Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Brief Moment of Panic

Anyone have a large paper bag that I can put over my head?  Deep breath.  Deep breath.

I just called Human Resources at Yellowstone to make sure they got my employment packet.  

A very sweet woman typed in my name and said...
"I'm sorry, but we have you down as being a NO SHOW.  WE DON'T HAVE A JOB FOR YOU."

No job?  I just quit two social work jobs to make this insane trip, and she's telling me I don't have one cleaning rooms in a hotel? 

I have a pile of supplies ranging from toe nail clippers to long underwear piled on the bed.  Everybody knows I'm going!

I have been basking in my new "cool status" and I like it.  I haven't been cool, EVER, and I'll have to disappear for 6 months and maybe keep that paper bag over my head so no one recognizes me.

I have hiking shoes!  I want to use my hiking shoes.  And what am I going to do with bear spray?  Maybe I can use it on that sweet woman in human resources.

And then she said........."Oh, sorry.  Here's your name.  I just didn't look far enough on the computer.  We'll be expecting you on April 22nd."


O.K.  I'm breathing normally now.  My head has stopped spinning.  I am cool again.

Whew.  Even my husband is relieved.  Wait....why is he relieved?  What does he have planned while I'm gone?  Why has that little smile returned? 

Where did that paper bag go?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Playing Nice in Yellowstone

Far be it for me to tell anyone how to act.  My "inner child" still comes
out to play at the wrong times.  But, really, folks.  You travel hundreds
or thousands of miles to visit Yellowstone National Park and you act
like toddlers who can't have a toy. 

I'm not going to say who has been ratting on you, but I've known them since they were born and they were sooooo cute.  Here's what I'm hearing from my reliable sources (love ya sons) and it ain't pretty.  It seems there is a big epidemic of the grumps going around.

Don't look at Bill over there.  You know I'm talking to you. It would seem that some of you think that Yellowstone is an amusement park or a McDonald's with a playground.  You give yourself one day to see Old Faithful, snap some pics of the critters, eat a meal, and then zoom on to the Tetons.  Gotta move, gotta move, out of the way you stupid bison....  

Settle back future travelers (I have high hopes for you) and soak in some facts.  The park covers over 3400 square miles.  To break it down even more, the park is 63 air miles north to south and 54 air miles east to west.  If you get your head out of the clouds and hit the roads, you'll find the speed limits are 45 miles an hour max.  Then there are the bison who decide to have a sit down in the middle of the road.  Trust me.  They won't move just because you're on a schedule.  They laugh at schedules.

Make me proud when you visit Yellowstone.  Don't go charging into the Old Faithful Inn demanding that you be served before Old Faithful goes off in half an hour.  First of all, it is a restaurant with waiters, table cloths, wine and it isn't cheap.  Relax...enjoy the meal.  Talk to the wait staff who come from all over the world.  Secondly, Old Faithful is faithful.  It goes off every hour.  I promise.  And don't embarrass me by asking "When do they let the animals out?"  It has been asked.  My sources wouldn't lie.

I care about you.  I really do.  I want you to have a good time.  It's a VACATION!  You're spending a lot of money to clear up that gnarled, little work brain.  Stroll.  Breathe.  Hug the kids.  Hug the spouse.  Don't feed the bears.  Look at this picture. Lose the grumps.



Monday, March 29, 2010

Another Thing I'll Leave Behind

Hey….here’s something else I’m leaving behind to live in Yellowstone National Park.  It’s my luxurious office.

Remember, I’m a social worker.  We don’t get the corner offices with a view of the city.  We get closets, basements and places that don’t meet fire codes.

Currently, this is my palace at a nursing home for people with “behavior” problems.  You don’t even want to know about that.  Odd.  I always have jobs that make friends and family head for the door when I try to regale them with tales of my day.  I think the stories are fascinating…they turn green and gag.

For instance, (grab your barf bag) the dentist uses my office for resident examinations. 
I had only worked there a few months, so I wasn't
clear on what would actually happen when the
dentist visited. 

I’m thinking some cleanings or x-rays.
Maybe I wasn’t thinking at all which
was probably the case.  The next thing I know, we’re talking tooth extractions, right there in front of my desk. My residents don’t exactly care about being socially appropriate so there was a lot of screaming.    
Me and them, I think.

