Archive for the ‘the Boulder uncles’ Category

The paging story

September 23, 2013

This is a story I could not tell you in person, because the memory of it sends me into fits of laughter. I’m sure it will not come across as as funny as it was to me at the time, so I’ve put off including it.

It’s time.

One night my husband had gone to the supermarket for something or other. We mostly didn’t shop at the supermarket. We went to the groovy bulk organic hippie store on the corner. But now and then we needed something like Tylenol or Oreos, and it was off to King Soopers.

So my husband was gone to get a thing and Jer and I were at home talking about how it’s been 20 years since we had Tang.

Suddenly we had to have some Tang.

This was before cell phones, and we were thinking it was tragic we didn’t have this thought 10 minutes earlier.

Then we thought, hey, they have phones at King Soopers. Let’s call him there. They can page him.

This struck us as both brilliant and hilarious. We imagined his face when we told him we paged him because we wanted Tang.

While we waited for him to respond to the page, it occurred to us that it would be even funnier if we said we just called to say hi.

So we scrapped the Tang request and went with our new plan.

He didn’t even laugh a little.

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The kayak story

June 17, 2013

There’s a house in my neighborhood with a kayak on the front lawn. According to the sign, someone’s asking $400 for it.

This reminds me of a story that ends with me getting in a lot of trouble.

I moved in with my husband immediately after the wedding. It wasn’t great. He had refused to ask his friends who rented rooms in his house to move out.

One of the guys was particularly unaccommodating. He insisted I park around the corner so the guys could use the driveway. He told me I wasn’t welcome to use the grocery bags with the handles on them.

One day a kayak showed up on the front lawn. The place was disgraceful enough, what with the couch and broken stove on the porch. I took a stand against the kayak.

Unaccommodating Guy said he was keeping it for a friend, and there it would stay.

A couple of weeks later I was playing poker, and a guy I had never met commented that he really needed to win, because he was saving up for a kayak.

How fortuitous.

I shared that there was one for the stealing on my front lawn, and I implored him not to let this opportunity pass him by.

Two days later Unaccommodating Guy ran in the front door and dialed the police. This made me extremely uncomfortable. I hadn’t thought of that.

Then my husband ran in looking distressed. “Someone stole the kayak!”

It flashed through my mind to try to look surprised, but I’m no kind of skilled liar. I’m too afraid of getting caught. “I invited a guy to steal it.”

It got quiet. All eyes were on me.

I acted brave and sure, “It’s my house. No tenants have the right to use it to store other people’s things against my say so. Show me more respect next time.”

The police showed up and made a report. Our homeowners insurance replaced the guy’s kayak.

I’m a different woman now, and there’s a lot I would do differently if I could go back to that part of my life.

But not this.

The highway accident

May 30, 2013

About a month ago I noticed all my stories were gross. Within about 10 days there was a fart, a booger, body odor, a dripping breast and an anal impalement. I could see the theme happening; I just couldn’t get away from it.

This week, I’m noticing a lot of stories about death. I initially put this post aside, but no. I’m giving in to it.

Wednesday I was on the freeway next to a huge cargo truck. We banked to the right and I felt like it was going to tip and crush me. It didn’t.

This is what went through my mind.

Tug, one of the ‘uncles’ we lived with in Boulder, moved in with us when he separated from his wife. He said, “I should have known the marriage was doomed. We were sent a sign.”

They married in Tug’s hometown in Idaho. Fun fact: Tug’s childhood buddy was Pekabo Street, and he lived right next to Ernest Hemingway’s digs.

Tug’s best friend stood up for him as best man. After the wedding, this kid got on the highway to drive back to college. A tire came off of a big truck next to him. I think it crashed through the windshield.

I remember only two details for sure: He was killed, and his mother was following him in her car.

This is one of the many stories I wish I could forget. But everytime I’m next to one of those big trucks, there it is in my mind.

I always imagine the view through the mother’s windshield.

How I met my husband, continued

March 23, 2013

This is the 21st anniversary of my becoming my husband’s girl.

The story I told before happened on March 22. Here’s what happened the next day.

From the airport in Hilo we were taken to the Big Island Rainforest Action Group headquarters, a building/campsite area in the forest. Many people had tents, but I had never camped before, so I slept on the floor of the main room indoors.

