Saturday, December 24, 2011

Merry Pig-mas!


So yesterday, the kids got an invite to a friend’s house for a few hours in the afternoon.  I dropped them off around two and that gave me three hours to wrap presents and finish up Christmas stuff, since I’d been sick all week with an unidentified flu-like illness.  The friend lives just around the corner, so I drove down the side of our pasture on my way to drop them off.  The horses were over by the fence and I noticed Sugar and Lucky were by the horses.  Lucky was supposed to be in his pen, so I wondered how he got out, but there was another dog there too, wasn’t there? 

I got home, put Lucky up and commenced to wrapping presents and watching HGTV upstairs in my bedroom.  After about an hour, my back could take no more, so I went downstairs and had a little break checking Facebook. 

My neighbor wrote: Just finished the big neighborhood pig roundup.  My Christmas present to you Mickie.  :)  

To which I replied: Are you freaking kidding me?

Lucy, the WonderPig, had apparently had enough of the confined life and decided to take a tour around the neighborhood.  She ended up in Sugar’s backyard and thank goodness my neighbor saw her.  He and his family rounded her up and brought her back home to her pen behind the barn.  She’d apparently worked on the cattle panels that make up the fence on the west side of the barn and pushed them so that they looked more like a teepee propped up on the telephone poles that are the infrastructure of the barn. 

This just after Wednesday, when she decided to heck with the chain link gate and shoved her way right out of it.  We now have chains on everything around here.  It’s like Alcatraz for animals. 

On Wednesday, she stayed in the backyard, while I ran around her in circles screaming at the kids to “get the dogs”, “come help me”, “NO!”, “get out of the WAY!!”  Nothing puts me in a panicked, screaming mood like a loose animal.  I’m surprised someone didn’t call the cops, thinking someone was being murdered over here.   

What we learned on Wednesday was to always hook the chain on the gate, and that I run about as fast as a 3 ½ month old pig. 

Anyway, my neighbor must have been quieter in his escapades, or I had the TV turned up way too loud, because I was totally oblivious to the whole situation! 

I wrapped up my wrapping and covered my tracks and then headed out to check on the barn situation.  The entire 20 ft. or so made up of cattle panels was leaning precariously.  There was a foot wide gap at one end that I thought the pig could have surely fit easily through, so I thought she was out again! 

Please God, don’t let the pig be out again!

“Luuuccccyyyy…” I called.

And out steps a very sleepy pig from the chicken house where she sleeps.  She’d been taking a nap!  Too much excitement, I guess. 

So I corral her back in the chicken house and lock her in so she won’t be doing any escaping before I get the fence put back up and wired in place.  Sounds easier than it really was…

By this time, I had to go pick up the kids.  I told the mom over there about the pig escape.  Her older daughter and the dad had gone to Wal-Mart earlier and the daughter said, “I saw a pig on our way to the store!  I said, ‘Dad, look, it’s a REAL LIVE pig!’”


Lucy the pig. 

Neighborhood celebrity.

I don’t know how long she was out, or where her travels took her, but it was exciting nonetheless. 

And embarrassing.

Stupid pig. 

My 9YO and I worked until dark wiring the panels back in place.  I should say we worked until my helper’s hands got too cold and until mine hurt from bending wire in place.  I was feeling like a farmer last night!

This morning, we go out to inspect our pig-proofing.  We also took Lucy an old bowling ball to play with at the advice of another Facebook friend who has raised pigs for years.  Said she might be bored.    

Lucy and Lucky immediately started playing.  Lucy kept head butting Lucky and was trying to bite his tail.  It was funny to watch.  She didn’t think a whole lot of the bowling ball, but gave it a couple of shoves with her nose.

I also had her eat dog food out of my hand and this time she let me pat her back.  I think her whole trip around the neighborhood made her a little friendlier to us.  They say pigs are smart.  Smart as a dog, I’ve heard.  Maybe, just maybe, she had some escaper’s remorse yesterday while she was off gallivanting with the dogs.  Maybe there was a bit of panic in her heart that she was truly lost.  Maybe there was no tussling with the neighbor because she was relieved that someone knew where she belonged.  Maybe she thought “There’s no place like home.”

