Sunday, September 19, 2010

It’s the Next, Most, Wonderful Time, of the Year.

This is the time of year when things get out of routine, although it’s happened about 23 times, now. It’s when we go to Lake Mead for a long weekend on the houseboat.

By things, I mean stuff just happens around this trip. There’s plans to be made, stuff to buy. . .  this is the impetus for us to buy music to play on the boat, books to borrow/buy to read on the boat, things to float on (we have a large inflatable shark, for example, from a previous year), meals to plan/cook ahead. This year, it’s been a challenge to find folks to take care of the kids while we’re gone, but we did it. Leaving your children in the care of others for nearly five days is a mental exercise regarding probabilities and possible outcomes that frankly leaves me with a hollow feeling in my stomach. Bittersweet.

There’s a lot of other stuff going on, too. We’re just about mid-way through a project to make the garage a usable space for us. Let’s just say that we put a bunch of junk in there when we moved in 13 years ago and just added to it until it was ‘waste high’. Several trips to the dump and various recyclers has left us with a storage unit half full in the driveway and a nearly drywalled space soon to be filled with grown-up cabinets and, hopefully, some semblance of organization. There’s even talk of a shed for the landscaping accoutrements (that’s French, without the umlauts). There might be “after” pictures, but no “before” pictures were taken for legal reasons, and those who have assisted us are sworn to secrecy.

Friday, as I was cutting someone off on the freeway (hey, she’d jerked her car in front of me on the onramp, I was just returning the favor), Kar-ma  (made myself laugh) struck when my sudden acceleration (again joking because it’s a ‘91 Civic sedan, awright?) caused the alternator belt to shred. Savvy motorist that I am, recovering from the interesting sound of it flapping around for 5 seconds or so, followed by the illuminated ‘battery’ idiot light  - along with the lack of billowing smoke or remaining recognizable pieces in my rear-view mirror, I ascertained this truth and drove home. Those of you who have worked on Japanese cars will sympathize with me when I opened the hood to the realization that the alternator belt is the first of three belts attached to the main pulley. For the rest of you, this means that one (and this was the moment when I determined that I was not to be that one) must remove the other two to complete the task at hand. And need I remind you that my tools are distributed in about 5 boxes in the previously mentioned storage box in the driveway? So, another day off from work on Monday whilst a younger person with a lift, a real toolbox, and probably a hangover replaces all three belts, with the appropriate grunting and tension on them. Might as well change the oil, too.

In addition, today we’re driving up to Temecula to see an unusual mix of inlaws and outlaws. Another afternoon of chasing Emma around Pat & Oscar’s.

So I’ll need Monday to make the Green Chile Stew in advance; my boatmates are tired of watching me work on it on Saturday afternoon. How else am I to garner their heartfelt appreciation for my culinary efforts – now it’s just another frozen dinner from Costco. Big whoop. I’m.Just.kidding –it’ll taste better after that chemical thing that happens to soups and stews that makes them taste better the next day. Probably.

Like I said, stuff just happens around this excursion. The trip will be great – paying good $$ for a properly maintained boat with a marine radio to complain into (and that is rare) is a worthwhile investment -  it’s just the GETTING ON THE BOAT part that requires so much effort. We will not be moving Heaven and Earth, merely the contents of lower Manhattan back and forth over the next 6 days or so. We have gotten better at it, with practice. According to the Park Newsletter(pdf), the Bald Eagle count has soared; we’ll be on the lookout. We’ve seen wild asses (no, not just other boaters), bighorn sheep, and a few other wild things, but I don’t remember seeing our national bird,there. Gazing at the horizon for Bald Eagles is a worthy occupation onboard – it’s about the extent of what’s expected. Therein lies the beauty of the whole situation, if youse gets my drift, and we most certainly will NOT drift (inside joke, sorry).