stuff and nonsense

July 30, 2010|Posted in: family, frugal, green, Travel, Vacation, writing

We’re getting ready to go on vaca for a week at Lake Tahoe, where we’ll stay at the cabin (“Daveland”) for just a wee spot of cash (pay the utilities for the week — sweet!). Vacations of any stripe always mean lots of planning, but this year I’ve planned a little more so than usual. Partly because this is a vacation for 3 instead of a vacation for 7 like last year. Why would planning for 3 involve more planning? Because I’m really planning for two separate weeks — one for those who stay at home (groceries, chores, emergency cash, etc.) and a different week for a single child w/o companions except his dear parents. [The photo above shows 4 of the 5 critters eating smores at Daveland a few years back. Crazy beasts!]Challenges? One of the parents will be doing a full inner body cleanse, and the other of whom will be both indulging in usually forbidden treats like a whole box of See’s chocolates and shiny magazines, as well as working on the switch to vegetarianism (guess who?), while The Boy just wants to live off Flaming Hot Cheetos, Arizona sweet tea and Bagel Bites. One car instead of two. And an extremely well managed budget (that’s another way to say frugal, or cheap, or broke. You feel me, right?).

I’ve been scanning the sale papers for weeks, buying vacation supplies (sunscreen, aloe vera gel to soothe the burns), treats like shrimp for the barbie, good cheeses, and crunchy snacks bought for a pittance with the right coupon, then hidden from view of the marauding munchers who live here. I have used my coupons wisely, including a fantastic one from Groupons that gave me $40 off my shopping trip to the local natural grocery store. That trip included the purchase of some lovely portobello mushrooms, huge organic artichokes, veggie sausages, and a big sack o’ organic bananas going ripe, some of which items I rarely buy because of their expense or rarity. [Note bags of groceries, etc. waiting to go, as well as annoyed Fifi looking on from her perch.]I had a coupon for Real Simple magazine that I used early in July to get the July issue, and then a second one to buy the August issue last week. I feel triumphant somehow with that paltry little scheme, because I don’t subscribe to anything anymore (paper waste, mags have a large carbon footprint, I can borrow/get it used, etc.). I know I’ll enjoy reading these, then will tear out recipes and pages for collage, and eventually they will either be shared, donated or recycled — a once-a-year treat that I’m planning to enjoy on the deck of Daveland.

Of course, that’s not the only thing to enjoy at Daveland. Writing on the deck with nothing but the sound of birds and wind in the trees? It doesn’t get any better. Truly. Not at all. Ever. In the history or future of the world.
But back to my evil plans…oh, no, I mean, my vacation planning. I get those two mixed up all the time.
Made some gorp, which is a 1960s term for Good Old Raisins and Peanuts — including pumpkin seeds, pine nuts, dried cranberries and chocolate chips, too. Good fuel for hiking, which we plan to do Tuesday. Some people call it trail mix, but we’re Californians. You know how we are.
When we stay at Daveland, we always replenish anything we’ve used when we leave. This time, instead of paying extra at the small tourist-priced grocery stores, I bought toilet paper, paper towels and briquettes here, recycled or organic, on sale, etc. We have to haul it up there, but we won’t have to pay the gouge-the-flatlanders prices they charge for basic necessities up there. Unfortunately, we can’t compost or leave any trash outside because of bears, so I have some recycled bags to bring home any cans or bottles, and we will have to make a trash dump every day or so elsewhere. I think —  I could be wrong, but I do think we’re just about ready to go.
We’re looking forward to a quiet week away from it all — but I will confess a little reluctance to go away and leave my beautiful sunflowers, which are blooming deliciously this week. I have a feeling Sally Squirrel and Three Ears (my two friendliest rodent visitors) will probably tear down the flower heads if no one is vigilant about watching. I am actually trying to harvest that seed for bird seed and chickens! I already miss my cats and chickens — certain that no one will talk to them or care for them as I do. Who can keep up my standard, anyway? No one.

Oh, well. We’ll call this an exercise in letting go. Peace out, pals.

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Julia Park Tracey is an award-winning journalist, author, and blogger. She is the author of "Veronika Layne Gets the Scoop" and "Veronika Layne Has a Nose for News" (rep'd by Booktrope). She is the Poet Laureate of Alameda, California. She's also the conservatrix of The Doris Diaries, the diaries of her great-aunt Doris Bailey Murphy. Her articles have appeared in Thrillist, Quill, Paste, San Francisco Chronicle, and in many magazines; her latest poetry appears in The East Bay Literary review.

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