12/7/08

Two Months

I just opened this blog and realized it has been two months since my last posting. I apologize to my vast network of adoring fans. May all three of you forgive me for my negligence.

Life goes on in my little tiny corner of the world (is it a corner or is it just a tiny spec in the middle of the room?) Since October, I have witnessed an election, a holiday with another one approaching and the neverending drama of the "simple" life on the farm.

As most people know, I have developed an incredible passion for my dogs and the breed they represent. They are "AMERICAN Bulldogs". What is that you may ask? Well, as best I can tell it's any kind of bulldog except a pitbull rolled and bred into a package of bulldog that doesn't really look like any other bulldog. There are different varieties of the breed and it usually consists of a wonderful mix of english bulldog and boxer. They are bigger than the english but equally ugly but they are not as hyper and unresponsive to discipline as the boxers tend to be. My guys are huge at this point. From the tiny little packages I fed bottles every hour on the hour or everytime they whined to the remaining two weighing in at a good 60 pounds some 8 months later! They have each chosen to "own" other members of my family preferring to visualize me as their mother and provider and normally as the person they trip up during our long walks. However, being their mother seems to also label me as their protector which is the reverse of what I intended.

One evening last week, I was walking to open the gate for my husband as he came home from work. I do this for him because I am the greatest wife in the universe and as the greatest wife in the universe, I don't want him to have to get out and get wet or cold when coming through the gate! I like walks after dark - looking at the stars, seeing what phase the moon is in, listening to the sounds that only are heard at night. But, I am learning that there are other creatures as well who like walking after dark and the advice and warnings of my old farmer neighbor are beginning to ring true. "Do not walk after dark - it's dangerous" he tells me, knowing I am hard headed and love nothing more than a walk through the woods under a full moon when I can see and hear the lifeforms coming alive that I don't even know exist during the day.

On this particular evening it was raining and I had only an umbrella and our cat AJ to keep me company. The dogs don't come out when it rains...they will get their pretty white fur wet and they will get chilled. So, I left the babies behind in the warmth and safety of their little spot while I walked to open the gate. It was a warm rain and I enjoyed hearing it on the umbrella and feeling it on my face. AJ didn't seem to mind either.

I got to the gate some 200 yards from the house and waited for Dave to come up the hill of our dirt road. And I heard him...panting, huffing, puffing...it had to be Brutus....yaaaay...he came after all. He came around the far fence, rounded the corner and I could tell by the sound that he was on a mission but what a strange pant and huffing he was making. "Brutus, what on earth is the matter?" I asked him while AJ ran under my feet.

He got closer....

"Brutus, slow down....what are you so excited about" I asked again.

It was dark, no moon because of the rain clouds and Brutus was not slowing down. As I leaned forward to ask him again what his problem was, I realized this MAY NOT be Brutus!

I began backing to the now opened gate and asking Brutus to slow down as I could not see him. AJ continued to clammer under my feet making it very difficult to get anywhere without tripping. As he got another few feet and about 15 feet in front of me, I realized that Brutus was not Brutus but a full grown, rather angry and annoyed wild boar! I also realized I heard Dave coming up that hill.

As I clammered to get on top of the gate, the headlights began to reveal that my assessment was correct and this boar, who I have now named after a certain schizophrenic individual I have had the occasion to know, was coming straight towards me. I am not sure if it was the shaking umbrella or the approaching headlights that caused her to take a hard right turn and head into the woods, but I am sure that my neighbor was correct and there will be no more walking in the woods at night. If she wants to rule the dark, it's all hers!

Oh and those huge bulldogs bred and designed to assist and protect me....they are none worse for the wear having never shown up to defend their poor mother!

10/3/08

Swawmp Woman

My sister began reading my secret blog and asked me why I had picked a countrygirl theme when I was officially a Swawmp (yes, the spelling is right for the speaking where I am from) - woman!

Play back to 1988. Dave is a Subcontract Administrator at the Boeing Company. I am a Cost Analyst. My assignment is to manage/monitor the subcontractor budgets and make sure the one's who administrate them are keeping everything within budget. This is NASA/Military money, budget is a floating term in that world. But at Boeing budget meant budget, except to the subcontractors and those administrators. So, there was a continual battle between accountants and those administrators regarding "visibility" and "status" and "completion progress" as all these things impact budget forecasting and monitoring.

I met Dave and immediately began working towards straightening him out/kicking his a... to make sure he didn't mess up everything with his subcontractor. And so it began...He hated me and I loved making him hate me more. He was city bred, raised in Chicago, returned to Huntsville where he was born after his ever how many useless years in the military (I like to say Army here because he was Air Force and it STILL annoys him!). I was a girl born, raised and still living in the country...right across the road from designated wetlands/swamps...who embraced her "countryness" and never made apologies for my forthright attitude and complete inability to understand WHY anyone would waste their time negotiating when cleary presenting the facts was much faster.

Our conflict within that program was well known. So, when his boss suggested we actually have a date- we were shocked. That would be mixing one assh... (him) with one perfect accountant (duh- me). But, he called me - not once but several times and I finally relented after he begged me for days on end to give him a chance (yes America - this is MY story and I will tell it how I remember it!)

The rest of the story is pretty evident...EXCEPT our third date. My mother is a southern raised woman just like me. I still lived with her and my younger sister - across from that swamp and in early fall, the ground in that area becomes very ... spongee. But Dave had a truck - and he was convinced it was capable of handling the land in that area. So, on the third date, he parked in the yard, fearful of parking in my Mom's way as she was going to town to shop. He was and still is rather intimidated by her forthrightness and independence but they have learned to love each other just as they are - they did all along except his fear overwhelmed his ability to appreciate that she had an amazing sense of humor.

Mother left for the store, Dave and I got ready to go and headed into the yard. We got into the truck, he put it in gear and gave it a little bit of gas. But...we sat there. The wheels were turning, but the truck was going nowhere. I immediately knew the problem. My front wheel drive Honda would have gotten out, but that truck, with rear wheel drive and no suspension, just continued to dig deeper into the ground! It was a truck designed for city slickers, not a truck designed for farms. Dave was shocked at this knew revelation.

My sister came out when she heard the engine revving and Dave told us both to "stay on the porch and I will handle this". We chuckled at one another as he continued to shift from reverse to first gear and dig deeper, deeper, deeper. His temper was rising as he saw our amusement and his panic was setting in. He didn't know that country folk are not offended by ruts in the yard...he's from the city! He didn't know that my mother would laugh, he was certain that destroying her front yard would result in banishment from her place!

Finally, out of pity for his state of panic and anxiety, my sister and I began attempting to explain to him HOW to get that truck out of that rut. "Put sticks, boards, rocks ...in the hole - under the tire" my sister said as she began shoving stuff under the tire now dug in to almost the axle.

"You don't know about this stuff, you barely know how to drive!" he told her, completely offended by the fact that she assumed she could know more than him.

"Do you have a shovel somewhere, I can shovel some stuff under the tire and get some leverage" he said to me.

"Sure, but a shovel won't help, you need boards, something solid in order to...." I was responding when he cut me off.

"GET ME A SHOVEL...I can get this out" he said.

Now sister and I were both amused. We headed into the house to retrieve the shovel from the utility room and laughed out loud while we were there. When we had once again gained our composure, we returned to the yard with the shovel. By now, however, our "McLeroy humor" had set in and we began to agitate him with our comments, deliberately testing his anxiety to see what sort of outburst we could get.

"Do you think that shovel will lift your truck like a forklift" I can't remember if it was me or my sister who asked this but a light went on in his head - a very dim one in his state of panic.

"Get me a board" He said.

OH - he was figuring it out we decided as we located him a board. He took the board, put the shovel on it like a see saw and wedged the blade of the shovel under the tire.

Rae and I looked at one another in a bit of confusion but more in joyful anticipation of the next incident. And yes, America, as he lifted that tire with that old shovel, the handle of the shovel snapped in two.

"Oh no" Rae said. "I think that was Grandaddy's shovel!"

"Yes it was" I said.

"What - why the HELL would you bring me an antique shovel. Now I have to get this truck out before your mother gets home - she is going to HATE ME - THIS IS NOT FUNNY! Will you please quit laughing!" he yelled at us.

This scene continued a bit longer but exhaustion soon set in and then defeat. Rae and I finally managed to feel sorry for Dave and began reassuring him that Mother would laugh but he was STILL convinced that country folk view yards as do city folk and that his reputation with her was ruined from this point forward unless he got something done.

We did what we had intended to do all along. We called Jerry Mansfield, a local farmer with a tractor and requested that he come and pull Dave out of the yard. Jerry got there post haste, hooked up the tractor to the back of the truck and, within minutes, had the truck back on solid ground. Still, Dave was digging frantically with the remainder of the shovel, trying to cover up the hole begging....

"help me cover this up, if we pour some more dirt and the cover it with grass she will never know"...he said

"Sure" Rae said as she was standing in the hole, the ground coming above her knees '" we can just HIDE THIS!" at which point she and I had to retreat back into the house in order to laugh.

I think Mr. Mansfield assured Dave that my mom would not cast some evil spell upon him but would laugh and Dave offered to pay him. Of course he refused and as he was pulling out the driveway simply said "That's what you have to expect when you date a Swawmp Woman!"

To this day, our friends from that time call me by that name. To this day, Dave (now endearingly) calls me by that name on occasion. And...to this day, my Mom bends over laughing when my sister and I relay the story.

Dave replaced her shovel by the way....he bought her the most awesome coal shovel you have ever seen for Christmas. Unfortunately, the original shovel was just a common garden shovel!

10/1/08

Musings of a Star!

My sister wrote me yesterday - Yaaay for that - and asked my permission to use some pictures I sent her that I had taken when we were children. It made me begin to think how the world has changed. She is going to upload these pictures to her new website once she gets it started.

