Wednesday, July 27, 2011

My Love/Hate Relationship With Camping

Having gone camping this weekend, camping is on my mind.  It wasn't a great trip, sadly.  We got the tent up just before it began to rain and then took a drive to wait it out.  The rest of the afternoon was great.  We had blue skies and made a lovely fire (over which we made pizza pudgie pies...  NOM!).  But just as we were finishing dinner, it started to rain again.  That was around 8 or 8:30.  It rained on and off for the rest of the night.  Every time we thought it had stopped, we'd hop out of the car and sit by the fire for a minute before getting hammered again.

Around 2 AM, we got woken up (OK, Zach got woken up; I hadn't fallen asleep yet) by a park ranger because bad storms were coming our way.  We got to spend about 30 minutes in the men's bathroom with 6 other adults, two dogs (Maxi was one) and twin 3-month-olds (who were, thankfully, pretty quiet at that point).  After we got the OK to head back to camp, I just read until I was so tired I physically couldn't stay awake.  Even then, I couldn't get comfortable.  Ugh.

You'd think I'd be used to this by now, but no.  To put it nicely, I didn't grow up in a camping family.  (Actually, that's a hell of an understatement, but we'll go with it for now.)  My mom's idea of 'roughing it' when I was growing up was a motel without cable (which has since been upgraded to a hotel without room service).  Sure, Mom used to go "camping" with me as a Girl Scout, but only when it involved sleeping indoors on a mattress or bed.  The one time I went camping with my dad (for a Father's Day outing), the two of us slept in a tent so big it had room for two separate cots AND a generator so we could have a fan at night. Being slightly more outdoorsy, Dad and I actually went canoeing in the morning (because my parents owned a canoe, though I still don't know why, since that's the only time it has been used in my lifetime).

I had my first tent experience when I was about 6.  I had been going to a day camp with a few other Girl Scouts and on the last night, we got to stay over in the field next to the Girl Scout office.  I quickly learned two things.  The first is that spiders love tents, which made me terrified of the tent itself (after someone took all the visible spiders off, I was able to go into the tent, but didn't get out again until time for breakfast).  The second was that sleeping on the ground really isn't very comfortable.  I did a lot of similar day camps, but as I got older, I realized that as a Program Aid (the girls too old for the camp who were just there to lead activities) you got to sleep inside.  Since I loved the day part of day camp, it was natural for me to head in that direction.

In sixth grade, our class took a winter camping trip in February.  The things we did during the day were great; we learned to make a fire without matches and attempted to build a snow cave (though there wasn't enough snow on the ground).  The first night, I was crazy enough to actually sleep in a tent (though, instead of being on the ground, it was on a platform).  The second night I slept inside, but it was too late and I wound up sick.  It was definitely an interesting experience, but not one I'm rushing to repeat (though, the lack of spiders does make it mildly appealing).

Eventually, my mom decided I would like being a camp counselor and got me signed up for a 3-week counselor-in-training program.  Since I enjoyed being a PA so much, I should love this!  

I didn't.

I was the most homesick 15-year-old you could possibly have imagined.  I cried myself to sleep every night and wrote letters home asking Mom and Dad to come get me.  I actually got to call my parents, something that very few campers are allowed to do unless there's an emergency.  I was dead set on going home.  And then something changed.  I had made friends and was learning to enjoy camping (platform tents ftw).  I ended up staying the full 3 weeks and, much to everyone's surprise, I came back the next summer for the 4-week follow up.  

I wound up working at that camp for 4 summers.  Those summers had some of the best and worst experiences of my life and I wouldn't trade them for anything.  I made some amazing friends, had some amazing times, and (hopefully) made camp a fun place for my campers.

So while I absolutely hate rainy weather, sleeping on the uneven ground, spiders and other bugs, I also love the fresh air, the smell of trees and dirt, cooking over a fire and spending time with my hubby or good friends.  It's the biggest love/hate relationship in my life, and I can't wait to do it again in the fall.  :-) 

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Bugs Are Gross.

