Thursday, August 27, 2009

One of My Favorite Movie Clips

The Element of Surprise

We looked around for Anna's painting in Cloverville, the make-believe 4H town in the West Hall of the Kentucky State Fair. The painting, bigger than most there, and of course, very familiar to us, would catch our eye immediately if we laid eyes on it. I suggested maybe it was in another room, though this was the senior painting division room. "They better not have lost it," Anna said ominously.

We were directed to the information booth to inquire. And there, beside the booth, were the Grand Champion winners encased in glass. My throat choked as I saw Anna's painting with a large purple ribbon. Indeed, they had not lost it.


"Temptation"
by Anna

Notes:
A neighbor (you know who you are) stuck a duck egg under my broody bantam hen. Duck eggs aren't so big as goose eggs, so the hen was happy to adopt this egg. Now, what she is going to think when her efforts result in this child of hers, I don't know. Neighbors have been notified that they will adopt said smelly child when it is "weaned".

It's finally summer here, reaching the high 80s. Somehow, we escaped without having temperatures in the 90s. The nice weather ruined some crops, but our famous grass is beautiful. Good hay season!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Here, Kitty, Kitty

Butt in the air and down on the pavement with my dress clothes on, I momentarily gave pause that my daughter might be embarrassed if she and her friends were to see me right now. A six week old, jet black kitten was meowing piteously and panicked. I meowed back, a soothing mommy-kitty sound. As I reached for it, it climbed the tire of the car beneath which it hid.

I couldn't leave it there: we were in downtown Lexington, and cars were whizzing by on the busy street, pulling in and out of the parking lot for the campus bookstore of the nearby university. The kitty retreated further into the car, following the cavity where the axle came out to the wheel. Oh, well (no pun intended), I would sit on the curb and see if I was quiet, it might come out. I had time to kill.

Lauren was having dinner with friends in a nearby restaurant, a precursor to an event we were attending that night, a "masterclass" with Alessio Bax. I eat fast, so I went walking around to the bookstore to browse. Upon exiting, I heard the kitten.

After awhile, I looked under the car again, and got a curious look from two young coeds. I shrugged. "There's a little kitty under there."

Both girls immediately joined in to trying to coax kitty out of the car. They went back into the store, found the car owner who came out to open the hood. The mom of one of the girls had also arrived. My meow seemed to elicit more responses from the kitten, so the girl asked me to keep meowing.

By now, Lauren and friends had arrived, and luckily, I was on my feet and ready to get out of there before I found myself taking home a small black kitten. As I walked away, one girl had her entire arm down in the engine of the car, trying to reach it. I worried that she'd break the car or her arm, but not my problem. We walked back to my car, and all loaded in to our next stop. On exiting, we could see the car down the block, which now had several more people crowded around it, all trying to get the cat out. I was amused. But as far as I was concerned, I had deftly solved the problem by delegation.

Notes:
Yes, Lauren, the fact that he is so handsome probably doesn't hurt his career at the very least. But he does seem to be an amazing pianist (haven't really heard him play yet, only teach).

Adding classes at a university the day before classes start isn't smart. Lesson learned.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Teach...Your Children Well...

Baby talk, that is, high-pitched helium gas talk, isn't well tolerated in our house. Yet, we do find it difficult to let go of cute mispronounced words. Letting go of them somehow means that the child is growing up, no longer wanting a "hambur-bur". At seven, I suppose it is time to teach William that magazines are not "mazagines", but mazagine sound so much better. And he loves to go to Cost-so to get "zamples". A zample is a sample of a product which is used as an example. I think it is a cool new word.

Speaking of zamples, they really do work if you have a seven year old with you - and it isn't crab meat. William loves to try all the zamples and then see how long it takes to wear me down to buy it. He "got me good" on the Angus hamburgers with blue cheese. Boy, were they good (and expensive). A friend of mine is a zample presenter, and she laughed recently, when William started to take her zample and I asked, "William, you do know it's crab meat, right?" I pictured him throwing up all over the aisle when he found out. We didn't buy that zample.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Moo

The soft inquisitive eyes stared out at me through the galvanized slats. Not at all introspective about the hypocrisy of heading to the store to by lunchmeat and feeling sorry for the cow in the trailer, I hoped that the owners weren't heading to the slaughter house. She (?), the cow that is, not the owner, was wearing a leather halter with a shiny brass buckle. You wouldn't put a leather halter on a meat cow, now would you?

