalie & Jacob (who's not so little anymore) also risked life and limb to camp with me.  Wendy and I go way  back to when I was Natalie's kindergarten teacher. Since I already warped Sweet Natalie beyond repair, Wendy must have figured she had nothing to lose by allowing her family to spend additional time with me.  And her trust in me was proven to be sound.  During the course of their two-night stay, no one was injured or carried away by bears.  (I swear, Jacob's toe was mangled before we went camping!)

We had a good old time together, though.  We shared stories around the campfire and I turned them on to the "roll-o-roaster" and other camping delights. They shared some of their favorite camping traditions with me as well.  

Turns out they do stupid stuff, too!  For example, they introduced me to the thrill of melting aluminum cans in the campfire.  Fascinating!  (And here I was wasting all that time and energy returning the cans to the store.) Before you knew it, we were scouring the campground looking for all sort of crap we could melt... just add fire and voila!

Pyromaniacs!  I LOVE these people! 

The next morning, Big Bill stopped by my campsite to give me his latest example of pyro-art. Seems he has his own tradition of staying up late and enjoying a little nip of tequila around the old campfire.  And he drank the entire bottle, just so he could contribute the glass container it came in to the cause.  What dedication!  Anything for pyro-art.  I was so proud I almost cried.

Here's what a pint of Jose Cuervo looks like after being sacrificed to the flames:

It used to look different until Jacob started messing around with it and broke a couple pieces off.  But, no worries, that just gave me more reasons to experiment the next few nights with re-fusing the broken parts onto the original glob-o-melted-glass.  All in the name of science, of course.

Now it almost looks kinda naughty... like what Vulcan's poop must look like... or like something that should go into Miss Yvonne's "For Your Nymphomation Adult Toy Chest."*

Given more time and a truck load of firewood, who knows what it could look like.

And here I've been wasting my time with a cheap "box-o-wine" when I go camping.  Next time I'm taking this bad boy with me...

I bet that a bottle of Jose Cuervo and my new found dedication to pyro-art could even entice Nanodance to go camping with me. (And if she isn't sick before she goes, odds are she sure could be afterward!)



*Miss Yvonne's blog is not suitable for all ages, but if you're looking for something a little different.... 

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Curious, how that happened...

It's now been 5 years since I ripped out my knee.  Curious, how that happened....  

Scenario #1:  I was in Minnesota for a month, vacationing at the family cabin.  One night there was a huge thunderstorm which blew a tree against the cabin.  The next morning, I noticed there was a nest of baby birds in the tree, but the nest was dangling precariously as the wee ones called out to their lost mother.  Tweet!  Tweet!  I had to rescue them!  (Or at least take them some worms.) Climbing up the tree, I slipped on one of the still wet branches, plummeting to the ground.  Unable to move, with my leg mangled beneath me, I looked up... just as the nest dropped... and caught the sweet tweets in my hands.  My ACL and MCL were gone... but the wee birdies were saved!

Scenario #2:  I was in Minnesota for a month, vacationing at the family cabin.  It was a clear, sunny day, perfect for water skiing.  None of this tubing stuff!  Being an expert skier, I scoffed at the idea of using two skis.  I jumped off the side of the boat, into the water, positioning myself for take-off.  Just as I popped up out of the water, a loon flew into my path.  It was me or him. Being the nature lover I am, I leapt over the wake to avoid him, only to land on a stump, which sent me tumbling across the surface of the water.  My ACL and MCL were gone... but the loon was safe!

Scenario #3:  I was in Minnesota for a month, vacationing at the family cabin.  I had just completed my rigorous daily workout, floating in an inflatable raft, reading a cheesy novel and guzzling Dr. Pepper.  At the end of the workout, I tied the raft securely to the dock and proceeded to step off the dock into the water for a quick dip.  Imagine my surprise when I landed on my ass, leg beneath me in a very awkward position.  My ACL and MCL were gone. 

