Wednesday, August 31, 2005

I now know that I will never have ‘seen it all’. I suspected it for a long time but I went so long in between new events that I thought it was possible that I had seen it all. The event that brought me to this conclusion was the most disgusting case of tip soliciting I have ever witnessed. I wanted to knock myself out just to put me out of my misery in watching him try to weasel a tip out of a player.

The dealer’s name is Manny. He joined us somewhere along the 2004 December Tournament if I’m remembering this correctly – I hardly know what my schedule is let alone someone else’s so at times I could miss the truly essential time details of another person’s life. I’ve played in a few games he dealt. He’s pushed me several small pots and each time I’ve given him a $1 toke, he looks at me like I’m cutting off his oxygen. Not to worry, he always takes the toke but never says ‘thank you’ or even smiles.

In general, it’s disgusting to watch him deal. First of all, he’s one of the dealers that does the ‘accordion’ with the stub when he’s ready to release the deck – only in low limit games of course. He also has an ugly habit of pushing the pot and holding back a few of the chips – in $15-30 he pushes all of the red ($5) chips in one pot and then delivers all the blue ($1) chips in a stack which he smacks onto the table in front of the winner with, “Thank you!” – in games lower than $15-30, he pushes all the chips except five or six and then delivers them in the same manner as the $15 game. He’s flat out begging for a tip. Sort of makes me want to throw up.

Back to the part where I wanted to knock myself out – I was pushing him in the line-up. He was dealing Table 15 – up on top – $10-20 NLH. Table 16 was a break and we were pushing a four-ball. When I walked up behind him, even though there was a lot of action going on in a hand between the 1 and 4s – like bet $500, raise it $800 more kind of thing – Manny loudly demanded, “TIME, put up $7 for Time,” and since they pretty much ignored him, he yelled it again, “TIME – PUT UP YOUR $7!”

The hand was still in progress, Manny was acting like a lunitard by demanding Time, and the only reason he was doing it was to get everyone’s attention that this was his last hand and he would be leaving. And yes, I’m damn positive that was the only reason he was doing it. He wanted a tip.

The hand finished. He banged the table with both fists, “TIME. Put up your $7 for the next dealer. You have to pay Time.”

Ke-e-rist! I’ve never seen a dealer do this. It was embarrassing and I hadn’t even planted my tush in the box…and no, he wasn’t trying to help me out, he was trying to help his pocket out.

He didn’t receive a tip so he stood up, slapped the table with both hands and blurted out, “OK!”

As I sat down, Manny walked over and wedged himself up against the table between the 3 and 4s. J. Kwik, one of our regular players, occupied the 3s. And the 4s was animated, young, still stacking a big pot, and talking about the hand.

Manny demanded, “I need to color up some chips here,” as he dug into his pocket and pulled out some $1 chips, stacking them on the table in between J. and the 4s.

J. gave Manny a bigger chip for the blues without really even looking at Manny. Nothing was working for poor little Manny. He was supposed to be pushing 16, the dealer there was waiting to go on break, but Manny hadn’t succeeded in letting everyone know that he was supposed to receive a tip. So he blurted out, “I’m going to the bathroom!”

No one even looked at him, except me – wish my eyes could burn holes in things. Why did we need to know that he was going to the bathroom? Because we had to turn our attention to Manny, else he would get STIFFED! I would love to have stiffed him with a baseball bat by this time. He left. But never fear, within a minute or two he returned…standing behind the 1s. My God! Does this freak know he’s supposed to be pushing the line-up? And to make matters worse, he didn’t have to come back to Table 15 to get to Table 16. He went out of his way to come back up ‘on top’ and stand behind the 1s.

Finally…

The 4s looked up and saw Manny, smiled, and gave him a tip. Manny left. The dealer on 16 finally got pushed. The game finally went on without Manny hanging out waiting for a handout.

I can’t help but wonder if the 4s had never looked up or tipped him, what Manny’s next move was. Would he have jumped up on the table? How about trying to swing off the chandelier? Why not just wear a sign that reads, ‘I beg for tips’?

In all of my years of dealing and playing, I’ve never seen anything like that. Yup, I talked to my supervisor about it.

And for the first time in my playing/dealing career, I’m going to stiff a dealer when the opportunity presents itself.

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Monday, August 29, 2005

I dealt to a pair of Michelles in back to back games during my four-hour dealing stint last week. The first one was in the $8-16 game and noted already. The second one was in a $4-8 game and plays in our room regularly. Why he plays there is a mystery to me. He’s obnoxious, swears all the time in a foreign language, glares, stares, and gestures all the time he’s playing. Of course he thinks he’s very funny. He’s not. He’s obnoxious and most of us have heard it a zillion times.

He couldn’t wait to start on me, “What did you do with all the money I gave you when we got a divorce?

I laughed.

