going on holiday

Rob took his work along when we visited the States this summer. Three weeks of checking email and troubleshooting from afar. He even attended a virtual meeting during week two when we were in Iowa. He very seldom leaves work at work. His reporting supervisors have even nominated him for awards because of his long distance dedication to “a job well done”

And around his workplace, Rob is known for staycations that are anything but due to the ongoing renovation. His latest bit of time off in fact is all about plumbing, electrical and hardwood flooring.

Our recent trip to the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia was more about helping his mother pack and purge (the latter being rather subjective) than relaxing on the beaches of southern Skaha Lake.

We are at an age where holidays are anything but relaxing. If elderly parents do not need attention, children do.

The eight days at my mom’s in July was all about her renovation project. Instead of the hiking and fishing we’d tentatively planned, it was filled with trips to Lowe’s and supervising the contractor. The B.C. trip consisted of packing, hauling and errands.

Part of the problem is that Rob is dependable, knowledgeable beyond the average person and just too damned handy for his personal good. And he is a number one son. Everyone’s go-to. Got a problem? Rob can probably fix it and if you are family, he’ll feel obligated to try even if he can’t.

In the month of August alone, he’s had no fewer than 3 family members approach him with issues that they could have dealt with on their own, but as Rob never just says “no” outright, he is usually a safe bet.

I remember this well, but living on the opposite side of an international border has really cut down on the number requests I receive anymore.

Vacation deprived last year because of the whole “heart attack” thing, we worked as much holiday into our schedule as we could once the weather warmed. A week in Fairmont Hot Springs at the timeshare was laziness itself, but three weeks gadding about in the holiday trailer sometimes felt like work and the “family time” squeezed in between Yellowstone and camping in the less traveled areas after was all about getting Dee fortified with grandma, auntie and cousin time with a side-order of looking out for an elderly mom. In more than a word – exhausting.

The trip west was motivated by Rob’s mother moving to Arizona. Her husband is already there, getting the place ship-shape and hounding his congressman, who is hounding U.S. Immigration about my mother-in-law’s residency application. Even though it’s just paperwork, the U.S. is quite tight-assed about granting legal entrance to the foreign spouse’s of American citizens. There’s nothing they can do to force Americans to just marry each other but they are snitty about it when one doesn’t. Holding up routine requests like this is just one of the ways America lets its miffed feelings be known.

So without her husband to help, Gee has been packing to be out of her condo at the end of the month, and she needed help. Naturally, none of Rob’s other siblings can help. At least I have DNOS when Mom is in need. Rob has …me. And I am better than nothing but not by much because with me comes Dee.

At nine now, she is less mothering intensive, and she is a far superior road warrior than she was when we first moved to a country where nearly every trip of consequence exceeds an hour or more one way. But she is nine. She needs periodic interaction, regular feeding and watering and sleep at the minimum, so my attention is divided.

But I am fully aware that no one factors Rob’s needs into any request for assistance like I do. His heart attack looms over my thought processes whenever stress rears its evil green dripping with fetid slime self. I can tell by the sheen of his eyes and the hallow of his cheeks when he’s running on fumes and the depth of his sighs speak eloquently. If I am not on the scene monitoring, no one else will.

Some of this is Rob’s fault. Competency and a history of saving the day are never rewarded. Good deeds are always punished with being taken for granted and more work. He never says, “I’m tired or busy or have a literal mountain of my own crap to do”. He says “Sure, I might be able to assist” even when he’s really going to stretch himself beyond his limits. My husband is a victim of his own history of awesome successes and even really competent patch-work. The curse of the number one son.

Some people go to conferences and workshops and take notes; I see blogging opportunities, so being me, I blogged the whole experience … on paper. I will treat you all to it when I get back from holiday. But only in parts! I really have a lot to do as I explained the other day and won’t be online much.


  • I am smarter than I realized.
  • I don’t like cities much.
  • People are far too quick to self-publish.
  • There are many professional writers who don’t know as much as they should about online promotion or social media.
  • I should have pitched the memoir already. IT’s NON-FIC!! Big “duh”.
  • I have a kick ass fiction query.
  • I need to polish a short piece to send to On Spec. I am sure now that if I pitch them the right thing, they will publish me.
  • I rock.

No packing is done the day before we leave as our per usual. We are outta here for a goodly amount of time and completely off-line, but there will be posts so look for them and comment if you feel inclined to entertain the others in my absence.

Love ya! Miss ya.

Arrived in Battleford around 10 PM, Katy was exhausted but due to excitement and the lingering daylight had a hard time getting to sleep which was aggravating.

Rob was in the full throes of illness and is not a happy road tripper.

