Happy Father’s Day to My Dad

Here is something I published for my Dad in 2008. I think it is still relevant and I shall cheat a bit and post it again.

Happy Father’s Day Dad. See you next week!!

XO

J

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

It’s a little late in coming today, I know. AND I have absolutely no excuse. None what-so-ever (that the blog entry is late). But here it is…a blog entry for my Dad.

Boating down Miles Canyon

And now, I am just going to take this moment to tell the world I love my Dad. We had our ups and downs and for awhile in the late 1990s, and we weren’t talking. But we figured it out. And we are talking now. And we actually have a pretty good relationship. He’s a real person. That’s what I like so much about my Dad. He’s real. He doesn’t pretend to be someone he’s not. He doesn’t apologize for who he is. He just is.

One summer when I was home for my parent’s 40th wedding anniversary, we were talking about what (and maybe who) people believe in. And he stood at the kitchen counter and looked over at me and said: “Jennie. Know what I believe in?”

He motioned outside at Golden Horn Mountain. “I believe in those rocks.”

He motioned out another window, “I believe in those trees.”

He motioned out to the back yard, “I believe in your mother’s garden.”

That’s one of my favourite quotes from my Dad. “I believe in those rocks. I believe in those trees. I believe in your mother’s garden.”

Dad and me

I think his quote means that his beliefs are more tangible than most. He believes in what he knows exists. He knows that the mountain will be there tomorrow. It’s going to be a mountain tomorrow, standing as tall and firm and as steadfast as it’s ever been. He isn’t expecting that the mountain will be anything more than a mountain tomorrow. And the mountain is not expecting him to be anything more than he is today. Can you have a more healthy relationship?

The same with the trees. Respect the trees and they will respect you.

My mother’s garden. Now. I know how much they both work on my mother’s garden–so I don’t just think that the garden just belongs to my Mum. As much as they attend to and nourish that garden, it nourishes and attends to them back. In the brief growing season in the Yukon, they will harvest enough vegetables to get them through the summer and a good part of the winter.

So here’s what my Dad has taught me:

Believe in what you know exists. Believe in yourself. Know where your roots are and what you believe in. Be firm, strong, and steadfast in your beliefs. Don’t pretend to be somebody you’re not and don’t apologize for who you are. Have respect for others but don’t forget to respect yourself. And, give as much as you want to receive.

Oh. And laugh hard along the way.

Laugh hard the way

Click here for all the blog entries about my Dad.

Hand Sanitizer: Strictly for Hands

Am republishing this story because my friend hadn’t read it yet.  Originally published 26 December 2006.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

My sister has been bugging me for over a year to post this story about hand sanitizer and outhouses. It is a fairly embarrassing story, but I thought–since it was on my list of things to do in 2006, I should at least make the attempt. In July 2005, my sister, my brother-in-law, my niece, and myself set out to climb the Chilkoot Trail. I posted my report here. At the end of it all, there were exciting things like bears, 3600 vertical feet, and eight very sore feet. We sang. We laughed. We swore at each other. I taught my niece how to pee in the woods. Jim was the hero of the day for carrying his pack on his back and throwing my sister’s up the Pass. In retrospect–it was a very good trip. It started out, though, with a bit of a surprise.

I grew up at Mile 906.84 Alaska Highway, which was right across from the Wolf Creek Campground just south of Whitehorse, Yukon. My sisters and I spent a lot of time each summer playing in that campground. When I grew up, outhouses were terrible, beastly things. They were completely disgusting holes in the ground with claustrophobic closets built precariously around them. In fact, I just googled outhouses and I found this site. Have a look at the type of outhouses I was used to. The doors rarely shut. You had to get your friend–or in my case, one of my sisters–to stand guard outside to make sure somebody didn’t walk in on you while you were in the middle of doing your business. You would have to prepare yourself outside: unbutton your pants, hook your thumbs and forefingers into your waistband for rapid decent, and take a deep breath outside, open the door, duck in, do your business without touching anything inside and finish while you were still holding your breath. Hopefully, you would finish before you had to take a breath. In the end, you would realize that you would have been way better off finding a tree or a secluded log. Terrible, beastly things those outhouses.