The Aries with the blue eyes slept in his friend Matt‘s tent.

In the morning someone with a car announced he was taking all of these hippies to the beach. I put on my neon one-piece and away we went.

We piled out on the side of a road. The driver pointed to steps and drove off.

I froze at the top of the steps. Everybody down there was naked. Hippies were running down the wooden steps whooping and peeling off their tie-dyes.

The beach was gorgeous. All the sand was black, because it was from the volcano. The ocean was clear aquamarine in front of us. We had palms and papayas behind.

I spread out my towel and lay there in my suddenly louder-than-neon one piece, watching naked hippies play Frisbee.

The Aries and Matt came to sit with me. We ate papayas and watched dolphins frolick close to shore. Later a humpback whale swam over and waved its fluke at us.

Back at the campsite all of those protesters had sunburned privates.

I had gotten to know the Aries pretty well by now. So well that Matt suddenly wanted to sleep outside, which left a vacancy in the tent if I wanted it. He said this in front of a nasty guy who had offered me tent space earlier, so I had to turn him down to protect feelings.

The Aeries asked if I would rub lotion on his burned back. He suggested I bring my baby oil over and give him a lube job.

I said, ‘I know your type, lube ’em and leave ’em.’

I think he hasn’t left me yet just to prove me wrong.

The phone cord story

March 1, 2013

I can’t go having an I-am-an-idiot category without telling this story.

Like most babies, my son used to like to play with the phone. Maybe today’s babies play with cell phones; their mamas can’t tell this kind of story.

To prevent calls, I would slip the cord out of it.

One night he was doing this on the couch with Uncle Jer and me.

The baby abandoned the buttons and reached down to the cord, which was still plugged into the wall. He put the end in his mouth.

Then he gaped, ready to wail. It was one of those wails you know is going to be bad, because the sound follows the expression about five seconds later. Usually the delay of sound was proportional to the loudness of the wail.

I was puzzled by his reaction. I knew phones worked when the power was off. Surely there was no electricity.

I closed my mouth around the end of the cord. It hurt.

I pulled it out and went, “AAAAHHHHHH.”

“Really?” asked Jer, who picked it up and put it in his mouth.

Idiocy loves company.

The habanero story

February 4, 2013

Tonight’s story is my husband’s choice.

When we lived in Boulder, there was a gaggle of college boys  — who were old enough to be called men but not mature enough — who were our friends. They all lived in our house on and off, and were like uncles to our babies.

One afternoon we were having a barbecue and Matt brought out a bag of habanero peppers. These are the hottest peppers in the world.

These stupid boys ate those peppers.

Once one of them ate one, they each in turn tried to look more macho.

The barbecue ended fairly early, and it was an ugly night for most.

Our buddy Tug had had his preschool-age son that weekend. The morning after, he was delivering the boy to his mother when the boy was trying to form the story in his mind to report back home.

“Dad, what were those things you were eating last night?”

“Not now, honey.”

Repeat as necessary.

Finally Tug tried to answer. He got “Haba-” out before he puked on the steering wheel.

Tug was the most macho.

How we met

January 19, 2013

I just drove my husband to the airport. The first time I laid eyes on him was in an airport.

Several Rainforest Action Groups from around the country were going to Hawaii for a protest. I was going as a newspaper reporter.

It was morning, almost 22 years ago, when I lay over a waiting chair at SFO listening to a bunch a hippies panic that their friend — the responsible one — wasn’t anywhere to be found.

I hoped he wouldn’t show, because we were on the same flight and I had a friend with a standby ticket.

At the last minute, a boy in a dress shirt and slacks with great need of a haircut came running into the gate, rugby duffel bag flying from his shoulder. His eyes were almost turquoise. I licked my lips. Then I got on the plane and slept for six hours.

In Honolulu we had to change planes before proceeding to the Big Island. To do this, we rode a tram across the airport. I hung back and watched the late but responsible friend interact with the hippies. He was attentive to everyone. He smiled when he talked. He seemed to be their leader.

I was thinking, he fits the description an interviewee gave me when I did a story on astrology a week ago. If there’s anything to it, he’s an Aries. I didn’t think there was anything to it, but I walked across the tram to where he was standing, (he had given a lady his seat,) and asked him if he was.

He was.