The room at the Gold Eagle was nice. A brand new hotel near a casino (which are literally everywhere up here) there was one problem. It’s a wood-frame structure so when people walk over head it has a ceiling fixture shaking effect.

At first I thought the people above had a small child who wouldn’t sleep but the thudding and running continued unabated the entire night. Even a call to the front desk didn’t help. In fact I think it made it worse for a while.

We finally turned on the fan for the a/c for a bit of white noise, but only Katy really slept deeply.

So, up for today is border crossing and a marathon to Minot. But thankfully it is a Holiday Inn Express, a little bit of sameness everywhere we go, and hey, perhaps I will be a novelist by Sunday given the inn’s ability to confer great career powers on all who stay over.

So the last time I made this trip it was in reverse, driving from Des Moines, Iowa to Fort Saskatchewan, Alberta. Because Katy and I were road novices, Rob broke up the trip. We left on a Wednesday evening and stayed at a hotel about an hour away. This way we’d said goodbye to the house and would start the trip a bit “fresher”. We crossed the border on Saturday and stayed that night in Regina, Saskatchewan where I met my mother in law, Gerry, for the first time. It’s also where we met Rob’s sister, Lice Widow. The journey ended with our new home on Sunday evening. I think it may have been solstice or pretty close.

This evening we are heading in the opposite direction with Northeast Iowa as our destination. Just four hours tonight and crossing the border Saturday morning and then heading to Minot. Minot to the Minneapolis area Sunday. Monday to my folks. And yes, this is much abbreviated. We aren’t road virgins anymore.

I may “live” blog over the weekend. Depends on the scenery. The flora, fauna and natives you run across on a road trip can make for interesting blog fodder. 

I have a new short story I am working on and it might distract me. It’s terribly sad. So sad that it made me cry while I was working on the beginning the other night. I am stuck in post-apocalyptic themes. Not cheery and it was only yesterday that the reason for it hit me quite squarely during my morning run.

It’s about surviving. 

On the day after – when it’s obvious that you are still alive and will be for a while – you get up, survey the wreckage and get on with whatever it is you have to do.

Anyway, it’s a really sad story. Even Rob couldn’t believe I was writing something so sad.

Regardless, I will be blogging over the “holiday” though  playdate mommy today remarked that it didn’t seem as though we were going to have much of a holiday.

We’ll see.

I have known about the our upcoming holiday now for a little more than a month and still, it is nearing midnight the night before we are leaving and the packing is not done. Started. But not done. We need clothes enough for nine days. All three of us. And my husband is sure we can get everything in two little carry-on suitcases, a back-pack and one large sized suitcase to check at the counter. Did I mention that he and I will be taking a short belated honeymoon jaunt sans child during the trip and need our hiking gear? Yeah, low hopes on the packing being done until about 30 minutes before we head out for the airport. The darn TSA rules don’t help make the packing easier either or make me feel safe for that matter. They only serve to remind me what a joyless experience flying is in the post 9/11 era. I feel like I am being herded on to a boxcar by the time I have finished the gauntlet that is know as screening. On the Canadian side it is better than it is coming back through the U.S. version. They are basically identical but I feel a little less like meat going than coming. It’s ridiculous to worry  and work myself up because I am an American citizen within weeks of obtaining my Canadian residency and the system is not out to get me. It’s just set up to make everyone feel uneasy and slightly tainted. That’s how you catch the bad guys, right? Still, I prefer to drive anymore. I like the comfy cozy feeling of control it provides even if it adds days to a trip. Contrast the comfort of our Chevy Avalanche with child engrossed in a DVD or video game in the back seat. All her toys and a snack within arms reach. My husband and I upfront with legs stretched out, wide leather seats with heater control and the iPod plugged in and playing our favorite tunes. Grande skinny chai’s in the cup-holders. Space and comfort. Masters of our Domains. How does a trip by air hope to compare with that? The three of us crammed into a space smaller than the Avalanche’s front seat. Rob and I with are knees pressed into the backs of the seats ahead. Tiny seat pans that thank god I am able to say I have inches to spare on either side because this would be a much different essay if I couldn’t. Forbidden to use electronic devices – sometimes for the duration – but when allowed, always conscious of the neighbors who literally breath down your neck. No snacks. No chai’s. Not unless you want to go through the hassle of hunting the stuff down in the terminal and schlepping it aboard with the carry-on (which you will be lucky to find a place to stow since every other person on board will have the two carry-on’s and will likely take the berth over your seat before you even have a chance to board. And I haven’t mentioned yet the special looks of loathing that are reserved for those of us who travel with children because everyone all assumes that you are a hell-spawn breeder the minute they realize that your child will be sitting too near them. Four extra days of travel in peace and comfyness or getting there quickly and uncomfortably. It’s getting harder and harder to go with the latter. Maybe that is why I am not packed yet?