When we started our Chilkoot trip, we stayed the first night at Dyea Base Camp. Over the 18 or so odd years that I haven’t been living in the Yukon, outhouse technology has improved by leaps and bounds. Leaps and bounds! The outhouse I used that evening was wheelchair accessible, had a concrete foundation, and a stainless steel toilet–all-in-all–it was definitely a considerable improvement from what I was used to. In fact, it also had a hand sanitizer dispenser. Now, how can you top that in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness? A stainless steel toilet and hand sanitizer? I think it might have even had enzymes to facilitate decomposition and decrease the stench because I definitely don’t remember a stench.

Also, at this particular point in time, my sister, brother-in-law, and niece were outside the outhouse waiting for the Park Rangers to come and take care of the black bear that was rooting around our camp. I was fine. I was taking refuge in the outhouse. Well–not really. I was using the outhouse. Here is the picture.

I am hovering over the stainless steel toilet. Hover. Always hover–good for those thigh muscles. As I am doing my business and I was looking straight ahead and I notice the hand sanitizer. That’s where it was placed–by the way. Right at eye-level as you are hovering over the stainless steel toilet. In one microsecond (because I didn’t really think about it) I thought: “Hmmm. I am going to be on the Trail for the next four days. I will be sweating and stinky and I won’t be anywhere near a shower, bath, or anything that I may care to wash my private bits with.” The only thing I knew was available was glacier-fed streams. How enticing. In that microsecond, I rationalize that I could probably see how that hand sanitizer works on my nether regions. You don’t want to be stinky going out into the wilderness. That could result in other nasty things happening. Bears for example. Bears might be more attracted to something that smelled like it was dying. Imagine what I would smell like on Day 4? In that microsecond I decide that it would be a good idea to use the hand sanitizer not only for my hands, but well–for the potentially nasty stinky bits that could make me more desirable to a bear. I reach out and squirt some on some toilet paper. (Oh. Did I mention that my new-and-improved outhouse also had toilet paper?)

I wipe. From front to back. In one fell swoop. Before my hands finish the motion, the shock set in. It hit me right in the stomach. It knocked the breath right out of me. I stood there–well hovered there–completely breathless. I gasped for air like a guppy out of water. My eyes bugged out and started to water from the sting–like when you taste horseradish for the first time–but a million times worse. My sister knocks on the door: “Jen? You OK? You’re awfully quiet. What happened? Did you fall in?” Snicker, snicker. I still can’t breathe. I can’t say a word. I think I end up grunting something like: “Just a sec. I’ll…um…be just a minute.”

I finally got my breath back. I was no longer hovering. I was dancing. My pants were around my ankles, I was lightheaded from the pain and lack of oxygen, and I was dancing around the new-fangled outhouse with its wheelchair access, cement foundation, and stainless steel toilet with enzymes to facilitate decomposition and temper the stench. How the hell do you get rid of the sting of industrial-strength hand sanitizer from your nether regions?

So that’s it. That’s my outhouse story. The moral of my story is: Hand sanitizer is strictly for hands. I think it’s a pretty useful story because it may save some poor, unsuspecting, mindless soul from the pain and embarrassment of it all. Take it from me–you would rather read about it than experience it.

I Look Better Quiet

I convinced Humberto to drive with me to LA last weekend. My sister was flying in from Fiji with her friend for a brief stop in the US before they continued to Santiago, Chile. They are going to spend a month or so backpacking in South America before they return to Canada for Christmas. My sister needed a backpack and she also needed to unload some stuff before going.

I was excited–as usual–to be able to see my sister. I hadn’t talked to her in months. And usually, especially the last few years, I talk to her quite frequently. I get excited and I talk a lot (if you know me, you now know that my nickname is Princess Donkey and why). Well. Actually, I should explain that too. One day, as I’m taking the dogs for a walk, the Humberto sees me coming over the hill. He decides to call me Princess (as in Princess Fiona from the movie Shrek). My family has already deemed Alan the Ogre (and he’s not–it’s just that at one time–he appeared to be a bit of an ogre). Me? I think. I’m no princess. At least, I don’t want to be a princess. So I laugh awkwardly and say that since I talk so much, I should be Donkey. He continues to call me Princess though. Later as I realized I really was talking too much, I said out loud: “Oh. I should just shut up. I talk too much.” He laughed and quoted: “Two words Donkey: Shut. Up.” Now, I have been christened Princess Donkey.

