Thursday, June 25, 2009

Your Chariot Awaits, M'Lady

I had to drive Mark's van to work yesterday so it could go into the shop across from my office.Mark is notorious for letting his vehicles deteriorate beyond what is safe or bearable to drive. He just doesn't notice that there aren't any brakes or the steering wheel is crazy loose or that parts are falling off.
The van is his 'good' vehicle. It was manufactured in this decade and I'm not afraid to drive it. Trouble is my 10 minute morning commute is very important to me. It's prep time, you know? In my own vehicle I listen to my music, sing along, drink my coffee, sometimes open the sun roof. I drive past lovely farms including the one with the painted ponies who have baby painted ponies every Spring. I can see what the temperature is outside and adjust my seat however I like. (Why am I so addicted to knowing what the temperature is while I drive? ) It usually smells good in my car and it's a pretty quiet ride.
Mark's van? Firstly, it's giant. A giant tin can with a V8 engine. Now I don't specifically know what a V8 engine is, I just know it feels like I'm driving a tractor trailer. It smells in there. Like slightly off produce. Kind of like a cantaloupe. And it's noisy because it is just an uninsulated tin can on wheels. (The acoustics are actually pretty awesome for singing though.) But the worst part of all is that it has no CD player.
Because Mark is in training to become the world's youngest Old Guy he mainly listens to local AM talk radio so he's perfectly fine with it. I had to scramble yesterday morning to get my current music onto my goonie MP3 player. The music is the most important part of the ride.
Everything worked out, including my executive decision to put new tires on the van without consulting Mark first. I told him so when I got home and he said he might cry when I told him how much it all cost, that he could've made it to Winter on those old tires. He told me he was the CEO of 'the company.' And I said that doesn't stand for Cheap Executive Officer, the van needed tires. Hardy Har Har.
This is Mark's other vehicle. The Farm Truck. (Don't mind all that clutter up on the deck, or the un-mowed grass/weeds, or clutter by the cellar door. I'm gettin' to it.)I'm not sure how many incarnations we've had of the farm truck, but I do know we've had many red ones, a brown one, and a blue one at the very least. I remember one truck that was growing cucumbers in the debris in its bed. They're always standard transmission and they always start out running pretty normally.
Currently, this bad boy has so many things going on that I won't bother to list them. Pops and I pretty much refuse to drive it. Neither he nor I can get the damned driver's door to close. When you open it, it just slumps on its hinges. Again, Mark barely notices any of these things. He loves his trucks unconditionally. Even when all the local mechanics tell him to never, ever bring it back to their shop.
I'm just glad I finally got Mark to park it behind the house. And sorry, no, it's not for sale.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Gettin' Buggy With It

The girls were out in the high grass catching cabbage moths when I came home from work yesterday. Aggie had a net and whenever she'd catch a moth she'd give it to Lily to place in an overturned glass on the concrete slab by the cellar door.

The slab is sometimes a catchall for bee hive equipment or folding chairs or flower pots or whatever gets left there un-put away. Things sit there and we all walk past them until they finally become invisible and therefore never put away. (Until I have a rare fit of tidiness.)

Currently there are a couple empty 5 gallon honey pails and a plastic milk crate full of mismatched glassware from the old Suzie Q. The Suzie Q (if I'm spelling that correctly) was a bar on the main drag of Hickory, known miles around for its refrigerated beer tap. One of Mark's (many) favorite haunts back in the day. He said it wasn't uncommon for the bartender to just up and leave and put you in charge while he was gone. Also, the refrigerated tap was just a bunch of hype. Just for show. But I dare you to say that to any of the believers. Blasphemy!

So anyway, my kids are playing with beer, shot, and highball glasses under the porch. (Because they've already set off all the fireworks.) And they're catching cabbage moths, though I doubt that's their proper scientific name. It all started after I told them about my grandfather paying me a nickel per moth because they would lay eggs on his cabbages and broccoli and cauliflower.

