Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Happy whatever-it-is-you-celebrate!

First off, I want to thank everyone who has donated to the cause. All I want for Christmas is to stay out of the pokey in the new year and, thanks to good people like you, it looks like I may get my wish.

My court date isn't for a couple more weeks yet so there's still time to donate if you haven't already. Even five or ten dollars helps. Think of it as the beer or two you would buy me if we ran into eachother.

Been borrowing a neighbor-cousin's truc
k to get to a few cleaning jobs but otherwise I've been sticking around the homestead. That job at the nearby poultry farm never really panned out. A few days here and there but not nearly as much work as I'd hoped for.

Been cleaning stuff out of the old Mitsubishi I drove from Alaska. It's just been sitting in the driveway, serving as a storage unit for over a year. In the summer, I used the heat trapped inside to sun-dry tomatoes, apples and hot peppers. After I get it emptied, I'll give it a jumpstart and see how she runs.

The only reason I wasn't driving it was because I had the truck. No sense paying insurance on two cars. I was going to switch back to the car this spring when the tags expired on the truck because the car gets better mileage. Ah well...I guess it'll happen a little sooner than I planned.

No matter how far out in the boonies you live, you cannot escape advertising. It will find you!

Recently had a blimp fly directly over the house. As I've mentioned before, the airspace above Spenardo del Sur sees many types of flying contraptions.

Most noticeable are the navy jets which frequently pass overhead at sometimes alarmingly low altitudes. Helicopters are common too - whether solo or in military groups of eight. C
ommercial jets fly way up high and almost out of sight but, when the weather is just right, they leave the sky criss-crossed with contrails.

But blimps are rare. This was only the second blimp I've seen since moving here - and the first one probably didn't get within 3 miles of my place.

But this one was coming straight for us. Della switched into guard dog mode and ran to the edge of the hill to confront the intruder.

I couldn't help but laugh as she wildly barked at the approaching blimp. But, in the end, the blimp did leave so I guess Della had the last laugh. I gave her a treat and a little extra lovin' for being such a fierce guard dog.

Glad to see solstice pass. While winters aren't nearly as dark (or cold) in Alabama as they are in Alaska, I'm still glad to herald the return of the sun. Thirteen years in Alaska makes you realize that winter solstice is the really big kahuna of the holiday season. Yay, sun! Go, sun!

Well, it's Christmas Eve. I didn't put up any decorations this year. Last year I hung some lights & decorations on Donner the Dead's antlers. But I sold Donner to B.J. Boomhauer a couple months ago. He'd been begging me to sell him that caribou head since the day he laid eyes on it. A few months ago I needed some cash and I finally gave in.

It was two years ago over the holidays that Donner &
I drove out across the frozen wilderness, crossing from Alaska to the Yukon to British Columbia and south back into the states. We had some good times.

Donner chillin' in the Hollywood Hills.

Donner will get a spot of honor in the cabin B.J. built this year by the creek on his farm. He loves that raggedy old caribou head. On the first few days of deer season, he drove around with Donner's antlers in the back of his pickup just to fuck with the locals.

This year, the only sign of Christmas in the house is the holiday cards on the mantle. And I'm cool with that. I spent a decade working jobs that abnormally extended the holiday season to anywhere from 3 to 10 months of the year. It's nice to take Christmas off.

I didn't even build a fire tonight. Hell, it's 60 degrees out. Screw ambience - I'd rather save the wood for a cold night. I'm drinking some of B.J. Boomhauer's homemade blueberry wine and munching on toasted pecans.

Playing old records on the record player I bartered for last summer. No Christmas music though. Currently playing old Beatles LPs (though "Hey Jude" does kinda sound like a Christmas song - at least it does when you're drinking blueberry wine). When I was in junior high, I got a few friends to raid their parents' record collections and bought many old 50s & 60s LPs for a fraction of their worth.

I'm actually listening to these records now to ascertain their condition. The time has come to sell them. I need the money more than I need the vinyl.

Thinkin' about making a pot of rice. Need to clean up the house a little. I'm expecting guests tomorrow - a couple old Alaskan friends who currently live only a couple hours away.

The mice have not stopped stirring. The world has not stopped spinning. It is just another night.

Last but not least: Angela has finally jumped on the blog train. Check out her daily drawings at Life In Spenard.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Never meanin' no harm...

Was hired to do some cleaning for a guy that I’m pretty sure will be the next Boomhauer Brother. We’ll call him Ray. He lives not far from B.J Boomhauer’s farm. I hadn’t expected to work anywhere except home on Monday but Ray stopped by that morning and asked if I’d be available for a couple hours work. Hell, yeah! I’m poor. I need the dough.

I tell him I’ll be by in an hour and a half. I haven’t eaten yet and need a little something in my belly otherwise I’ll be absolutely starving in four hours. I stuff a little of the previous night’s pasta in my maw, just enough to keep me going until I’d get back home around 3pm - almost 2 hours before sundown. That’s the time the chickens need to be locked up inside Frankencoop so as to be safe from nocturnal predators. (After the dog attack from the last post, I kept them locked up for about a week but then started letting them out again. I hate keeping them locked up all day and, besides, it's much cheaper when they can forage for their own food.

After a while of working at Ray’s place, he offered me a whiskey and coke. Alcohol - especially hard liquor - is a rare luxury for me these days so I gladly accept. We take a smoke break and shoot the shit for a while. As I get back to work, he refills my glass before putting it away. The next break saw my glass refilled a couple more times.

I used to be able to hold my liquor but now out of practice. Plus, I don't always remember that there’s 65 pounds less of me to hold that alcohol with.
By the time three o'clock rolled around, I had no business being behind the wheel. I told myself that it was only about three miles and it was all back roads.

It was broad daylight on a clear afternoon. I was driving down the road - a bumpy red dirt road winding through the backwoods. I’ve been down this very road a couple hundred times and I never go over 25 miles an hour.
I always have so much crap in the back of the truck: stuff pulled from the old barn that needs to come into the house, stuff from the house that needs to go in the storage shed, stuff in the storage shed that needs to go to Frankencoop. You get the idea.

When going down bumpy dirt roads, I worry about the tailgate dropping down while I’m driving. It only happens about once every four or five months - but that’s enough to be extra cautious when I have dozens of glass canning jars in the back of the truck. These jars - dating mostly from the ’40s and ’50s - had been washed and loosely boxed for transport to the storage shed. I probably would’ve done this Monday had Ray not dropped by.

I have no recollection of the accident. All I know is
, about a mile down the road , the car veered out of control. I went back to look at the tire tracks the next day. There’s not much traffic back there and the tracks were still easily visible. I could see where I just started swerving. And the gouge in the middle of the road where my wheel came off. Not just the tire but the whole damned wheel. Busted the rear axle too. And the scars on the embankment where my truck came to rest after one complete rollover (in which it also ended up facing in the other direction).

