Friday, May 31, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, Part VIII

It's a beautiful night. Just gorgeous. The birds are singing. The sky is that clear blue that lets you see into the deep beyond. And the temperature is up in the sixties. All winter and spring, I didn't envy Mike his camping. Now, I want to be snuggled up next to him, sitting on a log we're sharing and watching the flames in a fire while the boys roast marshmallows and burn sticks.

I'm enjoying a lull in the storm. Early tomorrow, about when the morning sun begins to warm Mike's tent and the birds sing their morning song, I'll get up and head over to the Eagles Lodge to warm up the grill. Maybe I'll sing a song too, as long as it isn't too embarrassing for Nick. I don't work to embarrass him. I really don't.

Once things get going, I'm going to arm myself with a sponge and some spray cleaner. I'll look busy, but I'm going to be looking at how things are moving along. My job is to smile and encourage the boys. That's all, except I'll be the one everyone comes to with questions. Can I redirect that to the senior patrol leader? Will he know the answers? The sponge and cleaner will help keep me focused. I have no idea why, but I operate more smoothly when I have something in my hands, a pen, a camera, a sponge. If you told me that my brain didn't function without my hands, I'd probably nod my head and write a note about it.

I imagine burned pancakes and sticky syrup on carpet. I need to imagine beautiful plates of food and happy boys and customers. We're serving pancakes, sausages, bacon, strawberries, whipped cream, coffee, orange juice, and milk. When it's all over, I'll have the pancake flippers throw some chocolate chips on the pancakes and the boys will eat. I'm hoping there will be whipped cream left so they can put huge piles of it on their pancakes. Maybe there will be strawberries left too. Maybe we can keep up with the dishes as we go along. Maybe we'll even make enough money to do what Mike needs it to do. to even out the cost of going to camp.

There isn't anything else I can do until morning. I'm going to bed, but I'm not sure I can sleep yet. I've planned enough time in the morning to stop at the coffee hut. If I can't sleep now, I can sleep tomorrow afternoon. When I snuggle in, I can lay there and breathe until I've said it to myself enough times:

I've done my best and it's going to be okay. If not, I'll have a story to tell.

Thank you for listening, jb

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, Part VII

Getting ready today for the pancake breakfast wasn't as bad as I thought. I vacuumed the dog hair out of my car so food won't get furry when I shop tomorrow. I had pulled the car half-way into the garage thinking I'd have more room and the extension cord would still reach. I wrestled with the wet-dry vac trying to get it into position by the door where I didn't really have enough room to open the door properly. The tension on the extension cord made the plug pop out a couple of times. Nick was there, so I had to curb language I'd have used if I'd been alone. Mike really does need to get some of this Scout gear out of here, but where? The third seat from the truck was lying across a couple of crates and I couldn't even budge them. So, I did that pretend-to-be-skinny dance people do when they can't open the door any wider. It was worse because I didn't actually want to get in, but needed to bend over with my head and arms near the floor so I could see what I was doing. That must have been pretty. I think I banged the crap out of the door. Nick sat in the back seat doing his homework because he needed help making equations out of the functions shown on his sheet. I realized that I couldn't hear a word he was saying with the vacuum running, so I crawled into the back seat with him trying to make heads or tails out of x=2 and y=-6; x=3 and y=-10 and so on. Bonus points if you can do the work from just those two examples. I had to look at it for a while. Math is definitely getting more complicated. I might be able to keep up into algebra, but there are no guarantees after that. I finally got the car cleaned up good enough. Since the struts are broken on the hatch, I didn't even try to clean in the back. Tonight, Mike told me that somehow he only ordered one. One won't be enough, so I won't have the hatch when I bring everything over tomorrow. I'm thinking I'll get the supplies I need from home and bring them over on Friday rather than wrestle with that hatch at 6:45 am on Saturday morning. Unfortunately, Mike is bringing the Suburban to the Camporee with him. That would have come in handy, huh? The Prius definitely has it's limits when carrying crap, especially with a broken struts on the hatch.

I walked the dog today too. He missed out yesterday and he really needed a walk yesterday. He drives me and the cat nuts when he doesn't get enough exercise. On the way home from the park, I figured out that I can still use my CD player in my car as long as I bring forceps to pull a disk out when I've listened to the whole thing. I'm sure it's dog hair mucking up the works. I should bring the little keyboard blower out and stick the nozzle in there again and blow. It worked last time. Only, this time, the whole thing is making a noise. Maybe I should call Car Talk on Saturday morning and make the noise for them. Those guys love when you mimic the noise your car makes. When did my car get so old and decrepit?

About the time I should have been making dinner, I got to work making a sign and a sandwich board for Saturday. Now my hands are tired. It turns out that colored pencils don't get very dark on the slick side of foam core. Oh hell. I'm not going to do it over again now. The coffee cup I drew has curly steam. My pancakes have a little pat of butter on top, and Nick and Mike both recognized the bacon, though I believe it's the weakest part of my drawing. I also made the coffee cup disproportionately small next to the plate. Okay, so maybe I was drawing an espresso instead. Don't anyone get any ideas that I'm making mochas on Saturday. I'm not.

Mike double-checked the quantities on my grocery list so I don't end up with ten times as much bacon as we need. He also said another volunteer emailed about coming to help. See, he's doing his part in all of this. See?

Yesterday, I got the cash box set up, but I'm worried that $200 in tens won't be enough. We could go through that in the first hour if everyone comes in with twenties. Mike says it's plenty. I don't think so. Not really. Not at all. And on Saturday, if someone has to run out to the bank, it will gum up the works for at least a half an hour. Can you picture that too? We have people. We have food. We just can't take their money. Yes, it would stink to run out of tens.

And at home, even though I've done the requisite single load of dishes, I have another load to do before I can see counter top. I folded two loads of laundry and there's another one in the dryer. Finally, Mike ran out to get pizza because he could see there was no lovely dinner smell emanating from the kitchen. Pizza was good. Wonder what he'll bring home tomorrow night? See, he is doing his part.

Boy, I hope we make some money on this fundraiser. I'm just about ready to pull out my checkbook and write a check for a couple thousand dollars just to make it all go away. Maybe next year, I'll figure out how to delegate some of these tasks. Maybe. I don't mind making the signs, but I'll definitely want someone to pick up the pizza and vacuum the dog hair out of my car.

