Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Little Hands Belong to the Devil Himself

 As my summer winds down and school looms on the horizon, my garden is in full swing and is also thinking about winding down.  The tomatoes took a hit with the 3 days of wild rain last week and they are ripening but they look like crap.  The beans are just about done and round 2 is just getting ready.  The peppers are pretending they will flower again but their first crop was pretty lackluster, so I don't know.  The peppers are good but very small.  Anything that flowers is blooming its pants off.  I arrived in my garden this morning to find this:

I know, more sunflowers and morning glories.  But they are so PRETTY!
And this:
This is very exciting because these are broccoli plants that I grew from seed. The slugs had a gourmet feast in the spring and I thought they had eaten them down to nothing. They have come back with a vengeance and I am thrilled.

Because then I came across this:

Something with HANDS had to be at work here.  You have no idea how much this infuriates me.  This is when I swear in the garden.  Hand wielding little shits ruining a whole summer's worth of work.  I am determined to grow corn without chemicals and I do quite nicely.  No bugs, nothing.  I picked one ear the other day and it looked so great that I couldn't wait to get a few more.  But something beat me to it.  I have 3 foot high fencing all around, so it was either squirrels or raccoons. We don't have deer in the yard and the corn is too far in for them to get it, even if we did.  Plus, they couldn't peel back the husks so nicely without HANDS.    
I go with raccoons because whatever it was actually pulled off some of the ears and then shucked them.  I don't think the squirrels are strong enough or determined enough.  And the raccoons would have to climb over the chicken wire because I think it's just high enough that they can't hop over.  Unless they climb a tree and jump down.  I'd like to set up a camera.  I am really mad.  I think the ears that are shucked right on the stalks are what infuriate me the most.  And if you look, they really aren't ready to be harvested, so they didn't even get a good meal out of it.  And the worst is that now they know.  The emails are being sent underground and the king destroyer (rubbing his little, shitty hands together) is marking the map so they know exactly where to go next year for more great stuff.  
Mornings like this make me HATE NATURE.  And that's pretty foul language from someone as green as I am known to be.

Monday, August 30, 2010

It's a Wonderful Thing

Yesterday, I went almost all day with no internet connection in the house ! I KNOW! This also meant I didn't have a phone, but no one ever calls me, so I didn't know that. As it turned out, it was my fault. When I was mowing, I pulled out a wire that I swear k-ster told me was cable and since we don't have cable, I wasn't worried.

Then I tried repeatedly to use the internet in the house but it wouldn't stay connected, no matter what I tried. When k-ster got home, I told him and he explained that though the lights on the modem were all green, they weren't all on so no DSL was coming into the house. LIGHTBULB OVER HEAD. Oh wait, I pulled out a cable this morning when I was mowing!

He went out to look at it and after opening the compartments, I had no idea what was really inside that telephone box on the house but now I know, it's fascinating, he had it back together and working. How stupid we would have looked if I had had to call Verizon.

And here is the wonderful part. K-ster really is a Jack of all trades. I know an awful lot of people whose husbands can't connect anything, don't even know what a screwdriver is, wouldn't get on the ground to fix something if their lives depended on it. Thank GOD k-ster is none of those things. He is very handy. And this makes me handy because I watch what he does in case I have to do it next time. Living in a very old house, there are a LOT of next times and it seems he is never here the NEXT TIME so I do have to do things myself (his favorite activity to miss is pushing the button on the furnace. This only occurs when a) I need to take a shower and be somewhere immediately or b) it's freezing cold and I'm already undressed and in the shower thinking it will warm up in a minute. Then I have to go down into the creepy dirt cellar and push that button. I HATE IT.) I am a serial observer. I am so fascinated by watching people do things, especially fix things. I realized recently that the real reason I love watching what they do is so next time I can just do it myself and wow someone else with my skills. But seriously, if I could get paid just to watch people, I'd do it in a second! But I digress.

So the wonderful is that k-ster is such a man and can get dirty and fix things in the blink of an eye. I like to tell him that I stick around to keep him honing his skills(pulling out cables, breaking drawers, etc)! Not only did I know we'd be together forever when he ordered a mushroom pizza, I knew the first time he fixed my cassette player in my car that this one was a keeper. And if he ever leaves me, heaven help the next one because I cannot be with a man that I know I am manlier than. And with all of the observing I do, I can be pretty manly when I have to be.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Feel Good Friday, Already?

It's hard to believe we're there again, already. One more Friday of freedom before the kids descend on my oh-so-neat-and-tidy classroom. We have to go back next Wednesday and Thursday but the kids don't go back until the 7th.

So, after 3 rants about name brand products this week, it's Friday and I have to think about things that were good or funny this week.

1. I went to see Josh Turner this week and he was good. I'll be posting an entire post about this later. But it was enjoyable.

2. Kathy over at The Junk Drawer found me, no wait, I found her, and we are kindred spirits in our frustration with Sunchips. She encouraged me to blog about my composting efforts which I did. We've chatted a bit and I think we have a lot in common. So that was fun.

