Monday, July 30, 2012

Helluva Week

Not my license plate, unfortunately.

This past week has been an emotional roller coaster ride - steep climbs, deep drops and (as the previous post mentioned) even some screaming. No barfing though, so that's good.

Once I'd resigned myself to the fact that The Mae Flower was stuck in Fargo for several days, I opted to take the advice of a friend, Andrea Anton, who'd responded to my frustrated Facebook update:

"Staying in a motel for several days while my trailer gets fixed. Feels like defeat not being at the farm."

Her response:

"Not defeat, vacay!" 

Dessert Squash!
That small casual exchange reversed my entire attitude.  So, I took long hot showers, used as much toilet paper as I wanted and occasionally, even turned on the television device. I was especially grateful for this luxury during the opening ceremony for the London Olympics which were spectacular. I just needed to alter my perspective. Too bad the unplanned "vacay" cost me $350 but I did eat a truckload of Cocoa Puffs at the free breakfast in an effort to make up the difference.

Meanwhile, my work week ramped up quickly and and I hosted three analyst briefings. During one call, there was a clear moment of non-truth when everyone stated their location: "London." "Montreal." "Boston." I paused, then caved, and said "Denver." 

I KNOW. But in a previous meeting, I went ahead and stated "North Dakota" and regretted it immediately. The shocked silence was deafening, followed by confusion and inevitably, questions. These meetings are attended by brilliant people who are crazy busy, their days are scheduled up to exact minutes and the hour is not to be about me. During these episodes, I'm a different Heather, a reverse-Heather, one who is crisp, professional, understated and under the radar; I only bring her out as needed because, quite frankly, she's boring. She is also the Heather that pays the bills. 

Because if I had to make my living as a farmer, I can tell you, I'd be living in a trailer out of necessity, not in the spirit of adventure as I do now. Case in point: This week, I debuted at a Farmer's Market, in nearby Cavalier. Though I felt wildly unorganized and totally unprepared, I went anyway; I didn't want the trailer drama to ruin another vision. 

My table set-up, as it were.
It happened to be the week when the town had some big to-do - bouncy castle, musical entertainment, hot dogs, quilts, pies - something that only happens once a year. Otherwise, it's usually just 5 or 6 people and their produce on card tables. Since my beets are radishes had to compete with Rhubarb Slushies, homemade pies, cupcakes and burgers, my sales were about $7, which I immediately turned around and spent on all the things I just listed. 

One strategy I will deploy again is my 'lettuce box' - I filled a cardboard box it with heaps of loose leaf lettuce, plus some Tom Thumb heads, and stuck a sign on there: "All the lettuce you can grab for $1." People are mostly self-policing, especially in small, Midwestern towns, and besides, I have more lettuce than I can actually deal with. If one person wanted to take the whole box for $1, I was fine with that.  

And this is Howard, my first SCRANCH customer. Not only was he game for the grabbing but also photos. I told him: "Look greedy!" He was an awfully nice guy - the perfect First Customer. He even came back 'round again and bought radishes. 

So despite my scrambled brain and jangled nerves, it was symbolic that I be present and reach that SCRANCH milestone - still a success in my eyes. I also saw random cousins there and made a new friend, a woman who used to teach yoga (!) and is a vegan (!!) and grew up in a townhouse in DC, attending private schools and hanging with politicos (!!!!!). We're going to be pals, though she may not know it yet. Best of all, she thinks I'm funny. 

My table, just left of the quilts.
Meanwhile, I call the dealer, Outlet Recreation, to determine when I could get The Mae Flower back where she belongs. "We're still awaiting a call back from the parts dealer. We'll give you a call in the morning to let you know the ETA." 

Fine. Next morning, no call. I not-so-impatiently wait until noon, straight up, before I begin the days' harassment. I get poor Becky again whose days was about to get worse. "Oh, yeah. I think the trailer will be delivered over the weekend or on Monday..." 


Because in the meantime, the motel has let me know that they are running short of rooms, and since I didn't have a reservation to begin with, I may have to leave. Ultimately, they do find me a Smoking room (yes, they still have those here), down at the end of the hall, right next to the exit. I have no choice.