Maybe we should have named her Dorothy.

Dorothy Houdini.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Hairy Leg Comparison

Last March, after one of the coldest, snowiest winters in all my life, I posted about Roany Pony's hairy legs

This was the leg hair I observed:

For comparison's sake, here is Roany Pony's leg hair this winter:

Notice my taste in tacky fingernail polish has not changed. 

Is less leg hair for Roany Pony a sign of a milder winter?  Well, let's hope so, being as since last year's winter broke snowfall/blizzard/coldness records that I don't really care to revisit.  Or am I just early in the season and his leg hair hasn't had enough time to grow out? 

I'll let you know in March. 

Monday, December 12, 2011

You Wanna Fight?

I do this thing with Lucky.  It's our thing.  He really doesn't do it with anyone else.  Here's how it goes.

First, he sits and stares at me like this.

And I fail to notice, so he sits and waits very patiently.   Or, he stands and leans his full weight on my legs. 

Come on!  Say it!  he says. 

So I say, "You wanna fight?" with a grovely voice and I shove him over with my foot. 

Then he proceeds to attack my leg with as soft a bite as he can muster with those long teeth. 

So I put my foot on his head.

And he does things like this.

No, that's not blood.  Probably cat food. 

And then he does this. 

Which I take to mean "I surrender!!"

It's really quite the spectacle.  It's become a family favorite.  The kids say, "Mommy!  Fight with the dog!"  And for Mother's Day the teacher passed out one of those "All About My Mother" sheets and the answer for what I did best was "fight with the dog".  Everyone has a talent!

Then Lucky and I have to make up by shaking hands. 

"You're such a good boy! You big dummy!"  I say. 

"Who you calling dummy?" he says. 

Ouch!  Okay, I take it back.  Geesh!   

Friday, December 9, 2011

The Rabbit's Revenge

“For by now I could have stretched out my hand and struck you and your people with a plague that would have wiped you off the earth.”  Exodus 9:15

A couple of weekends ago, my neighbor and I headed over to Claremore on a mission to visit Hoover’s Antique Mall.  I’d been in there a couple of months ago and saw some wooden signs with funny sayings that I thought would make good Christmas gifts. 

Like: “I’m so busy, I don’t know whether I’ve found a rope, or lost my horse.”  Ha ha!

After hitting Hoover’s and having lunch at The Pink House, we were just about ready to head home, but…  who could visit Claremore without hitting the Goodwill? 

Well, maybe you can, but I can’t.

“Since we’re so close….” I said. 

My neighbor was willing, so we headed on over.  I noticed when we pulled into the parking lot that it was completely full except for one space reserved for me.  Ok, I don’t really have my own parking spot, but there was just one hole left and I assumed it was for me. 

We go into the store and it is a frenzy of shoppers.  The sign on the door said “50% off all clothing sale”.  That explained the parking lot. 

I found several sweaters that beckoned me take them home to replace other Goodwill sweaters that have grown weary over the winters.  I found two red ones from Land’s End and Eddie Bauer, a brown one from Liz Claiborne, and a white one from a frou frou mall store who will remain nameless to protect the innocent. 

The white one was a turtleneck lovely that was as soft as a cloud.  Kind of felt like a rabbit.  I checked the tag….

Yep, sure enough, it WAS a rabbit! 

I loved it, but it seemed kind of hairy.  So I washed it with some unsuspecting other clothing items.  Yes, the tag says hand wash, but around here if you can’t make it through the washer and the dryer, then it is back to Goodwill you go.  Everything seemed okay when I placed said sweater in the dryer along with all its other new friends from the washing machine.  I had the forethought to assume it would be putting off a lot of fuzz so I checked the lint trap twice during its drying.  Both times it appeared that I had stuck a cat in the dryer.  A big, fat, fluffy, white cat… who was shedding profusely.

Little did I know…

I put all the laundry up into their respective places and then decided upon wearing my “new” sweater the following day.  I ignored the first few strands of fuzz that landed on my eyelashes as I pulled the thing over my head. 

As the day wore on, I noticed my nose tickling.  Then, as I was speaking with animated hands at Sunday school, I noticed that I was caught in a veritable whirlwind of fuzz trying to shove itself up my nose.  This was one hairy sweater!

