Archive for March, 2013

Dylan’s Homework is FINISHED!

I went over to pick Dylan and Jacob up tonight to take them over to our house for an overnight visit until tomorrow evening so Mommy could sleep after she got off work. (They go back to school on Tuesday.)

Mommy handed me their overnight bag. She asked, if I had time, whether I could possibly persuade Dylan to maybe get a couple of pages of homework done. Seems Dylan did not WANT to do homework over his spring break. (Go figure!) There were eight or nine pages of it which seemed a little excessive for a five-year-old kindergartener. He’d done three pages the entire week with a lot of drama for Mama. He had one more day to get it done.

“If you don’t get any done, it won’t be any big deal, but even a page would help!”

“Yeah, throw it in. No problem!” Mommy probably does not remember HER epic tantrums about her homework. Dylan’s tantrums don’t even compare. “We’ll get it done before we go to the beach tomorrow!”

“We’re going to the BEACH?” Dylan asked, throwing himself around my legs.

“Yep, just as soon as your homework is finished!”


Meemaw has learned a few things in her multitude of less-than-illustrious careers working with both the public and with public officials. One thing I’ve learned is that physical violence is sometimes necessary. I have no objection to it when warranted. However, real enthusiasm and cooperation about getting the job done often requires incentives or rewards. Incentives work with small children as well. The compensation they require is just smaller in monetary value. We might call them “rewards”. In business, they are often called “incentives” or “consideration”. Had I been caught and prosecuted, no doubt the law would have called them “bribes”. Whatever it takes to get the job done.

So, Mommy, if you are reading this during a lull at work tonight, you can rest easy knowing that you will not have any tear-filled drama tomorrow night. Dylan worked diligently at his homework from @ 8 p.m. to 8:20 p.m. and finished it. I gave him the option of saving some for tomorrow, but he just sighed and said he might as well just do it all now so we could go to the beach early.

Nope. Mommy was never that easy.

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Happy Easter!

Brantley NelsonHope the Easter Bunny hopped his butt off around your house!

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He is Risen

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Advice From Me? You Have to REALLY Want It!

I had a dinner date with a couple friends a few weeks ago. They were talking about their marital problems and relationship problems respectively, and asked me what I thought.

I came close to snorting my adult beverage out my nose. “Uh, why are you asking ME? You KNOW how I am about things like this!”

One friend said “Because we know that you will actually tell us what you think and won’t try to pretty it up and spare our feelings if we’re wrong.”

The other friend concurred. “Yep. When anybody asks your opinion, they have to really want to know, because you will tell it like you see it. EXACTLY like you see it.”

Hunh. I think I may now know why I do so poorly in places where happy feelings are stressed over actual outcomes….

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Life is Just That Way, I Guess

We are halfway through “spring break”. SwampMan has had SUCH a bad cold/bronchitis (probably pneumonia, truth be told) that he has a hard time breathing. Naturally, it turned off cold again. If it was warm, he’d probably be recovered.

We spent Monday rebuilding his CNC machine frame. It is something that he has wanted to do before we really got started in production work. We started with fairly lofty ambitions…everything must be square, and level, and stable.

He was on the cold concrete floor underneath the machine squirming about on his back. I was the gofer cutting materials and mitering and screwing in additional bracing on the outside of the frame. I was also dropping things and cursing and noticing that when I was in a cramped position for a prolonged period of time, it was a little hard for me to immediately obey commands. For example, I’d be toting things and cutting things and then down on the concrete floor on my knees with a heavy-ass drill attaching things, and SwampMan would say “Okay. Down at the other end now.” Meanwhile, I’d be on my knees in this 1-foot space between a solid concrete wall and a table with delicate electronic pieces that I could not touch, wondering how in the hell was I going to get up? SwampMan would repeat as though I had not heard: “Okay, the OTHER end. I need you down at THIS end.” Struggle struggle. No room to get my feet back under me. How did I manage to get down here? Oh, yeah. It was hard. “You’re at the WRONG END! I need you down here with ME!”

“Well, if you had something I could maybe pull myself up on, I’d be DOWN at THAT damn end!”

“Oh. Getting OLD, aren’t we?”

“Shaddup. This is NOT FUNNY!”

“Yes. Yes, it is!”

“Okay, maybe it is!” and somehow I’d wiggle out to a spot where I had enough room to get my feet underneath me, and down to the other end I’d go. “Seriously, you need to attach some ropes or something to the ceiling so I can pull myself up if I have to do this shit again!”

Let us just say that our lofty ambitions of square, level, and stable had flown completely out the window by the end of the day. We were into serious settling territory by then. We settled for mostly square, kinda level, and completely sturdy.

We limped outta the barn giggling at each other and settled into our easy chairs and debated whether we were truly getting old (NEVER! Okay, maybe a little!) or whether we were just too dang outta shape.

