Extreme Laundry

Today, in the middle of May, we had visions of standing outside on a beautiful spring day, temperatures in the 60s, under that famous Tahoe sun, watching the cyclists in the 2011 Amgen Tour of California whiz by us. Everyone in Tahoe has been excited for this event, the largest event of its kind to come to the area since the 1960 Winter Olympics.

But wouldn’t you know it, Mother Nature had other plans. The Winter of 2011, as it turns out, is the winter that just keeps on giving. And giving. We woke up this morning to about 6 inches of snow outside and full winter conditions. It’s still snowing six hours later.

I don’t even feel like skiing anymore. I am ready for hiking and biking and flip-flops and tank tops. Sigh.

Instead, what I decided to do with the extra hours afforded by the delay of the race, is to deal with the aftermath of the avalanche that slammed into our house two months ago. You know how when someone tries to steal your car by breaking the window and the car alarm goes off so they run away, but now you still have a headache on your hands because you have to spend time and money fixing your car? That’s kind of how I feel about the avalanche damage. It’s been one big suck of time and money.

Today, it’s sucking time. And water. We had six years worth of Child #1 and Child #2’s old clothes in garbage bags in the garage, waiting to pass down the girl’s clothes to Child #3 and give away or sell the boy’s clothes. All were completely buried under 6 feet of snow in the avalanche. I have been procrastinating for 2 months, but finally, out of pure concern that Child #3 would only have moldy clothes in her future, I started bringing in the bags of clothes and dumping them out on our living room floor. That’s a lot of clothes.

I also discovered that a varmit or two was having a field day in some of the bags, pooping and munching to their hearts’ content. It was like a bunch of mice threw a frat party in a bag of pink clothes, and the aftermath isn’t pretty. Little teeny poops everywhere. Jackets with holes in it. Pure joy for me.

The loads of laundry that are in my future are daunting. I debated bringing everything to a laundry mat, but that could just be a bigger headache, what with having to find $100 worth of quarters. Not to mention hanging out in a laundry mat for a day with creepy people. Why are there always creepy people at a laundry mat? One time when I was living in Washington, DC, I watched a homeless guy take a piss in the corner of a laundry mat while I was washing my clothes. I didn’t come out of there feeling very clean.

I’m thinking I might bring a bag of wet clothes with us when we watch the peloton race by. I’ll hang all the clothes on a wire, and the pure speed of the cyclists whizzing by will dry them. Or maybe that’s just as much wishful thinking as the hope that winter will one day stop giving.

Moldy tennis shoe, anyone?


All I Ever Needed to Know I Learned this 4th of July


What I learned over this 4th of July weekend:

1. I am not a boater. Something about being trapped on a 20-foot floating piece of machinery in the middle of a lake does not sit well with me.

2. Falling off your bike hurts when you are a kid, but when you are 37 it hurts like a mother-fucker.

3. Watching fireworks explode over a huge lake with an almost-full moon: awesome. Watching said fireworks with your kids: more awesome.Watching the expression on your kids’ faces as they watch the fireworks: priceless.

4. A two-year old cannot sit through an entire movie, even when bribed with a pack of Red Vines.

5. For an almost 5-year old boy, it doesn’t get much better than digging in the sand at the beach and actually finding a buried treasure, even if it’s a monster truck and not pirate gold.

6. Siig can drink more Coronas than a fraternity on spring break in Mexico.

7. Jumping on a trampoline with no bra is no bueno.

8. Tourists do not know how to drive.

9. People-watching is at an all time high during the holidays.

10. Kids can go a week without a bath and be just fine.

A foot is no place for a horse

horseshoeI got stepped on by a horse today. On my foot. While wearing sandals.

Yeah, it sucked, to say the least.

I’ve been in a foul mood ever since. On Father’s Day. Poor Siigo. So I am writing this blog in an attempt to distract myself from my misery and make myself feel better. Not sure if it’s working.

