Wilder by Far

A look at life with the Wilder family. Updated most weekends and some vacation days. You can contact me at movingnorth@gmail.com..

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Location: United States

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

"I say we take off and nuke the entire site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure." - Ripley, Aliens

In the last post, I promised bad sheep. You look and tell me what those sheep are up to, eh? Also, I love the imagery of this one - the valiant conquistador is leading his party of vaqueros, goats, pigs, and mules to a nice atomic missile. "Hey, we've got New Mexico. And NUKES!!!!!"

We spent the night at the La Quinta® and got up late. The folks we were visiting in Albuquerque were tied up (not in the bondage sort of way, but in the busy sort of way – I think) and we took our time. We went to the continental breakfast that La Quinta™ puts out, and were the very last people through. There was still batter for the waffle iron, which was much simpler to operate than a conventional Soviet-era tank, but just as solidly constructed.

Interestingly, the La Quinta® people are very much into customer service, having visited this website not an hour after my last post when I posted that we were going to stay there. Note to La Quinta™ - I can be bribed. And your room was nice and the coffee was good.

Most waffles are shaped either like the moon or the state of Colorado (or, on the realy wild waffle side, Wyoming). This particular waffle iron put out waffles in the shape of Texas. Really.

The Boy was ecstatic while he ate Texas, even though the waffle was upside down, and the view he had of Texas was similar to Texas as seen from the vantage point of the core of the Earth. He didn’t notice. Pugsley ate a waffle. And yogurt. And juice. And two Danish pastries. And more juice. And his napkin. And another waffle. For being 23 months old, that boy can put away the groceries.

The Boy bounded out to the car, and Pugsley made seismometers tremble in Ulan Bator as he lurched his way to the car. We drove.

The ride to Albuquerque was a smooth one, after the three zillion hours it took to cross Texas. When we hit the state line, well, the surrounding terrain immediately stopped looking like Texas, and started looking like New Mexico. It was stark, obvious, and shocking – lush cattle country on one side of the line, high rocky mountainous deserty stuff on the other. I never knew that geology and climate paid attention to those little lines on the map.

After another hundred or so miles we stopped at a rest stop so the weak amongst the Wilders could relieve certain urges. I had my own bladder removed surgically several years ago so I am no longer weak like the rest of them, but, the screaming and yelling proved to be too much.

As I escorted The Boy in the men’s side of the rest stop, he began a long discussion about the construction of the building. Thanks to his current addiction to “This Old House”, his questions were intricate and displayed a precocious knowledge of all things construction for a six year old:
“Why did they use tongue and groove 2x6 for the ceiling? Is an asphalt built up roof on top? Is that a 2x10 beam? Why did they use Allen-head screws on the partitions?”

His questions sparked laughter from the other side of the toilet partition. At least I hope it was his questions, otherwise some dude was just sitting laughing inside a toilet stall at a rest stop, and that’s just plain creepy.

Okay, speed kills, sure. But speed humps? That would so keep me from speeding.

We drove onward. The road into Albuquerque cuts right into the side of a mountain. Given the relative quality of the rock, sometimes the entire outcrop is covered in concrete to keep the rocks from being ripped by gravity from the side of the hill and then dashed down into busses filled with nuns, kittens, and the children of Bruce Willis and Demi Moore.

The keen eye of The Boy led to a long back and forth discussion of rock mechanics, retention structures, geology, and civil engineering that made The Mrs. pass into a coma-like vegetative state (though fortunately she has a living will that explicitly states that The Mrs. can’t be deprived of food because I’ve bored her into a coma) and made Pugsley hungry.

Around another corner, and, Albuquerque.

We went to Garduños (touristy, I know, but the green chilies are good) and had lots of green chilies and sopapillas. Pugsley ate his weight in honey.

Soap, Sound, Traffic, Pinot

Sunday, March 25, 2007

"Whoa, slow down there maestro. There's a NEW Mexico?" - Mr. Burns, The Simpsons

Ahh, New Mexico. Would we ever get there?

When last we left, our intrepid travelers were six hours across Texas, yet still in Houston.

Texas is still a big state.

