Saturday, May 31, 2008

P.S. You Suck

We just finished watching the heavy-handed, syrupy Gerard Butler (what, there were other people in it?) film, "P.S. I Love You," which made me cry approximately forty-leven times, and mostly made Alex say, "Hilary Swank looks like a retarded male elf," or refer to her as "Hilary Stank." I don't think he's a fan. Anyway, yeah. This not-stupendous movie manipulated me all over the place. I'll admit I'm easy that way with the tearjerkers. I go right where they want me to emotionally, which is wherever the protagonist is. So I cried and cried and cried, because if my husband died, I would be DEVASTATED.

This phenomenal emotional sensitivity and empathy of mine is obviously highly appreciated by my spouse. Enjoy this audio-only video clip, which I begin by immediately using the word "audio" IN PLACE OF the word "video." I swear I know the difference.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

You Wanna Rephrase That, Honey?

I See

As we're innocently watching "So You Think You Can Dance?" (Oh, SHUT UP--like you were watching "Crossfire" or something) last night, the segment with the little pageant gal contestant came on. I know that my daughter's been exposed to near saturation to this whole corporate princess culture we have going on right now, so I'm aware that a young woman with a spray-on tan, bleached hair and teeth, and a pageant strut who is wearing a tiara, even, might be a mighty seductive image to my naive, innocent daughter. Of course, I want to nip this in the bud, because, no offense to pageant queens (this is the South, after all--you're inescapable and I love more than a few of you--you know who you are), I don't really relish the idea of my daughter someday strutting around on a stage wearing only high heels, a bikini, and a spray-on tan...unless she is doing so in the process of accepting her Pulitzer or Nobel Peace Prize, in which case anything goes.

As Alex and I mimed gagging behind Bella's back while Miss Bleach Bikini (yeah, I use haircolor--hypocrite, much?) did a few turns for the benefit of the cameras, Bella asked a question about the girl's not-quite-natural skin color (Oompah-Loompah Orange), which launched a little discussion about the things some people do to achieve certain ideals of "beauty," and where our value as women lies. This is a kid who is frequently told how "pretty" she is, which is all the more reason that we try, as often as possible, to praise and cultivate her many other qualities, like intelligence, creativity, and compassion. In other words, we don't want her thinking that "pretty" has any real, intrinsic human value, if you get where I'm coming from. In any case, it's good to know that her father has my back in these matters.

Me: "So you see, My Dear, YOU are worth a million times more for what's in here (taps her head) and what's in here (taps her heart), than you are for how pretty you look."

Bella: "Yeah. Because someday, I am going to know EVERYTHING."

Alex: "That's right, Bella--look at your Mommy, for example...you can tell that I married her for her brains..."(trails off, gets panicked look on face)

*crickets*

Me: (stares expectantly at husband)

Alex: "...AND beauty. Because she is beautiful! But smart! Beautiful AND smart! See how pretty she is? And so smart, that she knows that's what I meant--"

Me: "Dude, you basically just said that your wife has a face for radio. I'd just hush now."



P.S. Yeah, that's right. I made a LOLCHICKEN. Actually, I made two. Wanna fight about it?

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Latino Rap Mermaids, Farting Ducks, And PB&J

I've gotten far too used to "background noise" in my life, and leaving a television on as I putter around the house is pretty much par for the course. But nowadays, I'm not puttering alone. I have a second set of ears, 5-year-old ears, to consider, and those ears are attached to an impressionable young brain that hasn't yet begun to filter and differentiate signal from noise (and yes, I DO realize that the majority of television programming IS noise, and not signal, and you can't prove that I watched "Dr. Phil" today).

Bella also doesn't filter out anything WE say, unless those things happen to be instructions that are directly addressed to HER, in which case she's deaf as all get-out. So she's been hearing me fret about money a lot lately--mostly when I'm telling her why she can't have every single item on the shelves at the grocery store, or why we're not going OUT to eat instead of cooking actual food in our actual home (and hey--I made this tonight, and it was good). She's slowly coming to terms with the concept that EVERYTHING costs money--I'm trying to remember to explain that when we're watering the garden, we're paying for that water, that when we turn on the lights, we're paying for that electricity, that we pay to live in our house, and recently, that we can't be running around all over creation, because we have to pay dearly for every drop of gasoline in our cars. The only thing I'm not mentioning is the air-conditioning, because that is just not an option. Don't even suggest laying off the AC. I mean it. Shut up. I will skip meals to have air-conditioning, if I have to. You just don't know. Seriously, shut up.