Anyway. All the way to LA–we just talk and laugh and talk and laugh. AND TALK. About the state of affairs in his home province, about religion and believing in something greater, about believing in yourself, about living in different cultures, religions, countries and how that experience makes you a richer person. About finding truth in life. About living in truth. About how Democracy is the new religion of the United States and it is still the opiate of the masses. And how I think that the Constitution was written over 200 years ago and that it needs to be updated. And the same for the Bible–it’s the simple fact that somebody wrote something down and over 2000 years later, people still believe in what is written. And there is something to be said for evolution and progress. At one point, he says: What can I say? I’ve spent six years working by myself on the mountain. I think. That is what I do. I work and I think. Sometimes, I think I am just crazy.”

We have to find LAX and my sister. All I know is that she’ll be arriving at 1h05 pm on Air Pacific. I was too busy to plan for this trip and I even forgot to look at maps.google.com before I left. I did, however, bring my laptop with my cellular internet connection. I figured if I got lost, I could just stop and look. I drive into LA on the I5. At the last moment, I decide to take the 405 south–just a hunch that LAX was in that direction. It is now 1h10 pm. Their flight has landed and I am still trying to find LAX. Scatty. That is what Alan tells me. Scatty, but happy. I call Sumeet (a former colleague from Turin who now lives in LA doing his MBA studies). I’m in luck because he answers the phone. “Hi Sumeet. It’s Jennifer. I know this is an odd question, but I’ve just got on the 405 and I need to find LAX.” He is good. He gave me exact directions and we arrived at the airport by about 1h30.

Except, now I must drive around the arrival circle looking for my sister–who I think should be waiting for me. We drove the arrival circle five times before we decide to park and find el banyo. I’m also making plans because my sister had emailed me the night before saying that she might not be able to leave Fiji due to a hiccup with the Ministry of Labour and the Canadian film crew. I’m thinking: What do I do if she’s not here? I guess I’ll just arrange to leave the backpack in a locker or something. At this point, I was standing just outside the washrooms in the terminal. I was also wearing my retro CBC t-shirt I’d splurged on last summer. All of a sudden, I hear: Jen!! I turned around, it was my sister. Her and her friend had noticed the CBC t-shirt in the airport and thought it was cool that they’d just arrived from Fiji and one of the first things they saw was the CBC logo standing around in LAX. Then, they noticed–it was me.

We all get organized and back to the car–talking all the time about getting out of Fiji, about driving around in circles five times before deciding to park, about time zones, about the luck of wearing my CBC t-shirt. We get to the car (2005 Honda Civic hatchback) and we look at four people and all the luggage and Catherine says: Great. Is this some kind of clown car? As in how many people and bags can you actually get in a Honda Civic hatchback? I say: Not a problem. Hondas are awesome. I tell them that I once got three 17-foot sea kayaks, three people, and enough gear for a three-day weekend in a Honda Civic. Just watch. Four people, backpacks, suitcases, bags, laptops, gear. Phshaw. I have roof racks.

Catherine was right about the clown car. I probably could have done a better job too. I should have put the large suitcase on the roof rack. But whatever-we fit. Everything fit. We drive out of the airport. What’s next? I think we are going to find accommodation–but Catherine and my sister need to find a bank to change their per-diem monies into traveller’s cheques. I decide to head down to Venice Beach area (the only place I know in LA). I start to ask people who look like locals where we can find a Wells Fargo bank. Catherine and Redd are having a fit in the back seat because I just stick my head out my window and ask questions. It’s the fastest way to find information. Really. I don’t know what Humberto is thinking other than: “Muchacha loca–muy loca.”

This is when the elements of my good fortune of randomness and lack of planning for the road trip start to collapse around me. I’m wired from the no sleep the night before. I’m wired from the trip down. I’m wired from being able to meet my sister and her friend before they go off on an exciting backpacking adventure to South America. I’m wired and I’m talking a mile a minute about finding the Wells Fargo and I’m looking one way to do a U-Turn and not looking in the direction that the car is going and–you guessed it–BANG–right into a telephone pole that is sticking out into the parking lot.

Not exactly what I need right now–but there is nothing I can do about it. It’s already done. We get out to examine the damage. I can’t get out my door–it really is a clown car now–everybody piles out the passenger door. To top it off, the bank is closed. We have to pile back into the car and find the next bank–which we do, but the whole tone is subdued because I’ve banged my car. Nothing that stops us though. I’ll deal with it when I get home. Now we have to find a place to eat and a place to sleep. I drive down the main street and we all agree to find a Mexican restaurant. Catherine and my sister have been eating a whole lot of Indian food and craved nachos. We find a cantina place down by the beach. I drop them off and go find a hotel to stay for the night.

