Friday, April 28, 2006

As I was saying....

Man, I could blog a whole lot more if my family would quit bugging me to cook meals and do laundry, like they think I'm some kind of mom or something. Gosh!

Anyway. I was going to tell the rest of the story about our plan to capture the wiley turkey predator.

Actually, it was my son's plan. I would have been content to throw the dead carcass (that's redundant, I suppose, since every carcass is dead, right?) over the fence for the coyotes, but Mr. Right-About-Everything hatched this harebrained scheme for us (read: MOM) to shoot the beast. I think my son believes a day is not complete without the use of gunpowder and loud, explosive noises.

So the plan was this: He would leave the carcass near our house, about 30 feet from the back porch. If the predator returned for the booty, I could see it from the family room windows and get a shot off. For whatever reason, this kid continues to think that I can actually hit something. Besides me having the advantageous viewing spot, my son reasoned that our black lab would sound the alarm if she saw the predator.

He had a point there. She certainly is quick to let us know when a gum wrapper blows across the yard, or when a horse fly passes gas half a mile away. A squirrel can't hiccup in peace around here.

So, actually believing my son's plan might really work, or possibly out of utter fatigue, I agreed to take on guard duty. For the next 90 minutes, my sister-in-law and I sat in the family room, discussing the uses of duct tape in parenting. The plan seemed to be working - about every fifteen minutes, the dog would burst forth in excited barking and we'd pop up out of our chairs to look out the window. Every time, however, the carcass was undisturbed and we saw no sign of the predator.

Then we made, as I later figured out, a tactical error. After the latest bark alert, the dog returned to the porch and looked up at the windows. My sister-in-law said, "She's so pretty," and I replied, "She's a good dog," seven little words that would prove to be our undoing.

After another twenty minutes or so, my sister-in-law realized we hadn't heard any noise for a while, so she looked out the window and then said, in a puzzled tone, "Is the turkey gone?" I looked, too, and she was right! And there was the dog, sitting passively and quietly on the porch.


Here's what I think happened. The dog, who is smarter than some government officials, heard our comments, and in typical lab fashion, interpreted them like this: "Oh boy oh boy oh boy oh boy! They like me!! They're going to let me in the house!! Get ready! Watch for the door to open! Any minute now!! Oh boy oh boy!!"

So there she sat, quivering with anticipation, with no regard to her assigned duty. A whole fleet of alien spaceships could have invaded my backyard and she wouldn't have made a peep. For all I know, she invited the predator over to pick up his leftovers so she could get in the house, ASAP.

So, the moral of the story is this: Timmy and Lassie may have saved everyone in their whole county from assorted disasters, but if I ever fall in a well, I'm doomed. My son will be too busy plotting figuring out how to make a turkey carcass explode, and the dog will still be on the porch, waiting for her invitation into the house.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Slapstick Farming

As sometimes happens round these parts, a predator snuck into our less secure turkey pen one evening this past week. Said predator was nearly caught by my 15 year old son, Mr. Expert-on-Everything, and my 15 year old nephew, Suburbia Boy, when they went out to feed the birds. The assailant ran off into the nearby brush, leaving behind one dead tom turkey, one nearly dead tom, and a badly frightened hen who had escaped onto the top of the other nearby pen.

What happened from this point forward should have been an easy, 10 minute task - dispose of the dead turkey, capture the hen and put her in the more secure pen, and barricade the hole where the predator got in. But no. The rest of the story unfolded like a forty-five minute scene from Lucy and Ethel Meet Dumb & Dumber.

In the boys' 15 year old minds, the predator had quickly grown from the likely coyote or dog to an immense creature along the lines of a mutant mountain lion on steroids. My son urged me to bring my gun and guard the perimeter of the property while he captured the hen. Why I agreed to this plan, I'll never know. My history with firearms has not been, shall we say, a blazing success. The only way I was going to take down the predator was to chuck the gun at the animal and hope it conked him on the head. In addition, by this time it was fully dark, and if I did take a shot, the only thing I'd manage to kill would be my neighbor's prize bull.