I would not be deterred.  It was a nice sweater.  It fit me perfect and looked cute with my red snowman scarf I’d gotten from the dollar store.  I took it off as soon as I got home and threw it back in the laundry. 

Monday passed and upon the arrival home of my husband, he asked me if I’d washed his shirt with something fuzzy.  His entire shirt was a veritable spider web of fuzz! 


Then I began to notice fuzz on my coat, on my undershirt, on my underwear!  It was as if I’d released a great fuzzy pestilence upon my household.    

I was still in denial that I could be beaten by a $2.50 sweater.  So I washed the sweater again, by itself, twice.  And I dried it… twice.  And each time it was as if the rabbit within was releasing more hair this time than the last.

But it was such a nice sweater. 

Yesterday, after wearing the sweater again, I resolved myself to the fact that some clothing articles should just stay at Goodwill.  After a day filled with pulling fuzz strands out of my nose and itching my eyes to clear away the cobwebs of fuzz, I placed the fuzzy sweater into my own Goodwill donation pile.  I hope it finds a good home, really, I do.  Maybe someone who will be willing to hand wash it this time.  Maybe it was my own fault for trying to change it into something it wasn’t meant to be.  Or maybe it was the company’s fault for using a rabbit to make a sweater in the first place.  Or maybe it was finally the white rabbit’s revenge.  What he had against me personally, I’ll never know. 

As for me, my days of angora are over.  After this rabbit sweater experience, I can only imagine what a mess an angora goat sweater could make.  (If you thought I was going to stop shopping at Goodwill, you’re sadly mistaken!)

May your days be fuzzy and bright, and may all your rabbit sweaters be white!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Advent Memories

“Advent  - (from the Latin word adventus meaning "coming") is a season observed in many Western Christian churches, a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas.” - Wikipedia

So there I was, sitting in church last Sunday, listening to the pre-service music, getting settled in my pew, when I notice the Pastor rise from his seat take his bulletin and flap out the Christ candle on the Advent wreath that the acolyte had mistakenly lit. 

You see, it was only the first Sunday of Advent, so only the pink candle and a purple candle should have been lit…  well, I hope that’s right because that’s what we ended up with after the bulletin smack down of the Christ candle. 

I’m not real current on my Advent candle lighting procedures since it has been many moons since I’ve been asked to acolyte.

Many, many moons.

Anyway, I found all this to be quite funny and filed it away under Advent Memories in my head.

Another Advent Memory of mine occurred when I likely was an acolyte, because in this memory, I have a front seat of the church view. 

A girl named Amie was singing in front of Mt. Olive, standing behind the black piano that was beside our Advent wreath.  Now the Advent wreath at my current church is quite substantial and tall, but at Mt. Olive our Advent wreath stood about four feet tall and was what I would describe as “spindly”.  I remember having to be particularly careful about lighting the Advent wreath for fear that the whole thing would go toppling over. 

And it seems I had to light that thing a lot!  I was a seasoned acolyte back in my day.

Anyway, back to Amie singing with piano accompaniment…

I don’t remember what song she was singing (maybe one of you out there can help me out), but sometime during the middle part of the song, an ember from one of the candles fell to the evergreen circle at the base of the candles.  Smoke started first.  Then flames. 

Now this wasn’t a catastrophic fire by any means, but Amie’s eyes got as big as saucers while she watched the flame grow to about three inches tall. 

While the rest of the congregation sat in paralyzed silence, our Usher Extraordinaire name Fred came up to the Advent wreath, Amie still singing and probably Eleanor still playing the piano, and put the fire out with is bare hands.  I can still see him patting and twisting those branches until the fire went out.

Fred was my hero.  Not that we were all in grave danger.  The interior of Mt. Olive’s sanctuary is mostly concrete, brick and stone.  The fire really wouldn’t have had anywhere to go.  And it isn’t like we couldn’t have used a less spindly Advent wreath, but… 

Fred was still a hero.   He saved Advent.

