Monday, February 15, 2010

Don't Be Jealous.

We like to dabble in hillbilly. Not go all out Summer teeth and barefoot in the gas station bathroom, but we appreciate a homemade moonshine and the like. There's always been that camo-colored thread of redneck weaving through the rich tapestry of our family life.
Rich tapestry. Yep.
Everybody's familiar with the Poopy Truck in all its incarnations:
(gah, look at all that green grass! where are you green grass?!)

Old Red has hauled many a load of firewood. If you've been unfortunate enough to get stuck behind us in traffic, I apologize. Yes, we are the yahoos in funny knit hats (because the back window ain't all there-Brrr!,) probably 2 dogs on the front seat between us (stinking dogs,) cruising along in the truck laboring under its load (or not, maybe just laboring) at about 20 mph the whole way home.
I can overlook the rust spots and warts, because, thanks to our trusty truck, we've had our redneck membership upgraded this weekend: Mark welded the driver's side door shut.

Just like them Duke Boys with their General Lee!

The old bungee cord door latch system worked alright for a while until Mark backed up in the woods with the door open. The door came home a little hyperextended by a gentle tree of the forest. Very inconvenient when you're driving down the road and the door unexpectedly flies open into oncoming traffic.
The bonus to the whole thing was when Mark & his brother came in after welding, their faces red and squinty with that identical crazy laughter they share, because the window glass in the door basically exploded during the welding process. Fixed door. Broken window. Sounds about right.
Yeehaw! Ya'll come back now, y'hear! And Don't Be Jealous.

Still snowing where you live? And if so, are you losing your mind yet? Watching my house being slowly torn apart by glaciers is kind of wearing on me. That and all this lack of color maybe.

Oh, wait. Here's color:Luckily no one was hurt in the explosion.

Our nieces stayed overnight Friday and this is the inevitable fallout. They all happily slept in those "tents?" Me? I just let it all fall apart like that. And took a picture to boot! Have I no shame?

Small price to pay, having their room temporarily under demolition. All four girls had many fun hours out in the snow, especially playing with the horses. I'm pretty sure the horses had fun, too. I think they've been bored with all this white, white, white, and they came running when Aggie called them.We were watching from the house as they haltered the horses and led them around. Someone lost a boot! We debated back and forth as we watched from the window. Should we tell them to leave the horses alone? Goodness knows we don't want anyone to get hurt.

I watched them climb aboard and then leap off into the snow. Then they'd lead the horses back to the gate or hay ring so they could climb back on and do it again. They were out there for hours with no complaints about the cold so you know they were deeply into their play.

In the end, the parental call (ours and nieces' father's call) was to keep an eye on them and intervene if necessary. But everyone was having such a good time and so well behaved we didn't have to bother them, just sat back and enjoyed the show.

I'm probably biased (y' think?!) but to me that afternoon fooling around with the horses in 2 or 3 feet of snow, all girl cousins getting along & working together, was a magical and fleeting thing. We had to let them take advantage of it.

There were no boys or grownups there to take charge or do the dirty work. They haltered the horses. They made them listen. They invented whatever they were playing. No toys, no video games, no input but their own.

When they fell down, they got back up. They helped one another. No one came running into the house tattling or whining. They were kind to the horses and the horses were kind to them. They were proud of themselves when they recounted their fun to us.

Just the kind of times I want them to have. I want them to construct ridiculous things out of blankets and rope and scrap wood. I want to find that they tried to fix something themselves with a butterknife instead of a screw driver. I hope they try recipes on their own. Dig holes in the yard for fun. Jump off the swings.

Not because I want to wonder where all the silverwear went to (usually it's Mark's fault when that happens,) or have to untie the spiderwebs of yarn tied from doorknob to doorknob to doorknob, or waste food on experimental baking (guilty here!), but because I want them to stretch out a little bit. Do weird stuff (not destructive or dangerous or illegal, just...weird.) Make up songs. Talk to imaginary friends. Try something all by yourself even if it's wrong. Have fun! Make memories.

Ya, all that kind of stuff.

Said the woman in her ninth hour of the day behind a desk in a nearly windowless room, staring at a computer monitor, typing a blog post. Guess I need a dose of my own medicine!

