WH Chronicle No. 1.05

Aug 23, 2010

Well, at T-minus 17 days, I’m once again having to  make the bed because our house is back on the market.  Our renters’ son broke his leg and was worried about the stairs.  But despite the two ground floors and wheel chair access, they requested that we seek new renters.   So back to keeping a clean house—which has been severely compounded by the suitcase guts splattered uniformly across our home.

Ahhh...leaving Bear Valley....where they get as much snow (average 170" of snow per year) as we do heat. 

The drive home provided us with more than just hemorrhoids.   First, we had to gas up...all I can say is,
“that poor Mrs. Ebbetts”

 (Thanks, Deb!)

Then on to Stockton, CA to stay with Ruth, Brian, Casey and Carolyn.  Sam has a thing for Carolyn’s elbow.  I wonder if sucking one's thumb provides the same desired effect as smoking a cigarette--post-elbow rub?  
Ruth carries her taxes around in a Duraflame box.   Now THAT is irony.

Lost Wages (Las Vegas) was the next stop on the list, at Sam’s request.  This city initiated multiple ‘moral discussions’ as the kids were enamored with billboards of naked women, drive-thru chapels (seriously) or grannies chugging booze and pulling slots.   Sam wanted his picture taken with the ‘ladys dressed in the feathers’.  Tom suggested that Sam could begin to 'upgrade'  his elbow fetish.  

While in Vegas, we cheaped out on a kennel-sized room at the Stratosphere, and rather spent our money visiting the Mandalay Bay Aquarium.  It was quite impressive.  We were offered the opportunity to purchase an ‘aquarium family photo package’ that cost more than our motel-crate, but decided to instead illustrate the event.  This was a group effort, and partial re-enactment. 

Next was the drive across the desert—where the blazing temperature licks fan belts like gummi worms. 
112 was the highest it registered for us, that was about the time we drove past a coasting suburban.   The coolth of Carlsbad Caverns was welcomed. 

"I thought happiness was Lubbock, Texas in my rear view mirror." But rather it was the highlight.     Jerry and Susanna’s next door neighbor splurged on a firework show that  would make Epcot envious.  Pre-pyrotechnics entertainment was provided by Jerry's thigh-slappin’, bluegrass band,  “The Other Brothers”.    Daryl and Sam buried themselves in Meg’s old Barbies and  Playstation games for the duration of the stay except when they stepped out to mingle.    I love it when they say, “the locals are colorful”.  This appeared to be true--even  through a rear view mirror. 


  • ·         Rooster hasn’t lost any weight at the fat farm, but loves the 24/7 access to kitty toys and road trips.
  • ·         Chucky has quit hiding under the workbench and now meows incessantly at anyone walking by.
  • ·         Big Red resembles a Ninja chicken when offered fresh produce.  In her excitement, she’ll run, roll, leap, and flog anyone within 10 paces that could be carrying a tasty morsel.  You might even hear a tiny, 'hiiii-yah'.  
  • ·         Haven’t heard an update from Col. Mustard.  I hope he’s still upside down.   
  • ·         Jamillie skyped me and moaned the song of teenage boredom.  As she prepares for school and resumes her old life, she said it all seemed like a distant dream.  
  • Google Eyes (the rat) passed away.  Turns out that he was 208 in rat years. Heather and Chris have spent only half of that time in mourning.  

“Cross the river in a crowd and the crocodile won’t eat  you.”  African Proverb unheeded by the owner of the flip-flop and thigh bone found in Jerry’s crocodile.

"In Vegas, I got into a long argument with the man at the roulette wheel over what I considered to be an odd number."  ~Steven Wright

"Las Vegas is Everyman's cut-rate Babylon.  Not far away there is, or was, a roadside lunch counter and over it a sign proclaiming in three words that a Roman emperor's orgy is now a democratic institution.  "Topless Pizza Lunch.""  ~Alistair Cooke

"Another possible source of guidance for teenagers is television, but television’s message has always been that the need for truth, wisdom and world peace pales by comparision with the need for a toothpaste that offer whiter teeth and fresher breath.”   Dave Barry

Passing the Beano to all Ebbetts,

PS. Click on the pictures below to see our new releases:



WH Chronicle No. 1.04

WH Chronicle 1.04

August 12, 2010

At T-minus one month and counting, we’ve endured a house rental rollercoaster.  The lack of internet, phone and being two time zones away has also exacerbated this amusing ride.  Originally, we leased the house the day before our California departure.  Then, via smoke signals, we learn the renters, due to unfortunate circumstances of an injured child, needed to move in to our house early.  Through Draconian efforts, as well as cashing in premature favors, we had the house prepared for them 2 months early; only to receive a gibbered message from our real estate agent stating they no longer desired to live there.  This leaves one with that awful feeling when you go to “shoot the moon” and then realize in the penultimate hand that…well… To be continued….
We’ve braved the cold in Bear Valley, reacquainting ourselves with jackets and jeans.  We played a concert one night in the circus-style tent, where Mat, our flutist, explained to the audience that playing the flute in this climate was just like sticking your tongue to a frozen flagpole.  He speaks quite well despite the splint on his tongue.

The Bear Valley Book Sale will provide Tanzanians with future reading material.  Our family now hoards books as if preparing for an Armageddon recovery effort .  There was a Foxfire book in our purchase bag.  These ‘roughing it’ field guides teach you such things as how to make a bicycle out of a sheep (extra soft seat, cool horn).    Sounds useful.

The US State Department (your tax dollars at work) purchased our family a Rosetta Stone Kiswahili course.  Beyond my honest daily efforts of counting steps in the new language or learning popular kid vocabulary (mtaco = butt), I’m on lesson number 10 and have successfully learned how to say, “mvulana juu ya ndege”  =  “the boy is on top of the plane”.  Are these courses personally tailored?