Lucky for my pocketbook they set them all free. That could've set me back a good 80 or 90 cents!

And speaking of bugs, the 'lightning bugs' were out last night. Summertime!

Oh, but I know what the moths also reminded me of. Pretty funny, really. When I was about 10 years old, my best friend gave me a sticker and it had a funny little cartoon man standing inside a drinking glass and the sticker said "You're in a glass by yourself."

Monday, June 22, 2009

Small Town Snapshot Sunday (On Monday)

Small Town Snapshot.

Baby CoCo. I never get tired of looking at his crazy paws. He's not as irritated as he looks. He was crying after me when I walked away.
Berries! Fishin'! Doesn't matter if you didn't catch anything. Or if your hook got snagged on something and snapped your line and you fell in trying to fish your bobber out with a stick. Just ask Sam.OOOOoooh mygoodness it feels sooo good when you get down in there and scratch the inside of my ear like that! Um. You can't fit in there.Alrighty then.

I'M FREE!!FREEEE!!I turned him loose, and turned his little corral into a creep feeder. Sawed the board by my ownself and nailed it up to the fence posts. I'm so handy. (Ha!) See:That way he can "creep" in to get his feed but the horses and big cows can't. Works like a charm. "SweetPea" had been confined to that little corral since his Mama passed. We wanted to make sure he was getting plenty to eat, bottles of milk replacer and calf starter feed, and to get him tamed down a little.

I knew he would be happy to be turned out with everyone else, but I was still so tickled to watch him skipping and bouncing and bucking around. Psalm 29:6 " He maketh them also to skip like a calf." There is hardly a better way to describe the embodiment of unfettered happiness. Little dude was happy.
Mark was a little afraid that the horses might pick on him, but later in the evening Mas & Pops said they'd seen the horses running across the pasture with the calf running after them. So it was all fun and games with all of them.
This is not a particularly good photo but in person it's very lovely. It's on one of the cow paths down to the barn. I love rocks. Father's Day Breakfast at a little local restaurant. Their signature enormous pancake:I ordered one takeout for Mark since he was at the market. They had to put it in a pizza box.

Aggie is our Pancake Eating Champion. This was her first attempt at a Danny's Restaurant pancake and she made a great effort. Good job, Ag.And I hate to end on a sour note, but why should Mark be the only one that has to listen to me carry on about this:This abomination is coming to Hickory. Plopped right down in the middle of our charming little nowhere. Oh, sure it'll be 'nice' while it's new, but in a few short years it will revert to its true ghetto state of fast food junkiness. Then what, Hickory? You've sold your soul to the five dollar footlong.

No, YoYo, their sandwiches aren't all that delicious.

Friday, June 19, 2009

How Did She Know It Was My Birthday?

Well, it's actually tomorrow, but still!
Osage Bluff Quilter and her talented husband Osage Bluff Blacksmith sent me a gift! This pair of awesome hoof picks crafted out of a single horseshoe by Mr. Osage Bluff himself! So cool!
I am tickled pink, and Mark is grateful, too.
I tell you what, ever since I "met' the Osage Bluffs via Blogger a little while ago, I've become more and more convinced that we went to different schools together. How else could it feel like we've known them for years?
Kind, generous, talented, rich in family goodness. Plus I'm pretty sure they enjoy pork and fried dough desserts as much as we do. In other words, they're good people.
Thank you, thank you, thank you! (I must've walked around fiddling with them and looking at them for at least a straight half an hour. Thank you!)

The Sarcastic Shall Inherit The Internet

This one's for you , Better Than Machines. It's probably old news to you, but consider it my participation in the discussion. You always make me feel those underused muscles in my brain. So thank you for that!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Cleaning Out Dad's Attic

I know there are lots of these floating around the internets, but this is my very own so, you know. Kinda special. Was there some sort of orange and brown dress code required by the photographer? I know, I know--they were cool colors back then. That jumpsuit of mine? Corduroy. So anyway. Enjoy. It was some of the booty we found after Dad's attic was cleaned out recently. I won't even share what kind of "paraphernalia" we found mixed up in my brother's college boxes. To be fair , he and my sister had to determine what paraphernalia belonged to whom.