I've mentioned before that we don't get local Arkansas television affiliates on the TV sets we usually watch at our house, meaning the one in the living room and the one in the bedroom--our network coverage comes from New York and Los Angeles. And on the New York network affiliates, the commercial that gets more play than any commercial you ever saw in your entire life is the series of wacky, highly-produced, musical IO Digital Cable commercials. The first one was a Latino-flavored rap video, and every time it came on, I felt like I was on some kind of bad drug trip. Here, judge for yourself:



The one that's playing now doesn't seem to be available online, but it is a very animated, primary-colored, singing, dancing showstopper that revolves around a glamorous Gwen Stefani-looking housewife (I know, right?) preparing a fancy dinner...what that has to do with Optimum Online, I have no idea, but then, I didn't get the Latina mermaids, either. Anyway, after the 42nd airing of this commercial today, Bella gets right up in my face, wearing that I JUST HAD A GENIUS THOUGHT THAT MUST BE SHARED IMMEDIATELY expression, and says, "Mom. MOM. We should get IO Digital Cable! It saves you LOTS OF MONEY! And we need lots of money, so can we get Optimum Online and SAVE LOTS OF MONEY?" And I just know that, behind that, unspoken, was, "...so that we can get out of this house and back to The Dixie Cafe, WHERE I BELONG?" As well as, "Look, woman--here is the solution to all of our problems! Gwen Stefani in an apron wants to give us lots of money for getting IO Digital Cable! What are you waiting for?"

If you have a succinct, intelligent explanation of savings vs. earnings vs. spending that is both understandable AND palatable to the intellect and attention-span of a preschooler, well, then, this is where you get to stroke your beard and feel all superior, because mine was apparently not that great. I mean, I thought it was, until said preschooler interrupted me by taking the rubber ducky she'd found in her closet earlier today, saying, "Look what I learned to do at Grandmommy's," and proceeding to tuck it under her chin, upside-down, and squeeze it in such a way as to make grotesque farting noises against her neck, then cackling madly. I just said, "Yes, that's nice. Please save that trick for when we visit your other grandmommy--the whole family will be SO proud."

But then, at lunchtime? After she'd already eaten a whole turkey-spinach wrap with cream cheese & chives, several raw carrots, and a fistful of grapes, and drunk a tall glass of milk? (This is anomaly--I guarantee you, tomorrow she will subsist on air and three almonds.) She asked me if she could make a peanut butter sandwich "all by herself." This is something she's been able to do for a couple of years now, so of course I let her...and this is what she came back from the kitchen carrying in a paper towel:

I think she's going to be handier in the kitchen than I am

That's right. It's heart-shaped. I think I shall keep her.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

No Soliciting

Bella's been having bad dreams. Bad dreams in which she is menaced by vampires, and turned into a vampire herself. Since we're pretty darn careful about the television she's exposed to, Alex and I were fairly shocked to hear about what was going on in these nightmares. We knew she was having some pretty bad dreams, because we still keep a monitor on between her room and ours (as well as a closed-circuit camera left over from the days when she wouldn't stay in bed at night), and we rushed upstairs late the other night when we heard her crying out, "No!" and "OWWWWW!" in her sleep. So when she told me what she'd been dreaming about, I of course asked her, "Where in the world did you learn about vampires?" And now I get to blame her night terrors on my sister, because among the stacks of books she inherited from her older cousin Grayson was one I somehow missed: a collection of stories subtitled, "spooky stories to read after dark." Which, of course, she did. Like mother, like daughter, I suppose.

Me: "I bet you wish you hadn't read that book now, huh?"

Bella: "YES. Can we get rid of it?"

