Friday, January 30, 2009

The unbearable cuteness of baby goats

My nanny goat, Rosemary, gave birth to two adorable baby goats yesterday morning. Today, I went down early to check on them and discovered my other nanny goat, Lipstick, had given birth to another two. Within 24 hours, I went from three goats to seven.

The cuteness of four newborn goats (all girls) is overwhelming. But don't take my word for it. See for yourself:

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

There's a black man in the White House and a white woman cleaning the court house.

I'm now two days into my 30 days of community service. They've got me on janitorial duty at the court house. It's pretty easy work. Hell, compared to those days when I worked the graveyard shift at the porno store and had to clean the glory hole booths, this is a goddamned piece of cake.

I did not really want to usher in the Obama era today by mopping,
vacuuming and cleaning bathrooms, but a ride to the courthouse fell into my lap and I figured it was best to just get it over with for this week.

It turned out that Victoria, who hails from my old neighborhood o
f Spenard, was on a southern roadtrip and emailed me to arrange a two-night stopover here at Spenardo del Sur. The timing could not have been better! Not only was she able to drop me off at the court house this morning on her way out of town, she kindly took me yesterday to my court mandated "evaluation" 25 miles away.

It wasn't all about court mandated appointments. Victoria and I still found time to drive down dirt roads, visit a couple local cemeteries and check out a dilapidated old barn. (Okay, party central this ain't.)

My evaluation took place in an unmarked office on the backside of a minimall. It was a sad and forlorn place: shabby furniture, well-worn industrial carpet, no windows. If it hadn't been for the photocopied motivational sayings taped to the dingy walls, you could've easily mistaken it for a child molester's basement.

It was here I was questioned about my living situatio
n, income, drinking habits, the accident and Alaska. As soon as anyone finds out I moved here from Alaska, they can't help but ask about it. The two biggest topics, which were both covered that day, are the weather and Sarah Palin. And then, after it comes out that I worked at a recording studio, the next question is always "Did anyone famous go there?" So then I had to talk about Ewan McGregor and Ted Stevens before getting to the nitty gritty of just how much more time and money am I gonna have to give The Man before I can put all this shit behind me?

Let's just say it's a lot. I have 24 hours of re-education camp to look forward to: four six-hour sessions held in the same gloomy office space. This will set me back $265. I also have to visit once a month for something called "monitoring." This goes on for six months at twenty bucks a pop - forty if they decide to make me pee in a cup.

The piss test pisses me off. There were no drugs (other than alcohol) involved in my accident. The police dog that was there will back me up on that. Yet the state of Alabama now reserves the right to collect my urine (a
nd charge me $20 for it) just because they can. At least they didn't demand any from me on this visit, letting me keep my much needed twenty spot (but still charging me fifty for the evaluation).

And these monitoring sessions/potential piss tests can only be done on a weekday and re-education camp is only on Saturdays so I have twice as many rides to beg for until I get my license reinstated.

So, I'm sorry to say, the pledge drive is still going on. As someone who's living on an average of $300-400 a month (with no government assistance), I'm once again asking for your help. Many of you have already given and I thank you. You paid my initial fine and court costs, keeping me from going back to the pokey. I owe you all big time. But we have not quite met our fundraising goal yet. There's only fifty bucks in the coffers right now and the elect
ric company is first in line to take that. I got another fifty bucks coming in on Friday but that's going to the phone/internet company.

So here's the PayPal button again for those who'd like to donate. Or, if you live in Anchorage, you can give the money directly to Angela and she'll make sure I get it.

As a special thank you gift for new and renewing members, Spenardo del Sur is offering these Scrubba Dubya bumpersticker removal kits with your donation of $20 or more. It's a brand new morning in America and it's time we scrape those unsightly reminders of the last eight years off bumpers everywhere. (Not only will it also work on Ted Stevens bumperstickers, I think you could use the scraper in a pinch to clear a frosty windshield.)

Generously donated by David and Priscilla

The chickens have started laying eggs again. Well, Cheepacabra has anyway. The others should be soon to follow. They stopped laying a couple months ago when they started m
olting. The addition of eggs once again to my kitchen is most welcome. Without eggs I can't make pasta, pies or hollandaise sauce. God, how I've missed hollandaise sauce!

Cheepa gets ready to lay the very first egg of 2009. Rather than drag grandma's old stove out of the house and figure out how to dispose of it, I gave it a new life as a nesting box. Until now, there hasn't been a chicken in that oven for over 15 years.