Maybe I'll give my imaginary friends a call to see if they'd like to try a new cookie recipe in our hideout made of blankets and pillows. That may be the very definition of Cabin Fever!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Ah! Another Witch!

I was up in Sam's room helping him with his vidya game when she came floating in.Poor little humpbacked thing. But she wasn't really a witch, just a bespectacled schoolmarm. She informed me that Lily was her student. She also informed me that Lily got one of her math sums wrong.

And then as quickly and inexplicably as she appeared, she was gone. Poof! And I never even caught her name.

In other news---electricity: it's a good thing. When it came on last night around 11pm or so it was a pleasant surprise to say the least. (My apologies to you Annette! I have a feeling your temporary outage was due to the repairs near our place.)

So we're back in modern times I suppose. I'm still going to try to enjoy The Dome without the ambiance of the gennie rattling the teeth out of my head. The only sad thing about it is that I felt like I was living in the dome myself: cut off from the world a little. It made the book a little more fun to read. I'll just use my imagination though!

I definitely relished using the range again. Mmmmm. Whole garlic cloves toasted in olive oil, asparagus, zucchini, mushrooms. Much better fare after our 4 day pork 'n pancake fest.

And speaking of food, look what I got! A sweet award from a sa-weeeet blogger over at Our Feet Are The Same. I'm going to get an actual cupcake, too, right? OK, I'll keep an eye out for it. No worries.

I'm passing this award on to 2 sweet bloggers who have made me hungry with their posts on more than one occasion: Sara the Handy Hooker and Patti the Osage Bluff Quilter. I've really enjoyed reading your blogs and, I just realized, you both have pretty cool super heroine names. xo!

Later Gators!

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

You See Her, Too, Don't You? The Radar Witch?

Snowing again. Do you see that mean ol' witch with her wicked wand? See her long ugly nose hanging right over us and Pittsburgh? No? You say I'm a little Jack Torrance up in here? Ya, maybe a little. We're at day 3.5 without power. Still looking like our best bet for restoration is Friday if we're lucky. More likely is next Wednesday.

If you can cook it on the griddle, we're eating it. I finally put it away for awhile because even this clan can only eat so many pancakes.
On the good side, I'd stocked up on bunches of fresh fruit prior to the storm. Wasn't even on purpose. The fruit will hopefully also counteract all the cheese and pretzels we're eating.

Actually trying to take a break from all the eating...

The kids had school inexplicably yesterday. Attendance was down by about 25%, teachers included. Apparently there was a big stink raised by many parents about our school being the only one in a large area to have classes, so we were cancelled today. More than a few of us out here still without electricity and un-dug from our driveways.

While the kids were in school Mark and I loaded up the laundry and headed to the laundromat. One of my least liked places. All the years of relying on them has left me with a healthy fear and loathing. Even driving past them I still think to myself Thank God I don't have to go there anymore. We even bumped into a fellow country dweller come to town to wash their frozen blue jeans.
I realized while having my dirty unmentionables and raggedy towels and kids junky play clothes in public that those things aren't exactly fit for public consumption. Really, even my 'nice underwear,' I just don't care to show strangers. It all made me appreciate what a luxury it is to do laundry at home. And maybe to consider replacing some of our junkiest stuff.
I've also learned a lot about how much electricity everything uses in our house. For example, the coffee pot, such a small countertop appliance takes about 2 1/2 times as much power as a television. But a necessary luxury once a day I say.
The pump that provides water from our well. We're not one hundred percent sure how much power it requires but it for sure takes a ton to start up. So we ration water use, get everyone gathered to do their necessary things, and then turn off the furnace and refrigerators and freezers, etc. while we use water. The rule is, if there's no pee in the toilet, don't flush. If there's pee in the toilet, verify flushing permission and then proceed to flush. Um, number 2 requires prior written request in triplicate.
I've also learned that I don't have one of those hairdos that lasts more than one day. It just doesn't, and I can't really fudge on it either. So, trip to the laundromat enhanced by my ugliest layers of functional clothing plus second day hair reflected back to me in the dryer door was a little depressing. But at least we have clean towels. Relatively. I'm not convinced of the washing quality from those machines. Ick.
Evenings have been spent in a dogpile on our bed splurging on a little cable tv. The dogpile enables us to turn the furnace way down, thus allowing for tv and laptop wattage. We're getting pretty good at rationing power and I'm trying to think of ways we can carry it into normal life once it returns.
Other than that we're A-OK and hoping that 'witch' moves on her merry way.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

"I Need More Power!"... "I'm Giving Her All She's Got, Cap'n!"