So... which account do you think is the most dramatic?  Which is the most suspenseful?  Which would you choose to explain a torn ACL and MCL?  (And please, do chime in if you have a more creative explanation!) 

The cabin was 60 some steps up a steep hill and there was no one around.  I had to pull myself back up onto the dock and then butt-up the steps, one by painful one.  After a trip to the local hospital, I spent my last two weeks at the lake on crutches with my leg in an "immobilizer." Sadly, the Vicodin I got only served medicinal purposes... and not very well, at that.  Then there was the 1,000 mile drive back to New York.  Then months of physical therapy.  Some of us are just lucky, I guess.

Good times, good times! 

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Doogie Doggies

Yesterday I got together with my dear friends Glennda and Cindy to go birdwatching.  Glennda & I go way back to when our sons were in preschool together and I met Cindy through Glennda. Cindy also has a son, Nick, who as it turns out was born just hours before Vladimir.  The three of us share similar beliefs in terms of child rearing, religion, (or lack thereof,) progressive education and making the world a better place... as well as truly warped senses of humor, so it was a perfect match all around. 

Consequently, Vlad, Nick and Little Johnny were also the best of friends during those formative years.   We would frequently take turns picking the boys up from preschool for "play dates".   

One day I picked up Vlad and Little Johnny from preschool and had both 4-year-olds safely strapped into their car seats.  The two boys were chatting away merrily in the back seat in their cute little 4-year-old voices.  

As I came to a stop light, a car suddenly swerved in front of me to make a left hand turn from the right hand lane.  I had to slam on the brakes to avoid a collision.  Turning around to check that the wee ones were okay in the back seat, I heard Little Johnny say, 

"Doogie Doggie!"  

I, of course, was looking around for the stray dog that I thought he was talking about.  When I saw nothing, I asked Little Johnny what he was talking about and he replied,  

"You know, DOOGIE DOGGIE."  

Blank stare from me.  Say what?  So I asked the obvious... "What's a Doogie Doggie?"  To which Little Johnny replied, 

"You know, a bad driver.  That man is a Doogie Doggie because he is a really bad driver and he made you stop fast." 

Okay... I couldn't help myself... I just had to ask the next obvious question....  "And why do you call bad drivers Doogie Doggies, Little Johnny?"

Looking at me with distain, as though I was the dumbest person in the world, Johnny casually replied....

"Because it sounds so much better than ASSHOLE!"

There was absolutely nothing more I could say after that, as I was laughing hysterically in the front seat... and the two sweet little boys went back to their conversation as though nothing had happened.  Gotta love those kids!  

BTW... I'm happy to report Glennda has never been sent to Mommy Jail either.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Be a Good Camper, Henry!

Have you ever noticed how the majority of campers are either young families or retired people? The young families tend to be tent campers and the retirees trailer campers. Probably because for the young family it’s an economical vacation, while the retirees can afford the camping trailer with all the amenities, essentially taking all the comforts of home with them as they tour the world. The people in between can’t yet afford the trailer, but have gotten too used to comfort to enjoy the tent. (As a slightly-past-middle-aged tent camper, I am an aberration. Even more so, since I enjoy camping by myself as much as I enjoy camping with others.)

Anyway, if you really want to test the solidity of your family unit, try camping together... in a tent... during the rainy season. If you can survive that, you can survive almost anything.

Take, for example, the young family next to me on my most recent camping trip. It was obvious that it was young Henry’s first camping trip. His older sister and cousin were well versed in camping etiquette. Not so, Henry. Henry was all of about three years old. That alone should have been a clue that it could be a challenging outing.

Now, I happen to love 3-year-olds… especially when I don’t have to take them home with me. The entire world revolves around the 3-year-old... they're totally egocentric. And the 3-year-old is so gosh darned curious about the entire world. They have these cute little voices and they ask questions… constantly! Which is what Henry was doing, much to the chagrin of his family. And 3-year-olds definitely do not understand about sitting still and communing with nature. So, over the course of three very rainy days, I kept hearing the following:

“Don’t run, Henry!”