Good thing I always wear my seatbelt. It's one of the few good habits I have.

All those glass canning jars in the back went flying. Fortunately, I have a topper on the truck. Or I should say “had.” It ended up tearing loose in the rollover but did managed to confine most of the broken glass to the pickup bed.

I don’t know how fast I was going Monday afternoon but, like I said, I never drive over 25 mph on that road. I don’t know why I pulled the wheel so hard to the left. Nor do I remember the driver’s side window facing the dirt or the buckling of the windshield. The most exciting thing to happen to me during my almost two years here and I miss it.

I do remember the old lady asking if I was alright. I remember picking glass up out of the road and tossing it the back of the now-open truck bed. And I remember B.J. Boomhauer coming to the rescue.
He’d heard about the accident on his police scanner. Since he was already so close by, he went to take a look.

He stayed with me and my mangled truck until the cops arrived. He left to take a bucketful of feed to my chickens and locked up them in the coop for me. When he came back, he was able to talk the tow truck driver into dropping the truck off at my house down the road as opposed to taking it all the way to town 30 miles away. The driver agreed to it only after insisting on payment up front. God bless B.J., he paid it.

For a while, it was looking as though I might be able to just walk away from the mess - only be stuck paying B.J. back for the tow bill. But then the news came over the radio: a state trooper had somehow been called and was on the way. Fuck. Any hopes of making this quietly go away vanished.

It was almost an hour wait for him to show up. Then I was whisked away to the county jail about 15 miles away. Fingerprinted, photographed and suited up in orange. After being issued my mat, sheet, blanket, toilet paper, comb, towel and toothpaste, I was dumped in a concrete block room with a dozen other women. Most of them were sitting on the floor in front of a small television that sat atop an upside down garbage can. It was tuned into an episode of “Samantha Who.” Someone said it was the only channel that was coming in worth a shit.

Most of these women were not here on an overnight visit like me. They were serving out sentences of anywhere from a few days to a couple months. It gets really boring in the Randolph County Jail. I was something new and therefore interesting. After about 90 minutes of being the center of attention, I just wanted to lay down and not think about it all for a little bit.

I know some of you, at some point in your life, have seen the inside of county jail. I don’t need to tell you that you don’t sleep well in jail. But, for those of you who haven’t had the experience, it’s a very noisy place. Lots of people in jail are loud people. They don’t care if you’re trying to sleep.
Sounds echo in those concrete walls. Everything is amplified. You hear people through the walls. You can’t always tell what they’re saying but you can hear them. A cellmate demonstrated that, if you yelled directly into the vent next to my bunk, you can carry on a conversation with someone in the juvi section. Of course, she did this while I was trying to sleep.

Being the new fish, I got the least desirable bunk. It was a top bunk in a room that slept four. The other top bunk had two metal steps bolted to the wall to help getting up there. My bunk was missing that amenity. You had to step on the lower bunk while pulling yourself up on the frame of neighboring bunk bed. You threw your leg over the metal edge of the bunk that dug into your skin - even through the orange jumpsuit - and use your upper body strength to hoist yourself into bed.

And if you had to pee in the middle of the night, you ran the risk of stepping on your lower bunkmate during the dismount. And the toilet in our cell was the loudest toilet I’ve ever heard in my life! The toilets in the other two cells were probably just as loud but were muffled to my ears by the concrete walls. But the cold bare steel bowl in our cubical sounded like a jet engine.

At 4:30 am, breakfast was served. A Styrofoam plate with a small serving of plain scrambled eggs - no discernable salt or pepper, thin oatmeal with only the slightest hint of sugar and one slice of unadorned slice of stale white bread. I hadn’t eaten anything in about 17 hours so I greedily accepted the grub. I watched other inmates do a little trading. “If you’re not gonna eat your eggs, I’ll give you my bread for ‘em.” I just ate my food in silence, leaning against the wall, dumping the empty tray in trash before clambering back into my top bunk. Most everybody went back to sleep within half an hour of eating.

I grabbed a few more hours of shitty sleep until finally climbing out of bed a little before 8am. I’d been told I’d go before I judge around eight. I wanted to be sure my hair was combed and my face was washed. During booking, I’d gotten a look at myself in the mirror. Big mark on my forehead. Bigger than a scratch but smaller than a gash. I could feel a couple knots along my hairline. I didn’t know it yet but I had developed a big purple shiner. No mirrors in the jail cells. Turned my socks inside out. They were dirty and spotted with blood. That doesn’t look good. I don’t know why I wasn’t given back my shoes. Everybody else had their shoes, Mine were with all my other clothes in a paper sack elsewhere in the building.

I sat in the common area between the cells, where the TV/garbage can set up was. I sat there for at least an hour and a half, waiting to see the judge. Everyone else was still asleep. I watched some fuzzy CNN for a while but then the reception on all channels cut out unexpectedly, leaving me alone with no books, no newspaper, no nothing. Not even cigarettes. That’s fucking cruel. My fellow inmates said the men get to smoke. I made some tiny paper airplanes out of a scrap of paper found on the table.

Finally, a female officer called my name and I was told to gather all the stuff I’d been issued and follow her. I was getting out. No appearance before the judge. My half-asleep bunkmate muttered “Congrats” as I pulled my mat off the top level. I gave her my roll of toilet paper.

I was led back to the room where I’d been booked and handed the sack holding my clothes. I changed out of my orange jumpsuit with “RANDOLPH CO JAIL” in black block letters running down the leg and into the grubby work clothes I’d worn the day before - now splattered with blood.

Then I was led into a room where B.J. Boomhauer’s smiling face waited to greet me! He'd come in to fill out all the necessary paperwork and take me home. We still had to go across the parking lot to the courthouse and go see a man about a court date, but then I was going home.

I face the judge early next month. Regardless of the outcome, I will be stuck with some hefty fines. Fines I cannot really afford considering I live on only about $300 a month. So I’m in a money gathering frenzy right now because I don't want to go back to the pokey. I’ve already sold the truck for parts-n-scrap, though I still have to finish cleaning all my broken crap out of it first. Also scrounging around for more stuff to sell on eBay.
I’ve still got a number of housecleaning gigs set up for the month but now have to borrow someone else's car to get to them.

I still have the Mitsubishi I drove from Alaska - all it needs is a jumpstart and a tire inflated. But before it’s street legal, I have to get new plates, tags and registration. And that costs more money that I don’t have. Not to mention my insurance rates will go up now. And property taxes are due at the end of the month. And all my regular bills.