Thank you for listening, jb

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, Part VI

So, the Boy Scout pancake breakfast is this Saturday. Last night, just before he fell asleep, Mike rolled over and said he's noticed that his friends are passing the information about it more than he expected. He thinks we might get more than 150 people. When I asked him about adding to the quantities I'm buying, he said to stick to the plan. I hate when he mentions something like this when it's time to settle in to sleep. It's hard to sleep when a wrench gets thrown into the works.

Mike is beginning to pack for the Camporee. Yesterday, the den started filling up with tents, crates of kitchen gear, sleeping bags, flash lights and all kinds of Scout detritus. I'm on track with my pancake plans, starting a pile of my own. So far, I have four large boxes that contain pristine chafing dishes. Later today, I need to set up a cash box with singles, fives, and tens. I wish I could ask for an even ten for each plate. That would make money changing simpler, but it's too much to charge for a plate of pancakes. I also need to make the signs and find Sterno for the chafing dishes I borrowed. Is it Sterno that goes in them? I'm going to inventory the boxes containing the chafing dishes this woman loaned. I need to make sure I get every piece back to her intact. I wish I hadn't asked her. Yesterday, when I called, she told me this horror story about someone who borrowed them, kept them too long, and returned them dirty. Oh.

She's a very clean person and what if I return them too dirty for her standards? Do water marks qualify as dirt? What if dog hairs from the dog's blanket in the car float up and get on them? What if parts get mixed up with the other chafing dishes we are borrowing when we clean up at the end? What if the boys drop a lid and it gets dented? I like that these will look really nice on the table when we serve, but I'm nervous that something will go wrong with them. Next time, I want to borrow old and battered chafing dishes.

This morning, I woke a half an hour before my alarm went off. Mike was already up. I laid in bed, stewing about all this for a bit, then practiced taking deep and even breaths for a while before I sat up. I think I managed about six breaths before I wanted to jump up, ready to tell Mike everything I was going to worry about for the day.

I may have things to do to get ready, I thought as I lolled about in my warm bed, but my job on Saturday is to make it fun for the boys. If I'm a bitch on wheels, they'll never show up next year when we plan another one. Nick and I talked about setting up a golden spatula rank for any kid who exemplified the Boy Scout Law. You know the one I mean. A Scout is trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly... Last night, as he procrastinated falling asleep, he went through each of the words and told me how it would fit with a pancake breakfast. If I paid attention to each of the kids who showed up, he said I could count points and award a golden spatula rank to any boy who delivered on ten of the good words. It's a good idea, except for one thing.

On Saturday, I'm going to struggle not to be running around like a chicken with her head cut off. I'm going to be trying to exemplify my three most challenging of those words - cheerful, kind, and reverent (or at least respectful of the Scouts and their inexperience and their energy). I'm not sure I'll be able to watch and listen if three people are asking me questions at one time. Mike says that I don't need to reward the boys, that eating pancakes at the end will be their reward. Nick had been really excited about the golden spatula rank. Mike thought I might get a single one and award it, but both Nick and I thought that would cause too much negative competition because there will be more than one boy there who's going to be great on Saturday. So instead, I'm scheduling Foosball time in between cleaning the tables, handing out fliers, and serving portions. I'm setting aside whipped cream for the boys to use on their pancakes and I'll bring chocolate chips and jimmies too. The last bit to make it fun will be the attitude I bring on Saturday.

When I was a kid, my church youth group hosted pancake breakfasts once in a while. There was this really old retired guy, Reverend Boyd, who came and made pancakes and talked with us. He was sweet. He was funny. He listened. He let us bounce around and make silly pancakes. Mickey Mouse is the easiest.

Can I learn from this sweet man's example? Can I?

There should be a Boy Scout Mom Law - A mom is kind, patient, generous, tolerant, persistent, and fun. That's going to be my biggest challenge on Saturday. I need to remember it.

Oh, and there's a wrench that just got thrown into the works. This morning, Nick woke up with one of those deep and scary coughs of his. I'm pretty sure I'm going to be up with him for the next few nights, working to make sure he keeps breathing.

A mom is kind, patient, generous, tolerant, persistent, fun, sleep-deprived, over-extended, stressed, and worried about the worst thing that can happen. I'm hoping I remember to breathe.

Thank you for listening, jb

Monday, May 27, 2013

'Some Assembly Required' by Anne Lamott

I'm in between stories, in a way. I've got 'The Importance of Being Seven' by Alexander McCall Smith on CD, but one of the disks is stuck in my old car and won't pop out. There's probably a dog hair mucking up the mechanism. McCall's story, a sweet one, one with many philosophical questions that I love finding in a book, questions that redeem the rambling nature of the story, is just hanging there, part way through disk 9. It would have been ironic if it had been disk 7, wouldn't it? The Importance of Being Seven. Life isn't telling the story the way I want it to yet again. Okay, so I could say, "Number 9? Number 9? Number 9?" and some of you would know which song I mean and in a drunken, remember those college weekends way, it would be ironic. Except that McCall's isn't that kind of book. Or it could be stuck on disk 42, and that would be the answer. It's not that kind of book either. The story is hanging there, unfinished and unattainable.

In addition to having my car holding one story ransom, I just finished reading another, 'Some Assembly Required' by Anne Lamott. I usually love everything that Anne Lamott writes, but this book seems different. In the past, I have loved and admired Lamott's honesty. And she was funny. When seeing her live at a reading, I felt she was endowed with the gifts of a stand up comic, though I'll admit that when she signed the books, she seemed tired and disconnected. A book tour could do that to a person, I figured.

Maybe I was too tired as I read this book. Maybe it was too late at night and my nighttime blur changed my viewpoint. The book seemed too exposed somehow, too honest. I wanted her to be together now that she'd survived raising a son, getting straight, and finding her spirituality. I didn't like seeing that raw nerve she's so good at getting me to feel. I felt she should hide that part, except that it was the reason for the entire book, right?

So, here's a question for you: How much information is too much for memoir? In a novel, it's okay to go all bloody and graphic on a reader. Just look at all the crime stuff that flies off the shelf. But when it's a memoir, does that change things? Bill Bryson's book, 'The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid' seems authentic enough when you read it. So does Frank McCourt's 'Angela's Ashes.' Yet, Bryson never makes me feel as though I'm supposed to be sorry for him. The agony with which I read 'Angela's Ashes' seemed like a flayed bony finger pointing at the people who caused this misery for these poor children. I wanted one redeeming element to be shown at the end. Anything at all. And sometimes, as in 'Some Assembly Required,' I feel like I've just seen a streaker who stopped to read the bus stop schedule in the middle of his run. Oh, Lamott is not graphic visually, but the anxiety she portrays is so raw. It makes me want to ask, "Honey, are you sure you want to publish this?"