So one early morning, before a long day of meetings and beet selling, I have to - you guessed it - pack up all my shit once again and move it downstairs to a room that reeks of stale cigarettes, a smell that evokes whiskey tears and dead dreams.  There aren't enough Cocoa Puffs in the world to address the grumpiness I exuded that morning.

When Friday finally rolled around, I was ready to play. I knew the day had promise when I went into the breakfast room to fetch my usual juice and puffs, when what do I see on the table? An Entertainment Weekly with Louis CK on the cover! I may have even looked heavenward and said, "Thank you, God!" I mean, it HAD to be divine intervention - the publication was wildly out of place.

Best of all, I received a heartfelt call from the trailer folks, letting me know that Mae would be delivered the following day. The guy, Jim, went into great detail of the drama from their side and the logistical challenge was not something they expected. Ultimately, the entire front door and door jam of my trailer had to be removed to get a new fridge installed. He actually said the words, "I know you've been upset. PLEASE DON'T HATE US." Very human of him, which is all I wanted anyway, just a little bit of sympathy. As a waitress, you learn this very quickly as a key tool in customer service. 

I'm Safety Sadie in the helmet.
Moments after the call, I was picked up by Wayne, my neighbor (a cousin too, I think) and Brent's business partner, to join he and his family for a day of 4-wheeling in the Pembina Gorge. Man, it was exactly what I needed. 

It was a perfect day, weather wise and there were 7 of us on 5 vehicles and we found some beautiful, challenging trails that made me forget everything and instead, worry about not harming myself. Of course, I was the only one with a manual transmission (I borrowed Brent's vehicle) and also the only one wearing a helmet. 

By the end of the day, I had run into a tree, smashed into another vehicle and doused myself in mud. It was glorious. The scenery was just lovely and the company was friendly and supportive, a fun group. After several hours of serious trail riding, we all went back to the house and ate Sloppy Joe's, potato salad and Juneberry pie. The entire afternoon was such a perfect antidote to my awful week, it might as well have come in pill form.

Cousin Donna - ready to roll.
The next day, Mae arrived, and I was back on the farm. Hallelujah! 

 The young man who delivered her, Darryl, checked off the list: 
  • New refrigerator
  • Stove light fixed
  • New outside storage keys - old one bent.
  • Awning wand
I tipped Daryl just enough for lunch and he left. I went to pull down the awning and only half would come down, it was now broken.  I shouted aloud: "ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!?" I could still see Darryl's truck driving down the road so I called him and said, "Come back!" 

He did and we spent the next 30 minutes trying to fix the damn awning. He called his boss. We scratched our heads and finally, got it back to normal. When he finally did leave, I was afraid to move, fearing the discovery of the Next Broken Thing. 

Finally, I relaxed, grabbed my pick-up (which is NOT the same thing as a truck, I've learned) and began moving my food from the shop fridge to my new trailer fridge. I was nearly done, when I backed up my pick-up to park into my outdoor garage when I hit something...

Fire pit owie.
I could only laugh like a maniacal idiot. Apparently, too many working parts make up this scene - something must always be broken. 'As long as it isn't me, things are fine,' I thought to myself.  The next day, the shop fridge quit.

Frostfire Theater
So, on Saturday night, I went to see a sweet little show about Johnny Cash, then made a huge meal for myself, got tipsy, watched 'Breaking Bad' - Season 1, Episode 1 & 2 and passed right the hell out.

Week over.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

A Bad Day

The Mae Flower - gone.
Yesterday was another big day for lessons, it was awful experience but, I had to remember, not horrific. The events made me reassess my spectrum of what constitutes a 'bad day'.

Because The Mae Flower's fridge is leaking ammonia, I had to drive it to Fargo (3 hrs. south) to the dealer to get it fixed. It was a pretty big pain in the ass as it required all kinds of packing up, disconnecting from the sewer and electricity and borrowing Brent's truck for the trip. I was annoyed but anxious to have the problem eradicated.

An awful sight - a empty hole in the yard.
I drop it off around 2 p.m. and am told it will be done in 2.5 hours. Fine. I leave and head to the Old Broadway Grill in downtown Fargo for lunch. I order me up an iced tea, ahi tuna burger and sweet potato fries - DE-luxe!