Me: "You want to give it back to Grayson?"

Bella: "Yeah, or we could sell it to the library."

Me: "You think the library would buy your books you don't want? I don't think it works that way, Hon."

Bella: "Well, I have never seen a 'NO SOLICITING' sign there, so they might."

At this point, her father and I quiz her on the meaning of 'soliciting,' to which she smugly answers, "If a place puts up a 'NO SOLICITING' sign, it means that they do not want you to come in there selling things."

I wonder what else she knows that would amaze me?

In other Bella news, she's officially done with preschool now, and looking forward to starting kindergarten at the very good public school near our home in the fall. (We just hope they'll know what to do with her.) Her last day was to have been last Friday, but she came home Thursday with a raging case of pinkeye, so Thursday wound up being her last day. She was really sad, because she didn't get to say goodbye to her friends, she missed their class party at CHUCK E. CHEESE, for crying out loud, and she also missed the end-of-year program that she'd been practicing SO hard for. She apparently had several parts to play, including the letter 'U', a sunbeam, and a storm-cloud. I felt so bad for her having to miss all that, and offered her pretty much the world (including, Lord help me, a make-up trip to the giant rat's pizza joint) in an attempt to comfort her.

So it was that, when she expressed a desire to take her much-hated, Duggar-style polyester uniform dress and "set it on fire," this mom could not say no. (But since this mom is notoriously frugal, this mom selected one of the jumpers to symbolically represent all the others, which will be sold to one of the next crop of unfortunates who is forced to wear it.)

Yep, we had us a good old down-home dress-burning in the driveway. There was much excitement as the dastardly thing caught the flame.

the beginning of the end

We noticed right away that it wasn't so much "burning" as it was...well, "melting."

note that it's not burning so much as it's melting

The fumes coming off the polyester blend were probably fairly toxic, and definitely stank to high heaven.

we don't need no water, let the... well, you know

in princess nightgown, with pinkeye, protecting herself from noxious polyester fumes

And it kept burning for a really long time, until I started to wonder just how much petroleum was IN that fabric. Finally, the flaming mass began to shrink...

get on outta here

And ultimately it pretty much disappeared, at which point Bella stomped up and down on the charred remains with both feet until they were rendered to a handful of black dust. And then the princess, with her crazy messed-up hair, the bruise on her forehead, and her pinkeye-swollen peepers, was happy. And lo, that happy was contagious. It didn't hurt that Daddy let her ride the tractor in her nightgown while he mowed.

even with pinkeye, mussed hair, and a knot on her noggin, still the prettiest thing I ever saw

So now my baby is officially having her last summer vacation before starting the next nearly-two-decade-long phase of her education life that is "real school." *sniff* She's gone to the office with me a couple of days, and has been really good, but of course that's no way for her to have to spend the summer, so I need to come up with something for her to do. This week we're on an organizing kick, and hopefully will be able to do some MAJOR de-cluttering and selling of outgrown clothes and unloved books and such on Ebay.

My homemaking efforts have gotten completely away from me in recent months, with everything a cluttered mess, and hardly any home-cooked meals being served, and just general chaos on the homefront. And since that feeling of chaos does seep into every facet of our lives eventually, it's time to get a handle on it. It's in that spirit that I'm falling back on some good old-fashioned public accountability, and I'm jumping into combating the "cycle of despair" at the admittedly arbitrary point of meal-planning and cooking. You gotta start somewhere, and right now, that's where I really feel the weakest, so why not? I'll be journaling what my family's dinner is every day, even if that means admitting that we totally punked out and stopped for cheeseburgers on the way home from work. Just knowing that I'll have to admit it publicly will, hopefully, keep me motivated to do the right thing. Right? Sure. And, since there's no better time to start than the present, I've posted the recipe for the dish I made tonight, which was a BIG hit, and is called "Husband's Delight Casserole." Seriously. That's what it's called. It should come as no surprise that it's originally from a cookbook that was printed in 1943, which came to me by way of Twitter-bud Jenny. Go check it out, because it was SCRUMPTIOUS.

