It started early this summer. Subtle hints dropped, direct and dire predictions  flung (“Those were the best times of your life, when your kids were at home; oh, you’ll look back on those days and wish….”), and everything in between….
I’d tried not to give it an inordinate amount of brain wattage, but people kept bringing it up.
Yep, son K is back to college for his senior year, and daughter Belle begins her first. On the drive back home to Hillsboro, after we’d taken Belle to her UPS freshman orientation, I said to MH, “It’s not like we just dropped her off for summer camp, is it?”
Anyone know what this is?
The She Meant Well award re this situation goes to my maternal unit, as per our Tuesday phone conversation. We talked about MH and I taking Belle up to college for freshman orientation last week, and how K would be returning to Tacoma this week. My mother asked me if I was going to miss my offspring. I said something like oh yeah, big time, already,even though K is still at home (he caught the train to Tacoma on Wednesday).
“I find it interesting  that you think you’ll miss them” she said.
MH has a sabbatical coming up, and we will be doing some traveling. Good timing, I think (hope). What with Belle & K both in college, the Dueling Banjoes of our elderly parents’ health crises , and my professional mid-life crisis, I find myself…unable to even pin down what I’m feeling. Floating, for lack of a better word.
Wise compassionate counsel from wise, compassionate friend SCM:
One of my Oregon Attorney Assistance Program newsletters talked about transitions—good or bad, they will always leave you feeling uneasy, and to give yourself time to get used to them, and to be forgiving of yourself if you feel badly (even for good changes). You’re transitioning with writing (or making some decisions about where to go next) and transitioning with parenting children to parenting adults. Those are both big life changes.
* * *
These are the breakfast plates I purchased for K and Belle, a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away. One section for scrambled eggs and/or my special recipe whole wheat vanilla soymilk tofu (!)  pancakes, the other for fruit (bananas, seasonal berries, kiwi… they both loved kiwi).
Don’t worry about me, I’m doing fine. Just staring at empty plates. 
* * *
Something else on the plate.
C’mon out tomorrow to the Downtown Hillsboro Saturday Farmer’s Market. Hillsboro’s seasonal open-air market is celebrating its 32nd year of operation, and features over 100 vendors and their fresh local produce food and garden products, flowers, baked goods, arts and crafts, live music, and more.
As for the more: wipe the fresh blackberry (mmm, yummers) stains off your fingers and stop by Jacobsen’s books for their summer author signing series, which is held during market hours. This Saturday yours truly will be at Jacobsen’s, with The Mighty Quinn. I’ll be there from 9a – 1p, except for when I’m slipping out to one of the produce booths to sample some of the gorgeous fresh fruit, or drooling over the Pie Guy‘s wares.
The market is held on Main Street between 1st and 3rd. Jacobsen’s Books is at 211 E. Main, on the north side of the street.
Be there, or …
* * *
When I learn something new – and it happens every day – I feel a little more at home in this universe, a little more comfortable in the nest. Bill Moyers
May you feel a little more comfortable in your nest – or fledge quickly and crap all over the nest next door, whatever floats your boat – and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Mostly from my mother, with the implication that it’s all downhill after this.
 The dictionary definition of interesting – “engaging or exciting and holding the attention or curiosity” – is not how my mother typically employs that word. When she uses it, it is more along the lines of the apocryphal Chinese curse, “May you live in interesting times.”
 my SoCal mom has a myriad of physical and mental health problems; MH’s Floridian father is battling the progressive physical and cognitive deterioration of Parkinson’s Disease .
 One of those stealth-health things…and they loved them.
 It’s time for a lighter footnote. Pretend you’ve just read an outrageously funny fart joke.
Morning is sunny;
another sweltering day
is in the forecast.
Belle has her zoo shift,
and a friend’s birthday party
in her day’s schedule.
There’s packing to do,
for Orientation week
The countdown begins.
She is quite eager,
and at the same time, fearful
of what awaits her.
