Saturday, June 07, 2008

a bonus for you, a negative for me

According to my plans, I would have left at least four hours ago for our annual trek to Camp Mather, but the U-haul people have totally fucked us over. It turns out that it is (allegedly) very difficult to fit a towing hitch to a Volvo, and hence the U-haul people had to special order some parts. Delightful people that they are, the U-haul workers misplaced that special order and later denied all knowledge of it. In the end, the Sober Husband paid to have parts overnighted and has spent the past five hours camped out at U-haul overseeing the installation of this hitch. I'm somewhat taken aback by this; after all, it's a rather nondescript Volvo, not a frigging Aston-Martin or Delorean, but then again, the number of tow hitches I have personally installed is zero.

The Sober Husband seemed to feel that we should just dart up with a few bits of clothes and forget the U-haul, but there is no way I'm going to Camp Mather without our bicycles. (We don't have a roofrack, won't get a roofrack due to the sunroof, and no other bikerack can be installed without a damn hitch anyhow). I suggested as an alternative that we forsake U-haul and rent something from Rent-a-wreck, which would have had us leaving three hours ago, but the Sober Husband preferred to press onwards with the hitch, on the theory that we needed to get one sooner or later.

So, herewith a bonus post for you, as I sit, all packed, animals fed, petsitter at the ready, children bought off from their incessant cries of "when are we going to Camp Maaaaather" by a video. (Incidentally, I will post from Camp Mather. At some point, I will dart off a quarter of a mile to the relatively sybaritic hotel nearby, which offers internet and eight dollar cocktails, as well as severely overpriced blackened fish).

I've packed over a dozen books, on the theory that I never know what I'll feel like reading, and a case of wine. Last year I brought mason jars of lemon juice, lime juice, and simple syrup for cocktails, but this year was a more hectic one, so it's just wine (and already opened bottles of cognac and port, plus some bitters for making champagne cocktails. My plan is to steal sugar packets from the mess hall in lieu of sugar cubes).

Iris's idea of entertainment is to bring a number of dreary books about the Holocaust. Iris is keenly aware that her paternal grandfather (whom neither of us ever met, as he passed away when the Sober Husband was but a young thing) was a Holocaust survivor and that she herself is Jewish enough to have been eliminated, even though technically she's a WASP. This awareness has led her to have a precocious fascination with reading about the Holocaust. I had no idea that, the diary of Anne Frank aside, there was an entire branch of children's literature consisting of incredibly depressing stories of perky little Jewish girls' sufferings during WWII. I talked Iris out of one particularly sorrowful little volume the other day at the bookstore in favor of something cheerier, only to have her trot home from her school library with a copy. Iris showed me this book, and when I said, "Oh, you found a depressing story about a Jewish girl at your school", she rebutted with genuine pleasure, "Not one; FOUR!!" Yes, Iris has packed four novels set during the Holocaust for our vacation. "Iris, you're going to have nightmares of Nazis coming for you," I said. "I'll hear you crying in the night, 'Take Lucy, not me! Take Lucy!"

The school librarian was so concerned by Iris's choice of reading materials that she left a lengthy message on our home answering machine warning us of just how depressing this stuff is (one of Iris's choices is about a girl who finds her grandparents' droning on over the seder to be terribly boring, and so the girl is punished by being teleported to Poland in 1942 just in time to get rounded up for a transport). Iris was livid at this. "I didn't know that they NARKED!!!" she complained repeatedly. "THEY NARK!!"

Meanwhile, refreshingly the Sober Husband admitted that he is worried about his withdrawal from his beloved employer, Doggyo. "I don't know what I'm going to do", he said plaintively. We have no contingency plan in place for his angst, but cleverly the children and Sober Husband have devised one for me and my Warcraft withdrawal. "You can pretend in the woods to be finding mithril bars," said the husband. Iris offered to act out Warcraft themes. "Should I say 'zug zug' a lot?" she asked kindly.