His motor slipped into high gear because he wasn’t sharp enough to figure out I’d kill myself before I let him breathe on my neck, let alone marry him. If he missed a hand or won it, he gestured at me and kept muttering as he eyeballed me. The guy next to him would look at Michelle and then back at me. I’m sure Michelle was calling me names – thinking he was endearing himself to me – just from the way the guy looked at me. Unfortunately I couldn’t hear what he was saying or I’d have called him down on it.

I pushed into another $4-8 right by the one Michelle was in. About ten minutes later, Michelle walked up behind me and put his arm around my neck, putting his face next to mine and telling me how bad I dealt to him but he still loved me, blah, blah, blah. He walked away with a friend of his and as he did, he said something in the foreign language.

The guy in the 9s said, “That wasn’t very nice. Do you know what he just called you?‿

I replied that I did not and I’d rather not know. The 9s said that I was right; it was better if I didn’t know. The 9s took a walk a few minutes later. When I was waiting to push into my next game, the 9s came up and told me that while he didn’t want to get into the middle of it, and didn’t want Michelle to know that he understood the language, he’d gone to the Supervisor and reported Michelle. Woo Hoo! Thank you, Sir!

*****

Friday night I cruised into work and signed the E/O Play. BOOM! I was seated in a $4-8 game within about ten minutes. Michael, doc_4u on the forum, found me a few minutes later. A seat was open at the other end of the table…conveniently another one opened…we got to sit by each other, visit, and play poker. Sweet! I ended up off the clock within an hour and we had a few beers together and socialized. I have to admit…I was having more fun socializing than I was playing poker.

Sylvia, my buddy, my after work walking pal, my confidante, and way high on my list of co-workers has switched to days. Sniff! Sob! Wah-h-h-h!!! Hell yes I’m happy for her…just sorry for me. She was off at 9 p.m. and I ordered a drink for her when I ordered my last beer. It looked like I was setting up a bar instead of playing poker, two Ultras, a Red Bull and vodka, and a bottle of water. I almost couldn’t find my cards around the chips and drinks in front of me.

Finally Sylvia was off the clock. It was good night to Michael, (we’ve become good friends in a short time…just the right energy), and Sylvia and I were walking up Heart Attack Hill after a stop in Mangia. It was our last walk together to the Employee Shuttle – although we will always be friends, it was like closing another chapter in a book.

Saturday found me heading for a friend’s house to install a Print Server so they could network to a printer. It was a gas…kids talking while I argued with the main computer and printer. The kids and I play the same computer games so it’s always a ‘game talk’ when I get there as in “What’s the highest level…??? Have you played…??? How do you like…??? Finally! Success! The printer was printing from all computers and I was out the door. My sweet boy Riot was spending the night with me and my card-playing friends were coming over. Of course Riot had preference over the world…the card game was second place. Presenting his sweetness!

Riot

Sunday was the big event at Poker Stars. I have a lot of thoughts about how I got busted. I started out really strong. Ended up breaking four people in the first round of blinds. I was in the 4s. I picked up 9-9 and popped it up to $200. Not sure how or why but I got two callers. One had K-10 off. The Flop was K-9-little. I bet $600 and he/she went all-in. My stack doubled.

The next hand I played was 10-9 D. I called the Blind – $20 – and a player behind me raised it to $200. Four to five players called and so did I. The Flop was 10-9-7. I bet $600, one call; the raiser went all-in for around $2,000. I called and so did the other caller. They were both all-in. The Turn was a 10. The raiser had 9-9. The other caller had Q-J. I had a lot of chips now.

Then I picked up J-J about mid-position. UTG raised – I think it was $200. The Flop was K-J-9. UTG checked. I bet $600, UTG called. The Turn brought a blank. UTG bet – I believe it was $800 – I raised all-in. UTG thought for a long time and called with Q-Q. No help for them and I had a helluva lot of chips.

I basically went card dead for a long time. It was ok…I had coasting chips.

I had rooters. They jumped into the chat to let me know they were there. Nice!

The Tournament started with 3,307 entrants. I finished at 920. Arghhh!!!! Here’s the part I question. We were two hours into the tourney, I believe the blinds were $300-600 but things were happening so fast (and I was keeping track of chip counts and remaining players) so I could be wrong on the blinds. The antes were at $50 and I was card dead. I picked up the blinds a few times with a hand but no one called my raise.

There were a lot of beats taking place. The 7s ended up heads-up with the 5s, all-in. The 7s held K-K, the 5s had A-Q off. The board came 5-4-?-3-2. Ouch! The next hand the 5s went all in for $2,000 odd. I look at J-J. I called, having a little over 9,000 in chips. I felt I had the best hand and it might just be a steam raise. The 5s showed A-Q off and a Queen popped right off. I lose that hand. The 5s went bust within two hands – not that that has anything to do with the game but it was like they were on self-destruct after losing with the Kings.

