the hyphens that define my life

Christmas Vacation December 19, 2013

My friend posted on Facebook that her favorite Christmas movie is National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation starring Chevy Chase as Clark Griswald. Hahahaha!  I can not even type the title and Chevy Chase’s name without chuckling to myself at the hilarity contained in this film.

Do you find this movie funny?  I think I find it so riotous because my life resembles Christmas Vacation so much.

This year’s Christmas tree is only 9’6″, chopped down from a tree farm, but twelve years ago, our first Christmas in Parks, Arizona, we, then only a family of four, ventured into the Coconino National Forest and chopped down a Griswald Family Christmas Tree. We were thrilled that with a $15 Christmas Tree Pass, we could cut down our Christmas tree.  We did remember a chain saw so we didn’t have to dig out the tree roots Griswald style, but the tree was a beast.  We had a Dodge Dakota Quad Cab truck at the time and the tree, when strapped to the roof, was anchored by the stump to the rear bumper and the tree top anchored to the front bumper.   Trees really do look smaller in the forest than they do when you get them home.

This tree was so big.  How big?  Once we somehow wedged the tree through our front door into our tiny cabin we called home, my husband had to bring a chainsaw, into the house a la Griswald, and chop off at least a foot just to get the tree erect.  Our home was small but it had really a high ceiling too.  Once the chainsaw was turned off, my husband, channeling Clark, screwed the Christmas tree base directly to the floorboards so it wouldn’t topple in the night.  He rationalized that we were going to replace the flooring anyway at some point, what’s the harm in a few screw holes?  For the record, the floors weren’t replaced for another 2 years.

To get the star on top of this monster, I stood on the partial upstairs level, leaning way over the edge while my husband pulled the tree top toward me while standing on a ladder.  Our children, ages five and almost one, watched as their stupid parents pulled off this stunt.  Yes, children, we are the Griswalds.

I will be posting a Christmas’ Past, Present and Future blog and will have photos of this tree soon, I promise!.

Having watched Christmas Vacation recently while laid out sick on the couch with my kids, my favorite part relative to 2013 was, of course, the squirrel attack.  I AM NOT ALONE!  I replayed this scene at least 3 times until the boys were convinced I completely lost my mind and begged for mercy.  Add squirrel attacks to our Griswald family resemblance.

We have never burned down a tree (nor will we), I’ve never burned a turkey, we do not overly decorate the outside with 25,000 lights causing a power outage, but I do have to flip a switch to get our outdoor lights to turn on.  The likeness between our two families is uncanny.

If you have never seen National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation or if it has been awhile, sit down and laugh with us as we just want to celebrate Christmas.


Squirrel With Me October 30, 2013

Ok. Ouch.  My wrist really hurt yesterday. I reached my pain threshhold and decided to go to the doctor today and get it check out.

Just to recap, eleven days ago, I hurt my wrist when I fell as the result of being attacked by squirrels. [see previous post:  Squirrel Attack! for all the details.]  The road rash on my knees has scabbed over beautifully and are nearly healed.  I still haven’t bought new gloves to replace the ones shredded in the incident.

At the doctor’s office today I told the nurse my story, (did you think I would just say I fell?) she said what I said, “Damn Squirrels!” She added, “That’s why I don’t feel bad when I run them over.”  She definitely has bigger issues than I do with squirrels.  I still have squirrel compassion but I’m definitely on the defensive.

The x-rays were a hot topic of discussion in the doctor’s office.  They were very concerned about a bone chip.  No need to fret, I informed, the bone chip happened when I broke my arm in the 5th grade.  The squirrel attack, however, resulted in a hairline fracture , less than an inch long running vertically up my ulna. (anatomy check:  two arm bones, radius and ulna).  The fracture doesn’t hurt from all the twists and turns the doctor tested me with; the wrist sprain and soft tissue damage is what hurts.

The brace I had been wearing didn’t provide enough stability nor did the braces the doctor’s office offered.  The doctor foolishly suggested that I just rest and not use my left arm.  Clearly he doesn’t know me.  I explained that I’m a mother of 4, I work full time, have too many projects and its the holidays. HELLO! I will use every available limb. Our only choice was to go with a soft cast, or in doctor speak, an ulnar gutter splint.  The gutter runs from the top of my ring finger on my left hand, also encasing the pinky finger, up to my elbow.  Finger tip to elbow is then wrapped in a couple of Ace bandages.