While I'm inflicting accountability upon my pitiful self, I might as well go ahead and mention my weight-loss efforts. I've thought long and hard about how to do this without having to admit what I weighed to start with, or to have people doing the math to figure that out, and I finally settled on calculating the amount I am trying to lose in the form of percentages. So I am telling you now that, since about February, I've lost 26% of the weight I need to lose. Go, Weight-Watchers. Whoo.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

I Know People

Quality people. This post is not about endorsing a political candidate. What it IS doing, and that quite shamelessly, is pimping my friend Erin and the amazing women of BlogHer.


This weekend, on very short notice, Erin stepped up to the plate and interviewed presidential candidate and Senator Barack Obama, who had graciously agreed to answer the questions we BlogHers selected for our "Voter's Manifesto" for all presidential candidates. He is, so far, the first candidate to have done so, and we're fervently hoping the rest will follow suit. It's a smart move on their part if they do--BlogHer reaches over NINE MILLION women each month, and boasts a publishing syndicate (including this blog) that is over eighteen hundred strong. BlogHer has defined blogging for me, and I could not feel prouder to be a part of such an earth-shaking effort.

Erin rocks my socks, y'all. As a contributing political editor both at BlogHer AND the influential Huffington Post, she stays on top of a constant stream of news and information that makes my head spin--and she does it all while chasing after two beautiful, amazing children under the age of five. Also, if you are depressed and having sucky surgery? She will totally send you Egyptian cotton bathrobes and cookies. I love her like cheese grits.

Anyway, go ahead and watch Senator Obama answer Erin's questions, which are OUR questions. I'll keep you posted if we get a similar response from the Clinton and/or McCain camps. Go, women who blog!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Because You Really Want To Know

You do. You want to hear all about how much better than my husband I was at spinning out the Mustangs. Go. Now. Read all about it. Really. I wouldn't redirect you if it wasn't interesting, and I can't write it up here without violating my BlogHer ad network guidelines. So GO, already!

hot rod and a hot bod

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

My Kind Of Town

why yes, you ARE jealous

Chicago is. We're just back from there, and I've just finished loading an obscene number of pictures from our trip, which centered around the non-profit Ford Motor Fund's "Driving Skills For Life" program. Feel free to have a sneak-peek at the photos, if you like, while I finish writing up my post about the experience, which I will link from here as soon as it's done.

For now, I can tell you about a couple of the most-memorable things I heard while traveling. One was just a one-liner from an event organizer in Chicago, who was speaking on her walkie-talkie to another organizer:

"Yes, all the bloggers have been banded!"

I thought that was just delicious. Because really, when you think about it, shouldn't ALL bloggers be banded? You know, like migratory birds? It would be an easy way to keep track of us.

At the Little Rock airport, I witnessed what was a near-perfect parable on how NOT to behave in an airport, post-September 11. The flight before us at our gate was departing for Dallas when we arrived. It was scheduled to depart at 10:10. At about that time, after the plane had been boarded, and just as the gate person was calling stand-by fliers, two men and a woman with a toddler came ambling up to the counter, indicating that they were booked on that flight. The gate attendant said, "OK, you can board if you go right now--go!"

So the would-be passengers told her that they had one more person in their party, and needed to wait on her. To which the gate attendant replied, "Well, the rest of you can either go without her, or you can all wait, and we'll book you on a later flight, but this flight is leaving, so if any of you want on it, you have to go right now."

There was some further discussion, which was getting heated, between the "big guy" of this party and the gate attendant. She called for backup, which came in the form of a fellow in a jumpsuit and orange safety vest, with a shaved head and a very no-nonsense demeanor. Big Guy launched into his tale of woe, which was basically that, as his party was going through the security checkpoint (which, on this day, at the same time, had taken Alex and I exactly 3 minutes from start to finish), the missing woman had had some liquid product, makeup or something, confiscated because it was over 3 ounces. Rather than relinquish the product and make it to the gate on time, she'd gone back down to the baggage counter to check her bag. The rest of them had come on ahead to the gate to get the airline to HOLD THE PLANE. You know, like holding a taxi. It's the same thing, right?

