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  • Writer's pictureKandy Thietten

Eating Out Of the Toilet

We just left the beautiful city of Branson, MO where we visited Jim and Naomi, old friends of my family. They are work campers with the sweet gig of maintaining flower beds in exchange for a place to park with full hook-ups and tickets to most of the many attractions in Branson. This city is very similar to Las Vegas, with music, plays, comedians, and attractions everywhere. It's only missing the gambling and prostitutes, and the shows are all clean, and family friendly. This is a family friendly Vegas, and I'd love to spend some time work camping here for a few months some day so I can see everything.

One of my first questions for Naomi when we saw her was, "Is it safe to walk in the woods? Are there any animals I need to worry about?" "There are ticks and chiggers. The chiggers are awful." We have ticks in Idaho, but I've never been around chiggers. They sound pretty terrible, and I know that when Abe gets in too many he gets sick, so he's careful to avoid them. I decided to not go wandering off through the trees to explore. Abe and I took the dogs for a walk, and I had more energy than I knew what to do with, so after we got back to the RV, I took Truffle with me and continued walking down the blacktop walking path, looking at the woodcarvings, golf course, and other amenities offered at this RV Park. I should say that this RV park is more like an RV resort, with miniature golf, restaurants, a library (where I was able to swap out a couple of books), and other things for people to do to keep themselves busy. I looked off to the side, and saw a faint trail that looked fun to explore, so Truffle and I headed off in that direction. The trail took us to a small patch of grass that I'll call a meadow because it sounds nice. We followed the meadow a ways, past a tiny stream trickling through the grass. Eventually, we came to the end of the grass, but I didn't remember exactly where the path was that led us there, so I decided to cut through some small saplings to get back to the blacktop path, and Truffle and I followed the path back to the RV. We stopped for a moment and I chatted with a fellow RVer parked two spaces away from us. As we were chatting, I looked down and let out a squeal as I smacked off the little red/brown tick that was crawling on my shirt. I was warned. I despise ticks. I can't think of any other insect, animal, or anything else that creeps me out more than a tick. When I was young, the dogs would come home from running around and they would have engorged ticks attached to their bodies, and I never removed a single one - I left that for other people because I couldn't bring myself to touch them. Just the thought gives me the chills.

I finished talking and went back to the RV, telling Abe about the tick I'd seen as I walked up the steps. "Kandy, stop," he commanded. "Go outside." "What's wrong?" "Nothing. Just go outside." My pulse picked up. "What's on me?" "It's nothing. You have bugs on you. Just go outside right now." I didn't want to think about it. It was ticks or spiders, I was sure, but I tried to keep calm, hoping I was wrong. "Get them off!" I went down the steps, and Abe followed and started picking things off of my back. I asked again, " What are they?!" "You're covered in ticks." "Why didn't you tell me???" "I didn't want you to freak out and take your clothes of in the RV and get them all over." I understood his reasoning, but in my defense, I would have hauled my butt outside as fast as lightening so he could get them off. I didn't want ticks in the RV either! Finally, Abe got them all off and I went inside, but continued checking over my clothes carefully for any more. And I kept finding them, picking them up with toilet paper and flushing them. They were all over my jeans, and when I barely saw one that was smaller than the head of a pin, my clothes did come off while I hollered at Abe to get the bucket to put them in. I jumped in the shower and scrubbed myself good, checking every spot that I could see. When I got out, I soaked my hair in OFF just in case, and had Abe look over my back. I filled the bucket containing my clothes with hot water and probably more Dawn than was necessary to make sure any ticks died, then I soaked my shoes with OFF. The bucket and shoes went outside until the next day. While I was in the shower, Abe sprayed Truffle with OFF and saw a few ticks drop to the floor. Before bed, we pulled two out of his face and four out of his stomach, not to mention the ones that hadn't attached themselves. The next morning, we found two dead ticks attached to his stomach. I'm glad to see the flea and tick drops we have been using on the dogs are working. We vacuumed multiple times, and that evening and the next morning we found a few more ticks crawling around, but by noon the next day any we found were dead. At least some of the dead ones were ones that Abe had stepped on when they fell off of Truffle and me. Before bed, Abe and I checked each other carefully for ticks, and I couldn't stop thinking about the country song "I Want To Check You For Ticks". For the next two nights, I felt carefully around every itch or tickle, afraid of what I might find crawling in my sheets (neither of us found anything, and we were able to get the sheets washed). Abe kept teasing me, asking if I wanted to go walk through the woods. He's lucky I didn't shove him into the woods! (Not really. I wouldn't have wanted to risk him bringing more ticks inside.) It's been several days now, and I've nearly stopped inspecting every single dark speck I see on the floor. I haven't seen any more, either dead or alive, since the day after, so I expect they are all gone now. I'm still thanking God that none bit me. Sometimes, I really do wish I wasn't so curious because it can get me into trouble, but it also leads me to some pretty cool things so I'm not ready to quit yet. * * * * * This week has been an incredible time of recreating old memories and remembering my mom with my favorite of her friends when I was growing up. When I was 12 or 13, my mom and step-dad went somewhere over Halloween, so I stayed with Jim and Naomi. It was the last year that I was supposed to go trick-or-treating but they didn't celebrate Halloween, and with the normal positive attitude of a pre-teen or barely teenager, I was mad and I'm sure a horrible person to be around. Naomi had a cute little porcelain toilet that her mother had made for her and she kept it on her dining room table as a decoration. It had small red roses on the lid and around the rim. I loved that toilet. Reminding me why I liked her so much, Naomi decided we were going to make fudge. We added nuts to it, and rolled it out in little round logs, then stored it in the toilet, where we would grab pieces to eat when we wanted a bite. That ended up being my favorite Halloween of all time (and wouldn't you know it, I ended up not celebrating Halloween with my kids), and one of my top childhood memories that I love to tell people about. It's been 16 years since I last saw Jim and Naomi, but they haven't changed a bit. He's still friendly and quiet, and she has the same fun, sarcastic sense of humor as always. I reminded her of that Halloween spent with her, and Saturday evening, she invited Abe and I over. She had me help her make fudge with pecans and, although fudge is one of those finicky foods to make and it didn't set up completely, we still put it in the porcelain toilet that she still has with her in her motorhome, and I got to eat spoonfuls out of the toilet.

Saturday morning, Jim took Abe and I to church. It's been quite a few weeks since we've made it to church, and I was really happy to go. Naomi wasn't feeling well so she stayed home, but after church Jim drove us to Table Rock Lake and we walked a couple miles along it. On the way back, I spotted a really pretty snake slithering through the leaves on the ground. A passer by let me know that it was a speckled king snake. I almost picked it up, but I wasn't positive that it wasn't poisonous before the gentleman told me what it was, and it was always halfway buried in leaves, so I doubt I would have been able to grab it before it disappeared, anyway.

The last few days almost felt like I had a little piece of my mom back, hanging out with her friends and sharing stories about her. We reluctantly left this morning, and it was the hardest goodbye I've had to make other than with my kids when we started travelling nearly two months ago.

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