Thursday, May 31, 2007

In which I DO NOT mention the fact that nothing new is up in my garden...

1) Radiation is going. We are driving in every day, consuming copious amounts of Tim Horton's beverages, and listening to an unGodly amount of country music.

2) Coperni-Kitty has now decided that she hates me once more. I haven't come into contact with her in about a week, unless you count the desperate attempts I make to get her to love me by seducing her with treats.

3) Remember how my leg went numb a while ago? It quit! And I was all like, Sweet! Let's cancel the appointment with the neurologist!

4) But then today, the whole thing went completely dead again. So I'm glad I didn't cancel the neurologist.

5) My legs are itchy, so I applied a fair amount of Gold Bond itch cream. Now I smell like a cross between a woman wearing men's deodorant, and somebody's grandma.

6) I've perused the property a lot lately, and it seems that there is an inordinate amount of wood laying around int he form of felled trees. Which can only mean one thing: FIRE PARTY.

7) I got to spend a whole day with my best friend this week, driving around and just chilling. She also bought me poutine for lunch, and nothing makes me love a person than thinly veiled attempts to make me fat and lardy.

8) SuperNan and I are out of ER on DVD to watch now.

9) I suggested that SuperDad learn how to dance so that he could entertain us in the evenings while there is nothing worthwhile on the television.

10) He didn't think so much of that idea. Sheesh.

[Radiation, Copernicus, Numb Leg, Neurology, Fattening Foods, ER]

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Its Called Being Obsessive....

I have been spending an inordinate amount of time peering at my garden of late, waiting for it to spring into bloom. Tonight I brought the Precious Boy out with me to sit and stare, waiting for some sign of life other than the occasional earthworm or ant to pass me by. Within ten minutes he was incredibly bored, but I soon found this little shoot underneath a pebble of dirt. I immediately had to photograph it and now I must ask: Do you think this is a bean plant? Or is it just another pesky weed? I suppose that time will tell. I also suppose that the old adage is not at all true, and that a watched garden really does grow.

I also spent a small amount of time wandering through the barn, admiring what I have accomplished thus far and what I have yet to accomplish. See here the horse stall that will soon become a tack room. Picture it waist-deep in debris, trash, and cat food containers. And then look at the picture and tell me that I am not WonderWoman. And then if you do tell me that I am not WonderWoman, be sure to leave your address so that I can find your car and remove its distributor cap accordingly.

Also, you can see here my bull pens above at the right. They are clean, relatively speaking, and once I build up the nerve to remove the cob webs from them, I'm sure I will be in business to start thinking about preparing them for other things to live in them.

Here are two pictures of a terrifying experience I had tonight. I had to go down into the very, very scary basement of my parents' haunted house to fix a fuse. I've never before fixed a fuse, the flipping of that irritating little switch, but upon peering down into the basement stairs (See the picture to your left) I really did feel the need to stop and get a strong drink. Once I was down there, I didn't bother to photograph a thing on the way to the fusebox, because the terror that was in my heart over the thought of something ending up on my person was almost enough to cause heart failure. However, once I turned around, I couldn't not take a picture.

While the basement may be terrifying to some people with its six foot cielings and its dug dirt floor, I really have to stop and stare at the beauty of it all. Did you know that someone dug that basement with his own two hands? He placed the foundation there without the help of trucks and workmen and a company with a union. I wonder about the person who laid that foundation sometimes. Did he ever stop to think that a hundred and eighty years after he dug that foundation, a young girl would be living in the same house dreaming of being a farmer? Did he ever think that this same young girl would have spent her lifetime in that house, being scared of the creaky sounds it makes? Did he ever think that I would sit alone in my computer room and wonder about him, if he had a lovely young bride to bring him a jug of sweet tea, or if he had beer instead?

I wonder about him, sometimes. I wonder if he led a good life or a bad one. Mostly I wonder if he knows that I am still in awe of his work, almost two centuries later.

[A New Life, Long Term Goals, Farmer, Farming, Calf Pens, Haunted House]

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You know that times are changing...

In order to save some funds recently, I've been making little cutbacks in my life. The first of those cutbacks is to alter my cellular plan, or really, my parents' cellular plan, since we have the family plan. First things to go are Call Display and free calling after six o'clock.

The calling after six o'clock is not that big of a deal, now that I have access to a land line telephone. They are free ALL the time, which is ever so handy. Its been about three years since I've talked to someone at ten a.m., and let me tell you, it is so FREEING. I'm not habitually checking the clock to see how many minutes I've eaten up, nor am I concerned that my mother will get a phone bill for an outrageous amount of mintes, that will cause her to cause my demise.

My display name online tonight was a clear portrayal of my feelings on the topic, and the following conversation with Mal ensued:

Mal says: what's up?
Amanda: Not too much. Just chillin
Amanda: You?
Mal says: meh, just watched 4 brothers. why are you sad, sad, sad...?
Amanda: Because the call display is now off my phone. And when someone calls me I don't know who it is.
Mal says: your cellie?
Amanda: Cellie.
Amanda: Saving money and all.
Amanda: Sigh.
Mal says: how are you going to call people back?
Amanda: I have no idea
Amanda: I don't know what to do
Amanda: What if I miss a call? I'll never know who it was.
Mal says: man you got to attach that thing to your hip. i may call you
Amanda: When?
Mal says: randomly
Mal says: and you'll never know!
Mal says: i dont know
Mal says: it'll be random
Mal says: lol
Amanda: I KNOW! The randomness is killing me!
Mal says: haha
Mal says: so whatcha gunn do?
Amanda: I don't know. Get a job and buy it back, maybe?
Amanda: But Gah, being employed. That makes you have to get out of bed so damn often
Mal says: hm... forward thinking. i know! and you have to then clean yourself.
Amanda: Dammit. You know I hate cleansing myself.
Amanda: You SAW the pic on my blog. Sheesh.

[Saving Money, Cell Phone Plan, Unemployment, Filth]

Labels: ,

Monday, May 28, 2007

The Cutest Cuteness....

My brother has a puppy!

And now I want a puppy!

