My Mom.

There are times when you realize that Moms just don’t get enough credit. Obviously they carried you for nine months (or in my case 7, but it’s ok to cut corners sometimes, babies are heavy and I think my brain is mostly developed). They tend to you when you are sick and somehow understand what you are blubbering about when you call and you’ve had a bad day and your neighbor has yelled at you. They also come over to your house and say “no thank you I would not like a lemon drop martin”i and then proceed to drink one in the kitchen with you anyways. Then they put polycrylic on your cabinets because you hate that step and vacuum up dog hair without saying “I raised you better/cleaner than this” and use crowbars to get 18 inch long nails out of your subflooring and paint all the trim in your house so that you feel like you moved into a new house instead of a yellowed 70’s house. That is what moms do.


My mom also is the queen of text messaging. I’ve had to stop checking her text messages in public places because I end up snorting in the corner… and I don’t snort.


Here is a sampling. Spelling is left as is. Back story will be given when necessary. Look for the asterisk or listen for the chime and turn the page.


Me: [Sends mom picture of pretty sunrise and hellacious giant cargo van that I am driving for work]

Mom: That is gorge as the Kardashion sisters* would say. Now drive it with one blind eye** in a driving rain to pick up wood flooring.*** Oh yeah.

Me: Driving it at six a.m. while listening to preprogrammed spanish stations was hard enough.

Mom: Touche Thats spanish for “you got me”.

Me: Lo siento mi amore. That’s french for “good one”

Mom: We are so Internationale i  am sending you a picture of the pickax marks from trying to kill the snake.**** He kept moving you will see

Mom: I kept getting hit in the face by concret chips and thought this is how i will die getting a chip in my good eye cant see then bit by a snake

Me: [receives picture of decimated concrete] Oh my. Crying. Nice grouping!!!

*Mom secretly loves the Kardashians.

**Mom is blind in one eye.

***I rented a V8 sprinter cargo van (GIANT) and mom drove it like a boss to God knows where to pick up 2 tons of wood flooring for my house. It rained the hardest it’s ever rained and she returned non plussed.

****Mom was cleaning up the yard at home and lifted a trashcan lid only to find a 2 foot long copperhead coiled underneath. She calmly put up her German shepherd, wielded a pickax and chopped him into 3 pieces. The driveway did not survive either. This happened at the same time my Aunt drank pineapple juice only to find a dead salamander at the bottom of the pitcher. We refer to this day as “the olsen sisters vs the wild”.

Scene Two

Mom: Found Pottery barn books one about bathrooms the other about diningrooms. Looks better than that outdoor book I got you where you need an infinity pool and view of mountain.

Mom: Obviously will give to you after I have perused them. Love you mucho.

Me: Does this mean I can stop building that paper mache view of Tahoe?

Mom: Nooooo. However just to be a bit more edgey, might I suggest turning into a volcano. Vinegar and baking soda are cheap

Me: But I don’t want to get lava on my paper mache bmw and gucci handbag

Mom: What does mommy say* about little girls who are afraid of lava ruining things? I think you know.

Me: Mommy says little girls who are afraid of lava ruining things grow up to be mommies who are afraid of little girls ruining their carpeting with blood**

Mom: Very good. However they also usually become addicted to heroin and pregnant without a clue who the father is.

Me: I am so thankful I have you to guide me.

Mom: I know. You are super lucky.

Me: I’m just shocked you don’t have your own advice column.

Me: Yet.

Mom: I KNOW! Whats up with that anyway. Betsy just texted me asking me to pray she would get a job. I told her to quit wasting my time.

*Our family has an unhealthy infatuation with Stuart from mad TV.

**A thinly veiled reference to the “great baseball debacle of 1991”. My brother threw a baseball to me, I missed it and it drilled me in the face. I lost teeth and looked like a donkey for weeks. Mom had just gotten new white carpeting in the house and when I showed up at the front door bleeding profusely she screamed “DON’T GET BLOOD ON THE CARPET!”. Now, having a house of my own, I understand the sentiment.

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Oh Hey. I Bought a House.

