Wednesday, April 26, 2006

There's a Whole in the Bucket

Who would have thought that I would be spending a week with Liza? Liza, my husband's latest obsession, is taking us on vacation. Our belated honeymoon to be exact.

Geoff and Liza spend a lot of time together. In the morning he stands outside, leaning against her, with his cup of coffee and his first smoke of the day. On the weekends he's doing odd jobs to help her out. Saturday he fixed her radio. Sunday he drained her septic tank. Lately he's been trying to figure out that nasty intermittent electrical problem that shuts her water off at the most inconvenient times.

I don't mind him spending so much time with her. I'm just not the jealous type. Once I even let him go away on a trip with her. "Just trying her out, honey," he said as he drove off for some "quality time" with her. But I'm not worried. After all, she is 23 feet long and over 7 feet tall. She is a true woman of the seventies. 1977 to be exact. General Motors made the van and Frontier made the box, or should I say the shoebox, that would be my home for the next week.
We nicknamed the RV Liza for good reason. She's named after a Harry Belefonte song about Liza and Henry. It seems that Henry wanted some water but there was a hole in his bucket. To fix the hole he needed straw. To cut the straw he needed an ax but the ax was too dull. In order to sharpen the ax on a stone, poor Henry needs a bucket of water. But as we all know, "There's a hole in the bucket, Dear Liza, Dear Liza."

That's what life with an old RV is like. On your way to fix one thing you find you need to do two other repairs along the way.One thing leads to another and the next thing you know, you are right back at the beginning. Now that I think about it, life with Geoff is a lot like that too.
It's a week after my second term of college and I'm ready for a break. We're going to Tofino in the middle of April. We expect rain, storms, and a majestic ocean view to keep us inspired. Oh yes, and Liza to keep us warm.

The ride to Horseshoe Bay isn't that exciting. It's wet and rainy. April showers. The ferry ride is nice. We stand outside on the deck in the soft rain drops. My inner child squeals when a harbor seal waving at me from the deep gray ocean. After docking at Departure Bay we take a three-hour drive to our campsite.

Geoff is a great driver. He's been driving postal delivery trucks for over twenty-five years and it shows in every little turn he takes.

The inclines on the highway are too steep for my comfort and my nerves get rattled. When I'm nervous, I always have to pee. But now with Liza in our life, I can pee anytime I want to. There's a bathroom in the back. No more sitting with legs crossed praying there's no bumps in the road. No more insisting we pull into the gas station so I can "buy mints". No more lies. No denial. I don't have to suffer the indignities of squatting in the bush, peeing on my shoes, and hoping a snake doesn't bite my butt. Now I know the freedom men must feel since they can pee in any location they choose.

We arrived at Bella Pacifica campground in the early evening. We find Site 29 and pull into our "home away from home". Parked in Site 28 is a top of the line sleek, sexy and right-off-the-lot, motor home. Liza's 1977 faded exterior panels, pale in comparison.

"My brother and I camped by the ocean, right down there!" Geoff shouts, pointing to the row of campsites below.

"Look Geoff, we are close to the bathrooms and showers!" I exclaimed. I'm excited in case my bathroom privileges get taken away.

You can hear the sound of a radio hockey game juxtaposed with the sounds of classic rock. From the RV, I can see the beach through the trees. The tide is coming in fast and furious. The waves are the largest I've ever seen. There's a gentle wind blowing our little patch of wilderness. The branches of our trees rest on Liza's roof. Squirrels and crows look annoyed as we block the scraps of food left by the former residents of Site 29. The rain starts falling. It's getting dark. Geoff and I go inside to keep dry.

"I've got to plug this thing in," Geoff says as he jumps out in the rain.

"I'll stay here," I say, praying that he doesn't ask me to help.

A few seconds later he comes back cursing that the outlet is different than the plug he has. He gets in the driver's seat and turns Liza around. He has to back in to use the outlet on the other side of the site. After five minutes of fiddling around in the dark he returns.

"We'll go into Tofino and see if we can find the right plug," he announces on his soggy return.

"Is everything okay now?" I ask.

"Yup we're ready to rock," Geoff replies.

With Liza's needs taken care of we look at each other and shout "Let's eat!".

Cooking is always more exciting when you are camping. When you are RV-ing its even better. We should have shopped for one week but we have enough food for three. We could feed the entire campsite for weeks. No loaves and fishes for us. Fruit, vegetables, cereal and chicken will be our low-fat, healthy food. At least that was the plan. Somehow we now have brownie mixes, cookie dough, gourmet sauces, and of course, Kraft dinner.

"You know what we forgot, Geoff?" I asked. "Hot dogs. How could we forget hot dogs?"

"We'll get some when we go into town for that new plug for the other hookup," he assured me.
"And marshmallows?" I hinted, hoping he wouldn't remember our pact to eat well on this trip.
"You're such a little kid," Geoff teased. "Okay, you'll get some marshmallows."

Geoff is a different man on holidays. He seems to love to cook. He loves to clean. He putters around making comments about how disorganized things are and how we should strive to keep things neat. Have you ever heard that joke about a woman's greatest fantasy? It seems to revolve around 3 gorgeous naked men? One who does the dusting, one who does the cooking and one who does the vacuuming. In my case, it's one man doing all three. I think I'm in heaven.
After dinner is done, the dishes are clean, the truth comes out. It seems like the descent from heaven came on rather suddenly. Traveling is fine. Cooking is fine. Peeing, as I mentioned before, is great. The only part I really hate is sleeping. When night falls and the curtains close - it is dark. Darker than dark. The walls of the RV begin to close in. The ceiling sinks lower. The lights inside cast a burnt-canary-yellow glow that makes us look jaundiced and old. Maybe those retired snowbirds aren't really retired. Maybe the heat of the lights tans them and makes them look old. I don't know but I don't like it.

"I will NOT sleep in the overhead compartment. It's like waking up in your own coffin!" I exclaimed as we slipped into our pajamas. Geoff sets me up "dining room" table. It folds down into a bed. I can at least breathe there.

My fantasy man becomes reality man in the dark. He snores. The rain outside conspires with him and falls in random rhythms between his snorts. I project a week of torment. It looks bleak and I expect the worst is yet to come.

In the morning, I wake after a few hours of sleep. The ocean is soothing. Geoff is cooking. The world seems much better than it was the night before. I'm ready for fun. We spend the week walking, flying kites and talking.

The nights are still dark. Geoff still snores but I've tuned into the ocean now and the sounds of the tides drown him out. I may even learn to like this style of camping. I may even learn to like Liza.

Monday, March 27, 2006

42 years of life

Today's my birthday. Forty-two years old and countin'. I've always considered my birthday my personal new year. This is the time of the year when I make my resolutions. So here we go:

Be more me.

That's it. The list used to be longer but now I know my main stuggle is in denying who I really am. It's all the hundred little ways you compromise your thoughts, feelings and opinions simply to be accepted. To be loved. I'm going to cut down on doing that this year.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006


Please plant dandelions at my grave
For roses must be cut before they can grow again
Lilies fade in the cold, harsh rain
But dandelions reach
Deep into the ground
Tapping their roots into the ashes
Of my soul.