Too late now.

And yet, she tells a poignant story, that struggle of a parent to let go and become a grandmother, one who lets the kids, who are now parents, manage on their own.

See, memoir also harbors another fault. Sometimes the author needs to stop talking and publish. What if we readers find that she, the author and main character, isn't as changed as we'd have liked her to be at the end of the book, especially when the sequel has begun where she left off as the new and improved self that she was in the previous book. Life isn't convenient to the story. Real people may not be able to cooperate that way.

Maybe that's her point.


Oh, I get it now.

Thank you for listening, jb

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, Part V

For the past three days, I've been running around trying to post fliers for the Boy Scout pancake breakfast next Saturday. I know I should have had the boys do this. I handed out fliers at the last meeting, but when I was out and about, I only saw one flier that I wasn't responsible for posting. One. I learned a lot by going around to local businesses and asking if I could put up fliers in their windows.

First, I learned that I have a great deal of difficulty walking in, asking to post the flier, and walking out without buying anything. At the market, I bought some necessary groceries. No problem. Those people are great. They know me. At the coffee hut, I bought a coffee. Still, no problem. At the cafe, I realized I was hungry, so I ordered a bowl of soup and some tea. By the time I left, I realized that this was going to take a very long time and I'd better make a pit stop before I took the dog on the trail for a walk. I was also going to spend a lot of money. By the time I was done, I bought coffee at two places, tea and soup at another, three bags of groceries, barbecue for dinner Thursday, teriyaki for dinner on Friday, and a straw hat from the hardware. I like those people at the hardware store. I also got a bottle of water and a cheerful set of directions to the new off leash area in the area from guy at a coffee house where I had never stopped before. I finally did figure out that I had enough courage to walk into a place, ask, smile, post the flier, and walk out. The cupcake place was my first stop of deep courage. They were kind, too, which only made it that much harder for me to leave without one of their pretty cupcakes in hand. And the smell in there was divine.

The next thing I learned is that I am sensitive to the difference in the vibe given off by employees when I wasn't an actual customer. It changed my opinion of the Starbucks where I'd met a friend a number of times when it was too wet  to walk the dogs. I had stopped at an outside table there to pet a guy's dog when a woman, someone in her twenties, approached.

"We don't even have a community board in there any more," she said to me with barely disguised disdain.

"Okay," I said. I looked at the guy with the dog. "Any chance you're interested in a pancake break....."

"No!" they both shouted in unison. They hadn't even let me tell them what it was for.

I was tired. I was tired of coffee. The fliers weren't for me. I was putting myself out there for a few boys who might not otherwise get to go to Boy Scout camp. I might have given the guy a look before I walked away, but I'm not sure if I had the presence of mind.

I've felt like an idiot a lot this week. Most of the time, it was met with kindness and just once, it wasn't.

So why am I supposed to come back to this Starbucks, to have these people making me coffee with plastic smiles on their faces? I'll go a half a block further to the place where the guy was cheerful and they had a wonderful fireplace and cosy seating. I'll go to the place where the cashier said her son loved pancakes and she might bring him next Saturday. She even brought me a cup of miso soup. I'll go back to the market where the guy said he'd be our backup if we ran out of anything that morning.

I may have been uncomfortable this week as I taped up fliers for the pancake breakfast, but I definitely learned where my allegiances lie. I'm also a little bit more courageous than I was before.

Thank you for listening, jb

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Random Chatter and Knowing the Perfect Punch

 I love that sleepy feeling you get after you're back into warm, dry clothes and have a cup of tea in your hands.

It's wet out there today. The trail was overgrown and mucky, yet it was wonderful being out and about, chatting with my friend about kids and school. I love how we realize that we can use a little bad language for emphasis since there are no kids around, for example when I stepped into the muck with my brand new running shoes. I really didn't plan this hike all that well. Wrong shoes, forgot my rain coat.

When I got back, I put on my pajamas and got to work in the kitchen, making beef stroganoff for dinner and chili for lunches while I listened to the radio.

There was a lot of news after that. Nationally, the Boy Scouts finally got onto the right track and no longer denies boys membership based on sexual orientation. Now, that's a step in the right direction. Way to go Boy Scouts! I'm just hoping they can bring themselves to agree that it shouldn't matter for adults either. Hey, if the military can do it ...

Locally, Nick told me that he didn't have the same problems with his vision that he'd had in class on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The bruise on his brain is beginning to heal. That meant that he could go to karate, if only to move silently as he practiced his forms. No sparring tonight. No sparring tomorrow night either. The doctor has him returning to his normal activities in stages with the last stage being contact sports. Nick informed me that one of the kids likes to punch him in the face. That's contact! Great.

Mike and all the senseis Nick has ever had insist that sparring is an important part of learning the forms. I guess I'm just not fond of the idea that some kid is hitting my kid and this is sanctioned activity. I can see why I'd like to learn karate. Who wouldn't want to know how to throw the perfect punch when it comes to that moment? But I have no desire for my boy to get hit in the process. I have to stop and remember that there have been very few times when I felt it necessary to throw a punch or a kick. I can count four and I managed quite well without training. I even pulled one of the punches at the last second. Just making the right movement was all it took to make these two bullies leave me alone.

Mike tells me that boys are different? Are boys different? I asked him how many fights he'd gotten into and, even growing up in New Jersey, he admitted there were none. My point exactly. Still, Nick has used his karate to block blows from four kids that I know of. Oh, he's pretty transparent for now, so I probably do know about all of them. That'll change soon enough. I guess it makes sense for him to learn karate. He gets confidence from it. Plus, it's really great exercise. I'm not sure I could do even one of those frog hops they do over and over and over.

So, the problem I had was that I'd already gotten comfortable in my pajamas and didn't want to go out again. Damn. I got ready anyway. I went.