“Don’t play in the fire, Henry!”

“Don’t go in the water, Henry!”

"Stop annoying the ducks, Henry!"

"Sit in your chair, Henry!"

“Don’t fling flaming marshmallows in your sister’s hair, Henry!”

"Don't leave food out for the bears, Henry!"

“Stay in the tent, Henry!”

"Be quiet, Henry!"

“No, Henry, you may not bring your sleeping bag out by the fire!”

“Go to sleep, Henry!”

Mind you, there was absolutely nothing wrong with Henry. He wasn’t being at all naughty. He was simply acting his age.

“If you come out of that tent, Henry, I’m going to hurt you!”

AAACK! That last one had me fearing for Henry's life. In fact, the next morning they told Henry he was going home because he didn't know how to camp.  What?  Is camping supposed to be inbred or something?  Poor Henry... a failure at age 3.   The entire family left for about eight hours and when they returned, I didn't see or hear anything 0f Henry. I thought maybe they'd sold him to the gypsy's or something. 

It wasn't until the third morning that I heard Henry's name invoked again..

"Henry, if you eat all the graham crackers for breakfast, there won't be any left for s'mores tonight!"

Whew! Henry was back! He was still alive and well and might even live to see four.

And then there was that final, exasperated plea…

Try to be a good camper, Henry!”

(Insert stifled guffaw from me here.)  For a 3-year-old, being a good camper is not at all the same thing as being a happy camper.  

Henry was undaunted, though. Not once did he cry or whine. Only his parents did that.

Henry is a Happy Camper.

I adore Henry.

(Please note, I would have provided an actual picture of Henry, but his parents probably would have had me arrested. Same with trying to find an actual on-line photo of a little kid camping. Guess they think you might be a pedophile or something if you download that type of thing. Hence, the cheesy clip art depiction of little Henry.)

Thursday, July 9, 2009

What? Me Worry?

So, I'm back from the wilds of the Adirondacks.  It wasn't nearly as harrowing as one might imagine.  After all, IT IS CAR CAMPING, PEOPLE!  It's not like I was backpacking out in the wild or anything. 
Plus, I do take all necessary precautions.  

For example, I spent a full hour standing in front of this sign, (posted strategically outside the shower house,) faithfully memorizing each item on the list:

I took my responsibility as a camper very seriously and followed all the guidelines.  Obviously, I spent the next three days parking my car (containing all clothing, food items and garbage) a mile away from my campsite.  It was a mad dash from the car to the tent, what with being all naked and everything.  No worries!  Although, it might have been easier just to sleep in the car. 

Even worse than being mauled by a bear, however, would have been to be "directed to leave the campground" for bear baiting.  How could one ever live down that humiliation? The rest of the campers would probably line up and make you run the gauntlet as they threw all sorts of vile epithets at you.  Just imagine the shame of it all.

But as I said, no worries.  I had everything in order.

The truth is, I have a new secret weapon against bears.  I've heard tell that bears don't mess around with moose.  Would you?  Those suckers are huge!  So, while I was in the little gift shop near the campground, I discovered a new super duper weapon to protect me from bears.  Damn the cost, I had to have it!  And now it's mine, all mine!  From now on, I can sleep soundly in my tent knowing that a bear will never, ever accost me in the dark of night.   

See for yourself if this doesn't strike fear into the hearts of bears everywhere:

P.S.  Since the sign says it's a list of "Bears & Camper Guidelines", what I really want to know is... what are the bears' responsibilities for campground use? Will they be directed to leave the campground if they are caught camper baiting?  I'm just askin'.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

I'm off!

