Friday, June 29, 2007

What I'm Supposed To Be Doing, And What I Actually Am Doing

Today is my only day off this week, and I was planning to spending it doing butchly thinks like changing my oil and growing a mullet and buying a new chain for my wallet and hanging out at the MotoMart to cruise know, all that cool dykey stuff.

Okay..really, I'm just going to change the oil. But is there anything dykier than changing your own oil? It's not my fault, though. I hate paying someone to do something I can do.

My older brother Matthew, who can be a dick but is occasionally an insightful dick, once said to me that he doesn't want to spend so much of his time making money that he has to pay someone to live his life for him. And at the time I thought, "I'd love to have enough money to pay someone to live this lame-ass life for me."

But now I get it. I can always pick up extra shifts at the lab. I could work 60 hours a week and double my paycheck and pay someone to change my oil and sit in the yard with my girlfriend, and tell MelonKiwi that he's the most specialest-prettiest-mostest-beautifulest-cat-in-the-history-of-catdom. But I very much prefer doing it myself, getting away from lab mentality and lab conundrums. "What's a normal white cell count on a cat?" Or "How do you convert millimoles per liter of magnesium to milligrams per deciliter? " Or my favorite, "My husband had a vasectomy two years ago. Does he still need to come in for his post-operative sperm count?"

I don't know...are you pregnant?

So...the oil. It needs changed. But my arms are tired from lifting, so I'm sitting in the house with Carrie, eating homemade biscuits and jam and watching the cat sneeze. See? What's the value of that? Priceless.

Domestic Bliss vs. Obsessive Drive.

Last night Carrie said to me, "Mom, Tyler wants to go to the gym with us in the morning, so don't leave without us."

"Okay", I said.

So this morning, Carrie got home from her run, and went into the bedroom to wake Tyler. Carrie had to go running, btw, because she's one of those people who works out before the workout because the real workout isn't strenuous enough.
If I hadn't gone to all the effort of pushing her and her melon head out of my womb, I'd have to kill her.

I heard her through the bedroom door, trying to wake Tyler in that voice people use when they're trying to get someone to do something good for them...and they're clearly resisting.

"Tyler...time to wake up", she sings cheerfully.
"Muuuuh", says Tyler.
"Come on, T. It's time to go to the gym.", Carrie says, more forcefully.
"Mmmmuuuhh!", says Tyler, more emphatically.

And that's when I lost the thread of the conversation, but they began sounding like Charlie Brown's teachers having a disagreement. Their voices got low and forceful.

"Wa-wa-wa!", says Carrie.
"Wa-wa!, says Tyler. "Wa-wa-wa-wa-wa."
"Wa!", says Carrie, dismissively.

And then she walked back into the living room and said, "Tyler will be going with us tomorrow."

They Love Me! They Really Love Me!

I woke to find this in my e-mail box this morning:

I love your posts about working out. Your gym sounds hilarious and ripe with stories! (Better to be ripe with stories than fungus, right?) Do you mind if I link you in a group blog, People Under the Stairmasters, about gym culture? Better yet, would you be willing to join and cross post there?

Woohoo! I've hit the big time! The woman who sent me this kind offer is one of my favorite bloggers. If you're reading from our list of favorite bloggers, hers is C.U.S.S. If you're not reading them... shame on you. Did you not hear me specifically tell you you should? You're grounded...all of you!

Inviting people to join your blog group is somewhat like proposing marriage at the Cubs game on the Jumbotron; there's some risk of public embarrassment. But Suzanne, I'm throwing my arms around your neck and beaming at the camera (not dumping my beer in your lap and mouthing "asshole" on national TV, in front of your mom and all your friends). Yes! Yes I'll marry your blog!'ll have to tell me how to do that. My friend Amy's been trying to teach me to use MySpace all week, and I'm not exactly taking to it like a duck to water. Of course it doesn't help that I've been told that if you're over 30 and posting on MySpace, you're either stupid or you're a pedophile.