Over dinner, the evening gets even more subdued as time zones catch up with us and as the realization of the damage to my car sinks in. When we get back to the hotel I put my head in my hands and say: Ugh. I can’t believe I banged my car. Humberto starts to say something in English, then he finishes in Spanish. I ask him what he just said. He repeats: “Calladito me veo mas bonito.” Then he laughs and shakes his head and translates: “I look better quiet.”

You are just a fat bastard with a limp dick and a dog that needs therapy

I just dug this entry out of my collection of starts for blog entries. I’d started this story sometime last year when I was still living in Healdsburg. I used to walk around Fitch Mountain every Sunday morning with my neighbours. We called ourselves Fitch Mountain Fitness. I haven’t seen my neighbours for awhile, let alone walk around the mountain. Carol broke her leg in the winter (skiing) and she’s just started being able to walk. I miss those walks with my neighbours. I miss my neighbours. Oh well. I can’t really complain about where I’m at. My neighbours are further away but they are still my friends.

I wrote this the day that our walk was spoiled by some self-appointed asshole acting as a self-appointed policeman. We were some pissed off–well, for a while anyway.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Yesterday, on our regular walk around the Fitch Mountain with my group of neighbours (Fitch Mountain Fitness), we decided to take a road less travelled. Christine showed us that we could take Scenic Lane, cut across a field and pop out on the other side. However, this time, there was a big gate and a NO TRESPASSING sign. So, we just continued on the way of Scenic Lane.

At the end of Scenic Lane, there was what looked like a well-worn path to the other side (or so we believed). We started in. On the way, we paused to take in the visuals of Geyser Peak and Alexander Valley. Pretty spectacular. We are very lucky to live in Sonoma County. We ended up at a dirt road. We turned left onto the dirt road and started up to where we might find the road to take us home. As we just started in one direction, a big old Cadillac SUV turned the corner and approached us. We could hear the yappy dog before it stopped. The driver was as intense, but silent. He rolled down the passenger window.

“You are trespassing.” Yap. Yap. Yap. The yappy dog is a Jack Russell terrier.

“Oh. We’re sorry. We’re just trying to get to Powell. Does this road join Powell?”

“You are trespassing.” Yap. Yap. Yap. Paws on the window, right in our faces.

“Well. We are trying to find our way out. We just want to get to Powell Street.”

“Go back the way you came.” Yap. Yap. He pushed the dog out of his way so he could glare at us.

Three of us started explaining all at once. “We took the path at the end of Scenic Lane. There weren’t any NO TRESPASSING signs. How were we supposed to know? We’re not bad people. We’re just out for a walk.”

“Get off this property.”

Now we are getting annoyed. We were just out for a pleasant walk. “Who are you? Do you own this property? We didn’t see any NO TRESPASSING signs. What if we just walk up this hill? Can we get out? What’s the fastest way off the property?”

“Get off this property. Now.” He rolls up the window and continues on down the hill in the opposite direction in which we were headed.

Half of us decide to go back the way we came. Half of us decide to keep challenging him. Carol starts up the hill to see if there is a locked gate or something at the top. Mela starts back the way we came. Christine keeps yelling at the insolent man about how he needs to get a life and how, if he did, he wouldn’t have to ruin our pleasant Sunday hike. Who pissed in his cornflakes that morning? Why does he feel the need to police this bit of road? Was he hiding something? Maybe he had a crop of pot or something.

I was torn: challenge the impudence or retreat? I didn’t know if we were trespassing. But, there weren’t any signs. The man had pulled out of sight just around the corner and had gotten out of his car to make sure we went back the way we came!!! Eventually, all of us followed Mela. Carol was fuming. She does not like to retreat nor retrace her steps. She is refreshing that way. Christine and Carol ended up shouting comments over their shoulders while following Mela’s and my retreat. The best comment came from Christine. She was so mad she could hardly speak. She belligerently sputtered: “You! You! You are just a fat bastard with a limp dick and a dog that needs therapy!”

