Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Office Skillz

I'm one of those people who keeps many pads of paper handy on my desk so I can jot down things I need to do, people I should call, pertinent information that I need to remember-especially if I'm on the phone. I'm not sure why I don't limit myself to one pad, because sometimes I know I have the answer to a certain question written down, but I'll have to go through five pads and multiple swearing sessions before I can find it. Jonathan loves to give me his two cents on my organizational (or lack of) skills. He's constantly telling me my system makes no sense, clutter, crazy, etc., etc. My standard response is to say, "Well then you do it if you're so perfect!" We both know that is never, ever happening. Ever. But I still like to say it. It relieves some of my martyr inspired tension. He loves to give out his uninhibited advice, but the truth is that Jonathan has a forever free pass from all bookkeeping, bill paying, business, or household related phonecalls. It's a fact that he hit the secretary jackpot when he married me. He's been known to critique his two brothers for their slovenly bill paying habits. Granted, they are a mess when it comes to organizing that part of their household responsibilities, but frankly Jonathan would be guilty of the same neglect, but for one reason...he married me. Don't get me wrong I'm not saying that I'm perfect at this job, but I take responsibility seriously, and who wants debt collectors calling? They are so pushy, constantly calling, we want our money, blah, blah, blah. Sometimes I feel bitter that all of these horribly boring chores fall into my lap. It's usually when I'm on hold, listening to some god awful muzak for five minutes at a time, or repeating certain information through tightly clenched teeth, like account numbers, address, phone numbers over and over again to some jackass who says his name is Bill, but you know he's deep in Mumbai and there is no way his parents named him Bill. I do have a few techniques that I use to keep myself calm while handling these unpleasant situations. I like to surf random blogs while I'm dealing with these mind numbing phone calls. I found a few that are quite good. being one of them. He writes some funny stuff, very off beat, pithy and quirky. Just the ticket to keep me from getting my blood pressure to a dangerous level. I particularly enjoy it when I'm on my landline dealing with business nonsense and my friends are texting me on my cell. I've learned that I can type, talk and text, sometimes I'll get all crazy and IM, too. Basically, I thrive on distraction. I can get a lot done, while doing four other things, sort of half ass on the side. Does that make me ADD? Wait a minute, I just stopped writing for five minutes to watch a bird catching bugs on the lawn. Question answered. Time to pay some bills now, while eating a bowl of cereal, talking to Jonathan and emailing clients. I'm like the Larry the Cable Guy of running our house and business. I like to get 'er done, just all at once. And then I spin around in circles and double check that I've actually done what I set out to do. Hang on, I've got to go make a phone call...

Friday, June 18, 2010

Post Midnight snacks

We just had a wonderful five day visit with my in-laws from S.C. and our adorable 4 yr. old niece, Sadie, who hails from L.A. Great time, busy house, non-stop action! I love my in-laws. They are always a good time and I so enjoy spending time with them. My poor mother-in-law, Jackie is currently laid up with a separated shoulder (horse riding injury) and she managed to get a very debilitating 24 hr. respiratory ick while she was here. Not fun to see her miserably coughing, hacking and sneezing, but she rallied, trooper that she is and managed to host a fabulous dinner party for 15 people last night. It was an enjoyable summer evening, with good food, great friends and lots of laughs. I retired to my boudoir at about 10:30 last night and drifted off into a dreamless sleep...until 4:00 a.m.

