Sweet revenge

Conversation at Chic-fil-A between myself, my girl, and my hubby:

M: "You need to sit down and eat, sweets."

G: "But Moooommmmmmmmmmm! Can I have ice cream after I eat my shhhicken?"

M: "If you eat all your chicken and stay seated, you can have ice cream."

She jumps off the bench as she says: "Okay mama."

M: "You need to sit down. Don't make me tell you again."

H: "Love bug, you need to sit down and eat. Listen to your mommy."

G: "Okay, Daddy" As she smiles sweetly towards me, and gets back in her seat.

2 seconds later:

She's out of her seat.

H: "What did I tell you? No ice cream if you don't stay seated and finish your food."

G: "Can I just take my fries home and have ice cream now?"

M & H: "No! Eat your dinner!"

Commence the whining:

G: "Mommmmmmmm! I want ice cream! I am done eating. I am sitting down! Doesn't my knees count? But my baby needs me (seated in it's own damn highchair). I don't want anymore chicken! I'm tired. I want to hold you! I'm hungry! I need ice cream."

M: Getting ready to sigh, staring down my husband, gritting my teeth, and about to get nasty.

G: "Mommy, don't be upset with me. But can I have ice cream?"

Before I even answer:

H: "When you turn 16, I am buying you the ugliest car ever to make up for driving us crazy. It will be a Plymouth. It will be a boat. It will be green. The windows will not roll down. The radio won't work. And Mommy and I will laugh."

G: "That's not very nice."

5 seconds later:

G: "Mommy, I need to go potty."

The joys of an almost 4 year old. Sigh.


Best Friends Forever

This video is adorable. I've read several stories, seen numerous videos, of different species be-friending each other. I knew a dog who mothered two baby raccoons, and later mothered a fawn whose mother had been killed on a county road. It's amazing to me. Gives me a bit of hope.


Pain not my own

All my life, I have been sensitive. I have cried when I've been physically hurt. I have crumbled inside when I have been emotionally run over. I have ached for others' bad or sad situations. I have reached my arms out to many people over the years, trying to help. That's just what I do; I help.

When I worked at CPS (Child Protective Services, for those of you not in Texas; each state calls it something different), I gave and gave and gave. AND GAVE. Of myself, my love, my attention, my hope. I was determined to build something positive out of the train wreck of these people's lives. And I did, sometimes. Not always in the ways I wanted, or as often as I would have liked, but I know I planted the seed.

I left CPS for many reasons, but the big one was this: I could no longer carry the weight of despair. Not only did it sit heavy on my shoulders, but it was like lead in my heart. I found that even the largest positive ending to a case did not ease the load. I had spent too many years making others' pain my own, others' problems my own. I had to get out from under all of it before it destroyed me.

I thought leaving CPS would be the key. And to an extent, it has been. But, I find that I still empathize to an alarming degree, to the point of caregiver fatigue. I still swallow others' disasters. They lay claim to a tiny piece of my soul. I know all the ways, the techniques, to avoid this, yet I still do it. It's automatic. It's just me.

That being said, I found two blogs last summer that have really been heart wrenching for me: Bring the Rain and matt, liz, & madeline . Both deal with death, and the loss of someone you love with every fiber of your being. I cannot make it through one of matt's posts without tearing up, and subsequently sitting in held-breath silence, staring off into space. His pain is palpable.
I started from the beginning on Angie's blog, and I can't make it through without becoming a basket case. Sometimes, when I see new posts on Matt's blog pop up on my google reader, I just avoid them. I.just.can't.

I spend a substantial amount of time mulling over these people after reading the posts. I try to imagine being in their shoes-the anguish, anger, fear, rage, the unyielding feeling of being alone. I just cannot imagine that I would be as strong as they are.

However, I strongly suggest reading these blogs. First, it helps me to know that others swallow these stories whole. But also, the strength, hope, and faith they both possess is to be admired. While they do hurt me, they also remind me just how lucky I am, how blessed I have been in my life. How you can build a new life out of wreckage.