3. I now have functioning sewer pipes. I didn't know there was a problem but found out this week and it was rather in depth. But everything flows nicely now. I think I will be posting that story later too. I find that since I've started blogging, I save up ideas for a rainy day and then these posts never really materialize. Hmmm.

4. I was allowed (yes, we weren't ALLOWED last week and I was livid) to get into our classrooms this week and I have things arranged nicely and feel less worried about that. Last year, I moved rooms and at this time was out of my mind with where things were and what I needed to get done. I have my act together much more this year.

5. I attended a fitness conference over the weekend and was so inspired by Mindy Mylrea. She is hysterical. Because she's small and cute, she just gets away with saying the most hysterical stuff while she's kicking your ass. And I love her even more for it. She said my favorite thing in 2 different sessions and I'll share it. She was explaining that women often don't do squats right and that we spend too much energy working the quads when we should be working the glutes. Her solution is to take a small ball(she was using the famous Bender ball but any 8 inch inflatable ball would do) and hold it between the thighs. This sets women up better physiologically for squats. Her theory, after watching men do them perfectly, is that men have been carrying a ball between their legs for their whole lives and they know how to do squats the right way, so we should put a ball there too and voila, perfect squats. This is much funnier out loud with her scratchy voice and all the women gasping because there's ONE MAN in the group of like 800 women. I want to be Mindy when I'm 50. I'm the right size, and sometimes I'm funny and usually, I'm fresh. Maybe I'll get to be her when I grow up.

Thursday, August 26, 2010

Oh My Burning Legs

What a week. On Monday, I said mean things about Huggies. On Tuesday, I went nuts about Sunchips. I let that go onto Wednesday too. Why not finish the week ranting about yet another company. I give you: Aveeno.

I was never a fan of shaving cream or gel because I thought good old soap and water did just fine and I am too Thrifty to spend the money on it. And it did fine for many, many years. About the time that I started using the outdoor shower-which is now illegal- I realized that my legs were suffering from severe razor burn. This is probably because it's sometimes cool out there and though the hot water feels good, it causes goose bumps and then I must shave right over them. So, I found Aveeno Ultra Calming Shave Gel with feverfew. the feverfew makes the different as I tried another style and it didn't work. I loved it and have used it for quite a few years. I stock up on it when it goes on sale. It keeps my legs calm and no razor burn happens when I use it.

In the spring, I noticed that CVS no longer carried it and they had a strange sign on the shelf that said something about issues with dispensing. I thought that was odd. Stop and Shop still carried it, so I used some coupons and bought a few. And then I noticed they weren't restocking it at CVS. And recently I totally ran out and they dont' have it at Stop and Shop either. And there isnt' even a tag for it on the shelf anymore.

So, I did what I do when I can't find something. I went to the interwebz and I searched until my fingers bled. And yes, I found many places that had it, until I actually went to the link and whooops, they no longer had it. I went to the Aveeno site and clicked on every store they said would have it. And they did not. I even went to just any random place online. BUT NO ONE HAD IT. Really??? No one in the entire universe? Not even some god forsaken place?

Now, this makes me nervous. WHen I've used a product for a long time and then it suddenly clears off of every shelf in the known world, I get worried that they discovered some horrid side effect or latent chemical. Like in the 80s when Citrus Hill orange juice just up and vanished. For years, I was sure I had been drinking poison but as I just googled this, I found that they got into huge trouble for calling it fresh when it was concentrate and couldn't survive. Ahhh the joy of knowing that it wasn't poison.

Anyshave, back to Aveeno. I emailed the company and asked what the story is. This was their very convert response: With regards to your recent inquiry, at Johnson & Johnson Inc., the quality and safety of all of our products is of utmost importance. We are aware of this dispensing quality issue and the cause is currently under investigation. We know that these products enjoy a high level of consumer loyalty and satisfaction and you can be assured that we are taking all appropriate corrective action to resolve this problem. We do apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. The product will be available on the market by the end of 2010.

What is dispensing quality? When CVS had that little tag about it, I thought they meant that there was an issue getting it from the manufacturer. This makes it sound more like you would push the button to get gel but get nothing. This never happened to me. Why punish me like this if all my cans of shave gel worked just fine???? What is the big INVESTIGATION? Get over here and INVESTIGATE the bumps on my legs!! No other gel works, I've tried. Maybe they will change their minds when I braid my leg and armpit hairs into the words AVEENO.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

That Darned Sunchips Bag

I'm going out on a limb here and attacking a company's claim. Will I get into hot water? Maybe I hope so. I do not work for the Sunchips company or any company that is in any way involved with Sunchips. I have not been paid by any company to make disparaging remarks about this brand. This stems from my own curiosity and the fear that we are being "taken" by this company's claim.