So, if anybody out there wants to make a donation, I ain't too proud to beg.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Dogs gone wild

Bocephus Boomhauer stopped by in his truck last week. Two of his dogs followed him up the long drive leading to my house. The dogs have followed him up here before and I always keep one eye on them because they always seem to keep one eye on the freely wandering chickens. Up until now, the dogs had never bothered the birds and would semi-obey Bocephus when he called them.

But Wednesday, as Bo and I were talking in the front yard, one of the dogs started chasing a hen. The second dog joined in the chase. The hen became increasingly frantic which only excited the dogs more. No amount of Bo's yelling was going to stop the dogs.

I took off running after them. As I passed through the remains of the tomato patch, I snatched a 3-foot wooden stake out of the ground. The dogs chased the poor bird about 50 yards before finally pinning her, leaving a trail of white feathers in their wake. I charged like a sword-wielding warrior.

The dogs ran off and I gingerly picked the hen up out of the grass. She was still alive. She had some bad puncture wounds on her back but, before I could check for other injuries, I saw the dogs running towards Frankencoop where 17 other chickens were congregated. So, with the injured hen tucked under my left arm and a tomato stake in my right hand, I charged down the hill.

The dogs ran into the flock, snapping and barking. The chickens scattered like a billiard break. Chaos ensued. I put the injured hen down on the ground near the coop. She was heavy - about eight pounds. Felt even heavier after two consecutive 50-yard dashes. For the next few minutes I sprinted to and fro, swinging my tomato stake, trying to keep the dogs away from the birds.

Sometime while this was going on, Bo drove his truck from the house down to Frankencoop. He yelled at the dogs but they paid him no mind. He asked if I had a gun but I told him it was up at the house.

The dogs chased another hen towards the road. I rushed after them but, before I could reach them, they pinned her to the ground and started to bite her. Once again, the dogs ran off when I got close. This time they ran to the road and headed up the hill to Bo's house. Bo said he was going to go home and make sure the dogs stayed away from my place.

I turned back to face the coop and there wasn't a chicken in sight. Not even the hen that had just been attacked or the injured hen I put on the ground. I walked inside the coop and found Corny the rooster hiding out in the back room. I was exhausted. My legs were rubber, I could barely stand. My tomato stake sword was now a cane. But there were still 17 hens to account for.

I returned to the house and checked on the three remaining chickens that were still in the front yard where this whole fracas began. I threw the rifle in the truck and drove back to the coop. With a bucket of feed in my hand, I set out to find my birds.

Most of them had taken cover in the thick brush between the coop and the woods. I trekked through the kudzu and briars, trying to coax them out with the feed. A few slowly followed me but most weren't ready to come back into the open. A few had hidden in the brush between the coop and goat pasture, including the one the dogs had attacked near the road. She was dead when I found her. Her belly had been ripped open and her intestines shredded. I'm surprised she was able to manage the 30-foot distance between the attack and where I found her. I put her in the back of the pickup.

More of the birds were making their way back to the coop. After about an hour, I had rounded them all up except for the first hen that had been attacked - the one I'd set on the ground. It took about another 20 minutes to find her cowering in the kudzu. She was still alive. I took her up to the front yard and started fixing up a cage in the house. I still didn't know the extent of her injuries but it was obvious she couldn't sleep under my porch like she usually does - especially since it was supposed to be below freezing that night.

I set her up in a large cage with food and water. Her appetite seemed good and she was able to walk, albiet with a limp. There didn't seem to be any internal injures. As long as her wounds didn't get infected, maybe she'd be able to pull through.

She didn't. She died after a little more than 24 hours.

They were both big white factory farm refugees. Chicken house chickens just can't fly like my other birds. Makes them an easier mark for predators. Neither of these two birds had names. I can't even tell most of the white hens apart from eachother.

I guess that's what made it easier to salvage the meat from these two hens. There are some of the chickens that I could never bear to eat. But neither of these two hens had been standouts - just good, solid egg layers that looked damned cute running around the yard. And I'm too poor right now to even think about not eating them.

Bo came back later and apologized. Gave me a couple bucks for the dead birds. Said he'd shoot the dogs himself if they ever killed another chicken.

Since the attack, the Frankencoop chickens have been locked up most of the time. Once a day, I let them out for a couple hours while I work nearby where I can watch over them. Of course, the gun is never far from my side during these supervised visits. The three remaining chickens sleeping under my front porch still get all-day access to the outdoors.

Eventually, all the chickens will have their outdoor privileges reinstated. But, for now, I am being an overprotective mother hen.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

You don't need the bullet when you got the ballot

Ah...what can I say about this new morning in America that hasn't been said already? It's been a long eight years and I'm glad to see this chapter finally come to a close.

I'm not holding my breath that President Obama (God, I do love how that sounds!) will fix everything. Honestly, was I the only one just a little creeped out by the crowd in Grant Park droning "Yes we can" in that monotonous tone? Reminded me of Catholic mass - or perhaps I'm thinking of a scene from Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

But here in rural Alabama, I am a lone liberal sheep surrounded by wolves. The vote pretty much followed racial lines here in my county - 70% McCain, 30% Obama (with a few scattered votes for third parties). After comparing the election returns to the county demographics, I've come to the conclusion that all the white people in the county who voted for Obama would probably fit in my house.

And the white people who voted for McCain are scared. There are seriously people here who think that the America they love is about to disintegrate into socialist dust. Obama will take their money and give it to liberal, godless, abortion-having, revolutionary, evolutionary terrorist homosexuals and they won't be able to stop him because he's going to take away their guns too.

They're scared because they think Obama is a Muslim. They're scared because they think Obama's former pastor is unAmerican. I'm scared because they can't see the contradiction here.

But what they are really afraid of is a black man wielding power over them.

They don't even use his name. The polite ones call him "the black guy." Of the (admittedly few) locals I've talked politics with, my neighbor the former Klansman is about the only one who hasn't said anything rude about Obama. In fact, he didn't even grimace when I told him who I was going to vote for.

When I first moved here almost two years ago, I was shocked by the old-school racism that was so prevelant in these parts. Not to say racism doesn't exist in other states where I've lived (Michigan, California, Alaska), but Yankees at least have the shame to pretend they're not racist. The overt nature of southern racism is unsettling to my liberal soul. And I have a feeling I ain't seen nothin' yet.

The other important issue here in my little corner of Dixie was whether or not to allow legal alcohol sales in the county. Of course, this referendum failed but at least the vote was fairly down the middle with legal alcohol sales losing by only a few hundred votes. The gap narrows a little more each time it shows up on the ballot.

What kind of backward backwoods Baptist nightmare have I found myself in?

But life goes on at Spenardo del Sur. The animals don't care who's president or how far away the nearest beer is. So let's just skip ahead to picture time.

A yet-to-be-named kitty munches on a trout head.

John Gatto and Bandit tussle over a trout carcass.

