Archive for March, 2011

Son Has HIS Garden In….

Son has been working 12/7s on a shutdown and today was his first day off in two months, I believe. He’s pretty proud of his garden filled with lima beans and okra, corn and various field peas (crowder peas, blackeyed peas, etc.), tomatoes and squash and a few other things. He had a security light placed out there so that he can garden and start seeds when he gets back home at night.

I feel pretty crappy about my poor garden (grin). Somehow other things kept coming up when it was time for me to work in the garden. Things like two dozen sheep, a horse, a shitload of adult ducks and chickens, 19 lil’ chicks, 8 ducklings, two dogs, 3 cats, etc.

I asked him what he was going to do with all his produce, just out of curiousity. He told me he was going to freeze it and can it. He doesn’t think things are going to get any better economically and wants to have lots of food stored up for winter and/or hard times.

This is a refrain that I keep hearing around town. Sometimes at the feed store where the newly hatched chicks come in and are sold out the same day. Sometimes at the town grocery store whose sales items were all sold out by the time I got there this evening. At school in the faculty lunchroom. At restaurants overhearing conversations at adjacent tables.

I hope this means that things are actually getting better since the popular consensus is that the country is going to shit.

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Strawberry Plants!

SwampMan and I spent the morning at Home Depot and then (surprise!) (sigh) Whataburger. I KNEW I shouldn’t have gone! I KNEW it, I knew it, I knew it. I shoulda stayed home but nooooooooo. The cinnamon bun was actually pretty good.

Anyway, we got home and immediately went to work putting some barbed wire about 4″ above the woven wire fence behind the neighbors’ place so that *maybe* the horse wouldn’t walk out and immediately ruin about $150 worth of fence wire in an attempt to eat the neighbors’ even pricier landscaping. The barbed wire might delay the ruination (of the fence AND flowers) by a couple of weeks so that at least we would feel a little better about it. She hasn’t been allowed in that pasture for four months now because we just never got around to putting the barbed wire up. (I keep wanting to type “bob war” like I pronounce it. Just so you know.)

I was out there in my welding gloves and welding apron, determined that I wasn’t gonna be bleeding from barbed wire cuts this time when I let the end whip up and get me on the cheek. DAMNIT! SwampMan assured me that it was just a scratch and I’d live. Purty soon I’m just going to be one big ol’ walking scar.

Afterward, we drove out to get some hot fudge sundaes at the drive through. I had forgotten completely about the scratch until I got a weird look from the drive through person and then recalled the barbed wire incident. I asked SwampMan how bad it looked. He said it twarn’t nothin’. I looked in the mirror because SwampMan’s idea of nothin’ and my idea of nothin’ are not exactly the same, and danged if it didn’t look like Halloween makeup with a long jagged scratch and rivulets of blood that had dripped down over my cheek and dried. The drive through person was probably wondering where the costume party was and, more importantly, why hadn’t she been invited?

I got home and walked inside the house to kick off my shoes and sit back in the lazy chair for a couple minutes before going grocery shopping when the phone rang. Son had already planted several hundred strawberry plants and has about 50 or so left over (that probably means 150), so he wanted me to come get ’em. Guess I’ll put the ol’ shoes back on and run outside and try to make a bed for ’em before dark.

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Oh, No, Not AGAIN!

SwampMan trudged off to bed early because HE hadn’t fallen back asleep and slept away the morning like I did. He issued my orders on the way out.

“Do NOT let me sleep past 8:00 a.m. We’re going to Home Depot and I’ll take you to breakfast.”

Wait a minute….I got a chili dog for breakfast last weekend when we went to Home Depot. He’ll have to do waaaay better than that if he wants my company.

“Uh, breakfast where?”


“Uh, don’t think so. I have, er, uh, zucchini to plant.”

“What is wrong with Whataburger?”

“Don’t want one for breakfast, that’s all.”

“They have other stuff, too!”

“Like what?”