I was recently reading through someone's blog and it led me to Kathy's blog at The Junk Drawer and she mentioned she might be a little upset that the new Sunchips bag is so, shall we say, NOISY??? She does a fantastic post about the noise, including a video of how effing loud it is in case you haven't experienced them this summer. She was lucky enough to have it picked up by someone big interviewed her at the Wall Street Journal. It seems many people share the distress that you can no longer sneak a snack of Sunchips. (doesn't that sound like some kind of rhyme you learned as a kid: sneak a snack of Sunchips... it has a nice flow so if the Sunchip gods are reading, I am happy to sign over all rights for a hefty fee.)

Anychip, my issue with the new Sunchips bag isn't the noise as much as their claim. (I know, anyone who knows me knows that there is not a noise that can possibly NOT bother me, so that is a big fat lie but really, the claim takes precedence here). On Earth Day back in April, they rolled out their new bag, which they claim is compostable. If you read their claim on their site, they say that in 14 weeks, it will break down. Magic. In 14 weeks, that bag will be long gone. If you read the fine print, it does say in a hot, active compost pile or bin. It says this on the bag too. Magic, I tell you, pure magic.

I might be a bit of a skeptic, or maybe I really WANT this new packaging to really degrade but I just had to try this myself. I have been composting for several decades and though I am no expert, I do quite well. I break some rules, like I never turn it over, but I do give it a variety of materials and when I dig in, JACKPOT, I have some darned good stuff in there.

I thought perhaps the average person doesn't have a compost pile, so they might not be able to compost. Or maybe they threw the bag on the side of the road and now it's just blowing around. So, to mimic the lack of a compost pile, I began my great experiment. I just wanted to know if the bag would crumble down like they said. Since it wasn't going to be in compost heap, I knew it would take a little while. I just needed to know for myself if their claims were real. So here's what I have:May 2nd, 2010. I placed the bag on the ground and anchored it down with a weight so I could find it. I didn't put any soil on it and figured nature would take its course. I waited. And waited. And then I read Kathy's post, so I went and looked at it again. And this is what I found:This was today, day 114. There are 98 days in 14 weeks. That means I have gone 24 days, that's 3.5 weeks, beyond their claim. I see it's faded a little. There are a few tears. But when I picked it up, it was pretty much intact. We've had sopping rain for 2 days yet under this bag the ground was completely dry, so it's not yet permeable. Hmmm. I expected a slow breakdown since it's not in the compost pile. But this gives me great pause.

I am nothing if not thorough, so you know this bag will sit until the end of time if it has to for me to prove my point. But what does this mean? Are the Sunchips people going to blow me off and say that I didn't do it right? Probably. Their claim says nothing about putting it on the ground and just waiting. But I just have to know if it will really break down. I think I've had plastic break down faster than this (ever had one of those resin patio chairs and the back just breaks off??)

So here is your charge. Go buy some Sunchips and try this yourself. Wear some earplugs, open them up and eat them all. Then go compost. If you have devised a way to put it in your compost and actually track it, let me know. Is it gone in 14 weeks? I'll be awaiting your response and so will Kathy!!

The irony in all of this is that I don't really even like Sunchips. I just NEED TO KNOW.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Poo On You

I was innocently reading through the Sunday paper yesterday and perusing the coupon inserts when I came upon this:
I'm not sure where to start. See the little dancing bears? I think they are supposed to be Winnie the Pooh and I think they THINK they are getting away with their campaign by being cute. But this is not cute. Those bears dont' even look like Winnie. I have never had a problem using wipes on a baby. What is meant by the "right" side of the wipe? Are you supposed to smear it all over the bears? Or not let it touch the bears? Are people so dumb that they use it and then turn it over to use the other side but get it all over their hands? Seems like you'd do that one time and learn a lesson, right?

And I think the most appalling part is that thumbprint on the bottom right that says LIVE POO FREE. Really???? Is this a truly big problem in this country that I am not aware of? A brown thumbprint is supposed to be alluring, memorable or just cute?

The ad reminds me of an ad to stay away from drugs. Or a suicide helpline. Just a one line, very bland font, in big letters like this is the answer to all of our problems.

This makes me think of an Apprentice (which will return with REAL people this fall, not celebrities and I am just about wetting my pants over this) episode where they tried to come up with a catchy or "cute" but inappropriate ad campaign. At least get the rights to use the real Winnie the Pooh and change it to Keep Pooh On the Right Side and I will be OK with it. Huggies has really gone around the bend and they are cheaping out.

Anyone with me? Anyone able to offer some insight into the mystery of the wipe that has caused this campaign?

Friday, August 20, 2010

Shootout At the OK Corral

Ok, that's kind of dramatic. There wasn't a shoot out. No one but the cop had a gun. And I don't ride at the OK corral. I don't know the name of the barn, actually, but I call it barn #3 because it's the 3rd barn I've ridden at with my instructor and it helps me associate certain things I did at certain barns successfully.

This is supposed to be Feel Good Friday and on Feel Good Friday, we are supposed to write about things that made us feel good during the week. I like to write about my top 5. But this story is too entertaining for me to wait and post it tomorrow. So, the feel good in this is that I am in no way involved in what I'm about to relate and I'm really, really, really glad that I don't have to worry about where I'm sleeping tonight.