Last winter, most of the chickens were young and continued laying through the winter. Now, all my birds are over a year old - except for the two roosters born last spring, Sanchez and Babyman.

Sanchez is now officially the alpha male. After a couple days of agonizing over which of Frankencoop's three roosters would get the axe, I came to the decision that it had to be Corny. If I didn't kill him, Sanchez wou

So Corny went to that big farm in the sky. He also went into a big bowl of curried chicken salad, a pot of jambalya and a couple gallons of soup stock.

My first day of community service, I brought some of the curried chicken salad with me for lunch. The other woman cleaning the courthouse with me could not believe I had actually butchered the chicken myself.
When we took our lunch break, she was relieved that it was chicken salad. She was half-expecting me to pull a whole roasted chicken out of my tote bag.

In community service, women generally clean the courthouse. The men get the outside duties like picking up roadside trash.
Me and my janitorial partner were the only two women that day. Of the seven or eight men, the majority of those were black. As this is rural Alabama, I was not surprised.

Today, the day of Obama's inauguration, there were only a
bout five or six of us that showed up and we were all white. I couldn't help but contemplate how often that happens here. I know that there are currently about 500 doing community service but have no idea what the demographics of that group are.

It's odd how invisible I feel as I work my way through the court house, even though I'm wearing a bright orange vest with reflective yellow stripes (really more designed for those working on the side of the road). I find it
weird that I'm just tossed into the courthouse and allowed access to almost every office in the courthouse - many of them often empty when I'm there.

Sometimes, the women who work in the courthouse (lots of the offices are manned by mostly women) will not even make eye contact with me. Kinda like how some people won't even look at a homeless guy who asks th
em for change. One woman gives me the eagle eye as I empty her trash, as if I might steal something if she turned her back on me. I want to tell her "Don't worry, I'm just a drunk driver not a thief." As my janitorial partner told me "These white bitches think their shit don't stink!"

But there's some decent people too. Today, I was the only woman who showed up and I got to clean the 2-story courthouse and 3 annexes across the street by myself. As I said, the job is piece of cake. Not only did I finish with time to spare, I also restocked the utility closet and still snuck in extra smoke breaks and had a few conversations with court house employees.

Sometimes, I would pass through an empty breakroom
with a TV showing inaugural festivities and I'd work extra slow so I could catch a couple minutes of the broadcast. I happened to walk into a woman's office as she watching Barack's speech. One of my community service supervisors, a middle-aged black man, was standing behind her watching it too. I asked him if it would be okay for me to hang out and watch the rest of the speech with them.

I don't know how long his speech was. I only caught the last five minutes. That was just enough to make me all teary-eyed. Damn, am I glad that douchebag Dubya is finally gone!

In another office, a younger black woman let me watch a little more of the festivities on her computer with her. We talked about how jealous we were of our friends who were there in person today.

Since the vote here in Randolph County pretty much followed racial lines, with McCain getting 70% of the vote, I avoided talking politics with white people. It's a good bet that any random white person here
did not vote for Obama.

I only overheard one politically-themed conversation between white people today - two older ladies in an office who completely ignored me as I washed the windows.

I had no idea that Barney Frank was gay. Did you know B
arney Frank was gay?

Who's Barney Frank?

Oh, you know...that big, fat slob in Washington D.C.

I don't know.

Oh...he's...that guy. You know...he's fat. He's...he's a liberal.

No, I don't know who he is.

Well, he's gay. I had no idea that he's gay.

Okay, on that note, let's wrap this post up with a couple random pictures:

Della has resigned herself to being outnumbered.

While playing archaeologist a couple days ago, I unearthed these tiny ceramic monkeys. They are only about an inch tall. They were made in Japan in either the 1930s or 1950s.

One of my hens, Miss Lillian, seems to be growing an extra claw out of the bottom of her foot. Not quite as cool as a three-legged chicken but I'll take what I can get.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

The verdict is in

Today was my day to go in front of the judge. I cleaned all the chickenshit off me, put on a demure flowered skirt and my best sad face for the occasion.

Just the fact that I'm writing this should tell you that I didn't get thrown into the hoosegow. Thanks to my tribe back in Alaska, I did not walk into the courtroom empty handed. The fine and court costs came to $1036. I had $1040. Whew!