I have a dear bloggy friend who is going through something serious, something so indescribably painful and heartbreaking that I cannot even explain it, even if it was my story to tell. But. It is not my story to tell. All I can say is that I am thinking of her, and wishing that we were IRL friends, so I could hold her, cry with her, rage for her, and somehow make it better. I lie up at night, praying for the miracle that is meant to happen for her and her family. I ask Why, Why, WHY? over and over, knowing that no one can give me an answer that will satisfy. I am swallowing her pain whole, and I am trying to avoid it.

Check out the badge on the rightside of my blog. It's a wonderful foundation set up in memory of matt's wife, Liz. I am so glad someone came up with the idea!


The post with pictures that will bore you

I promised I would post pictures of my backyard landscaping, which was my Christmas present this year. I'm pretty sure this will bore more than half of you, so feel free to just cruise on through this post and tell me what a bore I am in the comments section.

Also? Just to clarify, the neighborhood is full of mostly 'garden homes', so we have a zero lot line. In the first picture, you will see a brick wall on the left. That is actually my neighbor's house. Our sideyard is actually our backyard, if that makes any sense.

See how that flagstone is right under the gate? Ha Ha. Take that, dogs who like to dig!

This is a bad picture of a beautiful arbor. Again, with the bad pictures.

Am loving this path! I can't wait till the spring when I can plant sweet potato vine and other lovely things that bloom.

This is the back corner of my backyard. See those two bush-like trees by the fence? Those things are hell raisers. My lovely neighbors (who have never talked to me) complained to the landscaper that those trees were too close to the fence, and would be taking over their backyard 'in no time at all'. Are you kidding me? These are also the same neighbors that left a note in my mailbox along the lines of 'We know that your house flooded, you are in a temporary house, and your dogs had to stay behind. BUT, they barked a lot last night and we didn't sleep well. Please make arrangements.' They are a fucking joy, let me tell you.
This is the 'dog run', which doesn't look like much of a run, actually. Unless your dog likes to run in circles, which surprisingly, mine does, so, it works out great. Also? It has four corners, which my dogs like to dig up, so it works out well in the regard. See that fuzzy bush type thing in the middle of the picture? My Kooter dog was standing in the middle of it a week or so ago. I have no idea what he was thinking.
Here's my back porch. Usually, there isn't a silly, mostly-deaf dog standing there, but consider it a bonus.

Of course, now that my husband has decided (with some foot-stomping, whining, complaining, and sniffling on my part) to put our house on the market (because he is a f-ing nomad!), I can argue that this is a shitty Christmas present since there is a strong possibility I will not get to enjoy it at all. So, I'm thinking...what should I get for a make-up Christmas present? Hmmmm.


The Grumpy MeMe

I'm stealing this from The Coconut Diaries. It's greatness, I tell you!

List Five T.V. shows that I will never watch – no, never.

1. The View (annoys the shit out of me)

2. Jerry Springer (trash!)

3. The Hills (stupid, spoiled drama)

4. The Wiggles (been there, done that)

5. The Doodlebops (AAAAAAAAAAAArg, my brain is bubbling just thinking about it)

Five foods I HATE and refuse to eat.

1. Liver

2. Veal (actually, I love it, but can't bring myself to eat it after having cattle)

3. Squid salad

4. Smelt eggs (Ever watch Bizarre Foods on the Travel Channel??)

5. intestines

Five places I don’t have any interest in visiting.

1. Crystal Meth Lab

2. Iraq

3. A prison (they make me sad)

4. A crack house

5. The place where the prostitutes hang out near downtown (been there....makes me incredibly sad)

Five things people at work/in my family do to annoy me.

1. (family) Always making snotty comments that I am 'loaded' or 'rich', when I'm not.

2. (work) A co-worker who smokes like a chimney, and walks in smelling like an ashtray. It lingers ALL DAY.

3. (family) When people CRUNCH THEIR CANDY. Drives...me...f-ing...batshit....crazy. I am a sucker in a family of crunchers.

4. (family) Never saying please or thank you.

5. (family) Asking me what my husband is going to buy next, since he 'is a spending person'.

