Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Clash Of The Titans

If by 'Titans' you mean 'Dumb Dogs.' Jill Coondog gets to come in the yard with (Short Bus) Copper Labrador for some enrichment playtime. Please don't judge my ratty yard. It's the No Man's Land that belongs to the dogs. When they leave, I will make it pretty some day.

Also please pardon the dirty kitchen window through which the photos were taken.
My alternate post title was Woofless Wednesday. Get it? Instead of Wordless Wed--aw, forget it.

Now That's What I Call A Toenail Clipping

The Hoof Lady came yesterday. I like her. And she does a heck of nice job on the horses' feet. I won't post any photos of her since she told me that someone posted photos of her and she wished that she'd known ahead of time so she could at least fix her hair. So I'm not gonna do that to her. For the record I thought she looked just fine.

Admiral's toes were getting a bit long.Talk about back breaking work.Other than that, they looked pretty good.
And for good measure some gratuitous photos of my horses. Pretty!

6th Grade Graduation (4th Grade Thong)

Sixth Grade/Elementary School Graduation Day for Sam. I'm not a big proponent of lavish graduation ceremonies for every little thing: preschool, kindergarten, etc., but I thought this turned out pretty cool. They're actually old enough to appreciate it at this age I think.
It's also been enough years now that I recognize a lot of the faces in 6th grade and I was really proud of them and happy for them. And I only chuckled a little at those blossoming young ladies as they struggled in their new high heels. Ah, growin' up!
Check this out-in lieu of yet another speech they had a really cool presentation by one of the high school students, Rachel Simmons (I believe is her name.)
She starts with a blank canvas and a background of music (I'm too square to recognize.)And then she begins to paint. You can't tell what she's painting for a long time. If you're me, you can't tell until she's completely finished. Duh.
I was impressed. Girl's got talent.And there's my baby boy. Junior High, here he comes! They also had a 6th Grade Dance afterwards. Somehow I doubt they danced to REM's "Stand" like we did at our 6th grade dance.( 'Member that music video? ) But he said he had fun.

And 4th Grade Thong? Ya, Aggie said a girl in her class was wearing a thong today. 4th Grade. She bent over and there it was rearing its ugly head out the back of her pants. Ag said that everybody did the Ewww! thing and then one of Aggie's friend politely recommended that she pull her shirt down.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Hard To Be Humble

She called me 'awesome.' (Pretty much she did.) See me blushing? And I had totally intended to participate. But then I get all weird about it and the last time I tried to participate in a very nifty meme I ended up basically reneging on all my nominations because I was embarrassed about 'who the heck am I to be nominating anybody' and 'who cares if I nominate them because I'm just a little old nobody' and I just go way overboard, ruminating, worrying, etc. So when I got up at 2am to pee and couldn't get back to sleep for thinking about who to nominate for a blog post I had to just be a quitter.

However, I will happily tell you why I'm awesome.

But seriously. Why I'm Awesome:

Reason One: When I fall off my horse I get right back on. As in, this Saturday when I harassed Mark into going riding with me and I was blazing a little trail through the woods and found myself tangled in a skinny little grape vine. It went right across the front of my waist and I had to make a decision, so I decided to see if we could just break through it.

We could not. So it clotheslined me right out of the saddle. Nikki stopped and turned around to look at me. I said "Thanks for not leaving me" and got back on.

Then Monday, I went for a ride with Mark's almost-could've-been-sister-in-law, and I stopped to show her where I'd fallen off 2 days before when Nikki decided she really needed to roll. Right now. She just plopped herself down on the ground with me on her back. I managed to keep her from rolling all the way over and totally felt like The Outlaw Josey Wales when she got back up with me in the saddle. Yeehaw.

Reason Two: I ain't scared of bees. Until they start buzzing angrily in my hair.

Mark had to give the observation hive bees more room this weekend, so he opened it up and swapped out some full frames for nice empty frames. See that little rectangle? That was the queen cage. It can come out now since the queen is loose.

