Archive for November, 2011

I Guess I Don’t Look Like Santa Claus

It was fajita night tonight at Casa de Swamp. Unfortunately for SwampMan, but fortunately for the livestock, this means that SwampMan had to wait to go out to eat until I fed most of the livestock, stopped to get gas using his debit card, and then a stop at the feed store before we were able to meet and eat at our local Mexican restaurant.

We walked out of the restaurant together in the dark, then separated to walk to our vehicles. I saw a bicyclist in the parking lot and figured him for a panhandler. I was mildly curious as to which one he would choose to hit up for money. He correctly followed SwampMan to his vehicle. I switched my vehicle on and watched just in case he made any threatening moves on SwampMan on account of I don’t believe in bothering God for divine retribution. (S)He’s got enough other stuff on Her (or His) mind. If retribution is needed, I’ll do it myself.

Anyway, when the bicyclist rode away, I was curious as to what story he gave SwampMan and rode over and asked him. “He said he was deaf!” SwampMan explained.

“Say what?” I asked.

“He held up a sign and that said he was deaf. He wiggled his fingers around, too.”

“Riiight!” I said. “Remember the sign for bullshit?”

“No, really!” he insisted. “How do you say ‘thank you’?” I signed “thank you”.

“See! That’s just how he did it! He really IS deaf!”

I sighed. “Uh, I’m not deaf, and I know how to sign it!”

“You know what? I don’t even care. He wanted $2 for the bus….”

“Uh, what bus? There’s no bus that comes through here!”

“I wondered about that. Besides, he said it was his birthday. What would you have done?”

I sighed. “Baby, I think that’s why you’re gonna go to heaven, and I’m gonna be at least a minor bureaucrat in hell.” It’s also the reason why, when we had a business, the folks that got tossed in jail called SwampMan, not me, to bail ’em out and lend ’em money.

Comments (5) »

The Reason My Christmas Tree Ain’t Up

Daughter and I decided that we would each put up our Christmas trees this weekend. It was a lot more difficult for her than for me because she has three small children and a spouse to care for. I only have SwampMan. She called and told me to take a look at FaceBook because she has a picture of Zoe taking the decorations OFF the tree. (Note to Self: Unbreakable plastic ornaments again this year! Dollar Store!) Mine should be up, right? RIGHT?

Today was my designated tree putting up day. I only had a few things planned. Get flu shot. Iron a couple items. Move exercise equipment out of the living room so there’s room for the tree. Vacuum, dust, etc. Overseed some pastures with ryegrass before the rain comes in tomorrow. Feed the livestock. Clean out the gutters because they’re jammed full of leaves and there will be rain tomorrow. Put up and decorate tree. You know, regular stuff. Shouldn’t take long, right? Be done by evening. No problemo.

Things started going wrong early. SwampMan wanted to go out for breakfast. I wanted to cook breakfast. SwampMan said he was tired of eggs. He didn’t want fried eggs or scrambled eggs or an omelette. He wanted a restaurant because he wanted to do something nice for me. *sigh* Fine. But we gotta come right back, because I have a LOT of stuff to do, okay? “No problem!” assured SwampMan. “We’re just going to eat and come right home!”

I dressed up slightly to go out. By slightly, I mean I wore clean clothes in good repair, the kind that I could wear for work. I noted that SwampMan’s clothes looked as though he had just changed oil in them. I asked him about that. “That’s because I’m going to change the oil in your van when we get back!” Oh. Well, I was going to feed livestock and clean gutters when we get back, but I wasn’t dressed for it now! The restaurant where we decided to eat (in Jacksonville) was *very* crowded. Maybe everybody else was tired of eggs, too! SwampMan ordered….eggs, among other things. (Mentally knocked head on table…not my head, SWAMPMAN’s head.) I had….eggs. Coulda stayed home for that!

After a couple of stops at Home Depot (somehow we can never pass one without going in) and the local pharmacy (flu shot!), we got home. SwampMan tossed me a $20 bill because my bank account only had a couple dust bunnies lurking in the corner. “Uh, what’s this?”

“Gas money. You said you were broke!”

“You don’t have any idea how much I spend per week in gas, do you?” We get paid Thursday. That $20 will *maybe* get me through Tuesday. “So, uh, why now?”