My eyes popped open as if I had just heard cannon fire, except there wasn't any noise at all. I checked the clock and my heart sank. NOT 4 a.m. again!!! This hour has been my nemesis for the last few nights. Ever have one of those sleep cycles that awaken you at an ungodly hour and torture you for two, or three hours with relentless, restless thoughts and multiple songs, running on a loop through your sleep deprived brain stem? Anyone who hasn't experienced this particular Hell is damn lucky. I feel as though I brought this random insomnia upon myself, because last week I found myself bragging (yes, bragging) to a friend about how I can control my thoughts when these unwelcome awakenings disturb our precious sleep patterns. I'm clearly a total ass. I said this to myself several times in the wee hours of what turned out to be a gorgeous, sultry day. After several minutes, I decided to get up and see if Big Zekie had decided to come home and was waiting for me on the front porch. Wrapped in a silk robe, I tiptoed by my slumbering, sweet niece, who lay prone in a cherubic pose on the living room sofa. I went onto the porch and hissed, "Zekie? Zekie, are you there?" Within seconds he appeared in the driveway and made his way up to the house. He had left before the guests had arrived last night and missed his dinner, so I made him a small meal and then went into the bathroom for a quick pit stop. I'm not sure of how long I was out of bed, but my best guess is no more than 20 minutes. As I slid back into bed I thought I might have detected a feeling of moisture on my upper leg. Must be my imagination, I said to myself. Jonathan was sleeping soundly and I nestled back into the bed, anxious to return to sleep for a couple more hours. A few minutes later Miss Girl came into the bedroom and shockingly joined me on the bed. I say shockingly because she used to always sleep with me, but for the last two years she has abstained from our bed for no apparent reason. It pained me at first, but I got used to it. She's an old lady, after all and has a right to change her sleeping spots at her discretion. Feeling like I should give her a warm welcome, I forgot about my iminent plans for slumber and patted her head and cheeks. She settled into a good position and once again I began to concentrate on going to sleep. I was so comfortable, the house was quiet, Jonathan wasn't snoring, so why couldn't I go back to sleep? I decided to do a brief rearrangement of position and that's when I felt the moisture again. WHAT THE HELL!! My body twitched and spasmed in place, Miss Girl headed for the hills (which briefly made me sad and guilty) and I screamed, "What the F#@k!!!! Panting slightly, I turned on the light and saw a small "thingie" in the bed. Was it a snail? The cats sometimes get them stuck to their fur and bring the poor hapless snails into the house. Good explanation, but it wasn't the culprit Ewwww. I rolled the small, fleshy piece of whatever across the sheet and then I realized what it was. It was the leftover guts from a very recent rodent feast. Ohh, last straw. Damn cats. I shuddered and put the nasty bit into my bedside ashtray (I know, this is just as gross as mouse guts, but I do smoke in bed sometimes). Unbelievable. A cat, either Marbles (most likely), or Mia had brought a "snack" to bed, eaten the majority during my brief foray into the living room/bathroom and left me a small tidbit in case I was jonesing for mouse offal... in my freakin' bed. Some people might never fall asleep in their beds again after finding mouse guts under their sheets. Fortunately, I've been broken down by the repeated appearance of dead carcasses in my home. Am I becoming immune to their disgusting habits? Apparently so, because I drifted back to sleep around 5:30 a.m.ish and when I awoke at 6:30 I had to check my ashtray to see if the mouse gut incident was a dream. Nope. 'Twas reality. I left Jonathan sleeping soundly as I got up to make coffee and feed the cats, dogs and horses. Once Jonathan awoke and I shared the details of early a.m. gut findings he asked me to never tell him such a story again. Ever. I admit, it's truly disgusting. The fresh sheets are warm in the dryer as I type and I'm about to make the bed. My only hope for this evening is that I can sleep seamlessly until at least six a.m. this next morning. And, please God, no more unpleasant surprises in my bed! Please. And maybe Miss Girl will give sleeping next to me another chance, but I can't be greedy at this point. I'll take a solid eight hours of sleep and worry about coaxing Miss Girl back another time. Have I mentioned that I really love my life? Really.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

LeMans track, or Dirt Road?

I was kind of excited about moving to a place that was on a dirt road. An actual dirt road...still in existence in the year 2010 (said like twenty-ten for more futuristic impact). It seems like the present time just skipped by this particular road and left it rutted with wagon wheel imprints. Okay, so the last statement is an exaggeration, but it strikes me as the epitome of rural living to be livin' on a dirt road. I could picture John Denver strolling along it on a sunny summer day, strumming his guitar, humming "Country Boy". I thought of a dirt road as a piece of history that stood for a slower time, when folks weren't in a rush. I was dead wrong.