Five worst gifts you received.

1. A Christmas sweatshirt that was like 10 times too big for me, and UGLY.

2. A 5lb. bag of pistachios. I mean, I love them, but not THAT much.

3. A slightly used make-up compact.

4. A set of 1960's daisy teacups and teapot. In puke green & fluorescent yellow. Used.

5. A set of candlesticks with shamrocks on them.



Awhile back, Just A Girl decided to throw a swap party. I of course, signed up, and Jannie Funster was the person I would be swapping with. I spent too much time figuring out what I would get the lovely Jannie after I got the email of random questions that would give me ideas. Eventually, I sent the package off, and I hope she enjoyed it.

I got my package from her recently, and I wanted to share with you:

I've already brewed a cup of the throat coat tea. It's yummy! And the lavender soap smells heavenly, but sad news: My husband is allergic, so I can't use it. Booooo!
There was an adorable butterfly calender, but my little sister jacked it. And the little bag with the peppers on it? My mother-in-law jacked that. Luckily, I have already started putting pictures in the teeny photo book, so no one can steal that from me!
Thank you, Jannie! Oh, and dear readers, you should go check out Jannie's site. She is talented and snarky, and I know you will enjoy yourself cruising through her posts.


On the occasion of his last afternoon

While today is a noteworthy, insanely historical day in our country, I am not as elated as I wanted to be. I am sidetracked and things are a bit out of focus for me.

