Thursday, December 10, 2009

A visit from Drunky McDrunkerson

Looking at the local police blotter today, I saw that Drunky McDrunkerson was recently arrested on some sort of domestic assault/harrassment charge. You may remember that Drunky was the guy I suspected of running over one my hens in the driveway and taking a shit in my yard when I wasn't home.

I hadn't seen Drunky in a month or so. Figured he was due for a visit. Sure enough, he came knocking at my door this evening.

He was surprisingly sober. Usually Drunky has only two speeds - drunk and fucking blotto. I let him in and he told me his tale of woe. Between the thick southern accent and my not really giving a damn, I don't even remember enough about it to tell you what happened. Him and his old lady got in a fight. Not a physical fight, just a yelling match apparently. She called the cops and they took him to the Graybar Hotel where he ended up spending two weeks.

He was released today and discovered that his old lady got a restraining order. So he can't go home. He wanted to know if I knew someplace he could sleep tonight.

No way was I gonna let Drunky stay here. I just don't need the drama. Sadly, it's a testament to how few friends Drunky must have if he came to me for help. I don't care that it's gonna get down to 24 degrees tonight and he'll end up having to sleep in his car. I once slept in my car in the Canadian Rockies when it was 10 degrees below zero. Drunky will be fine.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Randolph County, you've disappointed me once again

As I've mentioned numerous times before, I spent a good portion of this year having to use an old PC running Windows 98. Actually, I have more than one of these dinosaurs.

I got them in trade about two years ago from B.J. Boomhauer. He'd bought an entire lot of them at some auction. I took them all home and - one by one - hooked 'em up, plugged 'em in, turned 'em on and separated the wheat from the chaff. In return for my time and effort, I got to keep a few for myself. I knew that someday my laptop would fail me and I'd be stuck between a rock and a hard place without a paddle. At least these out-of-date machines would give me something to fall back on.

I'd previously glanced at some of the documents left behind by previous users. It was obvious the computers came from the Randolph County school system. None of the stuff looked interesting so I focused my attention on more important things like Facebook status updates and other time-killing sites.

Now that I have my groovy PowerBook G4 (thanks Dean & Ana!), I wanted to get these old computers out of the way. But, before I did that, I wanted to check for any documents I may have saved to them.

While munching away on Thanksgiving leftovers, I set up the first computer and started poking around. While looking at a folder full of text documents, I opened a few from the previous user. This time, I was very interested in what I saw.

This particular computer was used by the school nurse for Randolph County schools. A lot of the documents were form letters to be printed out as needed. But there were plenty of documents that had students' names and their various medical conditions. Who got sent home with ringworm or pink-eye. Which kids had head lice. Who had what kind of medication in the nurse's office. It covers elementary, middle school and high school kids. Some of the documents were dated 2004 so many of these kids are still in the school system.

This computer has all kinds of info that I'm sure both kids and parents alike don't want to share with random people. I wish the school system felt as strongly about keeping students' medical information confidential.

So far, I've only spent about 20 minutes looking at these documents. Who knows what else I might find on this - or the other five - computers?

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Yeah, yeah...I'm still here

I've been slackin' again. Sorry 'bout that. That's just my nature.

So, like some sort of cosmic joke or hackneyed O'Henr
y story, my digital camera died shortly after my new-to-me laptop arrived. At least I had the good sense to transfer the hundreds of photos that had accumulated on the camera's memory card during the time I was without a computer manufactured in this century.

A while back, I promised you that the new-to-me laptop meant more photos on the blog. Since, I don't want to be a
big fat liar, I will post some of those photos taken over the last six months. It surely is no surprise that a number of these are of chickens.

Watermelon Party!

Ah...the halycon days of summer when watermelons were plentiful and the roosters were peacefully coexisting. Standing tall and proud in the back is Sanchez, the alpha male of Frankencoop. In front of him is Pasha, the young rooster who decided to move in under my porch when he discovered there were hens living there without the benefit of male company. The black and white rooster in front of him is Tweak - he has since gone off to that big chicken coop in the sky.

Tweak was the first chicken I ever killed in fron
t of another person. David & Priscilla came for a weekend visit earlier this month and wanted to see the complete transformation from fluffy bird running around in the yard to plate of sweet-n-sour on the table.

On the right is Buddie, a hen who used to think s
he was a rooster (complete with crowing) but now she thinks she's a hen again. The black bird with her ass to the camera is Betty. Her and Buddie, along with Biddie and Cheepacabra, are the only remaining birds from the eggs I hatched in the kitchen almost three years ago. These four original chickens comprise the core of the alpha male's harem, regardless of which cock is filling that role. They comfortably sit at the top of Frankencoop's pecking order.

The number two rooster, currently being played by Babyman (left), has a bevy of factory farm refugee beauties to keep him company. But that doesn't stop Babyman from occasionally jumping out of the bushes to ravish Sanchez's women.

The Watermelon Party is over

On another note: Does anyone know what kind of bug this is? It's the only one of its kind that I've seen. My Google-fu has failed me. Click the photos to enlarge (unless, of course, you think bugs are icky).

*UPDATE: I should've had more faith in my Google-fu. The above bug is an anisomorpha buprestoide a.k.a. a two-striped walking stick. And it's a girl. It certainly doesn't look like the walking sticks I'm used to seeing around here but it must be true because the internets don't lie.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Guess who's from Randolph County, Alabama?

Today, during an internet search for something completely different, I learned that Lewis Thornton Powell (1844-1865) is from Randolph County, Alabama. His family moved to Georgia when he was three but that doesn't change the fact that he's originally from my little particular corner of nowhere.

I can already hear a collective
"Who?" coming from the readers of this blog.

Lewis Thornton Powell was the man who unsuccessfully tried to assassinate William Seward.

Again, I can hear a number of you sayin
g "Who?" I'm pretty sure though the Alaskans in the audience have some idea who Seward was.

Seward was Abraham Lincoln's Secretary of State. At the same time John Wilkes Booth was gunning Lincoln down in the theater, Powell was r
epeatedly stabbing Seward, injuring a number of others in the fracas, including two of Seward's children. Powell was one of the four conspirators hanged for the Lincoln assassination.

Powell is second from the left.

Considering how many locals here still haven't stopped fighting the Civil War, I'm surprised this has never come up in conversation before.

Even more surprising is the fact that Powell was kinda cute.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

RIP Professor Ray B. Browne

You probably never heard of Ray Browne. Chances are though that you've heard or read him quoted before.