If only they didn't involve so much house training and attention and care and expense, I would surely have a puppy of my own. As it stands, I have Coperni-Kitty. Otherwise known as Howly Gonzales. And now that she's spent so much time with SuperNan, she's even starting to respond to 'Drop Dead". What a clever kitty!

Labels: ,

Saturday, May 26, 2007

A testament...

See my back?

Does it look like a pretty, pretty tan?

Oh, no. Not a tan.

That's pure working-in-the-barn-all-day filth, Baby.

Now, the question remains: Do I shower before heading to the beer store in Dad's pickup? Or do I live up to my redneck standards and just throw on the lumberjack jacket?

Labels: ,

Friday, May 25, 2007

Introducing the newest, and shortest lived, member of our family...

This nifty little fellow is named Bertrand the Bat. He flew over SuperNan's head tonight while she was sitting at the computer, innocently checking her message boards. She didn't scream initially, except for when she had to get my attention. Sometimes I take after my dad a little bit, and I guess I tend to be hard of hearing. Or just completely absorbed in the neat things surrounding me. Which are rarely made up of bats.

Fortunately enough for us, he flew into the kitchen and for a brief period appeared to be napping atop the kitchen door. He looked so cute and cuddled up there that I thought - momentarily-about wrapping him and I up into my lumberjack jacket and dozing together. But then I realized that it was a FRICKIN' BAT and he was in our FRICKIN' HOUSE so I came to my senses and got the broom.

It was at this point that all Hell broke lose because my mother dispatched herself to go get my father, the Ultimate BatBuster. I, unfortunately, was left alone with the bat for all of five minutes and I suppose my time in the Big City must have worn off on me because when he started flying DIRECTLY AT MY FACE I felt the need to commence shrieking with all my might. SuperDad soon came to the rescue, fully equipped with a handy-dandy fishing net. I was surprised because I was expecting him to come up to the bat with his bare hands and grasp him by his thin little neck to toss him out the door.

But this was not to be the case. My father caught the bat with the net, and we all oohed and ahhed at the beauty of him because he actually was like a little mouse with wings. My mother is quite fond of mice, having performed many animal-friendly breeding projects on genetics with them in her college days. My father does not quite have the same affection for mice going on, but he tends to love all wildlife, especially turtles, and apparently bats. And so we all wished Bertrand the best and set him free in the garden like the good samaritans that we are.

I'm sure we'll all get a good laugh the next time the little bastard breaks into our house and lands us all with a nice case of rabies.

In all, I suppose just another Friday night in CowTown.

[Bats, Ridding your home of Bats, BatBusters, Napping Bats, Rabies]

Labels: , ,

Thursday, May 24, 2007

My week's work...

I finished my garden today. It was a momentous event, finishing that garden, and as I leaned on my pitchfork surveying my work, with sweat dripping off my chin and dirt coating my body, I must say that I felt entirely satisfied.

My father thought that it would be a neat trick to give me a plot of land that is actually the foundation for some old outbuilding, or perhaps a sacred Indian burial ground before it was discovered that bodies need to be several feet beneath the ground. I didn't find any bodies -- and if I had, you can bet there would be all kinds of pictures on here -- but I did manage to find a whole host of enormous rocks that took all of my might and strength to remove. Some were small, but there were three sections of what was once a medium sized boulder that I had to lift out, and as I lifted them I cursed. I did not curse quietly and under my breath; no, I cursed loudly enough that the whole of CowTown could hear me, I'm sure, and if we had a mayor or a police force, I'm sure that someone would have given me a noise violation, or at least a warning. I must stop here and say that this is one of the many, many reasons we live in the middle of nowhere, because we can pee in our back yard -- or the front, if we prefer -- and we can scream obscenities at any time of the day or night and never encounter any trouble as a result of it.

This is the last picture that I took today, although I did far more work than is here. I have everything planted and all the rows staked, as well as a trelis up for the peas to climb. My mother was somewhat upset that I didn't photograph the entire process because the photo of turned over dirt doesn't really do it justice. This garden was originally rock-filled sod which I had to remove piece by piece. After that, I added six wheelbarrow loads of the finest four-year-old red veal shit that all of Eastern Canada has to offer. Then I brought about four loads of topsoil from the load that we got two years ago, after which I had to turn the soil again, pick out the remainder of the rocks, find a trelis and set it up, create another trelis, dig seventeen thousand holes, and plant a bunch of stuff.

Projects like these really make me think about the people who lived long before us. Those people couldn't just run to the SuperCentre, grabbing an Iced Cappuccino on the way, if their gardens failed. Of course, as soon as the seeds were in the ground the anxiety came over me, and what if none of the little plants come up? I will be the laughingstock of CowTown for sure, because what the hell kind of farm girl can't plant a miniature frickin' vegetable garden?

If nothing comes up, I plan on blaming the fact that no Round-Up was sprayed in the creation of this garden.

[Rural Life, Garden, Vegetable Garden, Country Living, BackBreaking Labor]

Labels: , , ,

The things you forget...

I worked dilligently on my garden again today, until the sweat was pouring down over my body and my earphones were oozing lazily out of their comfortable position in my ears. I worked until I choked on the dust in the barn, with such fervor that in my haste, I actually forgot about the four years worth of spider webs that now line the corners of my calf pens. As a result I did NOT break into hives worrying about the creepy-crawly things that might take up residence somewhere on my person.

The pens are now dazzlingly clean and delightful to look at, empty of any memory that remains of the last calves I shipped after the Mad Cow Crisis occurred. As I recall, the second last batch of calves I sent went for fifty-two and fifty-four cents per pound. When I got my checks from the sale barn, my father shook his head and tossed the invoice on the counter. I recall sitting at the table in my barn clothes, looking at that stupid document that I felt had the power to rule my life. We called the truck the following week to sell the last two calves long before they should have been sold, because at those prices it wasn't even worth the sweat on our backs to continue.

