Monday, November 30, 2009

'Tis The Season

Not that Season. Deer Season!

Time to locate that one special, strategically placed tree. The one with the most prehistorically giant poison ivy vine growing up it. It's itchy branches reaching out like an umbrella of poison berries over your head. Time to enjoy the irony of your little plastic safety glasses as you climb the tree with no safety harness. (The thing Mark's sitting in is the thing with which he is climbing btw. It is in two parts and he inches each one up and settles his weight onto it hoping it holds. Sorry if that is elementary to anyone reading.)

Time for me to lose my hunting license at 6am on the first day of hunting season so I can't carry a rifle into the woods. I can however don my gayest orange apparel, go out in the pouring rain, climb a jumbo steep hill, shimmy under the electric fence in the mud, and sit in the cold, cold rain with Mah Boy for his first ever first day of deer season.

And it was great! And way luckier than usual on a boy's (or girl's) first hunt ever. It was a very good shot though.
So I'm proud and happy. And Sam was, too, I think. And he immediately went into the house and cooked up some pumpkin chocolate chip muffins & hot tea.


And Hot Tea.

Deer Hunting, Muffins, and Hot Tea.

So there you have it, Sports Fans. I guess that's how we do it here in Hickory.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

The Circus Is Coming To My Hometown!

First I'm going to admit that I did a google search for "animals that look like Sarah Palin."

Yep, I'm one of those people. But come on, that would've been funny a little. Plus I really like to enter weird searches into Google because I like to think about who might get to see what I searched for and hopefully they get a kick out of it. I'm thoughtful like that.

So, oh, and the only thing I found was a puppy dressed up like Sarah and it wasn't that funny. But I'll tell you what is funny, or at least interesting:
Also not the reason for this post....

We're a stop on the Sarah Palin book tour! We are. Here in relative nowhere. At our Sam's Club.

Who decides these venues?

So what do you think? Should we go? I have a morbid curiousity, but is it enough to motivate me to head in to that kind of ...of...well, you know what I'm saying.
My hometown has a Stephen King vibe to it without the freak show coming to town, so the possibilities are endless.

But if I do go, and you catch me going rogue, please whap me with a rolled up newspaper and rub my nose it.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Does Your Face Hurt? 'Cause It's Killing Me.

No one has ever accused me of having flawless skin.
My relationship with pimples started in the fourth grade when my Mom tried to thwart the eruptions on my forehead by pinning my hair up tight with a barrette..... thereby showcasing all my pimples.

I remember so many battles waged against those wretched pustules. Over the counter stuff, prescription stuff, homemade stuff. Recommendations to put my own pee on my face. Picking, popping, and then panicking: Why the hell did I just butcher myself like that?!

It was either my 6th or 7th grade school picture and I was already having a bad hair day.( Ya, who wasn't having a bad hair day during the big AquaNet boom.) Add to that the dime-sized crater on my chin that refused to heal before picture day and you have a quintessential puberty moment. And captured on film with a baby blue and paint-splattered background! Not even my popped up collar could distract you from all that ugly goin' on. Thanks hormones!

So I eventually upgraded from the Noxzema's and the OxyClean's or whatever it is you can buy in the drugstores to lovely salon skin care products. I even managed to get a few facials like a real girl! Very nice. Who doesn't enjoy a well done facial?
I got all kinds of education on what not to do, what was causing the problems (maybe,) and so on.
But there was no big Before and After like you see on the infomercials. Just the skin in between the acne was in better condition.

And I'm not going to tell you that I ever found the answer. I found the products that I love to use. Found the routine that seems to cause the least troubles. And I just keep telling myself that this oily skin that's causing me zits now will keep me from getting wrinkles as quickly later.

But what I wanted to tell you about was my discovery of foundation primer! By Jove, it actually does something!

When I wash my face it has always shined like a new penny. Not in a youthful, dewy kind of way, but in a plastic-y, not so attractive way. Plus there's the uneven skin tones and that big hairy wart on the side of my nose. Kidding! But the primer really helps with that shininess and the unevenness.