Fast forward to this past year…

My church holds an annual “Advent Fair” where the kids can make some sort of Advent wreath or calendar or other project.  Last year it was a wreath with a Styrofoam base, plastic evergreen garland, ribbon, and the five necessary candles all glued together.  We lit ours maybe once last year, but with memories of an Advent wreath catching fire in my brain, I find I’m not a huge fan of the at-home Advent wreath.  So after Christmas was over, the Advent wreath got placed in the attic.  I didn’t box it up, not that it would have mattered, because I was afraid it would get squashed and broken.  And after all, my babies made it!

Well, here’s what I found this year…

Seems that the 112 degree temperatures of our Oklahoma summer this year were too much for the Advent wreath. 

Quite the pathetic wreath, but funny nonetheless! 
I hope you’re preparing for the coming of Jesus, and I hope someday you share your Advent stories with me!

Tuesday, November 29, 2011


"This is my command:  Love each other."  John 15:17

An update on our pig growing adventure... 

Lucy gets bigger everyday.  Bigger and bigger and bigger. 

She still doesn't think too much of the human lifeform, but she loves Lucky. 

She also loves dogfood.  She may be suffering from an identity crisis. 

Currently, here's how the feed goes at our house:

  • The chickens like pigfood. 
  • The pig likes dogfood.
  • The dog likes chickens. 

It's a full circle of life.... and death.

Anyway, the dog has not acquired a taste for pig ears or pig feet just yet, which is a good thing because she loves him.

They play and run together.  It is really quite funny.  Then Lucky will lie down and Lucy will root him with her nose.  He doesn't think too much of this, but it is fun to watch. 

Sorry for the angle.  She's not aware this isn't her best side.  Or maybe it is!  Isn't that a pork butt?  Mmmm.....  Pulled pork sandwiches.... 

The neighbor dog isn't allowed in with the pig or chickens, so she watches from the outside. 

When Lucky is out but not in the barn with Lucy, she runs the fence and grunts at him when she can see him.

Such good friends are they... 

We suspect she will probably be tough from running with the dog and from the kids. 

I'll let you know in a few more months. 


Sunday, November 27, 2011

Warning: Depressed Blogger

"He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." Revelation 21:4

So I haven’t felt like writing much lately.  Call me Debbie Downer. 

You’ll recall that a few months ago, my cousin Jamie died of cancer at the age of 34.

Then, a man named Kylie, who was my assistant soccer coach for my team this spring, was killed in a car wreck.  He was 41. 

Then, my cousin Chris’s wife, Linda, found out she had and died from cancer in two months.  She was 37. 

Then, a week ago Wednesday, my neighbor, Becky, died unexpectedly after an upper respiratory infection.  She was 43. 

I’m tired of losing people.

Even if they all went to heaven.  

I’ve heard the internet quote that God sends people into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime.  I think I need some more lifetime peeps.  My friends Kylie, Linda, and Becky were literally in my life for a season.  Kylie – a soccer season, Linda – the summer, and Becky – okay Becky was with me about a year, but still… 

I’ve put a moratorium on any further deaths for people I know until at least the first of the year.  If you think you’re close, you’re going to have to just deal.

And this week I was supposed to be thankful, but all I’ve been thinking here lately is “Man, this just sucks!”

It sucks that my friends are gone.  It sucks that they all four left behind small children.  It sucks for their relatives who are left behind to struggle with life without them.

And then, my Russian friend, Nadia, tells me that her husband’s contract isn’t being renewed and they will be moving back to Detroit at the end of December. 

Ok, I know Nadia didn’t die (only I would actually die if I was told I had to move to Detroit), but it still felt like someone cut off my arm.  She was my new friend, and I was just getting to know her. 

Again…  This really sucks. 

And yet, it is not my job to try to sort out the plan that is at work here.   I’m sure there is a reason why four of my “young” friends were needed in heaven this year.  I’m sure there is a reason why Nadia can’t stay in Oklahoma.  I’m sure there is a reason why you’re reading this. 

Thanks for listening to my whining.

No more deaths till 2012! 


Debbie Downer

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Another One of Those Days

I woke up to find the stick horse in the pasture. 

I'm sure he had canine help in getting out there, but he looked funny to me.  Kind of looks surprised, doesn't he?  I'm sure he and Roany Pony will have lots of fun today skipping around the pasture. 

Then I find lots of this stuff on my lawn.