I'm not really a girly girl.  Promise.  I have very little tolerance for the color pink.  I don't do lots of ruffles and fluff.  Until I had a place of my own, the only things I "cooked" were Kraft mac & cheese, frozen pizzas and toast.  And I'd rather play with toy trucks than I would with baby dolls.

But bugs and spiders are another story.  This is where my girliness really shines through.  OK, not all bugs are gross.  Ladybugs are cute (as long as they aren't those imposter Asian beetles that bite).  Caterpillars/Butterflies are beautiful and fun.  Lightning bugs are amazing!  I don't mind ants or roly-poly bugs.  And while they suck (literally and figuratively), mosquitoes only succeed in making me yell and itch.

There are two creepy crawlies that I really, truly cannot stand: spiders and silverfish.  


I have been afraid of spiders since... Well, since I was born, probably.  I'm one of the most arachnophobic people you'll ever meet.  Once, when I was about 8 or 9, I saw a spider in my room.  I tried to get my dad to kill it, but before he got there, it was gone.  I slept on the couch in the family room for a few nights since I didn't know where it had gone, and I was NOT sleeping with a spider on the loose in such close quarters!  

When I was in my early twenties, I remember sitting on the couch downstairs when I saw a spider booking it across the floor.  I panicked.  I had no clue what to do.  It was headed toward my only escape route, and I was determined to live on the couch in order to avoid it.  I got talked into killing it myself, so I went to the fireplace (it was a safe enough distance from me at that point) and grabbed the little broom that gets kept there.  I got as close as I had to and beat the HELL out of that spider with my broom.  I then grabbed probably 10-15 tissues to pick it's squashed little body up and flushed it down the toilet.  

The very next night, I saw the same flippin' spider, hauling ass across the floor.  I thought I was having a "Groundhog Day" moment!  Repeat the scene from the previous night.  

Third night, SAME DAMN SPIDER.  Turns out there was a nest of those fuckers hiding in the wall and I was just seeing the same type of spider each night (which is only slightly better than a spider that comes back from the dead to haunt you each night).  Dad bombed it and I didn't have the problem again, but it was a less than pleasant experience.

Girl Scout camp actually taught me to deal with most spiders without too much flailing.  If they're on the ceiling or in a dark corner, I give them a name and talk to them a bit.  Ask them to leave before my hubby gets home (though, in all fairness, he hates spiders nearly as much as I do), lest there be consequences.  They never listen, but I keep trying.  If they're outside, I just walk away.  Outside is their domain, and I respect that.  Inside, though, all bets are off.


My first encounter with a silverfish was actually in college.  My college roomie and I had one scurry across our room one night, and I didn't know what the hell it was.  Some kind of small alien?  A science experiment gone terribly awry?  What the HELL kind of creature is that?!

I didn't see one again, I think, until we bought this house.  Since owning this house (not even 2 years yet), I have seen at least 6 of the bastards, and it scares me shitless every damn time.  The first time I saw one I was headed to the basement.  Now, I didn't grow up with a traditional basement (we had a finished lower level in a split ranch), so to this day, basements scare me a bit.  And as I was headed down there, I saw that same scurrying I had seen in college.  I bolted upstairs and didn't go into the basement for a few days.

The next time was while I was working.  I was just sitting here, minding my own business, when I saw movement.  Sure enough, there was a damn silverfish on the curtains.  A-hole.  I grabbed the vacuum, but by the time I got back, it was gone.  I kept the vacuum there for 3 days, just in case.

My most epic battle involving a silverfish had to be today.  I decided to do some laundry on my break, since Hubby and I are going camping this weekend.  I grabbed some stuff from his hamper, and then started grabbing clothes from my hamper when something moved.  I gasped, jumped back, and looked into the hamper.  A G-D silverfish was squirming around in there like it was his own personal pool or something.  I froze for a bit before picking up a shoe (a really nice dress shoe, at that) and hitting it.  I dropped the shoe in the hamper and ran.  

I plugged in the vacuum and got the extender attachment ready.  I used it to pick up my shoe (in case he had decided to infest it next) and, upon seeing it bug-free, put it back on the floor.  Then I used it to gently push my sock out of the way, and there he was.  Not yet dead, but definitely stunned by my hit.  It took two tries (the first time I nearly sucked up a pair of underroos), but I sucked the damn thing into the vacuum.  I left it running, to make sure he got good and sucked up, and then left the room.  The vacuum is still in the bedroom, there's a basket of clothes in the hall, and I'm not about to do anything about it until Hubby is home.  Eff that.

