Saturday, November 23, 2013

Holiday Ads

I dread nights, and weekends when there isn't any kids programming on PBS. Why? Because if my kids are loitering around, then I feel obligated to turn on Nickelodeon, or Disney, or some such other child-directed advertising machine. My kids don't watch that much tv anyway, but some days it's too cold, or hot to play outside, and I'm busy with other stuff. The tv is not my nanny, but my ummm...distracted teenage babysitter who shows up every once in a while, sits on the couch and fiddles with her iphone.

My punishment for trying to engage my kids in a nice, quiet tv trance is the toy ads. For every five minutes of Spongebob, there is 18 minutes of ads for the new Ninja Turle submarine, the talking Captain America shield, the lego pirate set that costs more than my monthly mortgage. With that kind of pricetag the lego ship should come with tiny living leggo men who build the set for you, then vigilantly guard your property from insects, and rodentswith their tiny swords. They should even offer mom, and dad tiny barrels of rum.

My children are not immune to the LCD lit world of wonder of toy ads. I am called to rewind the DVR every commercial break, so that the kids can point out the the game with the dog who poops out multicolored playdough. "Can't you just feed the dogs playdough, then go wait in the yard. It's fun, and economical!"
The response is stare,stare, blink, blink.
I frequently try to talk them out of stuff, but I know that within a few days the toy that I called "hideous, ridiculous, and overpriced" will be hidden in my closet. I said it, not Santa.

This brings me to a point (maybe). I'm pained for the parents who are excluded from the inescapable gloss, and glow of commercial Christmas. I'm certain that think everyone else can afford this shit for their kids, so why can't I? Just further alienate low income people, toy companies. Make them feel worse. My kids probably think that most kids own every single Chineses manufactured hunk of bright plastic, but they don't. I, however, know the truth. I know that they have a darn good collection of colored plastic garbage. They're actually on the spoiled side... as are most middle class, American kids. I'm fortunate enough to find thirty bucks here, and there that doesn't have to pay for bills, or food. I hurt for those who can't do that.
I don't know what to say to parents who struggle in general, but especially feel like outcasts from American society come Christmas-time. "Turn the tv off" might be a good start for everyone, but I don't give advice that I wouldn't take. I like tv..don't judge. Do what you can for your kids. Volunteer to chaperone field trips, and help at class parties. Have them help you to make cookies. Just give them your time. Be happy. Don't let them feel your adult stress until they are adults. I think, maybe, that they will see in time that those memories, and the time that you give them will make them forget that you couldn't buy the Hulk-smash power wheels.

Friday, July 5, 2013

My Personal Heroes

There is a mythical creature in western Oklahoma. Much like big foot, or the yeti, these creatures have little physical evidence, and a ton of folklore. You hear of them in talk at the post office, and the gas station. They run faster than a pickup truck, jump higher than a barn roof, and vanish in front of one's eyes. These mythic creatures have humble domestic beginnings, however. They are ordinary bulls. They were born, bought, and traded for the typical purpose: beef. These two particular bulls were not satisfied with their life's purpose. At some point they looked at one another and said "No. Fuck this shit." From that point they could no longer be wrangled into a fence, or a truck, or any other man made contraption. They evaded  herding by means of dogs, four wheelers, trucks, pissed off farmers, and hands. They couldn't be caught for days, then weeks, and then months. Eventually the people who had invested in these bulls also said "fuck this shit", and stopped trying to catch them.

Now, these bulls roam the countryside. They move without inhibition. Fences mean nothing. They eat, and drink where, and what they like. They take a nap in the shade, make love to a heffer in their passing, and trek on. They are the ones who have broken the code of domestic complicity with a slaughterhouse as the end.

I have had the pleasure of encountering these wild things on a couple occasions. Both times they jumped the four foot high barb wire fence on the East of my property, sauntered through my yard, and jumped over yet another fence without even picking up speed. They did this like one would step over a stick on the sidewalk. They wandered off, never running, but moving at a fast pace until they were invisible from my viewpoint. I like to believe that in between the time of my two sightings that the navigated the entire globe.

Go on wild bulls! Godspeed.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Hound Dog Refuge

Somehow the canine population at Dammit Farms doubled over the weekend. Saturday evening, a little yellow hound dog wandered into our yard. He was hungry, all of his ribs were visible. He wore a collar, but no tag. He immediately seemed submissive to my own dogs, rolling on his back, and revealing his belly to them. We tried to keep the kids distant from him at first, but then we noticed his tail wagging every time one of the boys came near. Finally we let them pet him. He followed the kids around the yard, soaking in any and every bit of affection sent his direction. I had just fed my dogs the last of the dog food, and had planned to get some in the morning. Since this dog was so hungry, I found some leftover spaghetti to feed him. I have no doubt that the plate of the spaghetti was the best meal of that little hound's life. He sucked it up in seconds. We laid a blanket on the porch for him to lay on, and we were about to retreat inside for the evening when another dog was spotted peering through our front gate.

We invited the second dog in. This one, a cur hound, seemed much older, and a bit better nourished. It was clear that he and the yellow hound were familiar with each other. Once again, we cautioned the kids against getting too close to him. Once again, the kids would come near, and the cur's tail would wag. He, too, is a sweetheart who is hungry for affection, and is polite to my dogs. He aboded by all the "dog rules" and presented himself as a guest in my dogs' space. I gave him some of the leftover spaghetti too. We were joking that the other dog told him "hey, come on over! They're cool. They have spaghetti!"

The next morning my husband and I were getting ready for church, while my four and five year old checked on their new doggy friends outside. One of the boys comes running in "There's another dog!". My husband and I accused them of seeing things. My husband and I looked at one another. "There's no way." Sure as shit...there was a third dog standing outside our fence. This time it was a red bone hound. It's clear that he's older from the white hair on his face, he was pretty skinny, and he walks with a limp. He entered our property apprehensively, head lowered, and presented himself to our dogs. By this time I was almost hoping that the dog would turn out to be aggressive, or unfriendly so that we had an excuse not to take him in. Nope, not the case. The redbone, who my five year old cleverly named red, is as sweet as pie. He's old, and tired. I don't know where he came from, or what his life is like, but I can tell that he is craving peace. Barrett and Red have been inseparable for the past few days. Barrett checks on him before he gets on the bus, and finds him the second he gets home from school.

Since our canine refugees have arrived, we have treated them for fleas, bathed them (they were surprisingly receptive to a bath), treated the cur hound for ear mites, and fed them. They are appreciative of it all. I open my door to three wagging tails all happy to see me. My dogs have accepted their presence. We assured them that they are not being replaced. We have asked around to see if anyone is missing their dogs. Nope. We have theorized that someone went hunting, got too drunk, and lost all of their dogs. However, no hunter has been spotted looking for dogs in our area. I really think that someone just dumped these sweet animals in the country. I'm glad that they found us. I don' know what we'll do. We may try to find homes for them, or we may incorporate them into our family. Whatever happens, I have promised all three that their run of bad luck was over the day they walked through my gate.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Our Fartwork

I had been shopping around for some art to hang in my living room. It turns out that anything that I like is completely out of my price range, so I decided to make my own art. I stole an idea from my sister, Mona, and bought a canvas for us to "paint". I painted the background, and let the kids put their hand and footprints on it. Jason and I also added our hand prints. I couldn't NOT include the dogs, so I also stamped their paws. The paw stamp was a bit tricky. It turns out that Kaiser, our mastiff, doesn't like to have his paw restrained. He cried like I was trying to kill him, and then mouthed my hand in an attempt to remove it. Kaiser's paw is the blue smudge in the middle of the canvas. Dan, our obese coonhound, will do anything for a cracker, so he was no problem. Jules barely bothered to wake up. "Huh, what? What's going on? You're dipping my paw in paint. Alright, whatever. zzzzzzz"
I am not a crafty person. I have zero interest in Pinterest. I just don't have the patience to make a map of Oklahoma out of nails, and rubber bands. I have laundry to fold, and television to watch thankyouverymuch. So, this will likely be my one and only craft project for the year...unless you count the kids forcing me to make lopsided turtles out of playdoh. That, my friends, is why this artsy endeavor is notable.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

The Neverending Remodel

The outside portion of our restoration project is about done. Now that I have new siding and windows, I am thinking that my roof looks kind of shabby. It never stops. A new roof is not in my remodel budget this time around. Maybe in a couple years, or after a good hailstorm, we can replace it a la Allstate ;-)
Also, we need to landscape a bit now that we have a house worth landscaping. If I can just keep the goat from eating said landscaping, and keep the dogs from dragging random carcass portions into my yard...then maybe Dammit Farm won't look so much like a redneck hell. I am aiming for the stars, I tell ya.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Sentimental Hoarding

The boys dug this squished ball out of the "dog toy basket". "Mom, there's something wrong with this ball. We need to throw it in trash." I was distracted, cleaning up the dinner mess, when I caught the black and white mush in my peripheral vision. "No! Don't throw that away." My kids were baffled. I love throwing things away. I have been known to chuck small toys that have crossed my path one too many times. (I'm very sorry about your hat and left arm, Mr. Potatohead, but I was having a bad day.)
"Why?" they asked me.
Then, for whatever reason, something that I hadn't cried about for a very long time came roaring back. I tried to hold down the tears, but couldn't. Looking at that ball reminded me of my sweet friend, who I had not seen in about eight years. Our coonhound had suddenly died of bloat while were on vacation. He was only three. It was an especially sudden, and painful loss. I never got to say goodbye to him. I grieved hard for that animal.  Clyde was ill-mannered, mildly destructive, but so there was a peacefulness to his soul. He was such a large, and noisy presence, that the silence he left in his absence was hard to bear. I have spent years filling my life with noise via other animals, and children, but I still miss him.
"You can't throw it away because it was Clyde's. It belonged to my dog that died."
"Why are you crying, Mommy!?" Asked my four year old.
"I'm crying because I miss my dog."
Then little hands were patting me. "Jules will be your friend, mommy."
"I know guys. She is my friend."
I pulled it together, put the ball back in they toy basket, and changed the subject. "Do you boys want to take a bath?"  I didn't want to upset them, but even more I did NOT want to entertain any conversation about life and death with them. I've had to before, and it's not fun.  For days after the mention of death I have to answer questions like "Do potato chips die when you eat them?" Not even joking.

Who are those kids? Jason, Jules, Clyde and I in the good old days. This picture isn't that old (about ten years) just happens to be black and white.

My PSA for this post. Here is tidbit on bloat that I find informative. It can't always be prevented, but there are steps one can take that can decrease the risk.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Slightly Spiffier

We finally broke down, and hired a contractor to finish the "fun project" that is also know as our home. It turns out there's a reason why people pay other people to do carpentry jobs. That shit isn't easy. Here's a taste of the improvements to the house on Dammit Farm. The first phase is new windows, and "log cabin" siding.

The before

In the process.
Oh, and the older boys got new haircuts. Gunther's mohawk is back!
I can't wait to have my house be "done" and not have to explain anything to visitors. "We're in a transition phase..." Too bad the transition phase has lasted nearly five years.