I picked up a few blinds and within a few minutes I look down to J-J again. I was four out of the Blind. UTG raised it to $1,200. I called, hoping to escape on the Flop if it came badly for me. The 6s called and the 8s raised it to $2,400. I had this instant flash that I should either ditch the hand or just go all-in. I made the decision that I would be all-in. I honestly believed I had the best hand at that point. The Blinds and UTG folded to me, I made it $7,000 odd more to go, all-in. The 6s folded and the 8s called, leaving them with about $2,000 in chips. The 8s held A-K off and an Ace popped right off, just like it had FUCKING eyes. I was out.

I’ll admit I did a screamer mode after I left the table.

I’m still questioning as to whether I should have just pitched the Jacks in both cases or did as I did. I don’t know the answer. Players were dropping like flies at those limits and I wasn’t going to make too many more rounds before the blinds would kill me. I also wasn’t going to coast into the money by folding, I would have to beat out 600 players to reach a payout. I’m posting this on the forum so if anyone has any thought that might help me progress to winning the WSOP, please help. J

Thanks, Anthony, for checking back on me and for the email…nice to have buddies.

*****

I’ve been scanning in old family memories – my heritage from my mom and grandparents – and I found this on an award my mom received for spelling. This award/document is dated July 1927. I love this…and note how strong the color is. Better than SWEET!

liberty

And Michael, go to http://blogger.com and start that blog. LMK the address when you do.

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Friday, August 26, 2005

Umnhhhnnn! Last night found me going in to work, signing the E/O Play list, finding a seat in $4-8 H for approximately 30 minutes where I managed to lose about $20 in that half hour, and hitting the Time Clock by 8:30. Will this girl ever burn and turn again for a full eight hours? Stay tuned. The saga continues every Monday through Friday.

While I’ve been playing hooky from work, I’ve also been playing online poker. I’ve messed around with live play and tournament play and I’m always amazed at the people that can’t take a beat or get a hair up their ass about the way someone else played a hand. My latest gig is to let them rant for a minute and then type in “whiner”. This recent one is one of my favorites.

I called a minimal raise with A-Q, flop J-10-little, another minimal bet, I called. The Turn was a King. I got paid. Guess I didn’t realize that I was supposed to automatically give him A-K and just throw my hand away when he raised. The chat went like this:

*Begin chat*

bberard34: nice chase retard
PokerWorks: whiner
bberard34: we’ll see b itch
PokerWorks: keep whining
Dealer: Limits going up: blinds 50/100
bberard34: keep chasing

*End chat*

And I won this single table satellite, an entry into this – Sunday # 11247711 – $200+15 guaranteed $500,000 – Sweet! And yes, on this site, my ID is PokerWorks. So nah, nah, nah-nah-nah, bberard34.

But on the following site my ID is IsleofPoker. Pokerwhipped got check raised when a 9 paired the board on the Turn. He hurled his insults at the raiser. No…it wasn’t me.

*Begin chat*

pokerwhipped: WTF
pokerwhipped: U HAVE THAT 9 HUH
pokerwhipped: LAYING ACES DOWN
pokerwhipped: LUCKY SOB
pokerwhipped: GET IM
pokerwhipped: DORK
IsleofPoker: Stop whining
pokerwhipped: WHOS WHINING RETARD
IsleofPoker: Certainly not the person behind you diptard
pokerwhipped: LOL
pokerwhipped: VEGAS
IsleofPoker: St Petersburg
pokerwhipped: MONDAY NIGHT PLAYING $5 BUY IN
IsleofPoker: Point?
IsleofPoker: I’m 9 and I’m playing on my daddy’s account. He won’t miss $5. What’s your excuse?

*End chat*

Pokerwhipped dropped the noise after that.

But on to the whole four hours I dealt last night in live poker at Bellagio. An $8-16 H game – Michelle took the 10s. I hadn’t seen him in at least four years or possibly five…and truthfully I’ve never missed him. He’s a stud player and played for years at The Mirage in the $15-30 and $20-40 games. He moved to Bellagio with us when we opened. He had to leave for the night more than once and a few times he had to leave because he couldn’t get along with me.

How possible you might be asking? It’s sincerely tough to not get along with me if you are doing what you’re supposed to do – that is treating the rest of the world like we are entitled to breathe air too.

For years, when he lost a hand and a woman was dealing, he would demand, “Go home and make a baby!”

It was so ridiculous that it’s funny. He’s Archie Bunker in disguise as a poker player. More than once he told me that when a dealer put up the wrong card – in his country – the dealer’s hand was cut off. My standard retort was always, “Must’ve been awfully hard to fill those vacancies.”

He didn’t get it. He probably still doesn’t get it.

One night – about four years ago – he called a raise, heads-up, with a King up. He was sitting in the 8s and showed me his hand when he looked at it. The way the hand played, Michelle had an Ace in the hole and caught an Ace on Fifth Street. At the same time his opponent caught a Straight. They had a raising war, until Michelle ended up all-in. He was almost drawing completely dead and played the hand like crap but it was – as always – my fault.