Even the chickens like trout.

Yet-to-be-named kitty caught a rabbit.

Murray the chicken hangs out on the poop deck while Bandit naps.

I named her Murray because her crooked clipped beak gives her mug a look that reminds me of a young Caddyshack-era Bill Murray. (And besides, whoever heard of a hen named Bill?)

Big scary bug!

View from my backyard of the neighboring cow pasture.

No two sunsets are quite the same. Sometimes orange...

Sometimes pink...

Sometimes (what pass for) mountains throw shadows across the sky.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Goodbye Gimpy, goodbye rototiller

My alpha rooster, Gimpy, disappeared yesterday. Don't know what happened to him. No doubt, something ate him. Last remember seeing him just before noon as I was leaving for a house cleaning gig. He failed to show up when I locked the chickens up around 4:30. Searches yesterday afternoon and this morning turned up no sign of him or his demise.

We may have had our differences, but Gimpy was a good rooster who was very protective of his hens. He ruled the roost with an iron claw.

This leaves three roosters in Frankencoop (as well as C
aleb, who lives under my porch). One of the Frankencoop roosters will now get a reprieve from the stew pot. Until now, I had planned on eating my two youngest roosters, Sanchez and Babyman. In the interest of genetic diversity, one of them will now live to see next spring (barring further intervention by Mother Nature).

Both Caleb and Cornelius are "chicken house" roosters - refugees from factory farms. I don't know what breed they are - people around here just call these large white birds "chicken house chickens." Gimpy was a game
rooster from my very first batch of chickens, hatched in the spring of 2007 (of which four hens remain). He is the father of Sanchez, a young cockerel who bears a strong resemblance to Gimpy (minus the bum leg). Babyman looks more like Barabajagal, my all-time favorite rooster who fell victim to a fox six months ago.



Another casualty here at Spenardo del Sur was my rototiller. Recent high winds toppled a 60-foot dead pine tree. It snapped at the base and landed squarely on the rototiller, squashing it like a bug.

That's my tiller underneath the blue tarp.

The tree missed the storage shed by less than three feet. That would've been a horrible mess. I've got hundreds of glass jars and bottles in there that I've found on the property.

The only damage to the shed was a few small dents from a branch that hit the roof. They were small enough that I was able to push them out with my thumb.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Sorry 'bout the wait - let me make it up to you with a freak of nature

As you probably already know, I've been neglecting this blog lately. That's what happens when I have no alcohol. It's so much easier to write with a buzz on. I am still without beer but decided it was time for an update anyway.

I've picked up some new work since I've last written. I'm sorting eggs at a nearby factory farm. This is the same farm where I've gotten
most of my refugee chickens. Right now, the work is pretty sporadic but will pick up when their 20,000 chickens hit their peak.

I sit at a little counter and grab eggs as they come down a l
ong conveyor belt. At times, it has a real Lucy-and-Ethel-at-the-candy-factory feel. I sort them by size and clean the poop off when necessary.

Whether you have 20 or 20,000 chickens, some of them are bound to die. Today at the chicken farm, I saw a dead chicken th
at had been taken outside until it could be thrown in the incinerator. But this was no ordinary chicken. It was a three-legged chicken!

That's right - THREE drumsticks!

The third leg was fully formed but smaller and the foot only had three toes.

Nobody had known there was a three-legged chicken until it was found dead. I sure wish it had been spotted earlier. I would've loved to add her to Spenardo del Sur's menagerie. Hell, I would've put a sign up by the road "SEE THE THREE-LEGGED CHICKEN FOR FIFTY CENTS!" Oh well, at least I got pictures.

Back on the home front: My rooster, Caleb, attacked me for the first time this morning. If he keeps it up, he's headed for the stew pot. He lives under my porch - or the poop deck as it's now called since he moved up here to the house.

I can deal with cleaning his shit off the poop deck when goes up there to steal the cats' food. I can deal with him waking me before sunrise with his incessant crowing. I cannot - and will not - tolerate him running full speed at me and hurling himself at my legs. It's almost cute when Gimpy does it but he probably doesn't even weigh four pounds. Caleb weighs in at a hefty fifteen pounds. It's like being hit with a bowling ball.

If you look closely, you can see blood on his feet and feathers. This photo was taken shortly after I had just killed another troublesome rooster, Mr. Ping. I had gone behind the house to do the deed because I don't like to kill chickens in front of the other chickens. I was unaware that Caleb had followed me.

Once I chopped off his head, Mr. Ping hit the ground running. There is much truth to the saying "running around like a chicken with its head cut off." When Caleb saw Mr. Ping's decapitated body flapping around, something inside of him snapped. His first instinct was that the fight was on and he started assaulting the not-quite-dead-yet rooster. It was a bloodbath - with me doing most of the bathing as I tried to pull Caleb off of Mr. Ping.

Now I will close this update with something completely unrelated to chickens. I bought one of those digital converter boxes for my television last week. Even with the government coupon, it cost me 25 bucks - a large sum of money for my broke ass. That's my food budget for almost two weeks. So imagine my disappointment when I hooked it up and realized that digital TV sucks when you live in Bumfuck, Alabama.

Even though I live on a hill with an almost 180-degree unobstructed view to the west and can pick up numerous channels from Birmingham to Atlanta with my rabbit ears, I get only a small number of channels with this fancy-schmancy converter box - four of them being public television.

Most of the digital channels I receive have poor signals. Instead of the snowy static of poor-but-watchable analog reception, weak digital signals tend to either go to a black screen or break up into little boxy pixels with no audio. This is going to suck come February when analog broadcasts stop.

I don't watch a lot of television but I am shamefully hooked on General Hospital and will be so bummed if I have to go cold turkey in February (which is a sweeps month!). At least I'll still get PBS and won't have to give up The McLaughlin Group.

Poor people who don't live on top of a hill and can't afford satellite TV will probably have to give up the boob tube altogether. It sucks being poor. And judging by the news as of late, it looks like a lot more people will be joining our ranks soon.

The current economic crises does not frighten me. I have already been living like it's the Great Depression. The only stock I own is a gallon of chicken stock in the freezer made out of Mr. Ping. I am so ready for the big meltdown.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Jerry Springer and Unexpected Visitors

If there's any television show that the Boomhauer Brothers love, it's Jerry Springer. Whenever I go over to B.J. Boomhauer's farm to hang out and drink beer, it always seems that Springer is on the TV (un
less there's a NASCAR race going on).

Now I got nothing against Jerry Springer. I actually am quite fond of him and his show. I've watched it sporadically over the 18 years it's been on the air. It's silly, but it's entertaining.