Admiral relaxing pre-snow storm. Shoveling a path to the wood pile.
Cows belly-deep in snow.

Sam & I took a walk to check the fence rows for downed trees. That's the house waaaaaay down the hill. Snow was usually up to our knees, sometimes up to mid-thigh. Sam was the champion of complaining. I'm too hot. I'm too cold. I'm simultaneously too hot and too cold. The snow is too white. We started trying to think of the most ridiculous complaints he could use and just decided that he'd save time by just grumbling "Complain, complain, complain." in lieu of specific things.

He asked, "Have you tasted the snow yet?" as he took a sample from the ground. Of course I already had, but I said that it was from down on the porch. That had us off on our advertising spiel for all the different flavored snows we could offer. Woodland Flavored, Porch Flavored, Fencepost flavored. So many delicious options.
And then I flung myself backwards, arms wide.

I even convinced Professor Whiny to try it. He agreed that it was one of the most comfortable tempur-pedic-like beds he'd every fallen into. We laughed at our body prints in the snow. Our tiny heads and big bodies.
I said, "Let me take a picture showing how deep the snow is." Pretty deep, huh? Just kidding, he's on his knees.
Relaxing in a pile.
This is normally a lovely path in the woods. All blocked by bent over trees.On our way back home. The horses way off in the distance wondering who's in their pasture field.
And then after nearly 24 hours of straight snow, the sun came out.
My Nikki.
Lily came out and said, "I want to show you a trick Sam showed me." I already knew what the trick was: free-falling with your arms outstretched into the deep snow. I let her show me and then said, "And who do you think showed that trick to Sam? Girl, I invented that trick!"

The birds were all very busy with their suet. They barely minded us being there.
They were so cute and pretty.Or 'handsome' is probably more accurate.Check out the snow on these bee hives.
Caught ya!
The final tally: 18 inches.
Tonight's blog post courtesy of our brand new generator!
Power went out last night shortly after midnight. Having no power could be very disasterous for us here since our heat source is an outdoor wood-fired boiler which requires electicity to run the water pump and blower fan. There is so much plumbing here that can't freeze. So much.
We called the electric company hotline and they predicted we'd have power at 5am. Five hours without juice: no sweat. (Literally, no sweating. It was 55 degrees in here this morning.)
But the snow was nowhere near being done. There were 12+ hours more of snowfall forecast. And we figured it was going to take a bit longer for the power to come back on.
The plan was, wake up at 6 to see if we were back online, and if not, rush into town to buy a generator, hoping hundreds of other folks hadn't thought the same thing.
Long story short, we dug ourselves out early this morning and were in line outside Lowe's with about half a dozen other poor souls waiting for them to open so we could buy a generator.
Mark snapped up on 1 of 2 on the shelf before anyone had a chance to blink and we headed home with our prize.
So not only are we relieved, we agreed we're basically living in the lap of luxury here with our running water and heat.
And internet.

Friday, February 5, 2010

The Sky Is Falling. Send Milk & Bread.

Big time snow storm going on right now. Mark and I have our accumulation predictions: Mark says 13 inches, I say 9. We're at about 8 inches right now, with hours to go, looks like I may lose. I had my doubts about the whole snow storm prediction.
I get really cranky watching weather forecasts since they super-sensationalize anything and everything. I swear to you, the guy on the Weather Channel this evening described the precipitation as "something he likes to call 'jazz,' a mix of snow and rain" or something along those lines. Mark looked at me and asked, "Did he just say that?" Ya, please change the channel. Jazz.

Any, any, any time there is a prediction of snow here in our neck of the woods, in Western PA where it, ah, snows in the Winter, (I know! Weird!) there is an insane run on the grocery stores for milk and bread in the day prior to the predicted snowfall. Or maybe that's what happens everywhere before it snows?

But people LOVE to do it here. All conversation centers around the pending snow and inescapable epic battle all will face in their attempt to gather the life-sustaining manna of "milk & bread." The milk & bread will see you through. It's like the duct tape of all food. The WD-40 of your pantry.