But out I trotted with my trusty weapon. My nephew was already on guard duty, nervously prepared to defend himself with an 18 inch length of exhaust pipe. My pug could have wrestled the pipe from his hand, but I didn't tell him that. The boy has no experience with farm life, so I knew he was going to be about as helpful as an NEA union rep at a homeschool convention. I was followed by his mother, my sister-in-law, who came out to provide background sound effects.

My son was apparently anxious for his mom to show off her shooting skills, because he kept shouting, "It's over THERE! Right there!! Mom, it's in those weeds! SHOOT IT!" I stood there, peering stupidly through my bifocals at utter darkness, wondering if I can order my next pair of glasses with those night vision lenses that the military uses.

By this time, Suburbia Boy was so scared, he was softly singing, "I Will Survive" to himself. My son had climbed to the top of the secure pen and was attempting to walk across the light wire roof to get to the hen. I forgot about the predator and started yelling at my son to get down off the flimsy wire, but he ignored me. Meanwhile, the hen was determined to stay as anchored to that roof as Double Bubble in a kindergartener's hair, so my son had to make several wobbly trips around the top of the pen as he tried to chase her down. Our conversation went something like this:

Me: That won't hold your weight! Get down!

Son: Mom, the animal is right behind [the neighbor's] calf pens! Shoot it!

Me: Quit thinking about the animal and get that hen!

Sister-in-law emits nervous sigh.

Son: Mom, I know what I'm doing. Look, don't you see its eyes, glowing in the dark?! I think it might be a bear. Don't we have bears around here?

Nephew, softly: "....if I'd have known for just one second you'd be back to bother me..."

Son, hopefully: Can I try shooting it?

Me: NO!

Finally, the hen flapped to the ground and my son managed to scoop her up in his arms. I held the pen door open, but he thought maybe his citified aunt might like to see and maybe even touch a turkey up close. I think she probably thought that by holding the turkey, he was now walking predator bait, so she started shaking her head in a vigorous "NO!" motion. So we put the bird in the pen, and I thought that was the end of the adventure. But no.

Part Two, Battle of Wits: How to Catch a Serial Turkey Killer

Friday, April 21, 2006


April 19 - On This Day in History

The Battle of Lexington & Concord, first bloodshed of the Revolutionary War (1775)

Baltimore riots - 4 soldiers, 9 civilians killed (1861)

Much of the city of Toronto destroyed by fire (1904)

"Lake Shore Ltd" derails, killing 34 near Little Falls NY (1940)

USS Iowa exploded, killing 47 soldiers (1989)

Branch Davidian shoot-out/suicide in Waco, TX (1993)

Federal Building in Oklahoma City bombed (1995)

TC was born (a long time ago)

I don't know about you, but I'm seeing a trend here.

Oh well, at my age, this pretty much sums up how I feel about my birthday. Except for the cake. (Thanks, Princess BunHead!)

Saturday, April 15, 2006

Alright, alright, calm down. Here's the rest of the story.

So as I was saying, there were my children, stranded atop the highest point of a roller coaster ride, while I was waiting on the ground below, thinking about buying a weiner hat to wear on my final visit to the merry-go-round. If I was going to be pitifully wimpy and have to tolerate the taunts of my family, at least I was going to do it in style.

When I realized the roller coaster wasn't moving, my first thought was not one of fear or concern or even basic motherly compassion. No, what I wanted to do was gather up a bunch of palm fronds and lay them out on the ground in large letter shapes so my helpless, frightened children could read, "I TOLD YOU SO. MAYBE NOW YOU'LL LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER."

But my mother-in-law was giving me the hairy eyeball, so I dutifully walked over to the ride entrance and asked the ride attendant what was happening. I swear the employees working at these amusement parks just climbed out of the womb yesterday. Anyway. She gave me a pink lip-glossed smile and said, quite casually, "Oh, the lifting mechanism is broken. The mechanics will probably be able to fix it." Which of course is Amusement Park Employee Code for, "Your kids' lives are in mortal danger. Go have an eight dollar soft drink and try not to think about suing us."

