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Across the US Via Bicycle

Happy routine had settled quietly onto our now blended family.  Eldest daughter resided with her mom and step dad in Oklahoma. Second eldest daughter was delighting in being a big sister. This third baby was quiet, compliant and content. What could possibly disturb this domestic tranquility? 

When baby number three reached six months of age we got a phone call from my husbands’ sister.  She informed us that their dad was heading out on  a cross country trip on his bicycle and she was very worried.  Her husband could only ride with him to Idaho and then he would be on his own.  She then told her brother, (as only a sister can) that if he didn’t join their dad for the remainder of the trip, she would do horrible things to him and never allow him to forget it if any unmentionable  accident were to happen to their dad!  “But sis!,” appealed my husband.  “I havn’t found gainful employment yet and we are flat broke with a new baby”.   Sis volunteered to fund his portion of the journey and loan him her husbands bike. He could pay her back later.  Which only left finding a way for the rest of us to get all the way across the US.

Yes my husband and his dad really did ride across the US on bicycles. But this story is about our journey by bus across this great land of ours.  I had to borrow the enormous sum of $400 from one of my Aunts.   I think they only agreed to loan us the money so they could get a really good look at him when he got to the south eastern portion of this country. Kind of the same way you stare at zoo creatures. He was after, all a Yankee. By this time they were all beginning to wonder about him anyway.  Not only were we jobless, pennyless and had a brand new baby, they knew how crazy I was and were now rather concerned that I had married in kind.

I purchased the bus tickets and began the 3 day journey via Greyhound.  My older daughter and I kept looking out the bus windows for signs of Grandpaw and daddy. We had entertained the driver and many riders with our story about daddy and his dad riding across the country, so befor long everyone in the bus was  looking out the windows for the two crazy, I mean intrepid adventurers.

For me the trip was rather uneventful if you exclude the colorful characters that always lurk around bus stations.  The baby and my older daughter enjoyed the trip and I was young enough to endure three days of sleep deprivation.  The real fun began when we got to NC.

I picked hubby up at the bus station in Virgina as he was saying good by to his dad.   My did they look GOOD! Each had lost weight and were muscle toned down to their little toes. Grandpa flew back but we journeyed on by bus to NC. 

My family couldn’t understand.  My husband explained about his trip as only an ex-journalist could.  He was greeted by puzzled looks.  They were all thinking, “He looks intelligent enough. Doesn’t look like a mass murderer or anything crazy. There aren’t any warrants out for his arrest. Hmmmm.”  So all they could say to each other was, “Why did he ride across the US on a bike when he has a family to support and is as old as he is?”.  My mom always swore that if she hadn’t been awake when I was born she would have insisted that they had switched me with her real baby at birth. I was the only one so far to have married out of the South. And goodness knows you still couldn’t trust anyone north of the Mason Dixon Line.

 We stayed at my Aunts home where she treated us like Royalty. Various relatives kept slipping me money here and there while casting worried looks towards my husband. Of course I couldn’t say anything without appearing ungracious and up until then we were broke.  So I took their money. Actually had enough money to pay a few bills when we got home.  But I will never forget the loving looks of concern on their faces and the inquires to the police department.  All from concerned family members. Were we full of faith or just full of it? Some times it’s hard to tell.

Shortly after we arrived back in Oregon hub got a new job down in California.  Now he was a regular working stiff and my family all breathed a sigh of relief.  California should have been what they were worried about. Next find out what happens when you take a wild home grown nut like me and try to plant it in the land of Nuts!

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bob.JPGThis The following is an unschedualed alert to inform readers of an insideous new plot by the PS3 Playstions all over the world to take over the minds of young players every where.   Bob Gentry was last seen over one week ago when he first got his new “TOY”.  Since interfacing with this device he has gradually lost all contact with the real world and his station has been replying on his blog for him!   Mothers all over the world must act now before it is too late.  I fear all is lost for Bob but mothers must unite now and go cut the power to your homes at the breaker box! Do it now before all is lost. Do NOT fail to heed my warning.

SOUTHWARD HO! PART 2

Except for having been nearly eaten alive by mutant Alaskan/Canadian crossbreed monster mosquitoes the first part of our journey was uneventful.  The truck rumbled along loyally and we admired the wilderness scenery.  Whitehorse Alaska was our next scheduled stop and we pulled in there to do some recreating.

