Friday, July 31, 2009

I Liked The Movie Krull As Much As The Next Person

Firstly, this is for my Mom. She taught me everything I ever needed to know about how to make toast. Especially that it is a very important food group along with hot tea, cold cereal, and grilled cheese sammiches.

The Speedy Slice.What is with the the open-faced baked bean sandwich?

Here's another Just Because that I'm going to be looking for in my local grocery store. Cheeseburger In A Can.

But what I really wanted to tell you was how Lily's very first sleep over was going. She is about a mile away at her friend K's house. They played with toys, played in K's playhouses, and ate rigatoni.

K's Mom and I keep in touch mainly through email. We set up playdates and check in on how things are going. It's pretty handy. But imagine my surprise when I get the run down on last night's events and K's mom says matter-of-factly "I did take the knives off of the girls"... Huh?! It was just somewhere in between "eating supper" and "going to bed" so I wondered if I was misunderstanding something.

So my entire reply was "Knives?!"

Turns out Lily had smuggled a couple of knives over to K's house. Yep.

Sam has a collection of knives so I suspect that's where she got them. If you've ever seen the knife sales on Home Shopping Network, you'll know what I'm talking about. Knives with resin eagle claws for handles (Great Honor!) or deer paintings on the blade or somesuch. Gifts he'd received from relatives over the years, goodness knows why. Super classy.

So it could have been those. Could've been any old piece of crap pen knife floating around the house. I take it for granted that there are knives everywhere. In the drawers, in the vehicles, in the barn, in my purse. It's just something we need often and have plenty of. But I never figured on needing it for a sleep over. Far as I know, she doesn't play with knives at home.

I was totally embarrassed. And baffled.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Stuff And Goings-On

Date Night Monday: Kids at my Mom's. Agreeable weather. I'm in what I believe to be full-on PMS zombie mode. Mark takes the bull by the horns (surely you must know by now how much I love cliches) and offers to go horseback riding with me. I am in such a doldrums that all I want to do is crawl in bed, but prior experience tells me riding never fails to help. And also I appreciate the huge effort Mark is making.

So I drag my carcass out to the barn and we saddle up. I especially love riding with Mark, not just because he's my boyfriend, but because he's just as adventurous as I am. He shares with me the childlike silliness that can't resist riding up and down over piles of gravel and through puddles. Admiral is the four-wheeler I won't let Mark buy. (If that makes any sense?)

Our horses came from a horse farm not far from our place. An Appaloosa and Ara Appaloosa farm. Just give me an excuse to drive past its pastures full of multicolored beauties.
Anyway, there is a nice sized farm pond in one of the pastures where Admiral used to live and I was told by one of the boarders there that one cold day, when the pond was frozen over, standing there in the middle of the ice was Admiral. He was dubbed Admiral Pondwalker after that.
He loves water. And true to his Pondwalker name, he was into every puddle we came to on our ride that evening. He splashes with his front hooves and blows bubbles and submerges his face up to his eyeballs whenever possible. He cracked us up.

After that bit of playtime we rode up to Wagners Greenhouse and chatted with them until we were seriously running out of light. And our only path home is through the dark woods. I wasn't too concerned but it did make it more challenging. For the record, I did mention to Mark that the girth was pretty loose on his saddle...
So we headed home on our well worn paths. I'm in the woods fairly often enough to know where all the low hanging branches are located. Whenever I started losing sight of the path, I trusted Nikki to know where she was going. I'd call back a warning to Mark when low branches were coming.
We were nearly to the brighter paths close to home when I called out what was the last low bridge on our route. I lay forward onto Nikki's neck under the branches and walked on. Seconds later I heard a commotion behind me and automatically yelp out "Are you OK? Are you OK?"

When I turned around I could see a shadow of Admiral and a blob of white on the ground: Mark.

