What I learned Over Summer Vacation


What I learned on summer vacation…

The place where I vacationed is gorgeous: “Canada’s southern coast”; a little place outside Buffalo, NY, where I grew up. Pics and a post to come, I have to upload them, but here’s one at sunset of the almost full moon on July 2. šŸ™‚

The sunsets were mostly like this every night; this one was exceptional to me however, because I hadn’t seen one like it in a very long time.

Here’s what I learned:

That Canadian pints are actually 20 oz not 16.

That people with amazing real estate and beautiful views can be very unpleasant to strangers even though I am completely nonthreatening and still running past their property and waving while smiling. (I wonder what woulda happened if I’d done the “cut throat” sign and held my index-finger and thumb .38 in gangsta position and then yelled “POP!” before throwing up both my hands in “OH YEEEAH” rapper mode.)

That Murphy, a handsome golden retriever that any BMW ad exec would love in a magazine slick next to a 5-series parked on a wet driveway in front of a Tudor, isn’t allowed past the gate in the neighborhood with the unpleasant owners even though I didn’t see a sign indicating said restriction. It just said “no dogs,” not “no awesome mother-freakin’ beautiful thoroughbreds.”

That a 2004 Toyota Sequoia 4×4 won’t engage in four-wheel drive when only one tire can gain purchase.

That kids freak out when the car won’t go where it’s supposed to when it’s supposed to and that even if you’re in your aunt’s beach property’s backyard being aided by your physician cousin and his MBA brother and you’re not lost on some deserted island, no crisis is better than the imagined one of total desolation.

That a 2004 Toyota Sequoia 4×4Ā needs just one more inch of clearance over a one-foot high, six-inch wide PVC septic access pipe and that saw horses turned into lifts,Ā not compressed beach towels, will do the job.

That five days with no WiFi is a great thing: that if you’re paying attention, you re-learn the difference between life that is virtual and life that is real.

That the virtual life is the one which really doesn’t matter even though it can be permanently stored on someone’s hard drive.

That the real life: the one you feel, see, taste, smell and hear is the Only One That Matters and that it’s f-l-e-e-t-i-n-g.

That even sketchy broadband or other service on a smartphone is preferred because text messaging is the only effective way to communicate. I likened it to 21st century smoke signals. (I’m not a big texter stateside.)

That to Canadians, 79Ėš and sunny is too hot. Whatever.

That www.mabelsgourmetpizza.com offers perhaps The Best Pizza I’ve ever had.

That while I like my Kindle, I love a real book.

That an enterprising 8-year-oldĀ insisting that sparklers be purchased were the only ones to be had by children on the 4th of July at the party on the beach (way to go Thing 3!).

That it’s true: men really love to burn things.

That 8-foot planks are OK for use in bonfires.

That my cousins in adulthood are just as great to know as in childhood and their families rock.

That three lime wedges in the same recycled red solo plastic cup for Gin & Tonics on the 4th of July denotes three of said deliiiightful summer drink.

That a seemingly brief brown-out power outage on the evening of the 4th of July is sooooo kewwwwl and totalllllly gorrrrrrgeousssss and thatĀ the full moon’s beams light your path back to the house with the solo cup in hand, is a suuuuper coooool experience, even for the children!!

That the first two hours of a brown-out turned bona fide power outage in the sultry night without fans or noise machine under a full moon now possessed by evil also highlights a previously suspected addiction to content and news.

That the cup full of three lime wedges is no longer a happy cup. Ā That those limes might be the last known citrus on earth.

That remembering the landline downstairs lifts spirits!

That turning a hard right prematurely in the dark at the base of the steps into the six-inch square newel, en route to said landline, leaves a bruise that is not soon to fade.

That the number to Niagara Power is 905-871-0330 and it will never ever ever leave my data banks.

That my Garmin 405CX GPS watch also makes a very good night light.