Are we clear now about my work environment?  And look at those wires above my chair.  I have no idea what that is all about.  I’m afraid if I accidently pull one of them, the whole state of Ohio will brown out

In case you’re interested, the gynecologist or proctologist doesn’t use my office.  Yes, I asked that question!    
My days here are few.  I will miss the residents and my co-workers, but it’s time to move on.  Bye, bye my little paradise.  Yellowstone beckons. 


Sunday, March 28, 2010

What I Will Miss in Yellowstone

You've seen the trees of Christmas past, and you have some idea that Martha Stewart doesn't live here.

Here is further proof.

We inherited our house from the in-laws. Improvements were made, but a few things from the 60's still linger.

What were we thinking?

Why didn't we remodel the kitchen first?

Will orange ever be the new white?

We have a jacuzzi tub that we never use.

We have a deck the size of a football field and two of us sit on it...rarely.

The orange shag carpet in the living room has been replaced.  Thank you.

The money ran out right here. 

I've grown accustomed to my orange.  Perhaps even like it.  If I wait long enough, everyone will be jealous that their kitchen doesn't look like mine.
One good thing.  It will be waiting for me when I get back from Yellowstone.  So will hubby and useless lap kitty.  There is comfort in things that don't change.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Retail Judy

If we're traveling to Yellowstone together, you need
to see what I look like.

Here I am, working at my medical uniform store.  Bet you
thought I looked different.

Actually, in my mind I look like this.

When I try on clothes and look in the dressing room
mirror, I see this. 

Just be grateful I didn't use the naked, wrinkled lady images.

Friday, March 26, 2010

Christmas Tree Burial Ground

It snowed last night as you can see, but that's not the point of this picture.

I was standing on the deck this morning, playing with my new camera and thought you would like to see how we live.

In the foreground you see the 2009 tree.  If you look back and to the left, you will see the 2008 tree. I think we burned the 2007 tree which showed a lot of initiative on our part. 

Ahhh, the joy of country living.  When we get done with Christmas, we just fling our trees off the deck. 

I do believe the 2009 tree didn't get flung until February some time. The excuse was that it made the family room look festive.  A festive firetrap, actually. 

So what does this have to do with going to Yellowstone?  Just showing you that we live a casual (slovenly) life which should come in handy for living in a dorm.  I was going to take a picture of the garage, but we don't know each other well enough for that. 

Oh yes, Peaches, the useless lap cat says "hey." 

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Who, What, Why, When Revisited

 We're going back to the beginning.  If you're coming in late, you probably don't want to read everything, so you'll miss the first entry which explains what the heck I'm doing.  Here we go, one more time.  I did add a few more comments, just for fun.

Who? You can read my profile to find out a little bit about me, and if you stick around for the journey, you'll find out more than you wanted to know. Right now, we're internet daters (desperate.)  I need to make a good first impression so you'll ask for my phone number and then maybe we can do lunch (if you scare me, I'll go to the bathroom and never come back.) For now, I'll just say that I'm the Sandra Bullock (or her mother) of social work. I'm as friendly as a puppy, and I have that girl next door quality (if you live next door to the Addams Family).

What? I plan on working in Yellowstone Park for six months (that's what I'm telling my husband.) No...I'm not going to be a park ranger although I think I would look great in one of those uniforms (dominatrix?). I'll be living in a dorm, cleaning rooms at a hotel and eating cafeteria food just like we had in high school (remember mystery meat?)  Right now you might be thinking I'm pretty brave for trekking off into the unknown on my own. Well, technically, I won't be alone (I have the voices in my head.) My two sons and one of their girlfriends will be going too. The three of them worked at Yellowstone National Park last year and they can't wait to get back. Can you believe that they want the mama to go along (they had no choice.)  I have been warned that there will be no "mothering" in Yellowstone. I may need to take some duct tape with me (for their mouths.)

Why? I'm in a rut. I work, eat, sleep, play games on my computer and basically feel bloated and flabby. I've put off writing, quite successfully, for 40 plus years. My excuse is that I've been gathering material. Having just had my 61st birthday (there was no cake and I'm still upset), I don't think I should be gathering anymore. There's always the chance that I've learned as much as I ever will and now, I risk the chance of forgetting everything (what was I saying?) So, it's time to shake things up. It's time tell everyone that I'm going to have this fantastic blog and to make it happen (poof!)