When I was a kid I had a little 110 camera and my mom probably spent a fortune on film. We learned to mail our rolls in to a wholesale house and get the pictures back for a very small amount. I have albums full of pictures. I would head out with a roll of film and photograph basically anything that I saw. I loved getting those shots back and analyzing my success at capturing the moments. There was "hen laying egg" - "rooster eating corn" - "dog barking to get off chain" - "sister with goat" - "sister with goat again" - "sister still with goat" - "sister loves goat" - "sister and goat together" - yes, lots of "sister with" photos and usually it was our pet goat. There are a few "sister with turkey" - "Sister with chicken" and the occasional "sister with turtle found in field" Everything was photo worthy.


My brother in law is a professional freelance photographer and sister is continually making us these most wonderful animated and musical CD's with old photos, etc. So, I try to send her all of the old ones I can. I know I will get them back and she takes the copies and puts them to good use.


Wait....brother in law is a professional photographer...sister wants "permission" to use a few photos I sent her. Re-thinking this entire situation...this could be a goldmine. My 110 skills were - after all - profoundly high quality if I do say so myself! All those goat, chicken and dog pictures could now be worth...can we say M I L L I O N S! Yes, the world is now about how much we can gain from even the most simple things we used to do for nothing.

Without that camera, I probably would have driven my mother nuts inside the house. I could take that camera and try to capture the world OUTSIDE which was where our mother wanted us. I could take baby sister with me and have even more fun using her as my model. Who knew that I could now get rich from all that? Who knew I would one day be giving "permission" (please include license number on all checks!) for someone to post these spectacular photo's on a website?


As I write this, I realize just how great I am becoming - or how great I have always been considering I took those photo's at the young age of 10 and 11, 12, etc. I was a prodigy and am now going to be discovered!

Finally- the world will know of my greatness! FINALLY, the world will realize that even as a child, I was the most awesome human with a camera ever to exist. They will be so amazed that it was just a 110 as I always knew as a child they would be.

I close this note with a quick goodbye - I have to go dig out all those photo albums and send sister more photos. You will see me in the magazines soon - I just know it - holding those big checks, wearing my bling bling, waving to all my fans, acting ever so humble as I am swarmed for autographs. I will never forget the little people who made this happen!

9/24/08

Ah - Autumn!

My friend Mary LOVES Autumn. http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendid=200490683

She decorates her house, her website, EVERYTHING. She inspires me to enjoy the seasons more than I ever have. I personally am a Spring person as I love the new life, the new warmth and the promise of a season of fresh vegetables and greenery. Even with the extreme heat of the summer, I find summer a great season. Even the mosquitoes won't sway that opinion of the season.

As Autumn progresses and Winter threatens, we get spiders galore spinning their webs all around. The banana spiders http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nephila and all sorts of other spiders. The banana spiders spin webs much like the spider in Charlotte's Web spun. My mother has always been enamored with them and goes to great effort to move them to new places with a broom before I visit. I am enamored with NO spider unless it's on the bottom of someone's shoe!

There is another species of spider I have yet to identify, however, that has at least sparked compassion in me. In the evenings it spins a large web sometimes between several trees. It begins working just as the sun is setting. Then, very early in the morning, just as the sun is rising, if I go outside, I can find it carefully taking this web back up. How considerate of this creature. I have no desire to eliminate it as I have yet to get the ole web in the face which normally results in temporary dizziness and occasional fainting when I imagine the gargantuan creature crawling up my back which has been the experience with previous banana spider encounters.

Perhaps if the banana spiders learned to write like Charlotte did, I would give them more consideration. You know....they could write things like:...."This is a web stupid, don't walk through it" or "I will tell your fortune for $15,000" at which point I could invite the media to pay up and the next day it could write something like "yesterday you woke up and tomorrow you will wake up again". People like Oprah, Geraldo, maybe even Jerry Springer could bring their shows to my house and interview this spider and pay to have it respond with further writings such as "If you want your show to succeed, you must pay Robbi - one MIll...I mean ...ONE BILLION dollars!"

I could see the Springer edition now....

"Folks, we are the house of the famous fortune telling spider - here she is now spinning her newest fortune"...

"Little does little Spidey woman know, but her fella has been seen around the corner with a rather shiny and beautifully decorated black widow!"

Then the widow could come out and she and spidey woman could battle it out until Widow explains to spidey just what happens to a fella who messes with the widow at which point they both crack open the spidey champaigne bottle and laugh about how stupid the guy was after all! Oh , and Springer security would all be bitten by the widow before the show ends - thus changing the face of sensationalistic television forever.

All this fantasy digression began with my reflection of Mary's love of Autum!

I guess all in all I do appreciate and enjoy Autumn. Sometimes, when I am wearing my favorite turtle neck, I even appreciate winter! Christmas would not be Christmas if there was not at least a chill in the air. Plus, I have managed to finally locate myself to a part of the country where snow is almost non-existent much to my daughter's chagrine - only a child would love Nebraska-esque snowfalls!

So, enjoy the seasons as Mary tells me. Appreciate them for each new beginning the offer.

9/23/08

Vermin in the House!

As I got home yesterday evening, the tiny little baby rat was found! YAAAY for the McKenzies.

Our last experience with a wayward hamster resulted in a few holes in the wall, some carpet damage and the grief of a daughter who just KNEW this creature would come home to her. I have to say, of all the vermin species, rats make ideal pets. That sounds crazy, but they have manners, they use a litter box and they have little tiny personalities. Our Gizmo is now over three pounds and he LOVES to be held. He will not, however, run off or get into stuff if he gets out of his cage. He simply hangs out on top, standing up with his little tiny hands out when we walk by seeking some treat for his greatness. Then, he goes back into his cage and hides the treat in his ever growing pile of food/trash which gets dumped out about once a month. The dumping results in his sneezing, and wiping his eyes in disbelief and his throwing shavings all over the place while he frantically looks for the lost treasure. Then, he starts building the stash all over again. He munches on his treasure at night after we go to bed. That's so much quieter than those horrid wheels hamsters run in all night long.

Our vermin adventure began when Leiren was 9 years old. She wanted a hamster and ONLY wanted a hamster (note: a child who ONLY wants something learns early in life that if you say you ONLY want something, you can get things normally not offered, then you just add to the list later on). Her father relented and we took her to the local pet store. There in a cage in the front of the store were the hamsters. One particular fat gray hamster was more affectionate than the rest and Leiren set her heart on this little creature. It willingly got in her hand and the box they offered for transport and the store owner guaranteed me we had a male. I have since learned that one can quite easily tell the difference as the males of the species disgustingly display their massive ...er...."assets".

Leiren named our little creature Dexter and Dexter took up residence in the new cage in her room. Dexter would get out and play with her, climb on her and sleep in her lap while she watched television. We had Dexter about six days when Leiren came bounding from her room..."Guys, guys,....it's a MIRACLE...Dexter has babies!"

"What" her Dad responded...."someone is going to get sued!"

"Oh No Daddy - it's wonderful - come see"

He went into her room with her to discover eleven naked creatures that my daughter referred to as babies. They were writhing in the corner covered by the visibly proud Dexter. Leiren was thrilled beyond description. As the babies grew - and fast they did grow, they became the neighborhood attraction. Children came from all over seeking to play with them. They were fluffy yellow, gray and black - the teddy bear variety and they were quite adorable. It soon became evident however, that eleven half grown and one fully grown hamster in the same container designed for one was just too many. Many the evening we would open up the stop compartment to find them packed tightly together, sweating, panting and smiling at their comfy little lifestyle.

Leiren's friends would daily come and they would take out a few and play with them. Then, the new kid showed up. The new kid was somewhat afraid of the creatures but insisted on holding a few of them. As the little guys began to play with one another and seek out her pocket as they often did with Leiren, she went into a panic and ejected them from her lap...right into the floor. They were terrified by the reaction and scattered to all corners of the room. Leiren was able to retrieve one that evening and cried herself to sleep thinking the others were bound for certain death.

Her parents - we - on the other hand were at our breaking point and intent on delivering the rest to the petstore to make HIS problem since he had sold us a hamster who obviously had no moral character while residing in his store. The next day, the plan was implemented. First, Leiren called all her friends. SURE, it was o.k. for them to come to my house and play with vermin but not a single parent would allow the child to bring one home! Friends- ugh!

As we were rounding up the remaining nine babies, we discovered our cat Mystery had gotten in the house. Leiren was in the living room when Mystery showed up with a peculiar expression on his face. He was attempting to get her to let him out the back door when she realized the expression was the result of yellow fluffy ....something...in his mouth! Oh the drama....She screamed - literally screamed - I believe people in New York heard it. Mystery dropped the limp creature and it lay on its back, looking dismally wasted. I opened the back door and Mystery escaped before becoming a victim.

There was Leiren...sobbing...walking towards the little creature, still laying on it's back, mouth open, tongue hanging out...her head down, her hands at her side...falling to her knees (I swear I could hear background music from the Godfather playing at this point). She leaned over the little guy, tears rolling to the floor and appeared to be intent upon kissing him his last goodbye. As she reached him, he bounded to his feet and scurried under the couch. Who knew that a hamster could act! This hamster had fully convinced one and all, mostly the cat, that it was dead!

Leiren screamed again - "It's alive!" and I screamed louder "Get it out from under the couch!" We had to re-arrange the living room but we finally caught it. Examination revealed no open wounds, no death punctures, just a slobbery mess of a fluff ball. We bathed him and she put him back with his mother. He got a reprieve from delivery to the petstore.

Two weeks later, Dexter had another litter of babies - her carousing days still in full swing obviously. This time there were only five and we quickly removed them and delivered them to the petstore while we were purchasing a new cage for the renegade.

Dexter and the renegade lived about three years. They had peaceful lives, alone in each cage and enjoyed residing in the computer room - the designated residence after many a sleepless night from the wheels in the cage going round and round.