“Uh….breakfast stuff.”

“I’ll see you when you get back.”

“DAMNIT! Fine, I’ll get you something lighter, then.” Stompstompstomp down the hallway.

Hope he ain’t talkin’ about another chili dog.

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At MeeMaw’s House Today

Daughter called this morning (or was it early afternoon?) and woke me up and told me they were coming visiting. I’d been up late reading, finished the book this morning after I woke the first time, and somehow fell back asleep. Aaaaack! OH, NO! I hadn’t even had a shower yet! Daughter snorted that I didn’t have to pretend to look presentable for her (since she knows better) and not to go to any trouble. Son in law, in the background, was saying that I needn’t go to any trouble and could maybe just bake a ham, some veggies, a few pies…..heh. Yeah, I guess I need to invite everybody over for dinner again real soon.

This is a lil’ lamb that was born @ same time as baby sister Zoe. I brought him into Papa’s barn so that the boys could see how much he’d grown.

Papa believes in letting the boys learn by doing. I think Mommy and Daddy were astounded when 3-year-old Dylan took out a drill and started drilling holes in Papa’s workbench. “Uh, is he supposed to be doing that?” they asked. Papa said yes. Then he let them spray paint things. And shoot.

Mommy believes in starting them out young.

I must have looked very sad when they left, for Dylan assured me over and over that they would see me again very soon. Maybe in April! (sniffle)

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Potter’s House Lunch Today

I joined daughter and baby Zoe in Jacksonville today for lunch at Potter’s House. Her six-week birthday is tomorrow! For y’all that don’t know, Potter’s House is off Lenox avenue on Jacksonville’s northwest side. Some of her co-workers joined us for lunch to tell her all the latest at work and to hold the baby.

The pastor of the church stopped by our table to admire the baby and welcome us to the restaurant and to make sure everything was good, but I believe our empty plates attested to that!

I had a big ol’ plate full of macaroni and cheese, green beans, a giant roll, and big portions of chicken for $8.99. The cooking is advertised as “soul” food (heh). It is good for the soul! Makes you believe in heaven ‘cuz there must be some angels in the kitchen who don’t believe in calories or cholesterol or diabetes or low-salt diets. Daughter was a lil’ miffed because she’s gained back almost all the weight she lost after Zoe was born (being home and able to cook lots of delicious foods and cakes and pies will do this to a person), so this was her last hurrah before dieting for real sets in. She has to be back to work in two weeks and her clothes don’t fit!

It should be my last hurrah, too, before doing some fairly severe dietary restrictions. I don’t think Swampman would be very happy, though, if he came into the house yelling “what’s fer supper?”, and I handed him a bag of Brussels sprouts and a boiled egg.

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We STILL Don’t Speak the Same Language

I told SwampMan that I wanted to make several raised bed gardens and would he please make some hoop covers to go over them to keep the sheep, chickens, and squirrels out.

You see, I have had horrible luck with my gardens the past few years. Squirrels dug up my potatoes last year. The sheep got out and trampled my squash and ate the beans. The earlier, cool weather crops died when the temperature went from in the 30s to in the 90s overnight. The ducks squashed plants, and the chickens pecked anything that looked like it might be tasty and scratched up the baby plants. I might have gotten a couple meals’ worth of beans for all that effort. Oh, yeah, and a few onions.

Torrential rains put my garden underwater for a week one year. I replanted, and just as my first tomatoes from my best tomato crop EVER were ripening, a tornado came through and sucked up ALL my tomato plants and took out a tree at the corner of the house outside the daughter’s bedroom (without touching the house at all). That was a pretty clear sign from God, I thought, that I needed to stay out of the garden for awhile. And that He was looking after our daughter who was in her room while the tornado was plucking tree and tomatoes.

