Calvin and Zeeb are taking turns getting up from the dinner table and running to whisper a secret in the other’s ear. I can hear all their secrets loud and clear. Many of them are words that start with “P.” My favorite sounds like this: “My teeth got into my bearskin tights.”

They have just returned home from a couple of days being shuffled from one Grandma to the other. Oma took them swimming with my brother, Icecat. She bought them new goggles and made them hot dogs for dinner. She is a complete pushover, when it comes to her children and grandchildren. She’s so in love that she will do anything. I honestly try not to take advantage of her, but she gets sad when she can’t see them every day.

Grandma Toni also took them swimming, and to Carl’s Jr. for lunch. She still has two kids at home, so they play with the boys. I guess they tried to get Toni to let them sleep on the trampoline, but it didn’t work.

The reason for their being shipped off is that I went on a little road trip. Yes, I got out of the house for two whole days. My aunt Barbara was in town. She had bought a one-acre plot of land in Widtsoe, which is a ghost town in Southern Utah, near Bryce Canyon. Widtsoe was abandoned in the 1930’s, and all that’s left is a school house two dwellings,  and lots of sagebrush. My dad bought some land there, so Barbara bought a piece too, and plans to build a cabin there. Actually, her husband plans to build, with his own hands, a home using straw-bale construction. That’s right, he wants to build a house out of bales of straw.

So Barbara, my dad, and my dad’s friend Holly, and I drove through central Utah, stopped for dinner at the Big Rock Candy Mountain (we hiked around looking for the Lemonade Springs, but couldn’t find them), and continued down to Widtsoe. Oh, yeah, I took Kiki with me. She was a doll for the first day, but then she started to resent being stuck in the car seat, and wailed most of the time the second day. She didn’t even want to hike around in the Dixie National Forest, even though I had borrowed on of those fancy baby-backpacks.

So I spent my 32nd birthday on a road trip through Utah. Barbara made sure I had my circus peanut fix. Barbara is the only other person in the world besides Karee that gives me circus peanuts. She once sent me a bag while I was living in the Philippines. That might be a lie, about those two being the only ones. I’m pretty sure, upon thinking further, that my dad has also provided them on occasion. He always comes through with the marshmallow Peeps at Easter, too. And my cousin, Liz, has supported my habit, too. Liz is my sister-cousin. Neither of us has a sister, but we have each other.

For your information, the test flavor Doritos x-13D tastes like pickles. The dill kind. And maybe some ketchup and mustard. With a hint of burger. But mostly pickles.