I learned yesterday that Ray Browne died last week. I read it in the Anniston Star - a paper from the not-too-far-away town of Anniston, AL. I was saddened to read of his death but even more saddened by the shitty AP article the Anniston Star published instead of a proper obituary. The article didn't even mention that Ray was from Alabama or that his first work in the field of popular culture was done here. Not just "here" in Alabama, but "here" in rural east Alabama - where hardly anything of note ever happens. I'm guessing no one at the Anniston Star even knew who he was. Probably just had some empty space left on the obituary page and pulled something off the wire.

Here's another - much better - obituary that was published in the Toledo Blade. And, unlike the Anniston Star, the Toledo Blade doesn't require a subscription to read it. But I'll put the text here anyway for those of you too lazy to click. Go ahead. Read it. Then I'll tell you what this has to do with Spenardo del Sur.

RAY B. BROWNE, 1922-2009
BGSU professor began popular culture center

BOWLING GREEN - Ray B. Browne, 87, who created an academic discipline and a national movement by studying the stuff of everyday life - whether comic books, fast food, pop tunes, or situation comedies - died Thursday in his home of congestive heart failure.

"He's the father of popular culture studies," said Gary Hoppenstand, a professor of American studies at Michigan State University, and a popular culture graduate student at Bowling Green State University and protege of Mr. Browne's.
"He's done more to affect studies in the humanities than any other individual the last 30 or 40 years."

Mr. Browne began the Center for the Study of Popular Culture in 1968 at BGSU. The Popular Culture Library followed.

In 1973, despite detractors, he began a distinct department of popular culture. His history of the popular culture movement's early struggle is called Against Academia.

"Ray opened the windows of the academy, just opened them up," said Michael Marsden, one of the department's first faculty members, now dean and academic vice president of St. Norbert College, De Pere, Wis. "We have the people's culture being studied, and we're learning how complex and wonderful and significant it is."

The BGSU department was the first of its kind.

"Today there is a course in popular culture studies in every major and minor university in the country," said Mr. Hoppenstand, also editor of the Journal of Popular Culture Studies, founded by Mr. Browne in 1967.

Mr. Browne's expertise landed him in the popular culture. Reporters from all media, worldwide, sought him out to decode the latest pop phenom or the enduring - detective novels, soap operas.

"My dad was very much a populist," his daughter, Alicia Browne, said. "While he loved Dickens and Melville and Shakespeare, he thought it was far too hoity-toity to think that only those few people created anything of value."

"He might not personally have liked it, but if someone is reading it, if someone is singing it, or saying it, he believed there was value to it, or at least we should understand it," she said. "[He was] endlessly curious about anything."
He arrived in 1967 at the BGSU English department intending to bring the study of popular culture to the academy.

He retired in 1992 and was a distinguished university professor emeritus. He worked until recently and had agreed to write the foreword to an anthology being edited by BGSU popular culture faculty, said Jeremy Wallach, an associate professor in popular culture. The book will be dedicated to him. "He has a very robust legacy," Mr. Wallach said.

Mr. Browne was born Jan. 15, 1922, in Millport, Ala. The Depression ruined his father, a banker, and the family was poor. With the help of an older sister, he went to the University of Alabama and received a bachelor's degree. He served in Europe during World War II in an Army artillery unit.

Afterward, he studied at universities in Birmingham and Nottingham, England. He received a master's degree in Victorian literature from Columbia University in New York City. He taught at the University of Nebraska before he attended the University of California at Los Angeles, from which he received a doctorate in English and folklore.

He taught at the University of Maryland and Purdue University.

Surviving are his wife, Maxine "Pat" Browne, whom he married Aug. 25, 1965, sons, Glenn and Kevin, daughter, Alicia Browne, and three granddaughters.
Visitation will be from 6 p.m. to 8 pm. Tuesday in the Holman Funeral Home, Ozark, Ala. Graveside services will be at 11 a.m. Wednesday at Woodlawn Memory Gardens in Ozark. Bowling Green arrangements are by the Dunn Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to the Browne Popular Culture Library at BGSU.

Back in the early 1950s, Ray Browne traipsed across Alabama, collecting and recording rural folklore from rural folks. One person he interviewed during his travels was my grandmother.

About five years ago, when I first started going through the things left in my grandmother's house, I found the following letter from Ray Browne sent in the summer of 1953:

Dear Mrs. Mitchum,

Thank you very much for your answer to my article in the paper about folklore.

I don't know at this time exactly when I shall be up to see you but surely intend to come in the next few weeks. I would appreciate your thinking about this old material at your leisure during the next few weeks, and I will surely see you before too long.

Very truly yours,

Ray Browne

He did come to visit her. Over a dozen stories she told him that day were eventually published in his book "A Night with the Hants and Other Alabama Folk Experiences." (By the way, Amazon still has one copy in stock if anyone is wondering what to get me for Christmas...)

I can just imagine the two of them in the kitchen, Ray with his tape recorder and grandma with her endless stories. That kitchen is now the East Wing of Frankencoop - home to twenty of my chickens. So you see, this was relevant after all.
(Though sometimes I think I can make any subject come back around to my chickens.)

In other news, I am oh-so-pleased to announce that I have a new computer! Well, new to me anyway. My friend, Dean, and his wife in San Francisco donated their Mac Powerbook G4 to me when they bought a new laptop. It feels great to have one foot back in the 21st century again. I'm looking forward to finally being able to post photos again. That clunky old Windows 98 dinosaur is going back into storage, hopefully never to be used again (except maybe for target practice).

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Lie Bot, what is the saddest thing?

Today, Gramma Guthrie decided she wanted to visit her husband in the old folks home. I first found out about it when I heard her tell her daughter on the phone "Jackie said she'd take me to visit Grampa Guthrie." Her daughter didn't seem to protest so I figured Well, I guess that means we're going to town.

It's been really hard on her, living apart from her husband of almost 60 years. He can't be cared for at home and the family can't afford to put them both together in the old folks home. Since she can't drive herself anymore, she's dependent on family members to take her when it fits their schedule.

So I put Gramma Guthrie's walker in the back seat of her oldladymobile and we drove forty minutes to the assisted living center where her husband has been living for about six months.

I hadn't seen Grampa Guthrie for almost a year and hardly recognized him when we walked into his room. This once large and imposing man seemed so weak and frail.

Gramma Guthrie sat by his side and they held hands. They touched their foreheads together and both started crying. "I told you I'd be back," she told him. "Even if I had to crawl here."

He thanked me for bringing her. I said "You heard her. She would've crawled here if I didn't bring her. I don't need to tell you how stubborn she is."

He told her that she probably wouldn't have to come too many more times because he wasn't likely to last much longer. She assured him she wouldn't be around much longer either. Could it get any sadder?