Also, I don't like much makeup. I'm not skilled at it, have some vague goal in my head of the natural French standard of beauty (which I may have created in my own imagination,) plus I can't even get away with a little loose powder without Mark asking me why I have on so much makeup. He doesn't like it either. He insists on telling me I'm beautiful when I'm at my most undone. Darn that man!

But when I decided to give the primer a try I was super stoked to find that it really minimizes the shine without looking too matte. Plus my skin, which is very stuck up about moisturizers--it will only let me get away with a super light, spray on toner-type moisturizer--seems to enjoy it, too. It stays less shiny but more moist and fluffy without feeling congested.

And that's what I'm all about: not pissing off my face.

Oh, and it was not an expensive primer either. Bought it at Target, the brand that Kate Moss receives gobs of money to endorse. I was a little freaked out by its orangey color, but it goes on invisible.

So there you have it, Peeps. Beauty advise from the Pig Whispering Rat Smasher.
You're welcome!

Monday, November 9, 2009

I Killed A Rat With A Shovel And Other Weekend Doings

But first let me start with the post about the weekend before this one.

So Romantical

We handed temporary custody of our kids over to Mark’s grandparents last Tuesday night. That was in order for us to leave at around 4:30 Wednesday morning for my day and a half of out of town business doings. Mark came along for the ride, partly because he’s semi-free after the seasonal closing of the market, partly because we had a babysitter and a really nice hotel room at corporate rates. Don’t get excited though, my time was spent either in one intense class or meeting or other, or sleeping because the mental stress was exhausting. Stupid brain. Where’s the off button on that thing? Mark lounged about on the big plushy bed and ate chicken wings from room service.
Class ended at around noon on Thursday and I was giddy with freedom. Giddy, I tell you. I’d asked for Friday off, so I was going to live the good life for the next 3 ½ days.
Lunch with my husband at a restaurant we’d never been to, on a weekday: Now that’s livin’ the good life.
Taking the long way home and coming across a family owned apple cider press where we stopped to chat with the owners, bought homemade cider and apple butter, and got some really great ideas & connections for the farm market: Score. Check out this little dude.He's the grandson of the owners. There were 3 generations there working. He was adorable.
Friday, Saturday, still no kids at home. We called at least once a day to see if they want to come home or if the grandparents are weary. We just aren’t quite sure how to feel with them out of the house.
So what were we going to do with ourselves? We could go any number of beautiful places. Just get in the car and drive. Stay wherever we wanted. Mountain resorts. Bed and Breakfasteses. We had packed extra stuff just to be prepared. Wanted to make the most of the opportunity.
Thursday night and what do we decide to do? Well, on a fair and clear moonlit night such as it was, of course we went raccoon hunting. And we parked in the wrong spot and Mark fell down umpteen times. Blamed it on “barbed wire,” our quote of the night. We freaked ourselves out listening to weird noises from the woods: owls, coyotes, gas well equipment. And we talked and laughed and seriously, you are missing out if you don’t take walks in the woods at night when the moon is full.
Friday, what joyous slackitude. Putzing around, cleaning house together, and the obligatory horseback ride to pacify me. Then, that night, the highlight of the whole long weekend, more raccoon hunting. But it wasn’t the hunting that was all that incredible, it was how overwhelmingly beautiful it was. I’ll never be able to describe it and no picture could capture it, but I will tell you that the moon was huge and nearly full. We parked along the empty country road that leads from our house to Mas’ & Pops’ house, stepped over the guardrail and into a strange land.
We crossed the grass-covered breastworks of a flood control damn in that singular bright blue light of the moon. Everything was illuminated in the otherworldly glow; I imagined a sister planet to our own where this was their daylight.
It had been very warm during the day and remnants of the warm daytime breezes alternated with cool evening breezes. Cool, warm, cool, warm. I wondered if I was imagining it, but Mark felt it, too.
We rarely needed our flashlights, even in the thick of the woods. I swore oaths to myself that I should never again fail to go walk in the woods and fields when the moon was clear and bright. That I should drag our kids out to soak in it as well. I tried to absorb as much of that beauty into my brain as I could, store it away. I wanted to remember those breezes.
And it only got prettier. We came out of the woods at the top of the large hill to find perfectly groomed paths cut for pheasant and rabbit hunting. A road in the wilderness! A thing of beauty when you’ve just blazed through 6 foot tall thorn bushes. So we strolled in the moonlight. We let the dog hunt and run. We followed the path as it led us through the woods and down to the creek.
Eventually we called last hunt when Mark had to drag Jill out of a hole in the ground, and we walked down the middle of the road in the middle of the night to the van, another simple pleasure. No cars, no houses, just the country road, wide open spaces, and the moon.
We did some other stuff on our remaining days, went out to breakfast and dinner, bought some shoes, slept in, but nothing was so restorative as our time outdoors. Thank goodness we decided to stay home for our romantic long weekend. All the fancy hotels and mountain resorts ain’t got nothin’ on our home sweet home.