The neighborhood men think that Cat and I are construction workers. They keep offering to “help” (in exchange for money to buy crack) so we just let them think we remodel homes for a living. Another man hits on either me or Cat every day. (It’s your turn to get hit on, you go first) (No I got hit on by him yesterday, you go first.) I’m all about getting hit on, don’t get me wrong. I just prefer you to be in my age bracket, not living with your mother, and maybe have a steady job. (dream big.) Handsome and without a mustache would also be a perk. On an unrelated note, if any of you ladies are looking for a mustachioed man in his late 40’s who lives with his mother, hit me up. 

The other day while cleaning out the gutters this happened:

“Hey guuuuuuuuurl.”

“Hi Ronnie.”

“Whatchu doing?”

From top of ladder with pile of sopping wet fetid leaves in my hands: “Cleaning gutters.”

“Were you in the military or something?”

“Yes, they’re real big on gutter cleaning in the Marine Corps.”

“You want to go to dinner?”




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Worst. Fire Dog. Ever.

So a couple days ago I decided to have a small bonfire in the backyard.  My friend Carson left his firepit at my house and the weather was at that perfect temperature for a fire. (The kind of temps where you are content to sit AROUND the fire, as opposed to the kind of temps where you see how close you can come to actually climbing IN the fire without being reduced to a smoldering down jacket and ashes.)

Bonfires are not merely a tradition in our family. They’re genetic. My Dad burned his house down when he was five years old,  my Uncle burned his tree house down and my Grandpa Len caught his field on fire yearly. It got to the point where the fire department was expecting his phonecall.

Thankfully, I am a professional and don’t have to worry about that facet of my genetics.

I live in Marietta, which has thousands of old trees that are constantly shedding giant limbs and smaller limbs and medium sized limbs and on occasion whole trees into my yard.

This makes the backyard Mecca for my dog.

But it looks like schlount and we’re trying to gentrify the neighborhood.

I set about burning all the little sticks and brush and twigs and limbs that I could find.

Things were going beautifully. My roommate got home from work and we sat around the fire and drank tea.*

Then a little ember dropped and started a tiny fire. I stood up and calmly tapped it out with my chaco. (Is it Chaco weather? Not exactly. But I love them.)

The fire spread.

I grabbed the shovel and started beating the flames out with the end.

WOOSH. The flames were out of control. The yard was on fire and disaster was about to strike as the flames edged towards our precious Astroturf.™**

Cat yelled: “I’ll GET THE HOSE!” She frantically started unwinding and unkinking the incredibly cheap hose I’d purchased at Wal-Mart for 5 dollars. (Turns out there are some things you should not cheap out on.)(A hose is one of them.  Coffee is the other.)

She tossed the end to me and I stood at the ready while she twisted the nozzle on. (It looked EXACTLY like Backdraft.)

Here is a picture a neighbor snapped of me fighting the fire.

Water shot out of the end of the hose and lo and behold. The fire spread.


It was then that I looked down in the midst of the flames that were spreading and noticed Decoy calmly drinking out of the hose. She looked up as if to say “Thanks, Mom. I was thirsty. Also did you know the yard is on fire?”


**Oh. And the house.

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Armorall you are my nemesis.

Lesson learned:

Don’t Armorall your brake pedal.

I don’t think this warrants much explaining. I knew better and I did it anyways. The upside is that every driving trip is an adventure and I’m pretty sure I would qualify for the Olympic ice skating team now.

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Shooting this video was more dangerous than you’d think…

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How to be overly competitive, even at the dog park.

Sometimes I take my dog to the dog park. Usually this happens when I am guilt ridden due to the fact that the dog is stuck guarding my 1000 square foot shack for 9 hours a day. (This doesn’t take a lot of energy, seeing as she can walk the perimeter of the house in .2 seconds.) Regardless, I take her to the dog park not to socialize her, but because I am too tired to take her on a 30 mile run, nor am I about to strap on rollerblades and lead her on a 4 hour session through the mountains of L.A. (a. Seriously? WHO ROLLERBLADES ANYMORE? b. Don’t live in L.A.)

Oh. Sorry, Cesar.

My point here is, I take her to the dog park in the hopes that she’ll figure out how to join a pack of dogs and run around at break neck speed thus wearing herself out.

Unfortunately this never happens. She sniffs around a little, occasionally greets another dog… and then spends the rest of the time orbiting me incessantly. This forces me to say embarrassing things like: “Go play.” “Go play with the other dogs, Decoy.”