Here Mark is using his soft bee brush to gently sweep them back into the hive.And then close it back up. See all those bees? It was a light flurry so I backed up a bit.All was going well and Mark wanted to know if I wanted to get a photo of the queen and I did, but by then the bees were getting very agitated. When one got lodged in my giant hair and started cussing me in Bee Language, I made a hasty retreat.

Can you spot Her Royal Highness?

Um. That's all I've got right now.

And even though I'm a meme party-pooper, I'd say the bloggers I've been following have got Awesome and Then Some written all over them. And I guess that's my indecisive chickensh*t way of playing! Awesome!

Friday, May 22, 2009

Yes, It Is Possible To Get Evicted In Your RV House

Remember brother Greg? (You have to scroll down in that link to get the story.) He's the relative (by marriage!) living in a busted up Winnebago behind Mark's aunt's house.
Well, the township has finally had enough after finding out that Greg was using a bucket for his number 2's and then emptying the bucket across the railroad tracks. Something about the smell or something? And this is just barely a blip on the Greg Radar, so moving on...
Mark was helping our friend put together her brand new beehive last night. This is her first hive and Mark built her hive bodies and ordered her some packaged bees. The bees come in the mail in this box with screened sides. You buy them by the pound. And the queen, which I couldn't get a good photo of, comes in a wee little box with some attendants. She is held in by candy plugs which the bees will eat in order to free her. Gives everybody a chance to get to know one another.I won't try to give too much detail since I was educated by the resident beekeeper on some of my omissions or mistakes in recent comments! "Aw, Sara, you know that!" And I was all, "I do?"

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Great Honor

We live 'over the hill' from the Meadowcroft Rockshelter . Mark grew up playing in the woods there back in the day.

I kind of take it for granted, letting the school take the kids on field trips instead of me taking them. I haven't been there since I was in girl scouts, but I love taking a drive out that way.

To get there you have to drive along a winding road down, down, down into the bottom of the deep woods where a beautiful, rocky stream flows. I love how it feels like you are so far away from civilization even though 5 minutes in any direction will have you in some backwoods, white trash (or very nice) locale. I feel like I belong there, like it's my place. Not the the trash part, you know what I mean.

I love to imagine the Native Americans living there all those many years ago. I wonder how they survived through the difficulties of each season.

And yesterday Sam found an arrowhead in our garden, so now I can imagine them living at our house. Which I probably did anyway, but still. Somebody made this: How cool is that? Unfortunately it's a little busted. Still in pretty good shape, though.
And now for a ridiculous Native American-related story. It happened a few years ago.
Mark has some of the weirdest acquaintances you'd ever want to meet including 'Jeff' ,a forty-something guy living with his parents. (Ya, that narrows it down.)
I don't remember exactly why he would stop at our house but I want to say it had to do with mushroom hunting. Those of us around here who mushroom hunt like to swap stories and compare notes so it's not an odd reason to visit. Now we don't go to other folks homes specifically for that reason, but we won't turn you away if you come to ours.
Even if you're as socially backward and unshowered as Jeff.
Jeff also raises 'Squirrel Dogs.' Not dogs that are squirrel-like, but dogs used for hunting squirrels. And he had a stack of snapshots of his newest litter. Not one of them was in focus or centered on their subject, but you could just make out that he was taking photos of puppies sitting in his lap. A whole roll of film worth, plus duplicates.
So here I am politely thumbing through all these photos, trying not to laugh, and I can feel Jeff kind of staring at me. Or can you innocently leer at someone? I know that's an oxymoron, but I just don't think he knew any better.
So he starts to tell this story. Oh, and picture me at the time with my long and nearly black hair straightened and parted down the center. Are you picturing Pocahontas with her hair down? Good.
Jeff tells of a time after the buffalo have all gone away and he is driving through the forest and cities in his Great 18 Wheeled Beast. (I'm embellishing. Badly.) On this particular day as Jeff is travelling down the road he looked into the sky and saw Hawk flying overhead. In an instant he saw Hawk swoop down, scoop up Snake in his talons, and fly away.
He ended this completely pointless story with a grave look and said 'Great Honor.'
He also gave us the name of some Indian tribe he supposedly belonged to, some name he couldn't even spell. We finally figured out that, because of my hairdo that day, Jeff assumed I was a Native American. And to this day, whenever Mark and I see a hawk or buzzard overhead, we will solemnly remind one another: Great Honor.
Now go in peace. And great honor.
Oh ya, almost forgot. So we were out in the garden and raised beds planting last night and I sent Lily to go play with coon dog Jill who is tied at her box at a corner of the garden. I wasn't really paying attention until I heard Lily doing her half scream half laugh. Jill was trying to hump Lily and Lily thought it was hysterical.
I call that Great Dishonor.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