When? We report for duty on April 21st and work until the end of October. I'll try to entertain you with my preparations. There's also a lot more to this story (yawn), but one tiny step at a time for all of you with short attention spans.

There will be pictures (I finally got a camera.) There will be drama (me using a public bathroom.) Hopefully, there will be a lot of laughs along the way. Let me know if you think I'm crazy (children have already said yes.)  And since I'm asking you to be a part of this, share your thoughts. What have you done to shake your life up? (remember, the children are still awake)

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Don't Watch 2012 Before You Go to Yellowstone

I think this picture says it all

Of course I always have more to say...

I still stick to my theory that being at ground zero is the way to go.

I don't want to end up on an ark with a bunch of politicians, some elephants, a giraffe and John Cusack.

The arks are built by the Chinese.  Of course.

Anybody can fly a plane even if all they have ever done is fly a remote control.  But you have to die in the end.  Remember Independence Day?

Ex-husbands are good for saving your life even if they were lousy marriage partners.  Remember Twister and Independence Day

Your spoiled, whiny son will love you if save them from space invaders or the end of the world.  Remember War of the Worlds?

I'm still going to Yellowstone National Park.  Woody Harrelson is waiting. 

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

26 Days to Yellowstone!

Twenty-six days before we hit the road.  Twenty-six more days to blog about going to Yellowstone.  You're all going to get bored and leave me, aren't you?  I realize there aren't a lot of you, but I would seriously miss you if you tried to sneak away to another blog that had sex or food or something.

What can I do to intrigue you?  My oldest stepson will be here tomorrow and he's going to help me tweek my blog and show me how to use my new camera.  Geez, that was lame.  I can hear the door shutting behind you now.  Wait!  Come back!

You want sex?  Let's see....(sons, leave the room right now.)  Once, I told my husband that women liked construction workers, and he went upstairs and came downstairs in a tool belt and socks, and it was really funny which didn't lead to much except, come on!  There's no reason to give me that look. 

You like food?  I have this great tilapia recipe.  You broil the fish on both sides and while it's cooking away, you make a sauce of mayonnaise, melted butter, lemon juice, parmesan cheese, garlic powder, and whatever spices you like.  Slather that all over the tilapia and broil some more.  Actually, the tilapia has no taste whatsoever, but the sauce is killer.  You could probably broil your shoe and eat it if you used this sauce.

Fine.  I'll give you what you really want.  Sex and fish.  Don't say I didn't warn you.


Monday, March 22, 2010

Yes, I Know, Yellowstone is on Top of a Volcano!

Let's get a few things out of the way before we discuss the caldera problem.

Yellowstone is not in Arizona, California, Colorado, or Detroit.  Still not sure where it is?  Like my mother used to say, you'll never learn unless you look it up yourself.  May I suggest for the geographically impaired?

No, I won't be running the park.  Bless the gentleman who thought that would be my job description.  Yellowstone is slightly bigger than a KOA campground which I could run if I was remotely interested.  I might consider running Yellowstone next year when I get the hang of it.

Mt. Rushmore is not in Yellowstone.  Need I say more?

Now that we have that out of the way, let's get to the caldera/volcano topic.  Kudos to all of you who watch the science channel and have warned me about it.  Yes, Yellowstone sits on top of one of the largest super volcanoes in the world.  The last time it erupted about 600,000 years ago, it pretty much wiped out a lot of North America.  It left a caldera that encompasses most of Yellowstone.  You probably don't care since none of your relatives were living in the area then, but it probably disturbed some critters.  Some scientists say that we are overdue for the big one by about 40,000 years, give or take a few hundred.

Here's the deal about a caldera.  Imagine dropping a bowling ball off your deck.  You probably do this every weekend.  It leaves a depression, right?  A caldera is the depression made when all of that hot, bubbling magma blows sky high out of the ground and drops in your back yard.  I'm not doing the process justice, but if you want the scientific description, go to and have your pants scared off.  If you want the unscientific version, you can watch the new movie, 2012.  You get to see the whole thing blow and learn how you can outrun the devastation.