“I want you to go fill up with gas before I change your oil!”

“Okay. Thanks!”

“We’ll get the tractor out and ride out and look to see what that wet part will need in order to get a fence up when you get back from the station.” SwampMan had talked about maybe mowing some of the trees down on the unfenced section that stayed swampy year round on the way home. I mentioned putting some fence up (since we already had the fence posts in) and letting the sheep clear it. It would help with our hay problem, too, giving the sheep roughage to keep their tummies happy. We argued whether to use barbed wire or field fence. “No, that’s okay!” I said. “It’s gonna rain tomorrow, so it’ll be far too wet to fence next weekend. I’ll walk out and take a look at it.”

“No, we’ll ride out there on the tractor!”

“I’d rather walk!”

“Well, I wouldn’t!”

“This is a bad idea. We’ve got too much to do!”

“It won’t take FIVE MINUTES when you get back. Hurry up!”

When I got back, I walked out. SwampMan drove out on the tractor. “Be careful, it’s real wet back there!” I nagged. I had seen enough. It was still too wet to fence. In fact, it was too wet for me to be squishing around in a pair of good shoes and getting my nice clothes snagged by thorny vines. “I wanna see what kind of corner post we put up!” SwampMan declared. “You can see it from this side of the fence! You’re gonna get stu…” but SwampMan was chugging off on the tractor.

I hopped from dry spot to dry spot while SwampMan and his tractor sank in the muck to the tractor frame. Not good. “I need you to go get my hammer so I can get this box blade loose and get unstuck!” SwampMan commanded. Well, there went MY afternoon. I walked to the barn then kept on walking to the house so I could change into clothes more appropriate for getting covered in mud and briars and big ol’ fat spiders. Then I carried the hammer back out. SwampMan knocked the pins loose and there it sat, right behind the tractor where SwampMan had to back to get out. “Now what?” I asked.

“Now we’re going to move it over to the side by that tree.”

I looked at the box blade. I guesstimated the weight at a minimum to be 600 lbs., probably more like 800 lbs. “Uh, do what?”

“We’re going to pick it up and flip it over.”

This time I was a little more emphatic. “Have you lost your mind?” There were probably a few naughty words sprinkled in there somewhere. I’m sure of it.

“Quit whining and just grab it and flip it, damnit!”

So, somehow we flipped it over backward into the mud, where it snuggled in deeper. “So, how is this helping?”

“Now we’re going to slide it outta the way.”

I looked doubtfully at the box blade. It looked pretty snug in that mud hole, nestled amongst tree roots and such. “If you say so!” We gripped it and tried dragging it. It did not drag. We tried shoving it. It did not shove. Then we tried levering it out. That didn’t work either. I was sent back to the barn to get various accoutrements to help with moving heavy stuck things. The best thing would have been a tractor but oh, yeah, it was STUCK! We got the box blade moved (finally) out of the way and chained to a tree to keep it up out of the way so it wouldn’t fall on anybody and crush them.

SwampMan tried to get the tractor out again without the weight of the box blade behind it and using the front end loader to push. He almost got out of the hole he was in but there was a sapling behind him, about 4″ in diameter, that the tires would not go over. “DAMNIT! That thing is too big for the limb loppers.”

“I’ll get it out!” I announced. That sumbitch was keeping me from getting my Christmas tree up and getting my clothes ironed. “How?” SwampMan asked. “Just WATCH me!” So I jumped up and grabbed that tree as far up as I could, then bent it down, stood on it, and stomped it down further. “Try it now!” SwampMan still couldn’t get over it. “FINE!” I huffed. Damn trees. Damn tractors. Damn men who think tractors float. I yanked that poor maple tree back and forth until its roots snapped and pulled it outta the ground. “How about NOW?”

“It’s gonna have to stay here until the ground gets drier.”