Burned bank statements, cancelled checks, deposit slips.  Only as you can see, they're not very burned!  Remember that I used to be a Bank Examiner?  And then I worked in a bank?  One of my titles was Information Security Officer.  This is an Information Security Officer big no no.  And ironically, the checks were all deposited into an account at a bank I used to examine.  Hmmm. 

So I go across the street to the neighbors to tell them that bank statements are flying around everywhere.  Her husband is a junk man and apparently his friend had cleaned out a storage facility where the statements were kept.  Now they are kept on my front yard, in my fence and across my pasture.  Where are YOUR old bank statements???   

And now a public service announcement...

Please shred!  It makes it easier when the lawnmower hits it.  Plus, I won't be able to steal your private financial account information when your statements come blowing onto my lawn. 

Anyway, I came home with this:

 Sorry, she's a little blurry, but she REALLY enjoys being petted!  And she sticks her face in my face every chance she gets.  And if I'm not in constant physical contact with her, she cries.

Just another day in the life of... 

What kind of excitement are you having this Wednesday? 

Monday, November 7, 2011


"The pig is also unclean; although it has a split hoof, it does not chew the cud.  You are not to eat their meat or touch their carcasses."  Deuteronomy 14:8

Guess what we got? 

Isn't she lovely?  The kids named her Lucy and then told her we were going to kill her and eat her.  We'll see how that goes. 

This is me pig wrestling with her on her first night. 

My husband really enjoyed it. 

I put the dog harness on her because she was less than cooperative and I didn't want to carry a screaming pig all the way to the barn.  This got her away from my ear at least.  Plus, it gave me something to grab a hold of.  Pigs are kind of like bullets. 

Ever been in a greased pig contest? 

I have. 
I didn't win. 

Lucy became a new roommate for the chickens.  They were scared to death of her.  One chicken was injured in all the uproar.  One pig's feelings were forever scarred. 

The next morning she was a bit more friendly.  We introduced her to the dog.  Lucky initially acted like he was going to eat her, but then decided it would be more fun to play with her.  Unfortunately the pig didn't speak dog.  She just didn't get it at first.  Finally she started chasing after the dog and a beautiful friendship was born.  Lucky and Lucy - BFFs. 

Someone asked me if I could eat my dog's best friend.  Hmmm. 

Only time will tell.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Bad Seeds

"What a man desires is unfailing love; better to be poor than a liar."  Proverbs 18:22

My 6YO has had a rough week on the playground. There is a girl – yes, a girl – who is making his life miserable.

First she would chase him, and then tell him if she caught him, they would keep him in the Girl Club.

Then he told on her.

Then she said he couldn’t play with her sister.

Then she gathered her group of girls and would approach him just to say things like “Stay away from me!”

Unlike his older brother, my 6YO is very socially aware. All of these episodes bothered him. REALLY bothered him!

So a few nights ago, it was time for Mother Bear to step in.

I emailed the teacher. I emailed my friend who is a playground supervisor. I named names. I implicated the seemingly innocent. I called witnesses to the stand.

I read my son what I had written and I got, “Oh Mommy! I love you! Thank you for writing that for me!”

He was very relieved.

Then he was apprehensive.

At bedtime he wanted to know what would happen if the playground teachers just told him not to be a tattle tale… AGAIN.

I told him to go inside and find his teacher and tell her what was going on.

He said he’d get in trouble if he went into the building without telling the playground teachers.

So I said, “Just tell them you need to go to the bathroom, and then go inside and find your teacher.”

“You mean lie???” he said.

Okay, so maybe I wasn’t meant to have children. Maybe I can’t be a good example. Maybe all of my evil motives are terribly transparent if even a 6YO can point them out!

“Yes, you can lie, and you won’t get in trouble with me because it will be for a good reason,” I said.

It was the best I could come up with.

“Well, that’s okay because I kind of lie to them anyway,” he said.

“You do?”

“Yes, I get tired and need a drink and they won’t let you go in for a drink, so I tell them I need to go to the bathroom and I go in there and rest and then I get a drink before I go back outside.”


Looks like the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree. The road to Hell really is paved with good intentions.