This Weekend's Fun
Unseasonably (and Un-Western Pennsylvania-y) warm and sunny weather all weekend. We even had the windows open. There were big plans to insulate the attic which were promptly postponed for a less beautiful weekend.

There was porch sitting. Pleasant BSing with Aggie's friend H's parents. We watched from the porch as our girls ran to and fro, playing with the barn kittens, climbing fence gates, and talking quietly amongst themselves as the travelled about attached at the hip. It does my heart good to see kids playing outside. Love it.

H is Aggie's beloved friend and she was finally, finally able to come over and stay the night. Good times.

We headed in to town for some Mexican food. (Pretty sure I didn't cook the entire weekend!) There's something fun about having an extra child every so often. As long as they're a good sport, and H definitely is one of those. Especially when she was excited to go coon hunting after supper.

We unbelievably found enough working flashlights for everyone, loaded up into the car and headed out to another lovely hunting spot. Everyone had fun. They had foot races in the dark. The night was starry and pleasant. We laughed and had ridiculous conversations. I think H is eager to go again. In fact, after talking to H's dad, Mark said it sounded like her whole family wanted to come! Fun!

Sunday we had a date with my grandmother to take a driving tour of her old stomping grounds. She spent much of her childhood in the county south of ours, out in the country, moving from one farmhouse or log cabin to the next.

We stopped at a general store that claims to be "The Oldest Active General Store In Southwestern Pennsylvania."

We stopped at a diner for lunch. I had an egg salad sandwich and a homemade apple dumpling. :)

And I learned lots of new things about my grandmother. Mark and I also agreed, between spending this Sunday with her and when we stopped over at her house just to chat during our child free weekend it only reconfirmed, she is one good looking woman. Even without makeup, she's still a knockout. You go, Nan! Let's hope I've got those fountain of youth genes.

The kids were well-behaved in spite of being dragged along on a Sunday drive. They snacked on sunflower seeds we bought at the general store, spitting the shells out the car window. They weasled a Webkinz a piece out of Mark when we'd stopped at Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Nan and I laughed when he came stumbling back from the register, receipt in hand. He said, "They told me they were $3 dollars!" Meaning the girls, but he just misunderstood when Lily said she only needed $3 on top of the $11 in her purse. Poor guy!

But it was a very lovely time and we still got home in time for the kids to take a hike and for me to play with the horses. I saddled Admiral up and took a spin the yard. He's been a little ornery for lack of being ridden and a little bit of work did him (and me!) good. Of course I let him take a break to get a drink from the pond and blow bubbles and splash with his front legs, pawing like a dog. I love those horses! Nikki I lunged a little bit. She does not enjoy it especially, but it was good interaction. Even though she did rear up on her hind legs like Hi Ho Silver once or twice. She and I are too alike sometimes...I love those horses!

I'm going to tell you about the rat in a second, but 2 things at work that we've been enjoying lately:

My new nephew, Crosby:

He is my brother's furkid, and he comes to work everyday to see his Aunties.He is a way better insurance mascot than a gecko.

And courtesy of one of our customers, the latest catch phrase: "Do you want to see something creepy?"