We all started to laugh. It was enough to lighten the mood. We went back the way we came, back round the mountain, and back home. Laughing. Laughing and shouting: “You are just a fat bastard with a limp dick and a dog that needs therapy!” Then laughing some more.

Dadisms

The other day, I was eating dinner with my friends Katie and Sean. They were making wine in their garage and I wanted to take pictures. Originally, I thought this blog entry would be about how Californian’s make home-made wine, but then, when we sat down to dinner, Sean said: I’m so hungry, I could eat the crotch out of a rag doll!

I laughed and said: Hmm. My Dad would say: I’m so hungry I could eat the asshole out of a skunk and come back for the ears! Sean loved that saying. Then I thought that I would make a blog about my Dad’s sayings becasue they are pretty colourful.

Here are some more Dad-isms:

  • “If clues were shoes, you’d be walking on the cheeks of your ass!!” For when you do something stupid.
  • “If conceit were consumptious, you’d be consuminated.” For when you might think it appropriate to congratulate yourself a bit too much.
  • “Cuttin’ hair and building igloos.” For when somebody asks what you are doing and you think it is fairly obvious exactly what you are doing–nothing!
  • “It’s so cold out there, you could freeze the balls off a brass monkey in mating season.” For whenever it’s below -30 degrees Centigrade AND there is a wind chill factor.
  • “My back teeth are floating and my front teeth are singin’ Anchor’s Away.” For when you have to piss so badly, you can’t even see!.
  • “Up and down more times than a whore’s pair of drawers!” For when you are running up and down the stairs by the side of the house because you’re working on the deck at the back, but all the tools and wee things you need are up at the front.
  • “As ugly as the second coming of Christ.” Usually used to describe people that you don’t particularly like.
  • “As useless as tits on a boar.” Use this phrase to describe what you really think of something, some person, or some idea.
  • “Have to use a shingle to scrape my leg.” For when you are in San Francisco and you are driving with your daughter and she goes through a red light because she’s pointing out all the sites and simply doesn’t see the red light.
  • “Skunk hungry.” Derived from the quote: I’m so hungry….(above). You can use this phrase to describe how hungry you are.
  • “Skunk dinner.” Again, derived from the quote: I’m so hungry…(above). Use this phrase to describe the dinner you just ate because you were skunk hungry. Also, if it so happens that you had liver and onions for your skunk dinner, you can use this phrase to describe how you smell because you ate a skunk dinner!!!
  • “So hungry, my spine is talking to my belly button!” Again, you can use this phrase in reference to food and how hungry you are. (Hmmm….food seems to be a dominant theme with my Dad!)
  • “Well, you know what thought did!” When you try to explain something with what you thought was a pretty reasonable explanation–but is actually pretty lame. If somebody says this to you, you have to sheepishly admit: “He thought he farted and he shit himself!”.
  • “Being a dumbass isn’t covered under the warranty!” A new quote for my Dad, but I think he might use it. Derived from a recent episode where HE filled my tank on my 2005 Honda Civic with diesel fuel.
  • “Covered in {tar | paint | glue } from asshole to breakfast.” For when you are taring, painting, or glueing and you get the stuff all over yourself, the wall, the trinket, the roof–whatever project you are trying to complete.
  • Added because Jorden said it to Chantel the other day, but we all know where he got it!!: You can shit in the middle of the table and say you’re sorry…” For when you do something and say you are sorry but it doesn’t change the fact that there is a big, stinkin’ pile of crap in the middle of the table.
  • Not necessarily a saying from Dad, but from my sister Nat and along the same lines: “Who pissed in your corn flakes this morning??” You ask this question indignantly when somebody seems to be pissed off at you for now apparent reason. And you let them think about it.
  • Added 25 April 2006 “Suckin’ the hind tit!” For when you’re feeling behind the game and like you’ll never catch up. Derived from the fact that the runt of the litter always gets the last tit available–not to mention that it’s also the closest one to all the shit.
  • Added 18 April 2008 “Slower than molasses in January!” For when you’re trying to do something and it needs to be done really fast and there’s someone or something who’s holding you up. You’d say: “Come on, let’s get going. You’re slower than molasses in January. My Mum would say to me: “Come on Miss Jibbs. You’re slower than molasses running uphill in January!” Apparently, I always took my time when I was young. I geuss I had the time when I was young.

Redd, Nat, do you have anymore? I know you do. Save them in the comments and I’ll update this entry.