Thanks to Jesus for saving us from our sins, regardless of good or bad intentions; and for securing a place under the Tree of Life for even bad seeds like me.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011


"He has showed you, O man, what is good.  And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God."  Micah 6:8 

Last Saturday marked my son’s soccer team’s fifth game.

You know, the team that I COACH.

Anyway, we were playing a girl’s team, and one of the girls just happened to be a sister of one of the boys on my team. Their mother had told me that we would win the game because the girls’ team had yet to even score a goal in ANY of their games.

And that made me sad for them.

The game started out just like any other, with all the kids chasing the ball around the field. But then we scored. And then we scored again. And again. And again. And again.

It was only the first quarter!

I have two boys who are really good at getting the ball down the field and taking shots. So I took them out for the second quarter and I explained to the whole team the situation with the girls’ team. I told them that it was okay if we won, but it would be unsportsmanlike to just “kill” the other team. They seemed to understand what I was talking about.

Then, during the second quarter, I told all the parents on my side what the deal was and they all agreed on the right thing to do.

(Thank you, God, for my second group of good parents!)

And so I started switching kids around, putting kids who like action in the positions of little action and those who avoid action front and center.

Then I put my own kid back by the goal.

As fate would have it, the action came to their goal and one of the balls rolled through.

Everyone cheered! Even the parents of my team! I was so proud for everyone involved. It was a great moment in U8 sports, if such things were documented.

And then…

I see the referee talking to my kid by the goal. She looked to be getting on to him.

“What did he do?” I asked.

And she said, “He said, ‘We’re still going to win the GAME!’”

So I did what any other Outraged-At-Her-Own-Child-Mother-Of-The-Soccer-Team would have done and threw him out of the game. I made him run laps on the field beside us until I forgot about him, and he finally stopped on his own because his side was hurting. And then we had a llllloooonnnngggg talk about good sportsmanship.

Later I heard that one of the other boys had gotten on to his dad for cheering for the other team.

And so tonight at practice we’ll be working on dribbling, passing, staying in our positions, and memorizing our new team motto: “It’s not whether you win or lose, it’s how you play the game.”

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Prison Ashtrays

"Remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who were mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering."  Hebrews 13:3

My husband went to a trade show the other day for his company and picked us up a bunch of freebies from the various booths.  He came home with breath mints, pens, flashlights, stress balls, and mouse pads, but the most interesting thing he brought home were these: 

They are ashtrays made by inmates from rejected license plates.  Having no personal experience with the prison system in Oklahoma, or anywhere else for that matter, I always kind of thought the myth of prisoners making license plates was just that...  a myth.  But, these ashtrays solidified in my mind that not only do they make license plates, they also create utilitarian items out of the rejects.  

This particular logo was chosen with the retired Marine in mind, and crafted in such a way that the Marine emblem is right at the bottom of the ashtray surrounded by four indentions in which to place your burning death stick. 

Or maybe you're retired from the Army?

This one was also crafted with ex-military in mind.  A medal recipient, no less.  Is that a silver star?  My grandpa was awarded one of those in WWII. 

Ditto for this one.  Notice the holes with which to attach the license plate to your car, and the place for the month sticker. 

My favorite of all was this one, supporting agriculture in my state.  A lovely landscape of rolling fields with a windmill to boot. 

Those aren't the kind of windmills they are putting up out in western Oklahoma.  It will be interesting to see how wind generation progresses. 

Anyway, I was completely amazed with my gifts from the trade show.  For one, I don't smoke and no one in my family smokes.  And two, I had never seen such an item made by inmates before.  What choices and regrets and boredom and heartbroken families must surround each of these ashtrays?

So, we took pictures of them and packed them up for the hub to give away at work. 

And if you find yourself in need of a conversation piece ashtray, look no further than the Department of Corrections booth at your next local trade show. 

Happy Thursday and remember we all have a work to do.     

Monday, September 26, 2011

'It Happens!

Thought I'd share my excitement last Tuesday for any of you who live in the city, or even a small town, who have access to fancy things like a sewer pipe.  I miss those days.  In fact, if it were an option, I would jump on the band wagon again and hook into a mass poo poo removal system.  But as it is, I have a septic system.  Not an aerobic system.  A big old tank (1,000 gallons according to my receipt) outside of my kitchen that loses the grass in the summer time, and had been occasionally belching gas from its contents back into the house for about a year, off and on. 