The future is calling
her heart and mind, as we watch
with proud, trembling hearts.
* * *
During one recent Sunday Dinner With Friends ® the conversational topic veered to the health issues of aging parents.  When I shared my concerns over my elderly mother’s ongoing physical and cognitive decline, friend MW recommended the book Learning to Speak Alzheimer’s. Subtitled A Groundbreaking Approach for Everyone Dealing with the Disease, the book’s focus is not on the causes/origins of Alzheimer’s. Instead, author  Joanne Koenig Coste presents a practical approach – a comprehensive method called habilitation – to help family and caregivers enhance communication with those beset by a disease that progressively robs them of their ability to understand and be understood. The book offers practical tips on how to “step into their world” – interestingly, also a mantra of by improvisational theater groups – as in, how to understand and relate to those patients who must live with their changing, diminishing sense of reality.
Although my mother does not have Alzheimer’s disease, my friend pointed out that my description of my mother’s difficulties are similar to those experienced by Alzheimer’s patients:
* Short (or long) term memory loss
* Difficulty performing familiar tasks
* Problems with language
* Disorientation to time and place
* Poor or declining judgment
* Problems with abstract thinking
* misplacing things
* mood and behavior changes
* loss of initiative
* personality changes
I don’t need to scare you with the statistics, but sooner or later most of us are going to be dealing with some form of dementia, whether via a spouse or family member’s diagnosis, or just losing it after one too many Comcast customer service calls.
I was glad MW recommended the book. Moiself in turn passes on that recommendation to y’all. I found the book’s advice compassionate, accessible, applicable – even somewhat Zen, in that it stresses learning to live in the moment and trying to understand the afflicted person’s reality.
The Ticking Meter
My head feels like an old depot, worn by time and tears. No more locomotives passing through, café filled with tales and baggage. The old depot’s barren now. There has been a great brain robbery.
* * *
The dementia train could stop at my depot; who knows what the future holds? Until that time, I will stick with my philosophy: the more you rant, the longer you live. 
I heard someone on the light rail use that Hamlet-ian expression last week. He was sitting behind me on the train; I only caught bits and pieces of his (you guessed it) cell phone conversation, so I’m not sure if he used the phrase correctly.
Wouldn’t you opt for something called bibimbap? Even if you could choose from:
☼ Cedar planked grilled Chinook salmon with huckleberry sauce
☼ San Francisco cioppino seafood stew
☼ Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi
☼ Lemon garlic roasted whole Dungeness crab
The next time I make cedar planked salmon I’ll say it’s bibimbap. It won’t actually be bibimbap, of course. Nomenclature, schmomenclature – I call the right of nouvelle-fusion cuisine, which means I can give it whatever appellation I want.
Here’s what bibimbap (bee- beem- bahp) actually is, when it is not doing a cedar planked salmon imitation. Bibimbap means “mixed rice” in Korean. Bibimbap is a classic Korean dish, and there are as many bibimbap variations as there are Kim Jong Il  and Kim Jong Un jokes.
The dolsto bibimbap variation uses cooked rice, crisped in sesame or other oil in a heavy-bottomed pan in the oven or on the stove, as a base for a variety of toppings: steamed or roasted vegetables, plus tofu (plain or steamed or sautéed) and/or a meat or seafood item or fried eggs. Veggies are arranged so that adjacent colors are complementary…or in whatever pattern that suits the cook’s mood…to form a visually pleasing presentation.
All ingredients are mixed together just before doling out the individual servings. Or, everyone can sing a chorus of “We Are the World” and eat from the same pot.
On second thought, skip the singing part.
It’s summertime, and bibimbap seems like the perfect dinner dish to incorporate the abundance of fresh veggies we’re getting from La Finquita del Bujo, our CSA. Besides, I like saying bibimbap. I like thinking it, too (bibimbap!).
Family and future dinner guests, you have been warned.