If I Only Had A Tail

Giving the calf his bottle yesterday evening, (Is it as redundant for you as it is for me?) and I was watching his tail wave back and forth, back and forth, ding dong, ding dong. Thinking to myself "What if I had a tail?" Not like a little cocker spaniel tail either, like a big Labrador retriever tail. Then I thought "I've wondered this before. What is wrong with me that I wonder about such things?"

But a tail is an expressive thing. You can say a lot with a tail.
Not sure what the calf was saying, probably something like "drinkin' my milk, drinkin' my milk, la la lala."

Dogs are usually pretty obvious. (Anybody out there want a dog? I'm serious.) They can get that tail going so hard and fast that it's a full body movement. They can tuck it under. They can raise it high for youknowwhat-sniffing. It says 'I'm happy,' 'I'm scared,' 'I'm warning you,' 'I'm resting, but I'm not sleeping so if you're thinking about doing something fun, I'm ready so don't do it without me.' The list goes on.

Cats have an extensive repertoire, too. The tail greets you, snubs you, scares you a little. It's fun to watch when they're concentrating on whatever they're 'hunting,' all wiggly squiggly with tension before they spring like a mighty puma on that scrap of yarn.

I appreciate the horse's tail when they're not whipping me across the eyeballs with it. The tail is a great indicator of the mood they're in and what they're thinking about doing, e.g. nipping you or kicking out at something. I also like when they're out running in the field, just because they feel good, and their tails are hoisted up in the air like flags. That is exactly what I would do with my tail when I was galloping. If I had one.

You know what else I just realized? Since we've been talking about the bees lately. They don't really have tails per se, but they do use their rear ends to do those bee dances that tell all the other bees where the nectar and pollen is located. If I'm not mistaken, they even get as detailed in their descriptions as to indicate whether it's a small supply or the mother load. Insert 'smart ass' pun here.

So I was wondering (in a non-Darwinian way) why we don't have tails. If we did have tails, would it be something we'd be required to cover with clothing or could we let it hang out like bare arms and legs? Would it get its own sleeve or would we just tuck it in to our pants or dress? Would we have tail envy? What about fat people tails or anorexic super model tails? Ew!
Would we be able to fake a tail wag like we fake a polite smile? Or would it give away our true feelings? And then I was thinking about how it's almost like we have an invisible psychic tail anyway. How many times has your spouse, friend,or child had their back to you but you can still 'see' that ornery twinkle? I guess a tail would just make polite society a little trickier. And flirting less subtle. And poker games tougher? Or easier?

Phew! Deep thoughts indeed.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Doin' chores. a cookin' and a feedin'.

"The dog is a barkin´ and the floor needs a scrubbin´ One needs a spankin´ and one needs a huggin´" ...just kidding. None's on the way, I just like Loretta. Lynn, that is.

