Top Ten Things I Learned on My Epic Family Summer Vacation The Sequel

As it is with ma ‘hood, we like to do stuff together. In fact, togetherness is all the rage, yo. So, behold, on the fourteenth of this past month, five and a half families(the half came in middle of said vacation when a father-son duo joined the group) decided to depart TOGETHER on the Epic Family Vacation venturing on what would become an epic fantasmic event of lost wallets, missing Disney tickets, the barbeque from hell and frogs that just wouldn’t shut the fuck up. Here is a list of shit I learned whilst venturing into the wilds with nothing more than my wits and my flip flops (and alcohol…don’t forget the alcohol):

1. Blue water is good, brown water is yukky and may contain nastiness such as alligators, crocodiles, mosquitos on steroids and wasps…ewww.

2. Nothing says ‘romance’ more than sharing a room with three kids, a cot, a loose praying mantis and a veritable array of alcoholic beverages that do not go well with oatmeal. ugh.

3. Barbeques work especially well when the propane tank is attached and actually filled with propane. When the inevitable ’empty tank’ situation occurs, the next best thing is to ‘borrow’ the neighbour’s barbeque…only beware. Their anti-theft shit is awesome. Four men couldn’t open the tank….it took yours truly, a stealthy little can opener and five minutes of hacking to get that baby to move. I know…I rock. I was proud to announce ma prowess with barbeques after the men all sat back down and recommenced to chugging the beers they were consuming pre-barbeque valve contest. There should have been prize money involved…at least a free t-shirt that read “I OPENED THE BARBEQUE TANK WITH A CAN OPENER. WHAT DID YOU DO TODAY?” yeah.

Yay!  VACATION!!

Yay! VACATION!!

4. Attending Disney is better when you actually remember to bring the tickets. This did not happen to me, but to poor Birthday Girl who forgot the tickets, however, did wisely take pics of them and showed them to the nice lady at Blizzard Beach, who promptly issued new ones. We love her. AND, Birthday Girl’s mom who had to endure the “This is how you take a picture with iphone and email said picture” lesson…which was a bit lengthy, I understand.

5. Keep it in your pants, pal. The wallet, I mean. I was referring to the wallet. The escapades continued with Bday Girls’ fam as her hubby promptly lost his shit on the Summit Plummit ride…and by shit, I was referring to the wallet…which was recovered. Eventually. See? There are good people still walkin’ around out there…AND, he could have lost his shit on that ride I didn’t stick around long enough to watch the descent into madness.

6. Don’t take the fucking chair lift, please. Bday Girl made the mistake of gently suggesting we take the ‘nice chair lift ride’ to the top of the ‘mountain’ so we could ride the water slide. I think I vomited a little in ma mouth before I retorted the “DO YOU WANT TO SEE ME CRY?!!” She then remembered my anxiety around chair lifts (there is no such thing as a ‘nice chair lift ride’) and we made the trek up the stairs.

7. Saying “I just passed away” is not the same as “I just passed out”. Just to be clear. I don’t want people to start the funeral arrangements for daughter who said she “passed away” whilst lounging in a chair in the summer heat…poor girl. I think somebody was eyeing her room and planning to pilfer her eye shadow collection…

8. Standing in the underbelly of a large ship with four thousand of your closest friends with no AC and lined up like targets in a shooting contest all in the name of ‘safety’ doesn’t really work well for me. Hence the nausea, intense sweating and hyperventilating that went on before I moved out to get air. I think if we ever were in a dire situation and we needed life boats, I’ll jump, thanks. I tend to like air…and breathing. Breathing is good. I’ll chance the drowning…and the sharks. Sharks are our friends, right? Right?

9. Apparently, there is no such thing as ‘too much Rum’. Hmmm….

10. Packing a suitcase can be tricky when said suitcase is packed too full already and shit starts to spill out and you have to start leaving stuff behind because it’s over the weight limit. Pretty soon you’ll be approaching strangers in an airport and asking if they want to buy used t-shirts or shoes or ‘look, it’s pretty! Hardly worn…underwear’ . That’s when airport security gets a little ‘annoyed’ and asks you to cease and desist with the Undergarment Giveaway Extravaganza you had planned. Damnit. Soo much decent underwear to be won by the many weary travellers just LOOKING for a great pair of boxers. Ugh.

I leave you with the best line of the vacay:

Heard on the plane as we were about to touchdown in St. John’s, my nine year old neighbour promptly asks what day it is. Friday, we say. “Hey, it’s Happy Hour now. Might as well break out the Tequila! Vacation isn’t over yet!”