Living on top of a super volcano for six months doesn't bother me because...if it really does erupt and destroy North America, I want to be at ground zero.  I am not a survivalist.  I'm not living in my basement, gnawing on beef jerky or my cat, defending my property from my neighbors, while waiting for the acid rain to fall.  Let's get it over with.  Poof!  Actually, it's sort of the baby boomer retirement plan since none of us have any savings left.

I've faced danger before when it comes to my choice of living environment.  Perhaps you've heard of the 1974 tornado in Xenia, Ohio.  Check it out on (type in Xenia tornado).  That killer tornado killed 32 people and destroyed over 300 homes.  Ta da!  That's where I live now.  It's not uncommon around here to see parts of the Emerald City and a few munchkins flying overhead during storm season.  When we lived in Palm Desert, California, the San Andreas fault was in our back yard.  So why not live over a super volcano?

So, yes, I know that Yellowstone is on top of a volcano.  I know that it could blow while I'm there.  I also know that a piece of the space shuttle could fall on my house.  All things considered, I think I'd rather take my chances at the Park.  The countdown continues and all is well.    


Sunday, March 21, 2010

To Miss or Not to Miss. That is the Question.

I want you all to think about this.  You're going away for six months and you will be cut off from many things you take for granted.  No, Sparky, you're not going to prison or rehab.  You're working at Yellowstone National Park where television is a laughable concept, cell phone reception is marginal and relaxing spa soaks just ain't going to happen.  What would you miss and what would  you be happy to give up?

What I Think I Will Miss

Privacy.  Not to get graphic or vulgar but I'm not used to using public facilities for my sit downs.  I don't think I need to elaborate here, but most of us are used to the closed door policy for bodily functions.

Baked Potatoes.  I often make a baked potato for dinner when I'm not feeling like cooking, which is most nights.  I like to top them with a variety of things like cheese or veggies.  O.K., so it sounds silly but I've been hooked on spuds for a long time.  If I was stranded on a deserted island and there was a microwave, and I could bring one food, it would be a potato.  Since it's a fantasy, I'd throw in some sour cream and chives too.

NPR.  National Public Radio has been my driving buddy for a long time.  Sorry, professors, but I've learned more on NPR than I ever learned in class.  I could cheat and take a peak at their website if I have time, but there is something special about hearing the stories.  

Ummmm....Other than people I love, I'm having trouble here.  I'm pretty low maintenance, so maybe I won't miss many things.  I don't like getting dressed up or drinking lattes.  I don't get my nails done.  I'll have to get to you on this after I've been in Yellowstone for a while.

What I Think I Won't Miss

The News.  My husband and I watch CNN every morning, and as much as I love it, I need a break.  Earthquakes, unemployment, murder, politicians, celebrities...I'll gladly give you all up for six months. 

Social Work.  Take that documentation and shove it.  I think that says it all.

Driving.  I want to walk to work, which I will, and I don't want to get in a car unless we're driving to another part of Yellowstone. 

I'm sure this topic will be revisited down the road.  Give me a few weeks in Yellowstone and then we'll talk over drinks at a cute little cafe. cute little cafe.  I'll be cleaning rooms, eating in the employee cafeteria, sharing a bathroom with total strangers...Could someone send me a baked potato, please?  And maybe some air freshener? 


Saturday, March 20, 2010

What to Take to Yellowstone?

I'm going to Yellowstone for 6 months.  I'll be living in a dormitory room with a stranger.  The closet shouldn't even be called a closet since by definition that is a space to hang clothes and there isn't much of it.  Actually, the room is the size of most walk in closets.  And I'll be living in a closet with a stranger who might eat raw garlic every night and breathe on me.  I always sleep in a cold room (menopause was radioactive) and if my roommate wants a hot room, I'll have to put a pillow over her head while she sleeps.  Is anyone going to slap me?  Deep breath.  I can do this. But didn't I hate my roommate freshman year of college?  She said her boyfriend made her stomach smile.  She wore monogrammed sweaters and played Gene Pitney albums.  I can't believe I actually remember Gene Pitney but that is how much the experience scarred me.