Remember that loose girth? Well, while Mark has very good balance in the saddle, and made it most of the way home just fine, leaning off to the side to avoid that tree branch maybe wasn't such a great idea. He forgot about the loose girth and all went tumbling to the side. And it was all made more exciting by the fact that I couldn't see a damn thing to confirm that he was OK. But it was. Except for the bright purple bruise on his thigh, of which he has taken half a dozen photos.

Date Night accomplished? I certainly think so.


So speaking of zombies, (apologies for including a dream in a blog post. Is there some sort of etiquette for that?) I had another one of my zombie dreams last night. It's just as likely to be zombies as it is aliens. Either way, in the dream, it is very difficult to discern who is human and who is an imposter.

Finally figured out that zombies and aliens represent something along the lines of PMS or a persistent bad mood I'm trying to shake.

In last night's dream, we humans were holed up in wooden shack of a house, zombies all around. But the twist was that we had one zombie hostage we were using for bargaining power. Makes sense, right?

The man in charge of our group of humans was shouting to the zombies outside in an attempt to negotiate our safety in exchange for their zombie buddy.

Trouble is, we all know how articulate zombies aren't. They're usually just making some guttural moaning groaning noises, right? But our human negotiator had no patience for that nonsense and was insisting that they speak and speak clearly.

And so their voices started to become sharper and even harmonized with one another. wasn't coming clear into words, they were merely zombie moaning the tune to "Do You Love Me (Now That I Can Dance?)" by The Contours.

Do the Mashed Potato! Can ya do The Twist!

Afraid I can't tell you whether the negotiations were successful or not because I woke myself up thinking how stupid that was.


Then I went downstairs to find that Sam had overslept. He was supposed to be out setting up the market at 7:30. I called in softly to him so I wouldn't startle him, but he jumped about 10 feet in the air anyway. He was so pissed that he accidentally slept in.

Don't you hate when that happens?

We finally got around to the castration process on Sweet Pea the calf. While there are many ways to castrate a bull, in our tiny little operation we just use the rubber band like thingies that make the testicles fall off over a matter of time. No cutting, no crushing, no squeeze chute. Just a warm bottle of milk to bribe and distract him. He had no reaction to the band whatsoever. Good deal.
This is YoYo. The cat previously known as Oreo. We adopted him from a friend when the kids were littler and for some reason they never called him Oreo. Check out the chalk mural all over our basement wall:

YoYo is a giant tuxedo cat. He had a torrid love affair with out dog Penny back in the day. Once, when Copper the Lab Dog was a puppy, he approached YoYo with playful but mindless aggression. The kind of approach that would send any other cat on a mad dash of escape. But not only was YoYo unflappable, he also placed one paw on Copper's head and just held it there performing some sort of hypnotism.
Copper was paralyzed and confused, putty in YoYo's paws. Cat is weird, I tell ya.
But he's also pretty fun. This is the second time the kids have packed him up in an old backpack like a baby in a sling and took him hiking through the woods.
I'm thinking....Appalachian Trail, here we come!