Sadly, there will still be more costs on top of that. I got 30 days community service. Can you believe I have to pay $5 everytime I show up for community service? So that's another $150. Plus, in two weeks I have to go to some "court referral" where I'll pee in a cup and then get evaluated so they can figure out which re-education program to stick me in. The evaluation is $50 and the cupful of pee will set me back another $20. I'm sure re-education camp ain't free either.

And then, when I get my driver's license back in three months, I'll find out just how much more my car insurance is going to cost me. But, until April, I have to beg rides off people to the above court-mandated shit because it's all 15 to 30 miles away. Remember, I live in the boonies and there is no such thing as cabs or buses out here. I wouldn't be surprised if I find myself dusting off the old thumb before this is all over.

But this all could've been so much worse. I could've been smacked with a much larger fine. The actual fine I paid was a little more than eight hundred - very much on the low end of the scale. I could also be wearing the orange jumpsuit and sleeping in the county pokey again. There were people ahead of me who didn't have the money to pay their fines and the judge sent them to jail. There but for the grace of my Alaskan tribe...

And the grace of being plugged into the good-old-boy network. I don't want to go into details here but let's just say southern justice has a lot to do with who you know. I believe that had a lot to do with why my fine was on the low end of the scale. Didn't hurt either that, up until now, my record was clean.

As if all this court crap wasn't enough, Frankencoop is in utter chaos. Two of the roosters (Sanchez and Babyman) have viciously turned on the the third (Cornelius). Yesterday, I found a bloody Cornelius cowering in the brush behind the coop.

He had been attacked by Sanchez who has now claimed the title of top dog. This was surprising to me since Corny outweighs Sanchez by about ten pounds.

At the end of the day, I had no choice but to put everybody back into the coop. Any other day, I probably would've taken Corny back up to the house and kept him in a cage overnight for observation but I had a date with the judge the next day and wasn't 100% sure I was coming home after court. I put the warring factions in the coop together and hoped for the best.

This morning I went down to feed the chickens. I wasn't going to let them out for the day since I wasn't positive I'd be back to lock them up. I threw a bunch of feed into the pen I built onto the back of Frankencoop. Everybody came out to eat except Corny.

I stepped inside the pen and went through the backdoor into the coop where I found Corny covered in mud. I imagine that he got the shit beat out of him in the pen. Much of the pen floor is incredibly mucky. Not only has there been a lot of rain recently but the pen is on the north side of Frankencoop and sees very little sun this time of year. I expect it will be March before it dries out completely.

While I was setting extra food and water inside the coop, Corny went outside to the pen to join the other birds. Sanchez and Babyman immediately went on the attack. Oh, this was the last thing I needed today!

I pushed Corny out the pen door into the yard and proceeded to give Sanchez and Babyman a stern talking to. I explained that if they didn't knock it off at least one of them would be visiting the chopping block and I would share their meat with the cats, make soup from their bones and stuff my mattress with their feathers. But I don't think they understand English.

Poor muddy bloody Corny

Frankencoop is built from the corpse of the house my great-grandparents built. It was once a very modest four-room house that, back in the '30s and '40s, was home to nine people. I often visited this house as a child when my grandmother and her brother still lived there. Now, sixteen chickens share the two rooms that are still standing.

I couldn't leave Corny outside or put him in a cage. I couldn't take him up to yard outside my house because that's the domain of my fourth rooster, Caleb, and his two lady friends, Murray & Lillian (I let them outside for the day in hopes that the dog would offer some nocturnal protection should I not be home that evening).

The only option left was to segregate him in what used to be my grandma's kitchen. I put enough food and water in there for a few days and blocked the passageway between the two rooms (which was just a big hole I'd cut through the drywall).


I have two cleaning jobs tomorrow so whatever solution I come up with will have to wait until Thursday. I think there will be chicken curry on the menu this weekend. The question is who will be the unlucky soul who gets voted off the farm?

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Happy New Year!

First off, I'd like to send a congratulatory shout-out to my longtime friend, CC, back in Anchorage. The Nation recently named her one of the Most Valuable Progressives of 2008. More specifically, the magazine named her the Most Valuable Local Media Personality and had this to say:

When Sarah Palin stumbled onto the national stage, after
her selection as John McCain's running-mate, everyone
scrambled to figure out what was up with Alaska's governor.
A lot of the lower-48 blogosphere (and the major media that
followed its lead) obsessed about Palin's family life. But
Anchorage radio host Camille Conte, who is universally known
in Alaska as "CC," steered the discussion toward Troopergate--
the scandal that proved Palin was not the reformer her
supporters claimed but a Cheney-esque abuser of power. CC's
daily "Cutting Edge" show on Anchorage's Air America affiliate,
News-Talk 1080/KUDO: Alaska's Progressive Voice became
required fare for journalists visiting the state--she had better
access than anyone else to the key players, who trusted the
veteran local host--and CC turned up on radio stations across
the U.S. No one else contributed as much to 2008's Palintological

I had to brag about her to somebody and since nobody around here even knows what The Nation is, much less reads it, I'm bragging about her here on the blog. Yay, CC! Next time you see her, give her a hug and buy her a drink.