When we got back, I jumped into my pajamas again and landed on the couch with Mike and Nick. We watched the news about the bridge collapse on I-90. I wanted to post a Facebook status that said, "Dear Mom, I'm okay. I wasn't on the bridge and I promise I didn't make it collapse.' Mike said it would be insensitive. It was really strange watching the people sit on top of their cars while the rescue people tried to get to them safely. They said three people were rescued and two went to the hospital. That's an amazingly low number, I think. That part of the road is almost always busy when I'm on it. I chattered away at the way the news people were presenting the information, commenting on the safety issues, on the rescue, on the anchor's chatter. I wonder, sometimes, if Mike would rather listen to the news than my commentary on it.

Then, after switching to national news to see if the bridge news made it that far, we watched President Obama's face as an interloper interrupted his speech. It was so stupid. This woman was screaming her opinions about drones and Guantanamo, issues which the President was trying to discuss, issues he's trying to solve. She had no interest in letting him actually discuss how. Sometimes I think his presidency will be defined by stupid acts like that, other people interfering with the way he's trying to solve problems we all agree need to be addressed. The woman was seriously annoying. I have to tell you if I had been a spectator standing next to her, it would have been a good thing I didn't know just exactly how to throw that perfect punch.

Thank you for listening, jb

Sunday, May 19, 2013

The Big What If

I spent the day with 'what if.' Late this morning, as Mike slept a little longer, I had a strong urge to look in on him to make sure his ears were still pink. He almost never goes back to bed. I didn't want to wake him, just make sure he was still breathing. I spent a bit of time imagining how I would manage, or more likely not manage, if something happened to him. I wondered, and not for the first time, if a man can die of lack of sleep. So, I held myself in check and stayed away from our closed door. I tried to change my train of thought as I unloaded and reloaded the dishwasher and chatted with Nick from the other room. Then, I actually sat down to watch inane cartoons with Nick after I got the dishwasher going. Sometimes it's good for your mind to watch inane cartoons on TV. When Mike got up, a little after noon, I jumped up to hug him.

I know it isn't healthy to think a long time about what will happen when someone I love dies, but you have to remember that I know what it feels like to lose people. I believe that in a way, it's a memory instead of just a daydream. Those days were hard, especially after my dad died. I spent a lot of time then by myself. It was a lot for a thirteen year old girl to figure out on her own.

I've learned that the flip side of all this is that I know exactly how lucky I am to have loved Mike for nearly twenty-six years. Plus, I get to imagine that we'll have more time together. Most days, I imagine a lot more time with him.

There was another 'what if' this weekend, the one that started it all. On Friday morning, Nick was a bit too exuberant in opening the hatch to the Pruis and cheap plastic parts holding the struts onto the hatch failed. The thing came down hard, grazed Nick's forehead, then hit him across the chest. At first, he didn't realize he'd been hit. Hard hits work that way.

A goose egg bump formed immediately on his head and, leaving his backpack, vest, and lunch bag in the rain, I huddled Nick back into the house.

"Mike, you need to assess this. Nick was hit in the head by the hatch. It came loose from its moorings and fell on him," I yelled as I sat Nick down on the couch and ran for an ice pack. Mike sat down with Nick while I paced back and forth. Mike shined the LED light from his iPhone in Nick's eyes. Not fixed. Not dilated.

"Do you feel dizzy?" he asked him.

"No. Well, maybe a little," Nick said.

"How is your vision? Is it okay?"


"Does your head hurt?"

"Not really. Kind of."

Seeing that Nick probably wasn't having an emergency, I ran out to the car, at the same time calling Adrian to have him run over to meet me. He was going to be late for school. One of the struts stuck out of the side of the hatch and it wouldn't close properly. Leaving the hatch, I scooped up Nick's things and threw them into the car. Adrian jumped in with his stuff, and I sped down the road, trying to slow my breathing and my driving while telling Nick's story to Adrian. I dropped him off and drove a little more safely back home.

"I gave him some Acetaminophen," Mike said as I walked up the stairs. "Dont' give him Ibuprofen. It might make things bleed more easily. Keep ice on his head. You might need to take him to the doctor later if his symptoms get worse." And then Mike was off to work himself.

Not an emergency. Not really.

Still, with the addition of visual changes, dizziness, and some nauseousness, meanth that we were headed to the doctor later that morning. I'd had Nick keep the ice on his head for more than an hour. The poor kid kept taking it off because it was giving him a brain freeze and I kept nagging him to put it back. For a while, the swelling spread down into his eye, threatening to close it, but it eased after a bit. I take credit for my work, the nagging, regarding the ice. Still, I didn't want Nick to suffer the same fate as Natasha Richardson who hadn't thought the bump on her head worth seeing a doctor over. So I made an appointment.

I was okay, I really was, that is, until the doctor kept talking about how lucky Nick was that the hatch had only grazed his head instead of hitting it square or on the back of his neck or something. This doctor was a wonderful, a very curious and thorough doctor, and he spoke directly to Nick instead of talking to me as if he weren't in the room. I love those characteristics in a doctor.

But it hit me how incredibly lucky Nick had been.

In the car after the appointment, I hid the way my hands were shaking by talking to Mike on the phone about what the doctor had said. Mild concussion. Two days rest. Heavy limits on video games and no school for two days. Too bad it was a Friday. No contact sports for a week. Mild exercise, yes. Bouncing and bumping, jumping and especially sparring, no. I got calmed down while I talked to Mike. He has that effect on me.

And then, I was okay until this afternoon, when I needed to run errands. I left Mike to look after Nick who had been pretty quiet for the past twenty-four hours. I brought the dog because he needed a walk. After I finished my errands, I headed to the dog park, hoping the off leash area would be busy, but there wasn't a soul around. We'd have to walk then.

Dangerous, these quiet walks.

I let my mind wander to its own place. 'What if' came back. What if that hatch had come down square on Nick's head? What if it had chopped at the back of his neck? What if, what if, what if? In the end, it was good there weren't any people in the grassy area when I got back from looping out through the back field where the elk lie. I was wrung out, jittery. My head hurt. Leave it to me to have my head hurt when Nick is the one who got the bump.

He's okay. I said to myself over and over. He's okay. He really is okay.

When I got home and walked up the stairs, Nick was raring to go. The Lego store. It was important. I could see that he was feeling better.

"Are you going to come with us?" Mike asked.

"Yeah, I missed you while I was out." I really am an extraordinarily lucky woman to have these two men in my life.