 I'm better now.  The panic attack is over, for the moment.  So, anyway, I'm going to Yellowstone, and I'm making lists.  I love lists.  They are part of my fantasy world where I'm organized and my underwear is neatly folded in my dresser.  The reality is I leave the list at home and find myself in Walmart wondering what I need.  I don't know about you, but if I go into that store for a broom, I come out with sixty dollars worth of random junk.  Who knew I needed potholders shaped like lobsters? 

Things I still need:  bug spray, bear spray (still frightened), phone charger, hand sanitizer, books, alarm clock, black socks, small lamp and snacks.  I've got at least 3 or 4 more Walmart trips in me.  The good news is that I'm driving so there is plenty of room to take what I need.  The bad news is that I'm driving and have plenty of room.  I have become my parents.  I just realized that.  When my children were little, the folks would visit for a week but it always looked like they were moving in.  Talk about panic attacks.  It took an hour just to unload their car.  I kid you not, they brought end tables, flashlights, lamps for the end tables, pillows, blankets, food, and boxes of odds and ends like knives, Kleenex, and mysterious items that my mother used in the bathroom.  It isn't like we lived in a box under a bridge.  We had a house with bedrooms, bathrooms and central heating.

I've found my motivation.  I will not be my mother.  I will pack like a free spirit who isn't concerned with material items.  I will be one with nature. Well, after I pack my computer, DVD player, digital camera, power cords, cell phone, hair dryer......oh, whatever.  The mysterious bathroom items are staying at home.    


Thursday, March 18, 2010

The "How" of Yellowstone Dreaming, Part Two

Was I the only ungrateful child who dreaded family vacations?  Since I am an only, there were a few benefits. I didn't have to fight to sit next to the window.  I didn't have to share anything.  I was the queen of the back seat.  On the other hand, I had no one to fight with!  My theory is that you don't remember much of your childhood if you are siblingless.  I know it's not a real word, but it is my blog.  Anyway, I don't remember much of my childhood since most of my life was spent in my head.  I had to talk to someone and that someone was me and my imaginary friends.

The one vacation that I do remember was our trip to Yellowstone when I was nine or ten.  The high points were Old Faithful, the wooden walk ways over the steaming ground, prairie dogs, and the rustic cabin we had for the night.  I know memories are totally unreliable, but I think we saw the dormitories where the employees lived.  I knew I would ever be cool enough to do something like that.  I'm still not cool, and I'm not a college student anymore, but 50 plus years later, I'm on my way. 

Flash forward to 1971 and my infamous hippie trip.  You haven't heard about that yet?  Where have you been?  Actually, it was pretty tame.  We just drove and drove from one side of the country to the other.  My traveling companion wasn't very talkative so it slightly resembled traveling with my parents.  Again, the highlight of our trip was stopping in Yellowstone.  We took a short hike and sat for a while by a small waterfall.  It must have been early June and there were patches of snow on the ground.  I have never felt such peace in my life.

I let the Yellowstone dream die for many years.  Life got in the way like it usually does.  Who knew that raising children would take so long?  Working with a nurse at a dialysis clinic in Yucca Valley, California, finally got me back on my path.  She and her husband had worked the national parks for ten years before returning home.  Her stories got everything stirred up again, and I started to fantasize about running away.  She was the one who told me about, the mother lode of alternative jobs. 

I still didn't think it would ever happen for me, so I passed the opportunity on to my sons.  My oldest son had graduated from college and was working at Staples.  My other son was working a seasonal job at Lowe's.  I knew the time had come to send them on their own adventure.  For the first time in their lives, they listened to me.  When they drove away, I was tempted to throw myself on top of their cars.  I showed restraint for a year, although I have threatened more than once to no one in particular that I was running away.  Thanks to a husband who knows better than to say no and sons who like having me around, I will finally find out what waits for me in Yellowstone.  The countdown begins.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Meditating on Yellowstone

I'm going to let a little of the old hippie out and get a little serious here.  I know why I'm taking this trip to Yellowstone, but I should share it with you.  Several years ago I saw Joseph Campbell interviewed by Bill Moyers on PBS.  At the time, I didn't know much about him.  I didn't even know that he had died in 1987 which was a big disappointment.  Sometimes you have heroes that you hope you can meet someday or at least attend a lecture to breathe the air they breathe.  That will never happen, but thanks to television, his books and DVDs, his words will always be available.

