Monthly Archives: December 2011

2011: A Year in Review.

The good far outweighed the bad. Here’s to more of the same in 2012. Happy New Year, everyone!

 

January:

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February:

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March:

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April:

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May:

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June:

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July:

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(and Laurel’s stay at JBA, plus her birthday)

 

August:

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September:

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October:

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November:

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December:

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The Big All-Encompassing Happy ChrismaHanuKwanzukah One.

I can’t believe the entire Christmas hullabaloo went by without a post. So let’s do this right quick.

First, we picked a tree, naturally. We went to our usual tree farm. It was a beautiful day – and early, too. Laurel had a Fiddler performance that we had to get to downtown by late morning, so we were rushing around. All was good, though, and Ethan even broke into uncontrollable giggles at the sight of the farm dog pooping alongside the tractor path.

As if he’d never seen that around the house.

On the other hand, he is a six-year-old boy, and there is nothing funnier to a six-year-old boy than poop and farts.

Christmas Tree victim

Ethan was so excited about helping Greg cut down the tree. That lasted for all of about 15 seconds before he realized (as I had told him) that cutting down Christmas trees really is harder than it looks, and that’s why we bring Dad along. No matter, though, Ethan is good at supervising and Greg is good at taking direction, so everything worked out.

cutting

Unfortunately, it’s even more difficult to haul the tree back to the pick-up spot. This is particularly true when the tree is a spiny fir tree, the pick-up spot is a quarter-mile away, and your six-year-old son is alternately laughing with glee at your plight and trying to trip you as you haul the hulking thing around.

haulingtripping

From Festus, we hauled ass to get back home and get the tree into water while Laurel changed into her Colonial Fiddlers costume so we could drive alll-alllll-alllllllllllll the way downtown to the Old Courthouse for a performance. We also cleaned blood from the spots where the tree had poked tiny holes in Greg’s ear as he was carrying it around. Oh, joyful day!

Laurel fiddling

By the way, the acoustics in the Old Courthouse are pretty awesome, largely owing to the beautiful dome:

old courthouse dome

BUT!

After the performance, out we came, hungry and eager to try a new restaurant when we came upon this:

bump

Yeah, that’s our car in the front. AWESOME, right? For a reading of my attitude about the situation, note the crossed arms and defensive posture in the corner of the photo.

Sigh.

Oh, and by the way, the broad who hit us wasn’t even in a legal parking spot.

St. Louis City being what it is, Greg and I debated back and forth about whether to even bother calling the cops about this. In the end, however, experience has taught us that while something may look minor, you can have troubles down the line, so we called. We only waited maybe 20 minutes for a response – sweet. The officer showed up, thoroughly chafed that he was being bothered about such things I’m sure, but he was fairly adept at hiding his annoyance. He took the information, mistook me as the person who had hit the car until we explained that no, I was not the resident dumbass in the situation. Just as he was wrapping up, the real driver of the car showed up. And boy, was she a character.

“Is there something wrong?” she asked.

We told her what she’d done, pointed it out to her, and she was So Exasperated that we would even dare to bother with such a non-event. And, much to my chagrin, she was wearing an Occupy t-shirt.

Ugh. That’s really frustrating to me, because I support the Occupy movement, and here’s this gal, parking in an illegal spot, bumping into us, accusing us of not having been there when she got there (we assured her we had veritable hordes of witnesses in the Old Courthouse who would happily march out and attest to the opposite), and acting all up in arms because SHE hit US.

She even told us this had happened before and she was shocked – SHOCKED! – when she got a bill a few months later from the driver she hit.

Fucking whatever. If you don’t want to be billed for damaging people’s cars, how about you, I dunno, DON’T GO AROUND HITTING THEM? Looking back, I REALLY wish I’d said something to her about straightening her act up and not representing the 99% so fucking poorly. I mean, dammit, park in legal spots at the very least, and be respectful when you damage property.

At any rate, she was in luck because the next day I had the car assessed and was told the scuffs she made probably wouldn’t lead to a pyramid of damage down the line. Just in case, though, we’ve got her name.

Moving right along.

We didn’t have time to decorate the
tree at all until two or three days later. That’s how our December has been, folks. In fact, we might as well just fast-forward past all the orchestra and Fiddler performances, all the classes and baking and buying and all of that, with the exception of one Glorious Day when we had SNOW! A whole dusting of it! And it sort of stuck to the deck! Well, at least it stuck long enough for this:

snow

I think that photo sums it up.

So now on to Christmas morning.

Oh, wait! Silly me. I would be remiss if I didn’t display the manner in which Ethan came home from his school lock-in one Friday.

