Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Cousin Nancy Comes to Visit, Part 1: Baby Shower Cousin Nancy came up from California to visit the other week. She is going to become a grandmother in the next couple of months, and her expectant daughter-in-law Ariel grew up in Seattle, so Ariel’s Seattle friends and family held a baby shower for her. On a rainy Seattle day we drove into town to a Seattle craftsman house located north of the University of Washington, and settled in to shower Ariel with baby gifts. The shower was lovely – true friends and loving family, and only one (1) baby shower game. If you are female, you have probably attended a shower or two in your life. They are usually one of two sorts: baby showers or wedding showers. These gatherings seem to be part of the female experience. I am female, and that is why I have been to a number of showers, but I always feel a bit alien and out of place. I try to behave, zip my sarcastic lip and be good. I try. If you’ve been to a shower you know that one of the hallmark activities of a shower is silly games. I’m not sure why showers are such meccas of silly games, but they are. A popular baby shower game is “Guess the pregnant friend’s waist size with a piece of string.” For wedding showers the game is “guess your own waist size with a piece of string.” I have become pretty good at estimating waist size with string, but upon reflection I realize this is not a skill of which I should be boastful. This shower had only one game, and it was a lulu and one I’d never seen before: guess the baby poop. I know what you’re thinking, but read on. Five different chocolate bars had been melted and then spooned into separate newborn-sized diapers that were then numbered one through five, and each guest was to examine each diaper and guess what kind of candy bar was in it, and write their guesses down on a little slip of paper that was numbered one through five. I really don’t know where to begin cataloguing the feelings and thoughts that went through my mind when this game was brought out and we were told how to play it. Things like, “Whose idea was this?” “Eew,” and “I wonder if they’ll let us eat the chocolate when the game is over (they didn’t),” for starters. I got two out of three, both Mars products, mostly because of how they smelled. My husband once told me that an ingredient used in Milky Way bars is used to help seal pipe joints to keep them from leaking, and whenever he worked on jobs that used it, he couldn’t stop thinking of Milky Way bars. I looked up the ingredients in Milky Ways and didn’t see anything that looked remotely like a plumbing aid, and Rick can’t remember the name of this substance, so I can’t tell you what it is. According to the ingredient list online, a Milky Way’s ingredients are definitely food or food-related. Whatever. Ariel won the game by guessing three of the candy bars correctly. Other than that it was a regular shower, with fabulous snacks, a champagne toast to the mother-to-be which she could not drink, pictures taken, and a protracted session of gift-opening accompanied by oohs, aahs, and “Isn’t that cute!” exclamations. My personal favorite baby gift was a little shirt with a picture of a skull and crossbones wearing an eye patch on the front, and a picture of an overflowing treasure chest on the baby’s buttular* area…pirate booty on the baby booty, get it? This item is available at under the name “pirate booty creeper,” in case you now realize a baby you know can’t live without one. When the gifts had all been opened and the champagne had worn off, we departed in a flurry of hugs and best wishes. It was a good party and we had fun and I made it through without being too offensive, I hope. *Thanks and a tip o’ the hat to Dave Barry for the word “buttular.” It sings to me.
Cousin Nancy Comes to Visit, Part 2: Fruits Mix Juice My Cousin Nancy and I went to the Quinault Resort and Casino (“$89 rooms!”), out by Ocean Shores. It was a good trip for both of us, getting away from our regular lives for a couple of days and doing pretty much nothing. Nancy and I are skilled at doing nothing, especially together. Oh, we talked a lot about our lives, “solved the world,” as Nancy likes to say, and we also napped, watched TV, gambled a little, and walked on the beach. There is a walking bridge that goes over a little marshy area that’s between the resort and the beach, and as you enter this bridge there is a sign that talks about earthquakes and tsunamis. It says that historically there have been a lot of both on the Washington coast, and there is a map showing the location of the Cascadia Subduction Zone about 70 miles offshore, which is the location for epicenters of huge earthquakes like the one in Japan in March, 2011. These earthquakes can set off subsequent tsunamis, again like the ones in Japan. The sign advised in the event of an earthquake to, “stop, drop, and hold.” In other words, lie down before you are thrown down and hold on to whatever you can – the sand, or each other. This advice reminded me of a sign I saw once when I was a child in a garage where my father took a car for service. The sign said in the event of an atomic attack, you should bend over, put your head between your knees, and kiss your ass good-bye. When the earthquake was over, the sign instructed, head for higher ground. Which made us ask, what higher ground? The Lodge is about 18 inches above sea level, and things do not get higher fast as you go inland. We talked about jumping in the car and driving inland, but then realized everyone else on the Long Beach Peninsula would have the same idea. Finally we decided we’d go upstairs to our room and hope and pray that the building would not crumble in the tsunami. Besides, Nancy said, “I’d want to see it. Wouldn’t you?” Yes. In videos. On my computer. At home. Later. Strolling on the beach I saw a lot of Styrofoam chunks. Most of these were probably from Japan. They ride high in the water, so the wind pushes them along faster than some other floating material. I also found a few pieces of rope, but what I saw more of than anything else was plastic bottles. They were mostly the small ones that water and soda pop come in. They had their caps screwed on tightly, which is why they were able to float in on the waves. Most were missing their labels, but I found a couple with labels, and the labels were in Japanese. One had three English words: “Fruits mix drink,” but the other one, which was faded to a silvery blue, was entirely in Japanese. I concluded from this evidence that probably a lot of what I was seeing on the beach had come over from Japan. I wished I’d had the presence of mind to bring a garbage bag to the beach with me so I could pick up some of that stuff. Other people are thinking about that. Governor Christine Gregoire visited Ocean Shores the day we arrived and told people that the state can’t afford a tsunami cleanup and she’s hoping to get the federal government to kick in some money for the job. Nobody was saying, “I’ll go pick up some of it,” but I think most of the picking up is going to be done by people like you and like me, volunteers who go out on the beach and pick up pieces of Japan that have washed ashore. So far only the leading edge of the rubble has arrived. There is a prediction that the big flotilla of debris will get to our coast around October. You’ll be hearing more about it then. Nancy and I enjoyed our two days at the Quinault Lodge, especially the Olympic Breakfast in the lounge for $1.99. A heck of a deal. There were no earthquakes during our stay. Whew. We headed back to the island, and a couple of days later I took Nancy to the airport, and she went back to her life and I came home to mine. It was great to get together and do nothing. We plan to do it again soon.