Thursday, July 28, 2005

Random Chicken Photo

This is my favorite rooster. I named him Atticus (I had a sort of southern literary theme going with the names...), but Monkey christened him Jack Jack and it stuck. So, this is Jack Jack. He will be staying with the hens as he is a well-mannered gentleman. He likes to have his chin scratched and loves English peas, Japanese beetles and long walks on the beach. Wait a minute, do chickens have chins???

The rest of the lot are headed to life on a free-range chicken farm to live out their days courting and protecting 150 hens. I guess you could call it a chicken Vahalla.

Two roosters are getting their own swinging bachelor pad. Their individual good looks have caught my artist's eye and I can't part with them. They will probably be allowed conjugal visits in the spring, if they behave.


The heat broke today and the weather was much more bearable. I managed to cut back some things on the hillside so that my pumpkins, watermelon and gourds would have more room. They are taking over like some alien creatures - sprawling over every inch of ground and climbing up and over brambles and weeds. So far I've been successful in keeping them out of the garden proper, but it's a close battle with those vines. I've never had much success with them before. This year I've got pumpkins galore, in all shapes and sizes, and don't get me started on the gourds. My watermelons are finally taking off, but there are no melons yet. Did I mention the spaghetti squash? We're going to be eating it for months once it ripens. It must be the mounds of compost I planted them in, and all the rain.

The rain returned with the cool air. We had quite the thunderstorm last night with several lightning strikes near the house. Before the storm yesterday evening I managed to pick about 4 cups of blueberries. It's not enough to make jam, but I should be able to get a batch of muffins and some pancakes out of it. Tomorrow morning - blueberry pancakes! Monkey will be so pleased.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Tuesday Morning

I'm looking out my window at a wall of fog. High temperatures are forecasted again, but right now it is relatively cool. I fed the chickens and they are out doing what chickens do. Later on, no doubt, they will hide in the shade and wait out the heat like they did yesterday. The hummingbirds have been busy at their feeder and the nasturtiums on the front porch.

We've had lots of wild critters paying us visits recently. Yesterday I came home from the grocery store to find a HUGE black snake on the back porch. It was a least 3 feet long, if not longer. And while Monkey thought the tiny one we caught last week was rather cute, she wasn't too taken with one that was longer than she is tall. There I was with Monkey crying among the dropped grocery bags removing a snake who's only desire seemed to be to stay on the porch. In the end the broom proved to be a useful snake remover and the snake slithered under the porch. I'm generally not timid around snakes, but did do involuntary jumps a few times yesterday when I'd catch a glimpse of something long and dark out of the corner of my eye. It was always a stick.

Last night there was a baby possum stuck on our screened-in porch. We left the door open and it was gone this morning. Note to Self: Do not let Big Daddy leave the compost bowl on the back porch. Maybe I could start my own nature show - Things That Visit My Back Porch. It would include a vulture, a bear, the snake, the possum, stray dogs, cute little songbirds, and the UPS man. The UPS man is there a lot due to my penchant for ordering out of catalogs and two long distance grandmothers who like to send stuff to the Monkey.

The Monkey is running a fever. It started yesterday. Other than the fever, she seems to have nothing wrong with her. She says her head hurts a little, but she's still quite active. She's lying on the couch eating a freezer pop at 8 a.m. Does that make me a bad mother? Certainly not. I figure she's hot, it's cold and maybe it will get a little fluid in her. While she's relaxing, I think I'll go out and possum proof the porch.

Sunday, July 24, 2005

Oh the horror...

let the wild rumpus begin

I promised a report of Monkey's first ever soccer game. I was going to sit down yesterday and tell all the details, but certain events transpired that made it quite difficult to do so. Let me share the tale of destruction before I tell you of Monkey's athletic exploits.