My phone rings. "You forgot to leave us the key."  Ugh. 'My fault though,' I thought to myself, a frequent thought as of late. So, I ask the waitress to hold my lunch and rip on down to the dealer to hand over the key.

After lunch, I heightened my spirits by tracking down a glorious recycling drop-off location at the edge of a park. Recycling in North Dakota requires much forethought and I had hauled all my aluminum, glass, tin and plastic along for this specific reason.

When I saw all those specifically designated bins, I was beyond happy and texted Kirk with photos.  (He found this highly amusing.) While I was there, dancing around the bins, at least five people pulled up with their recycling, each one looking like they came from Colorado - very fit and bright eyed, with hiking boots, ropey muscles and tan faces. I asked one fellow about the bins and he said they'd been there about 5 years.

Even designations for colored glass! GO FARGO!
My happiness was short lived, however, when I got the call that the old fridge won't fit through the door so they have to replace the cooling unit, which isn't readily available. Thus, the trailer wouldn't be ready until 11 a.m. the next day. WTF?

I was annoyed but tried to quickly work out a lodging plan, one with wi-fi so I could still work. At one point, I actually complained to the person on the phone, "If I had known, I would have brought my toothbrush and clothes with me," not grasping the fact that because I had brought the trailer with me, I had, in fact, brought ALL of my stuff; the Mae Flower was actually one big suitcase on wheels. Duh.

I make a quick stop at Hornbacher's, a big grocery chain, to grab some Parmesan and walnuts for pesto - something they've never heard of in my region. I then get another call from the dealer saying that my trailer is now going to be kept in Fargo 3-4 days for repairs. I am stunned, speechless and emotion starts to creep into my voice, cracking on key words.

I am enraged and make sure they understand that it will be delivered, that I will NOT be responsible for fetching my faulty brand new trailer that I have owned for exactly 6 weeks. I was very expressive with my anger on the phone, to the point that I had to slide in an apology as I was being a monster. "I'm sorry, Becky. I don't mean to be short with you, I'm just very frustrated," I said. This bought me more time before they called security or issued a restraining order.

Driving back to the outlet to pack up some clothes, I called Mama Iva for advice. Should I try to stay with a neighbor or relative? We discuss, in the end, decide it would be best if I stay where we always have, at the Forestwood Inn in Walhalla.

So, the gas down to Fargo was about $100 and the motel is another couple hundred, so getting the fridge fixed "for free" under the warranty is not a truism at all. Not to mention all the ruined food from the ammonia. I guess this is one of those bumps in the road I always hear about. Damn.

By the time I get to the outlet, there are flames coming out of my ears, my teeth are grinding and I'm close to tears. I've had a headache for 3 days and the oppressive heat doesn't help. I grab a cardboard box to hold my stuff, my new luggage for my new uprooted situation.

I walk in and the place is deserted except for one man. He looks at me, half-scared, and says, "Are you the lady with the fridge problem?"

"YES. THE 'FRIDGE PROBLEM' LADY. THAT'S ME," is all I can muster, with big blue icicles hanging off my every word and daggers shooting out of my eyes. A frightening sight, I'm sure.

He takes me in to the shop, apologizes and offers, "I can get you more cardboard boxes if you need them." To protect him, I ignore him.

I enter the trailer and the place is a mess, everything dislodged from the drive. The slide-in has crunched up the space, the kitchen is in tatters and there are toothpicks everywhere. I burst into tears, losing it completely. The idea of packing up my stuff, again, to move to another place, again, is overwhelming. I was finally getting settled and my new 'home' is a disaster. Poor Kirk had the great misfortune of calling me at this moment and I was a blubbering, pathetic, sweaty, angry mess. I wailed to him on the phone as I threw random things in the box.

On the way out, I caught site of the young man, Brendan, who sold me the trailer. I let loose on him. "NOT HAPPY, BRENDAN!" I yelled, as I threw my suitcase into the back of Brent's truck. My rant continued, peppered with some choice F bombs and I stormed off - one of my infamous adult tantrums. (I left Brendan an apologetic voice mail today.)

Meanwhile, the entire day and all through this episode, the inside of my brain is wallpapered with thoughts of Aurora. I found out Sunday that a member of my church, Rebecca Wingo, perished in the shootings. I didn't know her personally but much like the Seal Beach shootings last fall, a national tragedy had, once again, hit too close to home.