* * *
Calling the Dream Interpretation Squad
Dream dateline: my high school reunion dinner. I was seated at a table with three former classmates, with whom I’d had a passing knowledge/acquaintance-type relationship (i.e., I didn’t know them well at all, and vicey-versace).
I had been receiving treatment for cancer of some kind, and had shaved my head before the reunion, as I didn’t want to be shedding hair into ourbibimbap lovely reunion dinner.
The electric razor I’d used was defective; thus, I did a really crappy shave job, especially near the nape of my neck, which was covered with blotches of hair. I explained the reasons behind my unique grooming to my tablemates, and was unnerved by their reactions. They seemed (1) very happy to see me, (2) very happy to hear that I had cancer, (3) even happier that my scalp looked like it was the don’t try this at home warning photo for a depilatory fail.
Like this, only much, much worse.
* * *
It’s like a nervous tic.
* * *
In last week’s post I mentioned my morning walk/listen to podcast routine. These walks sometimes put me into a contemplative or ruminative state of mind – I find myself chewing the mental cud, so to speak.
Ego ruminant, ergo sum 
One day last week I was listening to a Freakonomicspodcast which wandered around the topic of whether tithing to one’s church makes the tithers happy. This particular topic had sprung from a question submitted to Freakonomics by a listener, “J. ” On the show’s website, the Freakonomics hosts described their treatment of the topic:
J is in effect asking two questions, related but separate. One is whether giving away money – in this case, to a religious institution – makes you happier. The other is whether religion itself makes you happier. Neither question is easy to answer, but we’ll do our best.
Excuse my momentary digression of a critical nature: that particular Freakonomics show did a piss-poor job of “answering” either question, IMHO. Yo, Freak dudes – don’t go throwing around a self-descriptive like “best” with regards to that show.
Anyway…distracted as I was by the Freaks wandering around the topic, I began to wander around it moiself. Here is a bit of my meandering, on that Marianas Trench of a topic: what religious institutions are and what people “get” out of them.
Churches are bibimbap.
DAMN !!! This has got to stop.
Churches are habituaries.  As in, churches are places wherein one becomes habituated to churchy ideas. Churches are places where one becomes habituated – wherein one adapts to and even becomes comfortable with – intellectual and communal ignorance.
Beliefs which you’d consider absurd at face value  (and do consider absurd, if they are coming from a different habituary  ) or if you encountered them in any other venue – it is your church’s job to make you get used to them…so used to them, you often forget they are even there. You sing the songs, repeat the liturgies, without thinking about what you are saying and without considering, is this plausible? Is it true? And, if your church is successful at this most important of churchy tasks, you accept what is taught or said within the church without applying the kind of reasoning you would to any other statements that purport to explain reality.
Whether or not you take your religion’s teachings, rites and practices “literally,” your church (temple/mosque/ashram/Celebrity Center/Chrystal Vibration Shakra Retreat Lodge) is a place where you become inured to recitation of falsehoods about, and absurd explanations for, the natural world.
I think this is especially true for habituaries filled with liberal and/or nominal believers,  many of whom join a church so that their children may attend the church’s private school (e.g., if the local public schools have a bad rep), and/or because they want some kind of churchy experience so their children can be “exposed to religion,” and/or because they enjoy the social club aspect of church attendance (churchy term: fellowship). These parishioners aren’t primarily church-going for the theology; thus, they tend not to pay much attention to it, past mouthing or acknowledging certain religiously correct platitudes (“god is love; we are all god’s children.”).
And churches and the people inside of them can get away with this, because religious teachings, rites and theologies are protected by a bizarre kind of social and political immunity – under the umbrella of “religious faith” – from having to offer rational, objective proof  (“here are the reasons we do/believe this”) for their beliefs and proclamations.
Of course, many folks eventually figure out that it’s all a bucket o’ hoo-haw, but continue to show up for the potlucks.
“Another fucking egg salad casserole – they promised there’d be bibimbap!”
* * *
May your weekend be habituary-free and ideas-laden, and may the bibimbaphijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Good news: Kim’s dead. Bad news: it’s not one of the Kardashians.