I had to take my old man dog to the vet to be put to sleep this afternoon. I am a bit in shock-or maybe at peace?-I am not so sure which one it is.
This dog has been my companion for almost 11 years. When I first set out to get my first I'm-in-college-and-must-exert-my-independence-by-buying-a-pet, I actually adopted a beautiful black cat. He had soft, silky fur, or so it seemed. I wouldn't know, really, because the minute I opened his cage in my apartment, he took flight, and dove behind my couch. For days, I tried to coax him out, with food, water, toys, treats. Nothing worked. I have no idea if he even went to the bathroom. I pulled the couch away from the wall, and with each inch I crawled closer to him, his hissing and spitting were amplified by several degrees.
One morning he wasn't behind the sofa. I searched high and low for him in my teeny less-than-1000-square foot apartment, and finally found him flattened under my stereo cabinet. I have no idea how he actually fit under there, but he let me know he was alive and well by smacking me in the face.
This oh-so sweet kittie left my apartment one day. I opened the door, and he darted out so quickly I actually thought twice about the possibility that I had seen a ghost. He hid in the bushes, and took off with one final hiss when I peered under the bushes.
Buh-bye, kittie.
So. Since the cat thing didn't work out quite as planned, I decided on a dog. I wanted a chocolate lab. One with green eyes. My husband, who was just my boyfriend at the time, agreed to trade a rifle scope for a chocolate lab. So we make the trip to this random person's home to pick up my papered chocolate lab. When we get there, the momma comes out with 6 large puppies trailing and stumbling behind her. No chocolate labs left. They had given away the last one by mistake. My boy was the only one left with his sisters.
I'd like to say there was some defining moment that resulted in my picking him out of all of those little girls, but there really wasn't. They were all sweet, puppy-breathed, squirmy balls of energy. They all attacked my legs. I just picked him, the only boy.
Kooter Brown is his name. No idea where the name came from (besides, duhhhh, Dukes of Hazzard-only the most awesome show of my childhood! (well, besides Full House, Punky Brewster, Transformers, and Fresh Prince)), but it stuck.
Kooter was a mess to begin with. He knocked over bowls of food and water in the apartment, so I was greeted with bits of kibble that looked like paper weights. Once he peed on my couch, ate one of my school books, and ate the highlighter. I came home to yellow highlighter on the carpet, on the baseboards, on the tile, on his tongue. It was hard to be mad at him when he yawned large and loud, with a bright yellow tongue.
He fell in the lake once, right off a small dock. He tried to climb back up the ladder. My husband had to jump in and drag him to shore.
He loved to dive in the water and go after your fishing lures. Fishing around him was a damn fiasco.
He loved to swim in my in-laws' pool. We could never get him out. He would swim laps for hours. We would literally have to drag him out and then hold onto his collar to prevent him from jumping in again.
He loved to play with tennis balls. He would chase it forever, as long as someone was throwing it. It was sorta like the nutso dog on Dr. Doolittle-"Throw the ball, throw the ball, THROWTHEBALL!!!!" And he wouldn't let you take it out of his mouth. He had to get it just so, and push it with his nose at you. This always resulted in a big ball-full of slobber.
When he was young, he loved my sister. She was a toddler at the time, and he would lie on the floor with her. He would let her poke his eyes and nose: 'EYES. NOOOOSE.' He licked her face constantly. He also dug up her sandbox, sat in her kiddie pool, and stole every ball she had.
He ate a flat of flowers belonging to my mom once. He dug up bushes in her backyard. He ate a hole in the very center of her living room carpet. I have no idea how he did that.
One time, when taking him to the vet, he jumped out of the back of the truck and took off down this little road, after a rabbit. I had to pull into the ditch, get out, and chase after him.
He also tried to jump out of the back of the truck at the Chic-fil-A drive-thru. The lady was scared shitless to have this 80 lb. black ball of energy jumping in the window at her. He actually got most of his body through the window before falling to the ground.
He had this silly thing of looking up at me with these soulful eyes, and licking my chin. Always my chin.
At some point in time, around 2 years old or so, he became less-than friendly. In his lifetime, he has bitten 7 people, including my girl (he bit her this week). He killed a kitten when we lived in Springtown. He went after cats. He went after my friends' dogs. He even went after Daisy when we first got her. He was not happy at all with her. It took a couple of weeks of growling, snarling, baring teeth, all culminating in Daisy's little head in Kooter's big mouth. After that, they were tight.
It's been difficult having a dog that does not get along with others. We've had several close calls: the rat poison situation, the time he nipped a neighbor's kid (the 2nd incident) after being provoked...I couldn't find his shot records, so he had to be quaranteened for weeks. Each time he has bitten someone, he has lucked out-they were all people who loved me, or loved him, so all was forgiven.
When my girl was born, we made the agreement that if he ever bit any of our children, we would need to get rid of him. When she started crawling, I had to get in the habit of putting him outside, because he would growl at her. I began seperating him from everyone when people came to visit, unless it was family. I had to walk him at night, for fear that we would run into another person walking their dog, and he would attack. There were several close calls in that regard. I had to teach my girl at a very young age that you don't mess with Kooter. But as she gets older, she doesn't understand. Why can't she pet him? Why can't she lie next to him on the floor and rub his belly?
I tried. I really did. I tried resocializing him with people and animals. But it didn't work. Just the other day he put his whole head through our fence at our soon-to-be neighbors' little fuzzball of a dog. And even after the very minimal bite to my girl's finger (barely broke the skin), he growled at her last night.
Last night, I slept on the couch with him. Shitty sleep, let me tell you, but I had to spoon with him one last time. He was a great spooner. I loved on him. Kissed him. Stroked his fur. Examined his paws. Ran my hands along his spine. Scratched his ears.
Today I took him for one last walk, one last chasing of the tennis ball, where amazingly, he let me take it out of his mouth. I fed him things he shouldn't be eating, like animal crackers, chicken nuggets, candy. For one minute, I thought about making him some of my favorite comfort food: pasta.
Today, I did one of the hardest things I've ever done in my life. It was just so damn hard. I felt like a traitor. For an instant, I felt the strong need to pull on his leash, escape from the confines of that small examining room, and just run away with him. But, I know that's not logical. So instead, I petted him, kissed him, let him lick my chin, and fed him dog treats. I rubbed his head and ears at the end, thanking him for being such a good friend, such a good dog, for 11 years.
It was only a matter of time before he bit again. It was only a matter of time before we found out that tumor was cancer. It was only a matter of time before I had to do this very thing that I never wanted to have to do.
I left the vet's office with his collar and leash, my face a mess. I felt like a total dumbass, like a traitor, like someone who lost my best friend. All of those things.
So, while others have been cheering about Obama, I am sitting here crying, with my remaining dog, Daisy, sitting on the couch next to me. She is whining deep in her throat. She keeps looking towards the garage for him. This will be interesting for awhile. There's a hole in both of our hearts now, that no dog can replace.
My sweet Kooter dog:


Things remembered

My great-grandfather, Grandpa Sal, was a phenomenal man. He was a songwriter, a talented musician, funny, kind, and so loving. I loved him dearly.
He used to send me silly letters that he had typed. I still have a few. They were so funny. He would purposely leave the typos, and poke fun at himself for them. I treasure them. I would actually like to frame them, I think, and add them to my family wall.

Grandpa Sal bought me my first clarinet, when he found out I was going into band. I still have it. It is not the highest quality, but it worked for several years. I will not get rid of it, ever. My brother used it when he was in band (can you believe he was a band geek?? Me?-Yes. Him?-Nah.)
My father has Grandpa Sal's piano. I still remember it in his last home in Florida. He sat down and played me several songs. I sat on a chair, and stared at a spot on the back of his neck. Back straight, arms furiously moving, and a beautiful smile on his face. I would be so humbled to have it in my home someday, for one of my children to learn to play on it, and know that their great-great Grandfather put his fingers on the same ivory keys.
He played in an orchestra. He had a swing/salsa-type band. He wrote lyrics and music. My father has some of his sheet music. I would like to frame that as well, someday.
When I was a baby, he wrote a song for me. The lyrics, the score, everything. My Nana (his daughter) sang it. I still have the cassette tape. How cool is that?
I don't know much more about him, but I wish I did. But what I know, I cherish.
I remember he came to visit us once. It was around Christmas, and we decided to go to this well-known neighborhood in the area to look at Christmas lights. My father got lost. We never found the place, so my Grandpa Sal started 'Oooooooo'ing and 'Ahhhhh'ing at every red and green light he saw, mostly the stoplights. He was cracking us up. At one point, we were at a red light, and my mom had rolled the window down, and my Grandpa Sal yelled loudly, 'No Christmas lights! It STINKS!' A car next to us thought that he was yelling at them, and proceeded to follow us to a gas station, where they threatened to kick my father's ass when he tried to explain. My mother ended up taking her high heel off and clocking one of them in the head. My Grandpa Sal sat in the backseat of the car with me, laughing at my mother. That gas station is gone now, but anytime I drive by that spot, I think of him.
He made a doll for me. It's a little figurine. It has crazy hair, and I love it.

It is these things that mean more than anything to me. These things that cannot be replaced, cannot be re-done, these things that travel from family member to family member, made with love, given with joy. If I had to give up all the foo-foo 'stuff' that fills my life, I would be fine, as long as I could keep my treasured family things. Pictures, cookbooks, letters, little knick-knacks.
(Sidenote: We still occasionally yell 'It STINKS!' just for the memory. )


Because apparently blogging is at the very center of my universe

Yesterday Kristie's tweet about missing her blogiversary got me thinking:
Didn't I start this blog about a year ago?
Yes, yes I did.
December 28, 2007.
Mother f-er. I missed my blogiversary too!
So, since I am once again in the midst of moving and unpacking, I will have to come back to wax on (and off) about how much I have enjoyed blogging for the past year, meeting all you wonderful people, and maybe even do a teeny tiny contest? Although, whatever would I give away this time? An empty wardrobe box? A random book from my gift closet? Heck, I don't know!
Moving right along:

So, if you had the choice between an IPod Touch or an IPod Classic, which would you choose? You aren't paying for it, and you used to have the Classic, but it wasn't 120GB, it was like 30GB. Yes, the Touch is oh-so cool, but the Classic has much more storage. Not that you plan on downloading 30,000 songs, but shouldn't you get the most for your (see: your brother's) money? Okay, wait: If you want the most for your money, do you want the most storage, or the most cool? And guess what? The Touch is actually cheaper than the Classic right now! WTF? Okay, I totally don't know what to do here. Help me out, people! And not like when I asked for your help on mascara (bought the Colassal stuff in the bright yellow tube this past weekend, and then I see this girl's post about 'OH how I love this mascara!' and I totally want to scream) and a gift for my mother-in-law (didn't end up buying her a thing because I haven't seen her since Christmas), because seriously? You guys dropped the ball on that one! Way to help a fellow blogger out! Sheesh.
Just tell me!: 30GB Touch or 120GB Classic???