AWESOME….I like the way she thinks….

 

The Double Dutch Tragedy of 1975

Falling, tripping and losing my balance has all led to my face kissing cement, parking barriers, random walls, rubber balls and softballs at some point in my life.  It’s not that I’m totally inept with the art of walking, it’s just that I’m too preoccupied with other variances occurring within my plane of vision to be particularly careful.

My experience with aptly titled ‘face plants’ started early on in my young life.  Ever the classic klutz, I managed to pull off some of the most infamous and awkward moments which invariably involved sports.  So, basically I suck at all sports.  Okay, and walking is tough, too.

To those of you who know me, my ineptitude for any and all sporting activities became glaringly obvious to you only after observing a phys ed class with me.  Or witnessing when I tried to play volleyball, or ever attempted to catch a basketball, or swing a bat, or throw a ball, or kick a soccer ball or stand on skates (both the roller kind…what?  I’m old enough…and ice)  Clearly, a painful experience for everyone.

My initial experience with falling causing any major bodily harm was probably a lot sooner than the one I am about to describe, however, since memories are only accessible to the human mind normally at or after the age of three,  I can only assume that the infamous Double Dutch Tragedy of 1975 was just one that I could remember out of a possible one hundred.

It was a hot summer day.  The sun was blazing down from a periwinkle sky and school had been out for a few weeks. The air was thick with humidity and the abundant energy of the pre-pubescent boys and girls anxious for fun, activity and the ring of the Dickie Dee truck. (those of you not familiar, Dickie Dee was most famous guy in the ‘hood bringing ice cream treats for every kid lucky enough to score a quarter)   The kids from my neighbourhood congregated in the parking lot where the cars were scant and enough room remained available for double dutch tournaments for the girls on one end and ball hockey games for the boys at the opposite end.  The townhouses we occupied were situated in a semi-circle, the parking at the centre, the houses facing the lot.  I somehow managed to participate in both these sports, albeit in the ill-fated ball hockey game as a bystander/participant/ball catcher-gone-horribly-awry, but that’s another story.

The skipping game of double dutch required skilled timing, lightening fast reflexes and athletic ability akin to an Olympic gymnast in order to pull off the tricks and jumps all the girls were doing. You can see how that drew me to this game.

The rope turners were usually either two girls who, sadly, were at the bottom of the pecking order and who were just tall enough to make sure the rope just skimmed the ground when it was turned, or jumpers who were out by missing a jump and forced to take a turn at the ropes.  A toddler old enough to stand and turn ropes would have made due, but for some reason the mothers refused to put them out in a parking lot with a bunch of over obsessed double dutch enthusiasts and pre-teen ball hockey boys.  Go figure.  The jumpers were usually the girls who were so consumed with getting all the tricks and quick jumpy moves just perfect, that they usually took most of the skipping time.  And then there were girls like me.  Oh, sure we could jump and maybe even do a one foot at a time jump, but as for turning or touching the ground whilst jumping, that was a near impossibility.  We were lucky we were given a chance to participate at all.

We had to watch out for the cranky rope turners.  These were girls who wanted to be the jumpers but were relegated to have their turn doing rope duty and none too pleased about it.  You didn’t want to risk taking a turn jumping in between the ropes of these girls.  The perpetual whipping from the one hundred mile an hour lines proved detrimental to anyone brave enough to step foot in between.  This is where the lightening fast reflexes came into play.  One had to be quick so as not to get one’s face whipped or feet pulled out from under by the cranky rope turners, who if they happened to catch one unsuspecting jumper, just smiled an evil sort of grin then dropped their ropes declaring it was their turn to jump.

We sorted out who was turning and who was jumping first by taking orders from the bossy ones, then assuming our rightful place at the turner position.  After an hour of turning, I wanted a chance to jump.  Since it was an exceptionally humid day, some of the jumpers were getting hot and tired, so they took the opportunity to cool down and let one of the lame younger turners take a jump.  Gleefully, I took my stance and waited for the girls to start turning.  The ropes whipped by my face, the breeze tickling my nose as I closed my eyes and launched into a perfect entrance.  I opened my eyes and was jumping.  I did it!  I survived the initial rope peeling and managed to get in between the wildly swinging lines.  I jumped and soared and was about to exit for the next jumper to have a turn when things went horribly wrong.  My foot became twisted in one of the ropes and instead of sailing elegantly out onto the side to watch the other jumper, I went crashing down onto the hard cement. I opened my eyes to hear the screams of the other girls coming to my rescue.  I attempted to get up, but felt an awful stinging in my knee.  I looked down at my raw red palms, then at the skin hanging from my knee as the blood trickled down and I began to cry.  As my face crumpled into shocked pain, I felt an awkward stinging from my chin and forehead.