“HOW THE HELL MUCH DRIER DO YOU WANT IT TO GET? WE’RE IN A FREAKING DROUGHT! IT WILL RAIN TOMORROW! GET IT OUT NOW!” I started throwing lumber at the tractor tires and underneath it. I went back to the barn to get bricks and blocks and chunks of concrete to throw at the tractor. I started throwing them over the fence in preparation for throwing them in the back of the truck to go throw them at the tractor and SwampMan. SwampMan drove the truck up to the barn to tell me my services were no longer needed. “Maybe you should go do your tree stuff and ironing.” Well, maybe I should, but the sun was going down, and I STILL needed to feed, and clean out gutters, and overseed the pasture (by hand). I stomped inside and called our son and told him I’d been let go from the job but that his daddy still needed help and/or a miracle to get the tractor out.

“Where’d he get it stuck?”

“You remember that unfenced section of land?”

“Back in the back of the pasture?”


“You can’t drive a tractor back there!”

“Well, you’re daddy wanted to prove to me that he COULD drive a tractor back there. He just couldn’t drive it back out.”

Son started laughing. “Okay, Mom. I’m on my way home now and should be near your place in about five minutes.” He wasn’t there long and came driving out, still laughing his ass off. “That tractor can’t come out until it dries up back there some.”

“Son, this is the driest it’s been back there in years!”

“Unh hunh.” He drove off, still laughing.

So that’s why the tractor is stuck in the mud in the woods, maybe permanently, there’s a box blade chained to a tree, maybe permanently, the fence needs fixing because SwampMan optimistically cut a section out in anticipation of getting the tractor unstuck, my Christmas tree ain’t up, my clothes ain’t ironed, and I don’t have SwampMan’s breakfast and lunch for tomorrow cooked and in the fridge. I’m going to bed anyway.

Comments (1) »

Wuh Oh

I checked the ads on Craigslist for round bales of hay. There are usually lots of hay farms advertising at this time of year, for this is the time of year when the summer grasses go dormant or are growing very slowly, but the winter season grasses have not yet become well established due to the (relatively) high temperatures. There were very few ads for the big round bales and the ones that were there were miles away. Hunh. I called my usual hay supplier up in Georgia so I could get some round bales for the winter. “Sorry to tell you this, but we’re sold slap out!” he said.

“What? When? How?” I asked, confused, because the pastures had still been relatively good.

“It’s because of the big drought out west. They’ve bought up everybody’s hay and shipped it back to Texas.”

SONuvabitch. I’m gonna have to get my ass in gear BIG TIME and get everything possible seeded, fertilized, watered and, before the winter pasture gets established, I’m gonna have to be out in the woods with my machete choppin’ ’bout anything with leaves for the sheep to eat. I hate to do it, but I may have to sell a bunch of the pregnant ewes for slaughter in order to make sure I’ve got enough pasture for the rest. We’re still in a drought ourselves, so we were short on hay anyway before Texas bought it up.

*sigh* Won’t be any more hay until about June. Then I won’t need it!

Comments (7) »

Happy Thanksgiving!

I expect most of y’all are up early in order to fix food for family, friends, or yourself. After all, being alone doesn’t mean you have to give up festive. Perhaps some of you are having a full house and started cooking yesterday, or even earlier!

SwampMan wanted to go out to a restaurant this year in order to avoid leftovers in the fridge that are calling his name at midnight. Unh hunh. That’s what he says. Plus he says I always go overboard on cooking (who, ME?), and he wants to make it easy on me. Riiiight. Since he’s been on his low carb diet, his blood sugar tests are down to within the normal range. His total cholesterol is 118. I strongly suspect that what SwampMan really wants is the forbidden breads/pie/dressing that comes with the restaurant dinner!

I went to the grocery store yesterday and, of course, met a bunch of acquaintances that I hadn’t seen in awhile. We all screamed in dismay at seeing each other because we (collectively) just threw on old clothes and didn’t bother with much personal grooming on a quick grocery store run. Heh. I was so worried about how scary bad I looked that I didn’t even notice how bad my makeup-free acquaintances with unruly hair (my usual state) said that they looked! Oh, well. At least my scary weight gain pushes out the wrinkles!

We talked about the high cost of turkeys this year. Most of us were having ham instead. Wouldn’t you know it, before we left, the local grocery store put the FROZEN turkeys on sale for @ $10.00 each. AAAARGH! I saw a little girl sitting in the shopping cart ask her momma “Are we having turkey for Thanksgiving after all?” “No, baby”, explained the momma. “This turkey will never thaw by Thanksgiving. We’ll be able to have turkey for Christmas, though.” I thought about getting one, but realized I may not be able to fit it into my overstuffed freezer. I’ve got to find room in there for the ducks we plan to butcher this weekend!