The Nomnomnom Meme

If you know me at all, you know that my life revolves around food. Yes, of course, it revolves around my daughter, and social work, and helping others, and world peace, and hugging trees, and....but oh.my.god. Food.

Taken from Lil Foot's Mommy, my faraway friend who will talk about food with me any time!

1. Favorite milk? 2% Or Shepp's Chocolate milk

2. What are the top 3 dishes/recipes you are planning to cook this season? Roman-Style Chicken, Italian stew, & chocolate cake

3. Topping of choice for popcorn? Plain, old, fatty butter

4. Most disastrous recipe/meal failure? Some cornbread out of a box. It was the Target brand, and I put in too much oil and it was AWFUL. My husband won't let me live it down, even though I now make some awesome cornbread.

5. Favorite pickled item? Pickled tomatoes! So good!

6. How do you organize your recipes? Uh, they are all over the place, but contained in one cabinet.

7. Compost, trash, or garbage disposal? garbage disposal. If I didn't have two dogs, I would totally do compost (tree hugger).

8. If you were stranded on an island and could only bring 3 foods…what would they be (don’t worry about how you’ll cook them)? pasta!, chocolate cake, tacos!

9. Fondest food memory from your childhood? Making some of my grandma's old recipes with her before she passed away

10. Favorite ice cream? Aw hell-just ONE?. Um, dulce de leche.

11. Most loved kitchen appliance? My pot filler!!! I rolled my eyes when my hubby wanted to put one in, but I LOVE it.

12. Spice/herb you would die without? garlic

13. Cookbook you have owned for the longest time? A kids one that has recipes from A-Z

14. Favorite flavor of jam/jelly? Kiwi jam from Australia! My friend brought it back for me.

15. Favorite recipe to serve to a friend? Tortilla soup

16. Do you eat tofu? Sometimes, but usually just in miso soup

17. Favorite meal to cook (or time of day to cook)? DESSERT!

18. What is sitting on top of your refrigerator? nothing. there is a built in cabinet that sits about a 1/4 inch above the top of my refrigerator (That's full of my china)

19. Name 3 items in your freezer without looking. tortellini, toaster strudel's, Chili

20. What’s on your grocery list? ice cream

21. Favorite grocery store? Market Street, but it's expensive!

22. Name a recipe you’d love to try, but haven’t yet. Roasted chicken with balsamic vinaigarette

23. Food blog you read the most. None, really.

24. Favorite chocolate? Raspberry truffles from godiva

25. Most extravagant food item purchased lately? prosciutto for the Roman Chicken recipe

26. What vegetables do you enjoy most? Broccoli, grilled eggplant & zucchini, fried zucchini, tomatoes, and cucumbers


Another birdie story

Did I ever tell you about the time I was attacked by a bird? No? Really? Wellllll, this is a good one.

About 10 years ago (long before the lovely birds in Springtown), I was home alone around Christmas time. I was in the bathroom, getting all prettied up. I heard something move in the kitchen. I walked out into the living room with my heart in my throat. I saw nothing. I went back in the bathroom, annoyed at myself for hearing things.

Then I heard the tinkle of a little bell. Specifically, the tinkle of a little bell on my Christmas tree topper. Again, I went out into the living room, and looked at the tree.