He drew his hand back, as if he was going to backhand me in the face. I glared at him and quietly said, “Don’t even think about it.”

He told me to shut up and deal, or some such nonsense, and I called the Floor Person. Michelle had to report into the office and after the discussion in there, had to take all his little chippies and go home for the night.

We spoke when he took a seat in the $8-16 game. He was waiting for a seat in $20-40 Stud. He had been out of the country for almost three years. He’s lost weight. I wonder if his attitude will change towards dealers but I never wonder too long. The answer is usually evident in a very short time. Seeing someone like that always brings up forgotten thoughts…sometimes best left forgotten.

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Thursday, August 25, 2005

I’ve spent the last five days trying to move back into Dracula-ette mode. The campground found me bailing out of the sack/tent every a.m. at close to 6 a.m. Build a campfire, create coffee deli-cio-so, mainly for me but for everyone else that was up and ready. Vickie…Baileys & Coffee – I transport Baileys every year to the campground because it’s so much cheaper in Vegas than it is up North. This year, for some unknown reason other than my taste buds kept telling me I needed more body fat, I spent a few mornings loading up on a second cup of Baileys & Coffee. Whew! Glad that’s over for another year.

Along about Monday when I woke up at noon, (finally – the latest I’d slept any day in three weeks), I thought I might make it through work that night even though my normal hours are wake up at 3 p.m. and go to sleep around 7 a.m. The closer I got to shower time, the more I was wishing I could take a nap. I ran errands in the afternoon and between the temperature outside and my frame of mind, the last thing I wanted to do was head for the poker room. But…

Color me in ‘dealer garb’, walking into the casino, trudging past the machines and people that are married to them, into Poker Land USA. Some hellos were exchanged, welcome backs, and smiles and nods as I hit the office. Jason S. was our supervisor for the night. He said, “Linda’s on LOA.”

He was doing the line-up. I didn’t get the gist of what he meant by the statement but of course I knew I’d been on LOA. I went out and signed the E/O, the room was fairly quiet and I was positive I might be out by 1 a.m. That would really be sweet! I could go home and try to refill the Dracula-ette unwritten prescription.

I went back to the office, tried to clock in, the time clock showed me as being LOA and read ‘Supervisor approval needed’. I asked Jason for his card. No go! He wasn’t authorized to do that but I could sign in on the sheet. I did. I sat down and started to watch the line-up draw. For the first time, I looked at the Dealer’s Line-up in the book. It showed me as on LOA all week. I was flabbergasted.

I asked Jason if I could just go home. He said if he ran out of ‘spots’ before he ran out of cards, yes. He did. And I did.

Yup! I knew I was supposed to be back to work on the 22nd but don’t count on me unless it’s written in stone. I had a Dr.’s appt. on Tuesday late in the afternoon and this would make it so much simpler, not working the night before. I planned on calling in on Wednesday and straightening out the LOA with Karen (office person extraordinaire).

While I was at the Dr.’s appt., I got a voice message from Karen. BUSTED!!! Her message told me I was supposed to process back in and be at work that night. I returned the call. “Help! I can’t make it in tonight. Can I come in tomorrow?”

Whew! She checked everything out and said she’d process me in for Wednesday. So be it! Why is that once you’ve been away from work and had the opportunity to have all that free time, you can’t stand the thought of going back to ‘time prison’? That’s what a job is, a Time Prison. You are confined to that time block for the majority of your life and that’s how I exactly how I feel about it. But don’t think for one second that I’m not appreciative of my job, I am.

So…Wednesday night, color me in ‘dealer garb’ – repeat – repeat – repeat. The Book still showed me as LOA, I still could not clock in. But this time I was at the mercy of Kamell and even though I didn’t have a spot in the line-up, he made one for me. I did sign the E/O and managed to escape at 11 p.m. Perhaps, now that I’ve gotten my feet wet, I can waltz in tonight and be comfortable with eight hours. Maybe????

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Sunday, August 21, 2005

Life back at the home front – Ryan went home on Wednesday. Kayanna and me went to dinner with Wayne that night. She was beyond cute. She wanted to wear heels…she’d found a pair at Vickie’s that fit her and her fascination with them had always been huge because her mom is a shoe freak so Kayanna comes by it naturally. Of course Vickie wasn’t willing to part with her heels so we went shopping in Vegas. We found the dress and the heels to go with it and because she’s a girl, she refused to admit the heels hurt her feet. I prodded and queried about how her feet were doing but to no avail. She was going to wear them come hell or high water.