I called Mom, since I hadn’t talked to her since we’d first became ill, as though germs can be spread over the phone. She shared all the news and, as we were about to hang up, dropped another bombshell.

“Oh, another spot popped up and they think my cancer is back. I have to get another biopsy.”

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March Was a Good Month for Babies!


Ah, finally have a picture of the great niece born a couple weeks ago. She was two weeks late, to everybody’s consternation, and weighs in at almost 10 lbs. She’s going to need that extra insulation up there in North Dakota!

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Bad Weather

I thought that I had everything under control when we left to make a run to the library. I had barns open for shelter for the sheep, I had fed all the chickens and newly hatched ducklings and chicks before I left so that they would have full tummies during the bad weather, and I’d moved the pens of newly hatched chicks and ducklings with their mothers to higher ground, or at least what I thought was higher ground. I knew we were going to have rain during the afternoon. I did not know how much rain was coming, though.

We were actually gone far longer than we had intended to be due to the storms. I got out in the driveway to open the gate and was instantly soaked through with cold rain that felt like it was coming out of a high pressure hose. I argued briefly with SwampMan. He wanted me to jump back in the truck and ride up the driveway to the house and come inside. I wanted to go check the chicks, ducklings, and livestock. He pointed out that I was recovering from bronchitis and I wasn’t Superwoman, even if I thought I was. That truck sure did feel nice and warm driving up the driveway after getting soaked through in just a minute or two at the gate!

We came inside and got out of our soaked hoodies, tees, and blue jeans. I put on dry socks, light pants, and another sweatshirt and baseball hat to check on the babies. *sigh* I thought I’d gotten my little chicks with their momma up far enough but alas, I hadn’t. The momma and seven of the chicks were okay. There wasn’t room for the eighth chick on the big branch I’d put in there just in case, and it had succumbed to hypothermia in the cold water. The caged Momma with the ducklings also had a duckling death; I believe this one was stepped on as she was trying to keep the ducklings warm.

It is 11 p.m. We’ve just had another severe thunderstorm pass through and there’s a lull outside in the rain. I hear thunder off in the distance heading this way. I better run outside and make sure everybody is okay before the next one hits. We have electricity here so far and no trees are down here that I know of, although lots of folks aren’t so lucky. Lots of storm damage in some counties. Guess we’ll know more about it come morning.

Update: I was wondering about the, er, intelligence of wandering around in water while the skies were intermittently lit with bright lightning flashes and the ground was shaking from thunder when the skies opened up again. Damnit. What I could see (more in the lightning light than the dim flashlight) looked okay. I didn’t make it to the duck pens. A lot of the ducks have elected to spend the night on the front porch which is going to be right mess to clean up tomorrow (sigh). You KNOW it’s a bad night when the ducks head to shelter.

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I Agree Wholeheartedly With the Cat

My freakin’ printer is doing the very freakin’ SAME THING! IT WON’T TAKE THE PAPER! Sumbitch, WHY won’t you take the freakin’ PAPER? Hand me the baseball bat. Printer gonna go to printer hell.

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She Looks A Little Alarmed About Her Family

Aubrey LaRae-ChristineThere’s another one in the Swamp Clan now! A little preterm great niece was born early this morning. Apparently she is going to be one of those punctual people that annoy you by arriving two hours before the stated dinner time. I think she’s been giving her mommy and daddy fits for awhile now, trying to be born waaaaaay before she was supposed to be. They were trying to make it to 34 or 35 weeks. Not sure if they did, but she’s doing okay.

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And Then There Were Ten

A duck built a nest on top of the aluminum cover that extends over one of the porches. (So, you might ask, how many porches do you have? Several. This is Florida.) This particular aluminum cover, which SwampMan has been grousing about tearing out since we’ve lived here, is flat. Yep, it is adjacent to the flat roof room addition whose roof my brother and I have attempted to repair with some degree of success. Several generations of ducks and one chicken have decided, for various reasons, that hatching their brood out on a roof was a very nice idea. I think it’s a gawddamn poor idea, but you know who listens to me! Yeah, nobody.

When my brother and I were up on the roof, we often startled the poor mother duck as we walked past. We couldn’t see her nestled beneath the roof overhang on the patio cover but she could hear us, and we must have sounded awfully menacing. We’d be walking to fetch tools, plywood, nails, beer for my brother, sweet tea for me, unplug the saw, plug in the blower, unplug the blower, plug in the radio for heavy metal music to hammer by, etc. and she would explode off the nest in a sudden startling “WHOOSH!” leaving little downy feather bits drifting down on us. It happened several times per hour. I did not think that any of those eggs had the slightest chance of hatching, but I was wrong.

About two weeks ago, I could hear frantic peeping coming from somewhere outside. I went out to locate the disturbance and found the momma duck on the ground with two ducklings sheltered underneath her, and a nearby duckling whose head had been bitten off and presumably eaten for it (the head) was nowhere near the scene. I do not believe it would have wandered away on its own. Ewwwww. What a horrifying sight for the new hatchlings! Puppy, who patrols all night and sleeps all day, heard me on the porch and came ambling from his bed amongst the hay bales. He sniffed curiously at the dead duckling, gave me a reproachful look as though I were the duckling killer, turned his back on me, then went back to bed.