I even donated $20 to the exploratory committee he set up when he was considering a run for the U.S. Senate. Scoff if you must, but remember that he has a history in politics - dating back to the '60s when he was a campaign aide for Bobby Kennedy and the '70s when he served as councilman and mayor of Cincinnati. When he decided not to run for the Senate, he sent my $20 back. That made me like him even more.

Anyway, the Boomhauer Brothers don't care about Jerry's politics. The watch the Springer Show for the fighting, the trannies, the midg
ets, etc... It's silly, but it's entertaining.

Months ago, B.J. Boomhauer started joking about how he wanted to go on Jerry Springer. "We'll both go on. Tell 'em we're having an affair. We'll break the news to my wife on the show."

Yeah, right. Like I would ever go on television and tell the world I'm fucking a Boomhauer Brother. "Sure, B.J. But the real twist will be when your wife and I reveal that we've been fucking all along behind your back."

This only made him roar with laughter. He thinks this would make great television.

A few weeks ago, I went out to dinner with B.J & Mrs. Boomhauer. We took a little side trip across the state border so we could pick up some beer. While they were in the store, I nosily picked up a Fed/Ex envelope laying on the backseat next to me. I opened it and saw that it was from the Jerry Springer Show. In addition to an autographed photo of Jerry, there was also a letter that thanked B.J. for contacting them and mentioned the inclusion of a disposable camera. I flashed back to the memory of B.J. snapping my photo with a disposable camera a week or two earlier.

Oh fucking Christ.

I hadn't really thought about any of this until today. B.J. stopped by this afternoon to do a little trading. I swapped him a couple old doo-dads I'd found - a 1940s fountain pen and an equally old enameled pan - for a 12-pack of beer. We were sitting on the poop deck working out a trade of a tobacco pipe shaped like a gun (you put the barrel in your mouth) for a brand new pair of binoculars when his cell phone rang.

He starts talking to some guy named Fred on the other end of the line. They talk about something or another, B.J. telling him he won't be home for about another hour. He says he's hanging out with a friend who moved
down here from Alaska. "Here, you should talk to her."

I really hate it when somebody hands you the phone, insisting you talk to someone you don't know. I don't know Fred. I have nothing to say to Fred. Ignoring my protests, B.J. thrusts the phone into my hand. "Just talk to him."

"Hi, Jackie. This is Fred from the Jerry Springer show."

Oh fucking Christ.

Fred goes on to explain to me how the Jerry Springer Show is going to be moving away from the fighting, the trannies, the midgets, the fighting tranny midgets and getting back to real people drama. Did I happen to know anybody with any drama going on that would want to appear on the Jerry Springer Show? Did I want to be on the Jerry Springer Show?

I was completely taken by surprise. I didn't wake up this morning thinking I'd be talking to the Jerry Springer show today. I'm no good at improv. I just stammered something about while I'm sure there's plenty of drama in this tiny town, I just hadn't lived here long enough to be able to recomme
nd anyone or anything to him at this moment. I'm slightly better at outright lying than I am at improv. He asked me to give him a call if I thought of anyone who'd be interested in appearing on the show and to remind B.J. to call him back when he got home.

While a free trip to Chicago plus whatever stipend they pay is enticing, rest assured that you will not be seeing me anytime soon on the Jerry Springer Show. But if B.J. Boomhauer decides to make an appearance, you'll read it here first.

Okay, now that we have that weirdness out of the w
ay, let's get back to regular farm news.

Had a couple unwanted visitors to the chicken coop this week. This morning I was making my rounds in the coop when I noticed this:

In case you can't tell what this is, it's a freshly shedded snakeskin hanging out of a mousehole above a boarded up door.

I never bothered plugging up the mousehole in the drywall because the little bastards would just chew another one. Besides, the mice don't really pose much of a problem and there's little I can do about them anyway.

The snake doesn't really pose too much of a problem either. It's not poisonous and it won't attack the chickens. But it will eat eggs. And there is a hen sitting on a clutch of eggs at the bottom of that boarded up door. The first thing I did was count the eggs in the nest. All present and accounted for.

For all I know, the snake left immediately after rubbing its old skin off against the rough wooden boards that make up that wall (cut from trees that started growing in the 1820s - I counted the rings). Even so, I was extra cautious before reaching into unattended nests to grab fresh eggs. I'll admit it's pretty creepy to think that snakes are IN THE WALLS.

When I pulled the skin out of the hole, it was about two feet long. But the head and tail portions were missing so who knows for sure how big this snake was. Judging by the girth, I'm guessing at least four feet. I really didn't feel like reaching into the hole to see if I could find the rest of it.

It's things like this that remind me why I'm waiting until winter to crawl under the coop to salvage the rest of the old copper plumbing pipes. I'm not particularly afraid of snakes, but that doesn't mean I like them.

The other visitor to the coop was much more une
xpected. A few days ago, I was working a couple hundred yards from Frankencoop when I heard the chickens squawking up a storm. I knew something was wrong because Sanchez, the young rooster hanging out with me in the garden, took off running towards the coop the instant the ruckus started.

I ran down the hill, expecting to chase off a neighbor's dog or a stray cat. Instead, I found a juvenile Coopers hawk INSIDE the coop. All of the chickens were wisely outside of the the coop.

The hawk was about half the size of my smallest chicken. I couldn't help but think of Henery Hawk from those old Foghorn Leghorn cartoons: "I'm a chickenhawk and you're a chicken. Are you coming quietly or do I have to muss you up?"

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Mice, coyotes and rednecks

I've been doing my best to keep the mice in the house under control. For a while there, they'd gotten mighty bold and were driving me crazy. They'd managed to get into kitchen cabinets that used to be off-limits, tearing into previously safe foodstuffs and leaving a mess that then attracted ants. I plugged up the new mouse holes but they just gnawed more of them.

I emptied all the cupboards and gave everything a good cleaning. All vulnerable foodstuffs either went into the freezer, fridge or plastic containers. For the first day or two, the mice merely gnawed on the plastic containers, leaving tiny blue plastic shavings which at least didn't attract ants.

Eventually, their numbers dwindled. I would go days at a time without a sign of a mouse in the house. Oh, I knew they were still there - but at least there were fewer of them. I can deal with a small population.

But the few that stayed behind are crafty, stubborn little fuckers - an emerging strain of supermice. Since regular food is now out of reach, they have gone to great lengths to find other things to eat.

About a two weeks ago, one managed to reach one of the higher bookshelves. It climbed a stack of books and stole all the corn kernel teeth from my Hunter S. Thompson Day of the Dead skull. It's nothing I can't fix but it still pissed me off.

A few days passed and then I discovered a mouse had climbed on top of a dresser and devoured the corner of one of my sugar skulls. This was damage I could not fix but it didn't really ruin the piece. In fact, I kinda liked how it looked with half of the lower jaw missing.

I can't help but wonder: Why am I compelled to make skully art out of food products?