I gave them a little alone time and wandered the halls, talking to a few of the inmates - just soaking up the Cuckoo's Nest vibe. I got high-fived by a drooling tard sitting in a rocking chair in the middle of a busy hallway, talked to a man in a hospital bed who (I think) wanted me to look at his foot (if that's not what he wanted, I feel really dumb), ran into a nurse I'd worked with in community service (she was in for bounced checks - think about that next time your bank slaps you with a $20 NSF fee), sat in on a brief gossip session and contemplated the posted schedule of events that included lots of Bible study and Christian music. A number of residents could be seen through the open doors of their rooms, laying silently in their beds and staring at the ceiling.

I half expected to see a big, mute Indian propping up one of the walls. I wanted to pull a McMurphy and take 'em all on a wild and crazy field trip.

I'm inclined to believe Gramma Guthrie when she tells me that I shouldn't get old. It looks like it sucks ass.

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

What in the FUCK?!

This afternoon I was writing a blog post in my head. It was going to be about the 88-year-old lady I've been spending a couple days a week with. For the sake of story-telling, I'll call her Gramma Guthrie.

Gramma Guthrie's brother-in-law unexpectedly died this morning so I spent the day helping her contact relatives and then drove her to her sister's house where mourning family had gathered around the new widow.

The house was full people I'd never met before, except for the widow whom I'd met only briefly last week when she and another sister dropped by Gramma Guthrie's house. I suspect the visit was in part to check out the woman who'd been hired to take care of their older sister.

Being such a small town, I also know one of Gramma Guthrie's brothers - though I didn't see him this afternoon. He was the local farmer that, in 2006, lent me his incubator and gave me a bucket of eggs with which to start my very own flock of chickens. Four of those original chickens (Betty, Biddie, Buddy and Cheepacabra) as well as two generations of descendants are still here.

(In another funny small town twist: It was another sister that called 911 when I wrecked my truck in front of her house last December.)

I was going to write a post about how I tried my best to blend in with the couch while the dead man's children and grandchildren grieved around me. The great-grandchildren, oblivious to the circumstances, ran freely through the house creating happy distractions for those who weren't expecting to face mortality head-on today. I'm not really a "kid person" but I really do think children are necessary at times like this.

I averted my gaze from crying women and men discussing financial matters. I listened intently as the widow recounted the evening before when she and her husband each ate an apple in the very room we were sitting in and she fell asleep in her chair and he covered her with a blanket and when she woke up she saw him in his chair and knew something was terribly wrong because his dentures had fallen out.

I was also going to write about how it turned out that the hospital nurse that was there all night and was so kind to the family turned out to be the very same woman who's marrying Gramma Guthrie's grandson this month.

I was going to write about this and a whole lot more but that all changed when I got home a couple minutes after 4pm. The first thing I noticed as I pulled into the driveway was that a couple of the resident crows were hanging out in the driveway with some of the cats. Cats and crows do not generally hang out together.

I then noticed the non-moving white lump about the size of a chicken. Fuck.

Nothing ruins my day like an unexpectedly dead chicken. At least it was white. That meant it was a factory farm refugee. There's about half a dozen factory farm hens that I can't tell apart from each other. Maybe it was one of them.

No. This one has spurs on her legs like a rooster. Shit. That means it's Diamanda - the squawkiest of all the chickens. I liked her. She'd been here for over a year and a half.

She hadn't been dead long. She was still warm. Ants had only begun to congregate around her lower intestine that was splayed across the driveway. Her head was covered in blood but I couldn't see any other injuries. Twenty other chickens milled around Frankencoop 100 feet away. What the fuck happened?

Her neck was broken. One eye had popped out of it's socket, thankfully still hidden behind its bulging lid. Earlier this year, one of my cats got run over by a car and his eye also popped out - though it did not stay behind the lid. You don't really forget a sight like that. It slowly dawned on me that someone had run over Diamanda in my own driveway.

But who? I hadn't been expecting anyone. There's maybe two dozen people who might drop by unannounced.

Unlike cats or dogs, chickens don't have the sense to get out of the way of a moving vehicle. They like to hunker down in the shade under a parked vehicle but won't get up when you start it up. This is how my very first factory farm refugee, Lemon, died - and she was the smartest damn chicken I ever met.

So, giving my fellow man the benefit of the doubt, I can see how Diamanda might just not have gotten out of the way of an approaching vehicle and the driver might not have even seen her. Often a dozen chickens will block the long driveway up the hill to my house, refusing to move out of the way. (A bit of food thrown from the car window will send the birds running out of the way so I always try to keep a little something handy to "pay the toll.")

Accidents happen, I tell myself.

As I approach the house, I see another clump of white in the grass. I quickly realize it's only some paper and so I ignore it while I carry Diamanda's carcass into the house past the horde of yowling cats. I liked her but I'm still gonna eat her. If it makes you feel any better, I probably won't enjoy it very much. I'd much rather have the company of what was a very lively hen and the couple hundred eggs she would've given me.

After some kitchen prep, I went outside to get a headcount of the birds (all present and accounted for) and locked up the remaining 20 Frankencoop chickens. Back at the house, I threw a little feed to the five chickens that sleep under my porch. There's three long-term resident hens: Murray, Miss Lillian and Annie. The newfound hen, Serendipity, lives there now but doesn't seem too happy so I may move her to Frankencoop. My young rooster, Pasha, recently moved in when he discovered a bunch of unserviced hens were living there.

After ascertaining that all the other birds were okay, I went to pick up the paper that had apparently blown into where the long driveway dead-ends into the yard. That's when I had my truly WHAT THE FUCK moment.

It wasn't just any kind of paper. It was toilet paper. And it wasn't just any kind of toilet paper. It was USED toilet paper. USED TOILET PAPER SMEARED WITH GODDAMNED DIARRHEA! I know it was goddamned diarrhea
because the toilet paper was laying on the ground next to a pile of the shit (pun definitely intended).

I'm still willing to give my fellow man the benefit of the doubt and I understand that sometimes you gotta go when ya gotta go. I can totally sympathize with the realization that you are about to shit your pants and looking around and seeing you're completely out of sight from God and everybody and just dropping your drawers and letting loose with the Hershey squirts.

I can even identify with the relief of finding toilet paper in your car with which to wipe your sorry, splattered ass after such a horrifying experience.


Please tell me what kind of inbred motherfucker just tosses shit-soaked toilet paper in someone's driveway? Trust me, if it was my ass and your driveway, I would've wadded that toilet paper up and stuffed it in my pocket before just dropping it in your yard. Seriously, dude.

If not for the toilet paper, I would've probably never even noticed the shit. Even if I did, I would've just blamed it on the chickens or cats. But not when there's a pile of fucking toilet paper next to it!

I have seen a lot of fucked up shit in my time and can be forgiving of a tremendous amount of trespasses, but this crosses the line. Grind your cigarette butt out in my garden? I'll pick it up when your back is turned and silently curse your name but this is the kind of thing that gets you blacklisted from my life.