So, that was the beginning. As they passed into the history books of our family, we were able to resist vermin pets for a very long time. Then, Gizmo was "rescued" from a snakefood set up and now we have Forrest. Forrest was easy to name...as we were retrieving him from his box last night, Leiren kept saying "run Forrest run".

Vermin may not be the best of pets, but they are easy. At least the rats are. As I have already described, they entertain without truly annoying. They enjoy the occasional bit of attention but never demand it. And you can leave them alone for days on end provided they have ample food and water. So far, they are easier than cats or dogs.

9/22/08

Sweet 16

Good Monday world!

I know the entire world checks in here and reads about my small town life, so I just had to shout out there!

I had the thrill this weekend of going to Huntsville, Alabama to pick up my daughter. She has spent several weeks with her grandparents and was finally ready to come home. Coming home is bittersweet for her as she has friends there she had to leave behind. She has friends here too as well but it's sad when you leave even though you are always moving towards someone else. I wonder sometimes if we fail to realize most of our lives are moving "towards" and concentrate on what we may be "leaving".

I have a friend who has lost everything - E V E R Y T H I N G - to Ike including the little spot of land that he called home which is now gone due to erosion from the storm surge. So, even if he were able to rebuild, there is nothing currently to rebuild upon. Some say "too bad for picking a spot that is vulnerable" but all spots are vulnerable as anyone who has been through a tornado or an earthquake can testify. Our lives are fragile in the physical realm.

My daughter's request for her birthday was to attend the Dixie Reptile Show which was held at the University of Alabama in Birmingham. She found out about this show from her friend Scott who owns Pet Addicts in Huntsville, Alabama. http://www.pet-addicts.com/ He has a huge inventory of unique and ...er...interesting reptile species and he has been a great educator for her interest.

I wondered as we negotiated our trip home and the stop at the show how a reptile is actually shown. Do they have little snake collars and leashes with little rings in which you walk/slither them around? Do they teach them to sit, down, heel or come on command? Would I be given the opportunity to see those less practiced snakes rebel and refuse to follow one or the other commands. Then, how do you discipline them? Perhaps you yank their little necks with that choke collar like you would a disobedient dog? What part is actually the neck?

The owner of the Dixie Reptile show http://www.dixiereptileshow.com/ was sweet enough to give us free entrance for Leiren's birthday, so her negotiation strategy was strengthened by the fact that entrance would be free. More thoughts as I drove from Huntsville to Birmingham - do the lizards have a "category" for each class. Is there a Hunter Class, A Vegetarian Class (the class of preference). Perhaps there was a "beginner Lizard class" where all the tiny little lizards would hang out knowing only a few commands and be excused more politely when they messed up.

I had this vision of people wearing little belts with pockets full of tiny mice, crickets, worms, maybe some lettuce for those preferable vegetarian varieties and tossing the "rewards" to the reptiles as they performed according to plan. I have trained and shown dogs and horses my entire life, but I simply could not imagine what I would find when I got to this reptile show. How would one know a good "Python Specimen" from a poor one? What are the conformation requirements for the different species of lizards?...oh the questions.

We arrived at the show about 15 minutes after it "started". As we entered into the auditorium all my questions were answered. A "reptile show" is an exhibition/sale of different reptilian species by different breeders and handlers. (Ladies, these are not men by the way - those are snakes of an entirely different species - sorry to mislead)

There was table after table after table of reptiles - snakes in clear shallow bowls with clear lids stacked in some cases five or six high - lizards in the same situation - one crocodile looking creature (owners get offended by the use of the word "crocodile" by the way - they are called "Caymans" or something like that - they just look like crocodiles). To see this creature through the glass, I found exciting. To take him home - not so exciting. And there were PLENTY of attendees at this show. I believe the stats said 47 exhibitors and there was a crowd in front of each table.

There were vendors of food - crickets, worms, special diets and...er...mice and rats. We "rescued" a tiny rat baby and justified it with the fact that we bought Gizmo (our overweight, spoiled and lonely rat) a friend for $1.00. Unfortunately, he was tiny and we did not realize until JUST THIS MORNING that he could crawl through the wires of Gizmo's cage. Somewhere in our little bungalow is one very happy, very free...baby rat! Unfortunately, he could become cat food instead of the designated reptile food he was originally intended. Sometimes even the best of intentions are just not so well planned!

My daughter came out of the entire thing the proud owner of a Crested Gecko (and you too can have this wonderful addition to your household reptilian population for the outstandingly low price of $60.00). It was her birthday present for which funding had been set aside, so it's not a complete waste of money- there's a commercial playing in my head right now - gas to show -$30.00/cost to get in - free/Gecko- $60.00/cage purchased later - $60.00 - smile on daughter's face - priceless. At some point the "damage from escaped rat to carpet and upholstery - unknown at this time!" There was one person who had three tiny (the size of a dime each) geckos of some variety. OH- they were cute and they were cheap. He was honest however and confessed their wildness and the difficulty at keeping them contained - "but they are really fun to watch run across the ceiling after they get out" he said. Oh well...cute isn't always the best bet!

I think I have the only 16 year old female child who has her heart set on become a "herpiterarian/reptile breeder/expert" whatever that is. I always thought that you just referred to ANYONE who likes slithering creatures as "eww" but now I have to change my opinion. As we headed home with the lizard, previously acquired Rainbow Frog, previously acquired Albino Pacman Toad, previously acquired scorpion named Sushi (I refer to him as future Sushi for my Shoesie if I ever see him outside of his cage), I could only imagine what lies ahead. She has her heart set on a "pet snake" but fortunately, she respects her Daddy's morbid fear to the point she knows it could result in bodily harm of someone. Maybe we will see her in the next Britney Spears video tossing one of these creatures at the star while she writhes all over the stage (that would be writhing in fear, not dancing people).

I have raised my daughter so far to be a creature of independent thinking who has a sense of responsibility. I have raised her to try to be intelligent and she has spent HOUR upon HOUR researching each new addition before bringing it home. She knows exactly how to care for, nurture (is that a word that applies to reptiles?) and contain (That's a word for reptiles!) each of them. I personally shared her affection for the reptilian world years ago but never expected to have them in my home. There are those who e-mail and call her with their care questions from near and far as she has participated in forums and blogs that reveal the knowledge she has learned...if only she did the same with her math! She has become a part of a network of people and many are kind enough to take the time to educate her further regarding this or that species and it's "practicality" as far as owning it. There were many at the show who were thrilled to see her and I was...well...just a mom, hanging in the wings, watching her enjoy her world - a world she is beginning to explore that only includes me as mom- hanging in the wings.

Where does one mom go from this point? She's 16 and I am learning to let her be her own person. I am no longer her buddy- I am her Mom - guide - nurturer - supporter. My hope is that she always knows no matter where she goes, I will always be home. I gave up the hope of being "cool" the first time she talked back to me. So, you take what you can get.

Sweet 16 - is rather bittersweet for Mom.

9/16/08

My Morning Shower

So my friend has power in Houston as of last night. How quickly we forget how important that little detail in our lives is. Ike left a very horrific reminder for us all that we are no match for the forces of nature. However, God is there with us in the worst of times, holding our hands and walking us back towards the light.

I kept calling Mary last week giving her directions for preparations. I actually believed I had useful advice. My first realization that perhaps our worlds were different was when I told her "Mary, fill all your tubs, your washing machine, your sinks, pots and pans, you will need the water just to flush the toilet".

Her response was simply -"Robbi, I have a pool full of water, I think our toilets will get amply flushed!"

I had to laugh at myself. Where I live, if the power goes out, the water goes out. We have a well which provides unlimited and delicious cold spring water. I love our water! But, when we have storms and no power, we have no water!

My morning wake up is my shower. Where most people seek the comfort and power of caffeine to get them going, I head straight for the shower. If I can't get a shower, I don't really see the need to get up - going through the day feeling dirty, hair tangled and frizzy, not quite awake, not smelling like freshly lathered skin - it's just not the same the entire day.

One Sunday a month or so ago, we had a very early morning thunderstorm. This summer we have had very few storms and morning storms have been non-existent. We could hear the thunder and I said "Oh, I think I will just lay here a while and listen to the thunder...it's so nice to hear since it will bring rain" And rain it did bring - LOTS AND LOTS of rain.

It took a Category 3 hurricane to knock out Mary's power and keep it out. In our case, it took one little bolt of lightning from this storm I had welcomed so readily. I had briefly forgotten the reality of where and how I live and not dashed to get my shower before the impending lightning bolt. I KNEW it would happen, it always does - but in one brief flash - my entire day - was ...well...not even worth the effort.

After the power went out, I initially laid there listening to the rain on the tin roof - another melancholy sound. I actually enjoyed it but then I wanted to get going with my day. And still no power. Thank goodness for cell phones...I called the power company and they simply left a message that they were working on it. I am the last house on the line...this day did not look very good.

We laid in the bed a few more minutes. The storm left - no more thunder - but still no power. And OH THE RAIN. It just kept raining. It was a warm summer rain, and it was setting in for the rest of the day as best I could tell.

At that point in the day, I did something...something only a die hard countrygirl would do...something my yankee husband initially said was insane. I stripped down, grabbed the soap, the shampoo and conditioner and I headed for the back deck! I WOULD get my shower. (sidebar - the back deck faces NOTHING but 50 acres of timberland - no human eyes were injured during the back deck shower event)

I stepped out onto that deck and felt that warm rain all over me. Well, first I realized that warm rain under clothes isn't really warm naked. But I was in it now and I was not going to admit that it was not so warm. It only took my husband a few minutes to cave in to the idea and head out there himself. Again - no humans were blinded from this event.

He realized quickly that - yes - I was lying when I said "come on out, the water's warm" and he began lathering himself up as fast as he could. Before I could explain to him that the rain water was softer than our well water, he already had himself looking like a soap bubble chia pet/human. We laughed, washed each others backs and just jumped around on the deck growing more hysterical as the event passed. The dogs ran under the house, the cats were hiding from the rain and I would imagine any other beast or fowl was heading for cover - from the view.