Said goodbye to the old year by doing something new: My very first barndance. Yes, an honest to god barndance. In a big red barn and everything.

Went with B.J. Boomhauer and Mrs. Boomhauer and a big jug of B.J.'s homemade blueberry wine. Inside the barn was lots of food and a band that played covers of Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard and Lynrd Skynrd songs. (Huh. I'm surprised that the spellcheck recognizes Lynrd Skynrd.) Outside, behind the barn, was a roaring bonfire that was most welcome as the temps dipped down below freezing.

The party went on until 2am but we left a little after 10pm because Mrs. Boomhauer had to work early in the morning and she was our designated driver.

At home, I stayed up for a couple more hours, stepping out on the back steps at midnight to watch the fireworks. Not any sort of officially sanctioned fireworks show - just people setting them off in their yards. Since I'm up on this hill with such a huge view, I can see fireworks being lit off all across the valley.

The first day of the new year has been much like any other day. Except that my dog, Della, brought me a half-dead possum. I think it was already dying when she found it. Della is a pretty peaceful dog, though I'm told she used to catch rabbits in her younger days.

Just a few day ago, Caleb the rooster got a cut on his comb (the big red thing on top of his head) and was bleeding pretty bad. Nothing life-threatening, but the back of his white head was covered with blood. Della actually cleaned him up, licking all the fresh blood off his head. I can't believe the rooster sat still for that! She's amazingly good with the chickens. Sure, she chases them sometimes but she just likes to fuck with them. Does the same thing to the cats.

The only time she ever gets remotely rough with the birds (or cats) is when they try to steal her food. She will not abide a chicken sticking its beak in her way while she's trying to eat. She snaps at the birds but never hurts them. I've seen her close her mouth over a chicken's entire head without leaving a scratch - she just completely slimes them with dog spit.

Anyway, so I don't think she hurt the possum at all. She just found it in the woods and must've thought "I'll show this to Jackie." And that's how I wound up with a mostly dead possum at my feet.

Before heading back to the house to get the rifle, I covered the possum with a nearby empty wheelbarrow. The cats had begun to gather and I didn't want any of them messing with it. I don't know if the possum had been injured or if it was ill. When I got Della this summer, she came with all her current shots but the cats haven't had any. The last thing Spenardo del Sur needs is a case of rabies. It's bad enough that half the cats recently came down with conjuntivitis (though it has fortunately just about cleared up).

The possum is still out there under the wheelbarrow. I'll deal with the carcass tomorrow. Hopefully, the wheelbarrow will be enough to keep any wild animals away from it tonight. I know there's been a bobcat skulking around at night recently. I've seen its tracks in the driveway and just yesterday found another crushed beer can with teeth marks in it. I've found about half a dozen such mutilated cans over the year - including the one I'd set next to my front door and found the following morning under the porch, pocked with teeth marks and sitting next to fresh feline tracks much larger than anything my cats could've made. If I ever try to catch it, I will bait the trap with beer cans.

Had a nice visit from old Alaskan friends, David & Priscilla, on Christmas Day. Actually, they're Alabamians now - living in Montgomery for the last few years. They drove up for the afternoon, bearing a basket full of goodies for me. Not only did they bring fine European chocolate and a package of curry paste ("In case something happens to one of the chickens"), they also brought a lovely selection of alcohol: a bottle of tequila, a bottle of cabernet sauvignion and six different real beers. Not cheap crappy canned beer like I usually get around here but six delicious real beers.

It's been many months since I've tasted real beer. Everytime I opened one of them, I would spend a minute or two just smelling it. These were beers to be savored, not chugged. And, oh, how I miss good wine! Around here, wines don't come in flavors like reisling, merlot or malbec. They come in flavors like apple, blueberry and pear.

People here don't know what they're missing - nor do they care. They cannot fathom paying eight dollars for a six-pack when you can get a twelve pack of Natty Ice for the same price. It's a crying shame.