So I steamed over this while butchering poor Diamanda. The more I thought about it, the madder I got. I thought about the finite number of people who could've possibly done this. This certainly wasn't the work of a Boomhauer Brother. Contrary to what I may have written about them, they are much classier than this. It certainly wasn't any of my neighbor-cousins. The mail lady would never do anything like that. No way was it the nice Jamacian Jehovah Witness lady that's stops by once a month to drop off the newest copy of The Watchtower.

As I crossed off all the potential visitors in my mind, there was only one I couldn't completely exonerate: An obnoxious drunken hillbilly that I've never written about simply because he's never done anything of note except be drunk every single time I've seen him - whether it's 10am or 10pm. I guess I'll just call him Drunky McDrunkerson.

I hate to accuse Drunky McDrunkerson of shitting in my driveway because that's a pretty heinous thing to accuse somebody of. But fuck if I can think of anyone else that would be capable of doing such a thing. I can totally see him, drunk as fuck, driving up my driveway to talk about hiring me for some job that will never actually materialize, realizing he's about to shit his pants, dropping trou in my driveway, wiping his ass with toilet paper fortuitously found rolling around on the truck floor and absent-mindedly tossing it my yard. I can see him driving off and running over Diamanda without even realizing it. I can see him not remembering any of this tomorrow.

Jesus. Why do I even know people like this?

yeah, that's right. I live in rural Alabama.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Just call me Dr. Doolittle

Over the last few years, I've picked up a little bit of chicken-speak. I'm not fluent and I understand it better than I speak it. Chickens have a wider range of vocalizations than you probably realize.

I was pleasantly amused at the newfound hen's reaction when I "spoke chicken" to her. Her head whipped around and she got right in my face and just stared at me. Like an ape scientist finding out Charlton Heston can talk. She was flabbergasted. Or, at least she looked flabbergasted. To be honest, chickens always kinda looked flabbergasted.

I've named her Serendipity - Sarah for short.

I also had a cool interaction with a bird of a different feather this afternoon - a turkey vulture. They are very common here. I see them almost daily, up to twenty at a time, lazily circling the sky and playing in the thermals. Since I live on a hill, I often get to look down on them as well.

Today, as I burning off trash outside, a few of the vultures came in low over the treeless yard. When one was almost overhead, I whistled at it. It came to a stop and hovered directly above my head, about 30 feet from the ground. I whistled again.

"Aaaak," it replied without a hint of melody. The huge bird hovered for another second or two before flying off to rejoin the others.

Not once in the almost three years I've been here have those vultures uttered a sound. That was so cool.

Now if I could just get the cats to listen to me...

Thursday, September 17, 2009

It was bound to happen

Today, after locking up the chickens for the night, I walked towards the road to check the mailbox. Imagine my surprise when I saw a white chicken roaming in the nearby grass. All the birds had been present and accounted for when I locked the door. Who was this new hen? I'd never seen her before.

It took me about 15 minutes to catch her. She was in an overgrown area where the weeds are up to five feet high. I wasn't thrilled about traipsing through the thick brush in shorts and flip flops, especially since it was only a couple weeks ago I came across a six-foot rattlesnake as big around as my arm not far from this very spot.

Since I'd already given all the feed in my bucket to the other chickens, I cracked a couple freshly-gathered eggs onto the ground to distract the cats and used the shells to attract the stray hen (chickens love eggshells). I finally got close enough to grab her.

I carried her up to the house and put her in a cage usually reserved for sick birds. In a day or so I will introduce her to the rest of the flock. She's currently munching down on pellet feed, watermelon and blueberries.

She looks young. I'm guessing she's a fryer - maybe six to eight weeks old. Probably fell off a poultry truck headed for the slaughterhouse. Though I'd like to think that word about my place has spread amongst the area factory chickens and Spenardo del Sur is now a terminus on the underground chicken railroad.

Give me your tired, your poor,
Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,
The wretched refuse of your teeming shore,
Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,
I lift my lamp beside the golden door!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Water Woes

My good friend Emil from Alaska has been visiting for the last week. We originally had grand plans to soak up local color with day trips to farmers markets, a local winery, the highest point in Alabama (a paltry 2407 feet), and whatever roadside attractions we happened upon.

Instead, we have been soaking up water leaking from the water heater and making day trips to hardware stores.

While I'm bummed that this happened during Emil's visit, I'm glad he was here when it happened. I know nothing about plumbing. I know how to turn off the water to the house and I can put a pan under a drip. That's about it.

Thanks to Emil, I have running water again. If it wasn't for him, I'd be getting cold water only from the outside spigot until I saved up enough money for a plumber. Oh, say...four months. Believe it or not, I actually have things on my list of things to do that supersede hot & cold running water. Poverty sucks. But a great friend who knows how to fix stuff and will spend half his vacation fixing your stuff is priceless.

So we spent a few days living a rustic lifestyle. Or perhaps it was more like luxury camping. No running water except for the outside spigot. Buckets of water to flush the toilet. Pitchers of water lined up on the counter. Plus, all the flies that got in the house when we drained the hot water heater with a garden hose out the kitchen door. Ah...welcome to country living!

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Good work if you can get it

Picked up a little work recently helping to take care of an elderly neighbor. For a frail old lady of 88 years and 75 pounds, she's a feisty one.

If I turn my back on her for a couple minutes, she'll be out the door to weed the flowerbed or in the kitchen pulling heavy cast iron pans out of the cabinets to cook lunch. I'll ask her if I can do it for her but she'll always reply "No. But you can help if you want."

I used to be able to keep track of her by the sound of her walker scraping across the floor. Now she's got those tennis ball things on the ends of it and it's much quieter so I have to get visual confirmation of her whereabouts more frequently. I keep telling her I'm gonna put a bell around her neck.

I'm basically there to make sure she doesn't fall or hurt herself. It also gives her family members a break from having to watch her all the time. And I work a helluva lot cheaper than a real in-home care provider. I'm being partially paid in literal chickenfeed - I get to keep the old food I clean out of the refrigerator and cabinets. For the record, chickens don't really care for Froot Loops.

I do some light cleaning and take care of the ironing (she does the laundry herself). I let her do pretty much whatever she wants (as if I could stop her) and just drop whatever I'm doing when she decides she wants to weed the flowerbed/get something from the storage building/deep fry some okra.

One time she decided she wanted to sweep the carport. I followed her out, explaining that I'd be happy to sweep it. "No. I need the exercise. But you can come keep me company."

So while this tiny old woman held onto her walker with one hand and a broom with the other, I was smoking a cigarette and driving the motorized scooter around in circles, thinking This can't look good.