Then I took a shot at dumb luck. I put on my confident face and announced his birthday. Who knew my luck was so dumb? I hit it dead on.

Because I hoped he would follow me, I refused to tell him how I knew. I just walked away.

It worked.

link to photos

Jaws

November 23, 2012

Beatle George has an 8-year-old son. They were over for Monday Night Football tonight.

My son discovered with an outburst that the child has never seen Jaws.

How does this happen? I’ve insisted George bring the boy to me Wednesday so I can fix him.

To my mind, 4 is the right age for Jaws watchin’.

This decision came by happenstance. Uncle Jer and I were upstairs in the Boulder house, flipping through the channels on a Saturday afternoon, when we saw that the movie was about to start.

We looked at each other with excitement. “Pop some corn!”

Then my son wandered in.

Badda bing badda boom. Four was the right age.

We initiated him carefully. We told him what to expect. “Hear the music? That means you’ll see some red spots in the water. Here’s a scary part.”

Then I couldn’t wait for The Baby to turn 4. I stood by the set with the unpopped corn counting down the days from her third birthday.

We had left Uncle Jer behind in Colorado, but acquired the flick on VHS. My son and I popped corn and brought her into the club.

Now it’s Bennett’s turn. 

My kids know the routine by now. We’ll pop the corn, give the warnings, and as one, we’ll shout, “You’re gonna need a bigger boat!”

I’m thinkin’ since the kid’s 8, we’ll have to watch it twice.

How I met Jer

September 30, 2012

My husband’s dinner news last night was that They Might Be Giants has made a science teaching DVD. Just now he put it in my hand.

I have a connection to this band. They’re how I met one of the best friends of my life so far, Jer.

Immediately after I moved to Boulder My Boyfriend and I were getting hippie groceries at the hippie grocery store, and a hippie friend of My Boyfriend was out front wanting a ride. He had two non-hippie friends with him.

In the back seat, the blond friend picked up my collection of cassettes. “Hey! They Might Be Giants! I met them today.”

Jer is a cyclist. At the time, he worked at The Spoke, repairing and selling bicycles.

He was in Boulder Central Park doing a thing to his bike, when the band went by on rented cycles. The members were in town for a concert at The Boulder Theater.

Right in front of Jer, the frontman’s chain fell off. That’s serendipity if I ever knew of it. My advice to anyone in general: if you’re gonna drop a bike chain, do it in front of Jer.

He rescued them and was given two free tickets to that night’s show.

That’s even serendipitouser. Readers, if you’re ever going to pick up a stranger at a hippie grocery, pick up someone who just got two free tickets to a They Might Be Giants concert.

My Boyfriend sent me off with his blessing. He sent Jer off warning him not to touch my butt.

I put on a tie-dye sundress and lace-up-to-the-knee boots, and Jer picked me up at 7 p.m.

I was suspicious early on that the band was lip syncing. Toward the end of the concert they gave up the ruse and stopped strumming for a moment. The music went uninterrupted. Who could complain? My tickets were free and I had met a lifelong friend.

To this day he has never touched my butt.

Hail talk

September 14, 2012

We used to get hail in Boulder.

The day after a storm was the best day to go car shopping. The inventory was all dented and discounted.

On the news, they always say the same thing. “There were golf-ball size hailstones.”

Jer used to say he was going to open a sports store that sold hail-size golfballs.

The chocolate milk story

August 3, 2012

When my son was 3, Uncle Jer took him into the kitchen and announced, “It’s time you learn how to make chocolate milk.”

I stood there doing dishes, thinking how great Uncle Jer was.

“First you get a glass, milk and chocolate syrup. You put them out on the counter.

“Then you fill the glass half with milk and half with syrup.”

“Half?” I made my shocked face. “You must really like milk.”

Uncle Jer turned to my son, “You’re mom is great.”

The cookie contest story

July 25, 2012

My daughter got a kitten for her birthday. The kitten wants to be carried around all the time.

“I have to do everything one-handed,” my daughter said.

“I did everything one-handed for three years,” I told her. “And babies are heavier than kittens, and complain more when you try to set them down.”

When my daughter was a baby I had made some comment to the guys who lived with us about having to do everything one-handed — probably I was bragging about how good I gotten at it. This ended with Uncle Jer and me having a cookie-making contest.

