Thursday, July 16, 2015

We Have Been Meaning To...

It is one of those things. The things you always mean to do , but somehow never seem to actually do.

The Hubs Aunt and Uncle live here in town. Across the city, but same city none the less. His three cousins and their kids all live here too. Scattered around, but we are all here. Would you believe that we haven't gotten together with them for years? Years. Not weeks or even months. But we always mean to. Its a simple thing. To pop out on a Saturday or Sunday for dinner and a visit. In our younger married days we had done it plenty of times. We used to hang out with them. I went to Bible study with Aunt D and he would help Uncle P build new stairs on their back porch. I remember spending one whole afternoon with her watching Sumo wrestling from Japan on TV, trying to figure it all out. They always had good advice and were a great example of a wonderful marriage. We would go to Grandma and Grandpa's for holidays, then visit Grandma and Grandpa in the care home together in their older years. There were always lots of laughs and a lot of love. So why don't we get together? 

No real reason. Just life I suppose. We go to all the weddings, gush over the new babies, send Christmas cards, the usual stuff. But they could be in Florida for that. Not across town. Our kids were growing and as we started our family their kids starting getting married and having kids too. Everyone gets too busy. And at these weddings and events we all always say the same thing...."We need to get together!" And we do...need to at least. But we never actually do it.

Then Facebook came along and it was so easy to think we were actually in touch, when we weren't. So easy to think we were keeping up on the family, but not really. So easy to fool ourselves. And we would message each other over random, unimportant things, and of course, say "We need to get together!" But we don't.

Then in March the call came. Uncle P had terminal cancer. All the more awful given that he was only 67 and not in terrible health. He had Guillain-Barre syndrome, but was on the road to recovery after beating the toughest parts of that. His youngest son was getting ready to have his first child, their 8th grandchild.

So today we all did what we have been meaning to do. We got the family together. At his memorial service. He was well loved and there were hundreds in attendance. A full military salute for his Marine Corps service in Vietnam. It was beautiful and awful at the same time.

And we all were there, doing what we do best. Hugging and exclaiming over the growth of the kids, while telling each other that we really need to get together. At a different time. When we can visit, and laugh, instead of cry.  

I don't know when that will be, but I not only mean to do it.....I will. And tonight, as I sit and think about all the time, the years that have passed, I am spending some time thinking about what other things I have been "meaning" to do, and how I am going to go about making them happen.

It is, perhaps, his parting gift to me, from a life that was so full of love and grace, joy and happiness, that the hole he has left is large, even for those of us on the fringes of his physical presence. The difference he made in my husbands life, the contribution he made to helping him understand what it meant to be a man after his parents divorced cannot be measured. He is the one who brought him in to a construction job, looking out for him, and started him on a life long career. It is safe to say that my husband would not be the man he is today, the husband he is today, or the father he is today without his uncle and for that I will be eternally grateful to him.

And to paraphrase the popular song..."I will tell him all about it when I see him again."

Friday, July 3, 2015

Camping is Fun

We have been camping as a family a lot.  Most of those times, for me at least, were with the cub scouts after Thing 1 joined up. Before that I only went a few times as a kid. In a camper. To campgrounds. With pools. The Hubs, on the other hand, comes from a long illustrious line of rednecks. They didn't vacation as kids...they hunted. In several states when they didn't get drawn here. For weeks at a time sometimes. I have actually seen him set up at tent for a friend with NO POLES. He rigged the whole thing in a tree with a piece of rope. They referred to him as MacGyver in scouts and it wasn't far from wrong. So, of course, we had totally opposite views on camping. It took a solid 5, if not 6, years of arguing before we came to any sort of agreement on what to pack, what to eat, etc. Now that the Spawn are teens, we only get out about once a summer, but I am going to share with you some of the finer points of the experience, in case you decide to take it up this year....

1) Camping is dirty. There is no way around it. You are in the dirt, everything you own is in the dirt and will be for days. Make your peace with the dirt because before this is over, you will have dirt in places you swore were protected by clothing, places you didn't even know could get dirt in them. If the dirt gets to be too much for you, sit down in your comfy camp chair and have a glass of wine.

Dirt. All dirt, all the time.

2) There are bugs in the woods. Or at the beach. Or wherever the hell you end up. There are bugs everywhere in the world and they over run the wilderness areas. Don't believe me? Take a look at the top of my tent from the last trip we took.


Take some bug spray. A fly swatter too. Those redneck electric ones get the kids all excited. But accept that there will be bugs. A lot of them. When it gets to be too gross, sit in your camp chair and have a glass of wine. Check it between sips for the bugs that WILL fly into it.

3) There are no climate control devices in the wilderness, so you will be unable to control the climate. It will probably rain on you. Everything you have will get wet and there isn't a damn thing you can do about it. It will also then become very hot and there is no escape. Unless it gets cold, but you really can't escape that either. Just remember, theres a drink for every type of weather. Stock your bar before you go.

4) There will be other people where you camp, either a campground area or people you agreed to camp with. At some point, one of those people will bust out some bag of fresh, organic veggies from Whole Foods that they begin chopping as they prepare to make some kind of French Ratatouille from scratch and you will look at them and think "wow, they are good campers." No, they are not. They are stupid campers. There is no person in their right mind that wants to spend an entire evening trying to recreate restaurant quality food from nothing while standing in the dirt fighting off bugs. And afterwards someone has to wash all those damn dishes in some tiny tub and try to get them rinsed and dried, etc. Just feed the kids a Cup O' Noodles and sit down and enjoy your wine.

Don't forget the coffee either

5) At some point you will need to go to the bathroom. This is a deal breaker for a lot of people. It does not matter where you are camping, going to the bathroom sucks. Maybe you are out on your own with a potty stool and a hole in the ground? Or maybe you have some sort of toilet apparatus from Cabelas. It sucks. Think a campground with toilets is better? Not really. The toilets don't flush...they are just giant holes filled with you know what. Also, it gets really hot and smelly inside those toilets. It is also the FAVORITE hangout of all the spiders. On a side note? Ladies, check a calendar before you go. If you are attempting this during your period you have just jumped to expert level camping bathroom gymnastics. This will probably require a shot of tequila, with a wine chaser.

6) At some point your kids will get tired of running around in the dirt and playing with sticks and will want to do something like fish. This is ok. It's even better if they don't catch too much, because they will display a patience you didn't know they had and sit for ages waiting. This is a great time to kick back and drink your wine.

7) There will be s'mores. It's not a question. It's the only thing you have to get right...chocolate bars, graham cracker and marshmallows and roasting sticks. Bring a bottle of red, it goes best with chocolate.

These pictures are from years ago and they would be so 
pissed if they knew I put them on here!

As you stand in the middle of the dirt, contemplating the bathroom you need to use and fighting off the bugs, just remember.....this is fun!