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Pony Ride part II

Aggie's friend K was over again last night. They first called me at work and then pounced on me as soon as I got in the house. Take us for a ride! This is K and Nikki .Here comes Aggie and Admiral. And the hoagie Aggie would not allow out of her sight. Try taking it away from her and risk losing a finger.Nikki, as irritated as I am by pictures of her @ss. Lily was our photographer for the evening.K and Nikki. I think this is adorable.Pre-flight preparations. Hoof picking.I let K give it a try. Good job!Saddle up! I included this photo mainly because of how horrified I am by it. Stupid jeans! You make me look bad! (Anybody else watch Courage the Cowardly Dog?)More of Lily's photography. Nikki trying to restrain herself from nipping because she knows the girth tightening is coming.Not too tight. Sam is my fellow wrangler. Pictured here with Admiral. We swapped horses for a little while when Admiral found it necessary to eat, eat, eat anything in his path. Sam got frustrated and needed a break from him temporarily.But mostly they got along.K and Nikki again. Know why I love this girl? She is an awesome baby talker to my horses. She really nails it. I was so cornfused when I saw this picture. Wondered what on earth I was doing. (Note Mark scratching his head in apparent cornfusion as well.) I was letting K use my leg as a mounting block. Still a pretty funny picture and add it to the unflattering shots of my rear end collection.Home again, home again, jiggetty jig. Lily didn't accompany us on the actual ride. She had a K friend over, too. So what she missed was Aggie getting silently furiously mad about her helmet. And then somehow, when I was in front of them, Admiral managed to step on his reins (I'm guessing he flipped them over his head so that they were hanging all to one side) and broke his headstall out on the trail. Fortunately, it wasn't a deal breaker since he was still haltered. I told Aggie it was a great opportunity to work on her balance. She was just fuming all the more since this added to her prior helmet fury. That's my girl! Once we were home she was all hugs and sweetness. Other than that hitch, ride accomplished! And the horses received their pay of half a Granny Smith each.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Jetsam and Flotsam. Yes, I will keep using it for post titles.

Target Practice

We have a customer who comes in to the office who, no matter what he stopped in for, will always manage to make reference to his adult sons. "Mah Boy" did this, and "Mah Boy" did that. Sometimes he'll mix it up and talk about his daughter, Mah Girl. I'm kind of offended by it, that he can't be bothered to use their names, almost reducing them to an "it" status, but the funniness of it overrides my indignation.

So, for future reference, if I start talking about Mah Boy, I'm talking about Sam.

So Mah Boy asked if he could do some target practice. Contrary to what you might expect, this isn't part of our daily routine already. We never really pressed the issue of hunting with him. I think we both wanted him to take an interest, to carry on the family tradition, but we also knew that Sam was more of a History Channel watcher and WWII video game player. Not a couch potato, just a thinker. If he was going to go in the woods it was to look for ancient artifacts or simply for exercise.

But I guess it turns out he's all of the above. The redneck mama in me was proud to hear that .22 being shot off the back porch. I can only imagine Mark felt the same. I want Sam (Mah Boy) to learn to do as many things as he can.

No bull's eye, but they're all within the orange ring. Good 'ole paper plate target.
Honey Bears Marching Off To War

This is just a fraction of the honey. And wait til you see the new extractor. It came today. The credit card is still reeling.

Formica Decision 2009
Not just because it's goonie Formica butcher block, but because the sink is leaking around its edges and I've already tried to fix it.
I was going to go with paper composite countertops. They're all earth friendly and whatnot (supposedly. Is using formaldehyde in your processing really all that earth friendly? I dunno)
But the paper composite dealer told me he wasn't 100 percent sold on the product for one. And for two, our house, though I really do love it, is never going to be valuable enough to warrant much more than Formica countertops.
Like, how cheesy would it be to put granite countertops in my kitchen with the fake Pergo floors and fake wood cabinets? And I'm not going to replace the flooring and cabinets when they're in very functional condition. That would not be earth friendly.
So I'm pretty much stuck on the far left choice which, in person, is very silestoney/granitey. I don't like it because it looks so matchy. And I don't enjoy matchy home decor. But it seems like the most sensible choice.
I would've loved a more slate looking choice, because the samples aren't half bad, but with my yellow kitchen walls I was afraid of it looking like The Pittsburgh Steelers Kitchen.
The white on the right was just a random choice. It's real shiny and fake marbley and not in the running to win.
Choice number 2 there is kind of concrete texture. Another desperate grab at the sample counter because I just can't commit to the first sample.
Did you know they make formica to look like stainless steel? I tell ya, what will they think of next?
So what do you think?

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Like Mother Teresa, Only With Ponies

The sacrifices we're required to make as parents! Come on!

It's a given that I'm a horse crack head. If you did an illustration of my brain and my brain on horses it would look something like this, I guess:

This is my brainAnd this is my brain on horsesSo, it's like a medical condition. A fever. (And the only cure is more cow, no, no. Not that fever.)

