Tuesday, September 27, 2011

The Routine

The calves are weaned, the hay is (nearly) in the barn, and our back porch smells like baby chicks (sounds cute, smells awful) ... it must be fall.  It also means that the kids are back on The Routine.  No more of this sleeping in until 6:30 -- no sir-ee.  We are on the clock these days.

And by on the clock, I mean this:  I try to to sleep in as long as possible, Regina wakes up at some horrible hour to run, and, usually when I just hit REM sleep, Grady starts yelling for milk.  And The Routine begins.  Grady gets his milk-fix, a banana, and a clean diaper (usually not in that order), then he's off on his own to go roll cigarettes or whittle.  It doesn't matter, my attention is now on the girl.  Dylan is pretty good at getting up, but pretty bad at getting going.  She tells us she's going pee, then will spend ten minutes making faces in the mirror.  All the while we just think she's constipated until Regina goes and checks on her.  Then I have get to pick out her outfit for the day.  I usually choose a skirt, then grab fourteen shirts that I think have the possibility of matching and show them to Regina while she's showering.  Next, I do her hair.

My brothers used to have illustrated diagrams of the four hair styles they could pull off.  Their girls would point at one (pig tails, pony tail, side pony, or top pony) and they'd oblige.  I don't have a cool cheat-sheet, so every morning is a new adventure in hair styling.  I try to get away with the easiest, the pony tail, but end up getting conned into something elaborate (for me) like a braid.  Dylan keeps asking for a side pony, but I feel like I have to draw the line somewhere.  I know, the 80s are cool again, but there are just a few styles that should have stayed there.

Dylan, now, is an old hand at pre-school.  Her dad, however, isn't.  She'll remind me for a week that show and tell is on Friday.  Usually by Tuesday we'll put something she can share in her backpack.  Then, come Friday, I have a trip to the bakery on my brain and the backpack gets left in the car.  Dylan's been carrying around a shed lizard skin for three weeks now, just waiting for her time to shine.

She's also learning jokes, and so we've been perfecting her stand-up routine.  Right now she has a solid fifteen minutes, but it falls flat after that.  Well, right now she has a lot of "conceptual comedy."  This means she understands the cadence of the set up, but doesn't think the joke clear through to the punchline.  I get lots of: "Knock-knock." "Who's there?" "Giraffe." "Giraffe who?"  Long pause, then laughter, "Giraffe carrying a monkey!"  It isn't Richard Pryor, but I laugh anyway.

I'm learning things at pre-school, too.  No, I'm pretty good with my colors (just not matching them), but I learn things that most parents never need to know.  For example, last week the teacher told me that we had a dead calf in one of our pastures and it was starting to stink.  Sure enough, I went down and checked and she was right.  Pre-school: it's good for everyone.

Grady is back at the Greatest Place on Earth (daycare) and is loving the constant attention and hot toddler babes.  The kids come home either energized or completely wiped out.  If they want to party, Regina turns them loose with the chicks.  Grady's gentle, but so was Lenny in Of Mice and Men.  Regina now calls him King Kong because he wants to hold those cute little chick soooooo badly, but his grip goes from 0-10 without much in between.  And while Grady tries to squeeze them, Dylan tries to keep them all bunched together, like Mick, Greg's Border Collie.  If they're too exhausted, Grady gets a knife and a hunk of wood and Dylan works out a few Knock-Knock punchlines.  By then, we're all exhausted and we go to bed, ready to try it all again in the morning.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

3 Lake Challenge

A few years ago, Regina and I decided that we'd go to a different lake in either the Trinity, Russian, or Marble Mountain Wilderness areas each summer.  By the middle of August we hadn't done so much as a drive over Shasta Lake, and we knew we had to act quickly or we'd be hiking through snow drifts.

We have a few limitations: Despite my large ears and great ass, I'm not a mule and won't carry all the gear required to spend the night, so the lake has to be a day hike.  I'm fat, so long hikes are out.  We could ride horses in, but of the fourteen or so horses mooching off the Bench H gravy-train, I'm not sure we have three or four that could make it up a mountain trail.  So we hike.

Lake 1:
After yet another failed attempt at getting to Paradise Lake, we quickly decided on Campbell Lake.  I don't know if hiking makes Dylan nervous or excited, but something about it makes her chatty.  Weird-chatty.  She talked the ENTIRE hike.  She talked to Regina and me, she talked to herself, she talked to her dolly (of course she brought a dolly), she talked to the few people we passed.  It was over eight miles to the lake and back of this:  "You want to hear a song? Here are your choices: alphabet, monkey in a tree, or butterfly."
"How about the monkey one," I'd say.
"I don't know that one.  Here's the alphabet song.  Sings...  You know how to say alphabet in Spanish?  It's Butterfly."
"I don't think that's right," I'd say between deep breaths.
"You know how to say butterfly in Spanish?  It's Cabootyloo.  Want to hear another song ..."
And on, and on.  Regina finally snapped.  "QUIET! You hear that?  It's just the wind in the trees!  Isn't that nice?  And peaceful?  Listen, just listen.  Please!"
"Want to hear a song about trees?"

Lake 2:
This one doesn't really count because we go to Lake Siskiyou every year, but the following weekend we loaded up the nieces and nephew, and the kids, and went to Mt. Shasta.  There's no hiking required to get there, and there are giant bouncy toys in the water that some old fat guy tried to bounce around on and instead looked like a bad audition tape for "Wipeout."  And, man, it really wore me him out.

Lake 3:

Paradise Lake has been our golden ring -- only because every time we decide to go there, there's road construction blocking the road in.  So we slipped past the loaders and backhoes and made it to the trailhead.  It's half the distance to get to as Campbell, but twice as steep.  So much so that Dylan was quiet the first mile in.  Then her little legs warmed up and the rambling started.  I packed Grady and he spent most of the hike removing my hat or dropping his in the trail behind us.  As if the hike up weren't tough enough, hat-retrieving leg-bends with an iron weight on my back about did me in.  Paradise Lake was aptly named -- at least I felt like I was in paradise when I took Grady out of his pack and scarfed down two burritos.

So there you have it, two new lakes, one summer.  I'm not sure if that makes us exempt from hiking in 2012, but you can bet that we'll be gunning for a new lake anyway.  Regina will study her maps and find something only lost PCT hikers have ever seen.  I'll be in the round pen, trying to get a horse or two ready enough to ride.