It seems the whole county or state has had a HUGE population of skunks gamboling about this early spring. Pretty things. Pretty, stinky things.
This morning I went out to feed ponies, and as is my practice, I inhaled deeply as I opened the tack room door. No skunk odor! At ease! Free to move about the barn!
I moved on to the chicken house. (A misnomer, because Yes! We Have No Bananas Chickens...we only have ducks.) I opened the door to let out our two ducks. OMIGOODNESS! OMIGOODNESS!! One of the ducks, the poor Khaki Campbell, was half-eaten (and dead, obviously). I walked on in to get a grasp of the situation, and lo and behold, a skunk was staring at me from across the little (and I stress LITTLE) enclosure. And it took me no time at all to remove myself from that little chicken house.
What to do? What to do?!
I called my neighbor Barb. She, in turn, called her husband Joe, who was out dealing with the 120+ cows that are calving on their ranch, 200+ already having done so. Poor guy - he should not have answered his cell phone right then, while he was unrolling the round bale for the cows and heifers.
Yay for kind neighbors who put up with city folk who do not own guns. Joe came down, and offed the skunk with one go. Poor skunk. But, I must learn to toughen up.
The skunk is gone, our lone duck is lonely, our yard smells like skunk, but all else is right with our bucolic world.
Oh, and after neighbor Joe left to get back to his real world, I made an apple tart and took it to the Downey Ranch. After all, isn't that what proper etiquette dictates? When the neighborhood SWAT Team pays a visit, one bakes a tart for them.
The Health Care Bill is 1018 pages long. I haven't read it yet. I wonder how many people have? It's easy to give an opinion (as seen by my last blog entry), but I'm holding off till I go through this thing. I wish more people would do the same.
I should say, Headlines and Responses to Said Headlines:
This is fun and really really cathartic and may become a regular piece here on my blog, because I love to offer my opinions. ALWAYS.
If Woods Plays Well, Retailers Will Smile
Obviously, those retailers and marketers have not asked me, the happily-married, middle-aged woman in rural Kansas. Because I can tell you, I don't want to have a THING to do with the Nike swoosh. Or anything else that man has put his name or sport to. Don't you retailers go thinking I am forgetful or dimwitted. Your spokesman goofed up BIGTIME and I don't like it. Your brand suffers. If Woods plays well...I do not care, one little whit.
Santa Monica sushi restaurant closes after serving whale meat
Anna Nicole Smith Estate Loses J. Howard Marshall Fortune in Court
He's dead, she's dead. The only ones gaining from this hoo-hah are the attorneys! Come on, you people!
This is from my DRIVEL FILE and not even a headline - it is a quote:
"I would never have hooked up with him if I thought he was a married man," Michelle "Bombshell" McGee" tells In Touch in an exclusive interview. "He gave me the impression they were separated."
Married, separated, whatever. They are not divorced. That means they are still MARRIED!!
Mo'Nique to Sandra Bullock: ...
I am not interested in what Mo'Nique has to say to Sandra Bullock, but I AM curious about that apostrophe in her name. What letter or phrase is missing in that moniker, anyway? Implanted Neurons Let the Brain Rewire Itself Again Now, this is the kind of headline that I love. Somebody, somewhere, is doing something other than having affairs, eating whales, suing for millions, or goofing up standard American punctuation.
Ah! How cathartic this has been! Thank you for your ear! (Or eyes...)
TV back in 1966 was such that there were 4 channels of TV shows from which to choose. Not much in comparison to our superabundance/glut of channels these days. Four channels seemed to suffice for for me. I got in my morning Mr. Zing and Tuffy show, and in the afternoon, Batman. I was a six year old girl who LOVED the Batman show. In my imagination, I was right there with Batman and Robin, fighting the Penguin and the Joker.
My mother once told me that my imagination tended to run wild.
Well - just imagine how rampant my 6 year old imagination was running when my parents told me that we were going on a vacation to California. (Me, probably thinking, OK, sounds fun. What's a vacation?) And they told me that we would be gone a few weeks. (Still not getting the vacation word. But...sounds fun.) Let me tell you, when they told me that we would be visiting Uncle Norman and HE LIVED AT WAYNE MANOR, I was absolutely beside myself. ABSOLUTELY BESIDE MYSELF.
Now, mind you, what came out of their mouths and what I heard were two different things. What they probably said:
"Uncle Norman and Aunt Elsie have a beautiful home that is used to film the Batman television series. You five kids WILL be on your best manners at all times."