I haven't learned any tricks for dealing with those creeps yet.  They come out of nowhere and are gone just as quickly, but you just know they're waiting for the right time to show up again.  Nowhere is safe.  Nowhere.  Is.  Safe.    

Edit: I've just learned that what I'm encountering are called house centipedes, not actually silverfish.  They're still creepy and I still dislike them in my home.  That is all. 

Friday, July 15, 2011

Yummy, Yummy, Yummy

I've got love in my tummy.

Well, okay, not really.  Unless Banana Nut Cheerios count as love.  Those things are so good.

I'm actually just psyched because Hubby is going to grill us some chicken for dinner tonight.  Mmmmmm...  Nothing like chicken thighs/drums marinated in some Sweet Baby Ray's.  Now that, my friends, will put love in your tummy.

Food, while tasty, makes a somewhat strange topic for songs.  It's hard to imagine a ballad about cheese or a pop hit that goes on about pickles, right?  In fact, a lot of food-related songs seem to be parodies ("My Bologna" anyone?) because it's hard to take songs about food seriously.  

So today it's time to get silly and sing about some tasty (and maybe some not-so tasty) treats.

1) Save Ferris - "Spam"  It's pink and it's oval, but I sure wouldn't buy it at the mobile.  Hubby wondered the other day if the company responsible for the infamous meat-in-a-can thought about suing over the song.  My response was probably not.  I mean, no one really takes Spam seriously... Probably not even the manufacturers themselves.  So it's better to just embrace the goofiness of the song and be impressed that they found a decent rhyme for Chernobyl.

2) I Voted For Kodos - "Pastaroni"  Maybe the only 'serious' food song on the list, "Pastaroni" will always have a special place in my heart, even if I don't believe I've ever actually eaten pastaroni...   

3) Jimmy Buffett - "Cheeseburger In Paradise"  Jimmy's appreciation for cheeseburgers is commendable.  Sometimes it's the simple (and delicious) things in life that we take for granted.  Heaven on Earth with an onion slice?  Count me in, Mr. Buffett. 

4) Aqua - "Lollipop (Candyman)"  This one is probably the most loosely food-related song of the group, but I thought we needed something sugary to sweeten things up, and I just wasn't sure "Sugar, Sugar" was any more relevant. 

5) The Aquabats - "Pizza Day"  If you ever had to suffer through hot lunches as a kid, this song really hits home.  It's as true as it is silly.  The first thing I always did when the month's lunch calendar came out was check when pizza day was.  It really was the best day of the week!!

And though it doesn't get credited as a song very often, "Yeah, Toast!" has to be one of the coolest food-based songs ever created.  The man is playing a toaster, FCOL!  

Monday, July 11, 2011

Oh, Summerfest

Well, we made it to another Summerfest and lived to tell the tale.  Honestly, it wasn't very eventful either night we went, but it's part of the summer experience in Milwaukee.  

Hubby, K and I went last Friday night to check out Michelle Branch, who is adorable as ever.  I had only ever seen her perform as part of The Wreckers, and K hadn't seen her since before The Wreckers, so we didn't know a lot of the songs.  But, every time an older song got played, we sang along and had some fun trying to make Hubby dance.  The rest of the time we made observations about those around us and asked rhetorical questions like, "Why the hell would you wear stiletto cowboy boots to Summerfest?"  (Not even kidding.  Jason Aldean was headlining that night, and all the cowboy hats and boots were a bit overwhelming, if not completely ridiculous and unnecessary, particularly because no real cowgirl is going to wear spiked heels and miniskirts.)

We spent most of our time there just wandering the grounds, but we also caught a small part of the Goo Goo Dolls set and we ended up running into one of Zach's coworkers for a bit.  Unlike last year, we didn't see any drug deals go down this time around, but we did still get our Leinies-battered cheese curds (YUM!!) and saw some entertaining drunks (including a girl who got on the kid's stage - it was late, so nothing was going on there - and tap danced for a few minutes).  

