Monday, April 27, 2009

True story

So I've mentioned the Dangle Cross Earring customer before. He comes in to our office to pay his bill. Friendly guy. Not a tooth in his head. And he sat down at my brother's desk one day as he made his payment and proceeds to tell my bro about the jacket he's wearing. It's some kind of leather or pleather deal and he's really proud of it because he got it at Goodwill for 5 bucks (and I like Goodwill as much as the next person.) Then he says to my brother "Hey, I'll buy 5 dollar leather jackets all day!"
And that has been one of our favorite catch phrases ever since. It is appropriate for most situations.

So we're on vacation at Myrtle Beach this week. The weather is beautiful, my animals are well cared for, and we're having a great time so far.
Sam and I were out in the ocean with our rafts yesterday. We'd ride a wave into shore and then pop up and run back into the ocean to go catch some more. We were having a blast and I was thinking to myself ' I'll ride 5 dollar waves all day,' but I didn't say it out loud.

And then moments later, as we floated out there waiting for our next ride in, what floats by? A price tag for $5.00. I swear, I'm not making that up. Sam saw it too, and then of course I did say it and we laughed our butts off.

Best vacation ever.

Monday, April 20, 2009

A friendly reminder (to me.) And it's gonna be a looong post.

You've been warned. It's long and fairly boring.

It is not uncommon for me to berate myself over my 'doing stuff' inadequacies. I often think I'm the biggest slacker mother, housewife, employee, neighbor, friend, relative, etc. Either I'm not doing enough of the things that define 'good' for those categories, or I'm not whole-hearted enough when I actually do those things. Not enthusiastic enough or downright negative and complaining. Heaven forbid! Right?Not smart enough, pretty enough, thin enough, ambitious enough, hardworking enough, responsible enough. On and on.

So for me, a benefit of blogging has been showing myself that I do in fact do stuff. Going back through a couple weeks worth of photos or blogs reminds me that we actually have a pretty varied and busy life. We're not world travellers yet or anything, but my kids aren't sheltered and neglected, and I don't sit around watching TV or surfing the Internet all the time.

So what's new these days? Lessee...So we went to the bluegrass concert. We headed back this Friday evening as well. This time with Masi (pronounced Maw-see) & Pops and Uncle Delbert & his lady friend Vic. Sure they're all in their 70's, but you try finding a funner bunch of people to hang out with.

After the show a couple weeks ago, Mark and I had the following evening to ourselves and wandered around in our usual aimless way. Somehow we ended up at one of 'The T' stations and Mark tells me that he's never ridden it. Wha?! Now I've only ridden it a handful of times myself, but it's pretty much a quintessential Pittsburgh thing to do, so we decided to remedy the situation. There we were, 2 bumpkins with no correct change. (I thought Mark would have it.) By some miracle, the driver took pity on us, first asking the other passengers to make change, and then finally making change out of his own pocket. Really! I know! And how embarrassing!

We decided to ride in to Station Square. We walked along the river and checked out the murals on the ramp to the Gateway Clipper. We walked over to the station for The Duquesne Incline, but decided not to take a ride up because the car was full of a bunch of rowdy Yinzers.