Barn #3 is out in the woods. It's a conservation area and though there are houses sprinkled throughout and there are actual roads, they are not paved and it's pretty darned quiet. And really, it's remote. It's not far from civilization, but when you're there, you feel as though it's you and no one else. Until today, this didn't freak me out much. I've had the odd thought that if I were to fall off this horse and break my back, it would take the ambulance a while to get there and it wouldn't be a great ride because it's quite bumpy, not being paved. But I try to keep that thought at bay.

So as I came to the last road before turning into the barn today, I saw 2 cruisers, one marked and one not, as well as a few cars kind of in the road.. My first assumption was that there had been an accident and I thought "how ridiculous that someone had to call the cops for a 10 mph accident in the woods". But then I realized that nothing looked smashed. And the cop was drinking a can of soda, so I wasn't alarmed.

Until I looked up as I parked down the driveway and he was in the rearview mirror. He didn't seem to be acting urgently but I supposed I should ask him what was going on since he could have chosen to take down my plate number and try to find something wrong with me. I noticed that my instructor's truck was there and so was another girl's car. So, I walked to the police car and this is what transpired:

Me: Hi
Him: Have you talked to the other girls yet?
Him: Well, we chased a kid who stole a car into here and then he bailed right there at the driveway and he's on the loose in the woods. He's recently robbed 4 houses and then stole this car.
Me: Wow. Did it look like he knew the woods well or did he just run?
Him: Oh, we think he's been living in the woods. His mother owns a house just at the entrance (to the conservation area). His name is xyz.
Me: XYZ??? Are you kidding???? I don't know him personally but i have heard that name for 20 years! He went to elementary school with all of my friends but never made it to the high school and he became one of those kids who seemed to just vanish after 8th grade!
Him: Yeah, he just got out of jail, mother hasn't seen him in 2 years. So, if you're out riding,
Me: Oh, I don't think I'm leaving the corral today!!
Him: No, we don't think he's armed (HOW WOULD YOU KNOW???) but we want to make sure you take your cell phone with you and here's the non 911 number. (then he watched me type it into my phone).
Me: Wow, this is crazy. Have you told the other girls?(Where the hell are they????)
Him: Oh, r-ster and j-ster? Yeah, they're out riding. I told them if they saw him to let me know.

So this cop seemed to really know the situation and was concerned that I might not really call them if I thought I needed help. This is a little different from the cops in my town that I don't feel are quite so helpful. Not that they are mean, they just seem to have a lot more to deal with than escapees in the woods. We have actual murders in my town.

Soo then r-ster and j-ster returned and the story took one more turn.

R-ster: So did you talk to the cop?
Me: Yeah, I can't believe it. (then I tell how I know the kid's name, etc)
R-ster: Oh, he didn't tell us his name, what is it?
Me: XYZ.
R-ster: XYZ????? OMG that is ABC's son!! I know his mother, oh he just got out of jail, oh she's going to be so upset. Yeah, that's DEF's grandson.
Me: He's DEF's grandson??? Holy crap, I didn't know THAT! Then my mother knows ABC because they all had horses growing up.
R-ster: that's funny, we joked that if he found him, we'd make him ride a horse back, but if we'd found him, he really COULD have ridden a horse!!

Then there was one more extra twist. I called k-ster and when I said it was XYZ he interrupted me and said "that's DEF's grandson" and I was like HOW DID YOU KNOW THAT and he said a friend of his had been friend with XYZ . This makes sense because k-ster's friend went to school with all of my friends when they were in elementary school.

They say that where I live is a small place. It's many towns in one region. This whole thing happened in one town, we live in another, they all went to school together in another and k-ster is from yet another and yet we all know or know of everyone involved. Do we live in Hazzard County? It sure seems like it at times like this. I supposed if the cop had bumbled his way through and a white limo pulled in with Boss Hog, it would have all been just right.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

What's In YOUR Wallet?

I mean, what's in your car? I call my Jeep The General (you know, general purpose vehicle is where Jeep gets its name), so don't think I've lost my mind when I refer to it. It's not like it's my pet name for k-ster or anything.

So, I looked around today and thought about how ridiculous it is inside The General. And I'm curious to know if I'm alone in this madness or if everyone keeps everything and the kitchen sink in their vehicles. It clearly is a very slow news day in my realm.

Taking a look around, front to back, this is what I found:

Front: a couple of water bottles and a backpack. Not unusual.

Back seat: a saddle, two fold up chairs that you put in a bag, bags for the grocery store, cans of cat food that fell out of a bag, random articles of clothing, lia sophia jewelry catalogs, my fake purse(for when I go into a store where just carrying your keys in your hand seems uncouth, so I bring out the fake purse and stick my keys in the them and I look more sophisticated).

Back storage area: a folded 6 foot table, a milk crate with an afghan and jumper cables, my riding helmet and boots, a bag with clothes for riding in the winter, my gym bag, my pilates mat, a folded mat to keep dirt off the seat when I have something messy to transport, a sign that says Vote For Education because I took it out of the ground at the car wash and haven't brought it in yet.