I chew, therefore I am. All due apologies – me pardoner, M. Descartes.
 Christian habituary: all-powerful sky god sends his unborn son on a suicide mission to Earth, via impregnating a human female in some supernatural way, and Earth female births a baby who is both Sky God’s kid and Sky God himself, and Sky God junior is born on Earth ordained to be killed (even though he is Sky God, and therefore immortal)….
 Mormon habituary: Joseph Smith found golden plates containing divine revelation written in a strange language, which Smith translated by placing a seer stone in his hat and looking through his hat, at the plates; Muslim habituary: Muhammed ascended into heaven on some kind of mule or donkey-like creature, where he and other prophets chatted about prayer rituals; Scientology habituary: Zenu, dictator of the Galactic Confederacy, brought billions of his people to Earth 75 million years ago, stacked them around volcanoes and killed them with H- bombs, which caused the immortal spirits of those aliens to stick to present-day humans and cause mental and physical harm ( even going so far as to force them to watch Battlefield Earth).
Dateline: Monday evening, doing my own sous chef preparation before sautéing shallots and Swiss chard. As I strip the ruby red chard leaves from their stalks, I remember how much my father loved Swiss chard.
* * *
Band of Memories
Chester Bryan Parnell, “These are the good times,” 8-8-1924 to 2-11-2009
I think of my father every day, and mention him often (an easy thing to do, as he was a special character), in part to keep his memory alive for K and Belle. But when my family sees that I’ve brought out the Band of Brothers DVD box set, they know something extra is in the air.
Today would have been Chester “Chet-the-Jet” Parnell’s 90th birthday. It’s hard for me to wrap my mind around that number. I’ll let my heart do the binding.
When Chet wanted to relax he would haul out his old Martin guitar. He loved to serenade his kids. Beautiful, Beautiful Brown Eyes, a traditional country tune covered by singers from Roy Acuff to Rosemary Clooney, was one of the songs Chet used to sing to me at night.
* * *
My mother is frail;
“I am winding down,” she says.
She is eighty-six.
Widowed five years now;
Her eldest child lives nearby.
I am second-born.
My two other sibs
Live in the Bay Area;
Mom is in So Cal.
Mom loathed to travel,
even when she was healthy.
And, now she cannot.
Twenty-three years plus
I’ve lived one thousand miles north
with my family.
Mom doesn’t do much;
there’s little to talk about.
Calls can be awkward
She always refused
to learn to use computers.
Her children conspired
We got a gadget:
is its user base.
A “one-way device,”
it receives and prints email
From select sources.
Pro: she gets no spam;
Con: she gets but can’t send mail
(which is fine by her).
I send her brief notes –
a small something for the day
In her morning mail
Mondays are for jokes.
Who wouldn’t like a giggle
To begin the week?
Tuesdays I phone her.
Her moods and health are falling.
Tuesdays make me sad.
Each Wednesday I send
a Word of the Day feature.
(I choose cheerful words).
Thoughts For the Day from minds famous and obscure,
are Thursday’s items.
Fridays are for Quotes:
adages and citations
to spark mind and heart.
I send different verse styles,
From Browning to Lear.
I send my mother haiku,
Two verses, or more.
I write them moiself;
thus, they are not quote-worthy.
Silly, but heartfelt.
* * *
A Brief Meditation on Ways to Fail Your Children
Is that a buzz kill subject heading, or what? If you’re looking for the feel-good post of the week, I suggest returning to the picture of the Swiss chard and using it for a gratitude meditation focal point.
I’m thinking about the many ways my father and mother succeeded, as parents…also, about those ways in which they, and parents in general, failed.
This digression is courtesy of one of my recent morning walk podcast sessions. I was listening to the Freethought Radio interview with the president of a N.O.W. chapter, re activism resulting from the SCOTUS  Hobby Lobby decision. This topic was antithetical to the purpose of my morning walks, which are supposed to be somewhat meditative as well as invigorating. The former purpose took a back seat to ruminative rage as I considered the seemingly unending, fact-free, conservative political and social balloon juice about a woman’s right to right to personal jurisdiction, and other issues that should have been settled so, so, long ago….