What six year old me heard:
"Uncle Norman and Aunt Elsie live in BATMAN'S HOUSE! WAYNE MANOR!!!! Maybe we will get to see THE BAT CAVE!!! And who knows? Maybe Alfred will be working!! Maybe we will SEE THE BATMOBILE IN THE DRIVE!!!
OK. Reality was such that, no, there was no Bat Cave. No Batmobile. And Alfred must have been off that day. Uncle Norman and Aunt Elsie were very nice folks. They showed us the bowling alley in their basement. (I thought maybe there would be a connection between that and the Bat Cave, but, alas, my 6 year old hopes were once again dashed. DASHED!)
Today I came upon a photograph of the visit that day, in 1966:
What stands out in this 50 year old eye today is that station wagon; we seven - Mom, Dad, and 5 kids, drove from Oklahoma to California for two weeks in that un-airconditioned, un-DVD/cd/cassette/8-track car. I remember I was usually in the very back seat, looking out and seeing things from the rear window. Interesting perspective of things flying past for two weeks: the giant saguaro cactus in the desert, the Golden Gate Bridge, the ocean.
It really was an amazing trip for the six year old.
Well, here we go, that Spouse o' Mine and I, taking on a fun fun week of ...fun!!
A few weeks ago we received an email from our local university (K-State!), saying that some cyclists from another university were looking for Spring Break homestays for this week. They (from up north) were looking for some place in a lower latitude, in which to ride their bikes, sans snow and ice. They picked K-State. And...we...picked..them!!
Yes! We love having college kids stay with us. They can be cyclists, runners, agriculture students, musicians, international students, visiting whomevers, ...we take them! We thrive in this. So, this week we are keeping four kids (i.e., adult university students) from up north: North Dakota.
How is it going,you ask?
Awesome! These guys are self-sufficient. We told them in our initial email: Breakfasts are coffee (us) or cold cereal (them). Lunches are whatever they come up with. Evening dinners are made by me, for all. If anyone gets hungry anytime else, the kitchen is open to their cooking. (Our own familial cyclists consume approximately 3000 calories/day, so it's difficult to gauge how much to cook per person.) And, there is always Aggieville not too far down the road. Interestingly, not one of the cyclists went anywhere this week except on bike rides, until last night when a couple went to a movie.
The North Dakota cyclists left late this afternoon. I guess their homestay went ok. They asked if they could come back and stay with us next weekend during races...
I think they are beautiful animals. Such artistry in God's making, the black with the pretty white stripe. Kind of like calico cats, I suppose: God wanted some animals of symmetry, some of random pattern, but all God's creations have SOME beauty about them.
Last week I ventured into the barn in the early morning, to fed the ponies. I smelled eau de skunk. And I made a mental note of it. And mentioned it to that spouse o' mine when I returned to the house.
That evening, back in the barn for the evening feeding, I really, really smelled Mr./Mrs. Skunk. REALLY. I did not make a mental note of it, I turned on ALL the barn lights and left them on all night. Yeah, I thought: that will dissuade the skunk...
I was wrong. Mr./Mrs. Skunk was in the tack room the following morning, FULL-FORCE in odor. I grabbed the nearest feed sack and hauled it into the barn aisle, and proceeded to feed ponies from that.
What to do?
What to do?!
I went into the house and got a good (and really loud) radio. Off to the barn I went, and plugged it in right by the tack room. I dialed to the college station (read: rock, reggae, nitwit chatter, plenty of noise 24 hours a day). I turned the radio on as high as it would go, turned on all the barn lights, and there I left it for 36 hours.
And where do we stand this week, in the barn? We stand skunkless! Yes! Lights AND college radio seem to be the anti-skunk. FYI.
Today I did a bunch of orchard grower piddly-diddly...
OK, ok, here is one part of my day: I arose way too soon, even for stupid stupid time change standards, so that I was on my computer wayyy before those Pacific Northwest orchard growers were even awake. But that's not to say I was mentally ready for business. Especially when the frantic lady from ***somewhere NOT in the Pacific Northwest*** called in to place an order, but all she said was that she had called Friday and no one answered the phone so she suspected that we had gone out of business. Wha..???? Get a grip, lady. Maybe I was in what the British refer to as the loo?
I proceeded to take her order, but it turns out, she didn't even know what she was ordering, so the call was ...short. 11 hours later, I get a call from an orchard grower in New Zealand. Great guy. I look forward to working with him.
So, here is my very fragmented workday: 11 hours of this, that, and the other.
Mr. New Zealand guy has no idea that when I answered his call, my hands were caked with mud from my garden. And that I was standing in mud calling my ducks intermittently just before his phone call: Ducks! Ducks!! (I was out toodling in my garden, and any time I came upon a big big worm, I would call, "DUCKS!" and if any came running I would toss the squirming treat their way. Ick.