The smell of rotten eggs always makes me feel welcome at someones house. 

So, last Tuesday, while I was being held hostage by AT&T for a four-hour period in which no one ever intended to show up, but whilst they planned their devilish plan to call me the NEXT day and tell me I'd missed my appointment by not being home, I got bored and decided to dig up the septic tank. 

Please add archaeologist to my résumé.  Ok, so I don't currently have a résumé, but I felt like I was digging up a tomb. 

With hatch located, I decided it would be a good idea to have it pumped.  We've lived here five years, it smelled, and that seemed to be the right thing to do.  Another reason why I should probably have a job instead of sitting around. 

So I called these guys. 

I liked the name.  Plus, one of my old crusty bank examiner cohorts used to use them and he was as tight as the day is long, so I figured I'd get my money's worth.  Turns out they were here before we lived here.  It had been 8 years since they were last out, so I can't take full credit for what we were about to see...

Just in case you ever wondered, like I have, what's really inside of that septic tank, here's what we found:

You know what they say, "'It Happens!"  I might be missing a few letters.  But apparently it happens a lot around here, as the tank was full of "solids".   And we also have a root problem as well.  

So Honey Wagon man got to pumping, 

And cleaned the whole thing out.  Except for the roots.  I was left to kill those myself with copper sulfate. 

It was a learning experience.  Expensive, but I learned a lot.  Ok, maybe not a lot, but I paid someone to take away my solid waste products.  I'm beginning to think it isn't Honey that he's hunting.  Maybe this is all connected to Winnie the Pooh somehow. 

Anyway, there goes my poo down the road. 

And I hope to never see it again. 

As for the Honey Wagon, apparently three years would be a more normal time frame, not eight.  So, I'd better start saving my pennies now!

Hope your week isn't "full of it" and may all your endeavors be as exciting as mine.  I need a support group.   

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Monarch Action - Round 2

Okay, so I started you out last week with Coddling Caterpillars, telling you what to be looking for.  Then I promptly found my first caterpillar late last week, and then lightning took out my router and I've been down ever since, so he's already on his way to metamorphosis as we speak, but I'll try to get you caught back up. 

This is a monarch caterpillar:

Notice my high-tech solution to the no-holes-in-the-lid-of-the-mason-jar problem.  One nail, one lid, and a few whacks with the hammer gets you a holey lid.  Not reusable for canning, obviously, but reusable from year to year with your caterpillars - note the stem of last year's chrysalis stuck there below the caterpillar. 

Anyway, he was quite huge when I found him, but he didn't start out this way.  See pictures of eggs on linked blog above.  Here is a picture for comparison of a tiny baby caterpillar and one that is almost ready to go:

See the tiny one down there under the big one?  Probably a week or so separates them.  They are quick growers. 

Anyway, once you find a caterpillar, stick it into a jar with holes in the lid and feed it fresh milkweed leaves every day or two.  The caterpillars eat a lot, so they also poop a lot.  You'll want to clean the poop out of the bottom of the jar when you put new leaves in, just to keep things clean.  I recommend dumping the contents of the jar out on a paper towel like this:

This is just in case there were eggs on any of the new leaves you brought in that might have hatched.  Leave no leaf unturned.  And watch out for the poop.  In this particular batch, I found the little guy in the previous photo.  Glad I didn't dump him in the trash. 

Now, by this time, the big fat caterpillar I'd found first had made his chrysalis on the jar lid and I found this:

All that is left of his previous body is the skin.  Shed his face clean off.  But we know what the outcome will be, right?  More attractive than a caterpillar.  Yes, I would think so. 

And this is what he looks like now:

Ok, so the lighting wasn't great, but you get the idea.  At this time, he gets his own jar because I don't have anyone else currently threatening to turn themself in to a chrysalis anytime soon.  (See contestants #2 and #3 up above)  You'll want your chrysalis jar to be clean and free of any old leaves, etc., so the new butterfly will have room to expand.  I recommend at quart jar.  Pint jars are technically big enough, but seem a little cramped.  Plus, most have a jelly patterning or something on the sides and it makes it hard to see through.  If the chrysalis forms anywhere but at the top, don't try to move it.  The stem is very important and cannot be broken.  I try not to put more than three chrysali  in any one jar. 

