Archive for the ‘Living on the Back 40’ Category

It’s that time of year again. The time the tallish minion shows up waving around the much-anticipated Little League form. Time to bust out the Barbie bat and pink glove, locate a handful of the 137 practice balls that are floating around here somewhere, and get our big girl panties on…because “there’s NO CRYING in baseball.”
That’s my mantra through March and April every year…and by May, I give up because I’m usually crying by then, too. The minion thinks that baseball is the greatest sport ever for the first few practices and about the 3rd game. Then, someone gets stung by a bee, sunburns, or gets sore and tired of running, and suddenly it’s all my fault for signing her up for baseball yet again.
THIS YEAR though, it’s going to be a whole new ballgame. Pun intended.
The smallish minion has been telling me for two years that “Momma, I big enough to play batheball.”
This year, he is finally big enough for real. And a hand-me-down Barbie bat just ain’t gonna cut it. So, I am in search of a Batman bat, which I am pretty sure they don’t make, and a smaller than extra-small glove, because the smallish minion is tiny.
He also wants real baseball pants, which I am pretty sure don’t come in toddler sizes; and cleats, which I am pretty sure would land someone in the emergency room somehow. He has allowed that in the absence of cleats, his new (smooth-bottomed) cowboy boots shall work nicely.
I’m not sure who his coach will be this year, but I hope it’s someone with the patience of a saint. I coached the last two years…and I am now braving the world of single-parenting with an extra job and an EMT class. So when I was asked to coach again, I laughed and laughed. Then I ran.
So, whoever tackles the role that resembles herding Patriot-clad cats has my respect, and my sympathy. I guess I should warn them that my son is a leftie…
BW Set 5

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I have been accused of multiple personalities. My husband claims there are seven, and has them named (Roxy, Tuesday, TJ, Willow, Sparky, Oscar, and iAm…someday I’ll write their bios). I’m not sure which personality is the PackRat, but she’s there…and the nemesis of Oscar, the one with OCD.

It makes for an interesting combination.

Oscar vs. The PackRat

See, the laundry HAS to be clean. Absoposilutely, no getting around it, GOTTA be washed…then it can sit in the laundry basket until we wear it again.

Dishes? Must be washed. Then they get used right outta the dishwasher until it’s empty enough to set out the two clean bowls and a spoon (on top of it) and it gets loaded again.

The floors are non-negotiable. They must be swept and mopped every two days…and I still wear shoes and/or socks even to get up at night to pee. The bed is in the same obsessive category. I cannot function with a messy bed, it gets made with military precision every day.

My desk, on the other hand, is a full-scale, war-zone disaster area…and Heaven help the person who moves so much as a pen.

General clutter can stay out in full view, but must be stacked neatly and without flaw. Shopping bags are perfect for storing junk, but cannot – CANNOT – sit on the floor. They are hung. Anywhere, everywhere, but they are hung.

Things We Will Never Use but Must Keep

Those things go in the garage, the spare bedroom (dubbed the eBay room), or in closets. They are usually marked for sales and get occasionally listed on eBay or some random trading site, or traded off for other things that we’ll never use.

Except for that compulsive Oscar-Fit twice a year…

Those are the days the PackRat dies.

The Day the PackRat Dies

I tell myself (or rather, Oscar) that the clutter in the corners in its neat stacks and hiding in its shopping bags can stay. That the “sale stuff” isn’t hurting anything hidden away in the various Outta Sight-Outta Mind areas…

But I’m lying.

I cope, I deal, and I ignore…about 362 days out of the year.

That handful of days happen at complete random, when Oscar becomes homicidal and slays the PackRat in the middle of the night, and I wake with a sole purpose in life, to rid the house of any extraneous item.

Junk gets purged out of all the corners, closets, and hiding spots, clutter gets dumped on the rug in the living room, and the Guru usually gets asked to leave with his own PackRat.

Everything of value over about $25 gets photographed, labeled, and listed somewhere to be sold.

Everything else disappears into black trash-bags never to be seen again. Some are bound for charity, others are bound for the dumpster. My kids look on in horror as stuffies, Happy-Meal trinkets, and clothes they never wear (but suddenly love) go poof.

If I manage to get the Guru out of the house, his things get raided for stuff he never uses and will never miss…but that is happening with less frequency, I think he’s on to me. Lately he stays to “help,” meaning he hangs around on the fringes “rescuing” things from the bags and hiding them when my back is turned.

No, I don’t throw out the Good Stuff!

Meemaw’s jewelry and silverware are forever safe. So are the kids’ baby keepsakes and all their t-shirts with interesting or memorable logos (for a quilt someday, if I ever figure out the sewing machine again…btw, anyone know what to do if it’s breaking strings and/or making loopy/BIG/ugly stitches on the bottom side?)…

The Guru’s collection of thousands of PC CD’s are safe (hey, he IS the Guru…apparently the loss of a single disc means my computer might not get fixed next time I kill it).

The photos and letters are exempt, as well as the wood carvings Pop made.

The rocks can stay.

Rings and necklaces that were gifts will forever remain in the jewelry box.

Guns are safe…but only because I might find myself divorced for selling those.

When it’s all said and done…

…the truckload (I don’t stop until the Chevy is STRUGGLING) of stuff gets cleared out of Oscar’s universe, the house looks great, I am sore and tired but elated, and you know what?

No one misses a damn thing.

Hello, Blog!! Been a while!

Yeah, yeah…I know. I am a neglectful blogger, but life has been hectic and crazy. Want some updates?

Well, when I logged back in I found that I still have quite a few visitors (thanks y’all!!!), and some new peeps who’ve found me in search engines. I just had to click over and see some of the search terms that they’ve used to find me…

And found a GREAT addition to my Odd-and-Crazy Search Terms archives:

“Shake me like a monkey”

Yep. Someone typed THIS into their search engine and it brought them to me. I’m pretty sure this one scares me more than my Bandaid-Butt fans. At least I know which post brought those guys to me.

But when did I ever write a post about shaking monkeys??? Literally or figuratively!?

Freak.

So what else has been going on?

I coached a tee-ball team. By accident (although I had a blast with a great little group of guys and girls)…

See, I checked “yes” on my daughter’s sign-up form, stating that I would be willing to help out and volunteer. I figured I’d be asked to bring some snacks to a game or two, and maybe sign up as team mom for a few games or practices.

Ooooh no…they called me the next day to let me know I’d been “given” a team. At least the rules for tee-ball are pretty lax. My softball playing years didn’t exactly prepare me for explaining the fundamentals to a group of 4-5 year olds.

And I never got to sing and dance in the outfield when I played.

Another high-light of the last few weeks…my husband launching us into a whole new realm of Redneckery.

There was a Rattlesnake Rodeo his peace officers’ association decided to hold. They needed snakes of course. In lieu of buying snakes, they handed a catcher out to the officers in the area and told them happy hunting. (we do live in West Texas, but still…)

So the Guru comes home one day with a lidded (thank God) 5 gallon bucket, a 4 foot long catcher stick, and a shit-eating grin.

“Honey, look what I caught! There are four of ‘em in here!!”

 This began the scramble to find something of an appropriate size and secure enough to hold multiple live rattlesnakes until they could be taken to the event.

After some digging, he comes up with a white plastic barrel (with no lid), a metal-grate lawn table, my concrete stepping stones, and a handful of bungee cords.

I was concerned.

It grew as he dumped the snakes into the barrel, placed the tabletop on the top of the barrel, and weighted it down with the stepping stones.

Then he bungeed the whole thing to a tree in the front yard… ”So the dogs won’t tip it over.”

Great. I took that moment to come to the computer and put out an APB (via Facebook, of course) to anyone who had a cage of some sort that might be a little more secure than the Guru’s Bucket-O-Snakes.

My cousin’s girlfriend (Dude, MARRY this one!!) saved my sanity by donating a rabbit cage to the cause. I reinforced it with metal fabric and forced the Guru to take it (and the snakes) to our kennels…which thankfully are about a quarter mile from the house.

In the meantime, he did attempt to make it safer for trespassers by using a magic marker and marking it with “DANGER: LIVE RATTLEBUGS!”

Although, if someone HAD come up to burglarize the house, we’re probably the only ones around who had guard-snakes in the yard…

Has anyone else reached any interesting levels of Redneckery? I’d love to hear about it in the comments!

Does anyone else believe in ghosts? I don’t want to start a huge debate, but I actually do, and I have one here.

A ghost cat, actually.

Or maybe I have proof that cats do have 9 lives.

We had two cats born a while back, one solid black with unusually green (grass green, not typical eye-color green) and one white with very light gray markings and blue eyes.

I named them The Ghost and The Darkness. Good movie, better book, and it fit in with my unique pet-naming habits.

They grew up into beautiful cats, both very sweet. Unfortunately, life in rural West Texas can be tough for domestic felines…the bigger ones (bobcats, mountain lions) seem to do just fine.

The Darkness had a difference of opinion with a badger one night, and didn’t win the argument. He was hurt badly.

I don’t want to freak anyone out, so I’ll be vague. The poor things injuries were not something that he could possibly survive, and were concentrated on his chest and right front leg.

I cried over him for a while, and then let the Guru take him away to end his suffering. I couldn’t let him hurt anymore.

Come on PETA, give me your best.

So three months have passed by, and I walked outside onto the back porch  few days ago to our cats hanging out as usual. The normal view includes the two loopy cowdogs, two white cats, a gray tabby, and one black cat with white hairs on his chest.

In case you’re curious, they are (in the same order): Schatzie, Scamper, Sassy, the Ghost, Flint, and Lite (yes, the black one).

This day everyone was in attendance…along with an extra black cat.

An extra black cat with no markings of any other color, grass-green eyes, and a noticeable limp on his right front leg…

Just for the skeptics:

  • No, he couldn’t have survived the injuries. I know injuries, and I have owned animals my entire life. It was not possible.
  • That aside, he could not have survived the “ending of the suffering.” Again, for those with delicate sensibilities, please just trust me. My husband checked, because he couldn’t stand the idea of him possibly surviving and hurting anymore.
  • If he was injured out there somewhere, he could not have survived three months on his own. A healthy cat has little chance out there with badgers, coyotes, wild hogs, and bigger cats.

He has a single scar on the inside of his leg.

So yeah…I have no good reasonable explanation.

Except that The Darkness is back.

 

I read this…

I laughed so hard I cried…

I drug my own hubby to the desk to read what I told him was a blog from the woman who married his long-lost, separated-at-birth twin brother…

I ducked out of the way as he read, laughing in spite of himself…

Screwed Over By The Devil.

We’re all doing great…

The matching goose-eggs and bruises on my children’s foreheads (Passing Along the KLUTZ Gene) are much better. They no longer look like they’re each sprouting a demon horn out the front of their head. In fact, for once, they don’t look battered except for a couple of skinned knees and the usual shin-bone bruises!!

I am no longer wearing a character band-aid on my ass (The SpongeBob Band-Aid on my Left Buttcheek).

So all is right on the Back 40 of Hell’s Half Acre…for the moment.

I should probably admit though, that it is 4:30am and the minions are both sleeping. I have gotten a lot done tonight, and I am ready to throw a garage sale tomorrow morning.

Yes…out here in the boonies. Willfullness and a stubborn nature will prevail! Along with a whole bunch of cardboard signs and brightly colored flyers. I wonder if I should let Cheyenne sell lemonade???  Or beer? Hehee!

Therefore, if you would like something completely random and cheap, come on over tomorrow. I have everything you need!

Minions and cats are for sale at the right price, and to a good home.

Loopy cowdogs and Greyote Hounds are FREE!!!

Anyway…yeah, that was it. G’Night!

 

Yeah…I am fairly sure I flashed the guy flying the spray plane over my house today. There was no crash, and he didn’t do a repeated fly-by routine, so maybe (maybe) he wasn’t looking down.

Or maybe he just wasn’t shocked to see some chick having technical difficulties with her tank top in her front yard at the house on the Back 40.

Maybe he heard the rumors that she’s crazy, and didn’t think it was abnormal...

See, living in the middle of nowhere in the new-age dust bowl has it’s advantages. I have the best tan I have had in years, thanks to the comfy teal lounge chair in the front yard and the (usually) complete and utter privacy. There are occasionally spray planes or air force contraptions that fly overhead, but these are usually too high to see much of what I am up to…and waaaayyyy too far away to know what I am drinking on some of these brutally hot days when I know I am not going anywhere anytime soon 😉

No, for those of you that took a swan dive right off into mental gutter-land, I do not lay out tanning in my birthday best! I usually go for a pair of short shorts and a thin strapped tank top. You dirty-minded people…if ANYONE comes cruising by out here claiming to have been on a scenic drive or lost you have had it. I will shoot!

Anyway…today it occurred to me that all my tank tops have different straps, and that some are placed differently than others. This results in the possibility of a white, untanned stripe of skin running alongside the strap of some of the shirts. Not cool. 

Rather than running around topless in the front yard (I do occasionally have people that show up out here unannounced, and wasn’t crazy about the idea of sunburned boobs), I decided I could just shimmy out of the straps, leaving the top more or less in place. Easy breezy, right?

Well…I didn’t take into account just how breezy it would be as a gust of wind hit just about the time I shimmied that second strap down my arm and let it go. Of course the wind couldn’t actually steal the shirt, but it did manage to add to my shimmy enough to take that whole loose-fitting shirt down into belt/sash mode.

This all occurred about the time a low-flying spray plane decided to take the shortcut from wherever he had been to wherever he was going that took him right over me.

Thanks to the fact that I had stood up from my lounge chair to get the tank situated, and the fact that I had to perform some very deliberate movements to get my arms out of the straps, I am pretty sure that from a bird’s-eye view I looked like a crazily desperate woman struggling to get her top down for the sole purpose of flashing the pilot of the little plane.

Of course I immediately grabbed the shirt and pulled it up.

Of course a plane moves fast enough that by then he was past…probably laughing at the crazy topless woman living out in the sticks.

Oh well…hope he enjoyed the show.

Apparently I did piss off the Scorpion King…

The other morning I woke up to my daughter’s unmistakable “oh dear…MOOOOOOMMMMMMM!!!!!!!!”

That is the alarm bell that is real…not the one that you hear when her brother steals a crayon, turns off the TV, or drinks the last of her orange soda. This cry of alarm is the one you hear when there is a wasp attacking her head, she is actually bleeding, or the dog has knocked her down…OR when there is a scorpion lying in wait just inside the door to the microwave in her play-kitchen.

The last one is what happened this time, the evil little bastard was just sitting in there alone on the beige plastic. Evidently the tiny microwave-shaped compartment just looked and felt like a homey new place for a scorpion nest. Probably a better bet than the hand-sprayer on my water-hose, but if you read the post about that one I’m sure you jumped to the same conclusion I have.

I did piss off the Scorpion King and I am being visited in ten-fold scorpion karma.

If it were the one incident I could shrug it off and say maybe coincidence (although I don’t truly believe in coincidence), but that hasn’t been the only tiny minion of hell that’s been hanging around.

A few days ago I interrupted one on his disturbingly militant march across the carpet in my bedroom, where the carpet was installed with them in mind…the tan on taupe mottled colors match the pattern and coloring of the back of the scorpions perfectly. Seriously, I could not use paint sample cards from a hardware store and come up with a better match! This one was marching purposefully towards the bed and I saw the slight movement of what looked like a carpet design.

This one got sprayed with Sevin…a few drops, because I realized I was out of that and he got shot with BugStop. The combination of the two made him drunk, he began to weave and bob as though attempting to avoid those carpet spots that looked so like him. Hell maybe he was drunk and thought he was weaving through a crowd of his evil little friends. I’m sure that the fact that we laughed at his drunken journey means that the scorpion karma is going to be even worse. He got put out of his poisoned misery with a watery burial in the toilet.

The one this morning is the one that has me convinced of my pre-determined haunting, though. If nothing else, it served as a great lesson to me and my daughter both, in the shaking and checking of any article of clothing before putting it onto your body…she was an up-close and personal witness to this attack.

I grabbed a pair of jeans from the bathroom floor where I had tossed them before I bathed, and proceeded to pull them on while I chattered with Cheyenne about something mundane (I think we were trying to recall all the lyrics to a Taylor Swift song). She reached and pointed about the time I noticed the little wad of hair or string on the jeans I was pulling on. She giggled and said she saw it and was going to get it for me…about the time it began shimmying up the leg of the jeans. I squealed like a girl and began shimmying the pants down my legs, and the race was on!

I won the race, thank goodness, there were no places easily accessible from his position that I would have cared to be stung at that moment. The scorpion and the jeans were quickly abandoned in a heap on the floor while I tiptoed into the hall for the pliers. For some reason critters scaring the daylights out of me causes an instant ninja-mode and I can’t move without tiptoeing.

Cheyenne had hit a ninja-mode of her own and made it onto the bathroom counter in a single bound. I was proud, she did it without knocking over a single thing and without the bruises on the butt that I had after my last leap of faith (from the snake…previous post). She didn’t even lose her flip-flops!!

Anyway, this scorpion followed his buddies down the toilet after I found him and grabbed his tail with the pliers. I briefly considered the Bugstop, but it was a clean (other than the scorpion apparently) pair of jeans and I hate laundry sooo much!

Y’know…I really hope scorpions can’t swim…

No one answer that, I think I want to remain blissfully and willfully ignorant on that one as I continue to flush the evil bastards.

I haven’t always lived on a ranch, or even in the country…but I am learning. Slowly, painfully, sometimes disastrously, but I am learning.

Yesterday I killed my very first rattlesnake, all by myself!

There was some squealing and jumping around involved, but the end result was the demise of a rattlebug that posed a threat to the critters I’ve collected over the last year. Cats and kittens, two loopy cowdogs (aren’t Heelers supposed to be smart?), a raccoon that steals the shiny things from the garage, and the “funky armadillo” are the critters that have names. Deer and birds are everywhere, but they’re not quite pets…yet anyway. Give me time, I have birdseed and deer corn, I will make friends.

Anyway, back to my rattlebug…

I was driving down my half-mile long driveway (you can’t see my house from anything paved), and saw my first snake of the year. I stopped the Chevy in the middle of the road and sat there frozen, staring into yellow eyes that seemed to stare right back at me. Somewhere in the back of my mind I heard the “old cowboy movie whistle” that always plays when the gunslinger faces his foe.

Thanks to my Country Guru, I had the necessary tools in my truck for just such an encounter. The bed of the truck holds a shovel, a bag of critter food, some wire, a bucket of sand, and a baby walker. Inside the truck are two knives, a roll of toilet paper, and my “cowboy gun.” I call it that because “.22 with snake-shot” just doesn’t have the same ring, and because the gun has a hammer that pulls back and a barrel that spins…just like in the movies. I’ve learned the hard way that there is a trick to spinning that barrel without spinning the gun out of your hands and across a hardwood floor…causing several grown men to shriek like little girls and take cover behind the couch. I’ve also learned that a quick-draw isn’t as easy as it is in the movies, especially if you have boobs in the way.

So there I was with the snake staring a challenge at me, and I’m trying to remember where I put the cowboy gun. It finally takes slowly opening my door and creeping around the back of the truck to the passenger side, where the gun is hiding under the backseat. Handy, right?

Gun in hand; I sneak around the front of the truck like I’m tiptoeing up on a sleeping giant. Right there in front of the bumper, where I’d left the evil creature, was…nothing but dirt. The sudden image in my mind had my snake just under the edge of the truck, sighting in on my bare calf, and that was enough to elicit a squeal and the freaky snake dance that took me high-stepping backwards at a high enough rate of speed that I lost my flip-flop. I swept it up with my non-gun hand and jumped up onto the side of the truck, teetered there for an infinite few seconds, and tumbled in rear-end first.

Thankfully I didn’t shoot myself or put any new holes in the pick-up. I did get an interesting bruise from the shovel though. I took a breath, got my bearings, and got mad! Somehow falling down or losing a shoe taps into that part of my brain that holds pride and ego, and sitting half-barefoot with a sore butt in the back of my truck was just humiliating enough to tick me off.

Gun in hand, I crawled back down from my silver tower and crept up past the bumper again, this time a safe distance from the dark abyss underneath. There was a clear trail in the dirt where the snake had slithered away to the side of the road and under a bush. Part of me hoped to find the evil thing hiding under the bush, and part of me hoped it had crawled a mile away never to be seen again.

Not sure whether I got my wish or not, since I was undecided what the wish really was (other than a fast move back to a place with stores and traffic), but I did find the snake under the bush. I shrieked again and did a milder version of that freaky snake dance, managing to startle the snake into rattling at me. Actually I don’t think my noises startled it as much as the branch that slapped it in the face when I let go of it. Apparently snakes don’t like being smacked in the nose with shrubbery any more than husbands do.

So the snake was rattling, I was shrieking like a little girl (or a grown man diving for cover from a loaded cowboy gun bouncing across the floor), and I’m sure my guardian angel was about to turn in her resignation. I couldn’t see the snake without the branch moved, and I wasn’t risking my toes again to get close enough to touch it…so I leaned, on tiptoe, as far as I could towards the bush. When I caught a glimpse of scales, thanks to the snake for continuing to rattle angrily, I pointed the gun, pulled back the hammer, and fired.

The silence that followed the pop was thick with tension, as I realized that I’d have to move the bush to find out whether I’d hit my target (I wasn’t sure snake-shot bullets would go through a bush with enough oomph to take out something underneath).

It was an eternity before I had one of those moments where you have to slap yourself in the forehead. That is when I went back to the truck, got the shovel, and used it to move the branches around. Apparently, snake shot will travel quite well through a bush, and I managed to use the shovel to drag a very dead rattlebug out into the daylight.

This time, the freaky snake dance was a triumphant one, and I didn’t even care that I lost my flip-flop again. I walked (sort of, considering the one shoe) back to my truck with a newfound sense of accomplishment and the echoes of the western movie whistle in the back of my mind.

One down, 837,000 to go, I’m sure.

Scorpions that is…the first one of the year, if you don’t count the one I rousted from his winter nest inside my hand-sprayer in the front yard. I’m not counting that one, though. He wasn’t much of a threat anyway, considering the many cold floods I gave his residence before I figured out why the sprayer wouldn’t…well…spray. By the time I diagnosed the issue, the thing was missing a couple of legs, one pincher-thingy, and it’s tail/stinger/weapon attachment was kinda crooked over to one side and twitching.

Well, crap.

I bet I pissed off the Scorpion King.

It’s going to be a long year, if that’s the case…and would explain why I found one of the evil creatures in the kitchen just now in April, when I didn’t see a single one last year until sometime around July, maybe even August.

Speaking of freaking out about things…okay, I wasn’t freaking out, but…

Never-mind, I’m just going to change channels.

I completely freaked out tonight…and if you know me, I’m really not the type to freak out. Except for clowns and centipedes…but everyone has their phobias.

Anyway, I was on the phone with my husband…sitting at my desk in the living room. TV is on with the volume low, the kids are asleep with their TV turned down low…and a woman yells something from somewhere in the direction of my bedroom.

Instant ninja-mode…I creep through the house (after whispering the problem to my husband), finding nothing. I finally find the culprit in the scanner I had left on, I was hearing a dispatcher.

…aaaannnnddddd my husband has to ask the question. “Got your gun?”

For the sake of honesty, (because I REALLY wanted to say, “Of course, locked and loaded,” or something equally cool and cavalier), I answered with the truth, “Nope, flashlight.”

Silence…followed by the voice he gets when he’s trying (unsuccessfully) to mask amusement, “In the house? With all the lights on? With guns, knives, at least one bat…?”

“Yes, dammit! With all the available weapons in the house with me…within reach…I veered out of my way to get the freaking flashlight, okay? MY ninja-mode requires lots of light, thankyouverymuch!!”

After I hang up the phone, still slightly freaked (not that I would have admitted it) but calmer, I sit down at the desk again. It is quiet. The scanner is off. A toy in the basket across the room (that I had jostled coming back to the living room) begins singing the Wheels on the Freaking Bus.

And so, here I sit typing with a pistol in the desk drawer, and a child’s toy (probably singing) somewhere in the front yard.