I had to hold the baby and he had to hold a large sack of flour, no setting it down. The Uncles took seats at the kitchen table and gave us an “on your mark, get set, go.”

While I was practiced at things like pouring vanilla into a measuring spoon, Jer just dumped some in the dough willy nilly. And my cookies had the advantage of being eggshell-free.

In the end, I won for skill; Jer won for comedy; and the Uncles won two batches of chocolate-chip cookies.

click here for photo

Uncle Jer’s perspective

July 12, 2012

Jer and I were the only ones in the house who didn’t go to bed early, back when we had a houseful.

We would stay up on the couch and channel surf until Beavis and Butthead came on.

Whenever we caught a news item about someone, bandaged and bruised, who survived a crash or heinous injury, an anchor or neighbor always said, “You were really lucky.”

This turned Jer red. He would shout at the TV, “He wasn’t lucky! He was in a major accident. Luck is when the other car misses you.”

Uncle Jer sees things much more clearly than the rest of us.

Driver license

July 6, 2012

My son is getting his driver license today.

When he started driver ed a year ago, we each gave him our biggest piece of advice.

Here’s the collection:

  • Uncle Jer says, “My dad always said ‘At a yellow light, if you can stop, do.’
  • I say, “Be predictable. Expect everyone else to be unpredictable.”
  • My husband says, “Be aware of your surroundings.”
  • My dad says, “Don’t be the fastest car on the freeway.”
  • My Oldest Friend’s husband says, “Always use your indicator.” After some investigating, I learned this is a turn signal.
  • I say, “Don’t drive like Uncle Mike.”
  • What I wish I could say is “Never go anywhere. Stay home with your mama.”

The leg waxing

May 12, 2012

Many of the guys in Boulder were cyclists, including my close friend Jer.

They had to keep their legs free of hair or it would get caught in the gears. I have this wrong. Please see the comments for a correction.

My roommate was from San Clemente, and we used to joke that the only way to tell the guys from the chicks in that hippie town was that the guys shaved their legs.

One year a girlfriend of mine got her esthetician’s license and was preparing to hang her shingle in a spa. She invited Jer and me to get a free facial or something so she could practice.

I’m not the facial type, and neither was Jer, so we asked to get our legs waxed instead.

I should have taken the facial.

Even after Jer hollered like a little girl, she told me I was the biggest baby she ever heard.

Cooking for others

April 26, 2012

When I was subbing, many of the children admitted they came to school without breakfast, and some had no lunches. So I baked for them. I would make muffins for the periods before lunch, and cookies for the children after lunch.

The kitchen would be full of food, the day before a sub job, but then my kids would come home.

They attacked the food, and I let them.

Here’s why.

Once I was making cookies for an event in Boulder. I was on the phone with my mother at the time.

I complained to her that the uncles were eating all the cookies. She said, “Let your loved ones have their fill, and give the rest of the world what’s left.”

That made so much sense. Now I live by that.

Some 10 years later, after we had moved back to California, I was helping her in her kitchen. She was catering an art show opening.

My dad walked in and grabbed a red bell pepper stick, and my mom scolded him.

I said, “Mah-uh-um! You gotta let the loved ones get their fill! Don’t you remember? I got it from you.”

She said, “That’s the dumbest thing I ever heard. Never do that.”

This time I ignored her.

The lemon-drop story

April 12, 2012

When I realized I was pregnant with my daughter, my husband was preparing for an exam, the final step in getting his master’s degree.

He had had a vasectomy six weeks before, but hadn’t gotten the go ahead from the doctor. That’ll teach him.

At best, I predicted, he would be too distracted to study. At best was bad. He had even sent me and our son to California during spring break so he could concentrate.

I didn’t want to think about at worst.

Uncle Jer, one of our friends who lived with us, knew. He caught me throwing up.

Uncle Tug lived with us too. One night he said, “I think I’m coming down with you’ve got. My stomach is a little upset.” I kept a straight face.

I was waiting until after my husband’s test to break the news. That meant keeping the secret for a month.

On Easter night we sat around the dining table playing M&M poker. Uncle Jer was making lemon drops.

He passed shots of vodka to whoever won a hand.

I was concerned. I had a full house.

Jer waited until my husband looked away. He gave me a trust-me smile as he pulled a different Absolut Citron bottle from under his seat.

I did shots of water and chased them with sugared lemon wedges.