As a present to Siig on Father’s Day, I took the kids out of the house to let him partake in his favorite relaxation past-time – sitting on the couch and watching sports on TV. So me and the kids went to the stables at the bottom of the hill for the pony rides. This involves me paying $5 per kid and leading a pony that likes to stop every minute to take a giant green crap or pee a waterfall or eat mules-ears, and not listen to me begging him to keep going. Yeah, fun. But the kids love it.

Kaiden’s ride went without incident, except for the usual pit-stops. Then it was Kaya’s turn on Mac. Mac was obviously pissed at me for yelling at him to “Giddy-up” and “Let’s go you mangy beast,” so in return for my impatience at his leisurely pace with Kaiden, he stepped on me.

Let me tell you, it’s quite shocking to see a 700-pound animal standing on your sandaled-foot, not to mention that it frickin’ hurt. I literally had to push Mac off me, which wasn’t easy. Then, after making sure my foot wasn’t broken, I cried. Through my tears, I glanced at my children to see what their reaction was at seeing their mother break down. True to gender stereotype, Kaiden seemed indifferent while Kaya seemed mildly concerned.

Ahhh, the joys of parenting. I guess the old adage is true: No pain, no gain. I gained a horse-shoe imprint on my right foot and the knowledge that wearing sandals while leading your kid on a pony ride is dumb. Siig got two hours of alone time. My kids got to see their mother cry.

The real winner in all this? Definitely Mac, who’s probably still laughing in his hey. Bastard.

There. Now I feel better.

My Son the Dictator


Every day since I have lived in our house – which would be about five years – I have driven by this beautiful meadow and never stopped. Well, I couldn’t take it anymore. Right now, the meadow is absolutely amazing, what with all the wildflowers blooming and the creek in full stream from the snow melt. So one day this week, I decided that was it – we were going to go explore the meadow. Me and the kids. Our first real nature hike.

It didn’t take too much arm-twisting on my end since I told Kaiden and Kaya they could pick flowers. They liked that idea – of being free to pick flowers and not get yelled at like they usually do after grabbing flowers out of someone’s garden or a store’s flower boxes. Immediately, Kaiden declared himself the leader of the hike, which will come as no surprise to anyone who knows Kaiden since, along with being a self-declared vegetarian, he is also a self-declared Leader (in case you are wondering, he is a Leo). If I got out in front of him on the trail, he would yell at me. Clearly the sign of good leadership.

Our fearless leader

Our fearless leader

Despite the beauty of the scenery and the optimal Kodak moments, Kaiden would not pose for a photo for me, being the self-declared Stubborn Child that he is. And, of course, since he was the leader, his younger sister followed suit and also refused to let me take a photo of her, which is normally a favorite past time of hers, being the self-declared Movie Star that she is. Nevertheless, I managed to slyly snap a few covert photos. (I did almost work at the CIA, after all.) 

Stubborn One refusing to pose

Stubborn One refusing to pose

Secret Agent Mommy nabs a photo

Secret Agent Mommy nabs a photo









 As we were heading back, Kaiden said, “Now which way is it to our car?”

In hindsight, I realized this was a rhetorical question, but at the time I made the grave mistake of telling our Dear Leader the answer to his question (maybe I should start calling him Kim Jong-Il). I was immediately put back in my place of Lowly Follower.

“No, Mommy! Don’t tell me!” he said. “I want to think.”

And I thought to myself, “Oh good. Because I am so done with thinking.”

What a relief to know I don’t have to think anymore.

I have an almost-5 year old who wants to do it for me. After 30-some years of thinking, I have been relieved of the job. What a load off my back. I’m starting to thinking living in a dictatorship has its pluses, after all.

In case you are wondering, this means that Kaiden will be writing all future posts. He just has to learn to read first.

Follow the Leader

Follow the Leader

Finding Stillness in Shirley Canyon



It may be ironic, or just timely, but after writing about how hard it was for me to do nothing yesterday, I think I actually achieved it today! And all by accident.