But I have been a cookin' lately. Because I feel like it for a change, because rhubarb is in season, because Mark's too busy to do it, and because we haven't fired up the furnace since April and it's coooold.
Mark and Sam picked 40 pounds of rhubarb at a neighbor's place. It's for eating and selling at the market. I've made 2 batches of cobbler so far. Here's a link to the recipe I've been using, but I never fully follow a recipe so I substituted buttermilk for the cream (because I didn't have any) and doubled the fruit. Used whole wheat flour, didn't use the food processor, didn't roll out the dough and cut flower-shaped biscuits, forgot to add the egg yolks at the right step, didn't chill the dough. Turned out lovely. I highly recommendational it.
We also traded with our milkman: some of our rhubarb for a big bag of organic spinach. With mushrooms, garlic, and scrambled eggs, it is one of my favorite suppers.

And last night I decided to go for the gusto. I'd always wanted to try cheese grits with shrimp so I decided to make it myself. I'm not sure what it was supposed to taste or look like, but I was cool with it. I didn't follow a recipe for that either but looked at a few and winged it. Grits, cheese, bacon, and shrimp: I think you're gonna' be OK with that combo.

We've also been a workin' and a feedin'. This morning Mark got another swarm call so it was all hands on deck. Sam always helps with the market in the morning before school (and occasionally gets scolded for being 'late for work') and this morning the girls and I had to pick up the slack on the feeding. Mark usually makes the calf's morning bottle but Lily and I took care of it while Aggie fed the coon dog. Somebody got a new toy yesterday! Silly coon dog.
And the swarm from this morning has been combined with the swarm from Saturday to make one larger hive. You know, in case anybody was wondering.
Now git back to work, Sara!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

This Qualifies As A Date, Right?

Mark and I have known for about a week that we might possibly get to have Saturday alone. Sam was going to camp and Mark's grandparents asked to keep the girls overnight. So we were cautiously optimistic because you know how those things can fall through. We thought we'd go out to dinner. I thought maybe we'd catch a movie.

So if I wasn't used to this sort of thing already, I might have been pretty disappointed when Mark told me late that afternoon that we'd have to go catch a swarm of bees immediately after he closed the market. Shortly after 6pm, equipment loaded in the car, we were off to catch bees. (And when I say 'we' I mean Mark. I just stand around taking pictures.)
Here's the swarm hanging from a tree: Here's Mark & the homeowner clipping off the branch so Mark could shake the swarm into the hive box:
A couple stragglers:
After all that, we went into town for some horse feed and calf starter for Sweet Pea.
And then being wise enough to appreciate the opportunity to eat a meal in our own house in peace (i.e. without children,) we picked up some sushi and lump crab cakes at the grocery store to go along with the homegrown T-Bones in our refrigerator.
I'm not sure which one of us won the race to be asleep first.
Date accomplished, I say.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Baby Boy Goes To Camp

Sam is 2 hours away at the 6th grade Science Camp weekend.

We packed up his gear last night. It was me begging him to take a second sweatshirt and larger duffel bag and Sam trying to remain patient with me. I drove him to school early per the instructions on The Checklist, checked him in to the cafeteria, stole a kiss on my big boy's cheek, and headed to work.

This is the 2nd time Sam has gone to camp. About 3 or 4 years ago, when we were half-assing 4H, he had the opportunity to go to 4H camp about an hour away. It was out in the area of our favorite Sunday drive locations and I just thought he'd love it. At the time, he said he wanted to go, but this is Sam we're talking about and he is not an open book.

So by the time 4H camp rolled around he was less enthused but of course I was making him go. We signed in and he was ushered off to some ice breaker games while the rest of the campers were arriving. They didn't even give me a real chance to say goodbye. I watched as he stood with the group of campers and teenage counselors like a zombie.

Granted he was tired from a fishing trip with Pappy the day before, but I'd never seen him like that. And I didn't know what to do with myself. He looked like he could cry and I felt like I could sob.

I don't know how I drove away and left him there but I did. It was a huge hyperventilating, crying, moral dilemma, misery drive home. I was a basket case for those (probably only 2 or 3) days and made Mark call to check on him. Of course he said the camp people barely disguised their irritation at the call and assured us he was fine. When we went to pick him up he'd had a really good time.