Rebecca Wingo
So I kept telling myself that, in light of that terrible event, I could surely see the outrageous difference in a so-called 'bad day' - that one was, at worst, inconvenient, and that the other was a heinous scene of death. Both were borne out of a regular day of living life. I was hoping that this realization would put it in perspective and help me calm down but I think it just made me cry harder. I was now bawling for multiple reasons.
Aurora Theater memorial gathering.
Missing Micayla.
Knowing that Rebecca's two children (as well as all the other victims' loved ones) had lost their mother just made me more angry and my brain more inflamed with rage. Only later did I realize that I hadn't processed the Aurora events at all, which is easier to do when you're far away.

Having been to Columbine High School at the 10-year memorial service and hearing first hand what the community of Littleton had to face, I just couldn't fathom that it was happening again just 13 miles away. (Kirk went to the memorial gathering at the theater last Sunday and took these excellent photos.)

The whole day made me question my decision to leave Colorado as it faced one of its toughest summers in history - the raging fires, the freakish, record-breaking heat and now, Aurora. I felt incredible guilt, the same guilt I felt when I was in Australia during the Oklahoma city bombings: 'I should be there.'

Balloons to honor the victims.
Later, in my motel room, I took solace in the endless hot water but I didn't feel much better. My head still throbbed. My face was still puffy from all the heat and emotion and I had to dig my toothbrush out of a cardboard box. I said a prayer for everyone affected by the shootings, consoled myself with 2 episodes of Downton Abbey and tried to sleep, 11.7 miles from the farm.

Much, much too far.

Friday, July 20, 2012

City Girl Lessons

My garage and meditation area.
These days, the lessons are coming hard and fast. Everything I thought I knew dissolves like sugar in water. And speaking of water, I just learned hard lesson last night amidst a raging thunder and lightening storm:

Before showering, for the love of God, make sure you have water so as to avoid jumping out - soaped up and naked - to grab the drinking water jug to rinse your pits and other dark parts.

After a lifetime of having endless water at my disposal, I still have to remember I won't have water if I don't fetch it myself. Being a stoner version of Laura Ingalls has its challenges.

Here's another fine lesson I learned earlier this week:

If you think the dog is lost, you're probably wrong. 

Yup. I was coming down a dirt road - something I go out of my way to do - and came upon a solitary dog in the middle of nowhere. I stopped. He wagged and I checked for a tag - nope. Next thing I know, he's in the truck, anointing my dashboard with long strings of drool.

I take him to the nearest farm. He gets out but has no reaction other than to keep looking at me and wagging. Also, nobody is home. We keep driving and pass another farm. He acts kind of anxious so I back up to take him there, "Is this where you live, boy?" 

I quickly discover that the dog is anxious because they have a horse in their yard and he'd like to bark at it and/or eat it. His blood curdling passion for the horse nearly runs us off the road and I keep driving. Honestly, I have no other ideas - there is no 'pound' or animal shelter that I know of in the area so I take him back to SCRANCH and I call Evelyn, my Filipina neighbor: 

"Can you bring over some dog food?"
"You got dog?"
"No, I found him. I think he's lost. Maybe. I don't know. Hey, do you have a leash?"
"Leash? What is that?"

Mind you, English is not Evelyn's first language so there are still words that trip her up but in this case, she was actually ahead of me.

There are no leashes here. No leash laws. No dog parks. No pooper scoopers. No half gallon jugs with plastic bags. No doggie daycares. Why? Because here, dogs are just dogs. They run free, they chase tires and they pee and poop wherever they want because there is so much damn space, they can. Nobody has to "walk the dog" and with the exception of a blizzard, most of the dogs I've met are never allowed in the house. Cats too, for that matter.

In fact, Evelyn's husband, Powerful Pierre, has a dog named Preacher. He's so adamant about chasing tires - and especially Pierre's because he doesn't want him to ever leave - that Pierre has run over him twice. Both dog and owner remain unfazed.

My other neighbor, Manny, got a flat tire and brought it to town to be fixed. The mechanic took one look and said, "I see you've been visiting Danny's place." He then pulled a dog's tooth out of the tire and told Manny the guy's dog popped two other tires the week before but with the tooth gone, he might slow down a bit. "Sad too. That dog brings me a lot of business."