Anyways. Today some la-di-da Doctor shows up with his German Shepherd. That’s fine. I like German Shepherds. But he’s pretentious. I say: “Nice shepherd.” And he says: “she’s from the Eurooopeeeeaaaaan shooooow line.” (no big deal, right? no no my friends. In the dog world he’s letting me know she’s not an american german shepherd like MY dog.) He’s wearing scrubs, cowboy boots,

Europeeeeaaaaan shoooooow line.

and a ridiculous looking scarf and immediately starts barking commands in German at his dog. SITZ! PLATZ! Oh PLEEEEEEAAAAAASEEEE. You can train your dog to sit to ANY command: Apache, HINKY-PINKY! (Apache sits.) Apache, FLAMBOYANT! (Apache lays down.) Apache, HOWDY! (Apache comes.)

But, people always fall for the ole commands in another language trick. So he’s screaming orders at his dog and I couldn’t help it. I sidle up and find myself giving decoy the hand signals I taught her. They’re not complicated nor are they all that impressive. Most dogs dig the hand signals. The folks at the dog park shift their gaze from him to me, impressed. I totally stole his thunder.

I am a grown woman and I got competitive at a dog park.

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My faithful dog has been Hijacked

I come home from work the other day to find this:

What the heck?!?! That’s MY dog! Decoy didn’t even take the time to try to act repentant. She just looked up at me like: What? This is no big deal. Sometimes I ignore you and sneak into Cat’s room to cuddle with her.

Oh and by the way, I’m almost out of dogfood.

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Gear Head. (Not to be confused with headgear.)

I work at REI, a spectacular company that feels more like a family. This could be in part due to the fact that for the past 3 years I have lived in some capacity with co-workers from REI, both in tents and in houses, or due to the fact that my boss worries about my safety more than my own mother, but I’m getting off track.

I get thousands* of text messages, emails and phone calls regarding gear. Which one is best? Why is it best? That is expensive. Why is it expensive? Do you like the North Face Denali? (No.) Can you get me a discount? (No.) Do you sell rollerblades? (No.)

So here is my gear list. My favorite gear and in my opinion… the best gear. You may feel otherwise… but that is just because you’re not as smart as me. Regardless, feel free to disagree. But disagree knowing that I will at some point send a hoard of ninjas into your house to slice holes in your 8 lb. synthetic-flannel-lined-sleeping bag.


For Women: Osprey Ariel 75 [4 lbs. 12 oz. 4400 cubic inches]                                                                                                                                                             Blanket statement: Everyone has their own favorite brand… this is mine. The majority of companies on the market are ripping off their design, it’s the Jennifer Aniston haircut of packs.


Osprey Kestrel 68 [4 lbs. 4000 cubic inches]

For Men: Osprey Aether 7o [5 lbs. 1 oz. 4200 cubic inches]


Osprey Kestrel 68 [4 lbs. 4000 cubic inches]

Sleeping Bag:

Cold Weather: Marmot Plasma +15 [1 lb. 14 oz]                                                                             I would marry this bag. Waterproof, windproof, super light.

Warm Weather: Marmot Atom +40 [1 lb. 5 oz]                                                                            I still miss the Marmot Pounder, but this one is water repellant.

Ground pad:

Closed cell: Therm-a-Rest Z-lite [14 oz]                                                                             Regular length. I know a lot of people that try to shave extra weight off by buying the shorter length. Fine by me! Plus it makes it more fun for everyone else watching as you try to curl up in the fetal position on your half-of-a-ground pad.

Self-Inflating: Therm-a-Rest ProLite [16 oz]                                                                            They finally put little grips on the bottom so that it doesn’t slide all over your tent AND they come in pink!


2 Man and a dog: REI Quarter Dome T2 Plus [4 lbs. 4 oz]

1 Man: REI Quarter Dome T1 [2 lbs. 13 oz]

Ultra Light: Hennessy Hammock Hyperlight A-Sym Hammock Shelter [26 oz]               This is not as warm as a tent for cold weather… bring a warmer sleeping bag then you normally would on cold trips.


For the impatient: Jet Boil Sol with Coffee Press [10.5 oz]

For the patient/Gourmet cooks: Soto OD-1R Micro Regulator Stove [2.6 oz]



Ultra-light: Snow Peak Titanium Multi Compact Cookset [11.6 oz]                                        One of the lighter cooksets out there, but I don’t like how shallow they are.