Ohio license plates turned towards StuffMart. Then, it dawned on me. State Fair. The Kentucky State Fair started today! Maybe it was a famous, prize cow I just saw, headed to the Fair to win more prizes. Relieved, I stopped worrying about her. And went to buy roast beef.

Notes:
Rode Etta in the pasture, or rather, sat on her and watched the sunset. I'd share the photos of this Anna took, but my computer refuses to cooperate. Maybe tomorrow.

Today, our Math-U-See shipment arrived, William's math curriculum. I had to buy new, different manipulatives to go with this program. William spent much of the day building hotels, stores, houses with them. One hotel had some kind of high tech safety beam on it so that if anyone shoots at it, the bullets are deflected. So glad he likes his new math supplies,

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Eugene the Van

We were a couple of miles from home when the stupid orange-yellow light came on. Out of gas. I told Anna to grab my purse, the one gas station between here and there was coming up. No purse. I did, however, have the dry cleaning bag full of my husband's dirty dress shirts. Evidently, my mind was on a slight blip. I didn't think that the gas station takes dirty laundry in exchange for gas, but that's an interesting concept. What to do? The drive to Anna's art class is about 20 minutes, perhaps 15 miles give or take, and then back. My light comes on when I have about 30 miles left of gas. If I went home, she'd be very late for class.

Anna had only one paper dollar on her, but then remembered she might have some quarters. Digging around in her purse, she came up with three more dollars. That'll do it, I said, and continued on our journey. After dropping her off, I carefully pumped four dollars, not even two gallons, but enough to get me home. I went in to pay with my change, feeling like white trash driving a van with nearly 200,000 miles on it and paying with quarters. But, I didn't have to walk.

Speaking of Eugene (the van), we had briefly considered turning him in for the clunker program. Even with the rebate, we decided that to get a vehicle big enough to haul the girls back and forth to college in the coming years, and with needing to have extra vehicles for two extra drivers, it was not economically feasible, given the price of new cars. It would be better to get a newer used one (aren't you proud of us, Dave Ramsey?).

Perhaps we should not have anthropomorphized our van, and given him a name, but we all felt we could not turn him in to be euthanized. That is just wrong! Just as a wedding ring is not just a gold band, neither is Eugene just a trashed old van. Many, many hours have been spent in that van, and to know that it would be injected and silenced for ever, and then crushed! Well, not going to happen. William, eavesdropping on the whole conversation, asked if the people would take Eugene, fix him up and return him to us. I hadn't the heart to tell him that the van would be smashed.

Besides, having an old vehicle fits us right now. Dogs and kids pile in. Spill your drink? Oh, well, wipe it up. Smelly cleats, no problem. Dog throws up? Get a towel. New vehicle response, "(not printable)"

Notes:
My busy season is about to start, visiting colleges and starting some more formal schooling for everyone.

Yesterday, William and I spotted a male luna moth.

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Liebestraum

It is an interesting phenomenon that two engineers (and dh an MBA to boot) produced two children focused on the arts, one in performing arts, one in visual. How did that happen?

Lauren returned this past Sunday from two weeks in Sacramento, California culminating in a 10 Piano Performance where 10 pianists played the same piece on 10 grand pianos simultaneously.
Awarded Piano #5, a great honor, she was very pleased with the performance. She even commented that the Japanese teachers there clapped!

Why make a comment like that? The Japanese teachers are very strict, working students very hard. Only towards the end of the two weeks did they begin to relent and nod. Yes, students were making improvements. A compliment from them meant something, for they were not given lightly.

Given the cost of travel right now and other family obligations, the family did not go with her, and my heart was heavy to not see her perform. Still is. Yet, she is moving into her adult life, and it is nearly time for her to fly this chicken coop. One more year. Here is the performance as taped by a parent in the audience:

Chickens

Things you probably don't know unless you raise chickens:

  • Chickens have very warm and soft feet.
  • Despite feeding them and handling them every day, an ordinary chicken will never come to trust you entirely. They know if it came down to the wire, you'd eat them. Don't lie to them, they know.
  • Chickens don't mind the rain as much as people think they do. "Madder than a wet hen" isn't really that mad, and they really are more sad than mad when wet.
  • Chickens will eat most anything, even chicken meat, though I don't do that to them, it seems wrong.
  • Chickens "peep" until at some point, their voices change to clucking. You can tell when they are full grown when their voices change.
  • Some chickens are "engineered" to grow very quickly, and are slaughtered for meat by six weeks. (I don't do this, I'm chicken.)
  • Chickens love to take baths - dirt baths that is. It will appear to be a seizure or death throe at first, but they are really just rolling and flapping about to get the dust all over them.
  • There is a "pecking order" amongst chickens. Caged, bigger chickens will kill chicks that are not their own, and must be separated. Free-ranged, the mom usually can keep the chick away from the bigger hens, and she will attack just about anything that tries to come near.
  • Big hens have been selectively bred to be not broody. Bantams love to be broody. The bantam that dropped her eggs recently continues to sit as if they are still there. Broody hens will eat and drink little for the 21 days incubation period.
  • Because they are sloppy and fed at will, their food attracts rodents. It's best to not keep them in a horse barn. (Horses rarely miss a morsel.)
Now you know.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Horses are Good for the Soul


Quid and Joey (my nephew)
Notes:
Rode Etta Mae for the first time this evening on the road to neighbor's house and back. She was superb but evidently has never seen painted road lines. She trusted me, though, and stepped over them. I wonder if she could feel my hands shaking through the reins?

Spent the day at the park and pool with friends/fellow homeschoolers, a "not-back-to-school party".

Turned in Anna's artwork for the 4H portion of the state fair! More artwork to turn in this weekend for the non-4H side. Lots of shows coming up.

Dumb old Blogger. This is my Saturday post but it won't save it as such and is publishing today. Oh, well, no Saturday posts and two Fridays.

Insult to Injury

My neighbor found a naked man in her yard. Well, not entirely naked, she clarified, he was wearing a green bandanna. (Good thing, too, otherwise he'd be indecent.) The man was standing near the tree line of her woods. Steering her daughter away, she began talking loudly to me over the fence line, saying she was coming my way, though of course, I was not there.

Comment from Facebook reader: Whaaaattttt??? Did she call the police? I mean the green bandanna just adds insult to injury. Maybe he's one of those genius sorts who forgets pants!"

After getting away from him, she called the police. They were able to track down a man matching her description in a truck, except by now he was wearing shorts and of course, denying that he had recently been naked. The policeman disclosed that it was possible it was the man in question, and that he was a neighbor on a nearby street, but no arrests were made. They're going to run his tags.

It isn't amusing on the one hand, that I have a neighbor that obviously has some kind of issue going on. I suppose I could assume he's just now moved here from a California nudist colony and doesn't know how conservative this area is. No, that wouldn't be it - he was, according to the neighbor, only tan on the upper body, meaning he doesn't do this frequently. That leaves druggie, mental patient or sex offender, none of which soothes this writer.

On the other hand, it would be sort of amusing in a "boy, is he stupid" kind of way (and I hope he remembered his sun tan lotion on all that white skin) if I didn't have children that heard the exchange and will now not go into the back of my own property alone probably ever again. You never know, you could run into a naked man.

Living in the country, you'd not expect to have such occurrences, and indeed, I think this is the first I've heard of something like this. I'll have to start walking with my bo when I go to the creek.

Notes:
It's finally hot.

One hen is sitting on a white silkie egg my sister gave me. It's due to hatch Sunday.
One hen tried sitting on two of her eggs, neglecting to admit to herself that she did not have a baby-daddy. She also chose a bad spot - on top of some square bales - and one day both rolled away from her and fell, smashed.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Falls

This time of year is filled with a mixture of excitement at a new start. I set my resolve to keep better records, to be more organized and to do a better job at our studies at home. The books still have that new smell, and I haven't yet discovered the reasons why that particular approach won't work with that particular child.

By the second day of working with a seven year old, I listen wistfully to the big yellow monster rolling past my house. Is it too late to sign him up? Would public school for just this one be so bad? Am I too old to do this all over again? I brace myself, and try again, reading to him about the early days of this continent, about the mammoths and saber-tooth tigers that once lived here.

The next day, I tell him of a surprise. We are going somewhere. We travel to the Falls of the Ohio, so named for waterfalls that are now under water due to dams and locks built help navigate the river, but exposing Devonian era rock filled with fossils, some huge, from the period of time when this area was a shallow sea. Even in our own creek bed, miles away, I find horned coral. But here, fossils are everywhere you look, and are very large.

William loved walking way out on to the rock bed, jumping over the puddles left behind by higher water levels and looking at all the fossils. He thanks me repeatedly, saying how much he's enjoying his day. I remember that this is the first day of public school. Maybe, maybe, we can make this work.