Tuesday was the Annual Dinner Meeting for our most favorite insurance carrier. A state of the union, pat on the back gathering to review the annual production contest and yearly numbers, blah, blah, blah I'm boring myself even summing it up. There are award plaques and tier attainments named after precious metals. Lots of handshaking, suits, buzzwords, sports metaphors. So many insurance agents. Think of how riveting that must be.
I don't go most years because they go on FOREVER and I'm usually crawling out of my skin by the time the keynote speaker gets started. My brain can only take so much empty jargon before it starts to implode. Can not compute all the saying of the nothing.
My motivation for going this year was the venue: Heinz Field. And we did well enough this year to earn the added treat of a tour prior to the festivities.I touched the grass.
This is a painting in the office adjacent to the press box. And here is a horrendous photo of a replica of the 2008 Super Bowl ring worn by our tour guide. Sorry, it was the best of 3.It was me, my dad, and my brother. I call this photo 'Sweating.'My sister opted out this year. If you have something against nepotism just say it now. I'm kidding! It's called 'a family business.' Also, working with us has been clinically proven to cause madness. e.g. Daily games of How Long After I Start Humming A Horrible Song Quietly At My Desk Before Someone Else Gets It Stuck In Their Head And Starts Humming It.
So here's the locker room.
And a couple of knuckleheads cutting up in the locker room.These two will buy five dollar leather jackets all day.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Cleaning Out The Pond

WooWoo! This is what you wear when you're mucking out the pond. The pajama pants are very important. What else would you wear with rubber boots and a bikini top? ( I know this would make a fine Facebook photo, what with the bare midriff and all, but I'm savin' all my love for the blog on this one. You can't see any of my stretch marks in this photo. Booyah.)
This was after I ran squealing away from the bees that were attacking me. There are 2 hives on the far side of the pond and I guess I got too close for their comfort. Definitely too close for mine, eh?
Got stung in the thigh and narrowly escaped a good stinging to the top of my head. Had you been there to witness it, you'd have seen me doing that crazy stop-cartoon run-stop thing, with arms waving, then hanging my head upside down as I slapped myself silly trying to get the bee out of my hair. Her buzzing increased in pitch as she made her way closer and closer to my scalp. Bzzzzzz, BZZZZZ!!!!!

Anyway...Cleaning Out The Pond. This is our second Summer season with the pond. This year it's produced a nasty overgrowth of string algae. Sting algae is no good. Except, I hope, for mulch. This is my horticultural experiment of the Summer:The algae comes out of the pond like a heavy sopping wool blanket. Made out of green hair. Pretty gross, I guess.
Unless you're a frog. Do you see the dirty look he's giving me?They were not happy about the algae removal. It's nice and warm in there. I told them it was for the good of the pond.Actually, it's not that gross. Slimy and stringy, though. What's gross is when you're scooping up a big armful of it to toss into the wheel barrow and your hand squeezes down on something moving. Blech! Especially when it's a giant bullfrog tadpole. That sucker is probably 6 inches long. That head/body part? It's the consistency of an egg yolk and the size of an apricot.Or perhaps a crayfish is tangled up in there:I hope I wasn't the cause of that missing pincher arm!I caught another huge crayfish, but I didn't get a photo, darn it. He was halfway to being a lobster. Every time I accidentally caught something I squealed and then immediately got embarrassed for squealing.
What a smile!

Snails are shy. Another disgruntled frog. And I even caught a couple fish! This one was alive and well, just didn't want to leave the warmth of the algae. I'd throw him out and he'd swim right back into it. A crappie, I believe?