Well, after a quiet Fourth of July evening at home with Hickory the Wonder Dog, I'm off for three nights of camping and kayaking in the Adirondacks tomorrow.  I hear tell they have bears in them thar woods, so I figure it's the perfect time to resurrect "The Great Smoky Mountains... or... The Second Worst Camping Trip Ever".

Since they do post warnings there about black bears, I hereby promise NOT to keep food in my tent or use Ben Gay during this trip.  

If I get eaten by a bear, it's been great blogging with you!  (And if I win Miss Yvonne's contest you can bury the gum with what's left of me.)

This is Chauncey... I met him on my last camping trip.
He's definitely not as scary as a bear
but he does have kinda scary eyes.

P.S.  Here are some other harrowing tales of camping you might enjoy while I'm away....  Phantom Canyon, Sweet Dreams, The Killer Raccoon of Kejimkujik.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Join the Great Mullet Giveaway!

Wondering what to do this holiday weekend?  Tired of the same old stuff?  Here's a wonderful change of pace for you....   

Yes, you too can be amazed by Miss Yvonne's awesomeness... her generosity... her delightfully warped personage.  Follow the adventures of Captain Carl, Emo and the Kiddo, along with tales of Renty, the cat-ophile tenant.  It can all be yours!
Simply click on Miss Yvonne's name anywhere on this page to go directly to her blog... do not pass go... do not collect $200.  You can even click on the tasteful picture of Miss Yvonne!


And when you get there, enjoy!  You can even become a stalker, I mean follower, of her blog. Only two more people to go and she attains the coveted 100 follower status.  Who knows, you might even win the contest if you become the 100th follower.  

P.S.  Oh, and please tell Miss Yvonne I sent you... after all, I need all the brownie points I can get if I want to come close to winning the contest! 

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It Ain't Over 'Til the Cat Lady Cleans

For those of you thinking I'll just be lounging around all summer now that I'm unemployed...

Think again!

Yes, there will be lots of time for relaxation.  But there's also the small matter of this quote from Vladimir:

"So, now that you'll be home every day,
you'll have time to clean the house."

Say, WHAT?  Are you freakin' kidding me?  This from the lad who still has his crap from college crammed in his car?  The lad who feels he needs a clean glass for each sip of water he takes, leaving a pile of dishes on the counter for me?  The lad whose room you can't enter because there's no place to put your feet?  Just because he's gainfully employed doesn't give him the right to get all sanctimonious about it!

But wait!  Actually, I can't complain... because I taught him everything he knows.  Makes a Cat Lady so proud!  Clutter is a requirement of all Cat Ladies, after all.   However, there comes a time when even the Cat Lady Cleans out of necessity.  

Around every school break, I tell everyone I'm actually going to clean my house. And fail miserably in achieving that goal.  That's because first I have to take care of the clutter.  I couldn't even get a vacuum cleaner into the room, let alone suck up all the dirt until the clutter's gone.  For example, here's what my sun room currently looks like, following the removal of all the crap from my office at school:

At least there's still a small spot left for me to step into the room.  (Note visibility of rug just in front of chair.)  I actually did vacuum that wee spot the other day... only to get the crumbs up off the floor so that I could walk to my recliner barefoot without being punctured by the hard, sharp little pieces of leftover doggy biscuit.

Sadly, the same can not be said for the area around my desk... which is why laptops were invented and why I always sit in my recliner to write.  

We have, however, reached emergency conditions as I can no longer recline in the recliner because of all the crap around it.

So... the first few days of my unemployment, I'll be spending at least a few minutes each day uncluttering the place.

Which should make Vladimir very happy.  As well as Hickory the Wonder Dog, since he'll once again be able to sit at my feet and look up at me adoringly.  (As he asks for another doggy biscuit.)

The only question remains... where do I shovel all this crap to next?  The attic and basement are already packed and my charming home only sports three small closets with a combined space of about 6 cubic feet. (And you can't even get to the closets if you wanted to because of additional crap blocking the doors to them.)

Maybe I could rent one of those portable storage containers next....

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