A Conversation with a 5-year-old

September 29th, 2007

While Cheri and I are on the phone the other night, Dani asks her mother to talk to me. First thing she says—more accurately, SHOUTS—is, “Hey, Krissy, when ya’ gonna have your BABY?!”

I explain that it won’t be until February. There is a confused pause. “In the spring,” I add. Another pause. “Not until after Christmas.”

“Christmas,” she says, “That’s after fall.”


“Fall’s comin’ up soon, right?”

“Yes, it’s here now.”

“When are you gonna visit again and do all that stuff with us?” Here is an example of typical five-year-old max-out-on-subject-number-one-of-the-conversation. Her thoughts have now turned to the spoiling outings on which I take her and her sister when I fly to Pennsylvania.

Later in the conversation between her mother and me, Dani interjeted to suggest this name for the baby: Licorice.

“The Closing Chapter of the Utah Trip Story,” or “The Lesson I Never Seem to Learn”

September 29th, 2007

So yes, the trip was wonderful. It was not, however, without incident. Our last day entailed a loooong drive home from Moab. Setting out from our hotel, I looked at the gas gauge (I can see you THINK you know where this is going, but oh, you have NO idea) … anyway, there was more than half a tank. Looking at the map, I saw that within an hour, we would be on major U.S. highways for the entire trip. (We would later learn that David took a peek at the gas gauge as well and had the same thought.)

So we drive along out of the boonies and onto I-70. Again, this is a MAJOR U.S. highway … with NO TOWNS on it. The only exits we pass are labeled Ranch Exits, which means they open onto rough, dirt roads that snake off into the Utah wilderness. We don’t worry until two hours into the trip, when the Gas Light comes on, and, looking at the map, we realize we are smack in the middle of NOTHINGNESS FOR MILES IN ALL DIRECTIONS. No need to panic: We have David’s GPS! GPS says the nearest gas station on I-70 is more than 45 miles away. We aren’t going to make that. BUT, says GPS, if we take the upcoming “Moore Cutoff” exit, we can be in the town of Emery in 17 miles. THIS we can do.

Here’s where I make my first poor decision. The options are these: [A] Pull over on I-70 and call AAA; wait an hour until a tow-truck brings us gas, or [B] Take an unknown dirt road into the hills of Utah with almost NO GAS in the tank.

“B” it is!

So we take Moore Cutoff. It is a dirt road. There are no other vehicles on it. Not one. We are nervous about being lost with no gas on this dirt road, so I am coasting down hills in Neutral.

Five miles into the road, we both lose cell phone service.

Eight miles into the road, we come over a hill, and I make my second poor decision. It is a split-second decision that goes like this: “Yikes! Those ruts in the mud at the bottom of this hill look very muddy. Mud is bad. But that gray stuff to the right of the ruts—that could be dry, right?”

Seconds later finds the Golfie stuck. In. The. Mud. People, I’m talking about some deep mud. Black Utah CLAY mud. It is up to the doors. It is up INTO the engine. “Sploogshe.” I can’t get the car to rock forward and back. We get out and, up to our shins in vacuum-sucking mud, attempt to push the car. No luck.

Did I mention it’s COLD? Did I mention we are eight to ten miles from the highway? Did I mention we are another eight to ten miles from the nearest TOWN? Did I mention there are NO OTHER CARS on this road?? How about that we haven’t eaten breakfast? Or that I am 18 weeks pregnant and can barely walk up the STAIRS IN MY HOUSE without feeling faint?

There is no point in belaboring these points, so David and I both get ready to hike the eight to ten miles into town. For me, this means grabbing a jacket, water, and some cereal bars. For David, this means loading himself up with his heavy camera gear and laptop bag, because all of these people we DON’T see driving down this road? Thieves. Thieves who are willing to slog through three feet of mud to boost our electronics. (I convinced him to put them back in the car, but poor David felt nervous the whole time about it. I think when faced with a situation this stressful, we all direct our anxieties to surprising places. I decided, of course, that the hike into town would cause severe damage to the fetus; my imagination was eating me alive.)

Before you go thinking we actually DID hike that eight to ten miles, let me introduce you to Dick Hancock, also known as The Man You Should All Ask God to Make Win the Lottery. Dick is a 72-year-old Ferron, Utah, resident. He smokes “Dean’s Lil Cigars.” And he likes to hunt Elk off Moore’s Cutoff.

Lucky thing number one is that David and I encounter Dick’s pickup just a quarter of a mile along the road.