Inside the interpretive center, we study the difference between the mastodons and mammoths, see artifacts from earlier inhabitants of the region, look at dioramas of the shallow sea. A mannequin displayed the dress of early trappers. William asked if it is James Bond. Loudly.

He is anxious to get back to the rocks, climbing up and down the piles of rocks and reminding me why God gave teenagers the ability to have children and why forty years olds doing the same ought to keep up their aerobics.

Later in the day, we returned home, had a few arguments to end the day again wistfully thinking about school buses. I post these photos to remind myself of why I'm doing this.

Notes:
I've threatened to cut the cable wires to the TV due to someone whining about schoolwork and a desire to watch TV instead. It seems a higher power agrees with me, as the downstairs TV cable isn't working. William is less than willing to be alone upstairs due to being scared of the naked man roaming our neighborhood. What??? Read about that tomorrow.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Of Mice and Men

Vermin
Each morning in the barn, I try to do something extra while I'm doing my chores. One morning, I cleaned stall windows, or removed few cobwebs. Yesterday morning, I decided to hang up some of the saddle blankets that were tossed in a pile in the tack room, thinking we didn't need so many, and some of them could perhaps be packed away.

As I picked one up and turned to hang it, I heard a distinctive squeak. I stood still, afraid the mouse was climbing Mount Junosmom. Seeing no mouse, I looked down and saw a nest with four baby mice, all pink and defenseless. One had been crushed by my giant white tennis shoes. The smart farmer thing to do was to drown the remaining ones, but the mommy in me cannot do that to defenseless little babies, even if later, when they are adults, I will mercilessly snap off their heads in mouse traps.

I pushed them all towards the remains of the nest and left the tack room, knowing mice are good mothers, and she would come for them. Sure enough, later in the day, no baby mice were found, having been moved to another location.

Lessons Gone Astray
I often come across magazines where the pages have been altered by busy pens of a certain young boy. Photographs of women sport mustaches and goatees. This is supposed to be hilarious. Last night, as I was working about the house, I hear Anna joining in the fun with William, using her unique artistic abilities to disfigure the visage of a woman in the magazine. William giggled. He looked at the now heavily bearded, low-browed, and wild-haired woman and said, "She looks like a Canadian!"

It took us a moment to decipher that he actually meant "Neanderthal", a people who we had discussed earlier in the day. We had looked at photos in National Geographic and online. We had several times identified them as Neanderthals. How they became Canadian is beyond me.

Monday, August 10, 2009

The Birds and the....Gorillas?

Lifetime lessons surround us. Such as....did you know that for some wild mammals, mating season is not only during the spring? And did you know that if you invite your friends to come to the zoo with a teen girl and teen boy of modest standards, that you are likely to prove that point?

Yes, the animals had no shame that day. In front of God and everyone (and there was quite a crowd), Simba (or whatever his name is) decided to make little Simbas. People with little children began steering them away towards the spider collection. Had they waited, it was over quickly - or so we thought.

Simba thought to try again, make sure of his future offspring. But as my nephew, Joey, pointed out, the female bit him. "She BIT him! She's like, "I've had enough, get OFF of me". We decided at this point it might be wise to make our way to the spiders as well, although William could not figure out what the big deal was.

Spiders bore after awhile, and so eventually, we stared through glass walls at the creatures that are so like ourselves, so much so, that you feel sorry for them that they must endure our staring. I wondered why they were not outside. A female lay back, clearly feeling the ennui.


Her cage mates had other ideas. The silverback caused gasps from the crowd as he came down a pole from a ledge. Despite the glass separating us, his sheer size and power gave me chills. He caused the females to run about a bit, wondering if he was in a good mood or inclined to throw them around. After all settled, it was time to find the spiders again. Yes, again, right in front of God and everybody. Interestingly, in both cases, the female asked for it.

Yes, lifetime learning is all around us.

Notes:
I rode Etta last night in the pasture. She didn't even flinch when the demonic horses from next door charged along the fence line. I would have been in the next county if I had been riding Phantom.

I am stunned at the losses of the Louisville library. Although it is quite a drive for us, the Main library is worth it. It is closed due to the severe flooding which caused $5 Million damage, wiping out the computer system and their entire electrical system. I am wondering when it will reopen - it is one of the cornerstones of our homeschooling resources.