We came home from Monkey's game and had a nice little lunch of leftover gumbo. (Please pay attention to the food details, they will be important.) I then went outside to work in the yard for awhile. Monkey had a popsicle. Big Daddy and I started harvesting vegetables and pulling weeds. It was getting fairly warm outside by then and little Monkey wanted to go back inside. Now dedicated readers will realize at this point that it might be a little dangerous to leave the Monkey up to her own devices. Not to worry; I check up on her frequently in these instances. The last time I came up to the house to observe her activities she was playing with some legos and watching a cooking show.

So, Big Daddy and I finish up in the garden and start back up to the house. He discovers his daughter on the back porch with a mostly consumed stick of unsalted butter in her hand. The child had eaten almost an entire stick of butter. Who does that??? I also found several other popsicle wrappers laying around. The child had been busy - like those allied prisoners on Hogan's Heroes she had done her damage in tiny little increments avoiding my Colonel Klink-like surveillance.

Like I said, it was getting quite warm, so naturally I sent Monkey outside to play for awhile. Who wouldn't? About a half an hour later she was back inside and that's when it happened. I heard the noise coming from my office, but I refused to believe it. Big Daddy and I went to investigate. The Monkey had vomited over my desk and keyboard. It was not pretty. But I guess we knew something had to happen with all that butter and sugar and gumbo. Why there? She's not devulging that information. Let's just say that the keyboard was not going to work again in a normal fashion and it smelled really bad. Really bad.

I had to go buy a new keyboard this morning. It's wireless and has lots of fancy little buttons to make my life easier. If I must replace, I will upgrade. I just wish my desk still didn't have a faint odor to it.

Soccer Score:
I couldn't tell you really. Kids were running, falling and stepping on one another. Goals were scored, often in the wrong goal. Several tantrums were thrown. There were many high fives and a few crying jags. Monkey likes her new coach, Coach Kenny. His son is on her team and he brought snacks and juice boxes. Monkey's new best friend was on the other team and has a Disney princess soccer ball (that's enough cause for a three year old girl to make a new best friend). They stood in the middle of the chaos and held hands. They sat in the middle of the field and had a chat. They are three year old girls and don't have time for the petty displays of three year old boy bravado. Monkey had a few good blocks mainly because the ball rolled into her. I'm proud of her. Even if she was picking clover and holding hands, she stayed on the field. Ah, they grow up so fast...

Also, Monkey didn't want any butter on her pancakes this morning.

Friday, July 22, 2005

TGIF, or Goodbye Week from Hell and Don't You Ever Return.

The Southern Appalachian Weather Mantra (repeat daily until September): Today's temperatures will be high and there will be thunderstorms.

I have spent most of this week on a topsy-turvy, stomach twisting rollercoaster ride of emotions. Where to begin? Last week I found a lump in my breast. Not a pleasant discovery. I spent most of last week and the weekend worried and weepy and over-thinking. On Monday I discovered that it wasn't cancerous or out of the ordinary. Relief. Well, sort of. As I talked to my doctor about other issues she informed me that I was way past any post partum depression phase and should probably speak to a counselor about several anxiety-ridden issues I've been experiencing lately. So, she scheduled my appointment. I felt elated that I did not have cancer and that maybe something could be done to help the way I've been feeling. Hurray. Then my cat died.

I got Sophie when she was 6 weeks old while I was teaching a summer painting course at Wesleyan College in Macon, Georgia. She came back to live with me in Athens and spent the next 15 years of her life as my constant companion. Well, she did live with my parents for two and half years while I was in the Peace Corps, but apparently she spent a good deal of that time in my old bedroom waiting for me to return. She lived in several crappy, artist-type apartments during school seasons, tents in the summer, hung out in horse barns, lounged on balconies, ruled over us all in our old house in the city, and survived a rottweiler attack that left her with a broken hip and slight limp. That little tabby lived her nine lives to the fullest. She spent her final year here on a mountain with a great view and a sunny porch. Good bye Sophie, I'll miss you. Who else would dare wake me up at 5 a.m. to fill her food bowl? Not even the Monkey is that brave. Sweet dreams little kitty.