This is my Halloween costume:

squirrel injury

Why  did I go to the doctor?  Now I can’t move my left hand!  Do you know how hard it is to type with this thing on?

The bright side is that I won’t be able to do dishes for two weeks! Woo!  Happy dance!  The boys are going to be thrilled when they find out they are on KP duty.

I bought myself this theme perfect sweater for the holidays from TJ Maxx.  I’m certain this squirrel got their bling from some poor unsuspecting soul that was attacked and robbed.  Squirrels are capable, don’t be fooled by their cute faces and fluffy tails.

squirrel sweater

After my doctor’s visit, I watched squirrels dig in my small but effective bulb garden today.  T-Bone and Jerry, our boy cats, played a good game of chase with the squirrels.  The cats grew weary and the squirrels were determined to take my bulbs but were unsuccesful.  Break my arm, bruise my ego, but do not, I repeat do not, mess with my garden.  I could get a pellet gun and shoot at them from my office window.  Tempting.  Good to know my options.

I realize I’m a little obsessed with squirrels right now.  My arm will heal, snow will fall (maybe as soon as tonight), the year will end, the garden will grow despite the efforts of these ferocious beasts.  Squirrel with me as I obsess (why should bears get all the credit?).


Under Attack. Proceed With Caution October 19, 2013

7:15 AM Saturday, 31 degrees farenheit

I leave my house to walk eight-tenths of a mile to the coffee shop and bakery to meet my co-room mom to make plans for the upcoming harvest party for our third grader’s class.

Though I cursed my alarm clock ringing on a Saturday morning, I was happy to be up and out walking in the brisk fall morning.

Leaves cover the landscape in a blanket of gold, red and brown.  The air is crisp.  The sun has not yet crested the South Hill.  Squirrels are hyper-active, preparing for winter, foraging food and running around in pairs.  I wonder if fall is mating season for squirrels.

Almost to my destination, I pass a three to four foot high rock wall and startle some squirrels. They rustle in the bushes as I walk past then WHOOSH, one squirrel leaps to the sidewalk behind me, so close to me that I feel his movement as he passes.  At the same time, WHOOSH, another squirrel leaps to the sidewalk in front of me, so close that I thought he was going to jump on me.

Startled and fearful that I was under squirrel attack, I yell out “AGH!”

Unsure of what just happened, I failed to notice that the elevation sidewalk in front of me popped up from a tree root, a common Spokane sidewalk hazard. Within seconds after the squirrel attack, my left foot tripped over the sidewalk.  Disoriented from the squirrel savages, I could not regain my footing.  Momentum pitched me forward like I was sliding into home plate.  No home run, only ice-cold concrete scraping into my hands and knees as I landed hard.


I laid on the sidewalk for a moment to assess the damage.  Nothing seemed to be broken and I was thankful that I didn’t ricochet my chin or forehead off the concrete.  I was also thankful that there were no witnesses, other than my psychotic squirrel friends.

I picked myself up and limped to the bakery, extremely in need of my first cup of coffee for the morning.  Yes, all this and I haven’t had coffee yet.

My right knee is skinned from bottom to top and makes my boys squirm when they see it.  Ouch.  My left knee isn’t a pulverized mess but is bruised and more stiff than the right.  Ouch.  My left hand is scraped, and my brand new workout gloves are shredded.  Ouch and damn.  The front of my down jacket was shredded and white fluff was flying out as I walked along. This I’m actually ok with because I wanted a new down jacket but couldn’t justify the purchase.  This is not how I wanted to get a new jacket though.

Meeting my co-room mom for the first time, I was quite a sight.

After our meeting, I limped home.  Up hill.  My husband asked what was wrong.  I showed him my wounded knee. The mistake I made in answering his what and how questions was starting the story with “I was attacked by squirrels.” He was concerned but had a good laugh.

The boys were grossed out and though they could appreciate my squirrel attack story, I had no nursemaids.

The only sympathy I received was from the grocery store checker who asked how my day was going as he rang up my groceries.  I started the story the same way with him as I did with Vince.  “I was attacked by squirrels.”  The checker told me his recent experience how one squirrel jumped so close to his head that he ducked and cracked his head on the door of his truck.

Squirrels are crazy right now, people, proceed with caution.