That soft rain water did not want to let the soap rinse and we stood out there until we were shriveled, shivering raisin people! Well...he would have to shrivel A LOT to be a raisin person, but he was all wrinkly. As cold as it was, we were still there, still laughing and still having the time of our lives! And it just kept raining -just for us.

We finally finished our duck-like showers and went back inside to towel off at the back door. The power was STILL not on and we were hungry. So we dried ourselves as best we could, got dressed and headed for Hardee's to see if they had power. That is the first time in YEARS I have gone out without styling my hair and it was liberating!

Hardees did indeed have electricity and we ate our biscuits and gravy and continued laughing about our morning showers. We stayed in near hysterics through the entire meal, drawing many a glance from on-lookers.

It was about four more hours before our power came on but we didn't care anymore. We were clean lean survival machines. We had conquered the morning shower challenge and were ready to take on whatever else the day held for us! I loved that morning shower and will cherish it forever. The next time I hear distant thunder I will... run like crazy to get into the shower before it gets there! Yes, I loved the shower, but it's value serves best as a memory - a very sweet memory!

9/12/08

Strange Happenings.

Yesterday I went home, quickly changed my shoes and attempted to get my evening walk completed before the distant clouds arrived. As I was rounding the corner of the back gate, I ran into around eight deer milling around the gate. We all froze- me, the dogs, the deer...just stood there. They looked angry with me for interrupting their little gathering, unwilling to budge. So I started wondering "do deer get rabies and is it possible that all of them can have rabies at the same time...will I be able to beat the dogs to the house!"

Apparently, they were wondering "does she have a gun or could we take her!" Apparently the gun theory won out and they bounded off quite quickly once they managed to get all turned in the same direction. At that point the dogs unfroze and began muffled woofing - sort of confused as to whether or not pursue or just be thankful they were not pounded by the tiny hooves of eight deer.

Strange events happen when storms approach and huge Ike is in the gulf heading towards Texas. I am prayerful for those in his path but completely fascinated by how he is effecting even our area which is probably a thousand or more miles away?

This morning we have birds that usually we never see and they all wanted to sing at the same time. It was almost noisy as I fed - the birds competing for the highest volume and the mocking birds annoyingly attempting to imitate each and every one of them. The horses were standing calmly in the barn and didn't attempt to make a move on the dog dishes as I fed the dogs and cats.

We have two cats who will try to ambush the front door when storms are on the horizon and they were there as was another one who has been donated to us sometime during the last few week. Unlike most donations, this cat is very tame and very domineering - insisting continually to be let into the house. I see him mostly from behind as my husband is once again tossing him out the back door. HOW he can slide between our feet is a complete mystery. This morning, as I was doing my "keep the cats out of the door while you are leaving jig" which is normally followed by my "don't let the dogs get muddy slobber on you" weave to the car, this one cat managed to NEARLY pasy my swinging feet and purse. I quickly closed the door and caught his foot - he screamed, hissed and growled until my slow reflexes realized I had to re-open the door. It just wasn't that simple either. The other two cats had already figured out I had to open the door and were poised to make their move the minute they saw an opportunistic crack. So, I had to once again do the "jig" and shuttle them away before releasing the screaming feline. Perhaps this time, he will be less reluctant to insist on where he belongs. We are re-arming our vinegar filled water bottles for future lessons for him. Side note...vinegar filled water guns work will with behavior therapy on many species - horses, dogs, cats...children...

I finally made it to the car still clean, unscarred by angry cats and poop free from all the new birds flying over. That's a victorious way to start the rest of my day.

As I drove down the hill on our little dirt road, I saw the tiniest little armadillo moving into the road. They do not normally get out after daylight so I was surprised. Instead of releasing a string of four letter words I have been saving for his huge cousin on our estate, I actually managed to be considerate of him in his state of stupidity. So, I drove up next to him - yes - next to him - his little wet funky looking nose was getting all dirty on the road and he was just looking at me and I said "you better get out of the road little guy or you will soon be dead - RUN - RUN - RUN"

The little armadillo looked up at me with his beedy, personality-less eyes and...screamed the loudest scream just before he took off for the ditch. I laughed and said again "RUN- RUN - RUN" and he screamed again, this time not losing his pace. I don't particularly like armadillos since the great tomato destroy invasion of the summer of 2008 but I'll have to give it to him- he made me laugh.

It's 7:30 a.m. as I write this and I have the entire rest of this day to observe all the strange happenings from the storm. I just wish my friends in Texas had the same observation point as I do.

9/11/08

Yesterday

Yesterday was the day we were to get BJ our cat spayed. I had her at the vet right before they opened the doors. I noticed a little old lady standing at the door so I unloaded BJ in her carrier and decided to wait with this lady.

As I walked towards the porch, she noticed me and said “I am here first because I am on my way to Ft Rucker (a military base about 20 miles away) and I just need heartworm medication for my dog” in a thick german accent.

Her accent got my full attention when her appearance had already peaked my curiosity. She was quite elderly, a little bent, heavily wrinkled with thin white hair. She was adorable!

“Oh, I see you have a cat – a black cat – I used to have a black cat. I called her Tarbaby – we lived up north and I could get by with it there” she began telling me.

**
Flashback….

1971 – I am laying in a hospital bed, my nine year old body wracked in pain. I was afraid, hurting, lonely. In between hallucinations from the opium doses, the other painkillers kept me in somewhat of a fog while the doctors performed test after test to try to discover why my body was shutting down. It was not until the doctors from Mayo arrived on the scene several months later that they discovered the tumor on my kidney and began working towards healing me. In the meantime, I was a little girl away from my family, in a place that was cold and seemingly sterile.

My first “roommate” was a young black teenager. Her family filled the room to capacity all hours of the day and night where my family was taxed with work and other children to care for or the flu season prevented them from visiting for fear of infecting me. Her Uncle had a grey beard and mustache and his favorite place to sit was at the foot of my bed.

I don’t remember if the movie “Song of the South” came out before or after I knew this uncle but he was the one who sat there day in and day out telling me story after story in a most animated fashion of a world I had never visited. His tellings made me giggle and forget the loneliness. HE was the one who first told me the story of Brer Rabbit and Brer Fox and the Tarbaby. I never thought of it as a racist term. I have such endearing memories of that story and that man whose name I still don’t remember. When my roommate was well, I cried for two days because her family left with her and I loved having them around.

**
Coming back to now but relishing the memory she already sparked…

“I also had a black named Sheba” she went on to tell me.

“Oh, this is BJ, her name was Black Jack but then we discovered she was Black Jackee and our daughter didn’t like that, so she’s simply BJ” I told her.

“I came here early to be first in line. You understand. I am moving to Florida and traveling and I need heartworm medications for my dog. I had him some but something happened to it so I need to get some more” she continued.

“Yes,” I responded “it’s important that you….”

“So I am going to be first so that I can get his medications, then we are going to Ft. Rucker” she interrupted.

As I was analyzing the tone of our conversation, the Office Manager approached and unlocked the door.

“I was here first and this nice young lady is going to wait on me because I need heartworm medications for my dog” she began as the Manager opened the door.

“Oh yes” I said “she has misplaced her dog’s meds and she is on her way out of town. I have no hurry, BJ and I can wait here while you assist her” I told the Manager wanting to clarify that I understood the frailty of the situation evolving.

“Well,” the manager said “How big is your do…..”

“You see, I bought the medication but I have misplaced it” she continued

“Yes Ma’am” the manager tried to insert “I must know how big your dog is before…” and I could see the light coming on. The Manager was realizing there could be a hearing situation impeding the communication process.

“HOW BIG IS YOUR DOG….I NEED TO KNOW SO…” she began

“Oh, I can see you are trying to talk loudly, it’s no use…I’m completely deaf but I just want the heartworm medications for my dog because I can’t find the stuff I bought previously” our lady continued now clearly stating what had already become obvious to all parties in the room.

At this point, I had to hide my giggles. You see…I do two things very well – talk and watch people. I prefer the first, then I find the second equally rewarding at times.

The Office Manager gave the “wait right here” hand signal and went into the storeroom, returning with two boxes. One of the boxes was brown, the other green.

“I really do not know why you are holding two different boxes, I only need one kind for my dog” our lady said.

Frustrated the Office Manager quietly responded “well, I was thinking you would see that one is for small dogs and one is for large dogs and point to the right one” but she didn’t get very far with it before it all began again.

“I need to be first in line….” And the story continued.

In walks Dr. Jones – our town veterinarian ..

“OH, Dr. Jones!” our lady said. “I need heartworm medication for my dog,” and she began all over again explaining to Dr. Jones.

This indicated to all in the room that Dr. Jones knew this lady and the Office Manager quickly asked him “What is her name?”

“It’s Betch, Bosch, Baush…something like that” and they began rifling through the index files attempting to find whatever information they may have had stored for the lady’s dogs, desperately now needing to know the size of the dog.

“You know, he’s just a little dog but he needs his medication” she said – and there it was! BINGO! They knew the size and began getting the correct meds together for her.

Just as quickly it all began again “I was here first and I need..” and off they went.

Dr. Jones quickly retrieved ONE YEAR’S WORTH of the medications as the lady had asked at the same time realizing the Office Manager had located the correct file card. Indeed, the lady had only two days before purchased another year’s worth of medication.

“I see you already bought some but you said you misplaced…if you find it, it will still be good…” he was telling her.

“I already bought some but I can’t find it. When I find it, I will bring it back.” She interrupted.

“You see…there are laws…it’s prescription…we can’t take it ba…..” he was attempting to explain to her.

“I will just bring it back if I find it, I won’t need it all”…she interrupted again.