O.K., up, down, up, down. I had a meeting with a counselor in my doctor's practice. An hour and half and a box of kleenex later I left her office with a list of therapists and a subscription for Zoloft. I've always tried to work through my problems and get on with life - buckle down and plow through. Well, lately it's been a little thick to plow through and I've got the Monkey and Big Daddy to think about. And this depression and anxiety is really interfering with my painting. It's gone on long enough I believe. So, we'll try better living through chemistry for a while and see how that goes. I'll keep you posted.

Monkey had her first soccer practice last night. There really isn't much to tell because when you put three and four year olds out on a mini soccer field wearing baggy shorts and shin guards all that happens is chaos - complete mind-numbing chaos. Anything you can come up with in your wild imaginations probably happened. If Little Monkey will actually start playing with others, I may have a future goalie on my hands. She does like to stand in front of the goal and grab the ball and yell at the boys to go away. The other little girl on the team stood in the middle of chaos, very still, afraid to make eye contact in case it caused even more aggression in the mob. Monkey wanted to be on the Purple Team. It is her favorite color and I must admit that she looks very good in purple. The girl knows. She is, unfortunately, on the Red Team. I guess I'll have to convince her that she looks fabulous in red. She does, so I won't have to lie. The first game is tomorrow morning. I'll post the results, even though we don't keep score. How could we? The mob is always running off the field to chase the ball in a straight line to nowhere. Go Red Team, Go!

Thursday, July 21, 2005

You Asked For It


Never say that I am not accommodating. Although I waffled a little about posting a picture of myself, the Monkey took such a good one yesterday that I decided to post it.

Now I'm going to go drain and scrub out my fish pond. All the fish are gone. I think the bull frogs got them. Poor things. I might as well clean it out and make it all sparkling and shiny for the next batch of frog food, er... I mean fishies!

Saturday, July 16, 2005

I forgot to mention

I forgot to mention that I had all my hair cut off. All of it. Gone. I just couldn't take constant styling and blow drying and straightening anymore. So Thursday I said, "Take it away. Take it all away!" I don't think any strand is longer than my index finger. It can be continously messy. I don't need a hairbrush. My hair is gone and it is good.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Mmm Mmm Good

I just made some muffins courtesy of Jamie's recipe and I must say that they are so delicious. I've had to hide them from Monkey as she has already had two and claims that she needs them all for a tea party with Cinderella and Princess Jasmine this very instant. Thank you Jamie! Now I know what to do with all my squash.

It's raining again. I managed to tie up my tomatoes again before it started. Now if it would only stop raining, so that they don't succumb to some blight or fungus. The pumpkins are taking over their side of the garden and the surrounding hillside. They are followed closely by the gourds. I hope they don't overwhelm the watermelon. I never realized that their flowers are so huge. If it ever stops raining, maybe I'll go take a few photos to post.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Updates and Bad Weather

Somebody up there in weather control is not listening to my requests. It is currently a comfortable 67 degrees with humidity pushing 93% - which definitely takes away the comfort factor.

Bad Neighbor Update: Animal Control will be visiting my neighbor's house today and along with Buncombe County's finest will be serving her a very long list of fines and orders. Her dog has been deemed a "dangerous animal" This means she must have a covered chain link pen to a certain height with a concrete floor for the dog (I believe this was suggested last fall and she didn't comply). The dog may never be off leash. Signs must be posted around the property stating there is a dangerous animal (I'm not sure if it's just "Beware of Dog", or something more descriptive...). If the dog is caught at large again, it will be euthanized. Her fines from the county are close to $1500 dollars - dog attack, animal at large, un-nuetered animals without permits, inadequate housing... Apparently Buncombe County gives the accused the option of waiving some or all of the fines, IF they pay the victim's vet bills. So, she could avoid the fines if she gave me $400. That would be extremely neighborly of her... eh, hum. If for any reason she fails to comply with the orders or pay fines/reimburse me, SHE GOES TO JAIL and the dog goes bye bye. I'm not so clear as to what happens to the dog until she complies. It may be kept at the Humane Society, where she will be charged boarding until she completes a new kennel. It sucks to get caught not taking care of your pet, doesn't it?