So this time I was positive Sam really wanted to go, and I just knew it would be a total breeze dropping him off. But, I gotta tell ya, I still got a little lump in my throat for the first mile or so. I was thinking about how he's as tall as me when I smooch his cheek. He just looked so beautiful to me this morning, as all my kids do when I see them transforming right before my eyes. I marvel at this new person as the scale starts tipping another tick toward adulthood and I'm just so pleased I get to be a part of it.

And then, when he comes home with a garbage bag full of musty dirty laundry that spell will be broken for a while.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mom To Many Kids...And Animals

I'm kind of doing the Fruit Stand Widow thing these days. Now that the market is open and the honey bee hives are in need of so much attention, I don't see or hear from Mark as much.
So. I find stuff to do, and hang out by myself more. It's good and bad, I guess. Good because I actually love to be alone sometimes, bad because I can get a little detached.
Most of what I did today after our giant family Mother's Day Lunch out (without Mark) was taking care of animals. The other 'children' on the farm. Well, wait. Before that I stopped and bought myself a couple extra Mother's Day presents: a new calf nursing bottle, some weedwacker line, and an electric fence tester. After all my work was done I also splurged on a Diet Dr. Pepper, pretzels, and Andy Capp fries. What can I say? The aloneness enhances my PMS cravings.
The calf nursing bottle was great because the old one leaked 'formula' all over me. I already had to get back in the groove of making up the bottle, measuring out the powder, heating the water to the right temperature. Having it slobbered all over my boots wasn't required. What was sweet though was how, at the end of his bottle, the calf's eyes got all heavy just like our human babies' eyes would when they were nursing and falling asleep at the same time.
The fence tester was a bonus because it meant that I didn't have to walk the entire fence line looking for shorts. Pigs are coming tomorrow and the fence has to be at full juice. Sam weedwacked the whole fence line yesterday and Mark checked the charge that evening. He said there was a short and that I'd have to walk the whole fence, but I'd already done it and suspected his tester was crapped out. My new fancy one said the charge was good. I guess we'll find out tomorrow! I also decorated the inside of the pigpen with pretty pink ribbons in celebration of the pigs' arrival. Actually, the ribbons are to warn the pigs about where the electric fence is, but it did look pretty festive.
The weedwacker line is basically just a reminder of many hot days ahead and being covered head to toe in grass and possibly poop if I hit a hidden 'land mine' left by one of the cats or dogs. I've done it and it is so unpleasant. So unpleasant.
So the calf was fed, cows fed, horses fed, cats fed, dogs fed, chickens fed and then I decided to let the dogs all out for a romp in the pond. Penny & Copper the labs can be trusted to go without a leash, but Jill the coondog can never be without one. I ended up using one of the horses' heavy longe lines. It's about 30 feet long, I guess, and I tied it around my waist because once she takes off you better be hanging on for dear life. They had fun swimming and finding dead floating muskrats. I tried to run to keep up with Jill so she wouldn't be left out of the play. I'm sure it was a sight: me with a rope around my waist running full speed after the coondog attached to the other end.