“Very well” he surrendered “just bring it back, we can figure out something” he said, this time knowing she hadn’t a clue he was even talking.

He then noticed me, in my full state of entertainment and proceeded to get BJ moved to the back and explain to me when I could return. Shucks! I had to leave and missed the ending but I was hearing them trying to figure out how to explain the price to her as I left. They had written it down but she kept asking them just the same. I am sure they got it all worked out –I just missed HOW they did it.

So…last night I remembered this encounter and wondered. We go to school 12 or more years – at least most of us do. They teach us important stuff like diagramming sentences, long division, who shot Abe Lincoln – you know – stuff we will use the entire rest of our lives. We know that if we make it through those years when all that stuff matters, we will enter into the years when we can no longer hear or see but they don’t teach us about that.

What if….just what if…they taught us brail and sign language? Then, as we reach our elder years or encounter those who have, we can immediately merge our communications to the level at which we are not drawing, shouting, waving our arms but are actually using the secondary language we learned in school? It’s only a thought.

It would probably be just as fun to watch the conversation as it is to hear it.

9/9/08

Friendship

This is a reprint of something I once put somewhere else. I was talking to a friend today about this topic. Her comment was profound. ..."if all else fails, go to the instruction manual...the Bible" She is so right:

Friendship is something easily offered. Friends, however, real ones are hard to come by and true treasures.

An exploration of self:

The Bible says, "A man that hath friends must show himself friendly" (Prov. 18: 24). - I am often withdrawn and quiet.

Some are too distant to form friendships.

There is great value in friendship. "Two are better than one," wrote the wise man (Eccl. 4: 9). - I often prefer to take something on by myself.

A true friend will stand by, even in times of trouble. "A friend loveth at all times, and a brother is born for adversity," the Bible says (Prov. 17: 17). - I want to be this person because I have friends who are ALREADY this person.

To the converse, the Bible speaks of false friends when it warns, "Confidence in an unfaithful man in time of trouble is like a broken tooth, and a foot out of joint" (Prov. 25: 19).

There are some people that are not desired to be friends. For instance, "Make no friendship with an angry man; and with a furious man thou shalt not go" (Prov. 22: 24).

A true friend will tell us when we are wrong. Hear the Bible, "Faithful are the wounds of a friend; but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful" (Prov. 27: 6).

Genuine friends must be cherished and not forsaken (Prov. 27: 10).

Jesus is the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 3: 16; 1: 14). Yet, Jesus offers man his friendship. Jesus said, "Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you" (Jn. 15: 14).

Jesus is the ultimate friend of man. "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends" (Jn. 15: 13). Jesus tasted death for every man and shed his blood for the remission of man's sins (Heb. 2: 9; Matt. 26: 28).

Life can be a cruel experience. I am forever grateful to have found friends who are willing to experience it with me and work at minimizing the pains when they come my way. Those friends, are gemstones that shine brightly in my heart. Look past the rough edges, the blur of judgment for whatever reason, and you may just find the most valuable gem in your life in someone you least deserve.

No one matches the perfection Jesus represents to the world. But I have a few friends, just a very few, who come pretty close! I am glad they opened their hearts to me. I would have missed a lot otherwise.

9/5/08

Is this Life?

The synchronization of their movements revealed years of life together. As they pulled into the parking lot, he parked the car and got out. He walked around to the passenger side, opened the door and helped her get to her feet. They then hobbled into the restaurant together.

They got in line and waited. He had to go to the restroom and advised her what he wanted and how quickly he would be back. We were behind them.

I watched.

He was back before she even got to the cashier. They got their order and then went to their table. Oh how slowly they moved but they didn’t notice the sighs and motions of those who had to wait.

I watched.

I was drawn to them and could not take my eyes off them. She was the tiniest creature I have seen in some time and he too was quite feeble in his movement. When he left to get the condiments, straws and napkins from the counter, she seemed nothing short of bewildered. When he returned, she seemed nothing short of content.

I watched.

They ate slowly and conversed. They seemed completely caught up in their world oblivious to any outsiders milling about the restaurant. They were quite elderly and nature had betrayed what appeared to be youthful minds. They observed each other with unconditional love and adoration.

I watched.

As he left again to go to the restroom, her bewildered expression returned. She seemed so tiny, frail and lost in that huge chair. She seemed terrified of the world around her.

I watched.

He returned again to the table. She relaxed and continued eating. He occasionally dabbed her chin with a napkin and she smiled appreciatively at his attention. They ate, they talked, they laughed. They were two people terribly in love, a body of one when they were together.

Separately, they were two individuals who seemed too weak to even be in such a setting.

I watched.

They rose from their chairs. She cleaned the table, wiped it with a napkin and he took the tray to the garbage as she followed. They left the restaurant and he opened the car door and assisted her as she sat down. He hobbled to the driver’s side, got in and oh so slowly backed away from his spot and left the parking lot.

I imagined they were holding hands as I watched them smiling at one another as they disappeared into the distance.

“Is this life?” I asked my husband who was already annoyed with the fact that I continually stared at this beautiful old couple.

“What?” he obliviously answered.

“This – here and now – us – not so young – not so old – just here?” I said to him. He didn’t get it. He hadn’t stared, his manners insisted he not do so.

“Do we live for now and grieve the yesterdays lost or do we live for then and applaud the tomorrows?” I asked him. Still he didn’t get it. I didn’t get it but I oh so wanted to.

I had witnessed what had to be the greatest love two people can experience. This old couple had become one. Together, they functioned. Separately, they became frail, bewildered, confused and lost. This was no charade. It was beautiful. This was real life, our elder years reminding us of what should be important in our early or middle years.

I wish I could watch them all over again. I wish I could see and replay all their moves so when I get there with my husband and partner in life, I have it as perfect as they demonstrated. I don’t want a charade – a life of pretending, wishing, drama upon drama about that which is not real. I want what they have. I eon't want to grow old and be feeble alone. I want to grow old and be strong together with my husband provided we both make that journey. Either way, here and now, I want to start that journey because what they had …was perfection!

I want to be watched.

The Turkey Hunt

They sat behind the old stump on the hill. They were waiting for the flock of wild turkeys to show up. They had been there since before daylight. He had been watching that flock for the last two months and knew their schedule completely.

For creatures with a brain the size of a marble, turkeys are proficient dodgers during hunting season. You get one chance and you just can’t blow it.

Rewind two days….

“My Daddy, My Daddy…please let me go hunt some turkeys with you!” Leiren asked.

“Baby, turkey hunting is serious business, it’s for men and it’s not something a little girl would enjoy. We KILL the turkey!” he responded.

“I want to help you Daddy. I can help!” was her adamant response.

“No baby, I will be getting up before daylight, you won’t even know I left!” he replied.

“Oh Daddy…plleeeeeeeeeez let me go!”She was only four at the time and too young to understand the seriousness of this game.

Fast forward back….

He got up before daylight on the first day of turkey season. He put on his chamo’s and headed to the living room, tiptoeing so as not to disturb the sleeping child. Yet… there she was with her coat in one hand, her toy gun in the other. “So, how far up the hill do we go Daddy?” she asked.

“I tell you what, this is your ONE chance…you be quiet and you sit still and you can come with me. If you mess up, I send you straight home where you QUIETLY walk back down the hill to the house” was his response.

At that point he woke me up and explained they would be gone for a few minutes until she realized this was not her sport.

As daylight approached, he began skillfully stroking the wood of the turkey call. “wrawk wrawk wrawk” it played. “Wrawk Wrawk Wrawk Wrawk Wraaaawk”. Suddenly, they heard it “galobblelobblelobblelobbble” he answered. The game was on.

The old tom heard the call and answered. Her eyes widened and her face became nothing but teeth she was smiling so big. Her expression of awe of this man – her Daddy – encouraged him to continue instead of sending her home. Again – “wrawk wrawk wrawk wrawk wraaaawk” he called. “galobblelobblelobblelobbble” Tom answered only closer this time.

“Daddy – shoot it!” she ever so softly whispered. “ssshhhh baby – they can hear us…it’s still too far away!” he softly told her.

“do it again Daddy!”….”shhhhh baby – I will!”

He skillfully played the call several more times. She listened and peeped over the stump on occasion. She could see them now in the distance. She clasped her mouth tightly, resisting the urge to tell him again to shoot but gave the hand signal of a gun shooting. He tensed, this could be it!

This tom was massive- a trophy. He motioned to her to be still and quiet as they continued the game of calling him closer. He forgot about the child as each call rendered a response and a closer approach of the turkey. She watched in amazement at the ability of her Daddy to bring this wild creature so close with this magical instrument made out of wood.

The tom moved closer and closer…her body became frigid and she finally leaned into her Daddy “now Daddy, shoot him now” she whispered, barely audible.

“Baby, just a little closer and he’s ours” he told her.

Something happened and Tom hesitated. Did he know? Was he just cautious? Leiren tensed and squeezed her Daddy’s arm. She could tell by the look on his face that she was not allowed to speak but she was a mere child and patience was not her virtue. She HAD TO bring this game to a quick close.

Knowing that her Daddy was just a few feet within range, she quickly stood up and demanded “Git over here Turkey!” fully expecting the command to end the crisis.

The joy of being only four and directly disobeying an order is that the disobedience at certain times leaves stories to be forever told. Old Tom probably still recalls with great joy the time the call became a human’s voice and scared him away. My husband recalls the incident as one of his favorite days with his daughter. Now sixteen, she has learned to roll her eyes as he tells the story. I wonder if she were to go hunting with him today, would her patience be any better?

9/3/08

Dimentia

There was a time when the emergency room doctors called my Mother by her first name and the nurses treated her like royalty. This was because we virtually LIVED in that part of the hospital. It started with accident prone parents who passed on the accident gene to the children. You would think that the gene would discriminate or develop with age, but it just sort of randomly reveals itself.