Sometimes we sit and talk. She tells me stories of what life here was like here when she was a little girl in a flour sack dress. She tells me how horrible it is to grow old and become a burden to your children. I remind her of all the dirty butts and runny noses she's wiped as well as the three days of labor she endured during the birth of her daughter and tell her They owe you. This makes her smile. "They owe me."

We take our blood pressure together and then compare results. Her last reading was 208 over 90 and yet she gave me shit for my 127 over 84. But I don't mind because this is the closest thing I have to health care.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

You read it here first!

Remember when I told you about the county commissioner who was using community service workers as free slave labor for his own personal business? Well, it finally made the local paper - on the front page, no less.

It wasn’t a big article. Just a few paragraphs saying that “rumors have circulated” and the “matter is being investigated by an outside agency” and that neither the commissioner nor Judge Hardass could be reached for comment.

It will be at least a week before I hear anything else since the paper only comes out on Wednesdays. Hopefully, the dailies in neighboring counties will pick up the story.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Chickenfight Girl & Spenardo get Strip-Searched, Part 2

So there I was, walking down the hallway towards Officer Ratchet. She’s snapping her latex gloves and grinning at me like some moronic cat with a piehole full of canary. All I can think is How ‘bout acting like a professional, you fucking cow? Is it really necessary to enjoy this so much? But I wisely kept my mouth shut and entered the interrogation room.

The interrogation room was in the sheriff’s office. The sheriff wasn’t there. He’s rarely ever there. I think I’ve only seen him in passing two or three times. It was the first time I’d ever been in his office. I guess since the sheriff is never there, there’s never any trash to be emptied so I’d have no reason to go in there. The sheriff’s office is attached to the investigators’ office. The investigators chew tobacco and spit it into their trashcans. All the women community service workers hate cleaning the investigators’ office.

The sheriff’s office is just inside the back doors of the courthouse, first door on the left. It’s the busiest entrance/exit to the courthouse due to its proximity to the parking lot and jail. The room had a cluttered desk, two chairs and a big glass case against the wall. The only thing I remember being in the case was a box of cheap beer – Bud Light, I think. Probably confiscated at some traffic stop. The glass case didn’t really look like what I thought of as an “evidence locker.” It looked more like the beer was a trophy on display.

There were two doors. One led to the investigators’ office (which also has its own door that led to the hallway). The other was the door I came through, the one that opened to the public hallway next to the back doors of the courthouse.

The investigator, who I’ll call Johnny Law, was sitting at the desk. I sat in the second chair. Officer Ratchet stood silently a few feet away, next to what I can only assume was the evidence locker.

Johnny Law put a piece of paper in front of me. It was a consent form that needed my signature before Officer Ratchet could see my titties. It listed my right to remain silent, my right to an attorney, blah, blah, blah. Oh yeah, I could’ve refused the search. I probably could’ve also wound up back in jail wearing an orange jumpsuit. No, better to just sign the paper and get it over with. Just accept that you are a powerless pawn in Judge Hardass’ Kingdom of Justice and if they want to humiliate you, they will humiliate you one way or another. I’d rather get humiliated early and be home in time to lock up the chickens. So I signed the form.

Johnny Law asked me a bunch of questions. Name, address, occupation? I don’t really have an occupation. People ask me what I am or what I do and I’m kinda stumped. I am a lot of things and I do a lot of things but none of those things are what people expect – or want – to hear. I blurted out that I was a farmer. Johnny Law started asking me about what I raised on my farm and I could tell my answers did not impress him. I was too small-fry to be a real farmer.

From now on, I think I’m just going to tell people I’m retired. Or maybe that I'm on hiatus - which is just big-city yankee talk for mid-life crisis.

Which offices were you in today?

Did you steal the money?

Do you know who stole the money?

Do you have any money on you right now?

After exhausting his list of questions, Johnny Law exited the room, leaving me and Officer Ratchet alone for a very special episode of Tales From Community Service.

First I emptied my pockets. I pulled out a handful of latex gloves. I always carry a wad around with me when I’m doing community service. I also had a lighter and my cigarette roller case. As Officer Ratchet reached for the cigarette case I warned her to be careful because it contained loose tobacco. I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes when she clumsily spilled half the tobacco on the desk. Involuntary reflex.

Lastly, I pulled out half a dozen cigarette butts. (I may be a drunk driver but I’m no litterbug.) Since I roll my own smokes, my cigarette butts look like roaches. Nobody here under the age of 70 rolls their own cigarettes. People are fascinated with my cigarette roller. I have given dozens of demonstrations of my cigarette roller to curious CS workers during breaktime. They all want to see how it works. Sometimes it makes me feel like I’m showing a Zippo to cavemen.

Somebody always has to make a comment about how easy it would be to roll joints with my little machine. I usually tell them joints are for shitty weed. Whatever they say next usually lets me know if they partake or not. Not surprising, many community service workers are pot smokers. Perhaps a tad more surprising (but not really) is that so are some of the courthouse workers.

But I digress…

I watched for Officer Ratchet’s reaction as I set the thin, filterless cigarette butts on the desk but I don’t think she even saw them.

She directed me to remove all my clothes. Everytime I took off an article of clothing, I had to hand it to her for inspection. I watched as she he pawed through each piece of clothing with her rubber-clad hands, turning sleeves inside out and checking pockets. I couldn’t decide if it was a good thing or not that I was wearing clean underwear. The power distribution in the room was way out of whack and it would’ve felt like a small victory on my part if Officer Ratchet had to get up close and personal with my dirty underwear.

She was still manhandling my panties when she barked at me to take off my shoes and socks. I silently complied but, in my head, I was thinking Give me a second, Hoss. I’m working on it. I undid the multitude of laces on my combat boots and handed them over. Then I gave her my socks to root through.

Once I was completely butt-ass nekkid and Officer Ratchet had finished looking at my laundry, she ordered me to turn completely around. I resisted the urge to pirouette. This was no time for theatrics. Once it was apparent that I didn’t have a hundred dollar bill on me, she told me to put my clothes back on.

I’d almost finished dressing when the door unexpectedly opened. It was a guy delivering some paperwork from the office across the hall. One minute earlier and he – and anyone who happened to be using the busy courthouse doors just to the right – would’ve gotten a eyeful of me doing a little spin in my birthday suit.

What the fuck kind of Barney Fifedom had I gotten trapped in? Fer chrissakes, lock the door to the public hallway! Or at least have somebody posted by the door. And why the fuck didn’t that guy knock? He works for the sheriff’s department and surely had to know what was going on that room. Where the fuck were all the lawmen that were in the hallway just before I went in?

Officer Ratchet laughed it off. “Good thing you didn’t come in her a few seconds ago.” Har-dee-fucking-har. I hurriedly re-laced my combat boots so I could get the hell out there. I was shuttled out into the hallway and out the backdoors where I was told not to come back into the courthouse until I was given the okay.