After leaving White Horse we began to hear a muffled “ka-thunk”, “ka-thunk”.  We turned toward each other. “Tell our kid to stop making noise back there.”  I turned around to settle her down but she was already asleep in the back of the truck.  “Not her”, I informed him.  “Oh my, I hope the rear end transmission isn’t going out!”  I listened carefully.  No grinding noises and no problems shifting led me to think it was a wheel bearing.  “I think it’s a rear wheel bearing”, I said.  My honey gave me a condescending chuckle.  “This from a woman who didn’t know how to read a map when we got married? Look , I  know you worked on helicopters when you were in the Army,  but this is a truck. I think you’d better leave the diagnostics to me. ”

Well talk about mood altering conversation!  “Fine! Figure it out yourself!” I harrumphed.  “Now Now hun,” he condescended to me again as we pulled into a parking lot. I know what I’m doing. I’m going in there to ask the way to a dump and with any luck I’ll find a rear end that matches this one.   After getting instructions we headed to the local dump.  He parked the truck and we scouted for parts. “Look! I think there’s one that’s our year and make!”  I couldn’t believe it but it was true. 

“Now”, he said, “The guy said the most important part is to watch out for bears.”   “What?”   “Watch for bears, he said to keep a look out so you sit here in the drivers seat and honk the horn if you see any coming while I remove that transmission.”   “Are YOU INSANE?! ” I yelled.  “No, I’m serious. Now if you don’t want your only husband eaten alive while trying to repair our rig I suggest you pay attention.”

I sat in the drivers seat with the window open scanning for predators and biting my nails down to the quick. Every crackle, every noise made me jump.  What was I doing out in the middle of nowhere, pregnant, a 6 year old, two house cats in the back of the truck and an insane man scrounging for parts in a wilderness dump?!  An hour and a half later he came back to the truck grinning and carrying what I assume was a transmission.  But what did I know? I had only worked on helicopters.

We drove back to the one restaurant combination bus stop, post office and general store. In the parking lot he began jacking the truck up and taking the rear end apart.  He seemed bent on dismantling our whole vehicle and we would probably end up stranded here forever. Watching him I grew a little more than irritated.  “Sweetie, wouldn’t it have been more prudent to change the wheel bearings first?”  Sighing really big he said, “Have you ever worked on this type of vehicle? No! So just let me get back to work please. Go do something.” 

So I started to pray.  Not your basic, “God please help my husband” prayer.  Oh no, let’s be honest here. I was praying the “God just let me get a chance to say, I TOLD YOU SO! prayer.”  It is such a good thing we aren’t God. Do you know how many bolts of lightning I would called down by now?! 

Anyway, I left with our daughter to go get a bite to eat, and at the same time a greyhound bus pulled up.  People began to walk over to  see what my man was up to.  I listened just before going into the restaurant as my hub described the symptoms to a man who had asked if he could help.  “Well” said the newcomer, “I’m not a mechanic but you know what it sounds like to me? A wheel bearing.”  Then he walked away and left my man sitting on his knees, covered in grease  with a half torn apart truck and a scrounged transmission that he realized didn’t fit.  I went and hid in the restaurant praying, “God PLEASE don’t let me say I told you so!”

Six hours later it was dusk and he had gotten the rear end put back together.  Now what to do about a wheel bearing.  We drove to the only gas station in this not quite big enough to be a town place.  Getting out we found the sole proprietor underneath a vehicle repairing it.  My husband asked if he had any truck parts.  “Maybe,” he said,  “If I got anything it would be in that little white cabinet on that wall.”   Walking over we opened the dusty cabinet and peered inside.  The cabinet was completely empty except for two small boxes, both wheel bearings, both for our make and model truck.  Really! 

The next day we were on our way.  No more “Ka-thunks” from the rear and the truck ran smoothly along.  “Wasn’t that a blessing those two wheel bearings being there?” said hubby.  “Yep” I replied.  (please God don’t let me say I told you so!) “Nice job on the repair.” I said.  We rumbled along quietly for a while. All of a sudden he said, “Sorry I didn’t check the wheel bearings first.”  (Hold my tongue God) “Oh that’s ok. I’m just glad we didn’t get eaten by bears.” I halfheartedly replied.   I contented myself that I had resisted an enormous temptation and probably avoided a terrible argument.  Would that I could have held my tongue as well on other occasions.