Even though she was hobbling around the Las Vegas Hilton like a crab that had lost a claw, she held up like a trooper. I told her to just take them off and carry them for awhile, even went so far as to explain that a lot of women did that with their heels. She went for it for a bit but jumped immediately back into them. K-e-e-e-rist! What women force themselves to go through for the sake of fashion…or is it insanity. She insisted on wearing them on the flight home…she couldn’t wait to see her mom’s face when she got off the plane in heels. So…she wore a pair of slings to the point where we checked her bag and then did the ‘heel’ transfer. The slings were kewl too. They had ‘disco lights’ in the acrylic heels. Sure…I bought them for her too.

And don’t let me forget to mention that she tried all the desserts in the buffet and thought Wayne was pretty neat but I’m sure her opinion of him jumped up about a 100% when he brought her more chocolate covered strawberries. “Umn-n-n-h-h-h! These are fabulous!”

On Thursday we took the beautifully energetic child, Riot, home for the night. He has his own accommodations at my house, crib included.

Friday found us taking a souvenir trip to the Strip. Goods in hand, we stopped by the store and came home to start our farewell dinner. She helped me prepare ‘outside potatoes’ (baked potatoes on the BBQ), a salad, and an overly incredible Rib Steak. We dined outside, in the serenity of my awesome, newly finished yard. Great meal and great company. Somewhere around 11ish we went to Vivienne’s for a late night swim. And then back to my backyard for more SMORES! I cranked up the chimenea and Vivienne and Kayanna both downloaded Smores. Finally…time to sleep.

Saturday morning and it was time to pack her suitcase and get ready to depart for the airport. We both vowed we wouldn’t cry. We made it! She was ready to go home and as much as I love her and enjoy her company, I was ready to have my life back. She gave me a hug and kiss, and strutted after the flight attendant, disappearing with a wave. She’s growing up. Damn it!

My Saturday night card-playing buddies were over and after they went home for the night, I had a brain tearing thought, “When did I become unconscious?”

Time never slows down for anyone and seems to speed up for me. Or is it because I just feel that way? I’ve been running a marathon on the Time Treadmill. I lost my touch with being able to relax somewhere in the insanity I created for myself. The last few weeks opened the doorway again – back to the world of the conscious.

If I can’t get it done today, it will still be there next year. Just like the campground…

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Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Tuesday, August 16, 2005

The trip home begins. Stop by Vickie’s place for one last goodbye, gas up, and hit the road a little after 9 a.m. The kids had the backseat locked up with the laptop and switched back and forth between DVD’s and games…let’s not forget naps. They got their share of naps. I got my share of the open road and tried to space out the fact that I had a helluva long way to go.

When we hit the lower part of Idaho, dark rain clouds and wind were blowing our way. The rain was phenomenal – as if someone took a giant, never empty bucket and poured it over us. Just out of Salt Lake we hit another rainstorm that almost matched the one in Idaho. I had a tarp over the goods in the bed of the truck and when I removed it to unpack, I brought some rain with me. It was kind of neat, shaking out a few puddles of water that I’d transported from another state. Ok…so I’m weird. Little things flip my switch.

Road kill was everywhere. Deer, raccoon, birds, a porcupine, and a bird that I would swear was an eagle but I didn’t slow down to check it out. Perhaps it was the moon – maybe it was just too damn big and Moon Madness is a disease that hasn’t been catalogued yet. This is a shot of the moon when we stopped for gas about five hours out of Vegas.

moon

Funny but Kayanna said she’d never seen ‘the man in the moon’ until now. She didn’t even know it was there. What the hell are they teaching kids these days. Or am I just old and remember another era when one was entertained without TV and video/computer games? But on another note, no one taught me how to play poker when I was young either. I didn’t start playing until I was 32 or 33…that is a bad beat.

We slid into Vegas just about the time I thought we would…right around 11:30 p.m. My butt had grown to the seat and my hands had merged with the steering wheel. A gallon of Red Bull, lots of lattes and rice crispy treats – let’s hear it for sugar rushes – and 14 hours from Missoula, we were home. Ke-e-e-e-rist! This place never looked better.

My baby truck had taken us over 2,400 miles on this trip, not to mention all the bugs it killed while we were hyper spacing. And speaking of trucks, I hate ASSHOLES that have to walk by your truck and throw a can or junk food bag into the back of it as they go by. When I bought it, I didn’t realize it resembled a $25,000 garbage can. Diptards! I’d like to take my garbage for the week and download it right into their front seat.

Unloading the truck had to wait till mania. Kayanna was fast asleep, Ryan was getting there, and after checking out the place and bringing in a few essentials, I was winding down…the road noise that had been crashing through me a few hours before was now a small buzz. I didn’t even need Sand Woman Land…

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Monday, August 15, 2005

Yesterday’s post ended around 1 a.m. – leaving out Sunday’s events. So…a recap of yesterday; Neomi always puts on a breakfast feed for everyone and today was no exception; load up the hotcakes, eggs, bacon, and sausage, sometimes muffins, but a lumberjack would love this menu and all of our group mills through her campsite at some point for ‘the fixin’s’.