Yesterday was hot and humid - a day like most summers here. It has been a pleasantly mild (yet unusual) summer until yesterday. Humidity today? 96%

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Clifty Falls

This morning, a gentle thunderstorm is rolling through. I imagine myself still in bed, windows open with curtains fluttering, dozing. Imagine, I say because animals and children do not share my love of thunderstorms, gentle or not. They must be reassured and, then, fed. Outside, the morning light shines through all the green, giving the world a eerie yellowish color.

Yesterday, we took advantage of the milder, sunny weather to go hiking at Clifty Falls in Madison, Indiana. Most people think of Indiana as flat corn fields, but in several places Indiana is quite hilly, and along the Ohio River in Madison, forested limestone cliffs provide waterfalls (sometimes), creeks, and interesting hiking.

With packed lunches and my latest book, I harbored the ridiculous hope that we'd hike to the creek, the boys would eat and throw rocks, explore the creek, and I would read, basking in the sun. Rather, they ate quickly and wondered, "what next"?


Their bare feet were tender on the rocks. I showed them how to find clay, pound it with hard rocks and make pliable clay. When I was child, a friend of mine lived near a creek that had a small waterfall and we would sit on rocks and pretend to be native Americans, making pots. The boys loved this - for about ten minutes. Still, I was glad to pass on this memory.


Daisy enjoyed the hiking.

Reluctantly giving up my reading, I decided that a hike up trail #2 was the ticket. Trail #2 is straight up the creek, and you must sacrifice your shoes. It was worth it. And the kids really enjoyed it until Anna spotted a snake. Joey, my nephew, had already been talking about watching for copperheads (we've not many poisonous snakes here), but I remarked that the snake, which escaped into the creek, looked more like a water snake or water moccasin. Was I stupid enough to say water moccasin? It took some convincing to get them back into the water to continue our journey. Going back would be worse than going forward.



We found some cool fossils (one that looked like a lobster tail) and overhangs. We could not go in the caves, closed because bats here are suffering from white nose syndrome, and they are trying to curb the spread of it.


The creek, of course, ran at the bottom of the hills, and we must go back up. I may or may not have occasionally taken people on short hikes that turned into long marches, so my suggestion to take a "shortcut" was met with skepticism. But, find our way we did, although we had to rest a few times on the arduous climb up. These knees of trees provided a good seat.



The rain this morning is likely gushing down these hills now, heading to the creek, causing it to rush and tumble, though yesterday it was calm.

Notes:
My writing must end now as two boys want pancakes and bacon for breakfast.

I left our creek-soaked shoes outside last night to dry. Great idea, huh?

Monday, August 03, 2009

An Open Letter

Dear Mr. Raccoon,

Finding food growing freely is very resourceful, and truly, I don't mind that you take a tomato once in awhile. In fact, I love to give back to the environment. But I find you very wasteful to have chosen FIVE fully ripe tomatoes from my vines and to eat only 1/4th of each. Shameful, it is. Please, clean your plate next time before going back for seconds.
Sincerely,

Owner of only two tomato plants

Notes:
My nephew, Joey, is staying with me this week.

Lauren will be playing in a 10 piano concert in two weeks. She told us that she was chosen to play the #5 piano! The two middle pianos, #5 and #6 of ten, are the most prestigious for the best players. They are in control of the start and flow of the piece. She will be playing Liebestraum.

Saturday, August 01, 2009

No Strike Zone

You may notice that I've no photographs on my blog of late. I've broken yet another camera. This time, it was when I hit a miniature horse with it. Now, before you call the animal rights activists, you should know that I have a no strike policy with all my animals and children and almost never, ever hit one. This was in self-defense.

Roxie was having a bad-mare-day and bared her teeth at my midriff with the intention to give me an instant tummy-tuck, no liposuction needed. Instinctively, I swung with my right hand to knock her off her course of action. That hand contained my palm sized digital camera with the lens open from taking pictures of Etta. It broke the spring that allows the camera to open and close, and is now stuck somewhere in the middle, neither open nor shut, and will not work. I suppose I'll have to rely on Anna to feed me a photo now and again.

Notes:
Baseball season begins today. William was less than pleased with the 8:30 a.m. Saturday practice. Dh and I were less than pleased with dealing with him less than pleased. He has a foot sensitivity - the socks aren't right, the shoes are too tight, there is a rock in the shoe, there is dust in the shoe....Took 1/2 hour to get the shoes right. Are you sure it was a princess and a pea, or could it have been a prince?

Lauren arrived at her destination.

Etta's cut is almost healed. Shall I ride?

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