As we drove across Texas, the rain came down in sheets thick as lead, the pillars of heaven shook. Okay, not so much. It rained really hard. The Mrs. slept, and The Boy kept asking “are we still in Texas” whilst Pugsley went from manic sadness to manic happiness, sort of like having a little Russell Crowe in the back seat.

We finally stopped for lunch in Waco. The Mrs. and I, never having been to Waco, had our discussions of “do you think they get tired of you asking them where it is?” conversation, and decided that it was best not to stir the ghost of Janet Reno. Instead, we took the high road and headed for Whataburger®. We fed Pugsley from their waste grease trough, and The Boy set up a refinery and turned the rest of the grease into a passable (and tasty) fuel.

Normally, I would have been in full travel mode, that is, unless the bladder is in burst mode for at least ¾ of the inhabitants of the car no potty breaks – I can categorically state that no American has died of a burst bladder since 1934. No drinks for anyone. Ever. Drivethroughs only. It is a harsh and desolate drive, bereft of fun. Since we were hideously off our timeline, I gave up. We no longer needed to have a Hitler family vacation.

Leaving Waco, we finally hit Ft. Worth at rush hour. At a construction zone. Needless to say, well, that chucked us another hour behind schedule.

At that point, it was 6:00 PM, and we’d planned to be in Ft. Worth by noon. It was very tempting to just turn the car around and head back to Houston, curl into a fetal position, and give up completely on getting anywhere. It was like the weather, the dogs, the road, and the bladders of each member of my family were traitorously conspiring to keep the car mired in the sluggishness of the road.

Only an hour or so past Ft. Worth (where there appears to be a natural gas well for each and every citizen) The Mrs. demanded I stop and purchase pain medication to attempt to kill the tiny men with compressors attempting to inflate her sinus cavities to the size of hot-air balloons.

The upside is that the apparent speed limit on Texas roads is nearly 90 MPH. That’s nice. It was dark, and finally we hit the outskirts of Amarillo. The Mrs. had previously been pushing to get a nice hotel, pointing them out as we passed them on the roadside, wistfully, imagining the soft, fluffy beds and sleep that could be found in each one, only to have her hopes dashed as our car sped by at nearly the speed of sound.

My relentless driving finally broke her spirit. By the time we hit Amarillo (which translates from Spanish to mean “Land of Yellow Hotels”) she had given in – we could drive to Albuquerque. Me? I’d given in to her viewpoint. A nice fluffy bed in a La Quinta sounded good to me.

We found our La Quinta.

We’d traveled six hundred miles.

We had yet to slip the surly bonds of Texas and fly free.

Texas Waffles, Bad Sheep, Green Chilies

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

"Oh, great. You killed the invisible swordsman." - Lucky, The Three Amigos

I, as a rule, never drink hard alcohol. Not much like beer at all. I try to save the hard stuff for Britney Spears. But on this day, well, I thought about taking the Cuervo exit.

It was finally time for vacation here at the Wilder house. When we left Alaska we had planned to go back to Fairbanks for spring break. If there’s a spring break capital of the world, well, Fairbanks, Alaska must surely be it, since it’s never much colder than -20ºF at this time of year. Practically balmy. We decided not to go back – if I had taken The Mrs. back, I would have had to hit her over the head with a frozen salmon to conk her out so she’d get on the plane back to the lower 48. The Mrs. misses Alaska. I like hitting her on the head with a frozen salmon.

No, instead of going to see ice sculptures (which I love) and snow (which I also love) we decided to make a three-state trek and see friends and family. With usual Wilder precision, we had planned the trip to the minute. The fact that a friend came in from out of town and we ended up talking until late that night meant that I started packing after 2AM when the laundry was finally dry.

Okay, starting late and doing a crappy job preparing is really a normal start to a Wilder vacation. Add in that it was pouring rain.

Also add in that at 1AM I ventured into the garage (don’t ask why I was in the garage at 1AM – let’s just say that sometimes you need a nail gun, pliers, and toothpaste). I was greeted by the Invisible Dog Fence (doesn’t work on visible dogs, apparently) controller emitting a high, piercing shriek indicating it either wanted me to feed the magic dog-pinching faeries that keep the dogs in, or that the cable that The Mrs. and I painstakingly buried somehow was no longer a continuous path for electrons. Since The Mrs. and I had decided to leave the dogs outside (with neighborly care), Invisible Dog Fence wasn’t an option – it was necessary.