The poor mother duck didn’t know what to do. She was a young duck, and this was probably her first clutch of eggs. She wanted to attack me and drive me from her ducklings, but she was too fearful. She settled for hissing at me furiously from behind the ducklings. I backed away from the two remaining ducklings so that she would shelter them and went to the porch and got the long-handled heavy-duty fish net. I netted her and the ducklings without much difficulty or any injuries (to them).

Now, where to put them where she and the ducklings would be safe? This is a question most people would have asked themselves BEFORE they were standing holding a furiously flapping and hissing duck by her legs in one hand and two little peeping fluff balls in the other hand that were furiously struggling to escape to Mommy. Most people are smarter than I am. I put her in a small pen with a recuperating injured rooster. He might even be happy for the company, right? So into the pen she went along with her two ducklings. I kept a close eye on them and the rooster for awhile until he started calling the ducklings to the food, then went away.

A couple of days later, two more ducks in the sheep barn hatched out ducklings. They took them out to the little pond/low spot in the former horse pasture that is under the tree where the red-shouldered hawks nest. Not a good move on their part. There were two little laggards peeping frantically about being left behind so I scooped them up and brought them to the penned mother’s nest. Her ducklings were the same size, so I thought she would take them. She hissed at me and bit my fingers as I put the peeping ducklings in the pen, then gently called them to her. How dare I be walking around with her ducklings? I’m sorry to say that I never saw the other 12 ducklings again, so I’m glad that a couple representatives of that generation are still alive. Or maybe I shouldn’t be. Stupid is generally ruthlessly stamped out in the wild, and I’ve allowed those genes to have a chance to perpetuate.

Two weeks later, I was doing my morning feeding and heard frantic peeping again. There was a tiny little newly hatched duckling all by itself being ignored by the rest of the fowl. I picked it up. No indignant duck (or hen) attacked me. Well, this wouldn’t do at all. It wouldn’t survive much longer on its own for it was shivering furiously now. Where could it have come from? It could be the lone survivor of an attack on a nesting duck in the night. It could have hatched out first from a nest and gone off looking for food while Mom stayed with the eggs. I took it to the duck with the two-week-old ducklings to see if she would take it, even though her ducklings were twice the size.

It wasn’t the mother duck accepting it that I needed to worry about! The rooster in the pen decided that this wasn’t ‘his’ baby, so he started picking it to drive it away from the others which were ‘his’. Hmmmm. I opened the pen, removed him, and put him in a pen with a lil’ banty hen and her three half-grown daughters. She accepted him into the family immediately for they’d been neighbors for some time, and she was tired of the single mother life. (She’s started laying eggs again since his introduction to raise another family. Bantams are prolific.) She is the hen half of the duck/hen nest duo, and I haven’t released either her or the duck (and her 11 half-grown ducklings) yet for spring is a perilous time for the young.

The new duckling got on well with its new siblings and mother, who seemed to enjoy having five ducklings. That was the end of that, or so I thought. Two days later, I go outside and there’s a mother duck with 12 little ones running about in the front yard. She gathers them up and heads to water, leaving one behind, who frantically follows hens, roosters, and drakes. Ducks can’t count. Ducklings follow anything with feathers. I pick it up and put it in with the caged momma, who takes it immediately. Now she has a family of six.

I go outside again, and front yard momma duck now has 18 ducklings. Say WHAT? It is supposed get cold again and NO WAY can she keep 18 warm. She wanders away and leaves two more behind. Mother duck in the pen now has a family of eight.

By evening, I’ve picked up two more stray ducklings and mother in cage is now a mother of ten. The ducklings in the front yard have self-sorted into ducklings with the tri-color muscovy mother (11) and a black and white mother (4) that kept getting driven away and having her ducklings stolen by the tri-color mother. I imagine the five ducklings gathered from the previous day probably belong to her but if she manages to raise the four, she’ll be doing well. The front yard is prime hunting ground for the barred owls, you see, and soon the ducklings will be too big to huddle under the mommy duck for protection and warmth at night.

I checked (and fed) all the duck families this morning. The newly hatched ducklings in the front yard made it through the night. I dropped food at the feet of the mother ducks so the ducklings could venture out and feed when I left.

I was a bit concerned about the mother duck’s family in the cage. The temperature dropped into the 30s last night, and “her” four ducklings were older and didn’t need brooding. The six latest adoptees, though, would require the mother duck to stand over them all night, her wings dropped around her to keep body warmth over the ducklings. I needn’t have been concerned. She was protectively brooding the newly-hatched ducklings, but giving me a look that said “What are you, the freakin’ STORK? GO AWAY!”

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