Function: REI Ti Ware Nonstick Titanium Cookset [18 oz]                                             Heavier, yes. But it functions better than the Snow Peak cookset due to depth.


Snow Peak Titanium Plate [2 oz]                                                                                                    It’s better than eating off of a leaf.


Spork: Sea to Summit Alpa Light Spork [o.3 oz]                                                        IT’S MADE OF AIRCRAFT GRADE ALUMINUM ALLOY. It’s like getting a pony for Christmas.


Double duty: Snow Peak Titanium Trek 700 [4.25 oz]                                                          Doubles as a Pot for cooking.

Straight up Mug: Snow Peak Titanium Double-Wall Cup [4.2 oz]                                      Because there is nothing cool about burning your lips off.


Black Diamond Spot [3.1 oz]                                                                                                          By far my favorite headlamp. It has two awesome settings: the Spot, which shoots down the trail and illuminates potential bear/attack racoon encounters, and the LED  setting, which  allows you to save battery life whilst arguing over which way is North on your map for the fifteenth time.

Camp chair:

The Classic Crazy Creek [20.7 oz]


The Alite Monarch [18 oz]                                                                                                               Do not choose this chair if you are large and in charge OR if you don’t trust your friends not to shove you over.


River Sandals/Hiking Sandals/Bridesmaid Sandals:

Chaco Z/2 [23 oz]                                                                                                                       Most comfortable hiking shoe OR sandal I’ve ever worn. Endorsed by the American Podiatry Association.They can’t be beat.

Hiking Boots:

For Men: Asolo Fugitive GTX [2 lbs. 13 oz]

For Women: Asolo Stynger GTX [2lbs. 8 oz]

Camp Shoes:

Crocs: Though it pains me to put it on here… They ARE pretty light.                                      (And super dumb looking.)

Rain Jacket:

For Men and Women: Arcteryx Beta AR SL [9.9 oz]                                                               I’ve had an Arcteryx jacket for 5 years… it has never failed, is incredibly durable and has a skeleton on it for street cred.

Miscellaneous Gear that you will figure out a way to justify:

Snow Peak Hozuki LED Lantern [5.9 oz]                                                                                   This thing is spectacular. Incredibly expensive but awesome. Bright but ambient lighting, great for those nights when you get creeped out in the backcountry. (Not that I’ve ever been creeped out in the backcountry. But someone less brave might be.)

Soto Torch [1.8 oz]                                                                                                                       Best possible buy. Takes a cheapo gas station lighter (the rectangular ones) and converts it to a windproof blow-torch. The lighter lasts forever too. Why are the Japanese so smart?

CRKT Mt. Rainier Knife [2.9 oz]                                                                                               Cheap. Light. Does the trick.

Snow Peak Titanium French Press [7 oz]                                                                                  Not necessary if you have the jetboil. Totally necessary otherwise. Unless you don’t drink coffee. In which case we’re not friends.

Ultimate Survival Technologies Sabercut Saw [6 oz]

Pants and Underwear** are up to you.

*Ok like a couple texts a day. But STILL.

**But I have it on good authority that these are the best.

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Dear IRS,

First off, I don’t like you. I never have. I have many reasons for this which I will not go into right now. But let’s just say that you are all blood sucking parasites without souls. (At best.)

Which brings me (abruptly) to your choice in hold music.

Perhaps in the future you could not borrow your music from those terminal illness commercials.

Calling you is depressing enough.

Thus concludes my segment of tax free advice.

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Boy Scouts

Let me preface this by saying that I fully support the Boy Scouts. I think it’s an awesome program (gaming Merit badge aside)(Yes. It’s a real Merit badge, the youth of America can now receive an esteemed patch for going into a zombie-like trance in front of the tv) and while I think they have failed in the “helping little old ladies across the street” realm (I have seen at least two cross un-aided in the past month alone) in general they succeed in getting boys outside. Where they belong. But I digress. I would like to address the MEN in Boy Scout uniforms.

Would it BE SO HARD, Boy Scouts of America to come up with a SEPARATE UNIFORM FOR THE MEN? Something that says “I’m a Man Scout”.

They always end up looking slightly psychotic/off-kilter to me.

Sidenote. External frame packs are of the devil. You will not convince me otherwise and please stop acting superior when I show you an internal frame pack. It’s embarrassing.

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