Seriously, you couldn't get by on the freezerful of Hot Pockets for a couple days? Couldn't the 2 liter of Mountain Dew and fresh box of zebra cakes see you through in the highly unlikely case that you really, truly couldn't get to a store in a day or two?

I realize I'm biased. We can go weeks without fooling with a loaf of bread here, because we have spells where we just don't eat it. Our milk is purchased by the week's worth. So we're spoiled. And probably when people say "milk & bread" they're just speaking figuratively. Maybe not literally "milk & bread," but maybe just the little odds and ends they'd like to have around so they don't have to leave the house when it's cold and snowy.

Something along the lines of the survival gear I picked up today before heading home to dig in for the weekend: "beer & video games."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010


Lily asked me today if the groundhog saw his hole. My mind went all kinds of places so I just tried not to smirk. ' Said I didn't know and I also didn't correct her that it was his shadow, not his hole.

I can never remember which one means Spring anyway. Hole or no hole. :)

"It's Just Like McDonalds: You Get Change Back."

"It's Just Like McDonalds: You Get Change Back." What the hecks does that even mean?

The absurdity of the statement has not stopped multiple customers from enthusiastically using it lately.
I had to google it, too, because I thought surely our humble burg is not the birthplace and residence of such a quotable quote. And glory be! it kinda looks like it is.(Based on my not finding it anywhere else.) (Unless you can tell me that you're doin' it your neck of the woods?) And it's a good illustration of why I was so very desperate to leave this place straight out of high school.

Sure, now I can appreciate it, I came back, but back then I felt like I was living in a Stephen King novel full of sideshow freaks. I can appreciate it now probably because I've become one. ha Haaa!

So anyway, it's the dreaded First Of The Month here at work and all the folks who don't have a bank account, who drive around all day paying all their bills in cash, who then treat themselves to a meal at said McDonalds as a reward for driving around all day paying all their bills in cash, they come out of the woodwork and come to the office spouting words of fun and wisdom.

In fact, I received a kiss on the top of my head from one today. True story.
That was unexpected. Dennis is our sometimes office pet who shows up to eat our donuts and drink our coffee, then has to be told to wipe the food off his face. (Or his tobacco spittle, yuck.)

Another did her best to clean out our candy jar. On at least one occasion she's brought a little baggie with her to carry her loot. We tell her to load up. Why not, ya know?

Heck, I even stopped on the side of the road today to help one who was stranded because her car quit. She was more upset by her lack of cigarettes than her car troubles.

We'll have multiple inquiries along the lines of "I've got my bill here. It says to pay xx amount of dollars. Can you tell me how much I need to pay?" Why none of us has ever asked in return "Are you serious?" I don't know.

Lots of folks coming in with straight-out-of-bed hair. Their kids leaving candy wrappers out on the waiting area floor. We have more than one customer who has a voice just like the witch on Bugs Bunny. We have a guy who wears a shirt with the name "Chet" embroidered on it, but his name isn't Chet. Come to think of it, he's one of the people that likens our office to McDonalds.

But there are good ones, too. A customer brought us some homemade chocolate pudding. Which was weird and scary, but really thoughtful. Folks bring their dogs in to visit. We try to entertain the kids with scrap paper for doodling and lollipops. We love seeing new babies.

So if any of that makes me sound like a stuck up creep, I apologize. Maybe I've posted these little rants before. If so, I apologize. You deserve a break today. heeeee :-)

Lily keeps asking me if she's adopted. Lily, the child that looks exactly like all my baby pictures.
She thinks she's black because she tans more than her siblings in the Summer. And it's not like she's really upset about it, just unconvinced when I tell her she's not adopted. She even seems a little disappointed when I insist that she's biologically ours?
I have a feeling her brother has something to do with it. He's the one who told her to touch the electric fence with a tenpenny nail when she was about 3 years old. I heard her screech from the house. Boy, was she pissed.

I Didn't Know I Was Pregnant. Are you kidding me? (Not me, the TV show!) Have you seen this show? I'm totally sucked in by it because no matter how many reasonable explanations they give for why these women didn't know, I still can't wrap my brain around it. Even women who've been pregnant multiple times before still didn't know they were pregnant.
Babies move in there for pete's sake.
Especially my 'adopted' child, Lily; she used to do this weird rhythmically pulsing kick thing. Not the hiccups, but like some kind of little dance.
I knew I was destined for an interesting child when she was doing that in the womb.

