Monday, July 27, 2009

Bad cow.

Do not be deceived by the big brown eyes and the long eyelashes.

Note the shifty expression while she appears to be innocently eating grass.

This is not a good cow. This is a bad cow. This is a very bad cow. This is a cow that has earned the new name of She-Devil.

You might remember that she has a history of bovine delinquency (Houdini Cow). We really thought love and a few more strands of barbed wire would cure her of her behavioral issues, but we were wrong.

Recently, she discovered the finch feeder I had hung next to our front door. Apparently being a cow with liberal tendencies, She-Devil decided that the finch food was a federal handout to which she was entitled, and proceeded to use her forehead to throw the feeder off the hook and then gobble down every speck of seed.

But far worse was yet to come. I should have seen the bird feeder incident as a cry for help. I should have known that corn, grown in a vegetable garden for the farmer's personal consumption, is the cow version of crack cocaine. I should have seen the signs, when she started hanging around outside the fenced garden and nibbling the grass down to bare dirt, that she was setting the stage for her biggest crime to date. Scoping out the perimeter, as it were.

Alas, Sasquatch happened upon her just after she had trampled down the garden gate and eaten most of the nearly-ready-to-be-harvested corn. He chased her out, but it was too late. She was high on her cow crack. While he and Hubster were making repairs to the breached gate, she simply vaulted over them, the fence, and the tractor to polish off the rest of the corn, all the cucumbers, most of the squash, and two jalapeno pepper plants.

And here's the thing: how does one discipline an unruly, 1200 pound cow?
- You can't hit her on the rump with a rolled up newspaper. She'll kick you into the next county.
- You can't rub her nose in her misbehavior. She'll head butt you on to the roof.
- You can't shoot her. She's the source of future Junior Bacon Cheesburgers.
- You can't take her to training classes at PetSmart. She'd scare the hair off the chihuahuas.

I blame the whole thing on her first owners. They raised her from heifer-hood to be a 4H show calf. She got a diva complex early on. Once her show days were over, they put her in the pasture with the other cows, but she had (and here I am quoting her previous owner) "socialization issues." Quite simply, she didn't think she was a cow. She refused to hang with the other cows and do cow-y things like stand under a tree for 4 hours with shreds of hay hanging out of the side of her mouth. No, she was always wandering back to the house, and I think it's because she was hoping for the opportunity to make a crazed dash for the kitchen and whatever she could grab out of the refrigerator crisper drawer.

So here's my question: Does anyone know if there's a bovine version of methadone?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Coffee does a body good. If you remember to drink it.

A few days ago, my sister sent me a link to an article about a research project which claims that daily consumption of three large cups of coffee may slow the progress of Alzheimer's Disease and possibly even reverse it.

Now, if there was ever a human subject to support this conclusion, it should be my own mother. The woman loves coffee. Black - no sugar and no milk. And in quantities large enough to water ski in. The only reason Columbia still exists as an independent country today is because my mom purchased at least 50% of their exported coffee in the 60's and 70's.

She's not picky about coffee, either. When I was a kid, you could count on there being a jar of those Sanka instant coffee crystals in our kitchen. I always thought that the contents looked like that gravel at the bottom of a fish tank, but my mom loved it. I think she might have sprinkled it on her toast in the morning in lieu of cinnamon and sugar. Sometimes even in lieu of the bread.

Not me. I like to dress my coffee with flavored syrups. I studied the differences between coffee presses and drip coffee makers. I grind my own beans. When I shop for coffee, I have to squeeze the bags and smell the aroma that's expelled through the little hole near the top. Other people in the coffee aisle probably think I was a scratch-and-sniff sticker addict as a kid.

But my mom's method of coffee buying works like this: 1. Look through your plastic box of coupons and use one.

Anyway. If coffee really does prevent Alzheimer's, she shouldn't be in the mid-late stages of the disease. In thinking about this, though, I did realize something. Over the last few years, I think she's actually drinking less coffee. In fact, I'm not sure she's drinking coffee at all. It just looks that way.

A couple of years ago, I'd go to her house and open the microwave to thaw hamburger for dinner, and there would be a cup of java sitting on the turntable, stone cold. She'd say, "Oh, that's my coffee from this morning! I guess I forgot it was in there."

Now, I go to her house and open the linen closet, and there's a cup of java sitting next to the pillowcases, stone cold. And she says, "Oh, that's my coffee from this morning! I guess I forgot it was in there."

Apparently, she's been reheating the same cup of coffee for nearly a decade. No wonder the Columbians have turned to marijuana as their primary export crop.

In other semi-related family news, my sister accompanied my parents to do their funeral planning this week. After all the decisions were made, she called me to let me know what kind of caskets they had chosen. Mom is opting for a simple pine design, at a relatively low price of $1800. It's a good thing my sister was there instead of me. I'd have suggested that we have Mom cremated and buried in a Bunn coffee brewer.

Friday, July 3, 2009

'Cause they're just supportive that way.

Somehow - possibly by a disturbance in the magnetic force in our solar system, or maybe it was just that Orion lost his belt and gave us all a great cosmic mooning - I recently ended up slated to do a stand-up comedy routine for a talent show at our church.

In the days leading up to the event, I was feeling a wee bit anxious, so, naturally, I turned to my family for some encouragement (and possibly some additional joke material). I told my kids I was worried that people might not laugh at my humor.

Sasquatch, who wouldn't know compassion if it walked up and smacked him in the back of the head, was quick to offer his "support."

He informed me that if my punch lines were met with utter silence, he'd sit in the back of the auditorium and make cricket sounds.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Lucy and Ethel take to the road.

(Note: Long-time readers of this blog know that my older daughter's online persona has changed according to her hairstyle. She started life as Princess Peach, moved through toddlerhood as Princess BroccoliTop, and then spent most of her childhood and adolescence as Princess BunHead. Of late, she has taken to wearing her hair very short and of various fluorescent shades, which has earned her the new moniker, Princess ChopTop. I'm actually kind of looking forward to the day she shaves her head completely, because I have her next name all picked out - Princess Gourdita.)

Back at the end of May, ChopTop and I decided to head off on a little road trip to see some friends in Missouri (state motto: "Branson whups Nashville's butt"). Just the two of us, enjoying the 6-hour drive and having some mother-daughter bonding time. As it turned out, most of the time on the road was a daughter-iPod bonding time. Meanwhile, the mother silently - and somewhat painfully - pondered the mystery that is the Oklahoma tollway system. What kind of sadist creates a highway where coffee vending machines are located at 15-mile intervals, but where the only two roadside restrooms are situated where the state borders Texas and Missouri?

Anyway. I wasn't too worried about the drive itself, because it's pretty much a straight shot on the interstates, until the last 10-15 miles into the small Missouri town where we'd be staying. But Hubster had just gotten a GPS device for his birthday, and I thought it might be a good idea to have it with us, so we packed it into the car and headed north. Neither ChopTop nor I had even turned the GPS on, but if there's one thing the girl and I have in common, it is our certainty that we are smarter than electronic devices. And, more importantly, that we are smarter than each other. One of us would soon be proved wrong.

As we neared the region of Missouri where I thought we'd have to leave the interstate, I suggested to ChopTop that we get the GPS out and input the address of our destination. She agreed, and that's pretty much where the kumbayah portion of the trip began and ended. The next 30 minutes were a seemingly endless variation of the following conversation.

TC: Did you put the address in?
ChopTop: YES!
TC: Well, why isn't it talking to us? Isn't it supposed to tell me when to turn?
ChopTop: It doesn't talk.
TC: WHAT?! It does too talk!
ChopTop: No, it doesn't. Do you see any volume controls on it?
TC: Well, what are those arrows on the screen for?
ChopTop: Those are buttons for the menu.
TC: No, they're not!
TC: Well, look here. The back looks like a speaker.
ChopTop: That's not a speaker!
TC: What is it then?
ChopTop: That's for ventilation, so it doesn't get overheated.
TC: I think it's supposed to talk to us.
TC: Why would it not talk?
ChopTop: It doesn't need to talk! You just look at the screen!
TC: How am I supposed to watch the screen and drive at the same time? It's SUPPOSED TO TALK.
ChopTop: Trust me - IT DOESN'T TALK.
TC: Well, it SHOULD. Are you sure you put the address in?

We finally reached a pause in the, uh, discussion (I think I might have, yet again, been slightly distracted by my bladder, which by this point felt like a 24-cup coffee urn), and were riding along in silence when suddenly we heard


I screamed and nearly drove straight into a billboard advertising several of Branson's butt-whuppin' music shows. ChopTop involuntarily threw herself against the passenger door. We both thought God Himself was sitting in the back seat.

Before I could even compose myself to speak, we heard

There was a brief repeat of the aforementioned screaming, near-crashing, and involuntary throwing of self. Any passersby surely thought our car was being operated by two people with uncontrolled seizure disorders and Tourette's syndrome.

Eventually, I found my breath, and before ChopTop dared utter a sound, I looked over at her and said triumphantly,


In the end, the trip was a great success. We had wonderful time with our friends, ChopTop & I were introduced to Shake's frozen custard (and, yes, I think it's entirely likely that the serpent tempted Eve with a big ol' cone of frozen custard topped with hot fudge), but most importantly, my title of Self-Appointed Genius Know-It-All Of The Family was made even more secure.

But the GPS people really need to program that thing to say, "Caution: You Are Entering Oklahoma, which is an old Native American name that means Land Without Restrooms. State motto: Now You Know Why It Was Called The Trail of Tears."