It is kind of hard to write something funny about getting a diagnosis of breast cancer, but it helps if you were signed up for G.I.S.H. (W.E.S) before even a hint of trouble arose on the horizon. GISH(WES) stands for The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt (the World has Ever Known.) It may not cure cancer…but it sure cured getting the diagnosis.
If this week had a sound track, it would be Cosmo Sheldrake’s “Come Along”:
If you ever wondered what it would look like if I went off the deep end, this one’s for you.
My week of GISH started with…
A Bull Named Fu Manchu
Item #14 – No Bull About It. Ride that bull like the zen master you are.
My next genius decision took me, my autistic son, and a cousin (who made the mistake of saying, “Sure, why not?” before reading the fine print) on a very long road trip to make music at Niagara Falls. Don’t worry; she got her revenge. She had to practice the recorder in the car all the way there. I may never get those high notes out of the crevices of my brain where they are lodged.
Trip to Niagara Falls, sort of
GISH Item #30. Perform the Kansas song, Wayward Son, at a natural world wonder.
I can’t take too much credit for the performance at the falls. All the kudos go to Anna. But, we did manage to drive almost all the way there and back again in a 24-hour period. If I could do anything different, it would be to stay at the falls and give us all a better morning. But, there was more GISHING to be done!
But, as we crossed the border home, it seemed a waste not to knock out Item #166 “Love has no borders, play a game at an international border crossing.”
This required playing a game like charades which would not require crossing of the boundary nor passing any item back and forth. We were pretty punch drunk by midnight, so take our giddiness with a grain of perseverance.
Too Perfect Not To:
Most of the GISH Items were beyond my skill set–requiring a team or the ability to wing walk a bi-plane while painting the landscape below–but others seemed like I had been training for them my whole life.
Item #91–A Cairn Terrier Named Rocky. (Hint: he won’t come when you call him.)
I’m fairly sure my family is starting to become concerned about my over enthusiasm for this scavenger hunt. But they gamely play along.
I beg on Facebook and an obliging family who barely know me offer up their basement and their children (but only in an advisory capacity) to accomplish the next hunt-worthy construction. Lego Shoes!
Gish Item #3 Sounded Sooo Easy
I have so much more respect now for the ‘play’ of little boys and girls (and their parents too!) I started by sorting my blocks into piles of color to best determine what color the shoes should be made of. (It is entirely possible a person with some sort of OCD disorder shouldn’t be handed LEGOS!) Despite the excellent instruction provided by Noah and Jonathon, it took me much longer than I thought to build a pair of shoes! Honestly, this project was time and labor intensive. I will never call what people do with LEGOs silly again.
After hours of building the stupid things, it turns out my foot is too big. My mother-in-law’s feet are tiny…but her balance is a bit iffy. She nearly fell trying to walk the required three steps. So, I sent a hail mary request on Facebook. And Mary answered. My mother, Mary, to be precise…
Bouncing back and forth in activities required a lot of energy. Fortunately, I always had a handy supply of sweet relief.
As I was making this dessert-worthy entry, I did wonder if I was sending my child the right message. But, since he ignores all my good advice anyway, I decided to tackle a little foundational feng shui. Candy Man Style!
Item #61: Funderwear!
This particular item seemed a no-brainer. What could be more fun? I worried that I might have picked too obvious a selection. So, I doubled-down on my craziness.
I made both a Life Saver brassiere as well as Twinkie, Ho-Ho, and Hostess Cupcake Spanx.
My breasts were minty fresh and I could honestly say, “Eat my shorts” and be perfectly appropriate.
I highly doubt anyone else made an outfit quite like mine. Mostly because nobody would be that crazy! I needed help getting into both items. I wore a shirt and shorts underneath because I wasn’t sure there wouldn’t be a wardrobe malfunction at some point. In fact, I had to hold the pants up for the entire photoshoot. The combined weight of that many baked goods was threatening my structural integrity. And my blood sugar levels.
GISH was surprisingly touching at times.
My mother-in-law chipped in where she could before heading home to California. When an item came up that called for someone over the age of eighty, she was my go-to-gal.
Item #49 – Diorama Digressions
I’m putting the long version of the video interview here. (Most entries had to be under 14 seconds, but this one had a whopping 30 second allowance.)
After Laura related the momentous facts surrounding her favorite memory/day, I had several days to create a diorama of the events. But I dithered trying to come up with the perfect idea for how to make her item unique and personal to her and not just reflect anybody’s wedding day. So, I went to my favorite antiques store to hunt for inspiration. And I found it:
I made a calculation error in timing. The little Hugo clothespin doll was achieved simply by painting the wooden peg with acrylic paint. Which dries in 20 minutes…if your house isn’t soggy with humidity. Guess what!??
The damned peg just wouldn’t dry. It’s Tuesday night, and the mom-in-law is scheduled to catch a flight out really early on Wednesday. So we end up fudging the reveal by handing Laura her still-tacky husband to juggle while she fumbles with her box. (Insert your own joke here. No, wait. I think I’ve just made a very crude and inadvertent reference to my mother-in-law’s box. Nevermind.)
Consummate performer that she is, Laura tackled the late-night recording of her reaction to her diorama with panache and grace. It was truly a labor of love…and it’s the piece I will remember when the years pass and other things fall away.