Now that I've lived here for a month the dirt road has lost a lot of its rustic charm. Part of the problem is the local traffic. There aren't a lot of houses on this road, but enough so there's plenty of folks driving by. The road has a slight uphill as it passes our house, then there is a dramatic nearly 90 degree turn that wraps it right around the back of the property. I felt pretty secure that our pets would be safe living here even if they did cross the street, because to me the turn looks fatal if you were to drive faster than 20 mph through it. Apparently, all the residents on this street took a course with the Skip Barber race car driving school, because most of the traffic goes by on two wheels, churning gravel and sending great billows of dust cascading into the atmosphere. It's crazy. The first couple of weeks that we lived here I was livid with the speeders. I wanted to go out in the night and dig great big pot holes, shield them with a piece of brown cloth and then watch the axles break one by one. I threatened to call the police, until I saw a police car drive by the farm at mach one, taking the corner in his cruiser like he was chasing a kingpin of a drug mob on a video game. The other day I was at my mailbox by the edge of the road when I heard a car coming. As it approached, I expected to hear it slow a bit for the corner. As it came around the bend, I saw that it was one of those ridiculous Porsche SUV's and it was going at least 40 mph (read:way too freakin' fast). I stared at the driver with my best look of resentment and bitterness and he never once even glanced towards me. Instead, he accelerated as he went by me and I was left sputtering and coughing in a maelstrom of dust particles. "Cidiots!", I cried shaking my fist at the rear end of the car. Cidiot is a word that us country folk use to call the New Yorker's who come up on weekends to enjoy the pastoral amenities that country life has to offer. What a lot of them fail to recognize is that by driving their jackass sports car version of a pick up truck at reckless speeds on our quiet country road tends to ruin the the peaceful surroundings for everyone else.

I've been thinking of posting signs on the roadside to capture the attention of the drivers. Like, "Slow Down for Free Porn". That might work for a little while, right? Especially for the male drivers. They'll be locking up their brakes. I've got to come up with something. These maniac drivers must be stopped! Besides the dust that is swirled up from their blazing tires finds its way into my windows and settles over everything in my house. If it doesn't rain for a few days my furniture begins to resemble items one would see in a haunted house. I've gone through an entire can of Pledge since we moved here. And I hate dusting the furniture!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


This past weekend uncovered a very unsavory side to Remy-doggie. He has become a serial woodchuck hunter. I found the first dead woodchuck on Sat. behind a large segment of decorative grass in our flower bed in front of the barn. I had no firsthand knowledge that Remy was the actual killer, so I was hoping that another animal had brought it there. On Sunday morning, I witnessed Remy emerging from the hedgerow in our small paddock with a large brown animal in his jaws. I yelled, "Drop it!!" And he did. I trudged out to the paddock with trepidation and lo and behold, there was a large, freshly dead woodchuck. OMG, my dog is a murderer! It was a sad revelation. My gentle, sensitive, Southern voiced Remy had turned into a cold blooded killer. I'm used to this role with the cats. They have savaged birds, chipmunks, mice, bunnies and a myriad of other small woodland creatures. For some reason, it seems okay that cats kill furry/feathered animals. But Remy? It just wasn't cool. I was not happy. Anyone I told about Remy's sudden penchant for woodchuck killing said, "Great!" Woodchucks are not welcome animals on a horse farm. They dig holes that can potentially break the leg of a galloping horse. "Good for Remy!", they said. "I guess so", I replied weakly. It just didn't seem right. I don't want a dog that relishes killing other animals. After all, Big Zekie sort of resembles a woodchuck and he hisses at Remy on a regular basis. Would Remy give Big Z the fatal death shake? I shudder at the thought.