There I was after work yesterday, watching the sky cloud up, when I started to get the twitch. That jonesing for my horses twitch. Mark is learning to recognize it and he usually shoos me out to the barn when he sees it. He knew that the rain was nearly a non-issue. I wanted to see my horses.

My plan was to just saddle somebody up, hop on and see how far I could get before it started really raining. I thought, even if it was half an hour, 45 minutes, it would be something.

I ended up haltering Admiral for no other reason than he was making that face he makes with his eyes all concerned (I know. Medical condition...remember that) and cute. Of course it started sprinkling as soon as we got to the hitching post. Didn't matter. Full steam ahead. And then...

Aggie arrived home with her girlfriend and they wanted to take a ride. And since there's no way I was letting them go by themselves that meant Sam and I were the pony ride wranglers.

I couldn't say No. What kind of Karma could I expect to reap if I denied a 10 year old girl the opportunity to ride a horse when I was that 10 year old girl a few (cough) years ago. I would've walked through fire for that chance. Plus, I'm happy to see Aggie take an interest in the horses, too.

So, horses saddled up, Sam and I took the lead ropes and started walking around. Soon we were inside the pasture gate, somehow crossing the creek, somehow headed up into the woods, and it eventually snowballed into a full fledged trail ride. Something I don't recommend on foot in cowboy boots. I had mega-blisters by the time we got home. In the rain.

But the girls had a blast, and I really think the horses actually had fun. Aggie's friend is sooo sweet and her family is so great and she's moving halfway across the country, which breaks my heart. Why do the good ones have to move?

The only downside? Now I was doubly crazy for having not ridden. Plan B: Sanity Jog through the woods.

It's my second choice of restorative outdoor activities.

I didn't care that I had juicy blisters on my feet or that it was truly raining by that point. I headed up into the woods and tried to get lost.

The trees can be so thick in spots that the rain never made it to the ground. Brushing through wet leaves, slip sliding in muddy creek bottoms, climbing near vertical paths, prehistoric looking plants with leaves as big as my torso, rain tapping out a tune, a whiff of a skunk, old rectangular foundation stones set up like little Stonehenges, and the green. How I love all that green.

Whenever I'm faced with two diverging paths I'm always torn. I feel this tremendous pressure to pick the right one because I know one of them is going to have something really cool down it. I just know it. And I don't want to pick the wrong one. Nevermind that I've probably been on most of them and they all have something cool on them...

So one of the last navigational choices on my journey last night I chose correctly. I came upon a group of 7 deer feeding and I was able to stalk quite closely for a long time. Two decent little bucks in velvet were closest. When they finally noticed me and ran off, I chased them through the woods not caring that it was totally impossible to catch them.

Darkness told me to get my butt home. I always have to force myself out of the woods against some gravitational pull. Just one more path. I just want to see one more thing. I wonder what's over there.

When I finally made it back into the pasture fields the daisies were phosphorescent in the gloaming. And yes, it was especially the gloaming, what with the rain. Because 'gloaming' makes me think of 'gloomy' makes me think of 'rainy.' Even though that's not the case. (Another favorite word: gloaming.)

And this horse crazy brat was feeling a little better.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Catching A Killer

Something killed Rooster's girlfriends.
His 2 little Silkies. So he was all alone. To add insult to injury, they came back Friday night and beat him up. His feathers were strewn all over the coop. His beautiful tail is barely intact. Comb and legs are scuffed and bloodied. My poor Rooster.I'm so glad he survived, and we called Mr. C. down the road to get him some new girlfriends. It was love at first sight. To make up for his horrible night, I was spoiling him with earthworms and bugs and dandelion greens. I also set a box trap for the evil menace attacking our chickens. I was rewarded with a very nice egg. And....Scary, no?..... A baby 'possum. Not likely the culprit, but I suspect he or she is a relative of the chicken murderer. When I went to check the trap it was all curled up in a ball sleeping. Hideously cute. Pitiful. I let him go.