What? This isn't normal???? Just think of what I am prepared to do at a moment's notice:

I could ride a horse (I really have all but the horse in there but the saddle has now been moved to the barn where I ride- for the moment).

I could set up a table and 2 chairs and we could eat cat food (OMG this reminds me of the district meeting we had two years ago between the towns over the school budget and this dramatic old lady got up and cried about how if she had to pay $30 more per year for taxes, she'd have to eat CAT FOOD).

I could clothe you from head to foot with everything but underwear.

I could give your battery a jump.

I could sit in a chair and have an afghan on me while I'm sitting by the sign to support education.

The list goes on.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Would He Do It For You

So, on Feel Good Friday, I read Erika's post on her blog which tells us that while she injured her back over her blog(I am totally empathizing here because I once did my neck in over making a quilt) her husband VOLUNTEERED to type her blogpost while she dictated.

This gave me considerable pause. My first thought was "What does HE want in return"? There's always an ulterior motive, right? My second thought was "Would k-ster do it for me?" That gave me a considerable amount of giggles since I know he thinks my blogging is a ridiculous piece of doo doo that isn't worthy of this world. He's mad that I won't FACE but I'll blog. He says facebook is the same. I say it's significantly different.

So then I had to imagine what it would be like if I were to, I don't know, break all my fingers and be unable to type. In this little self movie, there were no other things I had to do such as umm, just go to the bathroom, with these broken fingers, I just had to worry about my blog post. Like it was my job. And then the realization hit me: I am such a nerd and control freak that this would be THE END of k-ster and me. First of all, I speak too fast under normal circumstances, let along while he is trying to type. He is a good typist but still. Then I'd have to worry about grammar and punctuation and MOST OF ALL---SPELLING. We certainly don't have time to correct spelling while I am dictating my words of genius! Inevitably, I'd have a change of thought and have to ask him to go back a paragraph or two. OMG this would truly be the fight of all fights. Somehow, in this movie, I am also blind so I can't just reread it myself, I have to have him read it back to me. At some point, the laptop is thrown at me and it's just over.

Now, if the situation were reversed, I have to admit, it would go like this. On day one, I would type what he said. I would even worry about grammar and spelling, even though he doesn't worry. On day 2, I might do the same. By day 3 or 4, I would be typing summaries of what he said. By day 5, I would be typing what I was pretty sure he MEANT to say. And by the end of the week, I'd just be in the other room, taking over his blog completely. But this is all because I know how I am.

K-ster is very mild mannered. For all of me that isn't easy going, he more than carries the go-with-the-flow attitude enough for both of us. However, when it comes to me being successful with something computer oriented, he gets a little annoyed. He has taught me many things about computing and then when I like it and do it a lot, he gives me a hard time about using the computer. This another reason I do not FACE because I know I would be on it 24/7. So today, I asked k-ster this: If I broke all of my fingers, would you blog for me? I hardly had the question finished when he burst out laughing. This is rare. BURST out laughing and I think HELL NO or words to that effect were uttered.

So my question for you ladies, is, Would Your Man Blog For You If You Became Incapacitated? I'm dying to know.

Friday, August 13, 2010

Feel Good Friday

Here we are again! It's Friday and here are the top 5 things that amused me this week:

1. I have to go backwards because this first one is just amusing to me. You can't forget the couple with the sad trailer from Camper's Delight earlier this week. Sadly, I had no pictures. UNTIL LAST NIGHT!!! There I was, minding my own business while running in a road race, two towns away, when what did I spy with me little eye?I know, I almost had to come to a complete stop during the race, I was so shocked. One would not forget a sad case such as this, and even though I was several hundred yards away, I knew what I saw. And this made sense. The part I didn't tell you in my earlier post is that the mean employer in this case is a family member of a very notably, politically famous family here in the region. As I ran past a parking lot that has recently been named after another family member in this prominent family, I happened to glance over and see that indeed that's the trailer, so indeed, the employer really is a member of this particular famous family. I hadn't believed it until then. So after I ran, I had to go back and take some pictures.This is a back corner of the trailer and looks distinctly like it was crushed. And the glass is broken, which is odd, because these are crank out windows, not the other kind I mentioned that they had propped open with 2 x 4s.Here's the missing water heater box.
And here are the missing lights, wonder how they got it down the road. All of this gave me a chuckle because it's now like this trailer and its saga is following me!

2. I was in the garden yesterday morning and thought these spectacular flowers needed to be in the spotlight. Sadly,the camera really never does anything the justice it deserves. Pretend you are super awed:I've let the morning glories self seed and they are a little out of control this year, taking over things. But they are pretty.The combination of colors is pretty amazing but isn't really showing up here. It makes me laugh that these zinnias are so great because they were a free packet of seeds that I got from the bank and they all actually grew and are pretty! And they are about 4 feet tall!The rose of sharon is a bush someone gave me from her garden two years ago and I thought it had croaked at first. Now it's more than made up for its lack of action in the spring. Mixed in with it are milkweed that I've let do their own thing, morning glories and a magenta hollyhock. I hoped that the morning glories would hold up the rose of sharon because last year they flopped over. Everything seems to be holding everything up this year. The milkweed are almost taller than me.