Later in the day on Sunday, I heard a fracas of barking from Remy, Becks and Ducque (the dingbat black Lab 9 month old pup that lives on the same property). I hollered for them to knock it off and then all was quiet. Within 20 minutes, Ducques owners' came to the barn with Ducque on a leash. "Excuse me", they inquired meekly. I walked up to them with a smile and as Ducque turned his hulking body my smile turned to a frown. There a piece of blood red ripped flesh on Ducque's black flank. "Remy did this", the youngest boy proudly told me. Good Lord, the dog had turned bloodthirsty in a matter of 48 hours! I surmised that Remy was protecting his little brother, Becks when Ducque sat on him and prompted him to squeal in terror, begging to be released. It was a simple case of stronger pup sits on smaller pup and then the big brother intervenes and blood is shed. Great. Ducque is the quintessential dumbass black lab. He's also a well muscled brute. He and Becks are BFF's, but occasionally Ducque uses his bulk to render Becks helpless. Now Becks is not a strong dog, he screams for mercy, but usually Remy is not involved in their young dog games. This time was different. Twelve stitches in Ducques flank different. Oh jeez, I thought to myself. Is Remy going to have to wear a muzzle to quell his taste for blood? Has he become a vampiric Aussie? My mind was swirling. Ducque's owners were very cool about the whole matter. We told them to take him to the vet and we would pay the bill. They generously declined any remuneration, but we offered them Remy's cone head if Ducque were to need it after his stitch job. This would save them a paltry $25 but we wanted to offer any assistance since our dog had taken a chunk out of their precious (if not, idiotic) pet.

So, Ducque is now a cone head. Remy is on parole. I've threatened his life if he kills again and he seems to have taken it seriously. No carnage today and he's been on his best behavior. Meanwhile, the cats caught a mouse last night (while I was on the phone with my Mom, prompting me to screech, "Goddammit" into the phone, which my Mom chose not to hear, but I still felt guilty. She very religious, you know). The mouse was attempting to flee the two idiot cats and once Remy emerged from the bathroom the poor mouse had mysteriously passed into the afterlife. It was late, I couldn't take any more death. Maybe the mouse fainted and had a heart attack, I told myself as I hucked the carcass into the bushes.
Does owning pets really need to entail this kind of stress? I've decided to just take a deep breath and hope it was just a random weekend killing spree. Seriously, I can't take anymore death, blood, etc. Eat your Iams, eat your Fancy Feast and sleep on the various soft beds we have to offer. This is not survival of the fittest here. Obviously, I wouldn't have done well as a cave woman. Cats, Dogs, behave yourselves! Jonathan and I will grocery shop and get you all the goodies you need! Lie around, act lazy and no more blood. Please?

Sunday, June 6, 2010

The Providers

Last week was insanely busy for Jonathan and I. So busy, in fact, that we never seemed to have time to go to the grocery store. There was just a lot going on and the end of each day we found ourselves looking at each other saying, "what do you want to do about dinner?" After a mutual agreement of "I don't know", I would mentally resign myself to the fact that dinner might entail a scavenger hunt of whatever was in our pantry. Toast, tuna fish, cheese and crackers, beans, whatever. I was too tired to be picky. At 5:30, or 6:00 most days all I want to do is sit down, sip a martini, light up a smoke and zone out my brain. The whole dinner conundrum was just too much. Meanwhile, Jonathan's energy works in the exact opposite way that mine does. He's pretty mellow all day and as night falls, he begins to ramp up. Thus, he would begin his barrage of questions.
"What do you want for dinner?"
"Seriously Michele, we don't have any food. What should we do about it?"
"Do you want to go to the store?"
"Pizza, Chinese, bbq?"
"Michele, Michele? Stop ignoring me! What do you want to do about food??!!"

We went through the same routine four nights in a row. Each of these nights at around 8:30 Jonathan would be able to take it no longer. Cupboards were flung open, ingredients recited, jars were opened, the frying pan sizzled. And, voila! A healthy, delicious dinner was created through the ingenuity of master chef, Jonathan. My Ghandi-esque resistance to making a decision about what to eat served me well. We both went to bed sated and promising to go to the grocery store the next day.