I rolled a cigarette and spied Really Fat Black Girl across the parking lot. I descended the stairs and went to hear her story.

to be continued…

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Spenardo & Chickenfight Girl Get Strip-Searched, Part 1

So far, I’ve been giving aliases to the locals I write about. That’s to protect the guilty as well as the innocent. The names may be fake but the people I write about are real. Aliases seem like a wise idea because who knows if Judge Hardass ever Googles himself?

I’ve only ever told one local that I keep a blog but she doesn’t have a computer so she’s not gonna read it. I will give her the alias Chickenfight Girl. She was arrested in the big cockfight bust this spring and we met at community service. In fact, on her first day, she and I were the only women there and I was the one to show her the ropes. She didn’t live far from me and, since my license was suspended, she ended up giving me a ride every week to the courthouse.

Even though our service is over (we both finished on the same day), we continue to hang out. She’s the only person I met through community service that I became friends with. Lots of the people I had to work with were nuts. Some were straight-up certifiably batshit insane. I hope I never see them again.

One such crazy person is Thief Girl. That’s not an alias I came up with for this blog. That’s what me and Chickenfight Girl call her. We have nicknames for many of the community service workers, simply because we don’t bother to remember their real names. Thief Girl, Fat Girl, Fat Black Girl, Really Fat Black Girl, Crazy Girl, Pregnant Girl Who Always Wears Really Low-Cut Shirts, Girl Who Looks Like She’s Thirteen, etc…

Thief Girl didn’t always used to be Thief Girl. She used to be The One Who’s Still In High School. I think she originally got community service for fighting. Back in March, on her very last day of CS, she stole a hundred dollar bill out of a purse in one of the courthouse offices. Now she’s doing community service for that.

Chickenfight Girl and I were both at the courthouse the day it happened. There were about 12 women working that day. When there’s that many women, it’s hard to stay busy all day. There’s barely enough work to keep three or four people busy, much less a dozen (though most of the women are lazy as shit and will spend half the day hiding out in the utility closet).

Chickenfight Girl and I would keep ourselves busy by spending hours in an office, supply closet or bathroom - giving it a really good (and slow) cleaning. Most CS women just empty the trash in an office but we would dust shelves, wipe off the tops of filing cabinets, clean windows, etc… Once I even unclogged a breakroom sink that maintenance couldn’t be bothered to fix (they had given the office some bullshit excuse about the plumbing being so old).

On the day Thief Girl stole the money, Chickenfight Girl & I were giving the public bathrooms a good going over - scrubbing walls & stalls that probably hadn’t seen a wet rag in years. I think the only soap that ever touched those walls was the industrial orange goo that dripped from the sinkside containers, leaving sticky skidmarks down the tile. You don’t even want to know what the underside of the mens’ urinals looked like.

After completing the upstairs bathrooms, we wandered off to individual projects. I was the midst of cleaning the jury room when I heard someone in the hall ask Chickenfight Girl where I was. I can’t remember anymore if it was Chickenfight Girl or that someone who appeared at the door, but I was told to drop what I was doing and come downstairs for an important meeting.

I saw the other CS women milling about near the bottom of the stairs, next to the investigators’ office. None of the workers knew what was going on - except Thief Girl - and nobody in a position of authority was talking - except to tell us to bring the folding chairs from the other end of the hallway, sit down and wait.

There we were: A dozen women in orange vests, sitting in a row of folding chairs against the wall – feeling like we’re in a line-up in full view of anyone and everyone who happened to be the courthouse right then. Word filtered down the line that money had been stolen. No one knew how much. One person said $11, another said $100. (I think the actual amount was $111 but I’m not sure because, even when it was all over, nobody bothered to fill us in on what really happened).

Most of the investigators and other law personnel were at one end of the line and I was second from the end at the other, Chickenfight Girl to my right and Really Fat Black Girl to my left. I assume the info we got came from women at the head of the line who overheard the investigators talking.

Apparently, they suspected a CS worker of stealing the money and Judge Hardass was bound and determined that the cash would be found before any of us left the building. We had to wait for a female officer from the jail to come over and search us.

A man stood before us and asked if there was anyone who wanted to confess now and save everybody else a lot of hassle. No one said a word.

Eventually, the female officer from the jail showed up. I will call her Officer Ratchet because she struck me as the kind of person who would root for Nurse Ratchet in One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.

Just my luck, they chose to start at my end of the line. Really Fat Black Girl went in first while the rest of us waited in line. After about ten minutes, Officer Ratchet stepped out of the office back into the hallway. Next!

I started the long walk to Officer Ratchet, past the line of my fellow workers in folding chairs. Officer Ratchet grinned at me, playfully snapping the fingers of her freshly donned latex gloves. At least one of us was having a good time.

to be continued…

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Where do chickens go when they die?

Different chickens wind up in different places. Kinda depends on how they die.

If a chicken dies of unknown causes, perhaps some illness, I won't eat it. That's just common sense. Those birds usually end up in the maggot bucket (where I harvest maggots to feed to the still-living chickens) or incinerated in the firepit. The same fate usually awaits those who die before reaching eating size.

If one of my beloved favorite birds die, I won't eat it either. That's just me being a big soft girly-girl. They get buried in a little pet cemetery I started in the woods. But I have to really love the bird because it's a bitch to dig a hole in that forest floor.

Sometimes something else eats one of my chickens. The woods are full of animals that want to eat my birds - foxes, bobcats, possums, raccoons, hawks... In those cases, I may not find any remains. Perhaps a clump of feathers at the site of the attack. Those chickens wind up being shitted out on the forest floor where they help perpetuate the great circle of life. (Though, when a bird truly disappears without a trace, I prefer to think they ran off to join a traveling circus. I sleep better that way.)

But some chickens do find their way to my plate. Usually excess roosters and badly injured hens. I hate killing chickens but sometimes it must be done. And if you have to do it, it's stupid to throw away the meat.

If I kill a chicken and eat it, nothing goes to waste. Any parts I won't eat are greedily consumed by the cats. After I make stock from the bones, the cats strip them of every last trace of muscle and sinew. When my dog, Della, was still alive, she devoured the clean bones. These days, the bones are tossed into the firepit (and the ashes eventually added to the compost pile).

Any undigested food still in the bird's crop can be fed back to the other chickens. Cleaned skulls and dried feet are sent to Angela so she can turn them into art. She also gets rooster tailfeathers. The rest of the feathers were saved and set aside - until this week.