Last week, I was asked by fellow yogi and photographer, David Renaud, to be part of a series of profiles he is taking of people doing yoga. He has shot most of the yoga teachers in Tahoe, and I was flattered he asked me. His goal is to snap pictures of at least 100 people, and I was to be number 25. Sounded lucky. All of his photos are taken outdoors with some part of Tahoe as the background. I suggested we shoot in Shirley Canyon in Squaw Valley, where I knew the many waterfalls would be in full bloom with the spring snow melt.

Well, Shirley Canyon was absolutely stunning. We arrived around 10 a.m. and did a short hike in to find a good spot for shooting. We could hear the creek and waterfalls before we even saw them. When we finally stopped to set up, the creek was roaring so load we couldn’t hear each other if we were more than a few feet away. I stood on some granite boulders with a large waterfall behind me. The scene is so picturesque and perfect in Shirley Canyon that it almost looks fake, like a ride at Disneyland: clear mountain water pouring over fallen logs and huge rocks, some waterfalls ending in calm pools, others churning into gushing rapids. You almost have to knock on the boulders to make sure they’re not constructed out of paper mache.

I have heard a lot about photo shoots from Siig, whose passion is filming. He’s told me that a huge part of it is sitting around while the photographer finds the right angle, the right light, the right moment. Well, he was right. But you know what? I absolutely enjoyed it. I found myself standing on a boulder with the warm sun on my face, staring at the beautiful snow-covered mountains of Squaw Valley, listening to the deafening plunge of the waterfall behind me. Sometimes I would hold a pose while David shot, other times I just waited. But it didn’t matter. It was so beautiful and calming and relaxing.

And then I had a realization – at moments, I was doing nothing. Just standing in nature, being still. And that was enough. It reminded me of a saying I have pinned to my bulletin board: “What you are doing is the most beautiful thing.” Maybe I should look at that more often.

Cheeseburger Bird

Another sign of summer in Tahoe is the infamous Cheeseburger Bird. No, I am not talking about a flying Big Mac, but a bird whose three-syllable song sounds like it’s saying “cheeseburger.” This is one of the first things I learned about Tahoe when I moved here, taught to me by Siig’s friend Gavin, who also informed me that the Cheeseburger Bird’s chirp can sound like it’s saying “hangover” or “lame loser,” depending on your frame of mind. I’ve decided not to pass on this useful tidbit to my kids, who enjoy listening for the Cheeseburger Bird. I did tell Kaiden, however, that the bird can say “Storm Trooper.”

Lately, Kaiden has been asking me what the Cheeseburger Bird looks like. I realized I have no idea because I only ever hear the bird, not see it. So, on the off-chance that someone else from Tahoe had posted something about the Cheeseburger Bird on-line, I decided to Google it. Wow! In a sign that yes, everything under the sun can be found by Googling, I not only discovered a YouTube video featuring the bird, but also a poem devoted to the feathered creature and its real name, Mountain Chickadee. I guess the Cheeseburger Bird is not a Tahoe-only phenomenon as I had thought, but can be found everywhere in the Sierra Nevada. It came as a bit of a surprise to me that the Cheeseburger Bird is so well known. In fact, Northstar-at-Tahoe ski resort discusses it on their web page.

As my friend Bree pointed out, the Cheeseburger Bird is the sound of Tahoe in summer. But personally, I would much prefer to hear the Chocolate Bird’s song. It would go someting like this: “eat choc-o-late, eat choc-o-late.”

bird    YouTube – Cheeseburger Bird.

Siig, a skate, and Tahoe

Siigo Skating Talmont

Siigo Skating Talmont

I think this photo captures Siigo completely and the free spirit that he is. This is at the top of one of the steepest streeets in Tahoe, Talmont, where Siig lived in a total bachelor pad when I met him eight years ago. He used to love to skate Talmont, and still does when he gets the chance. Note the bare feet and Coors Light in hand, and the beautiful view. Can’t beat that.

We drove behind Siig while he skated down. Kaiden wanted me to hit him and watch him fly in the air, but I thought better of it.

Kaiden's portrait of his dad

Kaiden's portrait of his dad

Me and the kids

Me and the kids