Well, when Mr. No-Nonsense reiterated what they'd already been told by the gate attendant, Big Guy's frustration just boiled over, and he uttered an expletive and removed his backpack and flung it so that it hit the counter and slid to the floor. Mistake number one. Mr. No-Nonsense said evenly, "I wouldn't do that if I were you." At this point, did Big Guy realize he'd crossed a line, and apologize? Nooooo. He replied, "Well, you're ****ing us up!" quite loudly. I will never forget what Mr. No-Nonsense said next.

"You just bought yourself a Greyhound Bus ticket."

And then they immediately called out the first four standby fliers and loaded them. And then, while I was making a smartypants comment to Alex about the importance of controlling your temper, I dropped my container of milk on the floor so that it exploded in a most spectacular manner. The end.

Chicago is still one of my favorite places, Giordano's still has the Best Pizza Ever, and I am definitely going to find a way to go back soon with the whole family. Thanks very much to my mom for keeping Bella and one of the poos for us (on Mother's Day, no less), and to Michelle and Mandy for keeping the rest of the dogs. Especially Mandy, who had one of her charges dropped off to her after just having been carsick in her crate. WE ARE GOOD FRIENDS TO HAVE.

Friday, May 09, 2008

Thank The Lord For Recessive Genes

At dinner tonight:

Bella: "May I please be excused?"

Me: "Are you all finished with your dinner?"

Bella: "Well, if there's any more broccoli and cauliflower, I'll eat it!"

Me: *beams*

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Checking Account Is Half Full, Right?

We're not exactly getting ahead, but at least we're not falling behind...not too far, anyway. Back at the end of January, we found out that we were getting an income tax refund. YAAAY, right? But then, this happened. There went every bit of that tax refund, just like that.

Then, more recently, we were anticipating the stupid (yes, I think it's stupid, and yes, I'd happily give it back if the money could be applied to something that benefits the country in some REAL way) "economic stimulus" rebate, partly, to pay for stuff that we had planned on paying for with our tax refund. It arrived in our checking account, directly deposited, yesterday. Which would be great, except that, LAST week, THIS happened:

crunch

That's the driver's-side door of Alex's truck. More specifically, that is the driver's side door of Alex's truck after coming out on the losing end of a confrontation with a salt block. MORE specifically, that is over $2,000 worth of damage. Nice. Goodbye, stimulus check.
I'm trying to remind myself to have a good attitude about these unexpected blips on life's radar. Wow, that was a terrible metaphor. Anyway, what I mean is that while I could be saying to myself, "MAN, just when I had a little money coming in to catch up on expenses, THIS happens!" what I'm TRYING to say to myself is, "MAN, it sure is fortunate that just when these bad things happened, I had the money to help pay for them!"

We have, in the past, had an "emergency" fund for things like this, but it got spent on...emergencies, and so far, we've not been able to get it built back up. How do you handle unexpected expenses?

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Your Virtual Colonoscopy--You're Welcome

What did you do today? I bet it wasn't as much fun as the way I spent my day! Actually, today, having a colonoscopy, wasn't nearly as bad as yesterday, which I spent mostly in the bathroom. Me and this lovely bowel-prep kit.

My Fun Day Today!

For those of you who've never had a colonoscopy, let me walk you through the process. First, you spend the day before your procedure totally cleaning out your lower intestine. I know, right? The last time I did this, I had the option of either drinking the vile atomic laxative solution or taking two little atomic laxative pills and drinking lots of water--I, of course, chose the latter. Unfortunately, this time around, I was informed that the pills are no longer an option with this doctor, because some buzzkill patients had to go and not follow instructions with their water drinking, which resulted in kidney failure. THANKS FOR RUINING IT FOR ALL OF US, PUNKS.