So we waited. And waited. Finally we heard a robotic voice say, "Clear the lift! Clear the lift!" We onlookers held our collective breath, expecting to see the roller coaster cars go rocketing forward (or possibly backward) at any moment. Nope. No movement except in the weiner hat hut, where someone was trying on the companion dill pickle sunglasses.

After a while, we heard the robotic voice again say, "Clear the lift! Clear the lift!" I was beginning to wonder if the maintenance guys were just a couple of Roombas in tool belts. The ride designer/engineer was probably vacationing in Europe (seeing as how all the Europeans were at the amusement park that day), and he left Roomba Pete and Roomba Ray in charge for the week.

Well, the Roomba boys finally got things working again and my kids finished out the ride without further incident. My husband says the children were stuck for only 15-20 minutes, not four hours as I previously reported. Whatever. It seemed like four hours. But I have to say the wait was worth it when my fourteen year old daughter ran out of the exit chute and into my arms, pleading, "I want to ride the merry-go-round."

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


I love to be right. Even more than that, I love to prove to my ever skeptical children that I'm right. Our trip to the amusement park was a triumph on both fronts.

We arrived at the park and rented Grandma one of those electric scooters, which I thought made a pretty good theme park ride all by itself. I suggested that we all rent scooters and just tear through the park at top speed, which was about 2 mph. But my kids spread out their maps and quickly made a plan of attack in their quest to ride all of the biggest, fastest, and most life-threatening attractions in the park. We could hear the screams of other riders, so I said helpfully, "I think those people are dying," but my children rolled their eyes and headed off for MONTU.

Why don't these rides have names that really describe them? They could be called The Spine Snapper or Heart Attack Track or The 911. But instead, the marketing team for the park gives them exotic names like Shiekra or Montu. What they don't tell us is that these names, in their native tongues, mean things like "The Screaming Death" and "Many Idiots." I tried to explain these things to my children, but they pretended they didn't know me and walked on.

Eventually we came to ride called Gwazi. I'm pretty sure "gwazi" means "If you get on this ride, you've got the intelligence of a senile camel." I suggested we forego Gwazi and take in a nice show on the life span of dung beetles instead. My children walked even faster to the ride entrance. Just outside the entrance was a gift shop selling hats shaped like hot dogs. If a weiner hat isn't a sign of impending danger, I don't know what is.

And then it happened. With my children on board, the ride stopped several hundred feet about the ground and didn't move for four hours.

To be continued....

Sunday, April 9, 2006

Why my children laugh at me

My husband has a raging case of bilateral conjunctivitis. In English, that means he has, in both eyes, "pink eye," only in his case it should be called "blazing red scary eye." He's pretty frightening to look at, but I figure that's going to work to our advantage tomorrow when we go to an amusement park. With those nasty eyes, he can part crowds like Moses parted the Red Sea, and we should be able to get right to the head of the line. No one's going to touch him unless they're wearing a HazMat suit and can take a shower in bleach immediately afterward.

Why *I'm* going to this park is a mystery. I don't do fast rides. I don't do upside down rides. I don't do twisty rides. And I especially don't do fast, twisty rides that go upside down. Which means I pretty much only ride the merry-go-round. So there I'll be, a dorky middle-aged woman on a ride with a bunch of two year olds in ruffled sundresses and their weary parents, happily riding my safe pink pony up and down, round and round. Who needs Prozac when you can ride a pink pony? I just hope I don't have any problems with Security. "Hey, Frank, keep an eye on that fruitcake over in the kiddie section. She's wearing a weird pair of glasses and Birkenstocks, and keeps riding the merry-go-round over and over. We suspect she might be some kind of drugged out hippie who thinks she's Mary Poppins."

I blame Ray Bradbury for my fear of rides. Way back in junior high, I read a fictional story of his about the first riders on a new, fast roller coaster, and who all ended the ride dead of broken necks. Yeah. I think Ray Bradbury could scare the pants off Stephen King and his entire family and his dog and even his car, which is (supposedly) inanimate.

It should be a great day for my kids. Not only will they get to lose all their dental fillings on a bunch of dangerous rides, they'll get to pretend they don't know me. Until they have to come claim me from the Security Office.

Friday, April 7, 2006

Is this a conspiracy?

This is turning into one of our more, uh, memorable vacations.

Today I took the kids to the beach. It was a lovely sunny day. We all sunscreened up with SPF 95 lotion and the children were in & out of the water until lunch time. My ten year old son's toenails haven't been this clean since he was born. I'm the only one who came home the color of a Big Boy tomato. Never one to do things normally, my sunburn came in stripes where I apparently missed applying sunscreen. Couple this look with my patched up glasses, and I look like some kind of computer geek in a technicolor zebra suit.

And as of this writing, my husband has been at the local emergency room for almost 2 hours. He came home from his day at an air show with a nasty eye problem that I won't describe here in case someone is reading over their breakfast cereal. He could have had a starring role in a movie about zombies, though. I thought about calling him "Igore," but I didn't think he'd find it humorous.

If things don't improve, tomorrow I expect to get plucked bald by a flock of rabid pelicans and then caught in the middle of a rioting group of angry bingo players.

Wednesday, April 5, 2006

If You Give TC A Vacation

If you give TC a vacation that starts on Wednesday, she will have a lot to do on Tuesday.

If she has a lot to do on Tuesday, she will give her kids the day off from school.

If she gives her kids the day off from school, the boys will get bored.

If they get bored, they will go out to hit some golf balls.

If they hit some golf balls, they will hit one that ricochets off a pole and goes through a bedroom window.

If a golf ball goes through the window, there will be a LOT of tiny shards of glass to vacuum up.

If TC needs to use the vacuum up the glass, it will not work.

If it will not work, TC will have to take it apart and fix it.

While she is fixing it, she will notice all the dog hair in it and remember she has to call the kennel.

When she calls the kennel, she will find out that her dogs need bordatella vaccines before they can be dropped off.

While she tries to figure out how to get the vaccines and take the dogs to the kennel on Wednesday before departure, her husband will ask her to take the van to the dealership because the "check engine" light is on.

When she starts to think about all she has to do in the morning, she will start to hyperventilate.

When she starts to hyperventilate, she will take off her glasses and promptly break off a nosepiece.

When she breaks the nosepiece off her glasses, she will think, "I need a vacation."

If you give TC a vacation....

Monday, April 3, 2006

Steeling myself

We're getting ready for our annual vacation to the great state of Florida (nickname: The Hypertensive State). Besides all the usual preparations of packing, stopping the mail, and telling my son for the 4,528th time that no, he cannot bring home an alligator for a pet, I am honing my driving skills. Mostly that means leaning hard on the horn when some other driver does something idiotic. By the way, I found one fault with a Volkswagen - the horn is not loud enough. I'm going for a big, blaring HONK that says, "Get off the road, you bonehead!" but the VW just emits this friendly little toot that says, "Hi! Would you mind moving over a bit? Thanks! Peace, love and joy!"

Driving in Florida (state motto: "Doris, have you seen my heart medicine?") is a scary task, because so many drivers are like Mrs. Bertha Grashnagel, a neighbor of my in-laws. Mrs. Grashnagel is ninety six years old, deaf as a post, and has shrunken to the height of the average preschooler, so that she cannot see over the dashboard. But does that keep her from driving? Heavens, no! And Florida (state bird: " %&$#@ seagulls!") is full of these tiny aged people behind the wheels of their Cadillacs, so driving amongst them is akin to playing dodge ball, only in cars and at a much slower pace.

So my blog entries are going to be few and far between for the next couple of weeks, but I'm sure I'll have some interesting experiences to write about when I get back from Florida (state flower: seaweed).