That's what I would have been doing had my face not decided to go before my hands....

That’s what I would have been doing had my face not decided to go before my hands….

The girls saw the blood streaming from my face, my leg and my knee and immediately went into Florence Nightingale mode.  Somebody yelled for my mother, somebody else went knocking on some random neighbour’s door and one girl tried to soothe my pain by saying “Ewwww…you’re bleeding from your face!”  She’s now a Therapeutic Counselor for accident victims of double dutch tragedies.

I remember getting up, the blood streaming from my face and my knee and my mother running out to see what all the commotion was about.  One look at my bloodied and scraped face and the exclamation of “OH MY GOODNESS WHAT HAPPENED!”  sent all the girls running for the hills.  My mom snagged me from under the arm and I was taken inside.  A while later, after sponging off the stinging parts with warm washcloths then sending me into fits of throbbing pain with the hydrogen peroxide to ‘clean it out’  I managed to see my reflection. It wasn’t pretty.  I looked more like a monster from a horror movie than the freckled face jumper of a mere half an hour ago. The red patches of dried blood were quite the contrast to my usually pale face, and my chin was swollen and sore after the beating it took smacking the cement.  After the blood had dried, scabs formed in a line from my forehead, along the bridge of my nose and all down my chin.  My thigh and my knee were not great, either.  Essentially, I had flown from the inner sanctions of the whipping ropes and belly flopped directly onto the pavement that had been baked in one hundred degree heat.

 My older brothers were very helpful and supportive with their “Nice face” remarks and “Gee, that looks like it hurt. Are you sure you were just skipping?  It looks like you were attacked by a rabid dog”.  I kinda wish I was.  Older brothers are awesome, really.

 “Well, at least you don’t have to go to school looking like that”.

Thanks, Mom.

Sadly, there have been many more incidents involving possible head injuries, bruising and even stitches once…but no broken bones which is a miracle, really.  Maybe I’ll tell the Ball Hockey Incident next.  It’s a classic.

The Barn

white-wood-black-barn-old-wooden-grass-hi-274116

I remember being in the presence of an old barn.  This was back in the seventies when the summers were hot and seemed to last a whole year, not a mere few months.  We with nothing more to do but to wander aimless and reckless, our shorts hiked up and our faces flushed from the heat, trudging through yards and barren forest looking for adventure.  Or shade.

There stood before me a large black structure, the wood rotted and the inside dilapidated. The tall A-frame of the roof pointing skyward as if noting the direction of heaven.  The window at the top was gone; replaced with just a wooden bi-fold door hanging off its hinges.  The wood was split and left hanging, the wind blowing the shards innocently, as if afraid to blow too hard and break them. The grass lay brown and dry, the summer quickly turning into fall the leaves having fallen, dried up brown and withered away.  The dirt road was dry and gravelly, the stones crunching when we walked upon them.  There was a gaggle of us, the kids.  We were dispersed in age, the older ones herding the younger ones around the barn discovering it’s secrets and noting its dangerous allure. We were alone out in the country. Of course, near Chatham the country is everywhere around the outskirts of town.  I couldn’t have been far from where I lived.  I can’t imagine my mother ever allowing me to stray too far from her sight.   The attraction to the old building was in its mystique.  The rotting wood that once housed what exactly?  Animals?  Hay?  Corn?

   I’m not sure I was ever inside the barn.  The large looming face stands resolutely in my memory, however, any ideas of lofts or ropes or any items deemed ‘barn materials’ seems out of reach to me.  Was it a dream I had and I thought it was a memory?  Maybe, as the motives for attending the scene secretly remain hidden within the black rotting wood.

My brother seemed to have been the catalyst for my presence at the site.  My cousins were there as well, but more as outlying extras in a movie set.  Their milky dreamlike movements float through my mind and I can see their smiling faces looking down at me, mocking my existence among the big kids.

My memory of the old barn ends there.  I have no idea how we managed to travel so far outside of town, or even if it was that far out.  I just remember the feeling of freely walking about and curious as to its existence.  I know it’s no longer standing out in the country, but it’s nice to visit from time to time….