So that's where I live now, in a place where dogs live outside full time and eat cars.

ANYWAY, so I bring this strapping male Lab back to the homestead and go about my business. Evelyn comes with the chow and he ignores it, though he's very thirsty. He follows me around wherever I go - to the garden, to the shed, to the shop. Of course, I'm loving his presence but that all changes when I turn my back at one point and he lunges at me from behind, with amorous intent. I get long painful scratches down my back and suddenly, I'm scared.

Twice more it happens and I realize that this dog is now fully aroused and too strong for me and I can never turn my back on him. So, I go in the trailer and leave him outside. He whines at the door. I get into my pajamas and into bed, not knowing what else to do. Shit, I was exhausted before I even saw this dog and now I'm ready to cry.

I've texted Brent earlier in the evening and he finally shows up and starts making, "You missing a dog?" kind of calls. No luck.

At this point, I feel like an idiot. With Brent there, I feel safer around the dog, who lays at my feet, wagging his tail. He's not a bad dog, just blind with lust for yours truly. And really, who can blame him? Since I've moved to NoDak, my suitors include a pre-teen boy and a stolen dog so romantically, I'm off to a roaring start.

Brent loads the dog in the red pick-up bed and off we go to take him back where we found him. The dog is in sheer heaven, ears flying in the wind as he overlooks the passing fields. "He's used to riding in the truck, that's for sure," Brent says.

As we drive and turn down the gravel road, it clicks in Brent's head. "Ahhhhhhh! I know whose dog this is! It's Al Petersen's! It's the same dog that chase everyone who comes down the lane." We pull into the homestead where I had first taken him and Brent has to drag the big dog out of the truck - he does not want to go. "I can drive faster than you can run," Brent says to the dog, and for awhile, I'm not so sure - that dog could really fly! Finally, Brent lays on the gas and the dog disappears into a cloud of dust.

I curl up in a ball on the front seat. "I feel so foolish," I mumble. Brent laughs and then gives a gentle lecture about how country dogs are different from city dogs and pretty independent creatures. Generally, dogs don't get lost out here, they just have much bigger 'yards', as it were.

We drive through the tiny town of Leroy and pull up to Chizzy's bar. "Wanna drink?" Though I'm still in my PJs, I agree that the day certainly warrants some booze. We go in, meet up with friends of Brent's and drink all night, telling stories, including this one. 


The next day, I'm driving down the same road with Evelyn on our way to town. She wants to know where I found the dog. We go past the farm and here he comes, ripping down the lane, his face is THRILLED to see me and the truck again.

"There he is!" I say.
"Oh, look! He's lost again!" says Evelyn, howling with laughter.

So at least it's getting funnier. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Garden Update

Things are happening!
Here is the latest shot from atop the grain bin, taken yesterday morning. I've been behind on these photo updates for two very good reasons:

1) With temps in the mid-90s, the metal bins are scalding. It'd be like trying to scale a griddle.

2) I was losing a battle with weeds in certain areas, such as Quadrant #2 and I was ashamed.

At one point I confessed to Brent, "If some of these plants were actual babies, Child Protective Services would have already come and gone." 

What can I say? It's a big space for one person, no matter how crazy she might be. When I first moved here, I made the mistake of telling people I had a "huge" garden. Then, I'd visit their garden and realize it was much bigger than mine. I am still adjusting to all this endless space.

Beets, radishes, lettuce, beans, peas, tomatoes, kale, popcorn, eggplant, chilis and peppers - all trimmed by Marigolds.
But these other gardeners don't have an insane vision like mine so they are using sprays to control the weeds, not just the whacking of one angry hoe powered by an aching lower back. As for the thistles, pig weed, French weed, milk weed and the ever-present Quackgrass, sometimes I just skip the hoe and pull them out by the roots for a deeper satisfaction; that riiiiiiiiiiiip brings instant joy when seeking liberation for the babies.

My photo perch.
At one point, the weeds were just kicking my ass and I had to get strict with myself: No less than four hours per day pulling weeds - that was the new rule. This may not sound like much but keep in mind that I still work two jobs online. Also please note that I am organically slow. It's true. I move like a sloth, especially when the humidity average is around 70%, though it does help that daylight persists until 10 p.m.