Thanks to, you can learn more about this amazing man who studied and wrote about mythology and comparative religion.  Sounds a bit intense?  Yes.  His books aren't meant for light reading with a bowl of popcorn.  I've never been able to get through one without having my eyes cross a bit, but if you cut to the essence of what he said, you will find your life changed in small or huge ways.

If you notice, at the top of my blog, I say that I will be "Working, Writing, and Following My Bliss."  Joseph Campbell is responsible for "follow your bliss" which many a flower child has chanted, I'm sure.  Here is the full quote and you decide if it isn't the most thought provoking prose you have ever read:

Follow your bliss.
If you do follow your bliss, 
You put yourself on a kind of track
that has been there all the while waiting for you 
and the life you ought to be living
is the one you are living.
When you can see that,
you begin to meet people
who are in the field of your bliss,
and they open the doors to you.
I say, follow your bliss and don't be afraid,
and doors will open
where you didn't know they were going to be.
If you follow your bliss,
doors will open for you that wouldn't have opened for anyone else.

I have followed my bliss in small ways, but this time, I'm going wide open.  Whenever I question the sanity of my decision, I read this quote and know that it was meant to be.

Have you followed your bliss?  Do you know what it is?  I would love to hear from you now, or tomorrow or months down the road.  I will quote him again, because if you think this is the only amazing thing he ever said, you are so wrong.  I'm taking one of his books with me to Yellowstone for inspiration.  So, until class meets again..."All is well."

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Erik, Man of Mystery

This is the last son...I promise...stop yawning.  I'd look at your family pictures.  Just don't come over this weekend since I'll be washing the cat or something.

I promised not to embarrass Erik, so now, I can't think of anything to say.  Oh yeah. There was the time he burned his finger, he wouldn't like that.  Or the time he fell in the bucket, can't go there.

All I can tell you is that he is smart, tall, dark, handsome, and a man of few words.  Actually, I think the mystery angle might work well with the women.  You of danger, hidden secrets, and all that romantic stuff.  Don't look at the fishing picture too closely, though.  He's using a kid's toy fishing pole.  That's not hot, is it?

Last year, Erik waited tables at the Old Faithful Inn.  I still can't believe that my 6'5" tall son didn't trip and impale a tourist with a steak knife, but he made it through the season without incident.  This season he has been promoted to assistant food and beverage manager at Snow Lodge.  And this year, I can sneak over to watch him work.  I know this is something he has dreamed about.

O.K., I'm done.  You can go back to playing online poker.  Maybe in the near future I should put a picture of me on the blog.  Only seems fair.  I have to lose some weight, get a hair cut, and buy a new outfit first, but it will be up soon.



Monday, March 15, 2010

Last Year in Yellowstone

Finally!  Number 2 son has arrived with last year's pictures from Yellowstone.  Here he is with his girlfriend, Jamie, someplace in nature.  I absolutely refuse to say anything slightly bad about the woman who has dated this character for almost 4 years.
She has cleaned my kitchen, baked me cakes, been on my side in those male against female arguments, and most importantly, she loves and takes care of the big lug.  Love ya, Jamie.

Tomorrow, it's Number 1 son's turn to make an appearance.

 Adam. the "thinker."                                                          

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Grizly Adam

The fine young man in this picture is number two son, Adam.  We just got back from his birthday dinner which is always an impressive event.  He loves his food and large quantities of it.

The only way to understand Adam is to start at the beginning.  I almost needed  a wheelbarrow to carry my stomach into the delivery room.  I'm a fairly tall woman...5'9", but I felt like there was baby from my chin to my ankles.  My doctor just chuckled the way men do, knowing that this excruciating experience will never happen to them.  He predicted a 9 lb. baby and wandered off to have coffee and doughnuts.  Well, I showed him, yesiree.  After the screaming was done, I produced a 10 1/2 pounder who was 23 1/2 inches long.  We fondly and respectfully called him Spud or Mr. Baby.  Currently, he is 6'4" and in the 250 lb. range.  Like I said...taking him out to eat is an impressive and expensive event.