Lucky thing number two is that Dick is NOT off hunting elk for hours, miles from his truck, but is dealing with a broken chain on his ATV, which has tracks instead of wheels, and which is stuck in the mud just a hundred feet or so down the trail. Dick is not a nice or not-nice guy. He is the kind of folks who just don’t think twice about helping a stranger. He’s not “happy” to do it, nor does it seem to put him out in any way. Two people arrive in front of him who are in a jam. What you do is, you help them; what else would you do, is Dick’s way of thinking.

Dick’s son, a wheelchair-bound also-hunter, is in the ATV, prepared to wait for Dick to fix the situation THEY are in. Dick’s on his way into town (Ferron, a little past Emery) to get another chain. I ask if he would mind carting one of us along, so we can get a tow truck.

“I dont know that there’s a tow truck IN town,” he says in his country accent. “But what’s your trouble?” I explain that we have a VW compact stuck in three feet of mud up the road.

“Well, I can probably get you out of that,” he says.

And he DOES! He backs up his truck to the mud-hole, gets out a handy hook-and-cable thing, and just like that, the Golfie is FREE. Then Dick leads us into town, keeping an eye on us in case we run out of gas … which we DO, right in front of a GAS STATION, and right in front of Dick’s house (and I have now mentioned 50 percent of the buildings in Ferron, Utah).

Dick lends us a gas can, which David walks over to a pump and fills so we can drive the Golfie the few remaining feet to fuel. I put 50 bucks in Dick’s pickup and tell him there’s something in there for his troubles, because I don’t want him to think we aren’t grateful … and because I think I have never BEEN more grateful. To ANYONE. He argues with me a lot about it, and demands I go get it, etc. Even though I explain that he has saved us an incredible amount in towing fees, not to mention TIME, not to MENTION DEATH IN THE UTAH WILDERNESS, he is adamant. I get the feeling that for him, it’s like being given money to take out the trash. Does not compute. But I’ve hidden it well, in his cigarette pack, and I distract him with questions about elk meat and how he will get his son out of the mud and about the many cars and ATVs on his property. He shows me a backhoe.

“If I can’t get him out with the right chain, I’ll get him out with this,” he says.

Then he says, “There is one thing you can do for me, I guess. I’ve been meaning to sell this car, and if you know of anyone down there who might want a car like this, you could give them my number.” With this, he leads me to a tarp-closed carport. Inside is a 1973 Buick Riviera, maroon, MINT CONDITION, all original everything. Looks like it has been kept in this vault lovingly since its day of purchase. Dick explains that he bought the car as part of his retirement projects “To Do” list ten years ago. He says he has no idea what it’s worth, but, Readers, if you want a stunning 1970s-era car, please let me know!

Meanwhile, say a word of thanks, in whatever way you do that, for this man who saved us more than a lot of time. I don’t know how that hike into town would have gone.

Also, know for your own reference that it’s very STRESSFUL to drive the rest of the way on a long trip with a car that has thick mud in the engine. Your clutch might not be happy, and you might get a speeding ticket trying to make it to Vegas while mechanics are still open, only to decide to push it the rest of the way home and then pay to have your engine steam-cleaned, which will solve the problem but not alleviate the stress-knot in your gut that persists well into Friday as you blog about your mishap. It’s just one possibility.

I leave you with these:

The Golfie after Dick rescued her from the mud (this photo does not convey the DEPTH of the mud or the amount of it smashed into the front of the car, but you get the idea)

The Angel Elk Hunter Dick Hancock lending me a gas can

Yeah, I threw away these shoes at the gas station

Pics from the Trip

September 26th, 2007

Click on “Start Slideshow.”

Picturesque Peaks, Riveting Rivers, and Gorgeous Gorges

September 24th, 2007

This morning we decided to explore Telluride. We took the free gondola down into town and walked around. It’s a gorgeous place. David took lots of great photos. Because it rained and then stopped, everything was clear and beautiful. My tagline for Telluride is this: Where the Other Half Skis.

We drove on to Utah and got to Arches National Park in the late afternoon. A lot of it can be seen from the car, which is good, since I was not up for any hiking. David did hike out and get close to one formation, and the light was lovely for pictures. Tonight we’re in a cabin on the Colorado River in Moab. We can hear the river, but otherwise, there are no sounds. Stars and moon above, crisp, clean air … when I re-read this blog entry in a few days from L.A., I will be jealous of my former self. But I do miss home and especially Stevel, and we are making the long (10+ hour) drive back tomorrow.

Road Trip to AZ,CO,UT

September 23rd, 2007

Hello from Telluride, Colorado, and David’s and my little trip out into the not-city. I can’t tell you much about this place. We arrived after dark and went right to bed. I CAN tell you we are staying in a fabulous hotel in the Mountain Village above the town. In the dark last night, I peeked out the balcony and saw two things: [1] Nearly silent gondolas whizzing by on a suspended cable overhead and [2] The hugest white mountain-face I have ever seen, and it was, like, RIGHT THERE. This morning the mountain is obscured by rain-clouds, so I’m happy I checked it out in the dark.