And Suzanne...Have you met my friend Robin? The one who didn't take three years off? The one who kayaks and swims in her fish pond?

Suzanne, this is Robin. Robin...Suzanne. Talk amongst yourselves. I have to go work out.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

I May Not Be Much Yet...

Thanks, friends, family, coworkers and Blood Drive Guy for your excellent support.

Yesterday I decided there wasn't enough pain in my workout...what good is cardiovascular health without big arms? So I had my first date with the free weights since I've been back in the gym.

Okay...probably at this point I ought to mention that I'm working out in a gym that was thrown together out of half of an auto repair shop. The walls are painted a dingy gray, there's exposed conduit and duct work everywhere, and the locker room is 6 salvaged high school lockers and a plywood toilet stall.

However, it does have a couple of major selling points: It's less than two miles from my house, the equipment is oddly good, and when Carrie and I go in the morning, we get to walk through a little clot of very old women steppin' to a workout video in their tights and leg warmers. We find them oddly inspirational and endearing.

So yesterday, having reached my first goal of 20 minutes on the elliptical machine, I decided to add free weights. I love free weights; I love the clanking metal, the dingy, sweaty atmosphere, and the huge, powdery, grunting men who offer to spot for me. I don't love the blasting Hair Bands on the boom box, but depending on how many huge men there are and how whipped up on testosterone they seem...I turn it down a little when I walk in.

But instead of huge bulky men, I walked into the free weight room and was confronted by the local high school cheerleading squad. They were a typical group of high school chearleaders...tall, tanned, with blond hair pulled back in perky ponytails, impossibly smooth freshly shaven legs and wearing t-shirts from the cheerleading camps they've attended. They kept turning to each other, clapping their hands, and shooting out their little fists like bullets or Ninjas. Ninja cheerleaders.

But hello! They're cheerleaders! They can't lift, they can't stop flirting with the trainer, and they worry about getting big arms and "looking like men". Not hardly, Sweetheart.

When I walked into the weight room, the cheerleaders looked at me with the combination of apprehension and disdain that cheerleaders have for other humans who might behave unpredictably. I was pretty sure none of them would offer to spot for me.

I edged my way past the AJ Lady Wildcat Cheer Squad, and got down to the business of destroying my ego. At my best, I could leg press 400 pounds. Yesterday...150. I could curl 35 pounds with each arm. Yesterday...12. And so on and so on.

It was some consolation that after three years out of a gym I could still outlift the AJ Cheer Squad, but not much.

I pushed myself extra hard because I knew I would be taking Thursday off. Giving away a pint of blood is not conducive to weightlifting success. But I don't feel bad about the day off; I woke up this morning with those pleasantly leaden arms and achy abs that you get with a good, hard workout. But me and my depleted blood volume will be back at it tomorrow morning. I'm not expecting greatness yet. But someday I plan to proudly regain my tiara as The Queen of Fucking Everything.

And then the cheerleaders will be jealous!

The Wagon

First, Carrie convinced me to go to the gym with her. Now, it's healthy food. Is there no end to this madness???

I just had a birthday, so I'm a little extra sensitive to topics related to mortality. So here I am at 44 years old: overweight, middle-aged, in a high-stress job, with a cholesterol level hovering around 270-ish.

That's the bad news.

The good news is that I can actually change some of those things. I suspect I'm going to stay middle-aged, so that one is off the table. But Carrie and I have been lifting weights and running on the elliptical trainer, so if I can manage to not have a heart attack in the next few weeks, I'm bound to be better off. I know how to work out...I used to do it for a living when I was in the fire business. And Carrie is very motivational (that's a much better word than "bossy"). So I'm 12 stepping my way to better cardiovascular health. I'm on the wagon.

"Just for today..."

I donated blood today and swapped stories with the guy running the blood drive. He's 48, and we were talking about the challenges of getting back into the gym in your 40s. We're busy. We're stuck in a routine. We're not out looking to score why bother?