I finally sorted through and organized all the feathers I'd collected over the last couple years. It took 8 to 10 hours over the course of two days. I ended up with a garbage bag full of soft, downy feathers suitable for making either one big pillow or two smaller ones. All the feathers that didn't make the cut were used to line the hens' nests. My chickens now lay their eggs in the softest, warmest, cushiest nests in all of Dixie.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Not Post #41

While I fell well short of my goal of 41 posts by my birthday on Friday, I did succeed in getting back into the swing of keeping this blog updated regularly. I'll do my best to keep it that way.

Tomorrow morning is my final court review - the last hoop I have to jump through before my life is once again my own.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Post #30 - Alabama, this is why everybody laughs at you


Bill Legion just loves Alabama. No, he's not the governor or even a native. It's all because Alabama banned his wine Cycles Gladiator, deeming the label "pornographic," and he couldn't be happier. "The publicity from this is so much greater than any wine we'd ship to Alabama," says Legion, president of Hahn Family Wines in Soledad, Calif. The Cycles Gladiator label, a replica of an 1895 French bicycle advertisement, features a fanciful image of a nude woman flying alongside a bike amid a star-filled sky. "It's absurd to think it's pornographic," Legion says, who points out the Alabama Beverage Control Board had approved the label in previous years. The control board even went so far as to ask the winery never to submit the label again, Legion says, "because it's offending people in the office." Banning things is a rich tradition in Alabama. Nearly half the state is dry, no alcohol, nada. It recently outlawed the sale of all sex toys, and interracial marriage was technically illegal until 2000.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Post #29 - Google searches crack me up

Somebody stumbled upon my blog today from a Google search using the terms "Anchorage," "Gloryhole" and "Caleb."

If any of you in back in Anchorage know a Caleb, tell him somebody in Kenai is thinking of him.

As an added bonus, the second hit in the search reveals that there's a homeless shelter/soup kitchen in Juneau named "The Glory Hole." I think I already knew that but it was great to be reminded.

Well, tomorrow I will be 41. Goodbye & good riddance, 40. You sucked.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Post #28 - And then there was one

Well, that didn't take long. Went down to Frankencoop to check on the baby chick and found it laying on the floor, in danger of being trampled. I picked it up and was going to bring it back to the house but it died in my hands before I got up the hill.

It's amazing how fast rigor mortis sets in to something that small - less than five minutes.

Post #27 - Sick chick

Another one of Big Red's chicks is acting sickly this morning. Have no idea what the problem is.

She started out with four baby chicks - the most any of my hens have successfully hatched in one sitting. If this one dies, she'll be down to just one.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Post #26 - Free at last!

So I showed the supervisor all my receipts and proved that I had done my time. My debt to society is paid in full. He was even nice enough to let me clock out an hour and a half early.

That doesn't mean I'm done talking about community service though. There are still a few stories left to tell.

Big Red ended up hatching four baby chicks this weekend. Sadly, one died on Sunday and a second died today. But the other two seem like happy, healthy little peepers. Keep your fingers crossed that they turn out to be hens. I don't need no more damned roosters.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Post #25 - The end of an era

Tomorrow I go for my final day of community service. I have gathered all my receipts to prove to them that I have already completed 29 days - not 26 days like their records show.

It infuriates me how unorganized they are. The community service supervisor told me that he double checked with another court worker and her computer showed the same thing. This other court worker was the same woman who told me I could get out of piss testing a month early, leading to my showdown with the power-tripper who runs the piss-test program. She's really batting a thousand.

They've been fucking my shit up since day one. Immediately after facing Judge Hardass back in January, I met with a community service supervisor (he has since quit because he hated working with Judge Hardass) and was assigned to my first day of service. I asked him if my license was now suspended and he said yes. I asked if this meant I could not drive to community service the following week and he said that was exactly what it meant.

About a month later I got a letter from the state saying my license would be suspended effectively in the middle of February. When I mailed them back my license (if I didn't return it, I'd be hit with a $50 fine), I enclosed a letter explaining that the court suspended my license as of January 6th. They wrote back saying the court was wrong and my 90-day suspension didn't start until February 19th. So the court effectively added an extra six weeks to my suspension. I have since heard the same story from others convicted of DUIs in Randolph County.

The same supervisor also didn't say a damn thing to me about court review - the once a month clusterfuck when all community service workers & people whose fines aren't paid off yet need to show up in court. If you've been doing everything you're supposed to, you'll spend about 5 seconds in front of the judge - yet you could spend up to 3 hours waiting for your name to be called.

I only found out about court review from other CS workers. If you don't go to court review, they throw you in jail. You'd think that somebody official would tell you about that. It seems as though they are just trying to trip you up and keep you in the system as long as they can.

If I didn't have this fistful of receipts from the last 29 days, they'd be keeping me in the system for three more weeks.

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Post #24 - You're in the country now, boy

If my current houseguest, Tom, had any doubts that he was deep in the country, they vanished when my neighbors dropped by in a horse-drawn covered wagon to drop off a whole barbecued deer shoulder.

Friday, July 31, 2009

Post #23 - I wanted rain and I got rain.

It’s been raining on and off for four days now. Supposed to be the same at least through the weekend. The humidity is now so high that it's difficult to keep my hand-rolled cigarettes lit.

A multitude of mushrooms are springing up all over the place. There are even some growing on the back steps just outside the door. A few have sprouted on the small coop the chickens under the porch sleep in. Wish I knew more about mushrooms. Surely one or two varieties must be edible. But I have no idea which ones they would be so I just treat them all as if they're poisonous. But I am tempted to peer over the fence into my neighbor's cow pasture and see if I can spot any of those extra special red mushrooms. know what I'm talking about.

Soon the flies will be here. They always come out after a rain. Lots of bugs come out after rain, but nothing as thick as the flies. Ugh.

The growth in the kudzu is noticeably visible. The grass and weeds have grown too. What’s left of the gardens has perked up a bit but it was too late for a lot of the veggies. Half the kale is dead. The broccoli is still alive but was hit pretty hard by bugs a few weeks back. Keeping my fingers crossed for the two remaining watermelon plants. At least the tomatoes and basil are looking good (assuming you can find them amongst the weeds). I'll be putting a lot of work and faith into my fall crops.

Too bad I didn't plant more sunflowers. Those have done best of all - growing up to eight feet tall with dozens of flowers on each plant. They will make the chickens very happy (if the ants and wild birds don't steal all the seeds first).

Speaking of chickens (aren't I always?): More baby chicks hatched today. Last I checked, three had broken out of their shells with three or four eggs still unhatched. If the chicks can make it through the night without their mother accidentally stomping on them, they'll be okay - at least until they have to face the dangers of the outside world. There should be one more batch of babies before the season is over - Mama Graybie is expecting more chicks in mid-August.