I moved the sugar skulls to the fireplace mantle for safekeeping. Well, that didn't work. Some sly mouse figured out how to get up there. This time, it knocked the damaged skull right onto the floor where it shattered into more than a dozen pieces.

At first I thought simple gravity might be responsible. Perhaps it just tipped over due to the missing corner. But closer inspection revealed fresh teeth marks on the back of a second sugar skull and tiny turds near the base.

But I have a much larger wildlife worry now. Two days ago I saw a coyote in my yard. I was inside around 6pm when Della started barking. She rarely ever barks during the day. I poked my head out the backdoor and saw a large animal about 80 feet from the house. At first I thought it was a small deer but, when it turned to run, I saw a long tail.

"A fox," I thought. "A really big fox that wants to eat the chickens in my front yard." I grabbed my rifle and headed for the front porch (which should now be called the poop deck since the chickens figured out how to get up there). The animal was standing in the tall grass (I really need to mow more often), just looking at me. I took a shot and missed. It ran across the back field. I managed to squeeze off two more bad shots before it disappeared in the brush.

Later that night, I was looking up a little information on foxes and came to the realization that what I'd seen was actually a coyote. I knew coyotes were in the region, I've often heard them at night but this is the first time I've ever seen one. And while I always enjoy spotting new wildlife, I'm quite unhappy about seeing a big, hungry coyote so damned close to my house (and chickens).

I'm still flippin' out about this Sarah Palin thing. She's all over my TV, radio and computer. She's gonna be on Face The Nation this weekend. Tom Brokaw's talking about her. My beloved McLaughlin Group won't shut up about her. Michael Carey and Eric Croft are being interviewed on NPR and CNN is talking about Hollis French and Wev Shea. As an Alaskan-in-exile, this is some seriously weird shit.

It really makes me miss working at the recording studio in Anchorage. Election season was always my favorite time of year because my office was a nonstop parade of politicos recording TV and radio ads - from lowly school board candidates to that indicted troll, Senator Ted Stevens.

Hell, it really makes me miss Hunter S. Thompson. I would give my left tit to hear his take on this circus sideshow.

Politics is one of the most interesting things in the world to me but I have no one here in the boonies to talk to about it. I'm scared to talk politics with these people. The subject does come up from time to time but I'm never the one to bring it up.

I was happy when B.J. Boomhauer volunteered the info that he's voting for Obama. That was a surprise, considering he's such a redneck good ol' boy. He told me that the Republicans had fucked shit up so bad that there's no way he'd vote for one this year.

But before I had a chance to feel all warm and fuzzy about a Boomhauer Brother voting for a black man, I met a straight-out-of-Deliverance motherfucker that made B.J. Boomhauer look like Bobby Seale.

I'd only met this guy once - over a year ago. He recently stopped by to say hi when he saw me working outside. I don't even know how the presidential election came up in the conversation. Lord knows I wasn't the one to bring it up. But, seemingly out of nowhere, he said "If Obama gets in the White House, he's gonna tear up the rose garden and put in a watermelon patch."

Ummm...yeah... It's 2008 and this asshole's making watermelon jokes. I wanted to tell him the joke would be funnier if he said "arugula patch" but figured that he wouldn't get it. Instead, I lamely offered "He certainly can't be any worse than what we've had for the last eight years."

"Bullshit!" Mr. Redneck exclaimed. "Someone's gonna shoot that nigger." The conversation went downhill from there.

Mr. Redneck went on to explain to me how, in the wake of Obama's assassination, the country would descend into anarchy and chaos. All hell would break loose and it would only be a matter of days before people in the nearby cities of Birmingham, Montgomery and Atlanta ran out of food and supplies. Hungry, desperate people would descend on rural areas - like the one we live in - and good, God-fearing folk like ourselves would have to defend our property with our God-given guns.

He also said something about how black people should be grateful that we brought them over as slaves from the barbaric hellhole that is Africa and civilized them, giving them a chance for a better life. I couldn't even respond to this because I had trouble hearing him over the voice in my head, screaming "DID HE REALLY JUST SAY THAT? THERE'S NO FUCKING WAY HE JUST SAID THAT! NO WAY IS ANY OF THIS REAL!"

Ummm...yeah...It's 2008 and this asshole gets to vote.

I really wanted to ask him if he was going to vote for McCain and how he felt about voting for a ticket with a vagina on it. Instead, I quickly changed the subject. What the hell do you say to someone like that anyway?

Well, I guess I could've started with "Get the hell off my property." I apologize for being a gutless wuss.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Truck o' Death strikes again!

Three weeks after running over Lemon, the Truck o' Death has claimed another victim. This time it was an adorable fourteen-week-old gray kitten.

I was getting something out of the truck and the kitten jumped in. I picked her up and set her back on the ground. Just as I was closing the door, she jumped again and got caught when the door slammed shut.

Unlike Lemon, death was not instant for the kitten. She flopped onto the ground, tail twitching. She'd occasionally try to drag herself forward but I think one of her front legs was broken. She was also having trouble breathing. There was no blood but it was obvious that this was really bad.

I put a little food out for the other cats to distract them while I went and got the rifle. Yep, that's right. I shot a kitten. And even though it had to be done, I still feel horrible about it.

Tropical Depression Fay ended up dumping more than six inches of rain on me. Things have barely dried and the Hurricane Gustav rains have already started. At least I got some mowing done today. I have a feeling the next couple days are going to be pretty soggy.

The laptop is on the fritz again. Back to using the vintage computer with Windows 98 so no photos today.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Rainy days & Mondays

There's been plenty of rain in these parts for the last couple days. Around four inches by now. According to the radar, it looks like today will be more of the same.

Normally, weather systems here advance from the west. Since I have an almost 180-degree view to the west from my house with visibility of about 40 miles, I can see approaching storms long before they actually reach me. But this whirling dervish known as Tropical Storm Fay (or Tropical Depression Fay as she's called now) has been sending storms from the south and east. This keeps me much more dependent on watching the radar online.

Of course, by the time Fay reaches this far inlan
d, she's lost a lot of her oomph. There's still quite a bit of wind but nothing like what the coastal areas have seen. I've had a few empty buckets and scrap pieces of tin travel across the yard. The free-standing hammock had to be taken down lest it catch the wind like a sail and take flight.

Other than that, the only real damage came from my tomcat who jumped into the cab of my truck looking for a dry place to sleep. I had rolled the windows down during a lull in the storm. I rolled them back up when it started to rain again, unaware that Spalding was inside.

About six hours had passed before I went to the truck to get something. Spalding ran out as soon as I opened the door. It only took a fraction of a second for the smell to hit me. He had sprayed somewhere inside the truck and now it reeks of cat piss. With the constant rain, I can't even roll the windows back down to air it out. Sigh...just one more step towards my inevitable fate
as a crazy old cat lady.