Thank you for listening, jb

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, Part IV

I had dreams that I worked really hard to make this Boy Scout pancake breakfast work so that no one got sick to their stomachs and no one actually showed up. Dreams. Technicolor dreams.

I did that kind of thing when planning my wedding twenty-two years ago too.  I dreamed that I walked down the aisle in a borrowed purple prom dress. I woke knowing it was time, past time really, to go find my dress. I dreamed that I planned the whole thing, caterers and all, and no one came because a pile of invitations sat on my desk. That morning, I knew it was time to send out the invitations.

So yesterday, when I dreamed that no one came to the pancake breakfast, I woke knowing it was time once again to send out the invitations. The funny thing to know here is that I only had forty-nine people at my wedding including the musicians and caterers. I still remember that number because I told the caterers that everyone needed to eat. Everyone. I wish the number had been forty-two. A bit of advice to all you girls planning your weddings out there. The musicians play longer and are quite cheerful if you feed them.

So, I procrastinated all afternoon with my notification to the newspapers. The community has two newspapers and a newsletter. The newsletter publishes on the first of the month, so I figured most people will have eaten breakfast before they crack open the newsletter for the local news. That was a bummer. But I figured the two newspapers should cover things, plus a good plug to my Facebook friends the week before. Hopefully, that will rouse a hundred or so people from their pajamas and cartoons on a Saturday morning to go help the local Boys Scout troop send its boys to camp. We also might get some grandparents if I make up fliers too and hopefully some people at the last minute who are tired of waiting to get onto the train for the view of the falls.

I sat down about twenty minutes before it was time to drive Nick to karate and wrote the who, what, where, when, and why of it all on a scrap of paper. I use that method because I'm the one who invited twenty of my best friends to a birthday party once and never put the date of the party on the cards. Really? Yeah. I did that. I also planned a birthday party, with potato salad and baked beans, and forgot to bring any serving spoons. After that, I began to work from a list I kept on my computer. I totally love that list. It saves my butt every year when it's time to set up Nick's annual birthday picnic. Last year, we invited twenty-one kids and their families. You'd think I'd have this food thing down by now.

You'd think.

So, I finished the who, what, where, when, why and I think there was no need for how in this case. Then the little piece of paper sat there, on top of my laptop, until 10:30 when Mike was trying to get ready for bed.

"Honey, they don't have a place for me to enter anything new on the events page," I yelled into the bathroom.

"It should be there somewhere," Mike said through his toothpaste. "Try checking the 'contacts' tab."

"Not there either." I asked a half a dozen more inane questions to which Mike responded with patience. Did I ever tell you that Mike is patient? Seriously, if he did the whole thing himself, he'd have the answer to these questions about websites he's never visited. He's good at finding the wheat amid the chaff of software and web pages. I know I should have clammed up and done my job. He had been the one to delegate it to me, not the other way around, I reminded myself.

"Would you edit this?" I asked, handing him the scrap of paper with my 'who, what, where' scrawled on it.

"It looks fine," he said after fifteen seconds. He sat down on the bed and took off his socks. Did he read it at all? Did I wait too late in the evening to have access to his thinking brain? I turned to go back out to sit down at the computer.

"Did you answer the who, what, where, and when?" he called after me. He's a gem. He really is. I turned in time to see him peel off his T-shirt.

"Got it," I said, with a little more confidence. I hugged him good night and hoped I could join him before the Cinderella hour.

I went back to the contact information on the 'submit news' page for the first newspaper. I entered all the required information, looked it over one last time, referring to my scratch paper, and pressed the 'submit' button. Yay! I was half done.

Then, onto the second newspaper I went. It's format was entirely different. I typed in all the required fields and pasted my who, what, when, where into the main field. I could hear my pillow calling my name. Just a few more minutes to go. I figured I could wait to finish the fliers until just before the next troop meeting. I was mentally brushing my teeth and looking at my reflection in the mirror when I pressed the 'submit' button for the second time, skipping right past another button that said 'preview.' Nah, I've got this down!

Nope. I didn't have it down!

The view of my events calendar entry after I pressed that 'submit' button repeated everything twice, once from the required fields I had filled in on the web page and once from my piece of scratch paper listing the who, the what, the where, and the when in the main block the page designers had left me. So now, this event is going to be listed in the paper with the who, the what, the when, and the where showing up twice. I hate when I'm redundant! Hate it!

Do you know in the movie 'Bridget Jones's Diary' where the love of her life is about to tell her that he likes her just as she is? And she's so busy ranting at him that she might actually miss the moment and she says, "I feel like an idiot most of the time anyway."

Yeah, that.

Thank you for listening, jb

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Getting Smart

I'm finally getting some free time. I don't know why. I think I'm just taking it as opposed to having earned it or having a lull in the action. There is always action. I'm always behind. Today, I should have mowed the lawn before it rained. I should have vacuumed Teddy's fur out of the car. I should have changed the sheets, done laundry, dusted.

Instead, I walked with Teddy today. It was a sweet day for a walk. I may have told you that I'm not a fan of enduring sunshine. I would not be happy in California, Arizona, or New Mexico, though I might try New Mexico some day because the mountains are so bare, seem so open to walking. Plus, there's a great art community there. I'd like that. I'd have to get used to the dazzling sun, though. I prefer clouds. Today, the sun broke through, then the clouds overcame them. Back and forth, the weather tipped. It was perfect.

I went along a trail I usually skip through without seeing. I stopped at a copse of trees, looked at the view of the falls, and considered sitting on the bench. I didn't, but I did get to looking at the bark on the trees. They were all messed up. Damn!

These trees had slash marks in the bark about five feet up. Why can't people leave well enough alone? Then I looked closer. Maybe they were territory markings of the black bear that lives in the neighborhood. I didn't see anything like a pile of garbage or a carcass that would cause territory to be an issue. I didn't want to see either of those things. It would have been ugly, but on top of that, I really don't want a bear to think I'm after its food. Still, I studied these scratches. It didn't exactly look like a kid did it. But if it were a bear, it would have to be a short bear. Fur stuck to the bark, tan fur. Not a kid, then. Well, black bear can actually range from dark brown to nearly blonde, but I'd never heard anyone around here reporting a light-colored one. All the pictures I'd seen on Facebook were very brown. So, if it were a bear, it would be a short itchy blonde bear. Hmmm.

I took pictures of these marks and sent them to Mike. His response? 'Cool!' Then, I wandered around, connected up to another of my normal trails, circled back around, and waved at the groundskeeper on my way out.