That during hour almost-four that the withdrawal of said news and content can create panic and thoughts of catastrophe and fear when you’re not connected to a network that can beam information to a cell phone rendered useless by the outages and the previously lauded “sketchy coverage.”

That an eventual five-hour power outage in a sort of remote location imagined overgrown by kudzu and inhabited by rare Canadian carnivorous deer generates even moreĀ random thoughts of recent heat waves, tsunamis, earthquakes, forest fires, and apocalyptic catastrophe that ravage your gray matter.

That those thoughts and fears can override all rational thought; even your belief system and that having a provocative discussion with your PhD 19th Century literature professor cousin about Cormac McCarthy’s The RoadĀ the previous evening might not have been the best idea…despite Viggo Mortensen’s mad acting skills.

That a clock flashing “12:00” at 3:12 AM is wonderful.

That talking about the fears in a controlled and manageable way in the post 3:12 AM ‘lit up like a Christmas tree’ house despite those glorious moonbeams with my soulmate of 22 years can calm me down.

That 25mg of Benedryl can even quiet the aforementioned ravaging thoughts more.

That 2mg of Xanax doesn’t work on an 82# golden retriever who is terrified of fireworks.

That you can pay children $10 each for silence and no fighting in the car on the ride home and that if one child picks on another, their behavior gives the $10 to the child that was picked on. (Thirty bucks is cheap for silence.)

That maybe next year I will offer my children .25 for each Fla-Vor-Ice wrapper their middle brother left on the floor.

That Fruit by the Foot activates a gag reflex in any adult within a 20-foot (or almost seven FbtFs stretched end-to-end) radius.

That the only way to retrieve voicemail messages on my mostly inert cell phone in Canada is by calling myself and then hoping to the gods that I don’t lose the signal.

That I missed my dishwasher more than I thought I would. But that having a dishwasher makes you lazy because without one we cleaned as we went along.

That one bathroom shared amongst nine people is not only possible but OK.

That even five more days off off the grid was better than the first five.

That a “rabbit ears” antenna is required for a DTV converter box for the landlord’s TV and even though it’s nice to not get email and all the rest, it would have been nice to watch just a little Wimbeldon.

That nothing beats a chocolate milkshake (and that the Thunder Bay drive-in’s are cosmically better than the Buffalo Canoe Club’s and they’re cheaper) for the beginning stages of the Big Ride Home.

That traffic at 11:45 in the evening on a Saturday on 495 during the ride back home, 10 minutes from our exit, looks like this due to road construction:

That while vacation is great and a lot of fun, for me it’s just laundry in a different place, cooking in a different place and breaking up squabbles in a different place. But Oh, what a nice place to be.

That I love my actual home and that pulling in the driveway at 12:20 AM is a Very Big Deal when you know your very own bed is waiting for you.

That writing something every day keeps me sharp and that starting this up again was actually pretty hard to do…

I hope you all are enjoying your summers.

Thank you.

About Grass Oil by Molly Field

follow me on twitter @mollyfieldtweet. i'm working on a memoir and i've written two books thus unpublished because i'm a scaredy cat. i hail from a Eugene O'Neill play and an Augusten Burroughs novel but i'm a married, sober straight mom. i write about parenting, mindfulness, irony, personal growth and other mysteries vividly with a bit of humor. "Grass Oil" comes from my son's description of dinner i made one night. the content of the blog is random, simple, funny and clever. stop by, it would be nice to get to know you. :)

2 responses »

  1. I love all the things you learned on vacation. The 2 mg of Xanax for the dog made me laugh out loud :). Welcome home! Nothing is better than sleeping in your own bed, no matter how much you enjoyed where you just came from.

    • poor Murphy – when he had his tri-annual appointment, I told the vet that in the summer when we go on vacation, he becomes a neurotic mess in the evening. she said, “we write lots of scripts for xanax in june and july… i’ll write one for him.” and she did, but it didn’t have much effect. šŸ˜¦

      and yes: i love being home, no matter where i was before.

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