Wider shot shows watermelon (right) and more tomatoes, plus carrots, brussel sprouts, onions and parsnips (left).
Oh yeah, I should also point out that other gardeners have the luxury of a water spigot next to the garden that includes beautiful, glorious water pressure - something I used to take for granted. I have neither of these things.

Instead, I pull the Tonka Truck with the water tank right up alongside the garden and use the hose. But without exactly 0% water pressure, I must stand in front of each individual plant to deliver moisture. While it gives me some solid 1-on-1 with the babies, enough time to tell them how beautiful they are and kiss their leaves, it does take forever. Because of this, I am incredibly grateful for the rain, which does show up every few days. (Not to mention a naturally high water table.) Thankfully, NoDak is nowhere near the drought that is now threatening 55% of the nation. My mother says she never recalls the garden in her childhood years needing to be watered, ever. This is a tremendous change from my gardening reality in dry, arid Denver soil. 

All my tools, including the wallet in the purse.
Meanwhile, my meal times had to be adjusted for my new mandatory weeding program. I never understood why farmers always had "dinner" at noon - usually a large meal with all the fixins' - and "supper" at night, something small like a salad or a bowl of cereal. I now understand completely why you need all those calories to power through the long summer afternoon knowing that you won't be able to quit until dark. By quitting time, you don't want a large meal, just a small snack to keep you awake in the shower.

Beets are coming in!
Every night, I'd finally come in to the trailer, exhausted and beyond filthy. My fingernails were starting to look like Brent's, with permanent dirt under the nails. My body was changing too. Though without a full mirror to confirm, I felt my legs and hips shrinking a bit and maybe the tummy too. All that physical labor and heat was melting me, a wonderful by-product of organic farming.

Just before quitting time.
I'd probably lose even more weight if folks stopped bringing me garden fresh red potatoes, organic beef and homemade cookies and pies.....but a girl needs more than just salad these days.  I mean, what's the point of working your ass off in the middle of Midwestern nowhere if you can't eat home cooked pie every night?

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Barnyard Bash

Cowgirl Maya
Assuming I'm one of those super efficient people who posts the day after a major life event, this post is exactly 5 1/2 weeks late. Alas, I'm not one of those people. I love blogging but Real Life must always take precedence, and there's been a continuous onslaught of Real (Dirty) Life in that time period. 

In one of my bigger strokes of luck in this lifetime, I was once a full-time citizen of the Hearthstone cohousing community in Denver. Only the founding of SCRANCH, a longtime curiousity/dream, could tear me away. And what a tear it was.

On the eve my departure for North Dakota, the community threw Kirk and I a rousing Barnyard Bash, in honor of my rural future. Organized by Lynn, Susan and Tracy, the evening was definitely one of the highlights in my life - the gesture of the community, the farm-themed decor, the delicious food, everyone in costume - I can't believe I didn't cry all the way through it.

Diana, Brett and Isabella - in full overall glory!
When I first landed in NoDak and Kirk flew back to Denver, when the reality of my new life had settled in, I began to miss just two things, in this order:
  1. Hearthstone Kids
  2. Mexican Food

I'm totally ready to cry here.
I could be biased but I think they are the funniest, cutest, smartest kids in the world and I as much I love birdsong out my window every day, I miss their squeals of laughter much more than I ever imagined. 

Annika and Thea
I have a distinct memory in the days leading up to my departure that sticks in my mind. I was coming back from Sunflower (conveniently right next door, not 18.5 miles away!) and Caitlin and Alex were playing in the center yard. They began calling out to me, teasingly, something like:

"I'll be you can't climb as high as we can!"

And I volleyed back with something like, "Oh yeah, I'll bet I can!" 

And Kathryn responded matter-of-factly from her porch, shaking her head, "You're gonna miss all that crap."

Damned if she wasn't dead on. Sniff, sniff.....WAH!

ANYWAY, I've finally gotten around to posting the photos from the evening on Flickr (NOT a fan of the new upload format, btw) and with the help of David Nichol, got lots of nice shots. And I especially love how a bunch of otherwise 'normal' guys....

Jim, Joe and Craig
.... can reveal their inner redneck at a moment's notice.