There was a bird sitting on the Santa's head. A bird. Just a plain old, cute bird. (I call them city birds-don't ask.)
Soooo, I decide that I should probably figure out how the f- it got in the house, and try to get it out. I open the back door, and wave my arms around like an idiot, telling the bird to 'Shoo'. It flies around the kitchen, lands on top of the cabinets, knocks something over in all it's nervousness, and.....
dive-bombs my head.
I run screaming into the hallway by the bathroom. It follows, and goes behind the TV. I peek out around the wall, and it comes at me again. Again, I scream, and run to my bedroom. I slam the door, and hear it's flimsy wings hit the door.
By this time, I have swallowed my heart, and I'm hyperventilating. I'm also yelling at the bird:
"What the shit is wrong with you?"
"I'm your friend. Sheesh!"
"Get the hell out of my house!"
I open the door a crack. A teeny tiny crack. Apparently, a teeny tiny crack big enough for the damn bird to fly through...right at my head. Again. I fall back, screaming, and at this point, I'm beginning to laugh at myself.
I finally get the nerve up to shoo the bird out of my room, down the hallway, and out into the living room. It perches itself on the top of the open door. And sits. And sits. And sits.
No amount of begging, pleading, yelling, or whining will get it to move. So I decide to go back to what I was doing, and figure it will fly out when it is ready.
Do you know what that little city bird did?
It sat at the top of the door and sang.
And then....it flew into the other door. Head-on. Fell to the floor, jumped up, dusted itself off, and flew out the open door, like none of this ever happened.
Of course, no one believed me when I told them it happened. But I swear I saw that little bird on the patio table later that day, looking in the back door.


The good in all the bad

In spite of all the drama with my cows, there were some bright sides to living in the country.
The stars were gorgeous. I felt so small standing under the night sky.

The storms were phenomeonal (also read: scary as shit). I could go on and on about all the times the damn electricity would go out as soon as it started raining, how I would have to huddle in my hallway bathtub, calling my mom to see what the weather was doing, how my dogs followed me so closely that they ran into my ass, how our property flooded on several occasions, bringing dozens of ducks, how it rained, and rained, and rained. But I said 'bright sides', didn't I? So. Where was I? Ah, the sky.

The clouds as storms were coming in. The pink sunsets. The sound of the wind (which never stopped blowing) in the huge pecan trees by the gate and behind the pond. The pear trees full of fruit, with branches so weighed down they nearly touched the ground. The way the sun reflected on the hay when it was reaching for the sky, just before it was cut.

The quiet. The silence. The sounds at night: the donkeys braying, the coyotes howling, the owl that visited so often in the tree across from my bedroom windows (which I could never get a clear picture of, darn it). You could hear everything out there.

The feeling of having 23.13 acres all my own. Mine. My teeny tiny spot on this planet.

And...the birds. I'm not sure what kind they were. Some said they were barn swallows, some said they were sparrows...I don't know. They were little and cute and fiesty, which you know warmed my heart.

These birds built their nests on my front and back porches. One time, they built it on my front porch light. And as many times as my husband knocked their shit down, they re-built in half the time. (And just to clarify, he never knocked them down when they had eggs or babies in them; only before. He was trying to convince them to move on.)

I'm not discounting how gross and utterly annoying it was. Once the babies hatched, there would be between 3 and 6 babies in that little nest, all hovering their little asses over the side of the nest, which means there would be piles of poop on my porch. Piles. And also? The mom and dad (and sometimes extended family, I swear) would dive bomb us anytime we would walk out our doors. Even after I would run off the porch, they would squeek and screech and dive bomb me on my way to the mailbox or to water my flowers. That was pretty annoying.

But I loved to watch them sleep at night, all balled up, next to the nest. I loved to see and hear the little babies once they were born, and wait for their little fuzzy heads to look out over the edge of the nest at me. It was amazing to watch the parents feed the babies. And it was interesting to watch the babies get out of the nest and perch on the ledge, testing their wings. And then, suddenly, they would all be flying, like it was something they were born to do. They would fly to my window sills, and sit on the edge, cocking their heads this way and that, trying to check me out. They grew so fast, to the point that none of them slept in the nest at night, just curled up next to it.
I knew at one point I would look out at the nest to find it empty. My husband always took that time to knock it down, and wash the piles of poo off the porch. And within a few months, another nest would be built, with new parents and new babies.