Because we want to live long enough to retire with the hot chicks we've got?

So I lifted the weights, ran on the machine to nowhere, and ate the vegan casserole today...just for today. Tomorrow is a new day. We'll see what it brings.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Happy Birthday ...

It was a toss-up between this one and "In Spite of Ourselves."

Ain't we got love!!!

Sunday, June 24, 2007


Once again, we owe a debt of gratitude (and the monthly service fee) to NetFlix for delivering the gift of "Water" right to our door. It's a beautiful film, cinematically, and it will touch your heart. Even though you'll need a tissue or several at the end, we recommend it wholeheartedly.

An Academy Award nominee for Best Foreign Film, "Water" deals with the life of forced self-denial that awaits Indian widows, from the perspective of Shuiya, widowed at 8 years old and doomed to spend the remainder of her days in a "widow house." There, she's befriended by the elderly women and the young, beautiful widow Kalyani who has been turned into a prostitute by the mean, nasty, evil, greedy Didi Madhu who runs the ashram/brothel.

The film winds the story of the widows around the story of colonial India in 1938, as Mohandas Gandhi is opening the eyes of the world to the dream of freedom for India, the widows are opening their eyes to the dream of freedom for themselves. These dreams come together at the point in the film where a holy man tells one of the widows that the law would allow women to remarry and leave the life of self-denial and shame, but "we don't pay attention to the laws that don't suit us."

As always, when we watch films that illuminate the dark, hidden places in cultures far from ours, the most shocking moment is found at the end of the film, when we learn how little has changed between the promise of freedom in 1938 and the reality of life for the Indian widows today.
Rent this film. You'll be happy ... and sad ... and happy again ... and enlightened.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

You're Pitiful -

Golly gee! There really IS a YouTube video for every occasion!

We stumbled across this one and wouldn't you know ... IT reminded us of someone, too!



Spanish Harlem

There is a rose in Spanish Harlem.
A red rose up in Spanish Harlem.
It is a special one, it's never seen the sun
It only comes out when the moon is on the run
and all the stars are gleamin'.
It's growing in the street, right up through the concrete,
But soft and sweet and dreamin'

Besame Mucho,

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

God Loves Me Best

Well! Fortunes do change on a dime!

Today was my day off. In my day-off fantasy, I would be sitting in the shade reading great works of literature and maybe sipping a fruity cocktail drink. I would sleep until noon and awake refreshed, sip my coffee on the veranda with my hot lesbian lover while being pithy and winsome.

However...this is my real life, so I hauled my ass out of bed at 9 and mowed my yard all morning. But that was almost like a fruity cocktail drink, if you sort of squint. The sun was shining, the grass smelled nice and it felt like something was actually being accomplished, even if you know you'll have to do it again in two weeks.

Sooo...the grass got mowed, then I took the cat back to the vet and got the big thumbs up on the eye removal surgery. And that'll be better, oddly. Who'd ever think to put the words "eye removal surgery" and "better" together? But she's so pathetic with her button head and her big plastic collar, anything's got to be better than that.

So here I am, thinking that my only day off was a big ole wasted day in terms of hedonistic veranda, no lesbian fantasy, no fruity drinks...and then my neighbor John asked me if I'd be interested in buying his tractor! For $150!

Instantly, the skies opened up and a chorus of Hosannahs erupted! A tractor? $150??? I'm so there!!

Suddenly my life has meaning. I have something to live for. I finally understand God's mysterious plan for my life! I have a tractor to rehab.

Screw the fruity drinks and the verandah...I have a tractor.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

The Door

When I bought the crappy eBay truck from the nice farm boy in Indiana (not to be confused with the one I bought from the nice farm boy in Nebraska), it came with a bunch of extra parts...a fuel pump, a stick shift knob a few pieces of trim...and a door.

It was, in fact, the original driver's door that had been nailed in a T-bone collision and was caved in pretty bad. But it had good parts to cannibalize for the new junkyard door that replaced it...A mirror, a door handle, a window crank and the piece of red pleather vinyl-ette that matched the vinyl-ette of the rest of the interior.

