“Make yourself an ark…”

The pounding on the camper door woke me, but it did not get me out of bed. What the guy yelled next, however, was particularly motivating.

“Wake up! Your sh*t’s about to float away!”

Two things you should know that are not in the Girl Scout handbook: 1) never, ever, no matter how sweltering the weather, sleep naked when camping and 2) hearing that your sh*t is about to float away is an extremely effective hangover cure.Photo by Mowgli


But you should probably also know how we got to the point that morning of strangers predicting doom outside our camper door…


Friday, the day we arrived was phenomenal. The sun baked, the river bank wasn’t crowded and our favorite spot was open. We bounced towards it happily noting how wonderfully the same things were.

The same, well, except for that 15 foot log laying in the middle of the road. Pretty sure that wasn’t there last year.

Not that it much concerned me. My Pollyanna brain is hard wired for drawing benign conclusions. It was moved by an act of man, not God, I decided. The log was drug there by campers for firewood. Any minute now a group of chain saw wielding men would appear and buck it up. Flooding of biblical proportions was the last thing from my mind. Come on! This river never got that high.

However, Husband (who will henceforth be referred to as Mowgli, one with nature because he was raised by wolves) slipped an ominous glance at the water. As we drove around the log, he silently calculated the rivers height and the topography of the bank including its lowest point and the angle of slope around the spot where we intended to park. A few hours later, as I cooled my body from the shocking heat with a very dirty martini, he pointed towards the water and said,

“I think the river is rising.”

Alarmist. Look at the sun!

“Relax.” I said. “Are you going to eat that olive?”


Saturday, glorious Saturday I sat once more with a cold sweating drink watching half naked kids splash in the water while blissfully searing my pasty white winter skin when…

“It’s definitely rising,” He announced. I glanced at the river. What a spectacular day!

“No it’s not. How about a beer?”

By dinner I started to wonder if maybe he was right. A little.

“OK, but it is nothing. We haven’t had rain in weeks. This is just a tiny bit of snowmelt.” I said. “Another drink?”

By 10:00 pm Mowgli had grown even more concerned so we stacked all our gear alongside the camper. Just in case. I enjoy any excuse to tidy camp and the prep work seemed to ease Mowgli’s mind. Five feet past the fire pit and down the bank I even drew a line in the sand so we could ‘track the rivers progress’. Not that I believed it would be going anywhere anytime soon.

When we bedded down, I promised to periodically check on the mark. Mowgli and I have three cubs so it’s rare that I enjoy an uninterrupted night of slumber. I’d be up anyway, wouldn’t hurt to look. By 1:00 am the water hadn’t moved more than a few harmless inches. I went to sleep. Hard.

In retrospect, that was probably stupid, drawing the line as well as zonking out. I’m pretty sure as I dozed off, the river chuckled.

Greenhorn. Think you can stop me?

At some point it rained but I was near comatose and did not get up. When I peaked again it was 6:30. The water was hungrily lapping at the far edge of the fire pit. I squinted my eyes and measured the new distance from camper to river. Then I worked some fast math. No worries! We had hours to go before the water reached us. Back to sleep.

FYI, I’m not the most reliable person when it comes to fast math. And I’m about useless computing anything before 8 am. I say this, you know, in case you find yourself wanting to rely on me for that.

9:00 am, banging… door flying open… water four feet away. Get up people! This is not a drill!

30 minutes later we were done loading. The river slapped against the camper wheels. Mowgli hitched the trailer. I stomped around in calf high water cranking up jacks. 5 minutes later, moments before the water sucked our tires into the silt, we pulled out.

Cheers! We made it! A record hustle too! We were so amazingly efficient we even managed to boil a pot of coffee! Not only was everything neatly stowed, nothing was left behind and there were no casualties.

Or so we thought. Right about then I realized I couldn’t find my phone. We stopped, I ran back to the flood. Mowgli dialed my number – repeatedly.

Total silence. It was too late. Somewhere between fishing firewood out of the river and locking stabilizer jacks into place, my phone wriggled free of me and callously dove head first into the rapids. A sigh, a tear. Alas.

But seriously, and in the immortal words of Ron White, “I told you that story so I could tell you this one…”

I finally got a smart phone!


Suffering the whims of the mechanical gods

Moments after posting that last blog, I went out to rototill the garden…

Right, the rototiller. I forgot, she’s my responsibility too. Partly for the same reasons the washer and dryer are mine; I’m the only one who uses her. Also, I’m the only one she will function for.