I'll just be happy if I don't have any humiliating and traumatic bear encounters. Year One at Camp Mather: cooler mutilated by bear; husband picks out mangled, partially digested chocolate milk containers from bear excrement in attempt at cover-up. Year Two at Camp Mather: Drunken Housewife sets off on solo hike but is forced to leave trail due to presence of mother bear and cubs; pathetic D.H. is lost for entire afternoon and even cries at one point (meanwhile a worried Iris prays to the spirit of our deceased housecat, Butterball, to rescue her mother).


Missy said...

Hope you survive the trip, fortified by decent wine.

Welcome to the world of juvenile literature. I'm convinced there's only three good juvenile literature books worth reading for children: Diary of Anne Frank (nothing beats the original) Number the Stars (for the righteous Gentile/Norwegian view) and Devil's Arithmetic (a fairly complex point of view/time travel story that works extremely well and gets the point of the Holocaust across with some shreds of hope for survivors.) My younger DD's teacher read the Boy in the Striped Pajamas aloud this year, but I refuse to buy it for her even though she loved it. I can do Devil's Arithmetic and no more.

Survive the camp and write about it, dear DH!

Silliyak said...

Which reminds me of bear jokes. Shortened versions
If you get accosted by a bear grab a handful of s--t, rub it in his eyes and run like hell. (Where does the s--t come from?) Don't worry, it'll be there!

When on the trail, if you see brown bear scat, wear a noise maker, like a bell. If you see Grizzly bear scat, depart immediately. How do you tell the difference? Grizzly bear scat has bells in it.

hughman said...

whatever happened to "The Borrowers"?

have a great trip!!!

Captain Steve said...

Didn't they make a movie out of Devil's Arithmetic with Kirsten Dunst? Back before she was a cracked out ho?

JKG said...

[geek] Please tell me that "mithril bars" are not some bastardized kind of WOW food or something, and that instead your precocious child believes that mithril can be found in bar form in the woods rather than solely dolven for in the depths of the earth (an egregious mistake, but far more preferable to thinking that the seminal works of JRRT have been so debased as to nominate some kind of mere bodily sustenance the same as the mythical true-silver). [/geek]

JKG said...

Also, can't you find a trunk-mounted car rack that will accommodate four bikes? Cheaper, easier, and not involving UHaul (almost as inexorable a time-suck as CVS, IMO).

hughman said...

this was funny because i thought "why would you mount a bike to a tree trunk???"

then i got it.

i'm so gay. sorry.

Vodalus said...

Tell Iris that her "zug zug" offer is the first thing to make me laugh all day today. That was hysterical.

Get her to read Night by Eli Wiesel. Day, the sequel, isn't particularly good.

Missy said...

Night is an 8th grade book here, I wouldn't recommend it for anyone below middle school grade. Even though gifted children can and do read and understand this kind of topic, they internalize and carry the weight of the world's woes. It's a lot to ask a kid to deal with all the other growing up issues at once--my older DD's teacher assigned Alas Babylon after an 8 week plus Holocaust unit.

That any kid finished the year without going on Prozac was no thanks to her.

Hughman, I'm a huge fan of the Borrowers. All the teeny weeny little stuff! My girls loved it but not as much as I did...maybe I should take back texting.

DH, we can't wait to hear the Bear Update on Camp Mather.

hughman said...

also does anyone else remember the "Happy Hollisters"??

hughman said...

also "From The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frabkweiler"? SO AWESOME!

M said...

U-haul is run by idiots (and incompetent ones at that) - avoid at all costs! but then, you know that.

I am also a HUGE fan of Mrs Basil E Frankweiler, and the Borrowers (which I think I have on DVD around here somewhere...)

the Drunken Housewife said...

In order to have a good rear-mounted bike rack, you have to first have a ball hitch. That's the trick to it, sigh, which required getting the tow hitch.

I don't want a roofrack because one of the best things about this modest used Volvo is that it has a retractable sunroof, and the roofrack would wreck that. Also, roofracks make the gas mileage go down.

Anyhow, I should hopefully be able to soon get a good bike rack for the car.