So I cannibalized all the parts I could use, and then I was left with an old, stripped, caved-in door. So I threw it in the back of the truck, fully intending to keep my eye out for an unprotected dumpster and pitch it in. But an unprotected dumpster is harder to find than one might imagine. Dumpster space is valued at approximately the same level as extra room on the space shuttle...and who's going to want to take an old Ford pickup truck door into orbit?

So I drove around with it. Occasionally I'd see a dumpster that met my criteria, but then I felt guilty. Who knows how many starving Malaysian babies had to work 20 hours in the factories to import cheap knock-off clothes so that Wal-Mart could afford to rent that huge-ass dumpster? Or how many PETA-worthy rats were making their home in that dumpster, and might be unknowingly crushed under that door? Better to keep driving.

So...what? 10 months later?'s finally Southern Illinois' most anticipated and revered holiday: Big Pickup Day. That's day that the garbage haulers will take anything you can drag out to the curb. If I tell you this has been the sole topic in town this week, on par with VE Day or the Kennedy assassination, I'm underreporting it's magnitude.

Neighbors stop in traffic to remind each other, "Hey! Don't forget it's Big Pickup Day this week!" Fliers are posted on light poles and store windows. I think there might be a Big Pickup Day Festival and the crowning of the Big Pickup Day Queen.

Our Big Pickup Day celebration included, inevitably, the Door. And as I dragged it's rusty battered carcass to the curb and leaned it up against the sofa that John killed Jody on, I felt sort of nostalgic. The Door's been my runnin' buddy for the last year. Me and the Door were tight, man.

I thought about popping open a cold Schlafly's and leaving it out with my pal, the Door. But instead I drank the Schlafly's and composed a little ode to the Door:

Door, Door, we were never at war.
No matter how rainy,
your love never waney-ed...for me.

I'll miss you, my Door,
Laying on my truck floor,
Way more than I'll miss
My last 15 girlfriends.

RIP in peace, Door.

Monday, June 18, 2007

The Plot Thickens

Aha! Several pieces of furniture have appeared next to the trash cans, and one of the kids spotted John sneaking away from the property earlier today with ... a load of stuff on his flatbed trailer.

I say we take some luminal to the sofa out by the curb ... that's probably the scene of the crime.


The Southern Illinois Chainsaw Massacre

Our neighbor John, from whom we rent our house, is supposed to be moving. And we're supposed to be moving into his house and leaving our little house for C&T. The problem is that all those "supposed tos" are not coming to fruition in a timely manner. I think they're paralyzed by the amount of all their stuff. We're afraid we may have to show up on their porch with our mattresses in order to convince them of the urgency of our situation.

Saturday Carrie saw John out wandering around in the yard, shirtless and carrying a chainsaw, and we've decided that the strain was too much for him and instead of spending the day packing like he should have, he killed Jody, hacked up her body with the chain saw, and is looking for a good place to hide the chunks.

He wandered into our shed, probably in search of a sturdy water-tight container...maybe the Rubbermaid tubs we keep our Christmas decorations in. No doubt at that point he realized that there wouldn't be enough room to hide a dead cat in our shed, let alone a dead wife.

We've discussed the possible outcomes of this senseless domestic tragedy and decided that there's no use leaving his perfectly good house empty when he goes to live on death row, so we'll move into it and keep an eye on things in case his conviction is overturned someday on DNA evidence supplied by the Innocence Project.

It's the least we can do for a friend.

Sunday, June 17, 2007

I Got Those Old Dog, Old Cat, Middle-Aged Birthday Blu-u-u-u-e-s, Oh Yeah

Today is a whole bunch of things all wrapped around each other; and frankly, while none of them are much more than little rain showers on the parade of my life on their own, they seem to have come together in a Perfect Storm configuration that smacked me in the face as soon as I limped out of bed this morning.