So what else...Oh man! First soccer game of the season drama. So Lily's coach this year was formerly Aggie's coach a couple seasons ago. Always seemed like a super nice guy. Very kind, laid back, but still tried to help the kids improve their game. As Mother of the Year runner-up, I have not attended a single practice yet this season for any of our three children. In my defense, the grandparents very happily volunteered to take them to practices because they love any opportunity to hang out with them, and I'd probably get in big trouble if I messed up that routine for them.So the first game is the first time I've been at a soccer function this season. As usual, it was bloody frigid that morning. Those soccer fields reside in their own climate where it is 5 times colder and 10 times windier than anywhere else in the tri-state area. It's taken me a year or so to figure out that just because it's 70 degrees and sunny at your house doesn't mean you shouldn't bring a wool hat and several coats and blankets to the soccer field.So. Hats, gloves, coats, layers, layers, layers, and we're off to the game. I unfold my chair on the sidelines and Lily's game begins. Playing, playing, playing. Lily's been parked on my lap the whole time. Halftime comes. Playing, playing, playing. Lily hasn't been in once. Why won't he put her in the game? She's sitting right here. We're 15 feet from where his wife is sitting, so we're not invisible. He's switched out players several times now. What gives? My mind reels. Is she horribly behaved at practice? Does the coach have something against her/us? He was so nice when Aggie was on his team. What the hell? Finally, with 10 remaining in the game, I tell Lily that if she wants to play, she better go ask the coach to put her in. So she takes off her heavy coat and goes to the sidelines by the coach to ask to play. I see that the coach sees her and I'm guessing she'll go in right away because there are only a few minutes left in the game. She's shivering and smiling when her dad arrives to ask where she is, and I blurt out the whole (perceived) story. Neither one of us is quick to jump to conclusions, but I can see he's as confused/peeved as I am. He sees her shivering alone and waiting, walks her coat over to her, and lo and behold! the coach NOW decides to put her in the game. sigh. A few minutes later the game is over, and I am so weirdly broken-hearted that when the coach pro-actively comes over to apologize, to say that he 'thought that was Lily sitting on my lap, but he wasn't sure,' that he'd be sure she got to play more next game-- I am unable to speak. I simply looked him in the eye and walked away. I just couldn't bring myself to say those magic words: 'Oh, it's OK!', because it would've been a lie. It wasn't OK right then.

Fortunately, for Lily, it was pretty much OK, because I didn't mention any of it to her, and as far as she's concerned 5 minutes of game time is about the same as 55 minutes of game time, so long as she gets to go to the concession stand afterwards.

Now that ample time has passed, I'm much more convinced that it wasn't done with malicious intent. I think it was just a really weird morning for all involved and we gotta move on. So let's move along! What else....The big community Easter Egg hunt that I never knew about in the 8 or so years we've lived here. Turns out it's a very nice affair, very well done, and everyone is there. It is more of a who's who than the Apple Festival, I swear. We didn't know the routine, so I basically plopped my bewildered girls down in the middle of their egg hunts just as the siren signaled Go Time. It was all over in a flash and the girls came away with about 10 pieces of bazooka gum. This is no reflection on the quality of the hunt however, because they were giving away bicycles and I saw other kids running around with bags full of stuff. They must have been old pros. After that: Roller.SKATING! Ya, baby! Why didn't somebody remind me how ridiculously fun that is? (Well, Becky pretty much did.) One of Aggie's BFF's had a birthday party at the Neville Roller Drome on Neville Island. Didn't even know about the Roller Drome. (Shouldn't it be 'Dome' ?) It is like stepping back in time. Good times, that is. Because it is this spacious, delightful rink with goonie rental skates, lockers, 'ladies' skate'/'couples' skate'/'all skate', and a snack bar with nachos and pizza. There is a referee shirt-wearing guy who makes sure every one's skating safely. Probably in his late 30's, he has a pale pockmarked face and thin black hair, but holy cow, can the dude skate! It must be family-run, because there were 2 gray-haired gentlemen in the skate rental booth who had to be brothers, and also a family of 5 that ran the limbo game. At first glance they appeared very-run-of-the-mill Pittsburgh until you saw them skate: they were awesome! ( OK, maybe that is run-of-the-mill Pittsburgh?) The biggest surprise was when one of the older gentleman from the rental booth came out with his I-pod and in line skates. I couldn't stop watching him! He was dancing on skates! To Britney Spears!

As for our fam, this was the first skating venture for all three kids and they were really getting the hang of it by the end of the party. And me? I didn't wipe out once! I came close a couple times but somehow stayed on my feet. Super fun! Then home for birthday supper and cake for Sam's birthday. Masi always makes us whatever cake we want for our birthday. Sam chose chocolate cake with peanut butter icing. Always a good choice.Sunday: We haven't been attending church regularly -for shame ;) .oh, who am I kidding, we haven't been attending at all, I guess mostly because I'm too picky and church-jaded. But we did go to Easter sunrise service to spend some time with Dad. Plus he was helping make the free church breakfast afterward, and who passes up a free church breakfast? Not us, that's who.

