Close Encounters of the Rural Kind: A Story of Missing Teeth, Pigs and Big Hearts. Oh, and Weed, oddly.

I’ve been up at our lakeside cabin. Oh, I know that sounds fancy, all HGTV-like where the house hunters are debating guest suite accommodations and the value of living near the nightlife. Our little oasis up10-warning-signs-that-are-extremely-obvious-4 north requires more debate as to how many guests can sleep on the floor and the value of living near the wildlife.

A cabin at a rural California lake is an adventure. Oh, it’s beautiful alright with the water and the hills and the creatures and the wind in the trees and the twittering birds and the abundant sunshine. It’s awesome and amazing and inspiring and whatnot. And I LOVE it.

But the folks, and I use the term colloquially, that live up in those parts, again colloquially, are something, and I use the term with wide eyes and reckless abandon.

Note: I am just saying that they are really something.

I had a couple of close encounters up at the cabin this week. Close encounters of the  rural kind. Let me tell you about Larry, Marty and Buzz.

Note: I’m not even kidding about the names.

These 50ish fellows with unkempt facial hair and big toothless smiles are the dock guys. Please don’t confuse them with pool boys. Dock guys drive their glorified scooters filled with yapping dogs and fishing poles down the hill and hang out around the dock. They fish. They smoke. The shoot the breeze with whoever. And they monkey around with the dock to, well, keep it afloat, I guess.

Buzz tells me that you can’t make a living just helping Marty tend the dock. No. Buzz will be gone most of the summer tending to his weed farm, but not the medicinal type because “he don’t need that kind of government headache” with all the rules and whatnot. I am welcome to stop by his place anytime to try some, if I’d like. 

“And don’t never go near any of them weed farms that got them wild hogs. You know what them hogs is focartoon-pig-eating-74141635816184726092435r, dontcha? Yup, if you mess with their weed they’ll shoot you clean through your head and throw you to the hogs. Them hogs’ll tear you limb from limb in a New York minute.”  He nods at me knowingly. “I wouldn’t go messing with them guys, little lady like you.”

Note: I have no intention of messing with them guys.

Additional Note: For awhile, I thought Larry and Buzz were the same fellow but I learned to tell them apart by which teeth are missing. 

But here’s the thing: These guys are gems. They have hearts of gold. Buzz came by to lend us some tools to work on our slip in the dock. Marty assured us that in the event of electrical problems on the dock, he’ll use his generator to lift our boat and keep it safe. He rescues stray dogs around the lake. And Larry. He is like the Welcome Wagon committee all rolled into one happy, grinning guy.

The moral of my close encounters of the rural kind this week?

You can’t judge a man by the number of his teeth, but instead, by the breadth of his smile!

Note: Sometimes I am just so darned deep.

Okay Oleander: Any preteen in the 90s had her favorite Backstreet Boy, right? Tell us about your favorite and what did that say about your personality? 





Name that Team

So, let me begin with a big a-p-o-l-o-g-y. Things go real at the Oleander house recently. My daughter got sick on Thursday and remained quite ill until today. So, Friday was a no-go and it’s not until now – after her and Bean are in bed that I can finally sit down with 5 minutes to myself to hammer this out. However, this delay has given me a lot of time to ponder my thoughts on team mascots (and by mascots, I’m going with the team’s designated name like Boston Red Sox where Red Sox is the “mascot” and not that horrible green monster, Tessie. If the actual costumed mascot was your intention, Bacon, you can have me write another post entirely on those).

I think there are three particularly important categories to consider when talking about mascots.

Note: For the purposes of this post I’ll be sticking to teams in the MLB, NFL, NBA, and NHL. 


An animal can be a pretty awesome mascot. Many animals are intimidating and frightening. The Chicago Bears for example are an appropriate football mascot. They are big, scary, faster than you’d expect for their girth, and you don’t want to mess with them.

Teams that are doing animals wrong: 

Chicago Cubs: Baby animals – not scary. Maybe you can make the argument that this is clever, what with the Bears and Cubs and all. But, given that they are different sports entirely and not some sort of Major League/Minor League affiliate, your argument is invalid.

Kansas City Royals: (Bet you didn’t know that was named after animals). Yup. Named for the “American Royal” livestock show. Livestock.

Pretty much any team named after a sea creature: Tampa Bay Devil Rays, Florida Marlins, Miami Dolphins (side note: what’s the deal, Florida?). The San Jose Sharks aren’t too bad, so I suppose they get a pass.

Any bird that isn’t a Hawk or an Eagle. Orioles? Cardinals (x2)? Blue Jays? Pelicans? Penguins? Ducks? I mean, I get regional pride and regional fauna. But…these are just not solid team names.

Teams that have changed location, but not names

I think we can all agree the the New Orleans Jazz is pretty legitimate. However, when the team moved to Salt Lake City in 1979, they kept the name.  And became the Utah Jazz. Now, don’t get me wrong. As a resident of the beehive state, there are a lot of great things about it. But Jazz? Let’s be honest, that should have been rethought.

Here’s a factoid you probably didn’t know. You know the Los Angeles Dodgers, right? Did you know that a Dodger is a “Brooklyn pedestrian who dodged the streetcars in the city.” Yes. The Dodgers moved from Brooklyn to LA in 1958, but remained the Dodgers for reasons I don’t fully understand (okay, I don’t fully understand why they chose Dodgers in the first place. I mean, how much streetcar dodging was really going on in 1884? Was this, like, a big thing?).

Another Los Angeles team chose to stick with its original moniker. The Los Angeles Lakers. Once the Minneapolis Lakers (you know, from Minnesota – the “Land of 10,000 Lakes“), they moved to Los Angeles in 1960. And while Los Angeles county isn’t devoid of lakes, it’s really not the land of “Lakers,” either.

Teams that are crushing it

Some teams are just doing it right. For example:

Any team named after pirates or marauders. Here’s looking at you Pittsburgh Pirates, Oakland Raiders, Minnesota Vikings, and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Minnesota Twins. Twin Cities. Too clever of a play on words for me not to dig it (Side Note: I am not endorsing Minnesota teams, here. They have just, apparently, done a decent job naming their teams. Gotta give credit where credit is due).

Teams named after weather. Weather is unpredictable and uncontrollable – so this naturally makes for some solid mascots. Additionally, each of the following teams has chosen regionally appropriate weather, making it both intimidating and clever.Including Carolina Hurricanes, Tampa Bay Lightening, Colorado Avalanche, Miami Heat, Phoenix Suns, and Oklahoma City Thunder. Note: There are no teams in the MLB or NFL named after weather…)

And finally, the Golden State Warriors. Don’t disagree. Just nod.

**Honorable mention: The Arizona Diamondbacks. Snakes are horrifying limbless beasts that swallow their prey whole. Arizona is the desert home to 13 species of venomous rattlesnakes, including the Diamondback. This is a solid name. However, the fact that they are referred as the D-Backs almost exclusively and that I think of “D-bag” every time I hear that…they are removed from the list. Permanently.

Hope it was worth the wait friends.

Your friendly neighborhood sports fan,


Bacon: Who’s the most interesting person you have encountered in the past week.


It’s Time to Put on Your Big Girl Panties: Life is Getting Embarrassing

pants-downThe thing about being me: I embarrass myself regularly, so there’s never a shortage of mortifying moments in my life.

I could tell you about the time I sharted in my skirt on a flight to Houston and stuffed my undies in the teeny bathroom trash basket and flew the rest of the way commando and then my luggage was lost and I was underwearless for three days, but that’s more lame than embarrassing, really.

Note: The airline kept saying the delivery of my bag was imminent, which explains the delay in the purchase of replacement underwear. And also, I kind of liked it. Being commando, I mean.

What was I talking about?

Oh, yes. Embarrassing moments.

The Setting: A high school parking lot, in front of a gym, circa 1980. I am running across the parking lot, where the bus is rumbling its impatience.  My long golden hair is blowing in the wind and I am tossing my head, fabulously. The driver honks. My twin brother is ahead of me, but mostly because he’s not in a skirt and cute shoes, and not because of his great speed. On the bus the rest of the Gridley Bulldogs Boys Varsity Basketball Team wait for us, the straggler and his sister, the stats girl. Once we board the bus, we will head off to play some other small town team like The Honkers (seriously), The Wolverines (seriously), or The Musketeers.

Note: Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I made that last one up. But that’d be cool, right? The refs calls a jump ball but instead of jumping, the guys have a sword fight for possession. Of the ball, of course. This is a brilliant idea. I need to write this down.

So, I juggle my textbooks and toss my head, of course. The team calls from the windows. The bus rumbles. The driver honks. And somehow, in the midst of the tossing and juggling and calling and rumbling and honking, I find myself stumbling. Over my skirt. Which has somehow ended up on the sidewalk. At my feet, yes.

In front of the entire Gridley High Bulldogs. 

Sweet Holy Moses.

At least I didn’t shart.

Embarrassedly yours, Bacon

So, Oleander, are we even? I think the world should hear your thoughts now about team mascots. Choose a sport, it matters not. They are all ridiculous. What would your team be called?

noun: extreme or irrational fear of spiders

It’s official. I’m calling Bacon out. Bacon is my mother (for anyone who didn’t know or hadn’t figured it out yet) and I think she’s abusing her motherly privilege here with some of these challenges. She’s deliberately calling me out on my childhood traumas for your amusement. I’m going to continue to allow her to do it – but I just wanted to put it out there that I know what she’s up to.

Now, back to the subject at hand. The scariest movie I’ve ever seen. I should start by saying, I really enjoy scary movies. I’m not into slasher/gore films. But a good suspense film, something that keeps you the edge of your seat is totally up my alley. My dad and I used to watch the “31 Days of Halloween” on ABC Family (which has been renamed FreeForm. Which is, perhaps, an entirely different topic for another day…). We’d eat sugar cookies and watch all the movies.

However, the fact that I watch any scary movies it a bit of a miracle after the experience I had at age 5. To be fair, we were at my grandparent’s house and I think all the cousins thought I was asleep when they decided to turn on the movie. But I wasn’t. And, guys, Arachnophobia is not a movie to mess around with. I mean, check this out:

Sure. Jeff Daniels and John Goodman, you’re thinking. They just called this a “thrillomedy” (how is that not a genre that caught fire?), this can not possibly be the stuff of nightmares.

Until you realize that the spiders go around killing people. There are deadly spiders coming out of the sink. Deadly Spiders in their popcorn. Deadly Spiders hunting them, dropping down from the ceiling on their unsuspecting prey. And I was five. And I was sitting in my grandparents old farm house. There was no chance this wasn’t going to scar me.

I slept in my brother’s room (thankfully he had a bunk bed and a very kind heart) for 3 years after that. Seriously. And even then, when I did move back into my own room I slept with a light on until I was a teen.

And, no, don’t bother inviting me on a trip to Venezuela. That’s just out of the question.

With great fear,


Alright, Bacon. Two can play this game. Tell us about your most embarrassing moment. 

I’m Not Emotionally Equipped to Deal with a Loud Chewer and other pet peeves that I completely forgot

funny,dieren,tekening,tekeningkleur,tekst,cartoon-6651f4156d1a8c52640972f2632a9024_hOleander is a freaking mind reader. She wants to know my pet peeves–which is the exact question I was going to ask her. In fact, I have been taking mental note of my peeves as I have contemplated challenging her with this query, which leaves me remarkably ready to tackle this post.
Except for one thing.

I forgot.

I forgot my pet peeves. How is this even possible? And the post was going to be mind-blowing. Hilarious. Witty and grand, even.

But for the life of me, I can’t remember what irritates me. Oh, and there are plenty of things, believe you me. If I could just remember.

Actually, this forgetfulness thing is getting pretty irritating, because it’s not just my pet peeves that I have forgotten. Oh, no. After three months of fruitless searching, I finally found Oleander’s Christmas present under my bed where I always hide Christmas presents. I suggested I would bring her the gift the next time I flew out for a visit.

But I forgot.

Like the other day. I was driving. It was a spectacular spring day. This time of year, the hills are covered with the most exquisite shades of green. As I admired the view, I made my way to the freeway entrance and headed out. Except I started wondering where in the heck am I going?

I also spend a lot of time wandering around my house, ending up (often downstairs, often in my ridiculously-oversized laundry room) looking for something. That much I know for sure. So I stand there, frozen. Bah!

What’s going on with my brain?

The internet tells me that I may be suffering the effects of waning estrogen levels. The internet tells me that these sorts of problems are to be expected in women my age. The internet is lucky that I can’t wring its paltry little neck. I cringe at the inference that I am old
not as young as I used to be. It’s very aggravating.


Aggravate. Irritate. Annoy.

Why, it might even peeve me, yes!

Bingo. At least I accomplished one thing with this rambling post. I identified my pet peeve!

I can’t stand it when I forget stuff.

With sincere regards, Bacon

Okay Oleander: Tell us about the scariest movie you’ve ever seen, and why. And I think you might know where I’m going with this one …


Risky Business

I don’t even know how to begin this post. Seriously, I’ve been challenged to tell you the “craziest, riskiest, least law-abiding thing” I’ve ever done. And, I’ve never done anything crazy or risky. I do have a few of things that aren’t entirely law-abiding. So, here you go, in order of how stressed I was. Settle in, it’s about to get real. 

1. When I was a junior in high school, for our final project in AP US History (yes, my “risky” story starts with “one time in my AP class”….) we split into groups and were assigned decades that we had to present to the class. We got the 90s (which was its own kind of awesome), but we decided to do a time capsule. And we filmed an intro video which involved aliens crash landing on earth and discovering our time capsule.

Against my better judgement, we wrapped my friend’s car in tinfoil (to make it, you know, a spaceship) and “crash landed” it by driving it down the hill of an undeveloped lot in a neighborhood downtown. While I was not actually in the car at the time of crash landing (I was filming), I’m certain 3-4 pieces of the car were lost in the process – along with my sanity. Trespassing and damaging property (even if it was just my friend’s Tercel)? I know you’re impressed. (We got an ‘A’).


Dramatic representation. We did not have nearly this much tinfoil on hand.

2. When we moved to our current state of residence, it was February. My car registration in the previous state expired on January 31. My car is leased. When I went to register it, I was informed by the DMV that I needed to get power of attorney from the leasing company before I could change registration. I promptly faxed the appropriate documentation to the leasing company and waited…and waited. But I was also still driving the car. (Did I hear you gasp?). That’s months past expiration. But, wait! There’s more.

I got pulled over and got a ticket for the registration snafu. And then the truly unthinkable happened. I went to pay the ticket on a Friday (the last day listed on the ticket before you get a WARRANT OUT FOR YOUR ARREST) before I had a weeklong business trip and the court was closed. I cried. (Don’t judge me. This is who I am!). I paid the fine when I got back. It was $40. I’m pretty sure I lost 10 years off my life stressing the $40 fine.


Do not delay.

3. Are you ready for this? I don’t think you are. Okay. Let’s do it.

When we moved out of our house in Fargo, we did it pretty much all by ourselves (thanks, Joe, you’re still a hero for helping out that day). It was a very long day. At the end of it, there was still a bunch of items and garbage in the garage to clear out. Geoff stayed home with the sleeping boy (who was just a year old at the time) while I went back to finish up.

It turned out there was a lot more trash then expected. It filled my entire car: trunk, back seat, passenger seat. I had to dispose of it. I drove around for a bit trying to find an acceptable place. There wasn’t much in the neighborhood. I drove to the nearby Wal-Mart, but their bins were not accessible. And then, I saw it. The retirement home around the corner. I drove around back and found the dumpster. I looked around with shifty eyes (it was very late) and I dumped at least 10 bags of trash into the private trash bins of the retirement home. I filled an entire dumpster. And then I disappeared into the night.



Actual photo of the dumpster. Okay, not it’s not. But it was this bad.

I know. I’m a renegade. A rebel without a cause.

Yours dangerously,

– Oleander

Alright, Bacon. Tell us about your pet peeves. 



Advice: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly aka The Big “Bang” Theory

A word to the wise ain’t necessary — it’s the stupid ones who need the advice. ~Bill Cosby

Note: Wow. Bill Cosby? How freaking ironic is that? Or prophetic? Or pathetic, even?

So, anyway, Oleander has challenged me to discuss the best advice I have ever received.

But as a lifetime of imparted wisdom floods my mind, I don’t just relive the good advice, heck no. I see it all. The Good. The Bad. The Ugly. And so I share, in reverse order, because of the whole saving-the-best-for-last theory of blogging.

First, the UGLY:

Note: Okay, ugly may be overstating it. How about we settle for “not overly attractive“?

“Oh yes! I think that perming your bangs would be a really great idea. It would add volume, yes, and really highlight your forehead, er, eyes.”


Photographic Evidence circa 1993

Note: But that youthful skin! Sweet Holy Moses, I am a goddess.

Moving on to the BAD, which coincidentally is a large category including statements like, “You don’t need a contractor for that job,” to “Don’t worry, aged cheese doesn’t cause excess gas.” But a classic and now favorite BAD piece of advice came from my mom, who meant well, probably:

“Your cousin is only for visiting for the weekend. You should take her along to the dance and be friendly,” where she proceeded to make-out in the backseat of MY car with MY boyfriend. Good grief. High School.

Note: She is OFF the Christmas card list. Permanently.

And finally the GOOD, the BEST and most useful advice, seriously, from my dad:

“Shake what ya Mama gave ya.”

Note: Oh, wait. That was Fat Boy Slim, but it happens to be my second favorite piece of advice, seriously, but in a metaphoric way, obviously.

Back to Dad:

“First, you’ve got to get your facts.”

You see, I am occasionally prone to FREAKING OUT about things that aren’t really even things, yet. But maybe the things could escalate and turn into really big things, so I worry in advance and well, one thing leads to another until the thing has overtaken my thinking and it hasn’t even happened!

Note: I have re-read that paragraph several times and it makes perfect sense to me.

So, whenever I get my panties in a bunch or my arm out of socket (that can’t be right), I think of Dad and remind myself to get the facts FIRST, consider the options SECOND and make a rational and thought-out decision THIRD.

Thanks, Dad.

Note: And Dad, I miss you. I hope heaven is fun.

Okay Oleander, here’s your challenge: All of us here at baconandoleander are well-aware of your aversion to risk. So, do tell. What’s the craziest, riskiest, least law-biding thing you’ve ever done?