Alrighty then. Is it Friday yet?

Monday, February 1, 2010

Weekend Rolling

It's a hardcore bunch we roll with.
Though I'd been looking forward to an uneventful weekend (other than math club, basketball practice, sleep over, basketball game, etc. ) I couldn't turn down a friend's invitation Friday to take the kids ice skating. Three sets of parents & kids with a friend thrown in for good measure.
Since we've never done this activity before ( or at least I haven't since I was a kid,) it was a learning experience.

The fancy place we first tried had a line of pre-teens out the door for a half hour before the public skate session even began. So we were turned away when they quickly met their occupancy limit. Now we know, next time, be there a good half hour before the rink opens and be prepared to stand in sub-zero temperatures outside in line.
It was 9pm at that point and the kids were still amped up to go skating. So I made a call to my Globo Gym Purple Cobra hockey playing brother for the next best location and our three vehicle caravan was back on the road to find another rink.
Fortunately we scored. And the ticket gal even gave us a discount since we'd missed part of the session.Their first time around the rink took them all about half an hour because they were inching sooo slowly along the wall. That's not an exageration. Half an hour!
But things loosened up after that. There was a DJ playing Lady GaGa and even Michael Jackson's 'Thriller.' 'Thriller' is a superb ice skating song btw. I squirmed on the sidelines wishing I was out on the ice, but I was definitely too old for that crowd.
But not too old for this crowd.Big pinball tourney goin' on amongst the adults. Vending machine coffee drinkin', pinball playin' good times.
11pm and closing time finally rolled around, but did we head home? No!
Table for 11 at Eat 'N Park, please. And we laughed and ate breakfast and stayed out past midnight.
Lily was so proud of arriving home at 1AM. She's a party animal, she is.
And having breakfast at midnight enabled us to postpone Saturday's breakfast until after lunch. The girls and Aggie's friend were busy most of the day working on some sort of video. There was makeup & hair doing, musical arrangements courtesy of the electronic keyboard, and fancy introductions.
Their photography was not so great. Not sure how the final video turned out, but they were happy for a long time so I just kept to my own beeswax.Aggie and friend. They're good eggs. But I still made them take the makeup off before we took them out for Mexican. They totally pouty faced us into that one.And friend's parents make some incredible homemade wine. They gifted us a nice hefty bottle of red that went magically with our Sunday supper of homegrown T-Bone steaks, asparagus, mushrooms, and Mawsi's homemade macaroni 'n cheese.
Neko Case playing in the background. Mark's grandma laughing a little more freely over her wine. Mark & his grandpap chewing on their steak bones.
Supper was after I'd spent several reluctant hours on hands and knees poking the vacuum in every nook, crannie, crevice, corner, hole, get what I' saying, and then, on hands and knees again, mopping the whole first floor by hand.
I made the mistake of busting out the magic eraser on the laundry room floor. Ah, the bane and boon of flooring that so effectively hides dirt. And the agony and ecstasy of the magic eraser bringing to light just how much filth you've been living in all this time.
So I was riding high on that Just Cleaned The House feeling. Supper was perfect. I'd bribed the girls to extra clean their room with the promise of 1 month of Club Penguin membership and Lily was beside herself with joy. She told me as much, and I wish I'd videoed her beaming and squirming in her seat as she logged on. So I'd basically bought myself some sisterly love and peace for about 12 bucks.
Mark & Sam were engrossed in a video game.
And I topped my 2 glasses of wine off with a concoction of amaretto, creme de cacao, and milk (probably has a real name, huh?)honky tonk music on the Sirius (I have an occasional love of the ickiest, most inappropriate honky tonk songs; e.g. I'd Love To Lay You Down by Conway Twitty. So wrong, but I just can't look away or stop listening,) and a fresh, squishy brownie as I lounged like a contented hog on my bed.
A giddy moment.
YoYo was PO'ed because he wanted in the house. He's so handsome, even when he's peeved.
All I wanted was one day of clean, buddy. Things will be back to normal today, paw prints and dead ladybugs everywhere.