Given that it was late, I gave into the temptation to think that, just perhaps, the Invisible Dog Fence would heal itself by the next morning. Okay, I know that also might be considered wishful thinking, but, really, it was raining. I would be better in a few hours as the water drained, right?

No. The next morning (5:10 AM – really) the water was seven inches deep over most of the Invisible Dog Fence. The Mrs. had thrown The Boy out of his bed, and there we were, standing in deep, cold water in the pouring rain, digging in the mud for a gloried buried speaker wire.

After an hour, I was pulling up a wire (The Boy was holding my various electrical testing gadgets) and I found that, indeed, the wire had been cut. Oh, sure, it had been working for four months, but somehow, something had burrowed underground and cut the wire. I’m thinking either the dogs have been watching Hogan’s Heroes and nicked the wire with their escape tunnel or there is one scary burrowing critter with knife-like teeth that likes to sever buried electrical cords. I think I’m never going barefoot again.

Did I mention that fire ants can float? And can get in your shoe? And bite you six times?

Anyhow, I get back inside and start packing clothing. The Mrs. announces that, since her sinus cavity has been filled with searing hot pain, greater than the pain that Al Gore’s emotion chip will let him feel, well, she’s not going on the trip until she can see a doctor.

The Mrs. leaves at 8AM. She returns at noon.

We’re six hours behind schedule.

At 12:16PM, we pull onto the highway, and head out.

Halfway across Houston, 15 miles into our trip:

-The Mrs. is near in tears from pain.
-Pugsley is hungry and gnawing on his child seat.
-The Boy asks . . . “Are we in New Mexico yet?”

This has “long trip” written all over it.

Wacky in Waco, Fun in Ft. Worth, and Antsy in Amarillo

Monday, March 12, 2007

"I'm running out of time!" - Jack Bauer, 24

I pulled up behind this car on I-10 on Saturday. At first I thought someone was towing a bright red cannon to lay siege to the Umpa-Lumpa fortress. Or something. Turns out they were towing Ronald McDonald's ride. Why does it make sense he drives a shoe? I don't drive a big white Nike home, so why does that clown need a shoe?

So, Ronald's ride has a nice rear view mirror. This makes sense, except for the fact that his big high-top blocks the view of anything behind him. See the dangly fries?

It’s Daylight Savings Time again. Now that Daylight Savings Time is longer than Regular Old Standard Time, it makes me wonder why we even bother with Regular Old Standard Time. It would be simpler to never change the clocks. Heck, I’d be happy if they turned the Regular Old Noon into the Daylight Savings Time 6PM. It would simplify lots of things, and the people in the convenience store wouldn’t be so darn grumpy, plus “be home by dark” would take on a whole new meaning to the eight-year-old set. Admittedly, it would make sneaking around hard (you know who I’m talking about, Enron!), but if you don’t have that much sneaking to do, well, that would be okay.

What, you say, would happen to crime? Criminals are lazy, and want to get up late to sneak around. If it’s broad daylight at 2am, well, they’ll just give up, go home, and sleep in until noon the next day. When it’s still light.

Result? Crime would plummet.

Other, less verifiable results: Insurance rates would go down. SAT scores would go up. Milk would stay fresher longer. Broccoli would taste like candy. Taxes would go down. Bosses would give raises for no good reason. Inflation would be zero. Pez® would once more fall from the heavens like hail, but it would be better, because it wouldn’t ding your car and you could eat the tasty Pez® by the handful by scooping it up from your windshield.

I think that my plan would also make either Global Warming® or Al Gore go away once and for all. Either of those would be worth it.

Did I mention that the people in the convenience store were grumpy? In front of me was a henpecked husband being yelled at in Hindi, a middle-aged Texas woman henpecking her husband on a cell phone in Texan, and an hombre behind me being henpecked in Spanish. Me, I didn’t get henpecked, even in Wilderese. The Mrs. likes me.

Oh, I know the general populace was busy stocking up on Pampers™, Pez® and poodle detergent in order to survive the coming chaos of Y2K7, when a CEO whose Outlook© schedule sent him to the wrong meeting at the wrong time would suddenly realize that the End Times were here, pull out a machete, and execute a really hostile takeover. Me, I took it in stride. I changed my watch setting this morning. Oh, and I pressed the “H” key on the car and changed that clock, too. I even changed the one wall clock The Mrs. is too short to reach. (The Mrs. isn’t really short, she informs me, just low to the ground and “hard to push over.”)