The real clusterfuck was trying to get out.  Evidentally, we decided to leave just as the amphitheater was getting out.  This wouldn't have been so terrible except that we were heading the opposite direction (we had used Hubby's parking pass and were in the far lot).  It was a lot like fish swimming upstream, but with more beer and elbows.  

On Saturday, Hubby and I were going to see Pat McCurdy and Buckcherry, but we skipped out on both.  Instead, we met up with my friend L and her boyfriend B and just hung out for awhile.  We got some ice cream and listened to some random bands.  The worst part was no matter where we went, the scent of pot just kept following us.  I'm not trying to be all, "OMG, I can't believe there were drugs there!!"  Of COURSE there are drugs there, but usually you can move elsewhere and escape it.  Nope.  Not Saturday.  It wouldn't be so bad if it didn't make me nauseous, but trying to eat/enjoy ice cream while your stomach is turning really doesn't work well.  And no, I don't know why it makes me feel that way.  It didn't used to bother me when I was younger, but I think a few bad experiences may have ruined it for me.

The one thing I'm really sad about is that I never got a funnel cake.  It's a tragedy, I know!  Fortunately, the state fair is in about a month and I'll be able to get my yearly creampuff.  Man, those things are amazing.  Nom, nom, nom.  I'm not too bummed about missing out on Buckcherry, since I've seen them before.  And since I've never seen Pat McCurdy, it didn't really bother me to miss out (since Hubby says it helps to be a drunk college kid to really enjoy his shows).  Maybe next year...    


Thursday, July 7, 2011

Red, White & Drag Queen Bingo

This past weekend was, of course, Independence Day weekend.  And being that K is around, it was full of traditions and fun.

Friday night we did go see our new nephew at the hospital.  He.  Is.  Adorable.  No kidding.  I know I'm biased and all, but he's seriously cute.  I even held him for quite awhile, which is a feat considering I'm normally scared to touch kids before they turn two or so (that fear of breaking them, you know?).  It was a nice experience.  :-)  And no, it didn't make me want kids of my own.  Just made me even happier to be an aunt!

Saturday was the day for Rhythm & Booms, the best fireworks you'll find in the Midwest.  For those not familiar, the fireworks are (loosely at times) set to music.  You just tune in to the local radio station and enjoy the show.  Rather than going to the actual park for the event (which, IMO, is a clusterf*ck and a half), we always go to my old elementary/middle school and sit on the hill.  We can see almost everything (excluding a handful of ground display fireworks that don't make it above the trees), and though it's much busier than when we first started sitting there, it's not nearly as crowded as the park itself.  

Of course, with R&B comes a party with K.  She invites family and friends over to her dad's place for food and fun before the fireworks begin, and then it's just a short walk to the old school from there.  One of K's friends has an adorable 4-year-old son who kept us all pretty well entertained, but it was the adults who played with the bubbles the longest (as the 4 y/o got fed up with a bubble sword contraption he just couldn't make work).  It's just so easy to get caught up in the pure fun that comes with bubbles.

The fireworks were beautiful, if not a bit short this year.  Budget problems would be my guess, as I know they were seeking donations (I gave them $15 - I love those fireworks) and really pushing people to come down to the park to support the vendors there.  I'm hoping next year will be better, particularly because I hope the damn construction surrounding the park is done.  Talk about a mess...  Oi.  Oh, and just to confirm, Maxi handled the fireworks just fine, though she didn't watch with the same intensity as last year.  At least she didn't bark her furry little head off!

On Sunday, hubby dropped me back off at K's dad's place so K and I, along with another friend (P) could go on an Oddball Wisconsin adventure.  See, one of K's friends got her the Oddball Wisconsin book, knowing that she loves all things odd or offbeat that you might find while driving, such as a giant wooden nickel (outside of Iowa City, Iowa) or a buffalo made of chrome bumpers (somewhere in Colorado).  So away we went with the book and a map.