And he ran directly into the chicken barn.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Flotsam and Jetsam

I always liked the sound of that. Flotsam and Jetsam. And that's pretty much as good a reason as any to use it as a post title, right? That and I thought it kind of went with the theme of the stuff floating on the surface of my brain...

Mark gnawing on the rabbit we cooked for supper the other night. Dusted it in flour and fried it in lard, we did. We haven't raised meat rabbits for a couple of years at least, so it's been that long since Mark's had this favorite treat of his.

But really if you give him any kind of meaty bone to chaw and crunch on, he gets all quiet and content as he works on it.

And his happiness brought to mind the kids' happiness-

Sam hums. Not really a tune. Just a hum, like a softly whirring machine. Nearly subsonic, I'll catch it every once in a while when he's busy with something. He used to do it when he was a wee toddler, humming himself to sleep. So it's a contented noise.
Aggie whistles. Like my Uncle Harry whistles. The first few times I heard it I was taken by surprise because it's so clear. She's so quiet and gentle and feminine usually, so it was weird but neat to hear this typically masculine music coming from her.

Lily. We describe it as a howl. But not a sad or even loud howl. It's kind of a cross between Sam's hum and Aggie's whistle because it's this weird falsetto HumWhistle thing she does with her voice. Something we'd all catch her doing when she was off in her own world playing, and we'd share a look and laugh.

But like Masi and Pops have always said, you can tell how happy our kids are because they're always singing. And that was always reassuring to me.

But then there's always The Dark Side-

Sam goes with my Dad for overnight stays to whatever sporting clay venues are going on. He was overdue for some suitable clothes, so I decided to take all the kids on a shopping trip.

Going back a week or two, the girls had been wanting to go to Build A Bear, but I was all You don't have any money, what happened to your money because they'd lost all their money somewhere in the house, and Mark was all Look at the foul state of your bedroom and that little trip was postponed indefinitely.

More recently they found a stash of their money in their room but they didn't know whose it was. I stepped in as the wise old judge and told them to split the find equally since neither was responsible enough to a. remember whose it was or b. to have kept it safe to begin with. Problem solved, nobody happy. Actually Lily was fine with it because she refuses to develop any kind of concept of money and was even trying to trade Aggie her 4 ones for Lily's 1 ten "so it would look like I have more money."

Which leads us to last night. I was going to take Sam shopping for clothes and a side trip to Build A Bear for the girls. Arrived home from work to find Lily had lost her money the same day we split it down the middle.
So mad. I think mostly because I was thinking You're not really going to make me do this are you? Not going to make me be the bad guy, when I was so close to being the hero for taking you to Build A Bear.
But she did. And I had to go tell Mark the whole story just to get some reassurance from him that I was doing right by not taking either one of them even though it was only Lily's mistake. I thought it was the better alternative to the harsher option of taking them but only letting Aggie shop.
So there we are driving down the road, Aggie silently fuming in the back seat, me meditating on the fact that sometimes parenting requires us to be jerks a little bit. But I was also thinking of how lucky I am that my kids don't require a lot of jerkiness. So far they're really pretty good kids. Hopefully that continues into those teenage years...

I did turn the evening around by letting the girls buy a pair of shoes and a couple pairs of shorts (Target has cute Bermuda shorts for girls btw.) That was a necessity, but I didn't tell them that. You could nearly see the ice melting off of Aggie as I urged her to pick out some clothes. Oddly enough, Lily was never mad. And would you believe I didn't buy myself one single solitary thing? That was weird. Anyway, all was forgiven and life moves on.

Everyone knows what rotten potatoes smell like-

Just by happenstance, I've eaten potatoes as the bulk of my last 3 meals. If you put 2 and 2 together, you may say that's over sharing. I say it's a Note To Self: You shouldn't eat so many potatoes.