3. We went to see comedien Gabriel Iglesias and he was pretty funny. Actually, very funny. The comediens that opened for him weren't so funny. They were OK, but not as great as he is. He can tell a great story.

4. I finally got me letter telling me that I am a team leader for the upcoming school year. Even though I THOUGHT I was going to be, I wasn't getting a response from the principal and wasn't sure if I really needed to reserve next week for the meetings that go with it. The letter finally arrived, so I am all set. And that's a nice bonus in my pocket, as well.

5. I ate the first tomato out of my garden this week. This might be a record, as I don't think my tomatoes are ever ripe when everyone else's are. I have lot of tomatoes and many are starting to ripen. And the corn is coming along nicely. And the beans are putting out a steady amount. The cucumbers are playing games with me. They're dying, they're not, they're dying, they're not. They produce, they don't, they produce, they don't. And the broccoli is making a lovely comeback. I hope to see a lot of broccoli this fall. The chard is also coming along, continually producing like I want it to. Oh and the peppers are finally getting their act together. I think they need more water so I might have to rearrange some of the drip irrigation. But now that the ground cherry plant has been banished, that might be easy to do.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Glug Glug Glug Went the Drainpipe

As I might have explained before, we have an outdoor shower which we use as much as possible. From April until about November, it's the only place to take a shower. That means a) very little cleaning of the tub in the warm months, b) no hair down the drain and c) lots of fabulous outdoor showers. K-ster says I must be part duck because I splash water at every sink and would in the indoor shower if I knew it wouldn't soak the floor. I love to splash around in the outdoor shower and no one cares. One would also think that this meant no problems with the cesspool. Where we live, we don't have sewer systems, we have cesspools that look like this:Kind of looks like a rabbit hole, huh? The theory is that you build two of these out of cement blocks or bricks. All of the drains go into this and then you have a pipe going to the second one for overflow. Over time, the water will drain into the soil (thus we are what we flush here) and the solids will need to be pumped at some point. Since there are just two of us and we take most showers outside and have a second toilet that is on a separate cesspool, I think we should never ever had to pump it.The system thought otherwise and about a month ago told me that something was wrong. I noticed a lot of dirt in the bathtub one day but no water and no one had taken a shower, so I chalked it up to weird. Some time later, when I was using the washing machine, I noticed that when I flushed there was a tremendous gurgling sounds in the washing machine pipes which are not really close to the toilet. I told k-ster who made a snide remark and since it didn't happen again, I wasn't too concerned.
Yesterday we had a repeat of the gurgling except this time the toilet threatened to overflow. I left k-ster a voicemail about not using the toilet and he got it too late and had to mop everything up. Then I just couldn't resist, so I flushed last night and all was well. All was not well this morning, so I called the guy to come pump. They come in a truck like this:And we've used this company for as long as I can remember. It's quite a vacuum he brings, and here are his other tools:
Yep, just a shovel and a hook. The hook lifts the cement cover(you didn't think we just had these gaping holes, did you?) This was extra fun because though 2 covers are right at ground level and easy to find, the main cover is buried so then it becomes like an easter egg hunt. Only dirty. They have a marvelous pipe you stick in the ground until you hit what sounds like cement and then you dig. Now that this will forever live in the blogosphere, I will only have to look here to remember the exact location so it won't be a needle in a haystack, or a cesspool in the lawn, as I call it.

Once he started pumping, he realized that the pipe was glogged so he needed his snake. I don't know about real snakes, but I do hate the metal kind that you have to use when snaking a drain that is clogged. I hate them because a) I think they are just so gross as they are LOADED with bacteria and b) they are completely unmanageable beasts because they are long, thin and metal. He wresteld with this for a long time but managed to stick it into the pipe, without losing his sunglasses which is a feat, and eventually unplugged it. To the tune of some kind of ridiculous money.

It's been 5 years since we've had it pumped and I remember because a friend of mine was visiting and as we were departing for the bus station, the washer backed up all over the laundry room. This guy claims we have to do this every year and when I said 5 years he was alarmed. I claim we only have to do this when there's a problem. Most people claim that pumping them regularly prevents the problems. I am all for preventive maintenance but I am also Thrifty Cheap Frugal and therefore cannot stomach paying to pump something that isn't full every year or two. If they charge whether it's full or halfway full, I say let's wait until it's full. Until everyone has arrived and is lined up to use the bathroom and now the toilet is flowing into the living room.

Monday, August 9, 2010

Camper's Delight

I seem to have blogger's block, but I will do my best.

My family owns a campground and has since I was 2. My mother grew up here and then tried to move 1 town away but came back to run the show and then we grew up here. Keep in mind, I like to call it a campground because that portrays a better picture than a trailer park, which is what my mother calls it. This is what I see when you say TRAILER PARK.

This is what I see when you say CAMPGROUND.

So, please remember, we grew up next to a CAMPGROUND, not a TRAILER PARK. And at no point did we ever live IN the trailer park or campground. Not that there's anything wrong with that...

So, I really wish I'd taken a picture when I could sense there was something blog worthy forming, but I felt that I would intrude on these people's privacy so I left it alone. But here's the story and you will spend the whole time wishing I had snapped a few pictures. My mother told me that a couple had arrived with a trailer and paid in full for the two weeks (our max so that we don't end up like a
but she still wasn't feeling good about it. I found out when I walked down to see it. It had been stripped. All of the lights that should have been on the outside were missing. The metal thing that covers a hot water heater on the outside was missing and they didn't even have one. The license plate was held on with zip ties. They weren't hooked up to the water because they had no pipes inside. The electrical work was missing so they had run an orange extension cord inside. Oh boy. And they smoked like chimneys. And they had 2 dogs who didn't bark much. And they drove a beat up truck that was just as bad as the trailer and they told my mother it didn't reverse.

And then I noticed the "curtains". In most trailers, you have either crank out windows or, in most new models, windows that slide open on a track. These people had some crank out windows. And then they had some pop out windows. This meant that they broke the seal on the bottom of a window that wasn't meant to open and they propped the glass out by putting a piece of 2 by 4 to keep it propped open. And then their "curtains" were pieces of plywood that they had set against the windows so that only about the top 6 inches were clear glass. You can imagine that this wasn't going to last long here in a so my mother spent every day wishing they would go away. And then her wish came true. They took the truck and the dogs and NOTHING ELSE and called her from another state and said they were sorry to run out but they had been working for some very rude/mean people who gave them that trailer and then tried to make them remodel it while living in it. She gave the number of the woman who they worked for and said that maybe they would come take it back.

And then I went down to see what they had left behind. For starters, the trailer, all windows cranked/propped open as wide as could be. A huge load of lumber that was going to be used to remodel the thing. Clothes on a clothesline. Food. Like they were in the middle of a meal and one said let's go and the other said OK and they just took off. The trash they had ripped out of the trailer to remodel it. And my mother stood there doing the I Told You So dance until she turned blue.

Amazingly, when the employers were called to come retrieve this trailer, they did. But they left the crap. Until today. I went over to put it all in the truck to haul it to the dump (so it wouldn't look like we lived in a and it was all gone.

Now if only I had taken some pictures so we could all have such fashionable curtains. And I could sell them on my etsy.
UPDATE:  After I had posted this, about week later, I saw the trailer and posted this:
 You can't forget the couple with the sad trailer from Camper's Delight earlier this week. Sadly, I had no pictures. UNTIL LAST NIGHT!!! There I was, minding my own business while running in a road race, two towns away, when what did I spy with me little eye?I know, I almost had to come to a complete stop during the race, I was so shocked. One would not forget a sad case such as this, and even though I was several hundred yards away, I knew what I saw. And this made sense. The part I didn't tell you in my earlier post is that the mean employer in this case is a family member of a very notable, politically famous family here in the region. As I ran past a parking lot that has recently been named after another family member in this prominent family, I happened to glance over and see that that's the trailer, so indeed, the employer really is a member of this particular famous family. I hadn't believed it until then. So after I ran, I had to go back and take some pictures.This is a back corner of the trailer and looks distinctly like it was crushed. And the glass is broken, which is odd, because these are crank out windows, not the other kind I mentioned that they had propped open with 2 x 4s.Here's the missing water heater box.
And here are the missing lights, wonder how they got it down the road. All of this gave me a chuckle because it's now like this trailer and its saga is following me!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Feel Good Friday

It's time for the 5 things that made me laugh or smile this week. Visit The Girl NExt Door Grows Up for more!

1. I was thrilled by my garden when I found an unexpected cucumber and it tasted great! I am also pleased to see some tomatoes turning red. One had to be picked today because it's splitting open. Hopefully it will continue to turn red and will taste fab. I was also thrilled to see little corn ears popping out( but not popcorn this year!) and a couple of broccoli plants returning from the dead- with a vengeance, it seems. Slugs be damned!

2. It made me smile in a wicked way when I discovered how to pull the wool over the eyes of the firewall at school. I'm taking a technology grad course this week and it's about neat programs you can use for free on the internet to do some great stuff. I give you http://www.jingproject.com/ which is fabulous. It allows me to make movies or images of things on my computer. Why would I do this? Well, I made a sample movie about how to use my school blog. This way, kids can play it until they are blue in the face and will know all of the features of the blog. Then I won't have to talk until I am blue in the face. I also learned that you can "steal" pictures. Did I just say that? Oops. Yes, you can jing a picture that you can't nornally right click on and ta-da, you will have access to put it wherever you want and print with abandon. So, pictures of cousin Rita's wedding that you can see on pictage but can't print? Jing it, baby and it's yours! But my FAVORITE piece of information is that I can jing a youtube video and then actually play it at school if I post a link to the jing file on my blog. Our school system won't allow youtube to open without standing on your head, so this is my big eff-you to them! Hee hee hee. Now of course, I have to go look at youtube and find things I actually want to snag, so I guess I'm the one who's effed. But I'm glad I have this little nugget of information.

3. It made me happy when the weather started out very dry at the beginning of the week so I actually wanted to be outside. We won't talk about the weather since Wednesday.

4. It made me happy that we were able to celebrate my mother's birthday with her brothers and their wives. We had a little cookout and no one yelled at anyone about how their burgers were cooked. We had lots of laughs over very silly things.

She's going to kill me for posting this, but I got it off of her blog, so I guess it's free game!

Here's the 1/2 of the laugh factory generating some more words of wisdom.

We didn't have a #6 candle, so my sister put a 5 and 1 together and then a 2.

5. I laughed so hard in a dream that I woke up laughing. That is truly the strangest experience I've ever had.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Big Letdowns

Yes, a garden disaster is what I classify as a BIG LETDOWN. It's the little things that thrill or kill me. I refuse to fertilize with anything but compost and I have never used anything with the word "cide" in it. I am not certified organic but my methods are very much organic. While my tomatoes plant are becoming trees and the morning glory has threatened to choke out every living thing, the squash plants are sucking the life out of themselves. I appear to have a nasty thing called "squash borer". It's a fat, white, grubby bastard that enters the plant at the ground level, through a crack, and bores its way in to grow big and fat and ruin the plant. I found one the other day and smashed it into goo. I suspect my other yellow squash plants are suffering the same fate. I'm not a huge fan of yellow squash**, but my mother is and I'm disappointed she won't get any.

It's a sad day when you realize that a plant you've grown all summer isn't going to hold up its end of the bargain. I expect that if I plant something and get it to grow, it should grow and produce as long as I take care of it. I have numerous squash plants that it looks like I will have to remove. And then I can't grow them for a few summers to hopefully "trick" the little shits into thinking that we don't have squash here, so they will move along and forget about us. I also hope they don't get into other squash varieties because I like to grow cucumbers (also not holding up their end of things this year) and butternut or pumpkins.

** I just this summer learned that you can take a potato peeler and peel of the outer yellow peel of summer squash and zucchini and then you have less "squeaking" when you eat it. I hate the squeak. I'm more willing to eat it when it's squeak free!

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

I'm So Excited

Yep, about tomatoes. It takes so little to give me such joy. I usually have to wait until about September for my tomatoes to turn. Last year, I saved a ton of seeds from 2 kinds of plants and all that I planted actually grew. One is Brandywine and the other is Mortage Lifter, both heirlooms. Sadly, I might have created some cross pollination because I grew them near each other, so I really don't know what I'm getting for fruit. On each plant there are some tomatoes that are all crunkly and ugly like heirlooms and there are also some nice smooth tomatoes that look like Brandywine. But I'm excited because two tomatoes, on 2 different plants are turning! It's early August and I might get to enjoy a tomato of my own before school starts!

So I'm very excited. Did I mention that? These plants are on my patio, which is significantally hotter than the garden, so nothing red is happening in the garden yet. I especially like the Brandywine because they are kind of pink. You might remember, I have a think about pink: see here or here to find out about my pink hysteria.
Ahh, the little things.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What I Learned in School

I am so damned creative, I don't know what to do with myself! I am taking a technology course this week and it's mostly about digital pictures and what to do with them to do nifty things. We were introduced today to Picasa, a snazzy program that lets you do crazy things with pictures without having to know much abuot editing photos. I went to Paris in 2003 and took a bunch of pictures. I have had them sitting in flickr for a while but I imported them into Picasa and look what I was able to create! It was a version of a collage and I could pull any picture into the center, but otherwise didn't have to do anything with the rest of them.

This could result in yet another way to waste an amazing amount of time fiddling with things. But is it pretty snazzy.
Posted by Picasa

Sunday, August 1, 2010

We ETSY, Do You?

It's all about me today. I'm just talking about me. Shameless but I'm doing it anyway. I started an etsy last week and have some things for sale on it. I am most excited about the 6 Fishy Pillows. You can buy one or more- they are meant to go together. They were originally squares for a quilt but one thing led to another and six pillows came out instead. Great primary colors.

Well, maybe it's not all about me. My sister also has an etsy. Go see her amazing Coffee Handlers. She devised these things to carry your take out coffee cups without spilling them all over the place. Then you can use your keys, phone, etc and not become a certified juggler in the process. They are a bargain at $5 and I bet she could be coerced into making them in your choice of colors. Maybe it says that on the etsy, I can't remember. I'm not a big take out coffee drinker but I know there are millions of you out there and she is more than happy to help you feed your addiction while keeping things spill free!

She also embroiders and had a really cool picture of a bride and groom embroidered with the date of the wedding and a really pretty pieced background. That seems to be missing but if you look at the banner on the top of her page, you will see a house embroidered and it's along those lines. When she reads this, maybe she'll put the picture back up and amaze you all!

We are a family of crafty critters, so you never know what you'll see from us next. My mother is threatening to open an etsy next and it will be all quilted stuff, so WATCH OUT!!