During this whole grocery store boycott, Marbles decided that we apparently needed help with garnering our meals. One morning she brought me a buck toothed field mouse and left him by my bed. Sighing, I got a paper towel and hucked the small carcass into the bushes along the edge of the road. Damn cats, I muttered. The next morning I cautiously peered at the area beside my bed before getting up. No carcass. Phew. I was making coffee when Jonathan called to me. "Michele, you need to come here and bring some paper towels!" I crept into the bedroom to see Jonathan pointing at the floor beside his bedside. There was Marbles looking intensely smug, sitting next to a rather large dead rabbit. "How come she brings you a big bunny and I get a paltry fieldmouse with a bad overbite?" I asked Jonathan.
"You know she likes me best," he replied. "Now get this thing out of here. I actually stepped on it when I got up!"
I felt badly as I got rid of the bunny carcass. It was all too much, this carnage. I love Marbles, but she's a blood thirsty serial killer. There is a reason that she has a black heart clearly displayed in her calico hairdo.
This morning there was no dead animal in our bedroom. Thank God. However, while I was doing the barn chores, there was a great ruckus outside the front of the barn. Both dogs were peering into the enormous tuft of decorative grass in the small garden there. "What the hell!" I barked at them. They looked sheepish as I poked around in the grass, but I didn't see anything so I went back to work. About a half hour later I heard Remy growling, very loudly. I marched out front and there was Becks behind the huge tuft of grass with Remy standing in front of him. I screamed at both of them to move and got my pitchfork. Gingerly, I moved the sides of the grass to and fro with the tines of my fork. Mustering my courage I shifted the back part of the tuft and there on the ground was a gigantic dead woodchuck. I won't write down what I then said to my dogs and I only hope the family that lives in the house next to us was still asleep and didn't get to hear my curse filled tirade (on a Sunday morning, no less-they can pray for me in church at least if they did). I've never known Remy to kill anything. He's always been such a gentle soul. Was he sick of listening to Jonathan and I argue about dinner? Had he taken matters into his own paws? Well, even if he had being dogs, both he and Becks lost control and had begun eating the damned thing themselves. DISGUSTING. Sputtering and spitting out expletives, I picked the dead wood chuck up with my fork and deposited him/her into the manure dumpster.

That's it. I can't take it anymore. I've been having visions of Remy coming home with a six point buck. I'm going to the freaking grocery store. Now.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Musical Musings

Since we've moved to the new farm I have been a busy bee. A happy, busy bee. I've got lots of time to myself to ponder, gaze at the beautiful vistas, ride, clean the barn and sing. Lots of singing. Singing makes me happy. It doesn't really matter what I'm singing, The Beatles, show tunes, Dylan, Nirvana, Joni Mitchell, they all work. I recently watched a youtube video of Will Ferrell and Dave Grohl singing a spoofy Don Henley/Stevie Nicks collaboration of "Leather and Lace". It was by chance that I found this short clip, but it has made me laugh over and over again. I've made Jonathan and various guests to our home watch it (sorry fellow visitors!). Each time, I laugh and sing along. Ridiculous, I know, but I make no bones about the fact that I'm simple. Easy to amuse, as it were. So for days I've been singing these lyrics and cracking myself up. In the meantime, I've become a big fan of Dave Grohl. He was the drummer for Nirvana and once that band broke up when Kurt Cobain passed away he started the Foo Fighters, a band where he sings and plays guitar. This guy is awesome and talented. And he knows how to laugh at himself. He's a hero in my book.

Another bonus to our new house is the shower. It's a stand up deal, tiled, and quite spacious. The acoustics in this shower are amazing! My voice sounds astounding in this white tiled space. At least to my ears and also, to my calico cat, Marbles. Yes, I have a groupie. She sits on the bath mat outside the shower while I'm singing and she meows, trills and writhes about on the mat. Sometimes she even stands up on the door and begs for more. I'm a freakin' rock star to this cat's ears. It's fabulous. Jonathan has told me that my voice doesn't sound nearly as amazing to his ears in the "shower dome" as it does to mine, or Marbles, but that is irrelevant in my book. I'm a shower singing Goddess on 4 Shinto Farm Lane. Let's all sing for the joy of singing. Let it out, bad voices, flat tones, it doesn't matter. If it makes you happy, sing it out! And sorry for all that hear it and flinch. Get in touch with your inner opera, rock, show tunes, ect. Be bold, be brave and most of all, enjoy!!