Today's the day our landlords were supposed to be moved out of their house so we can move into it. So far, not a single item has crossed their threshold in an outward direction. I haven't even seen a box loaded into the back of a pickup truck. We've been doing amazingly well with the family bondage, but really ... we're all ready to stop sharing a bathroom and start getting our new living arrangements underway.

It's the second day of doctoring Cuppy's eye every hour, and it's hard to tell which of us is getting more tired of it. She's miserable, her eye is glued shut with eye crap, and I feel mean when I have to pry it open and put ice-cold drops in it.

It's the last day of my three day weekend, and that's always sort of a let-down.

Today I am officially fifty-one-more-year-than-last-year. I haven't been happy about the whole fifty-something process since it began. There's all this subtle stuff that happens to middle-aged bodies that isn't even listed up there on the top of the Hit Parade with gray hair, wrinkles, aches, pains and forgetfulness. Like this thing that happens to skin. It scars differently ... and worse. It's thin in places it used to be thick and thick in places it ought to be thin. It sprouts aberrant hairs from odd places and stops growing it at all on your legs. My nails are getting weird.

The dog is also getting older, and it's led her to spend an inordinate amount of time licking at things and chewing at things and snuffling at things, and that's led to her previously pretty red hair taking on an unfortunate smelly, sticky, spiky patchiness overlying balding, painful hot spots ... and her bidness is drooping. This is not a good look, and it's forcing me to confront the mortality of the animals I've shared my life with for the past decade or so.

So I'm up this morning washing the dried gunk out of the cat's eye, and thinking about the move that isn't moving, and wishing I had more weekend, and thinking that I'm not good at this part of owning pets when they start falling apart and leaving you one piece at a time, and that I'm distinctly not crazy about having any more birthdays, and pondering what indignities of age may lie ahead for me and the pets and whether they'll include losing more eyes ... or having my bidness get droopy ... and then I found the following on one of my favorite blogs, and it tickled me so much I had to stop and read it aloud to myself, and I thought, "Well, there! That's what I needed to hear today!"

If you haven't discovered Offsprung, you should. Do yourself a favor and go there soon.

I've shamelessly (but with great admiration, if that counts) borrowed this little snippet of wisdom to share with you as an enticement, and to internalize for myself, because now I know what I want to be when I grow up. I want to be a Calvinist Scotswoman with a brogue. I can do it ... I'm very good with dialects!

Fort Awesome: Did I tell you my mom’s review of Joan Didion’s book?

Terrible Mother: The Year of Magical Thinking?

Fort Awesome: Yeah.

Terrible Mother: I loved that book.

Fort Awesome: This was my mom’s review: “Oh, my husband died … name drop…name drop… name drop…name drop….self indulgent musing……” But in a Scottish accent.

Terrible Mother: Christ-o-matic.

Fort Awesome: This is the climate I grew up in. “Oh your husband died. Why don’t you cry like a wee baby. People die all the time. Be thankful you still have the health and wherewithal to survive the unflagging misery that is life.”


Friday, June 15, 2007

One, Two, Button my ... eye??

Behold...Cuppy's new face.

And what a host of indignities it sports now! The button, the collar, the eyedrops...that's God's special punishment for being a purebred.

Our dime-a-dozen stray tuxedo cats are healthy as horses...probably healthier than purebred horses. Poor Cuppy, who's been carefully bred for generations to maximize her goofiness potential, has finally reached the zenith of goof: A Button Head.

But she's going to survive this latest go 'round...and that's all we care about.

This Time It Was Cuppy's Turn To Go To The ER

And here I thought I'd have nothing to blog about today...

Cuppy's eye was looking worse today, so I called the vet back and got her a squeeze-in appointment right before lunch. Lori and Cuppy and I piled into the car and headed over there. They took her in right away, and the vet took a look at the eye. While we were standing there discussing it, Cuppy shook her head and her eye pretty much exploded in front of us.