But, come spring, I always think that this year will be different. I can just see jars and jars filled with canned veggies to put on my shelves and be extra proud of because I grew them myself. I bought additional jars for my veggies this winter. I planted cabbages and onions and all sorts of yummy things in the cold weather. The squirrels dug them up. Again. No sauerkraut for me. Not even coleslaw! I think I sense a trend here. The request to SwampMan for the raised beds and covers may be my last attempt at gardening. Well. At least until next spring.

“What size raised beds you want?”

“I’d like them 4 x 8.”

“What do you want to make them from?”

“What you got?”

“Well, I have a stack of block out by the barn.”

So SwampMan brought the block out from the barn and had them arranged nicely, and finished one hoop cover. Time for me to get the beds ready. I put stacks of paper down at the bottom of the beds to discourage weeds from coming up and had them under the blocks as well. I squinted at the beds. Something didn’t look right. Far be it from me to doubt SwampMan’s measuring skills, but….. I went and got a measuring tape. The bed was 3′ x 6’6″. Time for a lil’ consult with SwampMan.

“My beds aren’t the right size. I’m getting more block.”

“What do you mean? They’re 4 x 8!”

“Uh, NOOOOOOO, they’re 3′ by 6’6”. I wanted 4 x 8. They are NOT 4 x 8.” For some reason known only to a man, he had given me a 4 x 8 OUTSIDE dimension, as though I could plant through the block. He told me it was MY FAULT for not being clear. How much clearer could I be? I wanted a series of raised bed 4 x 8 gardens. The GARDEN was to be 4 x 8, not the walls. Sheesh. To make matters worse, my hoops were sized incorrectly.

Something tells me that I’m getting my veggies from the farmer’s market again this year.

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Not Exactly What I Had in Mind…

SwampMan asked me last night “What are your plans for in the morning?” Well, my plans for in the morning, even though we were on vacation, was the same as pretty much every morning. Get up. Feed livestock. Work. “Same ol’ same ol. Whachu got in mind?”

SwampMan informed me that we would be rising early, heading to the Lowe’s near the airport, and hitting Cracker Barrel for breakfast. Yum! It sounded like an excellent plan to me.

So I lept out of bed bright and early, checked my livestock, fed my chickens, and then waited. And waited. And waited. And waited. Dang. I coulda swore SwampMan was alive when I got up. Maybe I should go check on him……Then the screen door opened, and a very grumpy SwampMan emerged.

“Why didn’t you wake me up?”

“Not in my job description. You ready or what?”

He grumped out to the truck. I think somebody needs to go back to sleep. I ran back to the house and put on clean, non-chicken-scented clothing, then ran back out and jumped in the truck. I could smell the Cracker Barrel breakfast in my imagination. On the way, he announced that there was going to be a slight change in plans on account of he’d slept too long. Well, I like Cracker Barrel for lunch, too. “So what is the change in plans?”

“We’re going to Home Depot instead of Lowe’s, and we’ll get a chili dog from the hot dog cart.” My visions of a yummy leisurely breakfast went *poof*. Oh dear Lord. I think I heard my stomach shriek in dismay. “That is, if that’s okay with YOU” with an unspoken “and it had better be” glare. Talk about getting somebody out under false pretences! Did I mention that I put on a clean white shirt AND clean jeans? If I’d have known that the destination was HD and a hot dog cart, I’d have just stayed my ass home and cooked my own yummy breakfast. With french toast. And sausage. Or eggs and hash browns and bacon. Or maybe all of the above.

So, we went to Home Depot which had absolutely NOTHING that I needed (I needed some stuff from Lowe’s that HD doesn’t carry). SwampMan generously offered to buy me not one but two chili dogs, but I declined on the grounds that this dietary misstep was going to come back and haunt me and one chili dog should be sufficient to suffer from. With my first bite, chili stuff and red sauce went tumbling down my previously pretty clean white shirt that will likely be permanently stained. Oh, well. Shoulda known better by this time than to even OWN a white shirt, anyway.