Yesterday Aggie had a friend over for the evening. Another country girl. I would say that our kids don't really get to have friends over often, and this friend had never been able to come over, so it was kind of a treat. Actually, Aggie wrote me a note to do the asking. "Can I possibly have X come over to play for a little bit? If I can't it's ok with me. It doesn't matter which one you pick. If you say no I understand but if you say yes 'Ya!' I don't care. {Cat Sticker} Just asking"
They rolled themselves down the hill inside a plastic feed barrel. They took a walk in the woods. When they returned, I haltered the horses and let the girls 'ride' bareback while the horses munched grass in the yard. They didn't go anywhere, but I think they still enjoyed it. There was a little excitement when Admiral walked off unexpectedly with Aggie's friend causing her to slide a little to the side. Well, Admiral and I weren't all that excited, I was two feet away at all times, but there was the possibility of her falling in a mud puddle. I learned after the fact that it was her first time on a horse. In that case, she did really well. She actually kept pretty calm even when she thought she was going down.
After that they wrangled Mark into taking them on a boat ride in the pond. He'd just got out of the market and he agreed but he made Sam do the rowing. That turned out to be a mistake when Sam sent them cruising right toward the fountain. By the time Mark took the oar and tried to correct them, it was too late. They landed pretty much right on top of it and it spouted right on top of Mark's head. He couldn't escape it. Aggie's friend got a little bit of it too. Nice boat ride, eh?
So when the friend's mother came to pick her up and the friend started telling her about everything that had happened in this maiden 4 hour play date my heart sunk a little. The mom and I had such a lovely chat when I'd gone over to pick the friend up. And this playdate was a long time in the making. We'd had many prior conversations about how she didn't do many playdates. Was it all ruined now? Are my kids just a bunch of hillbilly ruffians? Because what was extraordinary to the friend was a day in the life to them. Am I not safety-conscious enough? Did I let them get too filthy? And wet?
Ah well. I'm not going to fret anymore about it. Just gonna wait curiously to see how it pans out.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

What the ?

On the way home from soccer games this afternoon we travelled through the barely there town of Atlasburg, Pennsylvania. It has a great little bulk food store, a post office, a VFW, a carwash, and a hotdog stand. And apparently it's a new fashion modeling hotspot? Some kind of modeling anyway.

When I glanced off into the brush and rusted out equipment on the side of the road I saw this photo shoot going on. I immediately turned around to do another drive-by and Sam snapped this photo as we passed. It's hard to convey just how weird this is if you're not familiar with the area, but then again, what the hell do I know about 'fashion' photography.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Way To Ruin Mother's Day For Myself

I ran in to Sam's Club the other day for a few things and spied a Kate Spade bag in the purse cage by the jewelry. I've been keeping my eyes out for a replacement purse for my $20 Esprit purse from Gabriel's (TJ Maxx's illegitimate cousin in these parts.) Looking for black, functional, leather, and not so big that I haul around more than necessary.
Necessary includes but is not limited to a small flashlight, pen knife (with a tiny flashlight,) flavored toothpicks, dental floss, 3 lip glosses, sewing kit, tylenol, gum and hemmorhoid cream. Ya, hemmorhoid cream. I'm pretty sure I've never had one (and I know I've never used it in the hemmorhoid vicinity,) but it's good for puffy eyes or an emergency moisturizing moment. You know how often that happens. Or not.
Mostly I just don't have the heart to kick it out of the purse. I should kick it out of the purse.
So I asked the woman at the counter if I could see the bag. She let me fondle its buttery softness and sniff its leathery goodness. I considered it, and, as usual, didn't buy it. Just couldn't do it. I am the person who returned $7 worth of goods to the dollar store today. How am I going to spend all that money on a purse?
But I did tell my sister about it when I got back to work. And then apparently she told Mark about it, and since she is his personal shopper of sorts, she bought the purse for him for my Mother's Day gift. Isn't that a great surprise?

It would be if I hadn't opened it early like an idiot.

In my defense, my 4 year old niece told me to.

It was tough to get a flattering picture of her, but here she is. This is my first 'fancy' purse of any kind. She smells good and her skin is so soft and she's a fresh green color inside with gold polkadots.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

We're Home! (This post is only 5 days too late!) A Picture Blowout! Exclamation mark!