So, you go and get your bowel-prep prescription filled, and you come home with two giant Dulcolax tablets and this big gas-can-shaped plastic jug with powder in the bottom. For some reason, this will cost nearly $50. You add one of the three included "flavor" (I use that term loosely) packets, and reconstitute the powder, filling the jug with water and mixing well. Let me just tell you right now that it does not matter which "flavor" packet you put in that jug, because the taste of that HalfLytely is going to override anything you could add to it. And that taste? That taste is...well, like a saline solution with an oily finish. Sounds GREAT, right? It's a real challenge getting it all down, because your gag reflex will kick in after a few swallows every time. Personally, I recommend having a glass of juice or soda nearby to "chase" every drink of HalfLytely. You're going to be at this a while, because once you've given your Dulcolax tabs a little while to kick in, you'll be drinking 8 ounces of HalfLytely EVERY 10 MINUTES. This brings up an interesting problem, because you'll be going to the bathroom much more often than that, so it gets tricky to time the HalfLytely consumption.

During this day, while you're "cleansing" (And can I just suggest some Tucks medicated pads, here? Trust me.), you're restricted, food-wise, to a "clear liquid" diet. Interestingly enough, "clear liquids" in this case include black coffee and soda and fruit juice and Jell-O and things like that, just as long as they're not red or purple. Of course, none of this matters, because you will be so miserable from the atomic pooping, and so nauseated from the taste of the HalfLytely solution, that being hungry will be waaaay down on your list of priorities. Try to schedule your procedure as early in the day as possible, so that you'll be miserable for as little time as possible.

I've seen television and movie depictions of people having colonoscopies while watching the process on a television monitor, but I've never been conscious during mine. Maybe that's because I've had the esophageal endoscopy at the same time (insert Alex's bad joke about "hoping they rinse off that scope good" before switching from colon to esophagus *here*). Anyway, if your procedure is like mine, you'll be having it at a hospital or clinic's surgery center, and you'll be pleasantly unconscious for the whole thing. This almost lets you forget that strangers are going to be/have been scrutinizing your butthole. Almost. On a related side-note, I have to confess to being uncomfortable with the proliferation of boy-nurses nowadays. Yup, I'm a sexist. Especially when it comes to strangers looking at my hiney.

(I guarantee you my mother just cringed at reading the word "butthole.")

The sooner they get your I.V. Versed going, the better, because you're going to want the "amnesia drug" in full force, due to the whole butthole scrutiny issue. Unless you're OK with that, then you can skip it. Whatever. I think they also give you some IV Demerol/Phenergan, but I never make it past the Versed. This morning, my procedure was supposed to start at 7:00AM, so I was be-gowned, IV'd, hooked up to monitors, and parked alone in the freezing cold surgical suite at 6:50, to wait 45 minutes for the doctor and his team to show up. A note: If you leave a patient alone in a surgical suite, with all the surgical machinery running, you should FULLY expect that patient to play with the butthole camera and monitor. I mean, come on. What am I, made of stone? (By the way--Sony? You make a mean butthole camera monitor. Apparently my colon was viewed in high-def.)

The whole thing can't take very long, because I was waking up in recovery shortly after 8:00AM, talking to my doctor, who wouldn't really tell me much at all, because he kept insisting that due to the Versed, I wouldn't remember anything he was saying at that time. Hey, Doc--guess what? I remember everything. This anesthesia-defying trait runs in my family. He basically said that he didn't see any signs of cancer or polyps, just some mild diverticulosis, no more than would be expected in a person my age, and that while I do have some esophageal damage from reflux, it's no more than was visible at my last endoscopy 5 years ago.

I have shiny new prescriptions for Prilosec (which is OTC now, so I'm sure my insurance will reject it) and Levbid, which are apparently somewhat contra-indicated, but for now that more or less covers the distress at both ends of my digestive tract. We hope. I have an appointment with the specialist again in a month.

No colonoscopies for another 5 years. Try not to let jealousy over my wild, exotic life eat you up inside. You'll get the diverticulosis.

Friday, May 02, 2008

GUESS WHAT?!?

GUESS WHAT?

CHICKEN BUTT! HA HA HA HA HAAAAA! *whew*

Remember just a month ago, when we had these teeny-tiny, adorable little baby chickies? Here, I'll jog your memory:

the tiniest araucana

Well, they're a bit bigger, now.

you're not as big as you think you are

Also, doesn't my husband have nice hands? I love his hands. They're the hands of an artist, I say. I may buy him a lathe and an assortment of exotic hardwoods for Christmas this year, in the hopes that he'll begin crafting gorgeous handmade furniture. I feel certain he has an aptitude for such things.