We ended up driving about 314 miles that day.  Starting in Madison, we headed to DeForest to see the pink elephant and its nemesis (or so we're told) from across the street, a cow at a cheese shop.  Then it was off to Spring Green to check out some (not so) acrobatic goats.  There were other things there to keep us entertained while we waited for the goats to wow us, but it just never happened.

After that we headed to Platteville to see the world's largest 'M.'  It's 241 feet tall and 214 feet across.  Trust me; it's a big 'M.'  After a quick stop at Culver's for some cheese curds (nom nom nom) it was on to Dickeyville to see The Grotto, an interesting experience for sure.  Then it was a LONG drive over to Delavan to see the clown-stomping elephant (we skipped the nearby concrete frog since it was getting late), and then it was back to Madison so I could see my puppers.   

On the 4th, K and I headed down to the neighborhood bike parade that we were part of for so many years.  Kids made a good showing this year and actually decorated their bikes with more than a tiny flag.  We gave this year's parade a solid 7.5/10.  After that, it was off to Henry Vilas Zoo and, of course, Ella's Deli!  We can't eat like we used to, I swear, but we still managed to scarf down all our cheese fries.  It's a tradition, after all!  

I spent the rest of my day bumming around at my parents' house.  We eventually ordered Chinese (nothing screams patriotism like ordering sesame beef) and hubby showed up to take me and the puppers back home.  On the drive home, we had to have encountered probably 10 different fireworks displays.  It was nice, and I appreciated being able to see some fireworks on the 4th.

The 5th was no longer the weekend, but K came out so we could go to Drag Queen Bingo at BTW Lounge with her cousins and aunt!  Drag Queen Bingo is pretty much bingo with the balls being read off by drag queens.  But, we also got performances between rounds, so it was pretty awesome.  Of the 5 of us, 3 won prizes!  Sadly, K and I were the only two not to win.  Boooooo-urns.

So, as you can see, the past few days have been pretty exciting for me!  I hope everyone else had a wonderful 4th and hope you all have an excellent rest of the summer!  :-)

Friday, July 1, 2011

It's Official!

I'm an aunt!!  :-D  

Well, I should rephrase that.  I'm a biological* aunt!  If you ask some of my friends, I'm already an aunt to my friend T's son and daughter (and another soon-to-be son) as well as M's pugs (yes, they count).  Though not blood-related, they are still family to me, and I wouldn't want to discount them by saying this is my first chance at aunthood.  

Anywhoozles, my nephew was just born today and I can't wait to meet him!  I decided at 17 that I didn't really want kids of my own (and 10 years later, I still don't), but I have ALWAYS wanted nieces and nephews.  (I may not want kids of my own, but other people's kids are just fine.  I can spoil them, play with them, cuddle them... And when they fuss or cry, it's back to Mama they go!  It's a good system if you ask me.)

It dawned on me at some point in my childhood (maybe around 6 or 7) that I was never going to have nieces and nephews on my side of the family.  I'm an only child!  OH NO!!  

My mom pointed out to me that maybe the person I marry would have siblings, and then I could have nieces and nephews.  While true, I countered with, "But what if I marry another only child!?"  Mom didn't really have the heart to tell me that then I was shit out of luck, but she told me not to worry about it for now and somehow that was enough.  

Sure enough, I married someone with two brothers!  Double the chances of aunthood!!  And now, here I am, 20 years after my little freak-out, about to meet my very first nephew.  I am SO excited!!  I only hope I can be as good of an aunt as my aunts were/are to me.  And I hope I can put up with as much as they did...  (There was a period of time where whenever my Aunt C came to babysit me, I'd vom.  Every freakin' time.  I can't believe she still wanted to claim relation to me after all that puke!)

I want to spend time with my nephew.  I want him to grow up and know that he can come here if he needs anything: a break, advice, whatever.  I want him to think his aunt and uncle are pretty cool (for adults, anyway) and I want him to look back later in life and remember having fun with us.  I want to be there for him (and his future siblings and/or cousins).  

So, my dear nephew, welcome to the world.  There are a TON of people here who love you and can't wait to get to know you!  I can only imagine the wonderful things life has in store for you!

Aunt Riki  

*Edit: Yes, I know I'm technically not a biological aunt, since it's through marriage, but this is the closest I'm going to get.