The vet, who was a young little cutie-pie, looked a little green and said, "This is too much for me. Let me get the other doctor in here." And the two of them put their heads together, told us that Cuppy's cornea had split open and that they would take her to surgery.

They did, but it sounds like there's no more eye. They sewed her third lid up over where it used to be, then sewed it shut and then sewed a big coat button over the whole thing. We can pick her up tonight and talk to the doctor about exactly what's going on.

So...there's precious little good news in all of that except that at least now she'll stop getting those horrible eye infections. And she'll look sort of sporty and rakish with her new button. Lori's thinking we'll ask for a big rhinestone-encrusted button, because if you have to look like Cuppy, the least you can do is have some bling.

Another Day, Another Sack of Kitty Litter

I got up this morning and made my usual rounds of all my favorite blogs, and then complained that no one's blogging. And Lori said, "Isn't that what they're saying about us?"

Oh, yeah, Ms. Hairsplitter. Go ahead and split those hairs.

So I still don't have any brilliant blogging plans, but here's what's going on in our lives:

Carrie came to visit me in the lab last night and happened to arrive while I was doing a semen analysis. She declared that it was a weird job I have, and, after looking at the furiously swimming sperm under the microscope, swore to come directly home and break up with her boyfriend. Apparently she recovered from her trauma, since he was still here when I got home.

Cuppy, our distinctly bald cat with the unattractive phlegm problem, decided to add another dimension of depth to her unsightly appearance by developing a oozing, pus-filled eye ulcer this week. Currently her entire head is gently oozing yellowish-greening gluey stuff. But she's a trooper. As Carrie and I were schlepping her off to the vet yesterday, she purred a wheezy little purr...and then sneezed.

The vet assured us that she would recover from this latest indignity and live a long, boogery life.

Katie has her tickets for next week's trip to Tucson. She's scored big in a couple of ways: she's going just in time to avoid helping us move, while she's gone I'm going to work on her car some more, and she gets a month off work.

However WE'VE scored big too. We'll be moving into a new house with no kids, so we get to jump back on the sex wagon as loudly as we want without anyone suffering any "ewwww" trauma.

Today is Lori and my day off and we're planning to do...something. I don't know what, but the sun is shining, the weather is warm, and we've been good little health care professionals all week.

Maybe something blog-worthy will happen today, and then I'll blog about it tonight. Or maybe we'll go to Wal-Mart for kitty litter, pick up some groceries, pay a few bills, and set shit on fire in the yard like we always do.

Stay on the edge of your seat...

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Where I'm At, Part...Ah, Who the Hell Knows At This Point.

When I first started writing this blog, I did it for the kids. It was a way to keep them in my life from halfway across the country. But now both my daughters are here, and my son is too busy reading his textbooks to read the blog. So I've lost my intended audience, and with it, I feel like I've lost my voice.

So I've taken a few days to think about what I want this blog to look like. Do I want it to have more of a focused intent? Why do I need to have an online diary of our lives, when the reason I was writing it was so Carrie and Robbie could stay connected?

I haven't yet come to ground with answers to either of those questions, but I suspect I'll be much more of a hit-or-miss blogger for a while. We've got a ton of summer stuff going on outside, and I'm happy to get outside and enjoy the good weather while it's still good. So while I get oriented to my new reality, I thought I'd leave you all with a picture of MelonKiwi, because he's so darned cute that I pity anyone who's not lucky enough to live with him and his pretty pink nose.
And now, as usual...I gotta run.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


Today we got greasy! Well, Ev and Rob got greasy. Kwachie supervised from the adirondack chair while chatting on the laptop and sipping an ice-cold beer. We thought you'd enjoy these snapshots taken around the Family Compound as the work progressed:

Ev and Rob are degreasing (with my KITCHEN SCRUBBIE!!!!!) and making assessments.

Here we see the e-Bay Ford lending some power to the operation, which I think may have really been just an excuse to park on the lawn like the good Lord intended.

Here are the dogs helping me supervise.