Sunday is the day that all the kids from Moses Lake (Neomi’s brood) start heading for home, they’re usually gone by around noon and today they were right on schedule. They came by in small groups to hug and say goodbye for a year. My little poker playing buds came by with hugs and promises of emails and the game next year.

By 1 p.m., it was Josh, Kayanna, Vickie, Monte (Vickie’s beau), and me; we were on our way to Ken and Vicky’s place to shoot. Hell yes – guns! My family grew up around guns and we hunted for food on our table. I have never shot anything, other than targets or cans, and at this moment I cringe at the thought of shooting something and then putting it on the table. But it is a way of life for a lot of people in the world and my cringing won’t change the fact that it happens, so on with the story.

Ken lives on ten acres that border Forest Service Land and his place is isolated from the rest of the world…yup, him and his wife like it that way. He never leaves the house to trek around his property that he doesn’t carry a sidearm of some type. Crossing paths with a bear or a cougar isn’t too uncommon and just recently his dog, Foxy, put the run on a big black bear. At first Ken had no idea the bear was even there but Foxy did. The bear scrambled to get the hell out of the area as Foxy protected her territory.

So…everyone except Josh and Ken’s Vicky fired up the targets arranged in the driveway. We stayed a few hours, I took more pictures, and finally it was time to head back to the campground. Goodbye to Vicky for another year, Ken would be at the campsite the following morning to help us load our trucks and head out. Shit! Where did the week go? There must be a Time Stealing Fairy on the loose.

Josh and I had a heated discussion on the way back into Sandpoint. He’s adamantly against guns even though he used to own a few. He hit me with, “Don’t you think the world would be a better place if guns had never been invented?”

I could say yes to that but mankind would then figure out another way to destroy each other so what is the answer? I prefer the knowledge of handling a gun vs. being in the dark about them and wishing they would just go away. They aren’t going to go away.

During our discussion, I got a speeding ticket. I’ve gotten two in my life. The other one was 20 years ago. Josh brought up the fact that he was with me when I got the other one. I laughed and told him that I’d make sure he never rode with me again.

Our next stop was Kevin and Gayl’s place – horseback riding for Kayanna and Ryan. This year they even got to ride outside the corral and control the horse by themselves. They were in heaven.

It was getting late, we were all starving, Vickie was cooking (no news flash there), and we all headed back to camp. This would be our last night, we’d be out of the campsite by 1 p.m. and heading back to Missoula.

The kids crammed down a million more Smores (include Monte in the kid list). God! I don’t know how anyone eats those things. I do the graham cracker, Hershey squares for everyone, and help them slide that gushy marshmallow off the forks but that’s as close as I want to get to the sugar rush. And why is it ‘a million more’? Because we had campfires during the day and evening and morning – and they are kids.

We stayed up late, sitting by the fire, drinking a brew/wine, and finally Sand Woman Land got me.

Good Morning, Monday! Time to break down everything and start loading. We did. Vickie and Monte were ready to go before we were. Ken came to help me. Thank God for brothers! Finally…it was time to go. That meant Kayanna had to say goodbye to Daddy. They both cried. It was brutal. I have a poem in mind called Watching a Heart Break. Then I cried. Goodbye, Josh! Goodbye, Ken! Goodbye, campground! Hello highway!

By late afternoon we were in Missoula, checked into our hotel, and heading to Vickie’s house for??? Lucky guess here – food. And damned if the kids didn’t have more Smores – she cranked up the chimenea for them.

It was wonderful to be in a hotel room. The camp was great, wouldn’t give it up for the world, but d-a-m-n, sleeping in a bed and getting up in the night to walk eight feet to a bathroom vs. crawling out of a tent and trekking 50 feet to a bathhouse – no comparison.

Reality’s starting to settle in – tomorrow’s the start of that 1,000-mile drive home.

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Sunday, August 14, 2005

*Post-continued*

As soon as we hit the main highway, we had cell service. We tried calling Josh but his voice mail answered each time. We called the family at camp and told them to have Josh call us if he called them. What were our chances of finding him? It would be like looking for a needle in a haystack but Miss Kayanna hadn’t seen her dad in a year and she had the look – the look of a kid that has waited all year for Christmas and finds out that it’s been cancelled on Christmas Eve. The worst that could happen is that we would drive 70 miles and not hear from him – or find him – and have to head back to camp with no news. The best that could happen is that he would call us and we’d find him back on the road or we’d be there to help him if he needed it.

We immediately had five deer cross the County Road – at different intervals – in front of us; dim shapes just off the road that materialized into living beings as they danced across the blacktop. Kayanna loved it! I hated it! I don’t want to see a deer or any animal materialize out of the dark void as it charges into my path. We saw them in time to slow way down. After we hit the highway, of course, we saw the dead ones by the side of the road, some of them just hit, fresh blood spreading across the pavement, and I hate that too.