When Nick got home from school, I showed him the pictures too. I asked him if he thought it was some kid with a pocket knife or maybe a bear.

"No Mom, there's fur all over. Those marks are from elk," he said. "Look at the color of the fur. They're rubbing their antlers and it's scratching the bark off the trees."

Hey, when did my kid get so smart?

Thank you for listening, jb

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, Part III

So, it turns out that when you approach people with a clipboard and pen in your hands, they start to get that trapped look in their eyes. Tonight, I walked up to anyone over eighteen at the Scout meeting and began my spiel. Some of us stood outside while the boys met inside with committee members. Mosquitoes swarmed us, micro vampires looking for a meal.

"Are you guys planning to go to the Camporee?" I said, approaching one group wearing my best salesman smile.

"Ah, I'm not sure yet. When is it?" one guy said.

"It's the weekend of May 31st," I said, still smiling. By the time I'd run through the whole thing with the second adult, the first one, still reeling from my assault, was warning the others that my intent had nothing to do with the Camporee. If they tried to say 'no,' thus avoiding the dreaded sign-up sheet, they were stepping right into my trap.

"I don't think so. I think there's a tournament that weekend."

"Ah, so if you can't make it to the Camporee, maybe you could help out at the pancake breakfast? We have a conflict and Mike has asked me to get things going." Then, I quickly rattled off the details. Before they could check their mental calendars, I said that they could come for part of it even if they were busy later. One guy said he was going to Hawaii. Yeah right. I'll believe that when I see the boarding passes.

Once they were on to my tricks, quite a few more people signed up to go to the Camporee. I lost a perfect pancake flipper who had originally said he was too busy for the Camporee. He actually told me outright that a Camporee was going to be more fun than a pancake breakfast. Bummer.

In the end, though, I have more than the four adults and at least six kids that I need to keep things going that day.  A few of the adults even have food handling permits. The really good news is that one of my recruits is someone who's done this kind of thing before. She momentarily infused me with a calm that could only be described as Zen-like. She knew Costco volumes, baking bacon tricks, and suggested a pseudo-buffet line to speed up service. By the time I was done picking her brain and begging her to come, I was quite a bit more confident about this pancake breakfast. I just might be able to pull this out of the hat yet.

On the way home, I stopped at the library to pick up my holds. There was a movie, some music, and a couple of books of Japanese prints waiting for me.  I could feel my new-found confidence slipping when I ran into a friend of mine before I walked out of the door. We stood outside amid another swarm of mosquitoes and talked. Maybe they were the same mosquitoes and had somehow followed me to the library in my car. I told her how I'd dropped one commitment, the club she's in, only to add another. I told her that Mike had put me in charge of a pancake breakfast. I'm not sure I like being in charge of anything.

I'm not sure how you figure all that food, food for somewhere between fifty and two hundred people," I told her. "I'm not even sure how long bacon can sit in a chaffing dish before it starts to go bad."

"You could pick my husband's brain," she said. "He's a chef, you know."

"Really? I could. That's a good idea. Hey, maybe he could come, make everything happen, and somehow I could stay in bed that morning with my head under my covers," I said.

"You only get services like that if you're married to him," she said and she laughed as if I were joking. So, I pretended that I was and laughed too.

"Yeah, that. I can't make that work. There's the problem with that tall guy that I really like at home."

So, my job now is to send out notices, make up fliers, and to get back to that Zen-like state. My meditation words will be 'bacon, pancake mix, butter, syrup, coffee, cream, sugar.' Breathe in, hold, and release slowly. 'Bacon, pancake mix, butter, syrup, coffee, cream sugar.'  And repeat, ignoring any monkey-mind suggestions about induced illnesses and no shows. 'Bacon, pancake mix, butter ... '

Thank you for listening, jb

Sunday, May 12, 2013

It's a Rough Life, Part II

Every day should be Mother's Day. This morning, Mike made eggs Benedict for all of us. As if that weren't enough, the guys cleaned the house while I took a leisurely walk with Teddy. At first, I walked, wishing the guys had come with me, but then I got into a groove of looking at patterns in the leaves. I tell you my head was in the clouds as I walked, my eyes glazed over, when suddenly, Teddy jumped a few feet straight in the air. The he proceeded to suspiciously sniff an extra long dandelion puff that had touched his leg. Then he turned and recoiled from a stick that seemed to have snuck up from behind him. It occurred to me that I might sound off kilter laughing that loud out on the trail by myself.

"Oh honey, did you think a snake got you?" I said to smooth over the strangeness of laughing alone in the woods. Teddy looked at me and hung his head a little.

"Don't worry," I said. "I'd have jumped too." I looked along the sunny edges of the grass after that but never did see a snake. I don't doubt that Teddy saw one. I like that the snakes on this side of the mountains are benign little creatures. All I've ever seen were garters, some with green stripes, some with orange, and occasionally, one with blue stripes. It's a good way to get to know snakes. Where I grew up, there were garters, hog-nosed snakes, and blue racers, but there were also copperheads, rattlers, and the dreaded water moccasin. I hate water snakes. They're outright aggressive. The garters eat small rodents. I used to have a garter snake in tall grass by my driveway, but I haven't seen him in a dog's age. I knew where he lived, so I wasn't surprised by him very often.

When I was done walking, I stopped at the market, got into a conversation with the checker about his college studies and with another shopper about hunting mushrooms. Someday, I should tell you about hunting mushrooms when I was a kid. I loved hunting mushrooms. I used to fall asleep trying to picture them among the leaves when it was the season. I swear that made it easier to spot one in the woods. This guy could have talked for hours, but I was missing my own guys. I like to talk, but there was a point when I just want to go home to see what the guys had done with the house.

Oh, it looked good. The garbage and recyclables were out by the road. The foyer wasn't vacuumed that I could tell, nor were the stairs, but all the toys were put away and the upstairs carpet was vacuumed despite a small pile of rocks I'd collected and left in the middle of it.

I put away groceries, leaving dinner parts conspicuously on the counter.

"What are we doing for dinner?" I asked.

"I don't know. What do you want to do?" Mike asked.

"I got steaks. We could have them tonight or we could go to the River Cafe," I said. I could tell he didn't want to go out. He could tell I didn't want to cook.

"I'm tired. I don't want to go anywhere," Nick said. He was back to playing video games and didn't see my visual cues.