And now...  we wait.

Shouldn't be long though.  Monarchs typically hatch a week to ten days after entering the chrysalis state.  My guy has been in about four days now, so expect a butterfly announcement sometime early next week.  

More developments as they become available.  

Over and out.   

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Devil Strikes Again

"Therefore rejoice, you heavens and you who dwell in them!  But woe to the earth and the sea, because the devil has gone down to you!  He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short."  Revelation 12:12

Remember this song? “Devil inside… Devil inside… Every single one of us… the devil inside.”

I think it was by the same guys who sang “Living in the Wild, Wild West… Wild West [bullet ricochet]”. I think it was Escape Club, but I’m too lazy to Google it because then I would inevitably have to watch the entire video on YouTube. And I’m not in an early 90s state of mind today.

Anyway, a couple of nights ago the 6YO locked himself in my bathroom and said “I’m not coming out until you start loving me, and doing things for me, and stop having the devil inside you!! ”

I said I couldn’t hear him with the door closed (the devil made me do it) and so he came out and told me to my face.

He said “I’m the only one with GOD inside of me. The rest of you have the DEVIL inside of you!”

The 6YO has been nursing his broken arm for two weeks now and Mommy has obliged him by helping him in the bathtub on numerous occasions even though it appears he is fully capable of washing himself with just the one arm. Daddy, on the other hand, would not help him on this particular night. Because of this, the entire family was filled with the devil and had turned against my One-Armed Bandit.

The devil made me laugh, which was the wrong thing to do, and I received a tongue lashing. Then I made Daddy come upstairs and face his accuser and the devil made him laugh, too! It was a terrible night as far as my God-filled son was concerned.

But then, the devil left me when I started reading him a book before bed. Funny how he comes and goes.

And all was right with the world.

And God refilled the family.

And we all lived happily ever after.

The End.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Coddling Caterpillars

Ok, so it probably goes against nature in some way that I collect caterpillars off my milkweed vines and coddle them until they hatch into be-u-tiful butterflies, but I do and I'm not ashamed.  In fact, I live under the impression that my hatch-rate is higher if I bring the caterpillars indoors than if I leave them on the vine where spiders might eat them.  Plus, the kids think it is cool! 

If you're not a fan of upsetting nature's cycle, please look away.  But, if you'd like to have a really cool experience in metamorphosis, then listen up. 

This is milkweed:

It is a vine and grows on fences and in pastures and can sometimes be found as a weed in flowerbeds.  It is the most reliable source of monarch activity that I know of.  They lay their eggs and a few days later, little tiny caterpillars emerge. 

The eggs look like this:

Once I've located a few eggs, I start checking the vine everyday to see if I can see any caterpillar action.  This is what the eggs look like after they've hatched:

Kind of hard to see.  Here's another shot:

I think usually the caterpillar eats the egg casing, but in my case, I haven't found any caterpillars yet, so I have to assume they are being eaten by something as soon as they hatch.  But that is quite odd too because monarch caterpillars are said to be bitter because of the milkweed they eat.  I don't know. 

Anyway, this would normally be a good sign of caterpillar action, but so far I've not found any just yet:

I do, however, have a lot of these guys hanging around, threatening to buzz me, or sting me, when I look under the leaves:

And I'm allergic, so I really watch out. 

The monarchs are just now beginning their migration through Oklahoma.  I think I noticed my first one about two weeks ago, but did not notice any eggs on my vines until last week.  Caterpillars will follow, but it could still be a week or so, with temperatures dropping off this week.  It seems the egg-laying activity is dependent somewhat upon the weather. 

I did have this guy working my vines over last week, but alas, he was a boy so no additional eggs. 

So, get your mason jars ready and get some holes poked in the lids because by next week we'll be raising caterpillars, I'm just sure of it.  More on that when I have live specimens! 

Until then, here's a wrap-up of last year's activity.  I think I ended up hatching 15 at home and took at least a dozen more to my kids' classes for them to hatch and let go.  Hopefully this year will be just as exciting!