It got worse

It's been awhile, so I decided to give you another installment of my time in Springtown. You can go here, here, here, or here to read previous stories about my time as a cow person. Also related, go here to read about my nutty neighbors that I called the ASPCA on.

So after Round 2 of the Calves, we sold all the mamas and their babies. We decided we were done for a bit. That lasted all of 2 seconds. Our rancher friend asked if he could put some of his cattle on our land, as he had a ton, and not a ton of hay. So, of course, we said yes.

These 15 ladies were skinny. And I mean S.K.I.N.N.Y. Ribs, hipbones, shoulder blades showing. Apparently, our rancher friend had bought them this way, and they weren't fattening up fast enough. It was really sad. We had several bales of hay out there for them, as well as salt blocks and bags of feed. They were very slowly getting some weight on.

One day I get a letter in my mailbox. It is in a blank envelope. I swear to you, I wish I had saved that damn letter, just so I could post it here.
This was a 'concerned neighbor' who said that they drove by my property every day, and my cows were getting skinnier and skinnier, and if I didn't stop starving my cattle, this person was going to 'Call the local news stations' because 'I am sure they would like to see how cruel you are to animals'. This fuckface called me cruel, mean, and 'not-deserving' of animals.
I was livid. I couldn't see straight, and I stomped into my house to call my husband at work. I am sure the phone conversation was a delight for him, what with me ranting and raving, screaming and crying "How could someone actually think that I would starve an animal?????". I was not happy, to say the least. Especially considering the fact that I had called the ASPCA on my stupid neighbors across the street.
My husband called our rancher friend, who was a bit too slow for my liking, but he did bring out more hay. But this wasn't good enough for me. I couldn't stand the thought that some neighbor actually thought I would let animals starve on my property. And I was so angry that they didn't just stop and ask about the damn cows. I was so mad that I thought of posting a big huge sign on my gate telling this fuckface that 'These ARE NOT the same PREGNANT COWS that I had a couple of months ago. These are cows that WERE STARVING BEFORE THEY GOT HERE.' Every person that drove by my house (and the county road was a busy one), I gave dirty looks to. I was just pissy.

Eventually, our rancher friend came and got them, once he had sold some of his other cattle. The ASPCA never showed up, but I never felt truly comfortable there again.


365 Days of grace: 6 & 7

6. A faraway friend who makes me feel sane, just by being herself.

7. My daughter telling me that I am her favorite, even when I'm 'crabby'.


First post of the new year

Rather than laminate about my stupid resolutions (lose 20lbs., stop cussing around my girl, spend more time with those I love, blah blah BLAH), I decided that I would start this-
I am taking it from Chibijeebs at One Fine Neurotic Mess, who took it from Schmutzie at Milkmoney or Not, Here I Come:

Schmutzie's idea was to post 5 things, each day, that have graced her life. Chibijeebs just posts a thing that graces her life, randomly, 365 total. I'm a bit more random, like Chibijeebs, so that's how I'm going to do it. It's thoughtful and kind and it will do me good to remember the grace and blessings in my life.
One for each day of the year, so far:
1. A husband who cleans the kitchen after I spend an hour cooking a new recipe.
2. The soft gloves I got for Christmas, that have come in very handy today (no pun intended!).
3. The ability to shop for health insurance and know that I can afford it.
4. Waking up to a soft kiss on the cheek from my little girl every morning.
5. Dogs who seem to forgive my absence, and are so very excited to see me every day.
In unrelated news, I have done the 30 Day Shred twice, and only Level One because, quite frankly, I am an out-of-shape wuss! I was panting, sweating, gasping, and I do believe there may have been some farting involved, but I'm blaming that all on my sister and the dogs. My sister joined me the first time, and someone had the bright idea to bring the dogs to the temporary house for the night, where they proceed to hover over and around us while we quickly died on the floor. Jillian is one rough bitch! But, wow, if I could have her arms.....
I will not quit you Jillian, even though I am limping like someone stuffed something in the rear end of my pants, and I whimper with each step I take.