As it turned out, there was no need to get into the transmission. Yay!
After a couple more beers ...

and a couple more stories ...

and a couple of trips to Auto Zone for a transmission line and a pipe bender ... voilà ... Katie was able to drive to work in time to serve the pizzas!

Our landlord spent the day hauling off trash in preparation for their move (and ours ... yay!) and repairing the drainage ditch so none of our multitude of vehicles will end up nosediving into it the next time it rains. Lucky for us, part of the repair involved the installation of a support structure, which we were happy to make use of.

What's a family compound without a snazzy gated entry???


Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Want to Buy Swampland in Florida?

In our endless quest for hermitude, we've been looking at all kinds of remote property in the farthest reaches of Southern Illinois. A few days ago Lori saw a piece of land outside of Mounds City, IL, which is just a hair north of Wickliffe, Ky on the Ohio River.

If ever there was a town that didn't deserve the title of "city", it's Mounds City. The population is 750, most of whom must commute somewhere else to work. As far as I could see, the downtown area consists of a grain elevator, a post office, a pharmacy, and a tavern. That's it. No grocery store, no gas stations, and precious few employment opportunities.

But...what we did find is a nifty plot of land for sale. It's eight undeveloped acres of woods and fields, and it backs up onto a chute of the Ohio river.

These woods are dense, folks. I mean impenetrable in places. The western periphery, the side that's accessible by the road, is surrounded by a wall of brambles and poison ivy, and you pretty much have to find a place where you could sort of imagine a gap, and wade in. But's gorgeous. Dark and cool with a high canopy of trees, it's definitely worth the struggle to get back there.

We chose our entrance point carefully; we wanted to not get poison ivy, ticks or chiggers, and not be confronted by what was either an old abandoned Bum Camp, or a dead guy rolled up in a tarp. I figure that the responsibility for disposing of all corpses lies with the seller. But I'd be negotiable on that if she'd knock it off the asking price.

The eastern side is bordered by a chute of the Ohio river, which is a crescent shaped jog off the river that left a large island between the chute and the river.

The chute side of the property is easy to get to by driving on the levee wall, then down a dirt road. We hiked down the road for a while and saw all sorts of fish and turtles in the water, including a two-foot long gar, in all it's primordial creepiness.

So it's a very cool piece of property, and the asking price is $10,000 and the owner is negotiable. But the question for us is...what would we do with it? It's probably too close to the Ohio to build a house on, or even a cabin. I'm sure it wouldn't take another 500 year flood to submerge it entirely. We've considered building a structure of some kind on a decommissioned barge or some other floating base that could rise with rising water levels, or a cabin on stilts.

It would be an excellent place to clear out a spot, build a cabin and put a boat into the Ohio River, but not if it'll be underwater every spring.

So far, we've decided to buy it and watch it for a few years. See how high the river goes, and how well the river contains it. For $7,000, it's worth it. The property taxes on that land are a Like, free. As long as it's undeveloped, it's not assessed any taxes at all. And that means we can sit on it and see if it's a viable place to stick a cabin, or a boat, or a barge. If not, it'll be an investment in cheap riverfront property. And if it is dry enough, it would be a very cool place to put up a little kit house and hide out from least on the weekends.

Sunday, June 03, 2007

I know, I know...I suck as a blogger.

We're busy, busy, busy these days so I'm not blogging the way I'd like to. I'm still thinking about stuff, but unless I can blog them with my mind control from the car, I'm pretty much dead in the blog-water these days.

What happens to a family's dynamic when the grown children are back in the house?

In my family, there's a lot of teasing, a lot of trying not to offend, and a little bit of "see how good I've grown up." There's a lot of turf war between sisters, but not with mom. Like Melvin the cat...I'm the alpha. All it takes it the Raised Eyebrow of Doom to convince them that civility is the preferred method of communication. Luckily, they're generally nice people, with a healthy fear of their mother...still.

And they have grown up good. Caustically funny, attractive, cat-loving young people. What more could a mother ask for?

Maybe another bedroom or two.