The only reason this is a bad job for me is because I felt horribly about how many creatures I'd inadvertently killed.
I'd wheel that mess over to the tomatoes only to find someone tangled up inside and in desperate need of water, so I'd run 50 yards back over to the pond to throw them back in. Then I'd get further into the pile in the wheel barrow and find someone else. Run all the way back over to the pond.
So to all of my pond buddies that perished yesterday: May you Rest In Peace.
And may you richly fertilize the tomatoes.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Alter Ego

Ha! Make yourself a Super Hero. The accuracy is uncanny.

I am: Sad.

Sad that I'm totally cool with this as my Super Hero alter ego.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Shades Of Death Road

Occasionally for work I have to leave the office to take photos or get a signature. I especially like it when it takes me out in the boondocks around our house.
I also had to take Sam to a doctors appointment so I picked him up from home on my way to the photo. The girls decided they needed to tag along as well, and I'm glad they did.
One, because it was funny to listen to them giddily chatter in the back seat in their excitement over riding with Mom in the middle of a work day. Two, because it was a spectacular drive in the country.
My only disappointment is that I did not get a photo or video of the 2 peacocks calling back and forth to each other on top of someone's shed. Now that's a funny sight and sound.

The bonus part of the journey was getting to show the kids Shades Of Death Road. Apparently there is more than one Shades Of Death Rd if you google it. Ours isn't particularly famous (Washington County) and I still haven't been able to find a definitive history as to how it got its name. Mark's story (since this is more his old stomping grounds than mine) had to do with an escaped slave being hung from a tree overhanging the road, because most of the road is a glorious tunnel of trees, and his ghost roaming there forevermore, possibly causing auto accidents.
In reality, it is incredibly beautiful. Again my pictures will not do it any justice, but there are craggy boulder walls alongside the road, steep drops, valleys where rocky streams flow with waterfalls into peaceful pools lit by sunbeams :) (and butterflies singing lullabies while squirrels dance fanciful jigs,) and wonderful wildlife surprises! (Sorry it's blurry, I was so excited!)So Lily's theory is that the road was given a sinister name by the owner of the surrounding land in order to keep folks from travelling it, thereby hogging all that beauty for themselves.
"But it didn't trick us did it Mommy?"
Nope, Lil. It didn't trick us. We travelled Shades Of Death Rd. and lived to tell the tale. Spoooky!

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Small Town Sunday

It's Small Town Sunday over at Wendy's! And I double checked to make sure we are in fact small enough. Yep. We don't even have 1,500 people in Hickory. And the other part of our Small Town Sunday was spent in Rea where you can count the inhabitants on fingers and toes.
The first part of our Sunday was a big hike for me and the kids. At first I wasn't too keen on Lily coming along, not because I didn't want her to come but because of the last hike she went on. But I took a leap of faith on her and she made me proud. She even had fun. She called it 'an awesome day.'
Approximately 4 1/2 miles through the woods and down a country road or two to Mas & Pops' house.No way to capture how beautiful it was here.Two young turkeys running away from us.It is a local sport to shoot signs. At least it would appear so by this sign's shotgun injuries.Basketball hoop on the side of the road in the middle of nowhere.
On the bridge crossing over Cross Creek just before you get to Masi's house.Now this is super cool (to me.) Behind Masi & Pops' house there is a door.Pretty neat so far right? And this door leads to 'The Cave.' When it's all closed up it's pitch dark in there. Cool and just slightly moist and smells like earth. This is where the kids play and they recently spent the better part of a day cleaning it. Lily had to show it off to me. The pictures don't do it justice.
This is right in front of Masi's house. I totally lucked out about the train going by. See some of Mark's bee hives down there? He's got 3 different bee yards (apiaries!) going. And then Sam and I hiked all the way back home (for a total of approximately 9 miles-woohoo!) while the girls hung out at Masi's. When Pop's dropped the girls off at home a little later they headed straight for the go cart. They go like crazy in that thing. And these last two are for Wendy.