Talk about a mess. And yes, in the photos below his hair is striped like a candy cane, his nails are painted black and white, his mouth is surrounded by blue food dye, and he has a three-foot-long licorice in a bag.

Ethan as a candy canelook at his face

WOW. We even paid money for that.

And yes, we put up the Christmas lights this year and had them working and the whole shebang, but then we got a bunch of moisture and the GFI kept tripping and the lights stopped working and so all was for naught. Next year, by god, we’re putting them up in October and I will be CERTAIN the damned things are working because it took hours – HOURS for me to do the programming, it was super-cute and made me giggle to see it, and for what? For nothing! Joyeux Noel, everyone! Hell!

Okay, really, Christmas morning.

Ethan bounded out of his room plenty early, and after much groaning and whining, Greg and I dragged ourselves out of bed for the annual ritual of opening the presents from Santa as we wondered why we do this every year. But look! Such joy! Such happiness! Such….

Ethan

…yeah, well.

We have some photos of Laurel, too, but she was making faces in all of them, so.

And that was Christmas.

The day after Christmas, we had the tree down, the lights down, and everything clear for the New Year. It was so exciting to put those decorations up, and so exciting to take them down.

It was all fun and games (and bickering between the kids and storming around and overeating to excess and bloating and all) but now the break is just about over. School resumes on Monday – not a moment too soon for all concerned.

Happy New Year, everyone.

You Just Never Know About People.

I had a friend for 10 years.

He was such a good friend we even welcomed him into our home for Thanksgiving this year. In the past he’d stayed with us on his way through town, but this year we actually enjoyed his company for Thanksgiving itself.

But something in my friend snapped.

For the past few weeks he has, for lack of any better word, stalked me.

It started off innocuously enough – he would make comments he considered ‘flattering’ about my looks. I’m not the kind of girl who enjoys those remarks. I’d much, much rather be known for my intelligence than my hair or my legs or whatever. Greg was a good sport about it and brushed it off, but eventually, after our Thanksgiving visit, I nicely told my friend to cool it.

But he couldn’t.

He got more and more intense – even when I told him in no uncertain terms that he was being offensive and he needed to stop – until the point where I had to block him on Facebook.

Then he – get this – made up a fake Facebook profile and wormed his way into my friends list. Normally I wouldn’t let someone whose name I didn’t recognize be my Facebook friend, but my name has gotten ‘out there’ by virtue of some of my public activities and he did a very good job of making the profile fit the kind of person I might expect to send me a friend request out of the blue. The guy spent a lot of time on this profile. It wasn’t an obvious fake. He invented kids, careers, information about parents and in-laws, the whole nine yards.

It took me about a week to get suspicious enough to think ‘she’ was not just an eccentric. Then, thanks to Google’s reverse image search, I found out that every single photo on this person’s Facebook profile had been stolen from other people on the internet. After that little revelation, I confronted ‘her.’ ‘She’ claimed that yes, that was deceptive, but that ‘she’ really WAS a housewife stuck out in the sticks in rural Missouri, boo-hoo-frickin’-hoo, and while the photos were fake everything else was true.

I’m not all that gullible.

So Greg set to work, and within 5 minutes found out this person had commented on our blog from St. George, Utah.

Not Missouri.

St. George, Utah, is where my former friend sometimes goes on the weekends, and yes, those blog comments were posted on a weekend.

Then we checked our Statcounter logs and realized that he had been searching his name on our blog every single day and reading it over and over, sometimes for hours at a time.

So Greg blocked access to anybody in Nevada (the guy lives in Vegas).

And now the guy’s been reading Google cache versions.

Greg’s asked Google to remove them.

I’ve thought about taking the blog down, at least temporarily, until this is all over. But dammit, why should I have to do that? This blog is up here primarily for us, and for any others who actually find it entertaining. Why should I have to take it down because someone can’t control himself and this seeming obsession with absolutely no basis in reality?

Anyway, this is one reason I haven’t been posting lately.

Sigh.

I’ve never been a big fan of having firearms around, and have especially been opposed to them because we’ve got children in the home, at least one of whom is still too young to fully grasp the gravity of firearms. My feeling is that if you’re keeping a firearm around for protection, it’s not going to do you much good unless it’s loaded and ready to go so you’re not fumbling around with trigger locks and ammunition boxes and the like while someone’s coming through your front door.

Now I’m seriously rethinking this position of opposition. Greg and I have spent significant time talking about how to keep a loaded firearm where I can get to it from a position of fortification within our home.

And it really pisses me off that I have to do that.

But when it comes to my family, make no mistake. I have zero compassion for anything – man, woman, or beast – that tries to harm me or my family. I will not hesitate for one second to kill anything – ANYTHING – I think is a threat.

Know that.

Really, That’s Quite Enough Animal Herding, Thank You.