I was going to start my cooking early this morning. I had purchased two pounds of butter yesterday for pie crusts. I found late last night when I started searching the fridge that the butter had NOT come home in the bagged groceries. AAAAARGH! I’m going to have to go back to the grocery store! Guess I’ll go right after I feed the chickens. I need to look inside the freezer, too, to see if I have room in amongst the chickens and blueberries and peaches and sausage and other stuff for a frozen turkey. I’m not sure the family will want to eat a duck for Christmas dinner.

Comments (2) »

More On Wood Gas and Gas Bag Vehicles

Read here for more background on woodgas. Read here for more background on gas bag vehicles.

I had no idea these things even existed in WWI and WWII, and neither did my mom or inlaws!

Comments (3) »

I Love Dem Pants Stretchers!

Uh, no, they don’t actually make your pants bigger *sigh*. They hold ’em tight while they’re drying so that they dry without wrinkles. I saw some for sale on Ebay, but Lehman’s has pants stretchers at a good price with reasonable shipping charges. My preference for natural fiber pants means that I spend an inordinate amount of my weekend ironing.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t afford the good price. My salary has been cut, but grocery prices are waaaaaaay more than next year. Feed store prices, too. I’d be running a deficit if I hadn’t cut back on all non-essentials! So, off to the hardware store for some electrical conduit (EMT) and screws, wingnuts, flat washers, hex nuts (all 1/4″), 1/4″ threaded rod and steel conduit coupling with set screws. (I’d post the drawing so you could see what I mean, but y’all would have to have Delta Cad to open it. Maybe I’ll figure out how to do it another way later.)

I put either pants fresh from the washer on the stretchers and hang them up to dry in the garage, or put dry and wrinkly pants from the dryer on the stretchers and quickly steam the wrinkles out. It works really well. I starch the pants that I’m hanging up on the stretchers to dry.

I don’t have sharp pants creases (no pants creases, in fact) using the round conduit on the home-made stretchers, but that’s okay with me. I’ll probably buy a pair of the sharp-creasing pants stretchers from Lehman’s just so that I’ll have one on hand for the times that I really need to look professional.

Comments (5) »

Is That a Monday I See Comin?

Personally, I think we should kick Monday’s ass! *sigh* The only ass that will be kicked Monday, unfortunate though it may be, will be mine. Damnit.

Comments (2) »

SwampMan Gotta Turn In His Redneck Credentials Now For Sure

I have been very abusive to poor SwampMan today. Oh, yes, I have! First of all, on the way out to do some Christmas shopping and pick up feed, I insisted we eat breakfast sitting down inside. No franchises. No drive through. Just a locally-owned place with politically incorrect cooking. The kinda place where if you want to make a fuss about a low salt, low-fat diet, you can just piss off because nobody invited your Yankee ass in there to begin with. And eggs are cooked in bacon grease like Gawd intended.

SwampMan, being the unsocial butterfly that he is, wanted to protest loudly in his man whine that there might be people there that he knows, and they might want to talk to him! Oh, the horror! “Deal with it!” I suggested unsympathetically and forcefully. SwampMan’s sociability index, never high at any point, has been diving deeper the more hard of hearing that he has become. If I were to meet an unfortunate (from my point of view, of course. There are other viewpoints.) demise, SwampMan would probably go live in the swamp somewhere and not come out again, content with his mute and people-free lifestyle.

So, inside we went, with SwampMan grumbling in what he erroneously thought was a low voice about how All Those People Taking Up Tables ought to have their butts at work. His worst fears were realized. People actually spoke to him.

He wanted to do some more grumpy grumbling to me at the table, but I was having none of it. I was in a happy mood, damnit, and he wasn’t going to pee on my sunshine today!

Then he wanted to criticize what I was going to get for Christmas for the grandkids and how kids today had things too easy and didn’t need Christmas presents, etc. Oh no, he ain’t said that!

“Bullshit!” I announced firmly.