I'm way behind with posting even though I started this in the van on the way home from vacation. I'm just going to leave it as is, and then add to it. Hopefully it will make sense. And, after I had this typed up, Mark actually pulled over and let me drive. Wonders never cease.
Heading home from our vacation at Myrtle Beach, we’re watching the seasons change back in reverse with every northward mile. Mark says it’s one day ahead in the seasons for every ten miles South (that could be one of his Cliff Clavenisms, too though,) and that seemed to hold pretty true with the flowers, trees, and vegetables. Pansies and geraniums were full and bright. Corn was about 6 inches tall in its rows. The peaches in McBee (pronounced Mac Bee, same as they pronounce McDonalds ‘Mac Donalds’ down here) at McCleod’s Farm were around the size of walnuts and the fields were bursting with strawberries. What a bunch of tourists:It’s the reason we add a little mileage to our trip down. Right now we’re on a serious speed mission. Vacation is officially over even though we’re still 400 miles out.

An hour from home Mark got a phone call for a honeybee swarm capture. As soon as we pulled in the driveway he was loading up equipment and went to catch it. Indeed, vacation was over.

It was a successful holiday though. Beautiful weather except for about an hour yesterday. Lovely days at the beach, the ocean was ‘warm’ enough to swim in. We found seashells and hermit crabs. My skin is brown and crackly like the neglected leather that it is. Mark likes this photo. It's the only one of me where I'm not makingthis face:The involuntary one-eye squinty face. Nice.
The kids are fast asleep in the back of the (hoopty) van because Mark decided we’d get on the road this morning by 4am. I’m trying to stay awake for moral support right now, since he insists on driving every single vacation mile.
So what did we do all week? We took a half day fishing trip, Mark, Pops, Sam and I. It was a compromise from last year’s whole day fishing trip where I was the least seasick of us and therefore burdened with the responsibility of catching as many fish as I could so Mark wouldn’t be quite so depressed about spending hundreds of dollars to get to wake up at the crack of dawn and spend most of his day puking into a non-flushing toilet full of someone else’s poop. (Run on sentence championship! phew!) It included just barely not puking myself, getting covered in bait squid juice and fish blood, and the awesome sensation of ramming the stringer needle through the fishes’ eyes. Not for the faint of heart, I guess. Also, I caught a shark.
This year, it kind of sucked. I caught one measly sea bass, our only keeper. But none of us got sick and we saw dolphins. Basically a nice boat ride. Mawsi and the girls stayed back at the condo and enjoyed the heated indoor lazy river.
Thursday we took a drive down to Charleston. We visited the naval museum and toured the USS Yorktown where Pops explained what his job was during the Korean war down in the bottom of the USS Missouri. His job included maintaining and monitoring the boilers that power the propellers. We had to climb down several stories of very steep ladder-like steps to reach the belly of the beast, and he explained many of the valves and gauges as I wondered at how bloody hot it must have been. There were a few ducts pumping air down to that level which Pops called ‘as good an air conditioner as you got.’ He said when they were in port in Havana, Cuba, the air being pumped in was hot, but you still stood in it for some relief.
The Yorktown was an aircraft carrier and there are many airplanes onboard to touch and see. It was a really great place to visit, and we all loved it.
We also took a ferry over to Fort Sumter. Sam had been dreaming of it since I first mentioned it back in April. It was also really cool to visit. So much to learn and see.
We almost ended our little tour after those two stops, but Mark got a text from a friend who said that we had to go in to Charleston and take a horse-drawn carriage tour of the city. And you certainly didn’t have to twist my arm about that! It wasn’t cheap, but boy was it neat. What a beautiful and historic city. I can’t do it justice, but I will say that I look forward to going back. Oh, and our carriage was pulled by mules. Cute! So glad we went. These two were getting their bath.We wrapped up our day with supper at the fondue restaurant. None of us had ever been to a fondue restaurant. Everyone was pretty hungry and I’m pretty sure Mark and Pops were fairly disgusted when they realized that they had to cook their own food. It was a fun and funny time, our family of country bumpkins and their slightly effeminate, long-suffering server. You see, Mark bought this giant inflatable turtle earlier in the week.(Still part of the fondue story, honest.) We went to 5 different stores to find it, and it was quite the spectacle. Our suite was on the top floor and the turtle was taller than Mark, so anytime he wanted to take it to the beach we had to maneuver it on and off elevators, through multiple doors, on a crazy parade to the shore. Little kids would stare wide-eyed as he passed and I tried to act like I wasn’t with him. (I’m only kind of kidding about that.) He’d float out in the ocean (when he wasn’t getting bucked out of it) in chartreuse grandeur, the only inflatable turtle guy at the beach. (Ya think?) So as the end of our vacation approached, we talked about setting the turtle free at the end of the week. We planned a grand ceremony and finally settled on the only fitting farewell: a funeral pyre type flaming turtle departure. We’d set him aflame and push him out to sea. So. As we joked with our fondue server, and he became less afraid of us, talk turned to dessert. Chocolates and cheesecakes and…”Flaming bananas.” Which prompted me to blurt out, ‘You should’ve heard about the ‘Flaming Turtle.’ I could see he was getting scared again, so I hurried to explain our ridiculous story which rendered him speechless. We gave him a big tip.