My little traveling companion was wide eyed and looking for her dad but within a few minutes, she crashed. The demon from hell had taken over my thoughts once again and I was DRIVING. I went clear through Spokane and turned around up by the airport exit, having tried Josh’s cell several times and routed to his voice mail, I figured we were just going to head for camp. Funny but Spokane is the city of Josh’s birth. It was sort of like going through labor again, hoping he would call/show so I would know he was alright and so my passenger would get her wish…to see her daddy. Damn that labor stuff is painful and it doesn’t all relate to childbirth.

Magic happened. My phone rang. He had just left Spokane, we were behind him; we rendezvoused in Coeur D’Alene about 20 minutes later. I let the beauty queen sleep until we pulled into a gas station. She went to radiant sunshine and beaming light in a heartbeat when her dad tapped on the back window. Nothing like hugs and kisses to warm a heart.

We made the trip back to camp – 45 miles – it was around 1 a.m. by now and everyone was asleep. Josh was settled in the tent next to Kayanna, I was in my cot, Ryan was trying to sleep through all the noise…and Christmas was back on. SWEET!

The lake the next day:

fishpeople

And she’s airborne:

airborn

And once again – post-poned…another installment coming.

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Saturday, August 13, 2005

It’s a lazy afternoon. More family has arrived, mainly from Moses Lake Washington, and our little group is about complete. We’ve dropped from 44 members – at one reunion – to mostly the ‘brothers’ and ‘sisters’, their mates, my two traveling companions, and Neomi’s brood – that brings us to 19 people. Neomi is the oldest of our clan, married and has three children, and they have children. Her brood is the only one makes it every year – not all of them because emergencies do happen, but some or most of them make it each year without fail. They live about three hours from here and show up for the weekend, the main event – when we all do poker, food, pictures, reminisce, and share a brief moment of our lives.

The poker game is cranking off after one more meal…another Campsite Food Orgy. The food supply never ends. I’ve eaten more in a few days here than I would in two weeks at home. It seems to be an obsession. Possibly because they have families and kids and everyone eats on a fairly regular schedule but in my world food can be out of sight, out of mind. Sure you wouldn’t believe it if you looked at the body fat on my middle but it’s true. And on that fat around the middle – the older I get, the more difficult it is to shed the baby fat. Ugh!!! But back to the food, it’s incredible. Everyone’s cooking, everyone’s contributing, and everyone’s eating. I stay away from the cooking, I contribute, and unfortunately, I eat! It’s a given when I get here, that I refuse to prepare meals. A sandwich, a hot dog, a burger, or some such trivial sustenance suits me perfectly and that’s what I would do if it were up to me.

*Food break*

Much later, I set up the picnic table with a green flannel sheet (hey…looks like the green felt I spend most of my time on) and get out three racks of chips. We are playing for 5c a chip. Previous years we played for 25c a chip but this year it’s all the young bloods and I want them to have fun, not go broke.

There are only four of us starting the game; Ken came over later and joined the group making it a five some. The players: Ryan, Justin, Kyle, Ken, and me. Neomi came over and stood behind Kyle and Justin, offering advice from time to time. I’ve seen worse play at a poker table but I honestly can’t remember when. *laughing* One of them called all the way with 9 high and finally made a pair of 8′s on the river. When he won the pot, he exclaimed, “I knew he was bluffing!â€?

Yup! He was bluffing with the best hand. It was all a learning experience for me as I tried to explain that you can raise on the River with 6 high but you can’t just flat call with it. Oh well! We are going to email during the year and hopefully we will have more opportunities to face off at the Campfire Green Felt.

It rained earlier, and while we were under cover and still had campfires raging, the temperature dropped way too low for me. I was freezing during the poker game and I just never seemed to warm up after that – maybe it’s my desert blood. Or it’s possible Idaho jumped from summer to winter in one day.

Ken, Vickie, and me were wearing our Wal-Mart Plastic Bag hats for rain protection and Vickie and me had chopped holes in garbage bags so we could walk around in the rain. Ken insisted that we had to look ‘grim’ – like we were street people…this is our best sad look while we are laughing our butts off.

street people

And even while it was raining, Vickie ran around with a glass of wine and a cigarette and Kayanna held an umbrella over her head while The Camp Chef-ette prepared the evening meal.

This night produced some stress, mainly for Kayanna. Josh, her dad, was supposed to have arrived hours earlier – enroute from Portland – and we finally got a late phone call from him. He was ‘broke down’ out of Spokane. Crap! My cell phone was ‘out of service’ at the campground and I was bumming phones from Neomi and her brood. Finally…around 11 p.m., I just gave up and asked Miss Kayanna if she wanted to take a ride into Spokane. Her sad face broke into the warmest thing I’d seen in hours; that beautiful smile even lit up the entire camp ground as she jumped at the chance.