It was the Monday after Halloween and she stopped in to make a payment. She asked me the above question and I balked at her digging around in her purse. She produced a photograph for my inspection that I've tried to recreate for you here:

Her picture also had a flowery sofa in the background.

So I'm looking at this photo which is quite obviously a picture of someone's out of focus hair and living room, listening to her as she pointed out pictures of a ghost face and ghost dog. Even being generous I could not muster up enough imagination to see what the hell she was talking about. So I nodded and agreed and just waited for it to be over. Good news is, we can now at random say to one other with great enthusiasm "Hey....(wait til you get the other person's attention)...'you wanna see somethin' creepy?"

And, in conclusion, I killed a rat with a shovel. It was a first for me. Killing something other than during hunting. I've never done it in all the chicken, pig, and beef harvesting we've done. Never put something down because it was ill or irreparably injured. Nothing.

But as I walked into the barn to put my saddle away I came upon one of the kittens in a face off with a rat very close to it in size. The rat was squeaking at the kitten, and the kitten was just staring with an expression something along the lines of "Ew."

I said to the kitten "Git it," but I couldn't blame the kitten for running away. I was trying to think quickly. We'd put rat bait out very recently after rats had burrowed under the barn wall, dislodging the water hydrant, and I figured this rat had to be half-poisoned to be out in the daylight like it was.

I didn't want to kill it, but I knew that I should. I considered that it would likely be dying soon anyway, but said to myself 'what if it doesn't die. what if it recovers or is just a very bold rat.' And I still had trouble. I even thought about fetching Mark from the house to do it for me but I thought it might run off. So I reminded myself that they leave disease-causing urine all over everything including the feed our animals eat, so I picked up a shovel, poked at it a few times-it squeaked and viciously attacked the shovel, and then...wham, wham, wham, wham.

Imagine my disappointment when I told Mark of my accomplishment and he didn't even ask me to tell him the story!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Things We Do For Love

The curtain opens on a dark and chilly evening with a harried mother scurrying through the big box store, her 5th store of the evening, in search of Halloween stuff for her children. She had mere hours before she left town on a business trip, hadn't packed a stitch of clothing, and scrambled at her only chance to do her motherly Halloween duties. Party snacks! Costumes!
Her mission, should she choose to accept it: For Aggie, something scary. For Lily, a witch costume with broom. Again. For Sam, nada. Zip. Which his mother couldn't understand because pre-teen Trick-Or-Treating was a highlight of her younger years, but whatev, as the kids say.

Behold her texts to her awaiting children*:
*I'm not sure if this is the same for everyone, but "j" in our family is our text code for any sort of "affirmative."

Me: u want costume? nanny said she’ll bring stuff for u to dress as a doctor. let me know.
Sam: naaaa no thanks
Me: ah ya party pooper!
Sam: aww come on!
Me: pooper!
Sam: unpooper!
Me: makes it look like theres a fat disgusting monster w arms and legs on you shoulders

Me: eh?
Sam: aggie said ya she wants to know if shes going to get a costume
Me: well i could get a cape. Or I could get a different mask which makes a complete zombie or werewolf?
Me: or a skull mask and cape?

Sam: aggie wants pics of the full zombie and werewolf if possible
Me: theyre kind of lame. But ok. R u sure you don’t want one? after i send pics tell her to hurry and pick cuz I need to get home.
Me: not too bad i guess

(unfortunately I don't have the werewolf costume picture.)

Sam:no thanks again. j
Sam:aggie wants the fat ugly monster on the shoulders
Me: for sure? cape or not? or jusr some pplain black cothes would prob be better
Sam: aggie says she wants the cape
Me: grrrrr. Ok :)
Sam: aggie wants to know if she can get both
Me: GRRRRRrrrrrr. i’ll try
Sam:aggie says GRRRrrrr
Me: j

Arms overflowing, the mother heads to her 3rd incompetent checker in an attempt to escape the big box Halloween hell, uncharacteristically snags a little bag of the Cheetos that turn you mouth blue when you eat them (a gross treat for the children that just made her costume shop via text for half an hour,) and returned home triumphant!
And scene.