Tornado warnings are starting to be issued. I heard the sirens a little while ago. One of my neighbors drove up and asked if I was listening to the radio. Funnel clouds spotted nearby - about ten to fifteen miles away.

Just to be on the safe side, I threw a couple important things in a bag next to the door: cash (my life savings of about $50), ID, camera, tobacco and my external hard drive.

This metal box I now call home is no place to ride out a tornado. If I do have to take cover, I'll make a run for my neighbor's unfinished house close to where our properties border each other. It's just basement walls. It was built a few years back - he only had the money to do that much at th
e time. Someday - who knows when - he'd like to finish the house. But for now, it's just three concrete walls that we both think of as the tornado bunker.

If a tornado comes, you'll find me in the lower left-hand corner

Monday, August 18, 2008

I really need to carry the camera with me more often

I was down near Frankencoop this afternoon, picking fruit from the old pear tree. My alpha rooster, Gimpy, started making a ruckus and I turned around to see a Great Egret come in for a landing right on the top of the chicken coop.

It was the first time I'd ever seen one. Standing at least three feet tall, it was one of the largest birds I've ever seen on the property - exceeded only perhaps by the occasional Great Blue Heron flying overhead.

Sadly, I did not have the camera on me. It was inside the house a few hundred yards away. The egret didn't hang around long either because Della, the usually quiet and reserved hound dog, started barking at the tall stranger. The bird took off to the east, flying over the goat pasture in search of a quieter place to rest.

I need to get back in the habit of toting the camera around with me. I stopped doing that when the laptop went into a coma but now, miracle of miracles, the laptop is working again. I have no idea what was wrong or if anything is still wrong. I'm operating under the assumption that the damned thing could conk out again any day so I make a point of backing it up every single day.

I'm still going to keep the blog over here at blogspot. Just seems easier that way for now. But at least now I can post photos again.

Della, my old hound dog

Lemon hanging at the beach in Michigan

The front yard has seemed awfully empty without Lemon. So many hot afternoons I would sit on the porch reading a book while Lemon puttered around in the shade under the porch. Sometimes, if she'd been quiet for a long period of time, I would call out "Bawk-bawk?" And she would respond "Bawk-bawk." I miss that.

There are a couple hens that now live up here by the house. They both fell sick last week and I moved them up here to isolate them from the rest of the flock in case they were contagious. Fortunately, they both recovered. I decided that, since I missed having a chicken close by, I would keep them up here.

There's also a rooster that I plan on moving up here soon. His name is Caleb and he was originally destined for the dinner table but I grew too fond of him.
He's a big adorable doofus of a rooster, weighing in at about 12 pounds, that follows me around like a dog. I'd originally envisioned bringing him up here as a companion to Lemon but he'll be just as happy with the other two hens. I can't keep him in Frankencoop much longer since there are already two permanent roosters there as well as three young ones who will eventually wind up as chicken salad or sweet & sour.

About a week ago, Caleb started following me up the driveway to the house - behavior I encouraged by tossing him garden treats like cucumber and melon if he completed the trip. It didn't take him long to just show up in the yard on his own. I was happy about this because I think it will make the transition that much easier if he's already familiar with the territory.

The only downside is that he now has access to the tomato patch. I wouldn't mind so much if he just ate three or four tomatoes and called it good. Instead, he takes just a few pecks at dozens of tomatoes, working his way through every red one he can find. Now, I have to be sure to pick the tomatoes every morning before he has a chance to get to them.

Saturday, August 9, 2008


This was supposed to be my overdue post about the roadtrip to Michigan with my chicken, Lemon. I'd written most of it already and was hoping to get it done tonight. Still struggling with uploading photos to this ancient computer I'm stuck with. I really wanted to post photos of Lemon at the beach.

But I ended up scrapping it after a horrible accident that just happened: I ran over Lemon with the truck. She died instantly.

I can't believe it happened. It wasn't even an hour ago. Fuck. I was crazy about that hen.

Tomorrow I will be digging another grave in the pet sematary. A big hole for a big bird - she was a whopping ten pounds. Not my biggest chicken but definitely my biggest hen. I was working on some renovations to her coop but those can now wait until I get around to moving other birds into it.

Well, I guess when I get the photo thing working, I'll post that picture of Lemon hanging out at the beach. Maybe tell you a little about our trip.

I'll also have to post a photo of my new dog, Della. She's a 15-year-old hound dog that belonged to the elderly shut-in I cared for. After the lady died, nobody in the family was in a position to take the dog so they asked if I would do it. They even offered to keep providing the dog food.

She's a very mellow dog. When she's not following me around, she's sleeping on the back steps. Gets along swimmingly with the chickens. The cats are still a bit pissed about the situation but they'll get used to it.

Oh yeah, and I turned the big 40 on Thursday. Many thanks to those who sent good wishes and great gifts!

Thursday, July 31, 2008

A chicken is my co-pilot

Okay, the trip to Michigan is on. My neighbor-cousins will not be going. So I will get to do all the driving myself. After looking at the map, it should be about 30 hours roundtrip. I leave in the morning and should be back in time to watch my soap opera on Monday afternoon.

I may be doing all the driving, but I will not be traveling alone. My chicken, Lemon, will be riding shotgun.

You read that right. I am doing a 1700-mile roadtrip with a chicken. I don't have time to explain right now. I have some packing to do.

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

A funeral

The elderly shut-in I cared for died Sunday morning. Her funeral was today. Donned a black dress, hose and heels for the occasion. It's the first time in over a year that I've even worn jewelry or make up.

Was trying to remember the last time I'd been to a funeral. I think it was when Floyd died. Those of you in Alaska may remember Floyd. He was the mentally-challenged Native guy that used to smile and wave at passing traffic.

When I used to work graveyard at the porno store in Spenard, Floyd would show up in the early morning near the end of my shift. He wasn't a customer of the porno store, never bought anything or even looked at the merchandise. He just knew I worked alone and couldn't leave the store so he'd come in and ask if he could get me coffee from the McDonalds across the street.

I never knew Floyd very well. He was just that happy guy waving at traffic, making people smile. When I read about his death in the paper, I called my friend Sarah and we went to his funeral.

I think there are few things in this world as beautiful as a good funeral. Floyd's was a good funeral. One of the most memorable I've ever been to. It was standing room only. Pretty impressive for a panhandler from some small, far flung Alaskan village.

Anyway, I thought of Floyd this afternoon while I was at the old lady's funeral. She had a nice turnout. She left behind a passel of children, step-children, grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Her mother was there too - the 90-year-old woman I've mentioned previously in this blog. I hadn't seen her in a while so it was nice to catch up with her. Going to see her next week.