Miss Tiller was free. She’s plain, quirky and older than I am. She toils for me every spring but only after I giver her some serious pampering. She’s my personal old, cranky, jilted at the altar Biddie, but she does the job. Did I mention she was free?

Anyway, 20 minutes ago I set out for the start of our social season with high hopes. Last fall I’d given Miss T a new lease on life. New gasket, few new bolts, fresh oil, and tweeks in all the right departments. This spring I was certain, Miss T would love me.

Miss T must read my blog. Evidently I should have blogged about how much I ADORE taking care of Miss T.

Miss  T wont start. Miss T has no spark, and while that is a similar problem to a fouled plug, it’s resolution is far more laborious and costly.


Grease Monkey

My husband thinks I’m a mechanic. It’s cute. Most days. The rest of the time it’s really annoying.

I used to be a mechanic, a good one too. So was my husband but, unlike me, he still covets the title. For me, living with someone who can and will readily fix the broke is like living a perpetual independence day. I’m on sabbatical. Well, almost. Years ago, in a moment of insanity, I agreed to something I would NOT agree to today; accepting responsibility for the life of a few mechanisms in our home. That pact is the hiccup in my grease free peace. What was I thinking??

Thank God I was smart enough to pick items that rarely break. Plus when they do break, fixes are quick and simple. Husband gets all the tough stuff. He manages everything automotive, the house electrical, the computers… and any equipment weighing more than 200 lbs. All my charges are smaller than a bread box. Oh, except for the washer and dryer, they are mine. No sexism, I know how they work and husband doesn’t. It’s that simple. But I’ll let you in on a little secret: if you don’t abuse them, a washer and dryer set will run maintenance free forever. Anyway, as irksome as it is, that’s our deal. So far, it’s served me well. So far.

Then came Didi Suzuki, the cute ATV we got for our kids. Didi (Mandarin for little brother) is two feet high, three feet long, blue and adorable. It’s also decidedly larger than a bread box but at the same time weighing in well under the 200 pounds line. It’s entry into our life was the proverbial wrench in the gears of our marital accord. Whose mechanical jurisdiction did Didi fall under? At least that’s what I was wondering. Husbands thoughts at the time ran more like “that thing is totally Jolie’s problem.”

But when you get a new toy you don’t necessarily think about future repairs. No, you generally think “weeeeee!!!”  And “weeeee!” we do, like Didi is a rugged 500 not a little 2 stroke 80. Meaning: we beat it up. Didi, for his part, puts on a good show until things go too far (as they often do). Then he lays down the law. Didi fouls his singular spark plug and refuses to start. If you don’t know what a sparkplug is or why fouling one is a bad thing, lucky you. I wish I didn’t.

So, fast forward to the weekend, camping, relaxing, watching the kids play on Didi when…

Husband, “It won’t start.”

Of course it won’t start. The plug is fouled. It is probably covered in thick black spark arresting soot. Husband will figure it out. Gosh my chair is really comfortable…

Husband runs the starter a few times. Nothing. He checks the gas, then… the oil?? What do either of those have to do with a fouled plug? Husband is not stupid. What is he doing? He runs the starter a little more. The battery begins to wear. It’s not going to let him push it much longer.

Husband, “What do you think is wrong?”

The plug is fouled! How does he not know this? But if I say nothing because if I do it’s akin to getting involved and that is NOT happening. I’m not  getting dirty or moving from my relaxing spot.

Didi’s seat comes off. Husband is beginning to remove side panels. I can’t understand why and this project is going to get worse if he continues to take Didi apart.

Me, “It’s the plug. Just take it out and clean it.” I can’t stop myself.

Husband “Oh.” The search for tools begins.  Then several minutes later Husband struggles to find an access point to Didi’s plug. Didn’t we just do this last weekend? What is he doing?

I’m suddenly overwhelmed by the urge to act. I get up form my cushy chair and walk over. In an instant my hands are dirty. Husband steps back. A few minutes later Didi is running again and the kids are happy. I’m digging dirt out of my nails when I see Husband smile. Then it dawns on me.

He tricked me.

Baited, snagged and reeled in. He totally tricked me.

My Husband thinks I’m a mechanic. Jerk.

Eventually, everything is funny