Speaking of my husband building things, look what he did! He transformed the tacky leftover puppymill artifact (complete with "OB Ward" sign, you'll notice--classy) of a dog pen into a top-notch chicken yard and coop. He tore down the junky parts with his bare hands. Tell me you're not impressed.

the teardown begins

Tuxedos and kilts aside, I believe one of the most appealing things that a man can put on is a tool belt. Am I wrong?

man at work

You see what he did there? With the help of his eager assistant, he built an 8-foot-tall frame around the entire yard.

assistant

Then he put chicken-wire all around, and fastened it in place with a staplegun and approximately forty-leven-thousand staples.

staplegun

Again--nice hands, no? And it's hard not to do a good job when you have such exuberant encouragement. See her holding the box of staples? That was her job: the holding of the staples.

very loud assistant

Of course, we also have assistance of the canine variety. We're all about supporting each other's efforts, around here.

OK, then, you do that, I'll watch for trouble


The crowning touch was the way he affixed the bird netting to the top of the structure, making it impenetrable and inescapable, a veritable chicken Alcatraz. What he did was to run a heavy cord all along the top, and then stretch the bird netting over that, so that it overlapped the chicken-wire, leaving no gaps.

now with bird netting over the top

If you squint, you can just see the bird netting over the top. So now wild birds can't get into the chicken yard and possibly infect my poultry with any wild bird diseases, and the chickens can't fly out and get eaten by raccoons. Or poodles, for that matter.

chicken yard

He fixed up the inside of the coop, putting up the nesting boxes and such, and cut windows in the sides for cross-ventilation, covering the openings with hardware cloth and making drop-down doors to cover the windows in cold weather. He also made a door for the "doghouse" opening, so we can shut them in at night. All it needs now is paint and a little hardware.

chicken yard, interior


It's a pretty homey little setup, and the chicks love it.

looking in

I love opening the doors in the morning and watching to see who'll be brave enough to venture outside first. It's always one of the boys.

steppin' out

Remember the teeny little eyeliner chick? Look how pretty she's getting. She's "fancy" as Araucanas go. I love her.

fancy araucana

They're in kind of an awkward, ugly stage right now, shedding baby fuzz while adult feathers come in, but it's easy to see how they're becoming little chickens instead of tiny fuzzballs. Look at that little red comb--isn't he just big and macho?

belly up to the bar

I feel obliged to tell you that baby chickens eat a LOT. And also poop. A LOT.

chickens eat a LOT

This is our "mystery chicken." We have no idea what she is, but we're leaning toward her being an extra Araucana. We had no idea she was even different from the others until the adult feathers began to come in, and hers were white.

mystery pullet

I love watching them just cluck and strut and scratch and peck around.

scratchin'

And every so often, there's a tiny little rooster fight! I guess you'd have to call it more of a "cockerel skirmish" at this point. I think I could give up television for this.

squabble

Seriously, can you believe how fast these things grow?

what'd you say

Delta, meanwhile, is very, very sad that I won't give her just a couple of minutes alone with all the delicious chickens. Very sad. But she is glad that she at least got a haircut since that last shot.

This is just cruel, Mom.


And speaking of dog haircuts, YES, I am watching the "Groomer Has It" competition on Animal Planet. And I'm cringing at all the things these people don't know, that even I as an amateur know, like the fact that you don't use a slicker brush to de-mat a dog's privates (OUCH!!). And can I just say that MY groomer, Michelle? Here in Arkansas? Is better than ALL of them. I'm totally going to try to get her on that show. She would KICK THEIR BUTTS. But the only groomer from the show who I would allow to touch any of my dogs is, of course, Jonathan. If he doesn't win the thing, I'll eat my hat. I'll have to buy one first, but then I'll eat it. So I'll probably buy an edible hat, just in case. What do you want frome me, BLOOD?