I planted garlic and red onions this evening, inbetweenst the New Zealand calls (plural). It was really too wet to plant, but I declare if I don't do it this week, then by next it will be WAY TOO HOT.
Just you wait and see.
Anyway. Tonight was certainly not a case of Ducks on a Junebug, but rather Ducks on a Worm.
Today is Saturday. In addition to the regular Saturday stuff, (sipping coffee for hours whilst perusing newspapers and internet piffle), I undertook the tidying of our upstairs. This week, across the land, colleges and universities are opening their gates and releasing hoardes of students out into the Spring Break world.
We are the lucky homeowners (and I mean that sincerely) who are taking in some university cyclists from "up north" for the week. These guys and gals sent out an email asking for some sort of homestay further south for the week, so that they can ride their bikes in friendlier weather and road conditions.
We have three rooms upstairs that tend to collect my (MY, not that spouse o' mine's, but MY) minutia. I can't blame this on anyone but myself. So today I was sorting and putting and cleaning.
Lights! Camera! Action! This week in Atlanta, Daughter #1 had an interesting experience and I asked her to please be my guest blog writer today:
The other morning at the museum, I was in the office typing away when the lady I share a desk with asked out of the blue, "Would you like to be in a movie?". I thought, "A movie...?" and asked her what I would have to do. She told me they were looking for extras for the movie Hall Pass that was being filmed in Atlanta. This was an experience I had never in my life considered before, so I thought, why not? All I had to do was e-mail a recent photo of myself, and that I did. I got a reply soon after telling me I was confirmed and to head over that evening at 7 pm for filming.
I arrived at the central meeting location for extras (a church) on time, filled out my waiver and voucher, and had my outfit approved. We were supposed to dress in club or party attire and they made sure to specify to dress FOR SUMMER. I knew I would be shivering if I wore a dress, so I chose jeans with heels and a sleeveless black top. They liked it. Next, I visited the hair/makeup department. The girls were supposed to come with hair and makeup done, and they would be able to make changes as they liked. They curled my hair and to us pale girls, they applied tan body makeup (to aid with our "summer time" look).
Then all 70 of the extras were shuttled to the film set, just a few miles away. The set consisted of a very modern house which, according to an extra who also happens to be a nanny to the homeowners, has been featured in several magazines. One thing I will say is that the artwork inside (belonging to the homeowners and used in the film) is very odd, unique, and somewhat unsettling at the same time. I won't go into detail; you'll just have to see the movie. After arriving, we were herded into tents outside. Mind you, it was right around 30 degrees at that time, and although the tents had space heaters, we were still uncomfortable. We stood around and introduced ourselves and met each other for about 20 minutes, and watched the filming already going on outside the house. The house next to it was its guest house, which became the holding area for all of the extras-- nice and warm. One big plus is that they did feed everyone well. We had snacks at all times and at 1 am we had "dinner" back at the church, which was catered. At first I thought I couldn't possibly be hungry that late at night, but after seeing the food, I filled up. It was some of the best food I had eaten for a while.
Being an extra requires a lot of sitting around waiting, as well as a lot of being called over and then being told you aren't needed. Luckily I had brought a book and a magazine along, and talking to the others helped pass the time too. It was about 2 hours after being there before we finally got called next door for the first time. We ran over and inside the house; I was placed in the kitchen near the cameras with three other people. A girl I had not noticed before came on the set near my group, and I figured she must be one of the actual stars. She was. We were waiting while they set up lighting and such, and whispering amongst ourselves because as extras, you are NOT supposed to talk. Then I turned around again, and all of a sudden there was Owen Wilson, not three feet away. I was incredibly surprised; no one had mentioned he would actually be there! I felt completely lucky being one of the four people close by, and I could just see the utter disappointment when they took two of the original girls I was with, relocated them to the living room, and replaced them with another couple, as the directors are prone to do, just plucking people out and switching them around.
Soon after we were all settled, we began filming. For the extras, this consisted completely of pantomime conversation with each other. You can't even whisper. It's incredibly difficult to try to even look like you're having a conversation when you can't read lips. Since it was a party scene, they also played a music clip before they started filming so we had an idea of what song would be played for the actual movie, and then we danced to silence during the actual filming. I couldn't believe how many times scenes were repeated-- all for a three-minute scene. Eventually I ended up in a separate scene in the living room, dancing. Since it was a "summer" party, the door to the deck was left open, which translated to it being about 40 degrees inside. We were all shivering, though only the real stars were allowed to wear down jackets in between takes. This went on all night, until after 6 in the morning. Everyone was so completely worn out by that time and I think it was finally when Owen put on his coat and walked out the front door that they let us stop. He was clearly exhausted as well. I thought my job as an extra was hard, but I have a new sense of respect for true actors after considering how he and and the others have to be in virtually every scene, and repeat those scenes again and again. They work incredibly hard. I can't even imagine!