*Post-poned until tomorrow*

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Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Ah-h-h…the campground. It’s quieter this year than I ever remember it being and this is our fourth year. An occasional vehicle drives by – either looking for a camping spot or a tenant returning to their site. It’s close to noon, no noise, other than a distant voice carried on the breeze or a crow making a small amount of racket as it announces to the world that it’s alive and here.

This area used to be my home. I lived in and around Sandpoint at different times in my life and most of those memories are filled with emotional pain and death. One of my husbands, my mother, one of my brothers, and a brother-in-law are buried here. It was all a life time ago and only bothers me when I’m going through the ‘shake out all the memories mode’. And when I’m in that mode, I’m ready to cry…so I do. Being here doesn’t even drag out the old memories and I rarely go to the gravesites. I honor those I love with warm thought and life not a plot of land with a marker on it…but that’s my way of dealing with it.

Funny but when I lived here, I never visited this campground…there’s even a day use area for picnic/lake activities. The campground is about 12 miles out of Sandpoint and the nice part of having lived here previously is that I’m very familiar with where everything is and how to navigate the highways and byways if I want to go anywhere in particular. While it’s wonderful to be here, I could never live here again. That quiet, laid back, let’s go shovel snow so we can get out of the driveway just doesn’t do it for me. And there’s no place to play poker that I know of, except the Internet and the connection through here is still mostly phone line…ugh!!!!

I’ve had two of my pet peeves shoved in my face on this trip. The first is the Highway Dip Shit that sees me rapidly overtaking them and there’s a slow moving vehicle a quarter of a mile in front of them. They immediately pull out in front of me and proceed to drive at 70 MPH – the speed limit is 75 – and it takes them ten minutes to overcome and pass the slow moving vehicle…not to mention what it does to my brain. If you’re going to pass, why not just step on the gas and pass? That’s what I do when I see a vehicle coming up behind me…come to think of it, there aren’t too many that come up behind me. Courtesy should be extended in all areas of life, especially when behind the wheel of a vehicle.

The second is the Dip Shit With Dogs. I have nothing against dogs. If I wanted one in my face and sniffing my leg, I’d get one of my own…having owned several previously, I know what I’m talking about. The campground rules are specifically set out “all pets must be on a leash”. Perhaps it should read “all pets must be on a leash and the owner must wear an electronic collar”. That would really be sweet. If the link from the owner – to leash – to pet was broken, the electronic collar would zap the owner until they grabbed the leash or released it to a clip ring on their site that over rode the collar effect.

I took my two young traveling companions out on a trail ride early a.m. Ryan rode my bike, Kayanna was on hers, and I walked/jogged the trail with them – an old road that is used now only for hiking and bike riding. The trail circles the lake but becomes almost impossible to bike after about a mile and a half. We made the ‘out’ and started on the ‘back’. Kayanna had ridden ahead (they took turns running off and leaving me as I was plodding along and they were full of piss and vinegar – ready to roll) and I heard a dog start barking in a frenzy that sent off bells in my head. I barked at Ryan, “Catch up to Kayanna and both of you stop and wait for me.”

He took off and before he disappeared around a bend, two older women and one white Chow were on the trail in front of him. The dog was not on a leash and ran towards him, snapping and barking. Ryan stopped and waited. I was moving up fast by this time.

The lead woman held a leash, “He won’t hurt you. It’s ok, he won’t hurt you. He just wants to make sure you won’t hurt me.”

The dog backed off a few feet and charged back at Ryan again. I had my trusty walking stick, (thanks Wayne), and I was getting ready to just stab the damn dog.

The lead woman called the dog and again took off with, “He won’t hurt you.”

By now the dog was by her side and I asked, “Did you see a little girl on a bike?”

The lead woman must’ve been a broken human that couldn’t comprehend anything except her canned phrase because she replied, “He won’t hurt you.”

The second woman heard me and said, “Yes, we passed her and she’s alright.”

I snorted, “You’re dog’s supposed to be on a leash!”

As Ryan and I passed them, the lead woman was finally putting the dog on the leash. I didn’t want to slap the dog, I wanted to slap her. Dip Shit Human!

I run into that kind of stuff all the time when I’m hiking in Red Rock. People that think the rest of the world is supposed to be happy to see their dog charging at them when the owner is 100 yards or so behind the animal . “He won’t hurt you.” – “He doesn’t bite.” Yeah right!

I’ve decided that I will have a canned reply from now on, “I will hurt him. Please protect your dog.”

I’m going to start carrying pepper spray. When I walk in town I always carry a PR-24. It’s the perfect club for smacking an attacking dog. I carry it for all four-legged and two-legged animals that might try to accost me when out in the wilds of the city. Hey…I’m not a violent person. I also refuse to go down without a struggle.

On a happier note, some of my little poker playing buddies will be coming into the campground tomorrow.

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