I'll just hit some of the highlights of living with Adam.   Occasionally, I liked to do something socially correct with my children, so I took them to the library.  My little 4 year old cherub was by my side while I selected books.  All was quiet.  The middle class moms were having quality time with their little ones, and for a brief moment, I felt like I was part of their secret club.  Suddenly, Adam threw himself on the floor and screamed, "Don't hit me again, Mommy!"  Need I say more.

In Junior High, he made sure that all of his teachers knew that I had taken a hippie trip when I got out of college.  Yes, I told him about the summer adventure traveling across the country in a van with my boyfriend.  Yes, that was probably not the smartest thing I had ever revealed, but I swear on a stack of peace signs, no drugs were involved.  The teachers were abuzz about it all, and I didn't show my face there for quite some time.  He also asked one of the cafeteria ladies if he could have some paper towels to take home since his mother never cleaned.  I did so clean!  Not now, but I did then.

For several years, I thought that he had morphed into Jim Carrey or at least his movie character, Ace Ventura.  He has the same loose jointed walk and rubber-like face as Mr. Carrey.  This kind of creeps me out, but he can clasp his hands in front and more them over the top of his head and end up behind his back without letting go.  His shoulder blades go out of joint and then, yuck.  I don't ask to see that trick anymore.  He also has some famous walks, most notably Big Foot.  You would have to see it, but just imagine a large, hulking creature lumbering by, swinging its arms and turning its head to stare into the camera. That's my boy.  I'm so proud of his talents.

There are other things about Adam you should know.  He was friends with everyone in school, but he went out of his way to befriend the kids who others might think odd.  He refused to play games where leaders picked sides, because the ones who were chosen last might feel bad.  He's never been in a fight.  He has no tattoos or piercings.  He calls me every day.  He has a girlfriend who I adore.  He's my big, sweet, kind, funny son who would do anything in the world for me.  And his reward is that I will embarrass him in Yellowstone.  I've already told him that if there is a party with dancing, I will dance.  He grumbles and complains, but that's just part of our game.  We will have a great adventure together.     


Saturday, March 13, 2010

Will There Be Bears?

I know I was going to introduce you the rest of my family, but I got a little side tracked by the topic of bears. I was reading someone's blog about what they were taking to Yellowstone National Park and they mentioned bear spray. So, of course, I did a search on the topic and learned way more than I wanted to know. I was hoping that just maybe, bear spray was used to keep those stubborn little tufts of bear hair in place, but no. Bear spray is mace for mugger/mauler bears who jump out of the woods or field to shred the unsuspecting hiker.

In case you can't tell, my palms are sweating right now, and I'm hyperventilating a bit. I do plan on hiking. I do. I do. I do. That's me building up courage. After all, why bother going to Yellowstone National Park if you are going to hide in the dormitory every day? O.K. I will hike, but I will be as prepared as a devoted internet addict can be. I decided to not trust the official Yellowstone site, because they certainly aren't going to tell me the truth. For some reason I decided to trust the Bear Man at . He should know, right? He isn't the "bear cub" or the "bear sissy." He is THE Bear Man and my new best friend.

Reassuring facts, according to Bear (that's what his friends call him.) From 1980 to 2002, over 62 million people visited Yellowstone National Park and only 32 people were injured by bears. That means your chance of being injured are 1 in 1.9 million. Those are pretty good odds, right? More reassuring facts...humans are not preferred bear snacks and only one human has been eaten by a bear. That was an accident, of course. The bear meant to eat the s'mores right next to the screaming hiker, but sometimes even bears make a bad judgment call.

This is really a great fact. Bears, in most cases, attack only if you surprise them. Let's say the bear is just lounging around on his back, humming a little, thinking about the new hot female that moved into the valley, and you, the hiker, leap out of the woods and scream "Boo!" What's a bear to do? To save face, and to cover up that little frightened squeal it just made, it will attack. Here's where you, the hiker, has to make a decision. Do you do what nature designed you to for your life or play dead, like the Bear Man advises? I think in my case, playing dead makes more sense since all the blood would leave my head, my knees would buckle and my brain would cease to function. Hopefully, the bear has read the same article, realizes that he has made his point and decides to check out the action at Old Faithful.