I can imagine what it's like for Lori to be surrounded by all of us in all our bitchy sisterhood. I think I'd want to hide in the shed, too. But...well...she's stuck with us. You know..."better, worse, richer, poorer"? That thing? Sometimes we can wrap all the way around from better to worse (and richer to poorer) in nanoseconds. Some days we're just a transmission seal away from achieving Nerdvana.

But I still think of it as a victory. The glass IS half full. We still love each other, we still love the kids (we're not too crazy about the cats right now, but that'll pass), and we're shopping for cool kit houses that we can build ourselves our in the woods. Then we can live our dream of becoming crazy cat ladies dressed in 40 layers of outerwear, wandering the woods like a pair of Sasquatches.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Around the Country In Six Days.

You know...I am tired. I guess I didn't realize it until I said it out loud. All that driving and visiting and worrying about the trip and the kids and their emotional well being has me 'wo out.

So now that life has settled down some, I'm going to endeavor mightily to get back to my soul-nurturing rituals of drinking coffee, petting my cats, driving around with Lori, and puttering around the yard.

So here's some pictures from my trip...but none of Robbie, who's apparently in the Witness Protection Program and can't be photographed, or he'll have to move away and create a new identity.
This was the rainy, dingy beginning of the trip...Missouri or Arkansas or something like that. I've decided that Arkansas is just bad. We drove through Arkansas on the way here a year and a half ago, and we found people to be unpleasant and useless. All the people in service industries that we encountered...watresses, clerks, hotel front desk people...seemed exceptionally sullen and dumb. A deadly combination.
Apparently nothing has changed in the last 18 months. Service people are still sullen, dumb and rude in Arkansas.
In sameness, there is strength.
I stopped for a Sub sandwich in Sulpher Springs TX, and sat on the tailgate, eating my sandwich and people-watching a little bit. The sunset was pretty over the truckstop skyline, and Texans talk funny, but truckstop people are truckstop people no matter where you go.
My original plan was to sleep somewhere around Dallas, but the traffic ar 11 oçlock at night was so intimidating that I thought I'd better press on to a more traveler-friendly town like Abilene.
In far West Texas, I stopped to pee, admire the scenery and take some pictures. Included in my Texas landscape is a little peek at the prettiness of my crappy eBay truck. I could like Texas if I could stay in the part where there are no actually Texans. I'm all about the scrubby desert and the no-people-for-200-miles part of Texas.
I went about 1400 miles in the first 24 hours, and then finally stopped at a Holiday Inn in Deming, NM at noon on the second day, where the clerks were both kind and competent and I got a jacuzzi in my room. It felt like a fair reward for my noble traveling.
The next morning, I got some breakfast and then went out in search of Lori's mom's gravesite in Deming. She was from Deming, and after she died Lori and her sister returned her to her ancestral home.
I had to hunt around a little to find her, but a bunch of nice young maintenance guys with excellent tans helped me, and eventually we tracked her down and got some pictures.
By the time I got to Tucson, I'd pretty much put away the camera and gotten down to the task of moving. Robbie came over and helped us pack and move, and nervously told me he'd changed his major from Medical Technology to Mechanical Engineering. He was mightily relieved to find that I don't care what he does for a living as long as he doesn't dread getting up and going there every day for the next 40 years.
He's a nice guy...and he looks like a man now. It's funny to keep slipping back and forth from, "this is my son...he's a part of me" to "this is a free-standing autonomous man I know." Maybe that's part of the conflict of having your children grow up.
I don't have any pictures of the trip home, but try to imagine three adults, two cats, and a U-Haul trailer. For 1600 miles. In three days. And you'll see why the objective was to get home more than it was to sightsee.
I'm sure there's more, but this is a good start.

Mindy Smith - Jolene.

Mindy Smith - Jolene.

Carrie's turned me on to this one. She's kind of folky and writes great songs, but I'm partial to this one even though she didn't write it.

Check her out...and then spend some money on her stuff.