Friday we drove to Flagstaff, Arizona, a quaint town centered around a working train depot; being not far from the Grand Canyon, Flagstaff is a stop on the railroads that tourists take to experience the Grand Canyon “By steam train!” and stuff. No, we didn’t stop in the Grand Canyon. We’d both been before and have other foci and ambitions for this trip. Also, the Grand Canyon makes me kind of nauseous, and I’m not really into added nausea right now.

I did do a little shopping in Flagstaff. It’s a sweet mix of antique stores and shops full of Patagonia wardrobes and thousand-dollar skier sunglasses. I bought a purse and flip-flops on sale.

Yesterday we drove from Flagstaff north into Monument Valley. The lighting was lovely, and we took photos and made a leisurely pace. We headed northeast from there to Mesa Verde. We arrived too late to hike to any of the ruins, but that was OK—we drove to a lookout point where we could see all of them and quickly realized this girl is in no shape right now to do those strenuous hikes. I get exhausted quickly unless I take it slow. It was also raining. Anyway, the view was spectacular enough. I’d been wanting to see these things for a long time, and I look forward to coming back when I am NOT pregnant someday and hiking out to them.

Today we have plans to head over to Moab and Arches. Then it’s a long haul home to L.A. on Monday. I’m enjoying this trip for all the reasons I knew I would: Adventure, hanging out with David, and getting a break from the crowds. But I’m also feeling sad in a way I normally don’t when I travel. I miss Stevel, who had to stay home and work, terribly. I haven’t had good luck with the nausea on the trip, I think maybe because of the altitudes? And it’s raining in L.A., a brief happening I always enjoy. So while it’s nice to get away, I look forward to going home, too.


September 19th, 2007

Here’s Century City from the Getty, where we went to celebrate the birthday of David.

Meanwhile, check out this loving embrace.

Oh, and looks like we’ll be needing these.

A Couple Poemz

September 19th, 2007


Elastic waistband
defeats any hope I had
of feeling half-cool


Everywhere I go in this house
I think I smell poop
and think,
Is this how it’s going to be?


You will not have
to worry about me.
I have plenty
of doctors, and parents
of my own.

I will not be someone
so powerful
you try for years
to gain a little power
for yourself,
only to watch me become
in my old age
so helpless
you can’t
see the person you battered against
and greatly admired,
and this loss breaks
your heart.

I will tell you the truth.
I will not lie to you.

I will not
call you names
or predict your failure.
I will hope always
for your success
and try
to equip you to be
all right
no matter the outcome.

No one is perfect.
I will not be perfect.

Dani’s Obsession

September 13th, 2007

I’ve mentioned my niece’s obsession with baby dolls, or, as she calls them, “babies.” She must have a hundred of them.

I’m not sure if I’ve mentioned that she is also obsessed with LIVE babies. LOVES them. While her sister and cousins play, she will stay with the adults just to look at and touch and talk to someone’s baby. But it’s never satisfying enough. She is DYING to HOLD the baby, too. DYING.

My sister told me they were all driving home from a little weekend trip last weekend, and in the car she asked the girls what they would buy if they won a ton of money—if money were no object.

Erica: “A horse.” [duh]

Dani: “I would go find some woman on the street and ask her if I could buy her baby.” [!]

Is kindergarten too early to start sex-ed?

I Can’t Keep These to Myself Any Longer

September 13th, 2007

A year or two ago, Anne sent Stevel’s baby book to us. The other day, we were perusing it and found these gems:

22 months old: Joan was changing Amy, and Stephen said, “Where’s baby’s penis?”

No age given: A Jehovah’s Witness visitor asked Stephen, “Who made the trees? Who made the sky? Who made you?” His reply: “My mommy and daddy made me, and I grew in my mommy’s uterus.”

Age 3 1/2–LIKES: his train and car, Becky and Debi [his sisters]
DISLIKES: mashed potatoes, mayonnaise [a lifelong dislike!]


September 8th, 2007

Stevel and I are off to Coronado Island for a few days tomorrow. Our very kind neighbors will be taking care of the cats, no small task: Mia still has to be medicated three times a day, once with food taken up an hour before and put back an hour after (=SIX trips to No. 6 every day). Thank goodness these people are so in love with Linus, and thank goodness I was finally able to give him a LONG OVERDUE bath today so he won’t be so super greasy for all their lovin’.

Right Now

September 7th, 2007

I am eating grapes

(for Cindy)