And I find myself thinking,
We, as in, talkin’ ’bout my generation.
We have failed in so many ways, including imagination.
Thirty years ago, I couldn’t imagine we’d be fighting the same fights.  Sure, a few dinosaur fossils would remain, but I’d hoped that the battle for equality and against sexism and misogyny (at least, in this country) would be history, as in, my son and daughter would learn about it the same way they learned about women’s suffrage (There was a time when women couldn’t vote?! And it was less than one hundred years ago?!)
I realize that historical milestones are almost never confined to a single day or week…or even era. The campaign for women’s suffrage was not waged and won on August 18, 1920, when the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution was ratified. Nor was the amendment a one-time antidote to the festering, cyclic, boil-on-the-ass-of-human rights that is the tendency for groups of people to oppress those they view as The Other.
This prompted WOWG to share his “unfortunate observation” regarding human nature:
Few people anywhere have ever easily agreed to share power.
I knew what WOWG meant, but asked him to elaborate. What follows is my (paraphrased) recollection of his simple but profound Walter Cronkite-ism:
Power shared = power diminished – this is what people in power believe. But power does not diminish when shared, it multiplies. Small, stingy, fearful minds don’t understand that – they think power is finite, or is in limited supply, and therefore sharing power with you means there is less of it for them. This is especially true for those who are (or who see themselves as being) on the lower rungs of the power and status ladders; e.g., some of the fiercest, most vicious criticism of the civil rights movement came from poor white southern men.
He ended with: We failed. Our generation didn’t fix that. Maybe it can’t be fixed; but now, it’s your turn.
* * *
And now, a segue to make us all feel better.
I Am A Bad Person #359 is a never-ending series
Making travel arrangements for an upcoming family wedding, my brain did that thing it does, and conjured up a memory from a friend’s wedding, several years ago. I was talking to a teenager at the wedding reception. When I asked her about the rather sour look on her face, she complained to me about how “old people at weddings always poke me in the ribs and say, ‘You’re next!’ “
I told her she could get revenge by saying the same to them at funerals.
“I’m sure she means, next in line for the buffet.”
* * *
Spam subject line of the week: IF YOU DON’T READ THIS NOW YOU’LL HATE YOURSELF LATER !!!
I didn’t read it “now” (or at all).
It is later.
I don’t hate myself.
Ergo, it must be my turn for an all-caps-three-exclam-attack:
VICTORY IS MINE !!!
* * *
May you always be next in line for life’s buffet, and may the hijinks ensue.
 Which, yes, oft times seems as if it should be the acronym for Sexist Codgers (and not Supreme Court) of the United States.
 Only with different, and often troll-enabling – technologies.
 WOWG lost a brief but fierce battle with leukemia ~ 10 years ago.
 I remember, a long long time ago in a galaxy far, far away, trying to explain to my kids, who were dealing with fledgling democracy concepts in school, how women couldn’t vote to give themselves the vote.
HOW IN THE FLYING MONKEY BUTTS DID IT GET TO BE AUGUST?
* * *
Spoiler alert: there will be a running-around-naked story in this post.
But first , these important messages from your sponsor.
* * *
҉ Let’s All Agree To Get Rid of This Word ҉
A new feature, wherein we put aside our various political and other worldview differences, and unite to eradicate an unnecessary and doofus-sounding word from our vocabulary.
My first nomination is gubernatorial.
Say it aloud, if you haven’t already. Don’t you feel as if you just dropped ten IQ points (and perhaps a couple of your incisors) into a bowl of corn mush?
The dictionary is, IMHO, of little help in raising the status of this most clod-hopping of political terms:
gubernatorial (ˌɡjuːbənəˈtɔːrɪəl, ˌɡuː-) , adj , chiefly ( US ) of or relating to a governor [C18: from Latin gubernātor, governor]
Really. That’s what it says.