The worst trips were those that involved the behavior of not one but two or more of the children at one time. For instance, there was the great "tamping rod toe squashing" of 1968. I didn't know the thing weighed a ton and I was in awe of my brother's ability to continually balance it on the tip. Sure, he told me to leave it alone while he went to the bathroom, but it just looked too easy! So, of course, when I not only could not balance it, but could not hold it up and it subsequently squashed my toe - flattened it like a pancake no less - my brother got the blame. I don't recall it hurting. I recall my Mother going into hysterics and ranting at my brother about responsibility (sure...he understood being a full TWO YEARS older than me at the time) and forcing me to hobble to the car - the front seat - yaaay.

When we got to the emergency room, it was the usual "Bettye - bring her to area 4" which Mother knew exactly the spot. I got this massive bandage, lots of attention and directions on dressing but I could see them giggling as I relayed the exact story - this was suburbia and most of them had never heard of a tamping rod. They didn't have beagles who were later transformed into beetle hounds! They didn't understand the need for constructing dog proof fencing. I think they got the most enjoyment out of Mother's embarrassment since she had been there only days before after breaking her own toe.

Hysterics for Mother had different levels. Hysterics from squashed toes were more of temper tantrums directed at whoever disrupted the lovely day and forced her to drop what she was doing to go to the emergency room....again. Hysterics from concussions were more like repeatedly reciting the hour of day to the supposed victim until we reached the emergency room. Hysterics from broken digits - usually her own- were more like ranting at Daddy about leaving something in the way...and JUST NOW I realize just how much like my Mother I may be!

There was the one time however, that hysterics for my Mother were REAL hysterics. It was the Chapman Avenue Neighborhood Tupperware Party of 1970. My sister was maybe two years old. My other sister - the evil one - was maybe four. I was old enough to remember ALL THE DETAILS of this short lived excursion. By short lived, I mean we did not make it past the front door.

As usual, mother was running late through no fault of her own. We didn't like wearing our matching outfits - especially me since I was in denial that the other two were any relation to me - well, the baby was still cool - so we rebelled, each dressing in what we wanted to wear. I don't recall the exact details but I think this involved the two year old wearing summer shorts and a winter sweater which appalled Mother to the point that she made us all go and change while tamping her foot and staring at the clock. Why don't mothers learn to start three hours ahead of time?

She finally got us dressed and organized/headed towards the door. She was dragging baby sister, evil sister in the midst of the drama and me already clearing the steps of the porch (someone mentioned "go" - that's all it ever took!) Somehow - and I completely blame this on evil sister - baby sister was still resisting this trip. Now...baby sister looked and behaved normally like a true living doll - so this rebellion was a new thing to Mother and to the rest of us actually. Whatever transpired next is still up for debate to this day but only because evil sister declares herself innocent. At some point, baby sister grabbed the framing of the door resisting exit - the side with hinges and ...someone....I'm not saying who...but someone evil....slammed the door too soon or just in time depending on just how EVIL this someone may have been!

Doing what any reactionary human being would do, baby sister...well...pulled and things came apart - not the door but digits. You would think with as many things as my Mother saw ever happen to individual digits in our household, this would have been another routine - blame the siblings- load the victim into the front seat, the villains into the backseat and go to the emergency room. But something...Mother swears it was guilt by HER OWN actions in closing the door - I say rage by the actions of the evil one ...snapped in Mother.

She grabbed baby sister and headed back into the house. Of course, I was cheated - "GO' either meant to the party or to the hospital - either way there was a trip involved. She saw the digits and began her short process towards dimentia. First she attempted to wrap them. At this point, I headed next door to get my brother who would know what to do. When we both got back she was on the phone but with who? We couldn't understand her but sister was sitting there rather calmly with her hand somewhere underneath a massive heap of towels.

Of course, brother immediately took a look at the digits and remarked at how cool the site was. This sent mother into deeper dimentia and she began what I recall as babbling on the phone. She slung the receiver my direction and I realized she was on the phone with Daddy. All I could tell him was someone evil chopped off the fingers in the door. He told me to go get the neighbor across the street and I followed orders but it was getting old running from one house to another when I had anticipated a trip. Meanwhile my brother was scraping souvenirs off the door frame - this too enabled the dimentia to grow even more profound.

I did manage to catch the neighbor before her exit to "The Party" and she came over only to find my mother blithering something about death and destruction still holding the phone. She managed to get enough information to realize that this time it was the doctor's office and quickly said "Betty has chopped off her baby's hand in the door and she needs you to meet her in the emergency room!" She began scrambling with my baby sister, my mother and they headed for the car - without us! Only an intelligent neighbor would ruin our trip!

All in all, sister lost a nail and a fingertip with no bone damage - duh - we were not surprised. Mother managed to compose herself at the direct orders of our neighbor and the rest of us got to help change the dressing - sort of like with my toe only baby was smaller and more fragile than I ever was. So, we enjoyed taking turns treating her like the real baby doll she was. The Neighborhood Party - of course - was ruined since the two main attendees were my mother and our neighbor!

It made for a good story just like the rest of the chaos in our world! When Daddy finally got home, we got to explain our Mother's mental breakdown which we found much more entertaining that the actual crisis and we glorified the heroic actions of our neighbor for taking the situation in her control. Unfortunately, as hard as we have pushed, the rest of our lives, we have not been able to force such a breakdown upon Mother again.

9/2/08

I Feel So Safe

My bulldogs are now over six months old. At nearly 55 pounds, they each appear to be the lifesavers I always dreamed of. We are beginning to enjoy our evening walks on the farm and seldom miss an adventure. Spin walks in front, Joe walks behind me. Brutus - their father - takes point and sounds the alarm unless Rocky sees something first.



So, last Thursday night, we discovered that our neighbor has moved his herd of cattle into the 90 acre field behind us. Something about cows I find entertaining. They are awkward, nosey, and sort of all sloppy at the same time. Thursday, they were settling in and grazing and checking out all the confines of their new area. One large black cow in particular caught my eye just as I caught hers. She was a huge old cow and grazing pretty close.


Somehow I was first to the fence and I looked at her as she looked up with weeds hanging out each side of her mouth. She froze in place, not bothering to finish or dispose of the weeds and she studied me as I studied her. Who would move first? Would we be friends? Just as these thoughts began to develop, Brutus saw her. The boys had fallen behind checking out some new smell on the ground a few yards back.



Brutus let out the first bark. It was a "should I run or should I stay" bark. He's got experience with horses hooves but it was clear he did not recognize this creature as a horse. I looked back to see what my boys would do - his sons - Diamond's sons - and they had frozen as well. I waited for their protective instincts to kick in. They are still my children but they are becoming my dogs!

Rocky began barking as if encouraging Brutus on. Rocky makes a great toadie for Brutus and usually serves well at keeping Brutus in situations that render him injured. This was no exception. As Rocky barked the boys jumped in unison. First they lunged our direction wanting to see what was up - even barking or woofing a bit. Then, with the second round from Brutus and Rocky - a round that became a temporary charge at this massive cow the boys took off. They ran as fast as they could, never looking back, never even glancing over their shoulder but racing neck in neck until they reached the house where they ran directly under my husband!

I could not contain myself. As I laughed, they ran faster until they disappeared from my site at which point my husband could see them and began laughing hysterically himself. Seeing two huge dogs run full speed for help is just too funny. By then, the cow took a step towards Brutus who realized Rocky was already hiding and Brutus made a calculated retreat.

Cows are such dangerous creatures! I suppose I could say the boys protected me by teaching me just how fast to run to the house in the event of any serious danger. It's o.k. though - I still get a good laugh out of it.

8/28/08

Automatic Locks

The years of my youth are recalled in snippets of significant events these days. This morning, as I was fastening my seat belt, I had a flashback to days when seatbelts were a luxury. Yes boys and girls, there was a time when a person paid extra for those items. Since my family never had a new car until my later years, we never had the option to purchase seat belts with the car. We simply had cars that did not have the belts.

In the late 1960’s some genius engineer also made the determination that the best method to manipulate door locks was to make them automatically UNLOCK when one attempted to open the door from the inside. That's a good plan as far as safety during an accident but without seatbelts...well...it just wasn't that good.

During that same time, suburban Huntsville was growing and our area had developed a weblike network of neighborhoods that were beginning to sprout up around the original housing and growing outwardly. My Mimi lived a few blocks away and we often loaded up in the old wagon and headed over to her house to visit.

Each trip in the wagon began with bartering over the front seat until Mother developed a scoring system that was simply based on the next one's turn. On one particular trip, it was my turn and I was thrilled. It was early fall and I got myself dressed up in the new pantsuit Mother made for me and patiently waited in MY SPOT in the front seat. I felt like a queen having power over even my older brothers at that point.

We headed to Mimi's and began navigating the turns from one subdivision to another. One particular navigation entailed a sharp right turn followed by a sharp left turn. Mother was so used to the trip, she could take these turns without having to slow too far down except for the dip at the end of the second turn.

One fact of life is that double knit and vinyl do not mesh well together. As a matter of fact, double knit will slide on vinyl like iceskates over fresh ice! As we headed around turn one, I began sliding across the wide seat and bumped into mother. This was funny except to Mother who not so gently pushed me back over to the other side and advised me I would lose my privilege if I continued to "play around". So, as we rounded turn two I did the only thing a 30 pound kid can do who is in danger of sliding like a greased pig - I grabbed the door knob and clung for dear life. At the same time, Mother somehow miscalculated the speed, probably as a result of being distracted by my sliding antics and she sharply yanked the car back onto the road.

There are physics involved in what happened next but I have no concept of the exact laws and theories. I do know that the law of the door automatically unlocking as the knob is pulled first played out and the lock popped up. I remember the moment when I realized that the loosening of the lock would soon be followed by the loosening of the door but that double knit gave no leverage. The door flung open with me still holding to the knob.