I knew quite a few people there - lots of mutual relatives. Those I didn't know were already aware of me. Apparently, the old lady had often spoken well and often of me to her friends and family. It was genuinely touching to hear the nice things she'd said about me. It's weird that these people had known her for decades yet I was the one she'd spent her last day with.

First time in a long time I'd actually watched the body be lowered in the ground. But it's the first time in a while that I've attended a funeral in a church located right next to the cemetery.

She looked really nice - all decked out in her Sunday best. As she'd been just short of bedridden, I'd never seen her in anything other than pajamas. It's a shame that it took her dying to get the two of us into dresses.

Still don't know if I'm going to Michigan this weekend or not. I talked to her son about it - the neighbor-cousin who I'm supposed to ride with along with his wife.

Should be more concerned about what's going on this weekend but - que sera sera. Rather than worry, I'm drinking homemade apple wine and writing this update. Also getting ready for my upcoming yard sale. Gotta raise some cash now that I'm no longer taking care of the old lady. Can't pay my electric bill with eggs and watermelons.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Well, this sucks.

The elderly shut-in that I've been helping to care for took a turn for the worse today. She was fine when I left today at 1pm. By 3pm, she had trouble breathing and called her nurse on the phone. By 6pm, she was completely unresponsive. She's not expected to make it through the night.

Nobody's sure what happened. Perhaps a blood clot. Perhaps her one good lung collapsed. Can't even really call it a "good" lung since that's the one with cancer.

Not to sound like a callous asshole, but this throws my finances into the toilet. This job provided more than half of my income. Even with this job I was living well below the poverty line, but I was starting to get a grip on my finances. Not only were my bills all current for the first time in a while, I had just picked up another house cleaning gig that throws me an additional $40 every three weeks.

Another monkey wrench in the works is the fact that the old woman's son and his wife are the neighbor-cousins I'm supposed to be riding with to Michigan this coming weekend to attend my parents' 50th wedding anniversary party. So now that whole trip is up in the air at the moment.

If the neighbor-cousins can't go, my parents would surely offer to pay for the gas for me to drive myself. Can't say I'd look forward to a 36-hour round-trip solo drive in a truck with shitty brakes. But it's not like I can miss this family occasion.

Sigh...there's a white-tailed deer in my front yard right now, raiding my garden. I've been seeing quite a few deer lately. This is the third one I've seen in the last 24 hours. Could be the same deer for all I know.

There's only a few wild citizens of Spenardo del Sur that I can recognize on sight. There's one turkey vulture with a distinctive mark on its wing. Of the dozens of vultures that circle above, that's the only one I can pick out of the crowd.

There's also a family of crows that live in my woods. Last year, I would see two crows wandering around my yard almost every morning. Eventually, I realized it was the same two crows. This spring, they had three babies. Hardly a day goes by that I don't see them on a family outing.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Visitors & Newborns

Last weekend I had a visit from Leigh - an old friend from Alaska who's been living in Atlanta for almost ten years now. Oh my lord, is Leigh pregnant! Very pregnant! Ready to drop any moment. In fact, she even had a contraction while she was here. She woke up Sunday morning and realized that if she didn't come visit me that day, it would be months before another visit was possible.

So she loaded her little girl, a couple calzones and her giant pregnant belly in the car and drove out to Spenardo del Sur to spend an afternoon with me and the critters. Nothing makes me so acutely aware of how limited my current social circle is like spending time with a "real" person.

One of the cats, Moonpie, had kittens earlier this week. I need more cats like a need a fucking hole in the head. I have far too many cats for an almost 40-year-old never-married woman living alone in a trailer in rural Alabama.

To complicate matters, Moonpie decided to have her kittens in the chicken coop. Found her one morning while collecting eggs. She was nursing her newborns in a corner nest formerly reserved for egg laying.

Moonpie loves the chicken coop. She's often followed me in there, usually following me out when I leave. Once, I unknowingly locked her in there. I returned a few hours later to find her sitting on the roost with a few of the chickens.

I'll have to move her out of there soon. I'm going to Michigan for a few days and the chicken coop will be locked the entire time. There'll be no free-ranging for the birds until I get back - easier for the person who'll be tending the birds while I'm away. Besides, my alpha-male rooster, Gimpy, is starting to get annoyed with having a cat in his kingdom.

Me and a couple neighbor-cousins are driving to Michigan for the first weekend of August to attend my parents' 50th anniversary party. Should be back in time to celebrate my 40th birthday. Most likely, I will spend the momentous occasion drinking cheap beer, sitting under the stars, tending a bonfire, accompanied by far too many cats.

Still no sign of baby goats. They should be born very soon. Hopefully it doesn't happen while I'm out of town. I also hope to get one or two more batches of baby chicks before summer's over.

Sorry for the lack of photos in these last few posts. I'm still stuck using this turn-of-the-century computer and I have yet to even see if it's compatible with my camera. I'll get around to figuring it out soon.

For those interested, my website archives are still available over at I may soon have that domain name point over to this new blog. I'm still hoping to find a computer made in this century that will allow me to go back to posting at the original site. I have so much going on right now that I really don't even want to deal with any of this computer shit. Ugh.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Ick - a tick!

Just took off my boots and found a tick had hitched a ride on my leg at some point today. I don't understand how these little arachnids can burrow their head beneath your skin and you just don't feel a damned thing. Not sure how long it had been there - less than eight hours for sure.

At least this one had the decency to attach itself somewhere I could easily reach. The last tick I got managed to attach itself to the center of my back - directly beneath my bra clasp.

You can't just brush a tick off. You need to pull the fucker out with tweezers. This is impossible to do when it's in the dead center of your back. I drove down the hill to a neighbor-cousin's house and had him remove it for me. It's a little embarrassing to show up unannounced at someone's house and ask them to get pull a bug out of your skin. But I've known this neighbor-cousin since we were little kids and he has far more embarrassing tales he could tell about me.

The other extra-creepy thing about ticks is that they are extremely hard to kill. Can't just squeeze 'em. My method of choice is to drop them in a shot glass full of rubbing alcohol. Even then, it still takes about ten minutes for them to die.

Another neighbor-cousin, Bocephus Boomhauer (my second cousin once removed that I met last fall after his release from prison), killed another rattlesnake on his property this morning. I was driving to one of my odd jobs when he flagged me down to show me the dead snake - all four feet of it, stretched out on the tailgate of his pickup.

He's always warning me about rattlers. I'm pretty sure half of our conversations have been about rattlers. I know they're around and I'm always cautious of that, but the only two I've ever seen were both dead - killed by Bocephus. Today, he also warned me again about a large rattlesnake that's been seen crossing between his brother's property and the back edge of my woods. "Big around as my leg!" he tells me. "Big around as a stovepipe!"