On another happy note, I'm having my house professionally sprayed for ants on Monday. One of the select few people in Alabama that I've told about this blog owns a pest control company and offered to spray for me. He wants to try out a new pesticide and I will be his guinea pig. This is good news indeed!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Post #22 - Didja know?

This year, Randolph County became one of the very few U.S. jurisdictions in recent history to have both cockfighting and dogfighting busts in the same year.

Word on the street (or dirt road as the case may be) is that the Mexicans are still holding cockfights in the county but most of the whites are fighting their birds on a sympathetic Indian reservation in Mississippi.

When the big cockfighting bust went down this spring (a mile from my house), apparently the authorities purposely descended on the Saturday fights when they were likely to catch more white people. The Sunday fights were traditionally "Mexican Day." The story I've repeatedly heard is that Judge Hardass didn't want the hassle of dealing with people who didn't speak English and might have to be deported. I'm guessing, too, that there's less money to be squeezed out of Randolph County's Mexican population.

The cockfight proved to be quite profitable for the court system: 148 arrests. According to those who know, no one got off with less than $500 in fines. Some were fined thousands of dollars. And of course there was plenty of community service to go around - 40 days seems to be the norm. Those that lived more than 100 miles away from the courthouse were given the option of paying off their community service at a rate of $50 a day.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Post #21 - Light at the end of the tunnel

Today was my 29th day of community service. I was given 30 days so this means I have only one more day to go. Or does it?

The community service supervisor told me today that his computer shows I have only done 26 days, leaving four more to complete. I told him his computer is wrong. This is what happens when you use community service workers to do your data entry (seriously).

Of course, the burden of proof is on me. So now I have to dig for all my receipts of each time I paid five bucks to work community service.

I'll be damned if I give those fuckers one extra minute - much less three days - of slave labor.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Post #20 - The Laptop Blues

My new power cord showed up today but I'm still having the same problem with the laptop. Methinks the problem lies with the computer and not the cord. Hurrumph!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Post #19 - How dry I am

It’s not looking like I’m going to make that goal of 41 posts by my birthday on August 7th. Oh well, it won’t be the first time I didn’t reach a goal I set for myself. But at least I got this blog jump-started again and that was the original intent.

An old friend who’s been spending the year wandering aimlessly around the Lower 48 unexpectedly found himself in Alabama yesterday and is hanging out here at Spenardo del Sur for a little while.

Watched storms pass by all day and not one of them rained on me. I don’t even want the rain for my gardens anymore. Fuck, most everything died anyway after two months with hardly any rain. At this point I just want enough rain so I can safely have a fire to burn my garbage.

I don’t have garbage pickup so I have to burn, compost, recycle as much as I can. But it's been too dry to burn it and it's starting to pile up. Being summer, I can’t just leave it laying around. I’m not worried about it stinking because it’s mostly just paper & plastic, but it only takes the tiniest crumb of food in there to attract those damned ants. So I have to store the trash in the big freezer until I can burn it.

Did I mention the ants that have been invading my kitchen during this hot, dry summer are not regular ants? No, they are the evil sons of bitches known as fire ants. They will sting you. They are evil and they are everywhere. Sometimes I think this big hill I live on top of is nothing but one giant fire ant mound.

I’ve been pretty diligent about keeping the kitchen clean but they will still manage to march straight to the one tiny speck of food left in the sink. The wall behind the stove is dotted with little strips of black electrical tape. Every time the ants find a new way in, I cover it with tape. I even had to cover up one of the electrical outlets.

I’ve poisoned and killed all the ant mounds on that side of the house but it has done nothing to stem the flow of marauders. I suspect they have built a mound underneath the trailer and I will have to poke my head into the dark & spidery crawlspace to take a look for it.

Gimme some rain, dammit!

Hopefully the laptop power cord I ordered shows up tomorrow. Then I can start posting pictures again (and stop using this slowpoke computer from the late 1900s).

Friday, July 24, 2009

Post #18 - Just an observation...

I've never met so many women with neck tattoos as I've met during my time doing community service. You don't think of rural Alabama as place where women have neck tattoos. And they're not cool tattoos either. These are more on the jailhousey side.

Almost all these neck tattoos are the first names of the women. Why would you get your name tattooed on your neck? Is there actually some logic or tradition behind this? Or is it just what the kids are into these days?

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Post #17 - A day in the kitchen

Today was all about food. Blanched and froze pounds of squash, zucchini and green beans. Sorted and cleaned a mess of cucumbers that I will pickle tomorrow.

I also recently splurged on a big-ass brisket which I cooked up today. I plan on eating lots of reuben sandwiches. Damn, do I love a reuben sandwich! I took a stab at making my own sauerkraut last week (with beets & apples!) and couldn't think of a better way to eat it than in a reuben.

I even already had a couple loaves of rye bread in the freezer. I have a killer bread connection that hooks me up with shitloads of bread that has either passed its expiration date or is just about to. Every few weeks I get a wide variety of breads dropped off at my house: white, wheat, multi-grain, French, cinnamon raisin, bagels, English muffins, sub rolls, hamburger & hotdog buns... I pick out the choice loaves for myself and dole the rest out to the chickens.

Cleaned out the refrigerator too. Well, I started anyway. Actually pulling out shelves and drawers. You know, really cleaning. Lots of food had reached that critical "use it or lose it" stage. Made a big bowl of egg salad that gave new life to a mess of aging veggies. A forgotten half can of Miller High Life and a limp zucchini can be transformed into beer-battered, golden brown hunks of deliciousness.

After I cleaned the counter and washed the dishes, I set about making a scrumptious reuben sandwich using hot corned beef straight from the oven. Ooey-gooey Swiss cheese. Tangy homemade sauerkraut. Mmmmmm....

I am so full right now.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Post #16 - Shit. Tweak's a boy.

Caught Pasha and Tweak "sparring" yesterday morning. I wouldn't really call it a fight. It was more like intense staring competitions followed by some chest bumping, usually resulting in Tweak running away.

With one baby chick still unsexed and more eggs due to hatch late next week, I may end up with even more roosters. The nesting hen, Big Red, had eight eggs but she ate one yesterday. I'm not going to count my chickens before they hatch but I am counting on at least a couple chicken dinners this winter.

Big Red is actually an all-white factory farm refugee. I have trouble telling her apart from half a dozen other white chickens so I daubed a little red food coloring on her back - hence the name. Pasha's mother was called Big Blue for similar reasons but, since the dye faded away, I can no longer tell her apart from the others.

I usually call these indistinguishable birds by generic sweetieisms
like "Angel" or "Honey Bunny" or, on rainy days, "My Little Muddy Buddy."

If there are more roosters, I want to name two of them Philosophy and Sophistry. It's an Aristophanes reference that I don't expect anyone to get. All that matters is that I'm amused.