I don't remember the last time I cleaned my pens out. I suppose that because the sale of my last calves was hasty, I never thought to stop and remember the last fork full of shit I would toss into a wheelbarrow. I'm sure that I was sweating, cursing, perhaps singing along with the radio. The barn would have had plenty of other cows in it, and my horse Modgie would have been watching me from his stall. Perhaps my nephew was napping in the house, perhaps Dixie was sniffling about the barn looking for something really, really smelly to roll around in. That's what hounds do, after all. They find disgusting things to roll in and then they cuddle up to you on the couch while you watch Dr. Phil.

Today's pen-cleaning was entirely optimistic, and not at all sad and wistful like I feared it would be. The organic matter (Isn't that a polite way to discuss cow manure? To refer to it as organic matter? Aren't I brilliant?) was completely dry so that its weight was reduced to almost nothing. There were no calves to wrestle with as I worked from pen to pen, no worries that a crazed bull calf would make good his escape and terrorize everything else that was in the barn. My father and I discussed some plans for some things that may or may not ever come to fruition. But it was fun to be in the barn, him and I leaning on forks, discussing the best way to do this and that.

As a courtesy to SuperNan I decided to shower my soaking wet, sweaty self before we went to radiation, and as I stood in the shower I looked down in wonder at the streams of mud that were flowing off my legs and into the drain. It has been far, far too long since I have worked, actually worked until my body ached and my shoulders burned. As I scrubbed away the filth that coated my limbs, I grinned like a big, stupid fool into the stream of water that hit my face because My God, I am starting my life. My hands are blistered, my muscles ache, there is sun on my face -- and I am creating my life.

[Gardening, Vegetables, Bull Calves, Farming, Mad Cow Crisis]

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

The Garden...

I planted a garden last year, a little plot of land that was a constant stress to my father because of how I tend to go about gardening. He is very particular about how things are done, and while this does get on my nerves from time to time, I have to say that it is an admirable quality to always want things done the right way, not just the handiest way.

When I garden anything, I tend to be fairly lax about it. Its not like we're living in the pioneer days, and really, if the garden fails I can just run down to the Super Centre and buy myself a can of peas. Not only can I do that, but I can stop at Tim Horton's for an Ice Cap on the way. It seems like a win-win situation all around.

The first year that I grew a garden of my own, I grew some sunflowers. I thought that they would be jaunty and cheery, happy little plants that would fill my heart with sunshine every time I glanced in their direction. Instead, they grew to the size of Oak trees, very large oak trees with trunks that you need a chain saw to cut through. When I went back to the big city for school, I left them behind and the following year when my father went to plant grass where my garden had been, he had thirty of these overgrown sunflower stalks to deal with.

SuperDad was not happy.

This year I have been threatening and threatening to stick my garden in the same place as I have in years past, and he has been stomping his feet and demanding that I not put in a garden in any place because for God's sake, he doesn't have time to look after it when the thrill wears off. Eventually, after much back and forth conversing in loud tones, he decided that behind the chicken coop would be an acceptable place for me to garden. I assume that he chose this location because he will never have to look at it while he crosses the yard, and his blood pressure manages to stay much lower when he isn't being forced against his will to look at poorly planted rows of corn scattered hither and yon.

I set out this afternoon with my spade shovel and a plan. Beyond that I didn't have much else. I quickly learned that in order to work this particular plot of land, I would need bug spray. Lots and lots of bug spray, in quantities so large that the eggs of many local turtles will be rendered useless because the mosquitoes ARE JUST THAT BIG. After that I needed a drink of water, because turning over sod with a spade shovel is thirsty work. And then after that I needed work gloves, because turning over sod leaves your hands blistered and bleedy.

After I had come and gone from the house three or four times in the same twenty minutes, my dad decided to come out and investigate my progress. This is what I love about my dad, the fact that no matter how strongly he feels that someone should not begin a job, he is so bent on it being done correctly that he just can't tear himself away. In all, I managed to turn over about two thirds of the little plot I chose and he did the rest. What I find most humorous about this situation is that you can clearly see where my section ends and his begins, because his part is turned so much better than mine, with such cleaner edges.

Tomorrow I'm going to empty out the calf pens that I should have emptied out three years ago. By now it is perfect topsoil, light and easy to handle, and it will make for some of the organic-est organic matter ever to add to a garden. Everything grows better when it's grown in love, and surely the organic matter from three year old calf pens can't be described as anything BUT love.

Labels: ,

And it starts...

A number of people have probably been curious as to why I haven't been seeking out some kind of employment since I finished school. I will fully admit that part, or even most, of the reason lies in the fact that I am a huge lazy-ass. The other part is that I begin my duties as a berry farm field manager in mid-June. The other part is that SuperNan begins radiation on this Tuesday the twenty second, and I want to be there every step of the way.

I feel a little bit bad for hogging up my mom at this time, but the two of us manage to have a pretty good time together. Our taste in music is generally the same, although when I start blaring out the Megadeth, she tends to run screaming from the room. I also tend to pop the clutch more than she does, and as a result she does ninety-nine percent of the driving when we go on outings together. I know that several other people want to take my mom to her treatments, because as cancer has taught me, there are many, many wonderful people out there who want to help out a friend or family member.

The thing is that SuperNan and I have a deep-seated understanding of one another's love for beverages from Tim Horton's consumed in a car with country music coming from the stereo. We know when to be quiet, when to turn up the radio, and when to chat about whatever it is we need to chat about.

At this point, life is getting kind of busy. I'm not sure if I'll have the same amount of time to post here as I usually do when I'm unemployed and sitting about the house doing nothing. I hope to get started on my plans for the barn and for my garden, and between that and radiation, who knows how much time I'll have for the Internet?

At any rate, I will be here as much as I humanly can be.

Labels: , ,

Monday, May 21, 2007

Oh, the weekend....

I got to spend the weekend reminiscing with a friend from public school, a friend who managed to get herself married, and now she has this husband hanging around all the time, but he's ok: He's one of the ones who has a job and a GMC pickup and everything. Together with the husband, she bought herself a farm and on the farm she is housing all kinds of neat stuff like cows, chickens, and a bull that is twice, or maybe even three or four times, the size of one of those ridiculous SmartCars. (That's why we buy big vehicles that aren't environmentally friendly out in the country: Crack the hood of your Mazda Protege over the rump of one steer and you'll be a Silverado fan for life.)

The barn is glorious, oh so very glorious, and every time I was in it I wanted to burst into tears and wrap my arms around the neck of every creature within it. Unfortunately, the creatures within it were not as interested in me and I had to settle for photographing everything within distance of my camera's 16x optical zoom.

She also just received a shipment of day old chicks from the feed store (Because out here in the country the names of stores are rather misleading. The gas bar nearest us sells liquor and subs, and the feed store also sells baby chickens. I think it makes perfect sense but the city folk find it a little confusing.) As I was photographing the chicks, three suburban pre-teens were eyeing me warily and asking if this was like, my first time on a farm or something. I grinned and squealed "Oh, Y'all don't even KNOW! And Y'all, Ah just lu-uv y'alls bayby chickens! Can Ah take some home with me?" And after I did that, they stopped bugging me and my friend just had to snort and roll her eyes because what on Earth is hotter than a farmer snorting and rolling her eyes?

I forget what this cow's name is, and I'm sure its a very creative name, like the Spanish word for steak or something. I'm sure he will make a very good steak too, one that is juicy and succulent because they feed their cows apples in their spare time. APPLES. I've never heard of feeding cows apples but it is supposed to make them nicer and the next time I get cows? I'm so totally feeding them apples because there is nothing worse than ill-tempered bovines.

My weekend started out with a trip to see Big Brother and Family, during which time she received another lesson in Why One Should Avoid Auntie Like The Plague: The Flash of that Damn Camera. Since getting my camera I have been a little obsessive about taking pictures but I have to say that Hey! It's digital! I don't have to print any that I don't like and so why not take thirty seven of her doing the same thing because eventually I might just get that perfect angle and become a world-renouned photographer using Shit Luck as my merit.

A good weekend in all.

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 17, 2007


I'm not at The Ranch tonight. SuperNan and I decided to make a last-minute trip to visit Big Brother and Family, and we arrived this afternoon in perfect time for me to break into their spare-bedroom closet and take the down duvet out, curl up on the floor and have a luxurious nap. Nothing in this life is better than down duvets -- except of course clean socks -- and naps burried deep within their fluffy goodness make my days sweeter and my nights dreamier.

The Princess is growing up, really and truly, because now that she is nineteen months old she can actually say 'Auntie'. It is very priceless but the problem is she knows the word but not who it blongs to. All afternoon she was pointing at me and saying Nanny and pointing at SuperNan and saying Auntie. So she has a little bit of relative confusion going on but hey! She said my name!

She showed me the art of coloring today, and made us all a picture while she was strapped into her high chair after she ate her dinner. I was given the pleasure of feeding her and unlike the Precious Boy used to, she didn't bother to strawberry-kiss any of it into my hair in the five minutes before I leave for a job interview. Already, the Boy has competition over what, exactly, he gets left in my will because not having crusty hair is high on my list of priorities.

After hte Princess went to bed, I spent a fair amount of time outside playing fetch with the dog, the insane, oversized mass of hyperactivity who lived in my parents' house for six months and who is the reason I do not have ethical issues with spoon-feeding animals large quantities of sedatives. Wrapped in Steak. And dipped in gravy.

I have to say that nothing beats playing fetch with a well-trained dog because this dog fetches every single time, repeatedly, for as long as you have a desire to toss her retrieving dummy. Not only does she fetch, but she sits absolutely still while you take aim and throw and then? You have to TELL her to go and get the dummy. Then she brings it directly back to you, drops it at your feet, and waits for you to repeat the process. She repeats this process with such joie de vie and exhuberance that you begin to think for a second, wait. Maybe this dog isn't really, really smart. Perhaps she is really, really stupid because she just performed the same action thirty-seven times in a row and she's still acting like it is a very important job to be done. As though God is depending on her to retrieve all of the world's dummies, because if she doesn't retrieve them and drop them at my feet, MY WORD, WHO WILL? I suppose that the retreival of dummies is not something that can be taken lightly, and Big Brother's dog is well aware of her obligation to safely-- without ripping, slobbering on, or defacing-- bring back every dummy that is ever thrown her way.

Rock on, Calypso.

Labels: , ,

Life's Big Decisions...

I haven't made it a secret here that my mom was diagnosed with breast cancer this past January. So far she has done wonderfully with surgery and treatment, although I think her surgeon is an ass -- but I'm not allowed to diss her surgeon any more so I'll leave it at saying THE MAN IS A GIANT ASS. Sorry, Mom.

There are decisions that come along with my mother's diagnosis of breast cancer that I have to make for my own health. The first big decision regards genetic testing.

If I test positive for what is known as BRCA 1 or 2 genes, I will have a very high probablity of developing breast cancer later in life. They don't know when, and I'm not sure if they will know what kind. I really haven't looked that much into it thus far.

The implications of this testing can be as huge or as minimal as I want them to be. I can choose a variety of prophylactic measures to fight it, or I can use it as a tool to be aware of what type of extra monitoring my health will need in the future.

I do not do medical procedures well. There was an incident when I was a teen that required me to have a chest X-ray, an incident that involved a terrifying technician and one of those hospital gowns and me not being permitted to wear a bra. This incident left me weeping in the passenger's side of my mother's car for what seemed like ages. I was weeping because this strange man caught a glimpse of my back. Not my ass, not anything in the bathing suit region. My back.

I hate having anything medical done to me, I hate having doctors be near my person, I hate having others in my personal bubble. The entire X-ray incident left me feeling so insignificant and exposed, but for God's sake, the man TOOK A PICTURE OF MY LUNGS. He didn't even have to come near me, but it still left me shaken and disturbed.

My mother has faced medical procedures since her first suspicious mammogram that would leave me clutching a magnum bottle of wine, weeping on the living room floor. I have no idea how she finds the strength to go through each additional procedure because I would simply wilt away into nothing and cease to exist.

Initially I thought I would take the most drastic measures available to prevent myself from having to undergo any procedures at all, including mammography. Pain does not deter me from too much: It generally ends and if it doesn't, they give you really, really good drugs. It is the invasion of my personal space that makes me shiver and run.

The last few days, however, I have been re-thinking my desire to take the most drastic measures available. I don't know why. But I suppose that I need to give every option the thought and investigation it deserves.

I don't know how to become strong. I don't know how to accept that this life will undoubtedly be full of medical procedures that I can or can not deal with. I don't know how to stop the shaking that overcomes me when I think of technicians coming at me with a platform thing-a-ma-jig in which they want to squish my teeny, tiny little chest into. I don't know how to accept that other people, at some point, may need to have some sort of contact with my person, and that an incident like that alone is not reason to want to punch them in the mouth.

I don't know why I am the way I am. I don't know why other people in my space creeps my shit out, and I don't know why medical procedures especially make me want to cry. I suppose I need to find myself some sort of guide, some sort of system to work myself up to being stronger in this regard so that I can make the best decision for my future.

I'm going to have to spend some time figuring out what that guide or system is.

Labels: , ,

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

In praise of the lumberjack jacket...

Last year I turned 22 on my birthday, and it was probably the best birthday of my life for a variety of reasons. The Berry Queen bought me my very own plaid lumberjack jacket, and I realize now that to describe a lumberjack jacket as plaid is redundant in and of itself because do they come in any other color?

I love my lumberjack jacket with a love that is fierce and strong, because it is warm and cozy, it is comfortable, it is plaid, it is soft. It acts as many things: a blanket, a comforter, a jacket, a shawl, and sometimes even a boyfriend. When I wear the lumberjack jacket I know that I can be single for the rest of my life because its like being wrapped up in something safe and warm and comfy and really, who needs a smelly man who's likely to leave razors on the bathroom counter when you already have a lumberjack jacket on hand? Not me, that's for sure.

Mal wore the lumberjack jacket out for a cigarette this weekend, and I think it was the first time in her life that she ever experienced the lumberjack jacket-y goodness. We were driving to a wedding on Sunday and she turned to me as we were lost for the seventh time in a random parking lot. There was an air of seriousness about her, a sincerity on her face when she looked at me and said:

"I'm sorry for judging you for wearing the plaid jacket."


"No, really. I'm sorry for judging you. I wore it out for a smoke this morning and it was seriously so comfy. I get it now. I get why you love the jacket so very much."

I have to say that there is really not a conversation that I value as much as that one, and I know that it is a friendship based on strength and trust when she admitted that something so hideous and unbecoming can be so loved at the very same time.

I've decided to punish her for her months of ridicule come this October. I think she needs her very own lumberjack jacket, so that she can wallow in the flannel goodness even when I am not around. And then every time someone comes over and finds a plaid jacket jammed into the recesses of her closet, she'll have to flounder for an excuse as to why she owns such an abonimation. But then, while she's floundering, perhaps she'll realize that she doesn't need an excuse, and she can weep and proclaim her undying love for plaid jackets and hold it in her arms and she can know without a doubt that this is what true love is really all about.

Labels: , , ,

Monday, May 14, 2007

Oh, the weekend...

It was a long and twisty weekend that started off at the doctors discussing every malady I have, from the fact that my head is refusing to maintain a fair portion of the hair growing in it, to the bottom of my numb and tingly feet. I have an ear infection, I'm worried about the amount of medication I take, and I get to go for genetic counselling some time this summer to find out if I have cancer genes. Wheeee!

I'm not sure what's up with my right leg, except that it is numb and tingly and it feels like approximately five hundred pounds of dead weight hanging off my knee cap. I have an appointment to see a neurologist at this point, and I've already decided that I probably have brain cancer and I'm simply going to wither up and die next August. I already promised Mal she can have my cat.

So now that my affairs are properly in order, I need to go and rest up because between the wedding I went to, the barhopping I had to do, the insane amount of driving that occurred, and the copious amount of Diet Coke I drank to try and stay awake?

I need a nap.

Labels: , ,

Friday, May 11, 2007

When clothes get complicated...

I have never been a very good shopper. I grew up on a farm and as a result, my wardrobe is fairly standard: Jeans, T-shirts, sweaters, boots (Docs or work boots), plaid jacket. I've had many issues in my life complicate my ability to shop for attractive, fashionable clothing; namely, that I'm broke or that I have no idea what actually constitutes fashionable or attractive when it comes to clothing.

Other issues relating to my inability to purchase clothes are the result of my odd body type -- By the time I can wedge a pair of jeans up over my thighs, they gape at the waist -- and my enormous bone structure. I really think that I should have chosen a career with the NFL because of my enormous-beyond-what-should-be- physically-possible ribcage. Bras are all but impossible to find because of my near non-existent chest and huge circumference; and pants that are long enough to touch the ground and cover my ass appropriately? Laughable.

SuperNan has never had any of these issues with clothes. She is average height at around five foot six, has a normal bone structure, and her figure is proportionate to the rest of her. Sometimes I roll my eyes at her and growl "Damn you, lucky bi-atch!" under my breath. YES, I talk that way to my mother under my breath and she still lets me live here for free. I don't really get it either, but I'm not going to question such a wonderful thing.

Breast cancer has put a bit of a damper in my mother's wardrobe requirements. We have been shopping for months now in preparation for her treatments to begin. We have been searching high and low for breathable clothing that is non-irritating to the skin, loose enough to be comfortable, yet tight enough to be supportive, and of course, fashionable enough that she can show herself in public.

The Berry Queen taught me the three rules of shopping years ago. These are not rules so much as they are questions, and they are: 1) Does it fit? 2) Is it attractive? and 3) Can you afford it? Before you make any purchase, you must answer each of these questions with a yes, or else you must put the item back on the shelf and never devote another millisecond of your life to thinking about it. NOT EVEN ONE.

This whole cancer thang has kind of thrown a wrench into those plans because now there are about eight questions to ask for each article she tries on.

Shopping for clothes today and the last few times we've tried now tends to take up a bit more time than it typically used to. However, I have to say that all this clothes-picking, looking at each and every loose-fitting cotton summer top in the store... its been fun. We've laughed over the ridiculous things (You know, when you decide to go out on a limb, and when you get there, you realize it was safer near the trunk of the tree? Yeah.), marvelled at some of the things that my older-than-me mother can actually pull off and still look dignified in, AND we haven't given up altogether and called in a tailor to create clothes for her in close proximity to our television.

This whole cancer thing will be coming to an end in mid-June. I'm thankful that my fmaily has the positive attitude we have about it, that we've been able to laugh together and come together over dealing with this icky, icky thing. At the same time? I won't be sad to see it done with.

[Breast Cancer, Clothes for Breast Cancer, Shopping, summer clothes]

Labels: , , ,

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Men's Deodorant is Better Than Women's .... Top Five...

As part of problogger's group writing project, again, I'm going to do another top five. This one on why men's deodorant is better than women's. Ladies, trust me on this one.

5) It works better.

4) It is wider and provides more coverage, which is a bonus for lazy-asses like me who hate to take the effort to swipe women's deodorant twice to cover a wider surface area.

3) There is less confusion in the deodorant aisle at the store. You just walk up to the display and grab the one that's red. You don't have to spend time praying over it, trying to ensure that when you get it home and put it on, it will work. Men's deodorant is magical in that it just always works. No divine intervention required.

2) Perhaps if fewer people bought women's deodorant, the companies would catch on and start making it with the same formula they use for men's deodorant, and we'd have functional anti-perspirant that doesn't make us smell like a big old hunk of man!

And the number one reason why men's deodorant is better than women's

1) You don't need to have a boyfriend! All you have to do is put on an oversized sweater and your deodorant each morning, and you can simply pretend to not be single, only this time your pretending won't result in being charged for stalking!

So, this is my second time participating in a problogger writing challenge. I suppose everyone has wondered about the futility of being involved in a project like this, and here we have someone who took his misgivings about the project and actually entered his top five on why it is stupid to do a top five.

While perusing the lists, I found one person's idea of how to save money while in school. However, there are a few key points missing: STOP BUYING SO DAMN MUCH BEER, YOU ASS, is not listed. Further, neither is Don't get yourself a cat because getting cats fixed COSTS ALOT MORE MONEY THAN YOU HAVE. But overall, a quick read.

And of course here, we have my ultimate favorite entry of today: Top Five Willie Nelson Political Causes. Not only is he a music legend, the guy is trying to save horses from slaughter, support family farms, and look for sustainable sources of energy. Who says a redneck doesn't care about the environment? I love you, Willie!

[Problogger Top Five List]

Labels: , ,

Country Music is NOT THAT BAD....

I love country music. I will never stop loving country music. I think I spent over two consecutive hours today listening to country music, from Merle Haggard and Willie Nelson (And if anyone knows someone who is in prison this Mother's Day, be sure to tell them to have Mamma Tried played for their mother on the radio station) all the way to the newer country artists like Sugarland and Taylor Swift.

Teardrops on my Guitar: Really, I have to say that it is brilliant. And there have been many, many people who have caused me to leave teardrops on my guitar. Thankfully, they don't stain the finish. Baby Girl by Sugarland? "It's a long way from here/ To the place where the homefires burn/ Well its two thousand miles and one left turn" I dunno, the song just speaks to me. A friend drove out to The Ranch last week and she was amazed that you could get to my house with an hour and a half of driving and two turns.

New country doesn't really do it for me in the same way that old country does. I love most of the original Johnny Cash because of how plain and simple it is. Most of the new country has added so many musical interludes, doubling up on the voices, tons more backup, and a lot more extra ... stuff.

Country music is bashed all the time. I hear it in jokes, I hear it in the groans I get when I freely profess my undying love for Toby Keith, Kenny Chesney, Blake Shelton, and Gary Allan. (If any of you fine men are reading, and you would like to marry a 22 year old Sociology graduate, please contact me ASAP. Thanks.) People actually groan.

But the thing is, the new country? Has pretty much no twang at all. There aren't too many stories about bird dogs, the farm going under, little Timmy losing his leg, and someone's wife cheating with his brother. I mean, those songs exist -- but not in today's mainstream country.

I think what really made me love country with all that I have to love country with was my Culture class last year. I never considered Rednecks a culture, I never thought that we could be considered our own people, with our own set of norms, traditions, unspoken rules, language types, and so forth. But the more I look at culture, the more I look at Redneck culture, the more I realize that wow, we really are a grou punto ourselves. We are worthy of recognition, we do have our own style of music, ways of life.

And if you listen to the lyrics of our style of music you'll find that it is not that much different than your average easy-listening station. Which is why the hardcores like me stick to Merle Haggard, Willie Nelson, Don Williams, original Johnny Cash, and of course, Hank Williams.


[Country Music Rednecks]

Labels: , ,

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Country living Rocks & why you should avoid urban living like the plague...

5) If you live in an urban center, you can't pee in your back yard.

4) If you live in the middle of a serene two hundred acres, you never have to hear the neighbor's children crying at two a.m.

3) I'll never again have to smell cooking bacon on a hangover morning unless I want to smell cooking bacon on a hangover morning.

2) I can sit on my front porch playing guitar naked with Mickey Mouse ears on my head and Ducky Boots on my feet and no one will ever know it but me.

And of course, the number on reason living in the country rocks my socks:

1) I won't get evicted for putting all my ex-boyfriend's belongings in a steel bin and burning them on the front lawn.

Problogger is doing a group writing exercise this week, one that has to do with lists! And if there is anything an OCD girl likes in this world, it is lists. I've been perusing some of the other lists that are out there in this challenge, and I've found some incredibly fascinating lists.

I could really relate to the one on why some people's beer bellies will never be gone.

The one on what college grads should really know kind of gave me a little bit of anxiety, because it seems that, according to this list, I will never be all that a grad should be. Oddly, I'm ok with that.

Beating blogger's block is always something I should read up on, because, despite the way things may seem around here? I frequently am at a loss for words.

My ultimate favorite, I think, has to be the one on why people should avoid marriage. Because it's true! From what I've heard, when you get married you really do end up with someone who critiques your pasta-cooking techniqe rather than just shutting up and eating it. Amazing!

Labels: , , ,

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

What you can't find in the city...

I've been perusing The Ranch lately, just checking things out, photographing this and that. Our neighbor brought us a carton of contraband eggs today, of the variety that are free-range, all natural, and completely organic. I always have to laugh when I see organic, free range eggs in the grocery store, because have you ever noticed people? That we're not uniform and exactly the same? Nature doesn't frequently make things uniformly, and food is certainly no exception. But these eggs will be yummy, for sure, and will be great scrambled with organic chives and processed cheese.
SuperNan is in to birds of the last few years, and enjoys nothing more than getting up and running to the window in the living room every five minutes to see if another bird is eating the food she puts out for them. It's slightly obsessive, I have to say, but at the same time very nice to be so close to nature. And no, the oranges are not organic, but the tree probably would be if we quit dousing the weeds surrounding it with Round-Up.

The birds are affectionately, and very creatively, named Orville and Woody. We may have one of this breed of bird, or ten of each breed. Either way we call them all Orville or Woody, and if they don't like it they can just eat their lunch elsewhere.

Of course, Dixie and Kami are integral parts of Ranch life, and they are too much fun to nap with, or even better, to persuade to do ridiculous things with the promise of steak bones and potato chips. They nap together, play together, eat together, and pee together. If that doesn't spell the best of friends, then I don't know what does.

Labels: ,

Monday, May 07, 2007

Welcome Home....

These last weeks I have felt absolutely fantastic. I feel really good both physically and mentally. My last two weeks spent in the Big City were weeks during which I was thoroughly intoxicated. I had to clean my room in the city before I left and while cleaning, I happened across a number of bottles which leads me to believe that I should apply for a liver transplant NOW because Lord knows my body can't keep up with me at this rate:

I'm home now, and I've been biking with SuperNan daily in an attempt to give us something to do while we wait for her radiation treatments to begin. We have fun at The Ranch and all, but I have to say that two grown women staring at each other from the start of the day to the finish requires a certain amount of structured activity -- even though we both consider smoking and consuming fattening beverages to be incredibly structured.

I've been out of doors each and every day since being home, doing some sort of physical activity. Already, I feel better about myself: My skin is clearer, and my face has more color. I've switched from beer and Coke to Diet Coke. I've been running beside the Precious Boy as he masters the art of bike-riding, walking about the country side, playing guitar on the front porch. Vitamin D certainly does wonder for the body and soul.

The most wonderful thing about being unemployed and at home is the naps. I take a nap almost every day out of sheer exhaustion. I'm not sure if this is my body's desperate attempt at catching up on the sleep I lost in my last month in the city: Mal and I frequently stayed up all night long, not bothering to sleep at all, and many times I didn't go to bed for fear of missing out on something really good. At any rate, I've been napping daily and today I decided to take a late afternoon nap on the couch. When I woke up, I had approximately a hundred and seventy five pounds of dog, boy, and spiderman on me. I have to say that this photograph is the reason I am so perpetually happy at this time: Nothing quite beats the feeling of awakening to see that you are surrounded by warm, furry, adorable love.

Labels: , ,

Grad Photos

I had my graduation photos done a few months ago, and due to my complete and utter incompetence, I forgot to order them until the very last moment. Fortunately, my mother has had quite a bit of practice over the last twenty-two years in learning to accept that I can not, under any circumstances, ever remember anything that is important, even if it is a matter of life and death. SuperNan was in fine spirits and we managed to find the obscure location of the photo place on another university campus, a campus that was like an actual campus and where the people ALL SPOKE TO ME IN ENGLISH. It was the most amazing experience of my life, the ten minutes I spent on that campus, and I'd much rather go to their grad ceremony than mine.

It is tradition in our town to put an ad in the local paper upon a child's graduation. My family is a little bit stumped as to what, exactly, they should write in the paper for their announcement. My mother thought that something along the lines of this would be perfect: It is with great relief that we announce the graduation of our daughter from university. It only took three years, two hundred and eighty six hysterical phone calls (But really, who’s counting) and one month being completely sedated to get her through this. Now that she is educated, she has moved home to aspire to fruit-farming glory, which has nothing to do with Sociology, and no, we don’t understand her either.

I was thinking something along the lines of: She is finally done! After three years, our daughter has learned the fine art of consuming more beer than should be humanly possible in one sitting, AND she can do it without throwing up! We’re so proud of you, Honey! On top of that, she can live on a food budget of twenty dollars for a month, go without safe drinking water for two years, call 911 every time gunshots are fired outside her bedroom window, AND ride a bus without getting mugged! She will now be moving on to avoid city life like it is some kind of plague, and hopefully will become successful in fruit farming. If not, her parents will be stuck with her forever, a task they are sure to take on with pleasure.

Decisions, decisions.

Labels: , ,

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sappy TV....

I am generally not a sap. I burst into tears at the drop of a hat, over anything and everything.

Except anything or everything that any sane and rational person would ever bother to burst into tears about. I even watched Beaches with Bette Middler the other day and shed nary a tear. I actually thought it was a little lame, although one time when I was in the seventh grade I cried for nearly four hours after watching Braveheart, a time I spent lying on my bed and asking God why, oh why, couldn't William Wallace have gone on?

I've been watching Grey's Anatomy with SuperNan of late, and its a series I can't seem to pull myself away from. I love it with every morsel of my being, excepting of course, those morsels devoted to loving beer and laughing at my cat. Those morsels are on special reserve and I shall never devote them to anything but those two tasks.

It was the finale of the second season tonight, and when the Chief was dancing with his niece and she told him with glee that her boyfriend loves her (!) she said "Everyon deserves that once, Uncle Richard."

And my heart stopped for a moment and I thought to myself, Dear Lord: What if everyone does deserve that once? But what if because we deserve it once, we only get it once? What if we all only ever get to be in love once in our lives and I already used up that chance when I was fourteen, and fell in love with that Dude my mother still thinks I should marry? And we broke up when I was seventeen, and ohmyword, that was six years ago? And now I have a potential, what? Seventy more years to live? I HAVE SEVENTY MORE YEARS TO LIVE AND I ALREADY USED UP MY CHANCE TO LOVE SOMEONE?

And then, of course, the episode went on and Denny had to die and Merideth did it with McDreamy one more time in an exam room, and then Christina went in and took Burke by the hand -- YES, she took him by the hand, and if that is not the ultimate expression of one's undying love THEN I JUST DON'T KNOW WHAT IS -- and, of course, Izzie quit because really, now she has no Denny and why would she bother to go on?

And it was at this point that I realized, Hey, you know? Maybe it's time to realize that taking advice from sappy TV shows full of drama and sex with George and choosing McDreamy over McSteamy and the dog that just had to die of bone cancer MIGHT NOT BE THE BEST IDEA.

And then I grabbed another beer and heaved a sigh of relief because Damn, seventy years is a lot more to live, and even if they are not years filled with loving some guy who will inevitably leave his underpants on my bedroom floor, they are not years that I want filled with advice fram sappy TV.


Labels: ,

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Adventures in cycling...

"How do you shift gears on this thing?"

"I have no idea. Where's the clutch?"

"There isn't one, you ninny. We need to read the manual."

"Manual, Schmanual. We need no such thing."

"I can't get it to shift!"

"That's because you're not using the clutch!"


"Whatever. I think my chain just fell off."

"Why do you think that?"

"Because I'm peddling and not going anywhere."

"Well, stick it back on."

"Ok. We're good. Now what do we do?"

"We bike!"

"For what?"

"Exercise! Think of the great shape we'll be in by berry season!"

"Uhm, yeah. I'm kinda bored with this."

"I wonder how many calories we're burning?"

"Not enough to work off those Ice Caps."

"True. Think if we did it for half an hour, we'd lose weight?"

"I dunno. Wanna go in and have a Coke?"

"I thought we were getting EXERCISE! To be HEALTHY?"

"Yeah. But really, do you wanna go in and grab a Coke? I think we have chips, too. Barbeque ones."


Labels: , , ,

Those words you just die to hear....

Some people dream about the words they want to hear from others. They daydream about their lover saying their name late at night, or hearing that someone loves them. Some people fantasize about the first time their baby says 'Mama', or the first time someone looks at them with sincerity in their eyes and says something nice.

I've never really been one to sit and wonder about the words that make my heart soar. Sometimes words happen, and you feel good about it, and you walk around with a ridiculous, goofy grin on your face for days to follow.

I love it when my heart smiles. You know that feeling, when you just feel good and happy inside, and everything is ok, and scary things like cancer and diseases and financial disasters and boys who never return your calls leave your mind completely, and there is nothing but a smiling heart left behind?

The Precious Boy was riding his bike the other day, exhausting me to the point that I thought I would fall over. And I was running alongside him, panting, gasping for breath and praying that he would just get bored and want to go inside because MY GOD I THOUGHT MY LUNGS WERE ABOUT TO EXPLODE.

And out of nowhere, he just yelled out "Let go of me, Auntie! Don't hold on any more!" And I let go, and I ran alongside him still, and he flew up and down the laneway several more times that afternoon without the aid of someone holding his bike up for him.

And I never really thought that hearing someone tell me to let go, to not hold them any more would ever make me happy. But I did let go, and I stopped holding on, and my heart smiled because here was this person who was once a tiny little blob who couldn't even hold his own head up... flying down the laneway, leaving me in the dust.


Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Adventures in bike riding...

I was in Wal-Mart today and a supercool mountain bike caught my eye. It has camo paterning on it, six speeds, and suspension for doing jumps. Because I really think that every six year old in the world should be cavorting around on wheels jumping over things. Really.

I decided to purchase the bike because I have a lot of plans for this summer. One of them includes riding around CowTown with my nephew, going to the corner store, buying freezies, and sitting on the swings at the school to eat them.

I quit riding my bike when I was twelve. I had a hideous accident one summer day that knocked all the teeth out of my head. I had braces at the time, and managed to put my top braces through my bottom lip; only, before I did that? I managed to get a rock wedged into the wire between my front teeth. I landed in the gravel on my face with such force that my face left a half-foot long skid mark in it.

My friend and I were standing on the road laughing because I had flown over the handle bars and made really good air time. The bike was in the ditch and when I saw the rim of the tire bent to one side, I knew that no good was coming to me. Then I saw the blood on the road. They I realized that it was pouring out of my mouth and that I couldn't open my mouth.

So my friend looks at me in horror and she's like, your braces are stuck in your bottom lip. So I went to scream, but in the process, I ripped my braces out of my lip... and then I discovered the rock that was in them. By later that afternoon, there was an almost inch wide space between my two front teeth. When we saw the orthodontist the next day, he told us that the only thing holding my teeth in my head was the wire of my braces.

Of course, there was a large gash in my elbow as well, a gash that had rocks and debris embedded in it that I had to let my father pick out with his own two hands. My knees were a mess and I couldn't really move for days; further, I ended up not eating for a couple weeks because, oh yeah, MY TEETH WERE NO LONGER EMBEDDED IN MY HEAD.

Everything healed, of course, and the braces saved my teeth and I still have my naturals. I have a nasty scar on my elbow that is all bumpy and nasty and sometimes I wonder if my dad forgot a few pieces of gravel in there.

At one point today, I let go of the seat of my nephew's bike and he fell. I had a hold of his jacket and he fell fairly softly, but he fell nonetheless. He was pretty mad at first, and I examined him and saw no marks, no scrapes or scratches, and I decided to impart my wisdom on him.

"You know, Precious Boy, I once had a really bad fall off my bike, too."

*Sniff* "You did?"

"Oh, yeah! It was so gross. When i got up there was bl-"


"When I got up, I just hopped back on and rode away! YES! I rode away! Because falling is a part of bike-riding!"

Oh, the lies we tell children. I'm planning on getting back on my old bike some time this summer, after I get it some new tires and grease up the old gears and such. I looked at it yesterday and other than needing a good scrub down, nothing too wrong with it is very apparent.

All in all, it's shaping up to be an exciting summer, full of bike riding adventures and strawberry-picking shenanigans.


Labels: , , ,