Only thing was, sunrise service was outside! And it was 30 degrees. Everyone assumed I knew this, but it came as a terrible surprise when we got there. Aggie was really crabby at me for making her wear a skirt in freezing temperatures, and she wouldn't accept my excuse that I didn't know it was outside, honest! Oh well, breakfast pastries and hot chocolate covered a multitude of sins and all was forgiven.

Onward home, out of churchy clothes and into loungy clothes for the Easter egg hunt up at the neighbors' green houses. They live over the creek and through the woods from our house & their greenhouse business and our farm market business have a nice symbiotic relationship. Plus there is familial relation real and imagined as well. Real and far removed cousinship and the adoptive Uncleship of Uncle Delbert. We love it, don't we?How beautiful it is to come out of the cold Spring breezes and into the fragrant warm air of the greenhouses. All the houses were built as one addition and add-on to the next, so there is no uniformity and seemingly no rhyme or reason, yet it's been working for decades. It is a rabbits' warren of doors and mazes, benches and tables brimming with blooms and baby vegetables. Mechanicals are of salvaged and antique parts and you may find a Hemingway cat lounging amongst the gazing balls. (Another family relation maybe? Our Coco cat has many toes.) And it's a great place for an Easter egg hunt. It's just our kids and the neighbors' so they make out like bandits on their eggs filled with the daddys' loose change and good chocolates. But there's no time to dawdle, as we head over to Mom's house for Easter food extravaganza blow-out extravaganza. That's right. I said extravaganza twice because that's how much food her new Italian in laws bring to Easter dinner, and boy is it good. And boy are they a blast. There's like a million of them first of all. Brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews. And they laugh! Oh, how they laugh. They may been in another room of the house and you have no idea what they're talking about, but you kind of laugh, too, when you hear them. Good people, all of them. And when I gave an Easter flower to Mom's new mother-in-law, as she was one of the matriarchs present, she nearly brought me to tears with her verklempt tears and big kisses of appreciation. Priceless, I tell ya'.
I'm supposed to be remembering more things here. Hmmmm. Remembering what great stress relief it is to spend a few minutes with the horses. Spring is bringing it's abundance of mud and I'm trying to keep the horses' feet from being stinky with thrush. So I've been trying to go out at least every 2 or 3 days and give their feet a good picking. And because Admiral's feet seemed extra yucky, I also took it upon myself to follow the picking with a dousing of apple cider vinegar, and one evening a dressing of triple antibiotic mixed with athlete's foot cream. I don't know whether it was simply the picking, my magic recipe, or if I'd been overly paranoid to begin with, but they seem to be looking better to me. It's probably mostly been my imagination. And a reason to go play with them.
The poopy mud all over my hands, the horses softly farting above my head as I pick their back feet, and the rhythmic hay munching sound is all so soothing.Mark whisked me away on a short horseback ride to the neighbor's farm Thursday night. The neighbor was out grooming his wild bunch of horses and we stopped to chat. He'd bought these 3 horses a couple years ago, thoroughbreds who'd either never made it to the track or didn't do well enough to continue racing. The farrier had just been there and she'd given him the name of a lady to come clean his male horses' sheaths. He said he'd never heard of doing that and was fairly mystified. I said you may well want to pay someone to do it because it's gross. Well, mainly because he didn't know how well his horses would appreciate it.
Admiral is not a huge fan but will tolerate it. All I could think was 'Here I am, takin' a nice horseback ride in the country, bump into my neighbor, and now we're talkin' horse p*nis.'
Thursday and Friday the kids had the Science Olympiad at school. This is Sam's second and Aggie's first. Sam gave me a fair amount of warning that he needed to build a trebuchet, and fortunately for Aggie, when she dropped the 'I need a catapult for tomorrow' bomb the night before, we still had most of Sam's old catapult from 4th grade. And woohoo! Aggie got 2 blue ribbons and Sam got 2 blue ribbons and one 3rd place ribbon. So I was way proud! And then some more stuff happened and we did some other stuff, too. Sunday, I did not do stuff.
Oh. This morning Mark and Pops went to go pick up a cow and calf that Mark bought from a neighbor. ('Neighbor' meaning anyone within a 15 mile radius.) I guess the neighbor for some reason penned the cow up without her calf causing the cow to go berserk and run over Pops as they tried to put her in the trailer. Ran him completely over. By some miracle, he's unhurt other than being smashed into the mud. The cow and calf are still running loose at the neighbor's place, and they'll try to get them loaded maybe tomorrow. I guess we'll be getting a new batch of piggies when we get back from vacation, and I'm hoping to get another flock of hens, too. Right now there are only 2 little silkie hens and their giant red rooster in the coop. Silkies look like this:

Lily's been asking to try out for cheerleading this year. Aggie did it for a year and did really well but decided it wasn't for her. Knowing how half-hearted Lily is about many of her activities, and due to cheerleading's concurrence with soccer and girl scouts, I've been really hesitant to agree. It's killing me because I want to say yes. Mostly because she would look so cute with her little uniform and pompoms! But that is not a reason, and neither was Lily's reason: Because cheerleaders get free hot dogs after the game.

Well, I'm gonna call it a post. I'm feeling pretty 'reminded' that I am not a terrible person.

Even though I spent my entire Sunday lying around watching TV. I'm only human.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Great Big Woman and A Little Bitty Bottle of Wine

Fun times at the Pennyroyal Opera House on Friday night.
Bluegrass by the Coleman Familyand The Karl Shiflett & Big Country Show.We were invited by a friend from school who was playing mandolin for the Big Country Show. It was phenomenal.

We'd never been to the Pennyroyal but found it to be like a home away from home. It's located on Route 40, the National Road, which is one of our favorite day-trippin' roads. We couldn't tell whether it had been an old church, an old school house, or was originally the theatre it is today.
When you walk in the front double doors you are greeted by the ticket seller seated behind her window. She told us that we could just lay our coats on our seats to save them and head downstairs for a bite to eat. She also told us that the cushions found on the church pew type benches belonged to the house and feel free to use them.
Downstairs in a block wall basement you find a little cafeteria and tables with green checkered tablecloths. Behind a door you can hear the band rehearsing while you eat your hotdog, fried bologna sandwich, or homemade pie. We were already loving the place by that point!
After the kids had a snack we headed back to our seats and waited for the show. There was a little lady selling 50/50 tickets, so Mark bought a couple. How could he not? (The total winnings: $59. We lost.)
The folks in the pew behind us brought their cafeteria tray of food up to their seat. I was wondering if that was 'legal' or not, but nobody said anything to them. That man was the most hootin'est hollerin'est guy in the place.
As I said, the show was incredible. Being the type to get all choked up and verklempt at the sound of a marching band or a showing of The Lion King Broadway show, I was no match for this beautiful Bluegrass music. It took all my power to keep it together. This is the music we listen to on AM Radio being played live right in front of us. Loved it! Mark felt the same way & we can't wait to go back.

In totally unrelated news, the next morning I bolted outside to finally catch photos of the helicopters that have been flying over the house. They're picking up the seismic testing cable that the natural gas drilling company had strewn all over the land. They say we're sitting on a big pile of it. So they drop these cables and sensors from the helicopter, stretch them over all the property for miles, and then drive these 'thumper trucks' down the road stopping every 15 feet to hammer the earth. It's kind of surreal. But that's what's goin' on in the neighborhood these days.

Oh, and the post title? It was the final song they played for the show. It's hard to beat any kind of country song for a clever title.