JimBob, JoeBob and Lonnie
One of the best parts of the evening, came when I was asked to lead an impromptu improv performance with some of my Hearthstone students. They did great and the community audience just loved it! I wasn't expecting this but hey, isn't that the point of improv? Making it up on the spot and turning on a dime? I thought it was a terrific idea. Even the kids got involved.

And, if the party weren't enough, I also received gifts! How crazy is that?  I got this awesome shirt, which I still haven't worn because I don't want to get it dirty - I know, I KNOW:

Waiting for a special day....
The shirt came compliments of the lovely gal on the right:

Kellie and Tracy - ain't they purty?
Tracy is married to this lovable maniac, a man who I may or may not have tried to quiet later that evening in a restaurant with a severe baptismic gesture. It did nothing to alter his behavior but he did look shocked for a few minutes as he sat there, dripping wet:

Gah, I miss this guy too!
It was a beautiful evening - one I'll never forget. I can't wait to return in August for a visit and see everyone again.

Mmmmm, cowboys....
Still, I like to think I have additional Hearthstone memories coming down the road. My gut tells me I'm not done with this place at all.

Saturday, July 07, 2012

Bad News/Good News

I'm way behind in posts, too much going on around here. So, I'll try to cover the recent highlights in a bad news/good news format, starting with Bad News and my new leg wound presented above. Got it earlier in the week while fetching water in the '57 Chevy, the one with the wooden bed that is rotting and covered in moss.

After I filled up the tank, I climbed up the bed ladder, hopped over the edge and CRASH! My leg went straight down. My friend, Evelyn, was standing on the ground behind the truck and she freaked because she could only see my leg dangling down by the axle but couldn't see me behind the tank.

"Heather! You OK??? You hurt???"

I was fine but I did have fun saying to Brent: "I put a whole in the Tonka Truck today, hope you don't mind." You shoulda seen his eyes go wide...


Good News: Same day, my neighbor and new BFF, Evelyn, brought me a HOMEMADE blueberry-rhubarb pie! Full yummage. She is from the Phillipines and while working in Kuwait, met and married a local character, Powerful Pierre, who lives down the lane. Her garden is massive and immaculate but more on that later.

After the leg smash, I gave Evelyn some driving lessons in Walhalla. She is taking her test again (third time's the charm!) on July 11th - she is determined to learn this great American pastime and become more independent. And hey, I'm all about helping the sisterhood, especially when they bring you PIE.


Bad News: We had a big ass storm last Wednesday that I knew damn well was coming and yet, I failed to prepare by rolling up my awning. The storm was supposed to arrive mid-day, which made me think I had plenty of time, but alas, it arrived at 7 a.m. and I awoke to the sounds of clanging metal bars and flapping canvas:

Thankfully, it's been fixed but when Brent arrived that morning, he was in full farmer tizzy. In his town, they got 3.5" and some hail, which isn't good for burgeoning fields. It was then I learned what people do here after a storm - they drive. They cruise the highways and they stop in the middle to discuss the storm's intensity and compare notes on field and farm damage.

 "I heard Stinson's got three grain bins thrown up on the tractor..."
"Zat right? Well, I heard Donny's barley is all gone."

A wheat field mangled by hail.
Beans, which hate "getting their feet wet"
Good News: On the 4th of July, Brent's granddaughter, Emily, and her three friends stopped by the farm to light off their impressive stash of fireworks. Perched cozily in my in my camping chair and blanket, we admired the the glorious full moon rising behind the fields and enjoyed the free show!

We tried to get CORN spelled out but the 'R' proved difficult.


Bad News: Evidence remains that when learning to drive the Tonka Truck, I may or may not have started it while in gear - reverse, specifically. And I may or may not have put a very stylish swoosh stain on Brent's black pick-up truck, which, thank god, is his "beater"truck, not the fancier white one or the even fancier black truck he only uses "for weddings or funerals."



Good News: The garden is producing!

Radishes - French Breakfast and Easter Egg variety
Lettuce - no more buying from the store!
Cilantro but alas, no onions or tomatoes yet for salsa.
Also, compliments of Brent and Kirk (via mail) - I've got a new climber fence for my ambitious beans and peas.

And, finally, because people are always telling Brent that he carries too much in the back of his truck - everything but the kitchen sink - here's a final image: