Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
I would post my own photo of the prison, but at the present time, the corn is drying in the field in front of it, blocking my view. Sitting on 43 acres, the prison manages the land with crops and cattle.
It is one of the biggest employers, with over 600 staff. Each week, one of the guards comes into the thrift shop and makes small talk with Chuck, my co-volunteer. A big woman, her blue uniform is out of place as she purchases pink outfits for little girls. She works in the guard tower. I have heard that at one time, the prison made cabinets and worked on cars. Local residents regularly used their services. Though I don't think this occurs any longer, it is a common site to see men in orange jumpsuits doing all sorts of odd jobs about the city.
You may wonder if we residents fear living so close. Prison breaks occur rarely, but they are a bit scary. One day, we went to the recycle center (it is now run by prisoners, but not at that time), and were told we should be careful. Two men had escaped. We suddenly became aware of the number of police about town and were startled to see sentries posted at the end of our street, one mile from home! By the next day, the police had solved the mystery. The two men had hidden in a dumpster where they were dumped into a garbage truck. They were crushed to death when the garbage truck ran the compactor before leaving prison grounds.
At night, the sky glows red to the southwest of my house. When I first moved here, I thought it was the lights of the big city twenty miles away. No, it was the glow of the prison. The other interesting thing about the prison is that a county park and fairgrounds are adjacent to the prison grounds. I have always thought it strange to have children playing and swimming, the county fair being held, fireworks and picnics, right next to the prison. I wonder if the men inside can see the fireworks.
The reformatory is actually one of four prisons in my town, two smaller state prisons and a county prison. In this bedroom community, it is a stark contrast between those inside and those not.
Want to write about your town? Go register at Travis Erwin's blog.
Saturday, September 27, 2008
One of our half-Bantams became broody, but had only her own eggs to sit on, which were not fertilized, as far as I can tell given that our rooster is either too young or gay. Still, she climbed under the deck to her hiding spot daily to hatch her imaginary chicks. So, William asked if we could put a few of the big breed eggs under her. We put her in a cage and set her up with two probably fertilized big eggs and one probably not fertilized Bantam egg.
About the time that she began sitting, her sister also became broody, yet had no eggs. However, the two old large breed hens (the only ones I have now), stopped laying, so I could give her no egg to sit on. Each day, I'd take the cage outside, open the door, and Sister #1, previously sitting on eggs, would run out, eat, take a dirt bath and luxuriate in stretching her legs and running around. Understandable. Only, Sister #2 decided that if Sister #1 wasn't going to sit on the eggs, she would, and moved herself into the cage.
I feel for both, wanting to be mommies, yet not enough eggs to go around. So last night, I wondered what would happen if I gave each an egg and put them both into the cage. As you can see, they are both quite content and have decided to share the "nest".
I have seen Bantams cooperate in mothering before. Once, we had a Bantam in a cage that hatched an egg. Another Bantam sat outside the cage as close as she could get. The chick would squeeze between the bars of the cage and get under the foster mom. I thought it rather disloyal of the chick, until I realized her real mommy was sick. She later died. The chick must have sensed this was coming for she grew up happy with her adopted mom.
If the chicks do hatch, it will be in the next few days.
*It has come to my attention that some people may not get the play on words of my title of this blog. It refers to the children's book, Heather Has Two Mommies, a book about two lesbians that have a child named Heather. It has been banned in some libraries. Most recently, it has come to media attention because supposedly, Sarah Palin asked for it to be removed from the library of the town where she was elected mayor. I've not read the book, nor am I offering an opinion. Nor are my chickens lesbian. I think.
Friday, September 26, 2008
The boy, "A", came up to me. "Did I make a big splash?" he asked when he could get a word in edge-wise.
"Oh, yes," I assured him. "You made a tremendous splash."
By the third time he asked me this after diving, I realized that he let out a large sigh as he headed back to the diving board. He was trying not to make a large splash, just like the good Olympic divers he had just watched on TV. Not really listening, I was not giving him the message he was hoping to hear. I was prepared for the next one, and praised the dive for having almost no splash at all. He was satisfied, and the boys moved on to going down the slide.
One of these days, I'll learn to listen.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
Given the age of our house, perhaps that would fly had I not, the next night, witnessed him using the remaining bannister, around the corner from this one, like a tow rope on the bunny hill at a ski resort. Leaning back with all his weight, he pulled himself up the stairs, barely able to make the six steps so tired he was from his exhausting day.
By now, I am less reactive to such things. I remember raging at the girls who would turn our van's rear view mirror to look at their own visage, and seeing it come off into their hands. Now, things like that don't faze me at all. I learned to replace hinges on kitchen cabinets which weren't meant to bear their weight as they stood and contemplated the choices of food within. I learned to shop at Valueless City, buying disposable furniture that I plan to replace with my real furniture when I am all grown up. I learned to repair ol' Eugene and be satisfied with the old van, for a new one would mean that I'd have to worry about what might happen to the interior. Someday, I'll worry about home decor. For now, I'll blame this latest destruction on my invisible Chinese adopted son, Not Mee.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Seriously, it was a real wake up call to find myself one day discussing knee and join pain with my sister-in-laws. I've always been one of those "I'm going to be strong, I'm not going to let age get to me" kind of people. And there I was discussing joint replacement surgery. I'm not a vain type of person. All I ask is that I'm mobile and reach to cut my own toenails. Is that too much to ask?
Anyway, Happy Birthday to Me. And many blessing to the woman who did all the hard work and experienced the pain that resulted in me.
Follow Up on You'll Get Yours:
After revealing the contents of yesterday's blog, one daughter responded that she would just call me when there was a cleanup in Aisle 3. Oh, no, I replied. No way, no how, no vomit. On second thought, she continued, she'd marry a man who could clean it up. I forget how very young and naive she can still be.
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
I smiled when you ran upstairs, screaming "Ewwwww!". You thought to escape, didn't you? I wiped your brother's vomit from the floor and my shoes. I cleaned the floor. I held his head when he again gagged and threw up again. I took the trash out so that you'd not have to smell it. Your brother has inherited (that means it is genetic!) a hair-trigger gag reflex, and like my nephew, if they say "I feel like I'm going to throw up", you believe them. It is such a wonderful trait to have. But, I smiled. Your day is coming, my dears. In fact, it is just around the corner. Remember this day. Someday, you'll be me. Ha ha haaaaaaaaaaaaaaa!
Your loving mother
Monday, September 22, 2008
One only has to be five minutes late to an appointment to conjure a train. In fact, an otherwise Christian neighbor boasts his supernatural powers to cause a train to appear on his commute to work. "Oh, no!" is a common refrain as I spot the flashing red lights and hear the dinging bell that stand between me and the highway. I'll be late again! There is one way around the tracks, down a country two lane highway that sports school zones, dump trucks, tractors driving a load of hay, and white haired grandmas going twenty miles an hour in a fifty-five mile per hour zone. It's a toss up - wait for the train or chance going around. Going home, there is no choice; you have to wait.
Still think it is quaint? Have I mentioned that thirty trains, long, long, trains, go through town a day? Minimum? It tends to disconcert visitors. Once, a tourist had turned onto the street and was taking his time finding a parallel parking spot. After pulling onto the street, there isn't a way to tell a train is coming until you hear the whistle blow. The visitor had no time to move, and the train rolled by, inches from his side mirror. We stood watching. After the train had gone, he parked and accosted us. "Do you live here?" he said angrily. Sheepishly, we admitted we did. He then proceed to tell us that he'd had no warning about the train and he was NEVER coming back. Promise?
Once, years ago, the railroad company offered to move the track, avoiding town. In their infinite wisdom, our forefathers declined, declaring the tracks integral to the town identity and going so far as to pen a motto, "We are on track". Changing railroad regulations have caused a major difficulty in town. In the coming years, changes in traffic flow and parking will have to be made. But, there are no plans to move the tracks.
It is not unusual to see residents look up from their meal at the Irish pub to watch the train, only yards away, lumber slowly past or to see them lounging on a bench after exiting a shop, waiting for the slow train to clear so that they can get to their car. I suppose it does remind us of a slower era, a more relaxed pace.
There have been several collisions with cars, and I wonder about what would happen should the train derail. I live only two miles from the tracks where dangerous chemicals roll by thirty times a day. I try not to think about it as I hear the whistle from my home, where it reminds me of the sleepy railroad town where I grew up and often miss. It is a comforting sound.
Want to write about your town? Post a link on Travis' blog.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
I went outside to put the chickens up. Finding most of them in their coops cowering already, one red one seemed to be missing. As large oak trees thrashed above me, I decided that she must have blown away, but I was not going to risk being killed by a falling limb for a blown away chicken. The wind gusted and then quieted. The lights flickered and finally, went out.
We peered out windows and watched shingles fly from our rooftop. After a bit, the windstorm blew by and we went outside to aprise the damage. We'll likely have to replace all our shingles. Still, we thought that a few hours in the dark and we'd be back to normal. Little did we know.
Five days later, we finally got our electricity back. We lost most of our food. Still, we found a togetherness in the "adventure". I enjoyed the quiet, I enjoyed having no TV. One night, we sat by the fire with dh listening to the ballgame. Isn't this nice, I said? With electricity he'd not have been there. Mumbling words inserted about oh yes he would. Oh, well, if this game is on TV, you wouldn't be in there watching it? Welllll, maybe.
I missed blogging, my quick way of interacting with people I'd likely not keep up with if I didn't have email, hearing from family daily. I missed hot showers. I think that is the one thing that if going back into time I would miss. That and other people wearing deodorant.
Both bantam chickens are broody. One has been caged with three eggs as William is hoping for some chicks to hold. I bring the dog crate in at night, not sure that it will withstand a raccoon assault. One night, the girls were watching a movie, and Whitney, our eight pound dog, sat across Lauren's lap. The most horrific odor, green in color, permeated the air and after a loud disgusted exclamation, Whitney was blamed and brushed to the floor. Poor dog. Have you ever smelled a caged, broody chicken? Phew. Everyone is always blaming it on the dog.
Tell me, it was a man, wasn't it, that came up with the "and on the seventh day HE rested". It doesn't say anything about SHE rested anywhere does it? No. On the seventh day, one must get up early to do chickens, dress the boy (lest he wear his red T-rex shirt with his green shorts), go to teach Sunday school (before you think I am pious, I am just an aide and only because William won't let me leave the room), go to Church, come home make lunch, get the washer going while one makes lunch, help the husband build fences, drain the hot tub for cleaning....Day of rest. What a novel idea.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
This boy amuses me as well. Tiny, it seems he can hardly carry the batting helmet around. Yet, he is quite a hitter despite looking like a bobble-head doll.
This little girl made it to second base, where she discovered interesting pebbles in the dirt. The dirt was much more fascinating than running to third.
You'll notice both these players wear batting helmets. That is because they both are runners on base, yet number six there does not want to advance, so decided just to hang there on second and mope.
Yes, I think I'll hang out at the baseball park. With my red hat.
Friday, September 19, 2008
Now I know.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
The mistake I made was in sitting next to Anna, who accompanied Lauren and I because lacking electricity at home, she thought it might give her something to do. By intermission, she had decided that sitting in the dark wasn't such a bad thing.
The first snort came when the pianist, a emeritus professor of the school of music, ended a piece with what appeared to be a sudden seizure. His hands flew up in the air, his rear left his bench and he shook his head violently. I glanced at Anna and our eyes met. I had to think dire thoughts as my laughter began shaking the entire row of seats. I avoided looking at her until intermission.
He began playing Shostakovitch after intermission, twenty-four preludes. I began counting them off on my fingers like I was saying the rosary. Hail Mary! He was finished. We joined the audience in giving him a rousing standing ovation, reluctantly. I whispered to Anna that if they continued clapping, he would play again. And indeed, he returned to the Steinway on stage. Anna rolled her eyes and sighed heavily, dropping into her seat. Again, I had to fill my head with dark thoughts to stop the laughter that started to bubble up in me. At least, he now played Chopin and it didn't sound as if a cat was wandering across the keyboard.
It was getting later, but the audience again begged for more as Anna begged to leave. The pianist nearly ran the to the piano, showing eagerness to continue to play rather than a humble reluctance to continue to bask in the audience's admiration. After playing the second encore, he again returned to the piano and I gave in. We sneaked to the door, and entering the hallway, let our our breath, laughing that we'd escaped captivity.
Lauren, our pianist and reason for being there, gave us her opinion that he was technically very good, but like us, she did not find that she enjoyed the musicality of the performance. His continued violent body movements were distracting and disturbing to us, who were trained differently. I was vindicated in my opinion. Still, I will take care to sit next to Lauren from now on.
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
Now, I write to you from a neighbor's house, where they still have power. Though only a half mile from here, my house sits quietly, disconnected from the electrified world. The first night, it was rather peaceful. No electric humming, just candlelight and once in awhile, our radio as we checked hopefully for news that our power would return. I enjoyed going to bed in the quiet. It was rather like going back in time.
We have tried to make the best of this, looking at the positives. With no TV, we've made a campfire, roasted marshmallows, cooked on the grill, read by candlelight, listened to the radio. We have been fortunate to have plenty of water and a neighbor with power for Internet and hot showers, and a generous, hospitable nature. Okay now, I WANT MY ELECTRICITY! THE FUN IS OVER! Seriously.
Nearby neighbors have begun firing up generators, and I believe about four run nightly. It sounds like a #$%*&^ airplane is hovering over our roof (which is a total loss, thanks to the winds), disturbing my fantasy that I am either Amish or have gone back into time. It is a low throbbing sound, very annoying. Can they not live for a few days without it?
We have reminded ourselves daily of our blessings. No one was hurt. My husband can still go to work. We have water and a working septic tank. We have food to eat. StuffMart is nearby. We have friends who help. Our town is being raided for gasoline by nearby city folk, but I still have a bit to get around.
Last night, we went to a concert at a nearby University which still has power. With the exception of not being able to share my poor mind drippings on my blog, the Amish really may have something, you know? They accept only improvements and conveniences that bring a family closer, shunning those things that do not bring the family closer. In some ways, this has been an experience that brings us closer. That said, did anyone tape Bones or House?
Monday, September 15, 2008
Kentucky is becoming something of a haven for filmmakers and celebrities escaping Hollywood. It is rumored that country singer Kenny Rogers has a recording studio in our town. His large coach bus blocked our main street one day during some street event, and police asked the driver to move on. It had stopped to pick up crew members that were dining at our local Irish pub. Though I've seen the bus, I don't know where he has hidden the recording studio.
The above picture is from the back driveway of a celebrity of the 80s. (The front has a berm that obstructs the view.) I'll preserve her privacy, only saying that she was a cast member of both a sitcom and TV mini-series when I was a teen. I met her about a year ago when she stopped to meet "Roxie", our miniature horse who'd just been born.
She described horse life in Hollywood, even saying that she'd thought about selling her California home and relocating permanently to Kentucky. In the end, she kept her California home because she'd never be able to buy into the type of property she had there again, given rising housing prices. There, she said, horse owners had to carefully manage small properties, keeping several horses on as little as an acre. Here, you can see, pasture management will be less of an issue. She stated that she was going to refinish the farm house (to the right) but the most visible change is the barn which has been improved dramatically. She plans to breed Thoroughbreds.
Interestingly, the farm is one of the oldest properties in the area and I was told by our farrier who has many stories of our town, that the farm was once the country retreat of the Reynolds family of Reynolds Aluminum, who once owned much of our street.
Sunday, September 14, 2008
Lauren might have mentioned that she scored two points higher on a test than Anna did. Sensitive of Anna's feelings, I admonished her not to "crow" for having beaten Anna's score.
"That's okay," Anna replied without missing a beat. "It happens so rarely it's worth noting."
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Friday, September 12, 2008
We also have a "butterfly tree". The tree must be oozing sap and insects from velvet ants, horseflies, bees to the most beautiful butterflies are collecting there. I've seen, but yet to photograph, several colorful swallowtails. I believe this guy below to be an Admiral butterfly. We are collecting photos for our science folder.
Thursday, September 11, 2008
When I graduate from being a homeschooling mom, I think I'm going to become a chicken docent. You know, those old people that stand around at the zoo, just waiting to talk someone's ear off about their animal? (Bless their hearts.) But seriously, I continue to learn more and more about these animals and am amazed at what I didn't know before
I owned some they came to own me.
For example, Lester the Molester was up to his old tricks again yesterday, escaping from his fenced yard and the two old geezer hens to which he is assigned conjugal duties. He wanted fresh meat. He grabbed one of the bantam hens by the back of the neck, neatly taking off all her neck feathers and slicing her skin to the bone, proceeded to have his way with her. Chickens can be brutal. I always thought of them as being, well, chicken. Think instead velociraptor.
She will likely survive, because the other thing I didn't know before my chicken phase (I once had a hamster phase, but let's not go there now) was that chickens can survive the most gruesome injuries. With a little anti-bacterial cream, she's running around today like she's not bald and with gaping head wounds.
William claims that of all animals, he loves chickens best. Now how many boys do you know say that? I know why though. Chickens take dirt baths. Yes, I know that's an oxymoron, but they love loose dirt which acts to keep down bugs and it just feels good. I'm sure William would prefer this to a real bath.
Below is a video of an uninjured bantam, taking a dust bath. The location of this dust bath is most unfortunate. You might remember that a month ago, a chicken died. Wm and I buried her and covered her grave with a garden stone he'd made. Each morning, we'd find the stone rolled back (no angels though), and the grave dug up, but the chicken was still there - since I could see the white plastic bag that served as her shroud. So, we'd cover it up and yet again, she'd be dug up the next morning. Well, with the dry weather and all the digging, the dirt has become quite fine - perfect for a chicken bath. So, here you see a chicken literally rolling in a grave, though not her own. The white is the edge of plastic bag with the still buried chicken.
Wednesday, September 10, 2008
"The real enemy is ignorance and ignorance breeds hatred," he [Greg Mortenson] said.
I'm not good at book reviews, nor at grandstanding. I will only say that if enough Americans would read this book and open their minds to the possibilities, it could change the world. From now on, should I receive one of the many emails about the war on terror, about Muslims or Obama's middle name, about Iraq or Afghanistan and our country's approach there, I will simply ask, "Have you read this book?" If you have not, then read it and get back to me. For the children of the world.
Saturday, September 06, 2008
Here is Anna's illustration, though the scan didn't do it justice. (Please respect her copyright on the illustration. Violators will be spat upon and forced to eat three pounds of sausage.)
Friday, September 05, 2008
Since then of course, technology has exploded in ways we'd never thought possible years ago, and talking to someone a world away while walking through an airport is commonplace. Still, I wonder how much technology a mind can take?
In Discover Magazine this month, there is an article called "Rise of the Cyborgs", describing the most recent research work to merge humans and machines. While I applaud the efforts to help the disabled and "locked-in" humans, I wonder at the impact on unimpaired humans,
"provid[ing] the brain with speedy access to unlimited memory, unlimited calculation ability, and instant wireless communication ability, we will produce a human with unsurpassable intelligence."
You know, already I can't go to the bathroom without someone banging on the door. "What'r'ya doing in there???" Guess, genius. Now I picture I'll be in the shower when suddenly, my head starts ringing. There will be no escape. You can't say your phone battery was dead, or you forgot it - it's implanted in your brain. You can't say you were busy, for of course all you have to do is say "answer" to activate it. You will be accessible 24/7 to anyone with a cell. You can't throw the phone down in frustration without causing brain damage. It just doesn't sound good to me.
Obviously, the devices are being designed by men. Read this:
"We have created a profound new paradigm for the brain...to enact its will without the limitations of the biological machinery that we call a body. 'My children probably will see the day when they can sit physically on a beautiful beach in Brazil but at the same time control a rover on Mars, experience Mars...Their bodies will be here, but their brains will be free.'"
Okay, my first (okay, second) thought is that if anyone is lucky enough to make it to a Brazilian beach, why ever would she want to tune it out to pretend she's on Mars? Obviously, she is not a hard working Kentucky homeschool mom. Obviously. Secondly (okay, it was my first thought) is that it is difficult enough to
So while I'm all for advancing technology, I have to wonder if all of it is for the good. The automobile had it's detractors, and perhaps I'm just as skeptical and misinformed as they were. Perhaps it is my age showing, for it is getting more and more difficult to keep up with the blazing change of everything known. Of course, once I get my implants (for my memory, silly, I really don't need any other kind), I'll not have to worry about my aging mind. I will have "unsurpassable intelligence".
That makes me wonder yet again. Can we take Kentuckian beer drinking Bubbas and give them unsurpassable intelligence? And what ever would they do with it? That's a scary thought. If you started out pretty smart, would you then be smarter with implants than Bubba with implants? Would those that could afford implants take over the world and dominate those who can't?
What do you think? Will cyborgs improve the human race or be the end of it?
Thursday, September 04, 2008
On another note, d'ya ever joke to someone that you'd sell them (or give, if it was a particularly bad day) your kid because of their behavior at the moment? Alternately, has anyone said to you while smiling, "how much would you take for that beautiful boy (or girl)"? Don't do that anymore. What's this world coming to? And seriously, what mother would take the old boy literally? I mean, it would take at least two fatted hogs.
Wednesday, September 03, 2008
Guest Blog by Lauren Lauren wrote this essay for a class she is taking. I thought it was interesting and wanted to share with you. Copyrig...
In a recent Smithonian Magazine article, it quotes author Vaclav Smil as saying that "two of every five humans on earth today would not...
The county where I live is a "bedroom" community, not just for people, but for horses. It is not unusual to see large horse traile...
Mass was about to start, so I turned down the volume on my iPhone and silenced it. I slid it into the handy pocket on my thigh of my new cap...
The BBC news magazine reports that Paris Hilton wrote the following on her myspace.com blog: "Please help and sihn it." She is h...
"I am going to be homeschooling my kindergartner. What curriculum should I use?" If only I had one day to have my little ones li...
Before going back to more serious subjects, I wanted to share a story told by my sister about my beloved nephew/godson. He recently had a fr...
If I had been the cashier, I would have lost my job. I would have told the old lady that I'd ring up her "Christmas gifts" ...
As I watched her slide off the brass elephant, I recognized in her something of myself . Which of our parents gave us this propensity to be ...
In my late twenties, I was the foreman of a synthetic detergent manufacturing plant, the first female to work in the building much less supe...