The kids have been assumed into a pack of wild watoto (children) in Tamarack Lodge.  The only thing missing are occasional choruses of “Food, Glorious Food”.  Meanwhile, I’m in this weird limbo between handling the innumerable logistics and contemplating the effects of our imminent future.   The amusement park ride of problems solved and then problems discovered leaves less time for reflection and humor.  I remember a similar militant-prewar feeling prior to the birth of my children.  Being 10 months pregnant and contemplating the unpredictable weeks of birth and infancy creates a serious-minded individual.  I haven’t burst into to tears yet, as my threshold has risen with life events and years;  but, no doubt, it’ll be a tiny piece of straw.

By the Way:
“Pikepike” (pikiepikie) is ‘motor-scooter’ in Kiswahili; from the sound it makes.
“Msipigi bunduki!”  is ‘don’t shoot!’
“A stranger has big eyes, but sees nothing.”  African proverb

“A sense of humor is good for you. Have you ever heard of a laughing hyena with heart burn?” 
Bob Hope 

“Humor is the instinct for taking pain playfully”.  ~Max Eastman

Battening down the humor,


WH Chronicle No. 1.03

August 2, 2010
WH Chronicle 1.03

Whaleherdienda has been on the road this week.  Your roving reporter braved the weather, the wildlife, the car-bored children, and even the outdoors to bring you our embellished reality. 

We narrowly avoided a very interesting situation upon our departure.  Sam and Daryl attended a birthday party where a herpetologist (amphibian expert) entertained the kids with snakes, insects, reptiles, etc.  The birthday ‘goodie bag’ take-home present was a pet tarantula.  Trying to plan ahead, I clearly had two choices:  1.  Schedule dinner with Tudder and PawPaw (a.k.a. pet depository) and have them adopt the tarantulas, or 2.  Take the little critters with us on a cross-country car trip.    I was tempted to transport the spiders just for the sheer folly of saying we did; but it turns out that Daryl and Sam turned down the steroidal arachnids!  They explained to Herpeman about moving to Africa and they couldn’t take them.  Ahhhh….  Of course, that begs the question of how the kids acquired more sense than their mother.

After visiting the famous arbors of Lubbock, we headed west for Ghost Ranch to join Ian and family.  It was beautiful in a deserty kind of way.  Everyone had a good laugh at our $1 tent.  Of course the folks laughing the most were the ones housed in “Taj maTent”.   There were also comments about ours being a “fair-weather tent”— though, I don’t understand the allure of camping in any weather other than fair. This Craig’s list, $1 tent, complete with extra pole, resembled a tent well enough.  And as economical efficiency might have dictated for us to just drive away from the assembled tent, we aren't in the habit of littering.

After Ghost Ranch, the station wagon cheerfully lurched westward towards Four Corners.  Ready to partake in the mindless touristy photo op of straddling four states….

Evidently, they are moving the monument? Hopefully, to a more convenient location.  The graffiti on the sign was worth a postcard.  One poor tourist, “I drove all the way from Norway to see this %$#@ site!”

Then we propelled ourselves across miles and miles of vermillion landscape—all so dusty pink that even the bottoms of the clouds were blushing. 

Onwards to Zion National Park.  It has 2.6 million visitors a year, 4 of which are US Citizens.  Sam was so taken by the grandeur of natural beauty that he popped out his first tooth. 

After Zion, we continued west, again—down the Extraterrestrial Highway.  Tom said it was named that because the landscape looks like Mars.   Though, we didn’t see anything more alien than the inhabitants of our own back seat.

Determined to get our money’s worth out of that silly tent, we stopped in Virginia Lakes to camp.   At almost 10,000 feet, it was a beautiful sight with snow still on the banks of a crystal clear lake.  Apparently many other campers were equally entranced by the lake's loveliness long before we had arrived, evident by the fact they were all permanently moved into the Virginia Lakes Campground.  The tires were off and the garage sales were in progress.  Not to be thwarted, Tom inquired about any possible open campsites around the area.  Locals (?) directed us down the road to a free (the first red flag) campground with plenty of vacancies, and lots of bears---WHAT was that?  Bears—yes, for the first time in 35 years, it was a bad “Bear Year”.   Oiy….when the kids heard that, Sam immediately put on his bear-proof swim goggles and declared the only safe place for him (and for the bear) was in the car.   Our dollar tent doubled as blanket that night while we all slept (in theory) inside the Volvo.   In-the-car-camping is a sure-fire way to lower your standards (or extinguish them all together) for future motel lodging. 

We finally made it to Bear Valley—or Beer Valley as one very unsober musician called it.   We’re here two weeks.  This is just long enough for the inanity of our adventures to fade in Tom’s memory and to begin recalculating our 5000 mile lampoon journey home.   When it’s not a good time, it’s a good story… ”fodder”. 

By the Way:
Davie—our marine biologist and supersex snail expert turned 60 last week.  They had a cross-dressing birthday party.  Anyone who’s met Lizzy understands her artistry knows no boundaries, but this could have been her 'piece de resistance'.  

That's Davie and Lizzy!

Rooster is doing well with Aunt Tammy.  She and Charlie are now comfy with the 20lb furry sandbag holding down the blankets at night.

Colonel Mustard is still upside down at Don’s house. 

House sitter is still alive. 

 "No man needs a vacation so much as the person who has just had one." 
-- Elbert Hubbard

"Those that say you can't take it with you never saw a car packed for a vacation trip."
-- Author Unknown

"Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not."
-- Ralph Waldo Emerson 

Hoarding supplies and bear repellent,