So, outside of a polyglot of angry wives that were all more or less incomprehensible to me, Y2K7 was a non-event.

One concern that we have about the whole time-changing thing since we moved from Alaska is the whole “You can’t make me go to bed, it’s not dark yet,” coming from The Boy. Given the wacky daylight (and dark) hours in Alaska, you cease to become wedded to the concept of day or night except in the most abstract sense – “day” is when the stores are open. Only some of them are open at “night,” and most of those you don’t want to go into unarmed.

So, given actual experience, I heartily suggest that we free “when we go to work” from the shackles of “when it’s light outside.” Since everybody leaves the lights on in Houston all the time anyway, it won’t have any impact on work, except that in the summertime it’ll be nice and cool when you go to work, and only slightly roasting when you get home. By the time you’re ready for bed, well, it should start cooling off again.

This, my friends is sheer genius, and no doubt my ticket to the Nobel as well as that MacArthur Fellowship . . . why hasn’t anyone thought of this before?

Sorry for the delay in posting, I must have had some sort of internal Y2K7 effect that I didn’t realize until just now – yet another reason to implement my plan without delay. Given that it’s spring break (I just pulled my shirt up and said, “wooo”) I will likely miss Wednesday’s post (and maybe Sunday’s, if we don’t get back in time). Fear not, I will return with oodles of pictures and other blog fodder.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

"We have powerful friends. You're going to regret this. " - Princess Leia, Return of the Jedi

The Boy took this picture. Dunno how he did this. Perhaps it's a Death Star exploding . . .

Okay, that last post was a touch of the mid-week blahs. In truth, even Wilders sometimes get the blahs. That’s okay. We get fixed up and refreshed. Even The Boy was so cranky that I had to shove him into his cage a full hour earlier. (We had fed him his gruel, so it was okay.)

Tonight, however, was a bit better. I got home and found that The Mrs., The Boy, and Pugsley were all freshly washed and ready to head off to the local skool er, school. It was . . . “Open House Night.”

I’m pretty sure that most of the teachers were happy to spend a Thursday night at the school, seeing as how spending Thursday night at work makes me feel bright and cheery inside. We drove up to the skool er, school and were immediately confronted by rows of minivans, all shiny and each with a “My Son/Daughter Plays Soccer” sticker. Fortunately, we don’t have a Son/Daughter, just The Boy of soccer age.

We made the mistake of following a car into the “busses only” area, where it parked like you would only park if you were letting someone out. A tiny, skinny lady began to get out, but quickly pulled her door shut as we zoomed around her like we were at the Indy 500.

“Looks like she’s able enough to walk from the parking lot,” I observed.

“Not if she keeps getting dropped off at the front door. She’ll balloon up pretty quick. Soon enough she’ll have to have a slave barge like Jabba the Hutt. She could probably get Carrie Fisher, too. I don’t think she’s doing too much these days.”

Where do you go to find a metal bikini in Houston?

Anyhow, we parked and walked to the nearest entrance. I wondered if we’d have to make the trek all the way around to the front of the building so we could go through the TSA metal detectors and full body pat down. Surprisingly, on the night the school had the most people that it probably ever sees, we could just go willy-nilly into the school with not even a “check in at the office” or the more usual full body cavity search.

I’ve only seen two types of kindergarten teachers in my life – old, disillusioned and grumpy (mine) or young and full of pep and vigor, sure that each bright and shining face that she sees every day will be the best that they can be. Sickening? Sure, but that’s what The Boy has. And, frankly, it’s probably better on him than the whole “blue hair” thing.

We viewed The Boy’s work, Pugsley toddling along like our own personal Ewok. The Boy showed us his classroom, and we departed.

“How long did that last?” he asked.

“Not long.” But it was nice.

As we exited the building, we saw Jabba in training re-enter her slave barge car. It looked like she had gained a pound or two in the thirty minutes we were inside.

I just hope I can avoid having to wear a metal bikini.

Jabba might want me to shave my back.