On the happy dog news front: Biscuit the Wonder Dog was given a clean bill of health last week. With all the other excitement I forgot to mention it. We get to start agility training this week with a new instructor. We also get to attend a seminar in August. I'm very excited and I imagine she will be very naughty.

Sunday, July 10, 2005

Harvesting Again

Today I pulled 25 pounds of Yukon Gold potatoes out of the ground. That's about a third of the plants. We're going to be eating potatoes every way we can prepare them. I'm going to try to store them under the house. We're making a mini root cellar in the crawl space this year. We roasted a few tonight for dinner and they were YUMMY. Big Daddy finished pulling all the beets and carrots. The house smells like pickled beets tonight. We also pulled the remaining onions. I've got to make room for more rows of beans. There's a tub with at least 15 pounds of carrots on the back porch. What to do? What to do? I'm thinking about lots of carrot cake that I can freeze then take to the Cathedral's big food booth at the Biltmore Village Art Fair next month. Hmmm...

I squeezed in a bike ride after our daily thunderstorm this afternoon. It was really more akin to swimming than biking. The air is thick with water here. I feel sorry for all those people in Hurricane Dennis' path, but I'm glad it's heading west instead of east. We don't need anymore rain. All I ask for is one or two days of no rain. Constant sunshine would be nice, but I'll take clouds. Just no more rain, thank you.

Friday, July 08, 2005

Thursday, July 07, 2005

I Am So Bleeping Mad I Could Spit


Yesterday Big Daddy was coming home from his bike ride. Chelsea, the old big black dog was waiting patiently at the top of our drive for him. As B.D. is coming up the hill, out of the woods comes our neighbor's pit bull. She pounces on unsuspecting Chelsea and rips in to her. No warning at all. Now, those of you that have been reading this blog may recall that we've had numerous not-so-pleasant encounters with said dog and her irresponsible, inbred owners. Big Daddy tries to break up the ensuing dog fight. From down the hill at the neighbors' house, he hears someone calling the dog. The dog runs off. Big Daddy helps Chelsea into the house and is generally too flustered to think straight. (I love Big Daddy, but he is not very effective in emergencies involving blood and the need for a quick reaction.) I pointed him in the direction of the phone and cleaned up Chelsea.

Following Buncombe County Animal Control's past advice on dealing with the poorly raised dogs down the hill, we called 911. The deputies arrived and called Animal Control (go figure). Several hours later Animal Control and the deputies left the neighbors' house, apparently without the dog. The owner said her good dog had been inside all evening. Eh hum....

Chelsea had surgery this morning. Her hip was mauled pretty badly and required stitches and a drain. She's been given antibiotics and painkillers. I can go pick her up in a couple of hours. She's going to be sporting one of those gorgeous cone heads. She gets lots of antibiotics and painkillers to take. I wonder if I can take her painkillers?

We've had to fill out incident reports and spend our morning talking to Animal Control and the veterinarian (a good man indeed). I get to worry about the safety of my animals and child, spend my morning at the vet and on the phone and writing out reports for Animal Control. I get to look at my checkbook and try to figure out how I am going to pay my vet bill. My "neighbor" gets to spend her morning sitting on her fat ass, listening to Lynard Skynard (way too loud), hang out with her "good dog", all while admiring the white Firebird Trans Am up on cinder blocks in her front yard. I wish I was making all that up. I take care of my animals. They stay on my property. They get vaccinated. They get annual checkups. They get to lay around all day and eat bon bons while they watch Animal Planet on their own plasma t.v. (o.k., I made that last bit up...) Why does this happen to me??? Why do I have to be so inconvenienced? Why? Why? Why?

Sorry, I had to whine for a least one paragraph. Once the incident reports were faxed to Animal Control (which was done about 2 hours ago), they have promised to go get a court order to remove the dog. I love dogs, so I feel a slight pang of pity for the animal. Not for the owners. No pity for them! I hope they are fined heavily. Fined so heavily that they have to sell the Firebird Trans Am in order to stay out of debtors prison. O.K., once again I'm getting carried away. I don't think they have a debtors prison in North Carolina - but there should be. Just for them. I can wish for them to pay my vet bills all day, but I just don't see that happening.

I think I'm going to go outside and check out the bird house full of fluffy, furry, giant-eyed flying squirrels. That should cheer me up for at least 10 minutes.

Wednesday, July 06, 2005


flying squirrel - we'll call him Rocky

I noticed this little head peaking out from one of our bird houses today. There are several of the little guys in there. It's very rare to see a flying squirrel during the day. Look at those big buggy nocturnal creature eyes. Everybody say, "Awwww..." I guess I know now why the bluebirds don't want to nest in the lovely houses put up for their pleasure. We've got squatters!

Yesterday's Before and After

Total time elapsed: 15 minutes. Total rainfall: 1+ inch. All I can say is wow.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

4th of July Review

We had what appears to have been a successful 4th of July party last night. There were 15 adults and 9 children. Earlier last week I was planning for a much smaller affair, but it seemed there were a lot more people out there without plans than I had expected. No problem - the more the merrier. It was our first official party since moving here and seemed to be reminiscent of many of our old parties in Kansas City, only with more children. Our new house lends itself well to parties. There are two big porches for various conversation points and an acre for kids to run wild in, which kept them in view, but out from under foot. Nice.

It was classic American barbecue party fare. Big Daddy spent 12 hours on Saturday smoking a brisket (on the grill, of course - it's not slang for something he did a lot of back in college...). He also did up some chicken thighs and wings to perfection. There were baked beans, cole slaw, homemade pickles and grilled vegetable antipasto. Friends brought pasta salads, more grilled veggies, homemade bread, fruit salads and desserts - a fresh berry trifle and blueberry pie. We had made a couple of quarts of ice cream on Sunday afternoon to go with the desserts. Yum.

As the sun went down the kids chased fireflies and caught them in a big jar. We let them go later to fly off into the night. Big Daddy and his fellow ex-boy scouts lit a fire in the new fire pit and we all took bets on how long it would be before one of the boys threw something in to burn (not long...). As the sky grew darker, we hauled out the pirates' booty of fireworks. In North Carolina, by law, one can only have little stay on the ground fountains. We bought our illicit bounty in Tennessee and transported it across state lines (don't tell). Out here in the boonies sky rockets were lighting up the sky in all directions. We're outlaws, I tell you. It was a great ending to the night. Kids grew sleepy, parents kicked back, and the non-parents relaxed before their drives home.

Saturday, July 02, 2005

It's foggy out there.

Friday, July 01, 2005

Gad Zukes!

gad zukes!

Little Monkey is very lucky. I found my camera ferreted away in a location she could never reach. It was probably put there by an adult (could have been me...) so she couldn't get her grubby little hands on it. Lucky child.

So here's a photo of a baby zucchini. Come to Momma, you tasty little thing. All the curcurbits are going crazy in the 100% humidity and heat. I'm going crazy in the 100% humidity and heat. I even have pumpkins blooming. I've never been successful with pumpkins or watermelon. Last year Big Daddy was in charge of the garden, and the watermelon and pumpkins succumbed to pestilence and disease early on. He's much too busy to spend a lot of time in the garden this year. Since I've taken over and am feeding them like crazy and picking off bugs daily, they may just make it. In B.D.'s defense, we did have several watermelon last year, but the neighbor's dog kept picking them.

Losing My Marbles

I lose things. Constantly. My house is too cluttered. My mind is too wandering to remember where I place things. I live with Monkey, Queen of Thieves, who is in a hoarding phase. She takes things - shiny things, expensive things, things that contain permanent ink - and puts them in strange locations. Right now I cannot find my digital camera. I cannot live without my camera. And all I get from Monkey is a cryptic message, "You left it out in the rain, Mommy..."

I'm on a camera search. Wish me luck. If indeed the Monkey has somehow absconded with my camera and hoarded it outside somewhere, I will need to borrow a camera to take pictures of her. I will then be posting her picture on eBay and selling her to the highest bidder.