"Nick, we're making dinner for your mom," he said.

"We'll be having steak, roast potatoes, and bean salad on the menu tonight," I said. Nick lit the barbecue and Mike scraped the grill and got the steaks going.

"I don't know how to make bean salad," Mike said, coming back into the kitchen and started putting in a load of dishes.

"I'll show Nick. The hardest part is opening the cans." The thing I like about bean salad is that it's so pretty. I use kidney beans, wax beans, canned carrots, butter beans, garbanzos, and green beans. Nick came into the long and narrow kitchen, not used to the 'kitchen dance' that Mike and I have developed over the years. Mike whistled the theme song to Sesame Street as I helped Nick measure the rest of the ingredients. I was so sick of struggling with my favorite recipes when I moved away from home and grandma would say 'a pinch of this' or my mother would say 'a little bit of that.' That's how I cook most of the time now myself, but it would be nice for Nick to know general amounts for his favorites when he gets to that point. Nick added some red wine vinegar, olive oil, sugar, oregano, and basil and we were set. He used all the basil and I actually got him to put it on the white board grocery list. The crunch of a little chopped onion would have been nice in the bean salad, but Mike can't eat onions. Then, the three of us stood around the bowl and tasted. Mike scooped some up in a big bowl and went into the living room to eat it while the steaks finished on the grill.

"This will taste better tomorrow," he said with beans in his mouth, "if there's any of it left."

So, I'm about to sit down to a dinner I only had a little to do with making. It's beautiful food. I'm always happier when my food is colorful.

I'm not sure what's going on with me these days. It feels like I'm a little bit done with the crabbiness of menopause or something. Life has turned into this peaceful groove and I'd like to stay stuck in it.

Thank you for listening, jb

Friday, May 10, 2013

It's a Rough Life

When I carried him inside, Seth felt like a fleece jacket just out of the dryer. Somehow I've spent the last few afternoons on the back deck at my little table and somehow, the whole family has come out to be with me. Teddy whined at the door until I let him out, but he ran off, so I got him back, then chained him up to his run. He didn't seem to mind, but groaned just a little when he got bored just lying on the deck next to me in the sun with his new yellow dog toy. His biggest mode of expression is through his groans. He's groaning now.  Then, Nick came outside to do homework and brought Seth out in his harness, which he'd put on him upside down. Seth was ecstatic, sitting at the edge of the deck, looking at bugs, tail twitching in excitement. We can't let him off the lead because of the busy road we live by, but this is a pretty good compromise. When Mike got home, he came outside and sat with me for a while, telling me a story about how he had to separate the expenses for just two people at a team pizza party picnic because, technically, they belonged in another group. Then, he went inside to play video games. The deck shields me from television noise. Nick finished his homework and headed inside to play on the TV too, but before he left, he got Seth a blanket and lined a chair with it. When Seth got bored with the bugs, he settled down in the sun in his cosy bed and looked up at me, now and then, with sleepy yellow eyes. His eyes change color, from green to gray, but in the sunshine, they're yellow, like the newest leaves on the trees in spring.

Meanwhile, I read my book, propped up my feet in the sun, doodled in my notebook, ate a large salad, and drank a frosty Perrier flavored with lime, and conveniently forgot stuff I should be doing but wasn't. What a good life, huh?

All good things must come to an end, but it was lovely that when I picked Seth up to bring him in, he felt as if he'd just come from the dryer. It was cool enough that I hugged the warmth from his cosy body until he was normal temperature again.

I'm not sure he appreciated that. I think he liked being the temperature of jeans warm from the dryer. At least I didn't have to worry about the rivets.

Thank you for listening, jb


Wednesday, May 8, 2013

A Memory Metaphor

I don't know what I'm about to say. Let's just say, I haven't figured out what is important about my day amid the tangle of everyday events. I may not really remember the events of the day anyway, so all of this is fiction. I've told you that before, haven't I, that it's all fiction. It ended up being true. Just ask David McRaney.

I'm nearly finished reading his book, 'You Are Not So Smart.' It turns out that this guy also has a blog of interesting psychological studies about how your brain can be tricked. I love this stuff. Still, when I looked at today's installation, the poor guy has a photo of the way a tornado ripped the roof off his house. That sucks, doesn't it? I've never lost my home, but it's got to be an incredible jolt.

Now, think about it. David McRaney writes a book about how we plebs, all of us, think our memories are great but in fact, they are full of holes. We can watch a video with a man in a gorilla suit running through it and miss it if we're given an assignment to do at the same time. We might even miss an entire change of person in front of us if we're focused on some task at hand. Right? Then he posts a photo of a homey wall with a photo on it yet the roof is missing. Is there a more apt metaphor for his blog than that?

So, here's what I want you to do. Go visit his blog. Buy his book. See, he's going to need it to put the roof back onto your memory, I mean, his house.

Really, he could use your support.

Thank you for listening, jb

Friday, May 3, 2013

Pre-Dance Video Games

I'm sitting here in my living room in front of the computer. There are four boys behind me playing a violent video game.  I put a tray of veggies out with dip, cheese, crackers, and strawberries. They aren't eating much. I've been sitting here quietly for long enough that they don't seem to think I can hear them.

If I were hosting four girls, they'd be in the bedroom, trying on clothes, sneaking more makeup than they should wear, listening to music, and giggling. The only thing these boys are doing from that list is the giggling. Never mind getting ready for the dance. The dance is nearly irrelevant. It's a party right here and right now.

"Clash of the newbs," one yells.

"We should do a match where we put someone out there with her and someone just whales on her," another screams.

"Let's just do the cannibalism thing."

"That's for lunch. That's for dinner. Who's she going to eat next?"

To be honest, I can't type fast enough to catch everything they're saying or even who's saying it. They're laughing themselves silly.

"I'm just coughing up blood. Don't worry. I'll be okay."

"Yep, just choking here."

"Dude, you're a girl. We're not supposed to hit a girl."

"I'm going to just put this knife in your stomach. Can you hold it for a second?"

They are yelling at each other and at the TV.

This stuff is not funny. It's really not if you listen to their literal words. The problem with being invisible in the room is that I'm not sure if I should step in and end it.  Mike said not to worry. I worry. One of the boys wants to play a different game. Thank you! Please, go outside and play. Please. Let your energy out by running around.