And in my sobriety, I won all the M&Ms.

Getting arrested — a love story

April 7, 2012

I’ve started putting photos on a site called Photos O’ Mine, if I’ve got them, relating to the stories on this site.

It’s not going well. I think the site is a little screwy. When I click save, fonts change, captions merge or move, pictures disappear. It looks wacky right now, but I’m diligent. Bear with me.

I was putting in pictures for How we met when it occurred to me I never wrote about the arrest.

So far I’ve taken you through the first two days. (See How we met, continued for day 2.)

On the third day there was a Save the Rainforest festival. My new boyfriend and I walked hand in hand and learned about each other. We seemed to be made to be together. At nightfall he said, “People say when you meet the right person you just know. I always thought that was stupid. But I met you, and I just know.”

The fourth day was the protest. More than 1,000 people met at the chain-link fence True Geothermal Energy Co. had erected in the Wao Kele O Puna rainforest. It was the biggest demonstration of its kind.

The first night of our stay we had ridden over to see where the demonstration would be. Mr. Blue Eyes had hopped out of the truck bed first and approached the fence. When he put his hands on it, he made like it was electrified. ‘Note to self: gorgeous eyes, environmentally proactive and funny.’

The protesters were not anti-geothermal power. It’s in fact a clean source of energy. The gripe was that True had bought different land for its drill site, but Mount Kilauea erupted and buried that site in hard, black lava. The allegation was that True then made an illegal land swap, taking without permission the last lowlevel rainforest in North America, which was also sacred religious ground to the natives.

So there we were, drowning in a tie-dyed throng in an emotional embrace, watching people squeeze one-at-a-time through a break in the fence. From there they were handcuffed, identified and put on a bus.

Hundreds were children. My boyfriend tried to point this out to me, but he choked on the words with tears. ‘Note to self: senstive. Take this one home.’

We took our turn as accused trespassers, then took our turn to reject the charge, based on our being on public land. Into the bus we went, joining the singing, “This is land is your land; this land is my land….”

One hundred thirty-three people were arrested. We didn’t fit in the Hilo jail, so they put us in a storage garage.

We sat on the cement floor and discussed our strategy of solidarity. By law, I learned, they had to arraign us within a certain amount of time. We had the right, the leader said, to remain incarcerated until that time.

With our numbers, this was impossible. They would have to release us until our court date. We were instructed to refuse to leave. “When they hand you your ticket, don’t reach for it,” King Hippie said. “Do not walk out of here.”

As luck would have it (or because I’m little, and they didn’t want to start with a child), I was the first one they went after.

I didn’t take the ticket, so they shoved it down my shirt. I wouldn’t stand up, so two large men scooped me by my elbows and knees and carried me out of the building, unceremoniously dumping me on the grass.

This was met by wild cheering. I couldn’t see anyone, though, because of the bright lights: the crowd outside included news cameras.

Eventually we were all out — after a few oustings people gave up the solidarity plan — and back at the Big Island Rainforest Action Group camp.

I had come under ridicule for showing up to an environmental action camping trip with a battery-operated television (I didn’t want to miss General Hospital,) but was suddenly popular. As many as could gathered around to watch my squinting form being dumped on the grass.

I had about seven rolls of photos from this adventure, but they belonged to the newspaper, and I didn’t get to keep them.

I kept something else, though: a blue-eyed, funny, sensitive man and a new understanding of solidarity.

link to photos

Sick day

March 30, 2012

I have a nasty lung thing going on. Mostly I’m staying in bed.

The last time I felt this icky I had strep throat. The kids were 4 and 6, and daddy was on full-time kid duty, because I was mostly staying in bed.

One afternoon he had to go to a place, and the kids climbed on the bed with me to be supervised.

There’s only so much we could do to pass the time. By early evening I was teaching them how to make prank phone calls.

We were calling The Uncles in Boulder, and giving them the classics. Yes, their refrigerators were running.

Our last call was to Uncle Jer. Could he name three cars that start with P? If so, according to my son’s little 6-year-old voice, he would win a million dollars from KWZY fm.

Jer listed Pinto, Plymouth and Pontiac.

All together now: I’m sorry, those cars all start with gas.

Jer started to cry. “I miss you guys.”

Aw. He wasn’t even mad about the million dollars.