So, now I’m back, ready to work outside. The oak trees are blooming with a vengeance, and my eyes are watering and nose is running, and the sneezes are coming nonstop. It is a good thing that I’m totally broke around taxtime or else those trees would all be cut down and stacked up for lumber if I had any spare funds AT ALL. I took a Benadryl to relieve some of the symptoms so I could work outside, but now I’m getting seriously drowsy and my ol’ comfy chair is sure looking good. Maybe I’ll just rest my eyes for just a little bit….then I’ll get up and plant in the garden and rake the leaves and do some painting…yeah…..

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Read More About the Bullshit Nuclear Scares…

Nice article at the Anti-Idiotarian Rottweiler.

Pretty strange that you get factual information from actual experts at blogs rather than the MSM, isn’t it?

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Florida’s Great New Teacher Compensation System

So, here’s what we know so far: The state of Florida is going to require that the new compensation for teachers will be higher than the highest level currently offered on the previous pay scale for teachers hired before July 1, 2014. The districts don’t actually have to start paying until 2014. New teachers coming straight out of college would be hired at a compensation rate higher than that of teachers with, say, 18 years’ worth of experience under the old contracts. Teachers that want to give up their continuing contract status can cross over and get the increased pay, too, but they won’t ever be able to go back.

Did I mention that the state isn’t actually increasing school budgets to pay for that increase? Nope. They’re cutting school budgets. So, how, exactly, are the districts supposed to pay teachers @ $20,000 per year more on less money when they’re (districts) concerned about things like how to afford to run the school buses? That’s an interesting question! Cut the amount of instructional personnel in half? Discontinue transportation? Cut the school lunch program? Beats me.

The school districts have to show “increased accountability” by performing even more testing than what is done now (and there is a LOT of testing). The school districts have to come up with even more testing and accountability. If a kid that doesn’t particularly like a subject (and it could be math, or science, PE or music) then the test scores would be lower and the teachers in that subject area would be up that creek. Will they take salary away? Only award it after the test scores come in? Who the hell knows? What we DO know is that the schools have to spend a boatload of money on developing lots and lots of new tests in order to make sure that the kids are learning a sufficient amount of whatever the state decides is important this year with even more frequent tests to prove it! So the state is providing the millions for these new tests and software for reporting and personnel to manage the data that they’re mandating, right? Bwahahahaha! Trick question! They’re cutting the school budgets! Again! The school districts have to go out to the money tree and pick it, I suppose.

Apparently 30% of the support personnels’ evaluation will have to do with the school performance even though they do not have any input into or responsibility for any student instruction. Ouch.

There are new academic requirements placed on the schools every year by both the state governments and the Federal government. More PE. More science. More math. More requirements for graduation. More organic school lunches. More testing. Less money to pay for it. Somebody is going to have to sit down and decide what is important here.

So, you probably think that I’m a big school/big money education advocate, right? Well, not exactly.

The elephant in the room that everybody is ignoring is IQ. If the average U.S. IQ is 98, with half of the population being below 98, a lot of our kids aren’t going to be able to pass actual college courses. That won’t stop the colleges from taking their money, of course. A significant minority of these kids won’t be able to graduate from high school. We need a vocational track for these kids.

We HAVE to be able to do something about discipline in the classrooms. Disruptive students make it nearly impossible for the rest to work and learn. We HAVE to have parents that will step up to the plate and be parents, not buddies. The kids need to come to school on time prepared with materials, food in their tummies, dressed appropriately, well rested, and ready to learn. If they’re on medication, parents need to see that they need to take it. I have seen students kicking the back of chairs of other students constantly throughout the instruction. Admonishment does nothing. Getting sent to the principal’s office does nothing as they are immediately sent back to class. We have to be able to deal with that. Bringing spanking back to school would help immensely with discipline problems.

Government is going to have to get serious about educational reform. Dumping a bunch of unfunded mandates on the school districts and then high fiving each other on the good job that they’ve done isn’t serious. It’s stupid.

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