Mark and I are of like mind when it comes to stress. It's for wussies. (Tongue in cheek, ya'll.) We go and go until we're having weird physiological and psychological effects like waking dreams and eye twitches, but you will never get us to accept that we're stressed. It's always There are lots of folks dealing with way more than us and We have such a wonderful life and so much to be grateful for, quit being a crybaby. And that's all certainly true. But where do you decide it's OK to take a break? How do you take a break guilt-free? Anybody else have this trouble? I did catch like 4 whole consecutive hours a couple weekends ago where I did nothing but read a book on my porch and it was paradise. I had to force myself to do it, but it was so awesome.

Mark's in the market 7 days a week and our Summer is a whole lot of not fun. I feel guilty for not taking the kids places during their Summer vacation. I feel guilty if I go anywhere without Mark. I feel compelled to constantly work around the house instead of doing anything fun because Mark can't have fun. I feel dogged by invitations to go to parties or picnics during our few free hours (6pm-9pm, basically) but like a party pooper for not being more excited to go. I feel like pouting period. And pouting equals brat. And brat equals Grow Up! I don't know what the final answer is, but I'll let you know if I figure it out.


The rabbit was good. So was our supper of new red potatoes with fresh yellow beans and parsley, swiss chard with mushrooms & onions. Chicken mushrooms. Sam and I went for a short hike/jog through the woods the other day.(Helpful to alleviate a little guilt.) A notable trip because I've been so used to making sure he was keeping up with me. That time I was trying to keep up with Sam and his 50 foot long legs leaping over fallen trees like a deer, and I was all Noooooo, I'm aging, I'm aaaaaagiiiiiing! But it was actually really fun because we run through the trails like wild Indians (no offense meant by that. Great Honor!) up and down steep hills, through creek beds, catching spider webs with our faces, racing the setting sun to get back home. We found the old stone foundation of a house and picked through the rubble of old leather shoes and funky glass bottles. And we also found a chicken mushroom. Packed it up into my knapsack and took it home to bread and fry. It really has the taste and texture of chicken. Very groovy, baby. I know, I know, the oil. It's just a treat, no worries. Dill pickled green beans. There was a jar in the refrigerator untouched. Pops gave it to us but we'll probably never know who made them. I was this close to throwing them away for that reason but we tried them and they're quite good. I may try to make some myself. Great on a peanut butter sandwich.

And I guess that's about all the tide has washed in for now.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Just Because

Mark was a little put out that I spent 6 bucks on this.
How could I not buy it?

Extracting Honey, Slow As Molasses

Vacuuming remaining bees out of the supers with the Bee Vac 5000. OK, it's not really called that, but it is the special vacuum for bees. It's basically a modified shop vac with a box to collect the bees alive without harming them.There was a fume board with the stinky Bee Go under it driving them up to the top. It reminding me of the Wack A Mole game at Chuck E Cheese.Bees in the rafters. Don't mind the cobwebs. Removing the wax cappings with the uncapping plane. It has a very, very hot blade.
The basement smells sort of like toasted marshmallows and burning wax. Kinda nice.
Scratch open the rest of the cells with the cap scratcher thingy.Into the uncapping tank. The homemade uncapping tank. The one we want to replace. But the Cheap Executive Officer will not release the funds.Into the extractor. I know it looks dirty, but it's not. Everything gets scrubbed and bleached and thoroughly dried. I am especially anal about the drying part because water is no good for honey. Makes it ferment. Unless you are looking to make mead, it's not a good thing.Round and round they'll spin.Also looking to upgrade the poor old extractor. This is a little, used 4 frame extractor. It takes just under 3 1/2 forevers to get the job done. And this is our upgrade from the first extractor!Unfiltered honey. It will go through a sieve to remove wax and bee parts. Other than that, no processing. Unprocessed, unpasteurized, raw honey. It's the way to go. Boy, we have a long way to go. Our rule of thumb is to stop whatever chore we're doing once one or both of us start getting delirious tired. So more to come.