Let's not even mention him licking me.

Okay, Shawn over at Flat Tire Paradise tagged me with "five reasons I blog."

Here they are:

1. The lucrative money.
2. The private blogging jet.
3. Cheaper than therapy.
4. Umm, I can do it while I drink beer.
5. It keeps me from founding my own religion.

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

"Yeah, funny story. One day I was really bored, and Dad had left a steamroller idling in the driveway..." - Bart, The Simpsons

The Boy, eye upside down. Silly The Boy.

It’s been a bit of, well, boringness this week.

Besides breaking things that you’ve already read about, well, I haven’t done much. The Mrs. made me take the weekend off, so I can’t regale you with stories of how I accidentally cut the power to Houston or cut off my second favorite index finger.

She also told me that we hadn’t done very much in the past few weeks. The Mrs. is right (always right, Dame Koldfoot) so I don’t have much to report, besides some random stuff.

Well, we’re looking to head (slightly) north soon, so I think we’ll have a better report come next, post.

Either that or we’ve run out of beer. If we’ve run out of beer, send sled dogs to send more. They can (I think) run on cut wheat stems.

Is there ever enough beer?

Sunday, March 04, 2007

"It wasn't chewing gum. It was epoxy glue. And all of a sudden you know a whole damn lot about submarines." - Rock Hudson, Ice Station Zebra

The four-bolt on-wall toilet. My nemesis.

It continues.

The Mrs. had enough of me working every weekend getting the house in “Wilder” shape. I’ve got a list as long as an Adam Sandler movie, but every weekend it never seems to get shorter.

The Mrs. enforced a weekend without (mostly) work. It was glorious. I slept. I drank beer. I’m not sure that there’s much else that enriches life, besides randomly yelling at your children. I know, I know, I could beat them, but that takes too much energy. Stupid children, running and stuff.

Anyhow, Saturday involved a large amount of sleeping. It was time. I’ve been either working or, well, working at home enough that it was cutting into my drinking family time. Unfortunately, like the Fox Network, I have high standards, yet a low budget.

As The Mrs. talked me into not working, I slyly whispered “Except for fixing the toilet,” into her ear. I’m sneaky that way, since I knew it would take forever to fix the toilet. Okay, really I thought it would take about fifteen minutes. I usually underestimate these things, so, fifteen minutes translates to fifteen hours or so.

I guess I under estimated.

When last we left, well, the toilet was fixed, and fixed properly, but just not quite right. I had to fix it one last time. It turns out that there is truly a limit to the number of times that a man who has been drinking can pull a fragile porcelain toilet off four bolts and not drop it and put a horrible hole into the toilet so that it no longer holds water.

I guess that number is five.

I went to Home Despot, and bought a tube of porcelain patching epoxy (the hole was quite roundish and small), and completed adding epoxy (The Boy’s comment: “We can afford epoxy? We’re rich!!!!”) and caulked the toilet with massive amounts of caulk. It’s all hooked up to the wall, and ready for, well, whatever it is one does in a toilet. In 24 short hours, well, I’ll turn the water on to the American Standard toilet made on January 13, 1987. Maybe I’ll never have to think about it again. Please.

After spending hours on the toilet, well, I joined The Mrs. in the front room. It’s been coldish the last two days, so I thought I’d burn a crutch or two and a footstool to warm us up, along with some particle board that was a college shelf for my books. (I have no idea where the cinder blocks went.)

As I was sitting basking in the warmth of burning crutches, one pane of the glass door keeping the fire in the fireplace exploded.

I began sweeping up the shards of glass, and, recalling that if the door to the fireplace is just a smidge open an alarm that you can hear in North Carolina begins to shriek, I put the first thing that came to hand in front of the door. It was a nice cardboard moving box. Thankfully, The Mrs. remarked that boxes fall into the category of things that are “flammable.”

I pulled the box down, and began to work the hot coals in the fire, moving them apart so that the fire would die down soon.

So, tonight brought a broken toilet and an exploding fireplace.

I’m still trying to epoxy the 1,743,312 pieces that the fireplace door went into when it shattered. I guess I need to buy a new one, if for nothing else than to keep Pugsley, our 19 month-old from eating all the glass.

That's okay. We’re rich. We can afford epoxy.

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