Fifty. The Big 5-0. Toppling Over the Hill. Middle Age. Yippee.
So I got up, my first day of fifty-ness, and ate the requisite middle-age breakfast of champions: Oatmeal.
About an hour later, I realized that the oatmeal/porridge/middle-age breakfast of yuck was just not going to cut it. Particularly on this, my FIRST day of fifty-ness. I looked in the refrigerator:Pâté. Calling my middle-aged name, beckoning me to partake, with a few slices of really good cheese and nice bread. Yes - that is what the birthday doctor ordered, not some nasty gray mush in a bowl.
After my happy birthday brunch, I donned the cycling gear, packed a pack of clementines, bananas, and more cheese. I grabbed a couple of water bottles, some gloves and my helmet. I carried my bicycle from its winter storage place in the old living room, and headed outside.
Warm weather! And a tail wind! Yippee!
Off I went, down the road, hitting amazing speeds for my first time out this season. 23 mph! And fifty! I am invincible!!
This exuberant mood remained, oh... say, until I turned south, some 13 miles later. Daughter #2 met up with me here, and commented that the route I chose for my birthday ride was fraught "with headwinds every which way we face". Well...who knew?!!
By jove, she was right! That stupid wind just kept coming on, smack in my face, regardless of what direction the road took. And that stupid wind was building, even as we pedaled. Not only was that stupid wind getting stronger, but it started building in gusts, too. Those are not fun, and REALLY not fun when semi trucks pass.
We traveled twenty-six miles, having a ball in spite of the wind play. Mother/daughter chitchat, a sprint or two, some groaning (my part) about inclines, and an overall good ride out.
The ride back, Daughter #2's boyfriend came out to let me draft behind him. What a prince. Here's a guy who would probably have liked to have ridden, say 25 mph the entire way, and yet, he reined himself in to a lowly speed of 14 mph so the Fifty-ness Queen could draft. Thank you, Rich.
Twelve miles later, the daughter and her boyfriend dropped off to enjoy their own lives, and I had a remaining 13 miles to go, solo. Not a problem, I was thinking. I stopped thinking that after the first mile of 20 mph headwind. ALL BY MY LONESOME. I began to get "all funned out". If there had been a listening ear, it would have heard a fifty-year old whiney pot birthday girl. Small wonder the twenty-somethings dropped off when they did.
I kept at it, stopped once to answer a birthday call from my big brother Mike, and then back on the bike I went. I can't think of any nice adjective to describe that ride, the next 10 miles. It was not pleasant. I was in my lowest gear and going MAYBE 10 mph. Not pleasant all. I wanted to cry. But that would not have served any purpose, and the stupid stupid wind would have dried my tears in a heartbeat anyway.
Finally, FINALLY, I got to my last two miles. I had double-backed, and so I had a great tailwind, PLUS I had a minor decline. How did my birthday ride end?
LAST MILE: 26 miles per hour.
Moose are funny animals. They are BIG and spindly-legged mammals with giant hooves and tiny tails. How big is big? A big bull can stretch 8-10 feet from head to tail, and 7 feet at his withers. His antlers can be 4-6 feet wide. He can weigh as much as 1200 lbs, and require 9000 calories of food each day. His face is funny looking and he has a long hangy-down on his chin that is more commonly referred to as a bell.
It has been said that moose are not afraid of anything. They are huge and powerful, and can swim quickly, and can move swiftly through mud. They use their big ol' antlers and sharp hooves for protection.
Today, I went on a moose hunt, accompanied by my parents. We asked around and got some requisite information on places to hunt for a moose. Or plural: moose. Moose could be found along the river, in the water or on the banks, or in amongst the willows and brush. So off we went, in search of our moose. We searched high and low. Up and down the river, through the brush and willows, we had our eyes peeled. We looked in the wooded areas of aspen and pines, up the mountain sides and on the flats of snow. Nothing but tracks. Along the lakes. Nothing but tracks. Even an area nicknamed Moose Alley. Nothing but tracks.
I guess sometimes hunting is like that – one hopes to see something more tangible than an animal’s tracks. Alas, we left with nothing to show for our morning.