Item #127 – Moose Call
I think this was the easiest one, overall, but the pace of filling my many obligations was starting to show.
All we had to do for Item #127 was go to a Tim Horton’s, dressed as a moose. Moose costumes aren’t that simple to come by, but headgear was. Since I was dragging a moose-sized child around with me, I just slapped a pair of antlers on him and called it good.
You may be sensing a theme by now…
I generally tried to pick things that appealed to me, or that I could do in a reasonable amount of time with some accuracy. I can make a loaf of bread crisp…but can I make it do anything else?
As it turns out, I’m not a particularly exact entomologist.
Item #79 – Bug Nuts
When invited to “make icky bugs great” I grabbed my glutinous flour and ran with the instructions to “Create a realistic-looking, oversized detailed sculpture of an underappreciated arachnid or insect out of bread…”
Done and slightly over done!
Of note: if you decide to bake black-colored bread, put the dye in the bread machine. If you try to hand-knead it, like the far dung beetle pictured above, you get mottled results.
I tended to opt for a lot of kitchen based challenges. Thinking that I had a home court advantage. But some of my efforts fell flat.
One in particular was a most spectacular failure!
Item #23 – You have something on your…everything.
This video wouldn’t be possible without the help of a really good friend who stopped by to film. If you listen, you can hear her laughing in the background as well as making salient commentary. The Best British Bake-Off this ain’t! But, I dare any of those contestants to do better. The basic instruction: bake a cake without using your hands or any measuring tools. The only implement allowed? Your face!
Face Cake Fails: Parts I and II
I probably lost points on execution, but in intent? I nailed it. I was laughing so hard throughout this enterprise, I’m surprised I didn’t snort more flour than I did.
There are two videos because the longer one (below) filled up the SD card on the camera. The first video is high-speed reformatted (above.) The one that follows should include commentary. Really, you need to hear the snarky commentary.
The cake was inedible. But the instructions were very clear. It had to be eaten by you and a loving family member. Thank goodness Alexei is so very fond of Easy Bake Oven cakes. When they are cooked better than this:
Carrot cake is my favorite dessert…so this segue shouldn’t hurt too very much.
Item #97 – So very, very orange…
Food was a definite theme for me.
The only instruction given for this was the following: See Item #97 (pictured below) only said “8554J46H+FH. You, the Carrot God, have summoned them.” I couldn’t figure out what the code stood for, so I decided to get some grease paint and hair spray and do my best.
I was ridiculously proud of the results:
It wasn’t until I went to upload my most excellent Carrot God interpretation that I figured out what the code: 855 J 46H + FH stood for. Apparently it’s a way to write global coordinates and it is somewhere in the Newport Beach Civic Center in California. (California friends and relatives, you lucked out that I didn’t figure this out in time to corral your assistance, otherwise I might have asked you to paint yourself orange and dash about with fistfuls of carrots.)
From carrots we move to espionage with one simple leap of deduction.
SO, you want to be on a CIA watch list?
Item #50 – Write a letter to the director of the CIA. How could this possibly go wrong?
All I had to do was crypto-translate a sculpture that the finest minds at spy headquarters hadn’t managed to translate. No biggie.
…and post the letter to a social media account.
…tagging the CIA so they couldn’t miss it.
If I’m audited next year, this is why. #StillGladIMailedThatLetter
What Exactly is the Point of GISH again?
While all this is going on, I have been fielding calls from various doctors’ offices and doing my best to stay on top of feeding and watering the child. During one of the ABA sessions, the tech eyes me for a while doing various goofy tasks and finally asks me why I’m doing this. I briefly explain that the registration fees for participating are used to remove landmines from farms in Laos.
Her response, “What does dressing like a carrot have to with charity? Couldn’t the money you spent on this stuff go directly there?” #She’sNotWrong
I don’t think I gave her a very satisfactory answer. Up to that point, I was doing all the fun items. The crazy ones. The slightly quirky and downright ridiculous ones. But the main purpose of GISH is to raise funds for charitable goals. And I haven’t mentioned those once!
So, I took the list and checked it twice, to find out to whom I could be nice.
So, Saturday, on the last day of GISH, and with the help of my son, I:
Made up gift baskets and visit the elderly…
We also try to do a good deed in our neighborhood while also encouraging my child toward philanthropy–not an easy concept to get across for anyone, none less a teenager with autism.
Time was starting to fly, and I decide to teach my son the importance of sharing would do for a good, concrete lesson.
My last GISHY act was to buy a tree to be planted in Kenya. I wish I could say Kenya was my intended destination, but no, it was the default option when you went to the OneTreePlanted website. From what I could see, many people made the default donation. Kenya should be nice and leafy real soon.
Doing charitable acts to participate in a scavenger hunt might seem like a waste of time and money to most people. It also feels somewhat wrong to do nice things for credit. But, this week helped to make up for getting some pretty bad news. I had fun. No one was hurt…much. And maybe, just maybe, a little good was accomplished.
And, at the end of the day…and a very long week…that’s not a bad thing.
Kudos Go To…
To all the friends who helped me along the way, thank you. I couldn’t have done it without you. I’d stop to express my gratitude personally, but it is almost 2:00 a.m. and I’m falling over exhausted. I may just sleep the next week away.