I flapped in the wind at this point like a small paisley flag until I could no longer cling to the knob. Upon my release, I realized that double knit does not SLIDE on pavement but rips and tears as one's body rolls across the street, up the curb, over the sidewalk and into the grass which finally provided enough friction to stop the rapid spin of my tiny body. I landed right in front of man who was pushing his mower and still recall his horrified look at my little self. I was expecting pure and outright sympathy - perhaps a medal - a badge - the awe of my family - I would be famous!

I failed to realize that my Mother's initial reaction to any situation was to blame the kid for disrupting the plan o-d-day or I might have cried a little louder over the cuts, scrapes and bruises. She got to me before I could completely stand up and before the little old man could emphasize the danger of my previous predicament. As she picked me up, I was mentally evaluating the pain points so as to present to her the most outstanding one and she realized how lucky she was that I was still alive. She stood me on my feet, looked at me and then...did what any Mother in such a horrifying situation would do - whipped me all the way back to the front seat, slammed the door and yelled all the way to Mimi's about how she had TOLD me to NEVER grab that knob!

My only victory in this event was that I was Mimi's chosen one and as we walked in, I first showed Mimi the rips in my new outfit and then the scrapes and bruises. This gained me a raisin pie and coke while Mimi ran for first aid supplies. My brother had been quiet up to this point and he finally burst out laughing at the entire scene which calmed my Mother's nerves and gave her the opportunity to realize the situation was over and quite entertaining upon reflection.

To this day- nearly 40 years later, I USE that event when my Mother has "something" on me. I remind her of the pain upon the pain from the whippings and then we both bust out laughing at how horrified the little old man was at the entire scene. She never spoke to that man or acknowledged he was there. I just wonder ... did he KNOW we were all crazy!

8/27/08

Another day.

Our City and county elections were held yesterday. We had a great turn out and our little town once again has an opportunity with a re-elected mayor and all but one re-elected on our City Council. I'm not good at change or good byes and I am going to miss terribly the one council member who did not get elected. I do my job regardless but there is this tiny little part of me that resents the new person for "unseating" her even though I know change is just a part of life. It's not a contest really, it's just progress.

I know everyone has been biting their nails over my little tragedy yesterday. I am fine...no broken bones but I have new bruises this morning. Why oh why do our bodies have to grow old. I feel so betrayed these days when I don't just bounce back from some disaster. I have never been one to cry and milk a pain or ailment but I find myself complaining more and more. The difference in now and in my youth is that these complaints are justifiable.

I am back on a "healthy kick" these days as well. That's shocking I know considering I can't keep myself standing but you gotta do what you gotta do. I am trying to avoid sodas except maybe once a day so this morning I am drinking that new "cranergy" drink. Unfortunately, I have discovered it doesn't have tons of caffeine so it's not punching me into upright position. I am getting used to the flavor. It's not bad actually, but I'm old and I need caffeine no matter how bad it is for me!

Honestly, I'm not healthy- I'm middle aged/old. But, I am pretending that it matters and that I am doing what I can to overcome. I have always been an overcomer and I WILL overcome middle age!

8/26/08

I am O.K.

Good morning world.

This week is STILL a long week. Fay, my friend - NOT - decided to hang out at our place for about oh- say - the last 72 or so hours! First she came through and blew down a few limbs, destroyed a few signs in town and caused a few auto accidents and after about 12 hours just left us with a bit of rain, thunder and lightning. That was fine. We needed the rain and the thunder wasn't that bad.

Then, of course, there was the 4:00 a.m. wake up yesterday by the weather alert and the continual (I DO MEAN CONTINUAL) sounding of the alarm as tornado after tornado alert was resounded in our area and surrounding nearby areas. We survived again - a few more limbs, some signs, some accidents - same story different day. Then the "all clear" was sounded. Fay was finally leaving at aroune 8:00 last night. See....she already left ONCE and then liked it here so much she had to come back on her way back across the country.

Our 2:00 a.m. wake up this morning was a little louder as it began with the thunder and lightning BEFORE the alarm of the weather alert - I think even the weather alert people are tired of hitting that button. So, another slightly sleepless night.

The thing about losing sleep is we have different levels of sleep loss. For instance, when I was younger and would go to the beach and scuba all weekend long, I could drive back home, take a shower and go to work where I was then a clerk/legal secretary. It never phased me. I would go home the next night and crash and be ready by the next weekend for another trip. I was fearless. But...it was fun!

When you lose sleep over worrying, you pretend you are not tired because you don't want people to know how silly you are to let things bother you. When you lose sleep because the baby is teething, you are very vocal about your fatigue because you know the entire universe will feel sorry for you and maybe let you get by without doing a few things during the day. When you lose sleep because you stupidly decided to raise five puppies on a bottle and forgot how much work it is to keep them clean and...fed...you pretend you are not tired and you discover that the extra ten pounds you wanted to lose disappears pretty easily. When you lose sleep because you and your dearly beloved - soon to be departed - husband are disagreeing, you spend the rest of the day reminding him how tired you are and how it is all his fault.

But...when you lose sleep due to weather, there is no sympathy. Instead, everyone else has lost the same sleep more than likely and there is no boundary of understanding. There is only a group of bleary eyed grumpy people who want to rip each other apart if they hear a loud noise. Then, there is always that ONE PERSON who decided to stay home and sleep in and everyone else gets the chance to hate them for being smart.

When I am tired, I tend to mess things up. Then I tend to blame routine mess ups on being tired as well. But this morning, Fay is completely to blame. Because of Fay, the loading ramp to my shed where my feed is stored is somewhat slick. I am tired so I forgot to step lightly. I got TO the feed o.k. and got everyone fed. On my way back, I managed to splatter myself all over the ground. Where one would usually just land on their behind, I decided on my way down that I had a better plan and I landed on sides of my feet, one knee, one hand, one elbow, three cats and one dog! The cats cried, the dog ran under the shed until he realized it was not something he did and then he ran back to check on me/slobber all over my clean body and hold me down with his weight.

I know at this point the suspense is killing everyone so let it be known that I am o.k. I am good but if I were dead, I would not be writing this. The cats are o.k. too as is the dog. I have a bruise of my yittle foot though so you can all go "awwwww- we're sorry!" to make my drama complete.

8/25/08

Goodbye Fay

Good bye indeed for Tropical Storm/Depression/Pain in the backside Fay! She's been a real challenge in this particular part of the country. First, she came from the southeast and caught us somewhat by surprise with her wind power Saturday. We had power outages, signs blown down and tree limbs on the ground. This means another couple of hours walking the fences when the climate permits! Yes, I wrote "permits".

So far Fay has still not left our area. Actually, she DID go west of us yesterday and left behind a mixture of clouds and sun - thunder and lightning as well. I love how the world is clean after a day of rain and storms. We live in a rather elevated area, so flooding wasn't our worry. Wind, however is always a worry. We survived. Our sassafras tree lost a big limb. I have decided to test my theory and began cutting the newer growth off the limb to put in water with rooting enzyme to see if I can get something out of the shoots. It's a lovely old tree and I would love to have more of them. As I was cutting, the horses decided to have a taste and they OH SO LOVED the sassafras leaves - especially the ones off my fresh ones. It left their breath all smelling good with a hint of mint scent. Sassafras cuttings smell lovely too so I put a few of them around the kitchen until they get old.

The front door of our "bungalow" which means a cute word for small confine within which we live until the house is finished also developed a leak. I suppose that can happen when rain is driven with a 50 mph force for several hours. It's o.k. We got all the water dried up and placed fans on the carpet. The flooring seems to have survived the abuse once again.

This morning- at precisely 4:00 a.m. our weather alert began sounding the alarm. I recommend one of these objects for all households. If you survive the heart attack from the initial sound of the alarm, you may survive a storm given advance notice. The alarms have been going off pretty routinely since that time. Thanks Fay!

So, as Fay leaves, we send out a note telling her not to bother coming back as we really will not miss her that much.

8/22/08

Radar

Many years ago, a man who did not know me exhibited the most unconditional act of love one could witness. I have blogged about this in the past. He had a horse named Radar. Radar was the 1986 World Champion Spotted Saddlebred Trail Horse. Radar would do ANYTHING a person on his back asked of him. He was awesome.

His owner found out he had cancer and after treatment, knew he had a short while to live. He also saw me everyday in the corner lot with our Trusty and our babies and he stopped to talk to my husband. Trainers in that particular area had already pegged me as "crazy" because once I got a good horse, I refused to sell it. Thus, Trusty lived out his elder years on my watch. David had made this promise to his Radar but it became evident that he could not survive to live to that commitment.

David had sons- two of them. Radar despised one of them and would never let him ride. What is the most incredibly gentle horse in the world would simply not let this son on board. The other had little interest in Radar short of his "book value". David begrudged neither son for their lack of understanding regarding his commitment to Radar. But, out of his love for a horse that had taken him down many a trail both in shows and in the real world, he sought a promise. I made him that promise and he delivered Radar to my barn in 1996. We joke that Radar and Trusty have ridden more miles in a trailer than we have ever ridden on them. They have been from TN, to NE to MS and now to South Alabama where we laid Trusty's 34 year old body to rest last year.

Radar is now 30. Horses are like people, they live long lives and they give you experiences you cherish. They also grow old, senile, forgetful and needy. I last rode Radar two years ago and it was bittersweet. I knew his body was beginning to deny him, his bones were beginning to show and his agility was waning but he gave me one last ride, stepping his high step, spinning, turning, even one last "hi ho silver" rear up that he used to always give me on command. Oh, how I miss our rides. I have other horses but I am growing old as well and Radar and I have known one another for over ten years. He just "fits".

Last night when I got home, Radar was laying next to the garden. As with Trusty, he has earned his right to roam about freely and the front yard has become his favorite place to "hang out". The other horses are beginning to walk away from him, just like they did Trusty. That must be a herd instinct as a horse grows old and endangers the rest of the herd with their weakness. Before, Radar was the leader, now he's just a lonely old man hanging in the front yard with the dogs and cats - just like Trusty was.