And somewhere men are laughing, and somewhere children shout….
I’m referring of course to Arnold Schwarzenegger impersonators of all ages and genders, who’ve just discovered that there is a Latin origin for Ahnold’s political nickname. Gubernātor, who woulda thunk it?
To Do List: 1. Fix teeth 2. Marry a Kennedy 3. Get a better nickname than “Tappen die Frauen-ator” 4. Run for political office
Once again (etiam, in Latin), I digress.
The word’s noble origins cannot extend a prestige umbrella over its yokel-evoking pronunciation. Say it again. Better yet, try to act gubernatorial. Don’t you feel like you should be pulling straw out from under your denim overalls and kicking a moist cow pattie into a pig trough? 
We-alls gonna enter dem gubernatorial races right after de hog-hollerin’ contest.
We can – and most of us do – say, “governor’s race,” and everyone knows what we are talking about. There’s no reason for the continued usage of… that word. I say we not only get rid of it, but we export it to a netherworld where cooperation and compassion and rational negotiation simply cannot abide. Perhaps Secretary of State John Kerry would have more luck with the Middle East Problem ® if he’d just threaten to go all gubernatorialon their recalcitrant, sandy asses.
* * *
Don’t you feel better now?
I know I do.
You’ll feel even better if you join me and
Ditch the Dirty 100
Join the campaign against the one hundred entities that sued over the contraceptive mandate in the Affordable Care Act. If you’re squeamish when it comes to phone calls and letter writing kind of activism, it can be as simple as finding out who & what these organizations are and boycotting their products and services.
N.O.W. and other organizations have compiled a list of plaintiffs in the 100 cases that have been filed in opposition to the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. As I scrolled down the list, most came as no surprise to me (Liberty University? Imagine that!), but, Eden Foods, WTF !?
My favorite maker of organic, salt free canned beans and other products… I had no idea the company’s president is one of Those Kind Of Catholic Nuts ® . Before anyone jumps on the religious bigotry whine wagon, as one protesting poster on the company’s Facebook page put it:
…And BTW, I do not mind that you are a Christian-based company. I don’t mind if you’re Catholic. I wouldn’t stop buying your products for those reasons. When you cross the boundaries, then we are also forced to cross those same boundaries
Yeah, what she said.
And and and and and, does Eden Foods have a clue as to who be their target audience? It ain’t the fundy-thumpers; it’s us liberal, MYOB, keep your theology out of my biology folks, that’s who.
* * *
☼ Happy Families are All Alike ☼
Explaining to your children that, while you were indeed born at night, it wasn’t last night.
Earlier this week my two young adult offspring briefly joined forces in an attempt to dissuade me from doing something they thought I might regret. 
The occasion: I’d just found out that not only is Cards Against Humanity a board game,  it is the game with the motto, “A party game for horrible people” and the descriptor, “The game is simple. Each round, one player asks a question from a black card, and everyone else answers with their funniest white card.”
An earthy cross between Mad Libs and Apples to Apples, eh? Sounds right up my alley (and I gather the game has a white card with a more vulgar version of up my alley). Anyway….
“I can’t wait to play it,” sez I.
“I cannot play that game with you,” sez son K. “There are some terms on the white cards…I just don’t want to go there.”
I flashed a what’s-up-with-your-bro? look to my daughter Belle, who gave me a patronizing smile as she came to her brother’s defense. “Mom, we really don’t want to have to explain words like smeeg-ma to you.”
Ahem to the nth power:
Is there anything more satisfying than seeing the look on an eighteen-year-old’s face morph from pure patronization to horrified humiliation when her fifty-something mother enlightens her as to the correct pronunciation of smegma?