I almost forgot the bear spray. The Bear Man says it works but it should only be used as a last resort. So after you run, faint, throw up, scream and leave something in your panties, you try to unhook the spray from your belt, and point it in the right direction. On the bright side, if you accidentally spray yourself, the bear might just laugh itself to death.

I still haven't decided if I'm going to invest in a $39 can of bear spray or not. I'll let you know about my final decision later. I will leave you with some words of wisdom I got from my internet search. Once you enter the wilderness, you become part of the food chain. Maybe I can get a discount on a case of the stuff.

Friday, March 12, 2010

A Little More About the Who of Yellowstone Dreaming

If you are going to follow me on this Yellowstone journey, you should know a little more about the cast of characters. First of all, there is me, the "reluctant" social worker. I'm not sure what possessed me to get a Masters in Social Work back in 1981, but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Just close your eyes for a moment. Visualize a social worker. Do you see the centerfold for the swimsuit edition of Sports Illustrated or a grim faced old woman with sensible shoes? I do wear sensible shoes, but you see what I'm getting at. It isn't a sexy profession. And if I had a nickle for every time someone asked me, "So what does a social worker do?" I'd be, well...a social worker in expensive sensible shoes.

My resume in a nutshell is as follows: 18 years experience as a Hospice social worker, 2 years as a social worker in dialysis clinics, a brief job at a cancer center, and most recently, a nursing home social worker. As you can see, I know how to have a good time. Seriously, I learned a lot about compassion, the goodness of people, and most importantly, everyone has a story that is worth telling. Oh yes, in my spare time, my husband and I have a medical uniform business. There will be some unashamed advertising. Check out my favorite links for our website, and Caesar Creek Markets where we have a store. It hasn't been dull, but it is time for a CHANGE. Sorry to use capital letters, but I want you to know that this is all about mixing it up.

I'm ready to move on. It's time to take my sensible shoes on the road to Yellowstone. They look better with jeans anyway. I even look forward to cleaning rooms just to have the satisfaction of completing mindless tasks. I look forward to spending time in the fresh air, to meeting people I don't have to place in a nursing home, to clearing out a corner of my brain that is clogged with social work tasks and finally, to just have a rip roaring good time.

Tomorrow, I will introduce you to my boys and the girlfriend. I am going to get in so much trouble, but what the heck. I've been embarrassing them for many years, and they still stick around. There may be pictures soon too. I've asked them to send me some of the ones they took last year, just to keep you interested. Until then...all is well.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

The Who, What, Why and When of Yellowstone Dreaming

Who? You can read my profile to find out a little bit about me, and if you stick around for the journey, you'll find out more than you wanted to know. Right now, we're internet daters. I need to make a good first impression so you'll ask for my phone number and then maybe we can do lunch. For now, I'll just say that I'm the Sandra Bullock of social work. I'm as friendly as a puppy, and I have that girl next door quality.

What? I plan on working in Yellowstone Park for six months. No...I'm not going to be a park ranger although I think I would look great in one of those uniforms. I'll be living in a dorm, cleaning rooms at a hotel and eating cafeteria food just like we had in high school. Right now you might be thinking I'm pretty brave for trekking off into the unknown on my own. Well, technically, I won't be alone. My two sons and one of their girlfriends will be going too. The three of them worked at Yellowstone National Park last year and they can't wait to get back. Can you believe that they want the mama to go along? I have been warned that there will be no "mothering" in Yellowstone. I may need to take some duct tape with me.

Why? I'm in a rut. I work, eat, sleep, play games on my computer and basically feel like a beached whale. I've put off writing, quite successfully, for 40 plus years. My excuse is that I've been gathering material. Having just had my 61st birthday, I don't think I should be gathering anymore. There's always the chance that I've learned as much as I ever will and now, I risk the chance of forgetting everything. So, it's time to shake things up. It's time tell everyone that I'm going to have this fantastic blog and to make it happen.

When? We report for duty on April 21st and work until the end of October. I'll try to entertain you with my preparations. There's also a lot more to this story, but one tiny step at a time for all of you with short attention spans.

There will be pictures. There will be drama. Hopefully, there will be a lot of laughs along the way. Let me know if you think I'm crazy. And since I'm asking you to be a part of this, share your thoughts. What have you done to shake your life up?
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