But, for him to be laying down so close was alarming. He didn't move when I got to him, just layed there looking at me. So, I tested him and he got up - whew. Like I said, I KNOW the day's coming, but one is never prepared. A little while later he laid down again. This time when I went to ask him what was wrong, he rolled over on his side and grunted. One tends to panic when a gazillion pound horse rolls over and grunts. I retrieved a halter which sent Joe under the house for fear of going to the vet and Spin under my feet for joy of being lead around and I put it on Radar and once again got him up. This time I did the only thing I could think of - I began walking him around the farm and talking to him.

We walked to the woods, we walked to the old barn in the back. We walked to Trusty's grave and I fought back tears as I let the drama and fear overwhelm me. We walked back to the house to retrieve the vet's number and call for advise when Radar blew the biggest "blow" a person could ever hear. This wasn't typical colic as I had suspected. This was simply errrr- gas and more gas and even more gas after that. It was probably the onset of what could have been colic, but my husband reeled over at the hilarity of the situation. The dogs had separate reactions. Spin ran, Brutus barked. The other horses who had now begun following Radar and I jumped and Lucy began sniffing the err....area.

All in all, Radar was greatly relieved and we have added cooking oil to his diet just in case the little situation returned. He set about grazing again and was still grazing this morning and trying to eat all the dogfood when I fed the dogs . My husband says he now has full "old man" status. I am just thrilled that this became yet another entry into the story of our lives together. I hope there are many more.

8/20/08

Snake in the Barn!

In my mind, there are two major fears. There are lots of little fears like heights, getting caught staring at someone and stuff like that, but only two major ones - snakes or spiders! And...these two fears do not ever come combined. You are either afraid of one or the other. In my case, it's spiders. I hate them. I have learned to tolerate them to some extent because life has taught me that they do have a purpose, but I still don't like them around me. Daddy, on the other hand, had a morbid fear of snakes.

This fear surmounted all fears of any human being I have ever known. It was a fear so tremendous that he did not mind letting his own children know it existed. Most men don't want their kids to know there is anything vulnerable about them. Daddy was the type of man who not only let us know he was afraid of snakes but didn't mind hurting us if we got in the way of either the path of escape or the firing line between him and a snake. Once, he shot an old hose pipe so many times, you couldn't even tell it had been laying in those weeds! Of course, he later professed to be "practicing up" in case the real thing did show up.

My brother and I were just the opposite. I am not sure my brother had any fear of anything - snakes OR spiders, but he especially loved to catch the snakes, hand them to me and we would just wonder at their mystical values. My Mom was an advocate of "King Snakes" which she said would kill everything else in the barn...spiders, rats, rattle snakes and so on. So, not only did Daddy have to deal with his fear of snakes, but with the constant situation of either brother and I catching them behind his back or my sneaky mother depositing our latest find in the barn for "protection".

As we got older, a sense of evil surrounded our intellect and we began figuring out that the best way to torture Daddy and get a few laughs were the occasional snake jokes. This usually involved a live snake, but sometimes that resulted in a cow getting shot or something so we soon discovered that the toy industry had designed real looking rubber snakes. Oh what joys a rubber snake can bring a teenager.

You have to know at this point that practical jokes of the cruelest sort were Daddy's forte, so to ever get him back was our last dying wish if indeed it did result in our death. Our old barn was built in the early 1900s and just stayed up by the will of God. To get to the hay in the loft, you had to climb the wall -literally - Daddy, being the farming genius he was, figured out that if he nailed pieces of 2 x 4's (scrap pieces at that), you could CLING to them enough to use them to scale up the wall and into this small hole in the side of the barn loft. He loved to demonstrate his mastery of this skill to one and all, especially if his "city" co-workers decided to come for a visit.

Daddy always managed to have his guests stay until feeding time and would volunteer to relieve my brother of the hay duty, having his friends in tow to demonstrate his superiority in barn maneuvers. It was the day his boss visited that stands out in my memory the most.

We had managed to procure one of those wonderful rubber snakes at the Big K with what meager returns we garnered from our ditch coke bottle recovery trip. This particular one was amazing - marked just like a real rattlesnake, tongue pointing out, evil red eyes glaring at you and flexible enough to put in any form of striking or coiling.

Brother managed to get it positioned in "Striking" prose just over the edge of that little step ladder - as you raised up clinging for life to that last so-called step and were just ready to let go and grab the floor to heave yourself over - there was that snake! It was divine! I worshipped my brother - he was such a master at Daddy torture and this was the best effort yet. I didn't even mind that we might lose the money on the snake. And Daddy would be so proud of us once he realized that snake was rubber, it would be a joke of historical significance in our family.So, off Daddy went to the barn.

What we didn't plan for was first, the company and second, the fact that Daddy carried his 45 with him whenever someone was visiting instead of his little wussy 22. This 45 was a gift from an uncle of his and must have been almost as old as the barn. If you pulled the trigger, it went into automatic mode and didn't stop firing until the clip was empty - or at least that was what happened most of the time. Daddy said he had fixed it as Mother objected to him loading it into the holster and told her not to worry. We were just beside ourselves by now, on the one hand so excited our master plan was about to be played out, on the other hand convinced that afterwards we would probably die since the boss and his kids were here to witness it. But even Daddy would laugh at the ability of his kids to pull off such a surprise right?

It was really too late to do anything. Sure, brother tried to convince Daddy he LOVED feeding so much he wanted to do it, but that didn't work.

There isn't a lot left to this story. As Daddy was clearing the top step, he saw the evil rubber snake as it was reaching out to get him between the eyes. He pulled the 45 as he let go of that last step and discovered quickly he had not fixed the gun. He didn't even HIT the rubber snake which thrilled us to have salvaged the investment, but he pretty much blew the top step off the wall, the wall off the floor of the loft and a few holes in the roof on his way down. It was funny to see his snobby boss and those snobby brat kids running for their lives out of that barn. We heard the word "SNAKE" but I think it was actually the flying bullets that gave them super human speed.

I am not really sure how long it took Daddy to get back up...we ran too! This is another one of those "not another word" stories. Daddy knew he was beat but that was a temporary victory - believe me, it was VERY TEMPORARY. For some reason, he NEVER saw the humor in that wonderful rubber snake - go figure.

8/19/08

Spiders

It's foggy here this morning! I love the fog. Then again, I love the rain, I love the sun, I love clouds. I suppose I just love the variety that we have in our daily lives that is provided compliments of God. The fog hangs on the spider webs and creates a new world in the fields. They glisten and look like crystal laiden canvas across the grass. It's amazing how a spider must work everyday to maintain or re-create their little homes.



I do not particularly like spiders! Honestly, I loathe them! There is nothing more horrifying than waking up in the middle of night KNOWING without a doubt that the sensation that awakened you was a spider crawling down your arm. When that happens to me, I lay there wide-eyed and completely unable to go back to sleep. I have to decide whether I should risk waking up Dave with an all out search for the creature or just lay there and hope it was just passing by. I have discovered that you can now buy spray JUST FOR spiders and it guarantees a 12 week time period before they return. My newest plan is to provide him with a mask so at night when I get this sensation, I can just fog the entire area. We may lose a few fish or frogs in the process, but ....it's worth it.



In my old age, I have developed less of a "kill or be killed" feeling about spiders and I am willing to allow them to be captured and moved outside. My mother will be proud to hear this as she has an affection for those gigantic and gruesome banana spiders that weave the webs in places that they KNOW you will be passing. She will take her broom and gently gather up the spiders and their egg sacks and move them into other areas where they can......errrrr...ummmmm....cough cough...choke - reproduce! She STILL tries to relay the story of Charlotte's Web to us in explanation and I still believe that pig should have stomped on that spider. O.k. the spider DID save the pig's life or so the story goes but that was PURE fiction. We all know spiders would prefer to eat the pig just like humans.



I have already relayed in some post the story of walking through the web in the wee hours of the morning- fainting - crying to Daddy. That web was a banana spider web as I recall. I wonder if I make "no spiders allowed" signs, since Mom says they are all intelligent and such, would they find another home. If so, they can live! That's a pretty good plan.



This year is a particularly good year for spiders on the farm. I don't know if it's the moisture or the food supply, but they are thriving. This area is famed for its black widow population and I am becoming quite skilled at identifying where they may be hiding and proving time and again to my husband that I am right! Spiders are evil and their little spider eggs and little spider babies are evil.



All this evil being said, I learned a long time ago that a cob web placed in a gushing wound will clot the blood and stop the bleeding. This is particular useful with horses who tend to cut their ankles on anything they can find to rub them on. If we could only have cobwebs without having the associated spiders. Then again, they do fill those webs up at night with mosquitoes, flies and all sorts of other bugs.



When I think about the spider underworld, I envision the scene from "Beetlejuice" where they are looking down on the little pretend town and there are signs for brothels and clubs and neighborhoods. Perhaps we need little flashing signs for spiders that say things like "no trespassing" (indication of choking webs) or "men at work" (indication of prowling spiders) or maybe something like "beware of dog" (indication of wolf spiders - the most ugly and evil of the spider family). This way, us humans could avoid them and we could all live in peace. Then, maybe in their little spider preschools, they would teach them that touching human skin results in instantaneous death or death by gas fumes. They could teach them to stay out of cabinets, shoes and closets. Sure, they would have a few rebellious teen spiders and there would be little spider headlines about the death of several of them at one time during home invasions or drunken web spinning incidents in the wrong place, but for the most part, perhaps the world could co-exist more peacefully with spiders and humans.



It's a thought and all you elder spiders out there reading this should consider it so there could be more make it into the little spider nursing homes instead of the little spider graveyards. You may have those fangs, but we have shoes, flyswatters and spray. You can not win!