Good. Nerf swords. Should I tell them to do all that outside? Nah. I'm going to assume it'll go okay. Books will fall. Maybe a picture in a frame. It's happened before. Not the end of the world.

Now they're fighting on the stairs. It's how they always sword fight in the movies. It looks good, better than it looks here with a concrete floor at the bottom.

Whew! Now all that energy is downstairs when I threatened to take pictures of them. Nick is tired of me always clicking pictures. They might even end up outside. I hope so. I just heard a door slam. It's Mike! He has pizza!

It suddenly got very quiet with the pizza.

Thank God for pizza!

Thank you for listening, jb


Thursday, May 2, 2013

Feeding the Hordes Continues, Part II

So, Mike and I met with the man at the Eagles Lodge to discuss the pancake breakfast the Boy Scout troop is going to have while Mike is away at a Camporee. This guy looked like Bruce Willis. I liked him immediately. Mike introduced us and the two guys got down to brass tacks, talking about the menu. I interrupted them.

"How many people do you think will come?" I asked Bruce.

"No idea," he said. Then he jumped up out of his seat and we followed him into the kitchen. "We have plates here. Are you going to use these or bring in paper plates? I think you should use paper plates. Makes everything easier."

I imagined how many times loaded plates could collapse before I switched to porcelain. I wondered how many porcelain plates I could break at one time. We followed Bruce back to sit at the table where my notebook lay with one entry - number of people.

"We'll probably use the plates you have here. It's better for the environment," Mike said, easing back into a seat.

"How do we figure how many people we'll end up serving?" I tried again. I held up my pen, ready to get it down on paper.

"Well, you could have fifty. You could have two hundred. It all depends. Better hope it doesn't rain. You should go to Cost Plus for the bacon and the pancake mix. They'd have paper plates too if you decide to go that way." He jumped up again.

"You'll have to get cooks," he said walking back into the kitchen.

Cooks? I don't know any cooks, I thought, as I waddled behind both him and Mike.

 "Yup cooks. This grill works pretty well, but once it gets heated up, it overheats. You'll put your meat over here and your pancakes here. Just fiddle with this knob when as it starts to overheat." I remembered working at a restaurant when I was in college. I generally avoided the grill. I stared at the thing now, imagining it glowing red. Only one time back then, I'd been asked to clean the grill using salt and oil and I'd leaned into it, lost my balance, and burned a line across my wrist. It took three years and about seventy-five questions about attempted suicide before that scar faded. I didn't like this grill any better.

"We'll have two adults at the grill," Mike said. "The boys will be serving and another adult will take money at the door."

"Sounds good," Bruce said. If the two men were working together, we'd be set. They talked about how to broadcast the news of the event, how they might draw in some tourists on the morning if they sent a couple of boys out with fliers. These two seemed to know their way around a pancake breakfast, but I was stuck on how many people would eat. Was it fifty or was it two hundred? And there was the little matter of the overheating grill. I didn't like the sound of that overheating grill.  Did I tell you I almost burned down my house a couple of weeks ago. Should I be the one showing an adult how to use a grill that overheats? It might be dangerous. I stopped staring at the grill and caught up with them at the baking trays I was supposed to use for the bacon.

"Are you going to have bacon and sausage?" Bruce asked getting a look in his eyes.

"Yup. We'll put both bacon and sausage on their plates," Mike said.

"If you cut the bacon strips in half, it looks like you're getting more."

"Good plan," Mike said, nodding.

"But how do we figure out how much food to buy?" I asked again.

"Well, you should probably serve four good-sized pancakes, a slice of bacon cut in two and a sausage link. Your grocery list will be pretty simple - maple syrup, butter, coffee, orange juice, bacon, sausage, and pancake mix." I zoned out while he talked about where we could get the best prices for the ingredients. I knew how much food to put on the damn plate. I just didn't know how many people to buy food for, fifty or two hundred or more than that. Bruce got up and looked in the freezer to show Mike how they had a couple extra bags of sausages and quarts of orange juice concentrate. He looked like he was about to whip up some breakfast right then and there. Then two men moved on and stared into the refrigerator for a little while.

"Strawberries and whipped cream would be good," Bruce said.

"Mmmm," Mike said.

I don't know how many times I asked Bruce how many people he thought would come to a pancake breakfast. I could never nail down an answer better than the first one he gave me, twenty or five hundred. Bruce closed the refrigerator door and we walked back to the table and sat.

I stewed as he and Mike talked about a few other details, the key, someone to keep an eye on the place, the pool table. They laughed about boys in the kitchen using knives and boys at the grill playing with fire and boys being responsible with the money at the door. Plus, Bruce said that the kids were not allowed to use the pool table. They could play Foosball, but not pool.  Okay, so now I have to put a chain around the cover to the pool table? At this point, Mike and Bruce were laughing and talking about how the Eagles had run a karaoke night fundraiser there once and a couple of guys drank too much and started fighting outside on the sidewalk. I have to worry about having twenty-five extra pounds of bacon and six bags of pancake mix after the breakfast is over. I have to worry about the grill overheating and burning down the building. I have to keep teenaged boys from tearing the felt off the pool table. I have to keep from losing all of our money. And now I have to worry that somebody will start a fight and tear the place down?

 I knew it wouldn't work to tell him I couldn't handle burning pancakes at the grill or boys sneaking a shot at the eight ball or men fighting on the sidewalk. I knew I should tell him that I have the capacity to drop ten porcelain plates at a time and to organize an event with plenty of plates but no silverware. I should have told Bruce that if I undercooked the bacon, everyone could end up catching intestinal parasites.

Mike and Bruce were wrapping it up when I said, "Well, I guess we'll take a guess at how much to buy."

"We'll plan on a hundred and fifty people," Mike said.

"I can figure that out," I told them, trying to look confident.

"We're going to want this to be run primarily by the boys," Mike said, looking at me. "You might want to double-check their quantities and go with them when they shop."

Holy cow! I have to do boy-led grocery shopping too?

Strawberries, whipped cream, bacon, sausage, syrup, butter, orange juice, milk, coffee, decaf, half and half, creamer, sugar, napkins, some cups, some plastic utensils, pancake mix, M&Ms, chocolate chips, Doritos, chocolate donuts, bologna, pizza rolls, hot Cheetos, jerky, chocolate chip cookies, macaroni and cheese, a Frisbee and rocky road ice cream.

 Thank you for listening, jb