“What did you say?”

“BULLSHIT! If you like, I can sign it for you, too. Bullshit. Bullshit. Bullshit!”

He was highly diverted. “Does that REALLY mean bullshit?”


“Do it again!”

I have a bad feeling that that will probably be featured in one of his classes this week.

But the worst part of the day for poor SwampMan was yet to come.

I purchased the gift I was looking for at Target. Then we went to Home Depot and Lowe’s, neither of which had the copper flashing that SwampMan was looking for for his doll house model house, or the galvanized pans that I wanted for the bottom of my 5-gallon chicken feeders. Dang. I needed a caffeine boost pronto.

“SwampMan!” I said, not sure of how this was going to go. “I need you to go through the Starbucks drive through on our way back.”

“What do you need?” he asked, curiously.

“I need a Pumpkin Spice Latte or a Gingerbread Spice Latte.”

“What the hell is THAT?”

“Flavored coffee.”

“Sounds disgusting.”

“Well, it’s good. You wanna try one?”

“Uh, no. What do they have that I might like?”

“How about hot chocolate?”

He made a sound like a cat coughing up a hairball. A really big, disgusting hairball. “What else?”

“You might like a mocha latte…”

“What the hell is THAT?”

“Uh, chocolate coffee.”

“Does it taste like coffee?” he asked suspiciously. Hunh. How do you answer that? Yes? No? Sorta?

“Well, get a tall one and, if you don’t like it, I’ll drink it.”

“Why would I get a tall one if I’m not gonna like it?”

“Because it’s the small size.”

“The tall one is the small one?”

“You got it!”

“How much is this gonna cost me?”

“About $4 each.”


When we got our order, SwampMan admired the sleeve on the cup. “That is really slick! I like that!” Then he admired the lil’ drinking hole in the cup. “That’s really nice, too! I wonder who thought all this stuff up?” He tasted his Mocha Latte. He didn’t offer it back to me.

“That was really good!” SwampMan said. “Next time, I’m gonna get a big one!”

“So there’s gonna be a next time, is there?” I asked.

SwampMan lamented that he guessed this meant he was gonna have to turn in his RSA membership immediately. “RSA membership?”

“My membership in the Redneck Society of America. We don’t do Starbucks. At least, not until today.”

Comments (10) »

Law and Order Ain’t Got Nothin’ on SwampMan

“You look tired!” observed SwampMan as I staggered into the house and collapsed into my recliner after feeding. “Did you have a hard day?”

“Nah, just the usual. Two small boiled eggs here at 6:30 a.m. for breakfast, only time for a partial salad (no opportunity to even sprinkle on dressing) at lunch, joined a Jazzercize class outside for PE and jumped around like a fool in front of Gawd and everybody while dancing with a giant stuffed toy fish to make a little girl smile, bus duty back at my home school with the last bus 25 minutes late, and getting home with it quickly getting too dark to properly care for the livestock, and running back and forth in the fading daylight trying to make sure everybody had sufficient feed and water. I’m totally beat.”

“Well, sit there and relax for awhile in that chair and if you fall asleep, it’ll be okay. I didn’t get NOTHIN’ done today that I’d planned on. ”

“What happened?”

“I had to raise hell at my classes today.”

“Why…oh, you had a sub in while you were at the meetings yesterday!”

“Uh hunh. I lined each class up and asked each of them why I should be ticked off at them. The first person said he didn’t know, then I revealed that the sub left detailed notes, but I wanted their written version of what happened between them and the sub on my desk by tomorrow morning!”

“SwampMan, that is just EVIL!”


“Don’t they watch Law and Order, NCIS, and CSI?”

SwampMan grinned his evil grin. “Oh, I don’t think they’ve watched ’em nearly as much as I have!”

Leave a comment »


Saw a man from Connecticut on The Weather Channel this morning describing the family ordeal after being without electricity for 12 days following a large snowstorm. Saw people on other channels describing chaos in Greece and the impending (or is it ongoing) Italian financial collapse. Another channel carried the devastation from a strong aftershock in Turkey.

Our interconnected web of high tech life is pretty fragile. Having a source of heat, food, and water in the event of a disaster is a very good idea.

Comments (1) »