Alas, I didn’t capture that look on camera. Trust me, it was as satisfying as gazing upon a baby sloth in a box:
* * *
My Mother’s Favorite Streaking Story
#1 in a Series of One
Dateline: Spring Break, a long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
My friend RR spent the vacation with my family, camping at Joshua Tree National Park. One evening RR and I strolled through the campground, admiring and commenting on the park’s isolation, the stark beauty of the unique desert topography, the canyons and rock formations. RR made what she thought was an offhand comment.
“WOMAN !  You know I’ve always wanted to go streaking! We’ve got to do it before the fad fades, and instead of streaking we’d be weirdoes running around butt nekkid, and here we are, camping with a bunch of strangers – people who will never see us again – oh, this is perfect, we can do it tomorrow….”
RR blanched when she realized I was serious. Her me-and-my-big-mouthexpression soon faded, and she helped me plan our escapade with unadorned (ahem) enthusiasm.
After we agreed on the logistics, we realized we needed an accomplice: my younger sister, who for this story shall be monikered as YS. YS had a mini-snitfit when I refused to let her join in the running-naked part,  but she agreed to abet us.
RR and I weren’t satisfied to be just another couple of streakers. Oh, no. We came up with a theme. It was Easter week.
Our streaking route included a circular portion of a hiking trail that was oh-so-cleverly named The Wilderness Trail. The Wilderness Trail originated at one end of our campground, and meandered by or through most of the sites in our campground before heading up into the surrounding rock formations. We chose our time (six pm, when most campers would be at their campsites, firing up their grills), and with YS’s help, we gathered our “equipment” without my parents or brother suspecting anything.
A few minutes before six pm, RR, YS and I headed for a small rock formation in the desert that was ~ 100 yards from our campsite. Crouching behind the rocks as YS stood lookout, RR & I stripped off our clothing. Once we were naked except for running shoes and socks,  we began to accessorize:
* we donned jingle bell collars around our necks (from my father’s and brother’s Indian Guides ceremonial costume paraphernalia I’d found – oh, joy! – stashed in the camper);
* we knotted long pieces of twine around two balled-up white athletic socks, and tied the twine around our respective waists so that the socks approximated rabbit tails;
* we used zinc oxide sunscreen ointment to paint the end of our noses white and draw white rabbit whiskers across our cheeks. 
Kinda like this, only naked.
YS giggled, “You look great!” before she ran across the desert with our clothing. And RR & I had a moment of sheer, unadulterated, side-splitting panic. There could be no chickening out – we had to streak to the rendezvous point to get our clothes back.
RR: “I can’t believe we’re doing this.”
Me: Do you realize we are standing here, naked ?
We doubled over, convulsed with laughter.
Me: I am laughing so hard I could pee my pants, BUT I’M NOT WEARING ANY!
We somehow managed to calm ourselves. RR & I took several deep breaths, and on the count of three we hauled ass as ass has never been hauled in Joshua Tree National Park. All the while we were running, we sang a song we had written, especially for the occasion:
(to the tune of “Here Comes Peter Cottontail”  )
Here we come in our bare tails Streaking down the Wilderness Trail Hippity-Hoppity, Easter’s on its way
Look at us and you will see Streaking’s come to Joshua Tree Hippity-Hoppity, Spring is here to stay!
We were not quite finished with the first verse before a group of kids riding bicycles on a ridge overlooking the campground yelled, “SSTTRREEAAKKEERRS!”
It could have been worse. Much, much worse.
It took us three or four run-throughs of the song before we reached the rendezvous point (an area behind an enormous rock formation a safe distance from the campground).
The run itself is mostly a blur to me now; we were speedy, to say the least, as we did notwant those kiddie cyclists to catch up to us. Still, I have two strong memories of our dash to destiny:
(1) passing one campsite just as a man was transferring a burger from his grill to a folding table, and he dropped his jaw – and the burger, in the sand – as we sailed past him;
(2) passing an outhouse just as its door opened, and the occupant yelled “whoa!” and nearly fell back on his can;
(3) occasionally glancing sideways at my brave buddy RR, seeing her sock bunny tail (and nothingelse, scout’s honor) bouncing jauntily.