Anywho…we’re headed home again, to relieve our trusty neighbor Annette (and her assistant/husband) of her critter sitting duties. She pretty much made our vacation possible. Where else can you find someone not only willing but able to feed and care for 3 dogs, 4 cats, x amount of fish, a couple stingy chickens, spoiled horses, and cows? And that’s not even the impressive part.
I think I mentioned the homicidal cow with calf that Mark was considering buying.? Well, he did buy her before we left, and after a fiasco of getting her loaded onto the trailer, he put her in the barn where she proceeded to seek and destroy. She smashed buckets and doors and chased Mark and Pops all over the barn. She would paw the ground like a bullfighter Toro, and then charge full steam at whoever was in her path. They decided to turn her out into the pasture and we only saw glimpses of her through the trees after that. She was like Bigfoot. The thing was, she wasn’t in good condition, we're were hoping to rehabilitate her, and her calf’s survival was dependent upon her survival. We thought we could bring her around but we had to get some medicine and grain into her or the prognosis wasn’t good. Since she wouldn’t come down to eat with the steers (she didn’t know what grain was,) it meant that grain and medicine had to be carried to the very top of the hill to her. It also meant being careful she didn’t attack you when you did it. I wasn’t around for any of this, so this was all Mark’s deal. And unfortunately for Annette, it became hers when we left.
So imagine our surprise, when Annette’s daily email reports started to include the triumphant tales of her petting our Mad Mama Cow! That’s right. Not only did she have Mama eating and coming down with the other cows (usually,) she had her practically asking to be petted. The Cow Whisperer indeed!

And then Mama Cow died on Sunday. Yep. So we're bottling feeding the little guy. I'd have pictures of it if I hadn't left my camera at work yesterday. It took him about 3 different meals to finally figure out that big rubber nipple. I was so proud yesterday because he was sucking! I was happy as a clam, covered in grass & mud from weed-wacking, wet cow hair because it was raining, hanging half upside down because I didn't want to disturb him as he figured the whole thing out. What a relief! Here's Mark on the first try with the bottle. There was alot of head butting.So I can’t wait to get home and see all the beasts (and smell my horses--best smell in the world,) hopefully find scads of morel mushrooms, and relish the final couple days of freedom before we are enslaved to the farm market until November. Opening day is slated for Thursday. Sigh. Vacation is over indeed! (home sweet home)

Real time now...

So it's Wednesday and the market is opened. (Oh, and we found 9 lbs of morels Saturday evening, by the way. Awesome!) I had a sample scoop of the caramel cashew ice cream. Very tasty. The market looks good. And we are now tethered to the farm until roughly November. Less than a month of school though. Good news!
Oh, and check out our travelling snacks. I really did taste some of these. Horrific, no? The first 2 are pork cracklins 'with the fat attached,' and in the blue package? Chicken cracklins. Chicken skins fried in pork fat. They even had the little pin feathers still attached. Go ahead and chew on that.