As a kid, we spent a significant amount of time rounding up cattle that had gotten out through gates left open.

I thought those days were over.

Today I let our dog Vinnie out during lunch. That aggravating dog, he always wants out just as I sit down to eat. I forgot about him until he started barking.

“Maybe I should let him in,” I thought.

“This couch is pretty comfy,” I thought.

“He can just stay outside for a few more minutes,” I thought.

Some time later he still hadn’t come to the door. Curious, I dragged myself to the deck and there he was staring back at me, with a look of utter bafflement, surrounded by chickens.

“Shit,” I thought.

“Not again,” I thought.

As an aside – I had just finished donating blood. Two of the main directives for post-donation care include avoiding vigorous exercise and heavy lifting. Keep that in mind as we continue.

Out I went, in my good sneakers (again) because with livestock roaming all free-range in the neighborhood, I didn’t feel like I had time to put on my muck boots. Also, those chickens are fast and proper chicken-herding attire leans more toward running shoes than muck boots.

Vinnie saw me coming and frantically darted back and forth as though he were Lassie, trying to tell me Timmy’s in the well or some shit.

You see, Vinnie has never herded anything more ambulatory than an empty peanut butter jar.

At least I learned he doesn’t eat chickens.

Two of the girls were still in the pen. Those are the goody two-shoes chickens – they take after Greg. They didn’t follow the rooster on his quest for freedom. Unfortunately, they were in the minority. All the others take after me.

You know, if we were their parents and all.

Now, I’ve discovered a lot of interesting behavior when it comes to hens who have a rooster. Wherever the rooster goes, the girls will follow. This is good, because it keeps them all together in one neat little flock as you’re moving around the yard. This is bad, because our rooster isn’t the sharpest tool in the shed and doesn’t know enough to find his way back to the coop even when he’s being driven directly to it. Not so bright, that one. (See also: Attacking the human who feeds you. See also also: Not knowing where the hell the coop is or how to get back in.)

Clyde squared off with me like he was ready to fight but either the look on my face or the kick across the pen he earned the last time he pulled that crap caused him to reconsider.

I picked up a rake and a survey stake (“Why do we still have survey stakes lying about willy-nilly in the yard?” I thought). The whole lot of us started toward the coop, me waving tools around.

Then Vinnie headed us off and decided to strike up a rowdy game of tag.

“VINNIE, YOU DIRTBAG!” I hollered.

Right about then I realized I forgot to open the coop doors to get them in – but that would risk the goody two-shoes coming out. I abandoned my implements and my flock of miscreants and rushed inside to get some food to occupy the goody two-shoes girls while I rounded up their more mischievous compadres.

I got two of the naughty ones separated from the rooster and they went right into the coop, thank you very much. In short order, I had the other one in, too.

“This is going better than I’d hoped,” I thought.

Only one more left – the rooster.

After chasing that dummy about the yard for ten minutes, miserably failing to capture him, I alllllllmost just let him go.

“FINE, go ahead, asshat!” I thought.

“Go ahead, get your dumb ass eaten by the neighborhood fox. Then I won’t have to listen to you crowing at 4:30 a.m. anymore,” I thought.

“Jackass,” I thought.

But in the end I just couldn’t do it. I spent another ten minutes chasing him up and down the back yard, up the steps, over the patio, off the wall, into the neighbor’s yard, back to ours, back to the neighbor’s, around the hoop house, you name it.

Still that jerk wouldn’t go into the coop.

Oh, he’d get close…he’d get right there and I’d think, “Now I’ve gotcha! Ass!”

But alas, it was not to be.

I broke down just a little.

“I SWEAR TO GOD I AM GOING TO EAT YOU, CLYDE!!!” I yelled.

“I’M NOT KIDDING!!!” I warned.

Then two of the hens got back out.

“Motherf___________,” I thought.

(Well, wouldn’t you?)

Again, they didn’t take long to round up. Honestly, I think they’re smarter than the rooster because they a) recognize their coop and b) know how to get in it.

Finally I determined that because the rooster kept running past the coop door, I’d have to blockade it so he’d have no choice but to go in…or up.

Knowing he is not too keen on the whole flying thing, I dragged a big bale of straw over to barricade his escape route. I’m pretty sure that right now that water-soaked bale weighs about 60 pounds.

So much for the whole ‘no heavy lifting.’ And don’t even ask me about the ‘no vigorous exercise,’ after I ran full-bore around the back yard for probably twenty minutes in total.

Lo, it finally worked, and Clyde is back inside. All is well. I even found an egg in the yard – who knows how long they’d been wandering.

But you’d better believe I’m going to have another talk with Ethan about ensuring the nesting box door is latched securely.