Okay, three strong memories.
Breathless and euphoric, we met my sister at the rendezvous spot. We shed the bells and sock-bunny-tails and donned our clothing…and discovered we’d forgotten an important detail: a clandestine return route. That is, the spot where way we ended up in the canyon left us no choice but to retrace our steps in order to return to our campsite.
We gathered a certain amount of are you the ones? looks as we casually (or so we thought) strolled back through the campground. No one said anything directly to us, save for one middle-aged gent who asked, as we passed by his campsite, “Are you the young ladies (thankfully, he did not use finger quotes) who just went streaking by?”
RR and I may have been temporary exhibitionists but we were no liars. We nodded our heads in the affirmative. The man nodded his in return and said, “You looked allright.”
At the time, RR and I found that comment cringe-worthy. Looking back, I wish I could have seen us, then. RR was (and still is) blonde, and gorgeous, and while I was nothing in the va-va-voom department, we were both seventeen, on several school athletic teams, and in excellent physical shape. I daresay we looked rather… fine…to anyone who’d have been able to get a good look. Did I mention how fast we ran?
(An explanatory pause for my offspring’s generation: the reason RR & I would even consider such an escapade was because it was a time before cell phones and hand-held camcorders; i.e., we’d no reason to fear that our youthful exuberance in the springtime could come back to haunt us.)
That evening, after dinner, RR and I played the board game Password (based on the TV game show) as a team, versus my parents, as YS and my younger brother looked on. RR and I had arranged to have certain cards come up for us (RR distracted my parents during dinner while I flipped through the clue cards, a technique colloquially known as cheating). Our clues all had to do with running and/or movement, and we kept giving “streaking” as clues. My father finally asked what was going on.
Sister YS squealed with pride as I ‘fessed up, and she regaled our parents with the story of her being our accomplice. My brother considered several reactions to our story before quickly settling on a combination of mild annoyance and fraternal embarrassment.
My parents’ reactions were typical of their respective characters. My father thought it was hilarious, and said he couldn’t wait to tell people (co-workers, neighbors, churchy people – he told them all). My mother laughed weakly, then begged, “Oh, please don’t ever do it again.”
And then, this week, thirty-something years later, during our phone conversation, my mother begged to hear the story. She said that as her health fails she’s been recalling the good old days, and that my streaking adventure was One of my favorite family stories.
Really? I reminded her of her less-than-enthusiastic reaction at the time, but of course I retold the story. I was grateful for the reminder, as I hadn’t thought of it in years. I also told her about my attempt to plan a follow-up adventure. After doing the streaking thing, I’d wanted to find a place to kaerts.
Despite how it sounds, kaerts is not a Yiddish term for a person with a Vitamin A deficiency;  rather, it is streak spelled backwards. I figured that streaking backwards would involve walking very slowly, fully clothed, through a nudist colony. My Kaerts-ing venture never worked out for a variety of reasons, including that my research revealed that nudist colonies are located on private, gated properties, with access restricted to colony members (ahem…ahem).
So. All these years later, I have streaked, but I have never kaerts-ed.
“Oh well,” my 86 year old mother said. “You still have time.”
* * *
May we have all the time we need for those things that need to be done,  and may the hijinks ensue.
Thanks for stopping by. Au Vendredi!
 Really bad pun – butt first – so, so not intended. Trust me.
 I got an A in my college calculus class, and today I could not do a calculus equation if you put a gun to my head, but I can recall the exact lyrics to our improvised streaking song. Long term memory has its priorities.
 (and, as my mother reminded me, “RR was quite busty.”
 Or maybe it is. I don’t speak Yiddish and I made up kaerts.
Active, reliable, sarcastic, affectionate, bipedal, cynical optimist, writer, freethinker, parent, spouse and friend, I am generous with my handy supply of ADA-approved spearmint gum and sometimes refrain from humming in public.