Saturday, January 3, 2009

Photographic Evidence

You all know Blackrock is cold, right? But you only know that because I've told you that. What if I'm not trustworthy? What if I've been lying to you?

Your lack of faith hurts me.

I have not been lying, and now I have the photo to prove it.

I took this yesterday in the north bedroom. Where, as I have mentioned before, ice forms on the walls in the winter.


Now technically, I suppose that's really frost I scratched that into, not ice. And I can't tell you how cold it actually was in the room at the time because someone (NAMED A.) dropped the thermometer and busted it. But I think you all get the point: It's really, REALLY cold in our house, y'all. Ain't no denyin'. At least in the north bedroom.

And now, if you'll excuse me, I have to go hug the woodstove.

Friday, January 2, 2009

Health, Wealth, Happiness, and Damn Good Food

Are you one of the unfortunates who had to go to work today? You know A. did, which means I got up early too, so if you ARE at work, take comfort in the fact that today is not a holiday for me either. Although (I can hear you--and A.--saying now), isn't every day kind of a holiday when you don't have a job? Sure, every day you don't have to shovel the world's longest goddamn driveway BY HAND.


Today is not about my many (MANY) impressive feats of strength and endurance--today is about food. Wheee! That's MUCH more fun.

I have already told you that I'm not much for New Year's Eve, but I do have a tradition for New Year's Day that I refuse to relinquish no matter the circumstances. Every New Year's Day since A. and I have been together, I've made the traditional New Year's Day meal to ensure health, wealth, and happiness. This is a Southern tradition, passed along to me by my mom, who is from New Orleans and who I may have referred to as Mama Sue on this site, even though that isn't really what anyone calls her EVER and I'm not really that Southern. I think I may be considered a Southerner once-removed? Whatever, I still make the New Year's Day dinner, because we could all use some more health, wealth, and happiness. Plus, it tastes really damn good.

So. Different areas of the South have different variations on this meal, but Mama Sue's meal always includes pork for health (I know--the irony, right?), greens for wealth, and black-eyed peas for happiness. This year, the pork was a big ole pork loin roast, the greens were a mixture of turnip and collard greens (cooked a LONG TIME, until they're dead--this is no time for crunchy greens), and the black-eyed peas were the ones I always make that are pretty much exactly the same as the red beans and rice, except . . . well, with black-eyed peas instead of red beans.

And you always have to make a whole pot of black-eyed peas, which means you'd better have some guests to help you eat all the food. And also, it's always good to spread the health, wealth, and happiness around. So we had two of the MiL's friends over for dinner (everyone say hi to Mikey-not-the-Life-kid and her husband!). And the MiL made my birthday cake (a chocolate roulade, which is a flourless chocolate cake rolled jelly-roll style around whipped cream--it is the BEST cake in THE WORLD), except we all sang "Happy New Year to All" instead of happy birthday to me. And then we all ate too much. A good time was had by all.

So if you haven't had your health, wealth, and happiness meal yet, you'd better get on that. I can't speak to the effectiveness of it if it's not eaten on New Year's Day, but at the very least, you get to eat pork, greens, and black-eyed peas. That should guarantee you happiness for the duration of the meal, anyway. But as for the health and wealth . . . well, you're on your own for those.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

Ringing In the New Year with a Whimper

Happy New Year, duckies! I hope everyone had an exciting, glamorous New Year's Eve! If only to make up for my own lameness.

I've never been a big fan of New Year's Eve. It feels like there's all this pressure. And I don't like pressure. Especially when it results in me staying up past 9 p.m. So we had no plans for last night. Good thing, too, because I was in no fit state to go anywhere, anyway. NO, I was NOT falling-down drunk. I was falling-down exhausted.

Yes, you do get an explanation of that. But of course.

Tuesday night, when I plugged in the chickens' heat lamp, I blew the whole fuse. Okey dokey. I figured it was the scary, half-stripped fire hazard of an extension cord that connected the heat lamp in the coop to the electrical source WAAAAAY down in the house. But it was late and it was dark, so I figured the chickens could tough it out for one night and I'd deal with it in the morning.

Bright and early the next morning, I'm trudging through 5 inches of snow, with more whirling and blowing down my neck as I attempt to locate the source of the electrical surge that kept blowing the fuse. After about a dozen trips back and forth to the chicken coop, replacing various cords and connectors, I finally determined that the old, crappy heat lamp itself was the culprit. So I tried another, even older and crappier heat lamp we had hanging around. No luck. Finally I plugged in a trouble light up there with a 100 watt bulb next to the chickens' perch, figuring it was better than nothing.

So that was my morning.

In the afternoon, I discovered that what with the approximately 10 inches of snow that had fallen and the rest that had drifted across the driveway, there was no way A. and the MiL would be able to get their cars up to the house. So I shoveled about 250 feet of our 500 foot driveway. Let me repeat that: 250 FEET. With a HAND SHOVEL.

And that was my afternoon.

Then I made dinner (spaghetti with sausage) of which I ate a very large amount, had a mug of wine, and dragged my sorry, spent body up to bed at 8:30 p.m.

And THAT is how we celebrate at Blackrock.

Please tell me you did something more exciting than that.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

A Tale of Four Chickens (and The Chicken Mistress)

In the beginning, there were chicks. The chicks were small and fluffy and vulnerable. They needed food and water, a heat lamp and shelter. As the chicks grew, some decided to fly free, leading to their untimely demise. Then there were four. And those four grew into big, splendid chickens, still requiring food and water, a heat lamp and shelter.

One of the cocks does indeed crow, but not just at dawn. More like whenever he's moved by the crowing spirit, which is all the damn time.

Every morning, The Chicken Mistress trudged up the lane to let the chickens out of their coop. And every evening she trudged up the lane again to shut them in safely for the night. When the weather turned bitter cold, The Chicken Mistress also carried fresh water every day to replace the water that had frozen in the night. The Chicken Mistress bought and carried 50 pound sacks of chicken feed, made sure the chickens had grit to aid their digestion, and faithfully turned the heat lamp on and off as needed so the chickens wouldn't freeze.

The Chicken Mistress did all of this with no expectation of any return on her labors in the near future. The Chicken Mistress (who is a novice Chicken Mistress and therefore does not know jack shit about chickens) was assured by The Chicken Gurus that chickens need lots of sunlight before they begin laying eggs, and so no eggs were expected until spring.

So imagine The Chicken Mistress's surprise when she went into the coop to check the water supply last night and damn near stepped on these:

Well, slap my ass and call me The Chicken Mistress. Them's EGGS.

P.S. The Chicken Mistress and her Chief Consort ate the eggs this morning and pronounced them good.

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Blackrock Goes to the Birds

So far in the Meet the Family series, you have met Mia, Leda, Otty, Pitty Pet, James (RIP), Belle, and Alfie and Buttercup. You have not yet met the birds. Which is really too bad, because if you HAD met them already, maybe you would feel on friendly-enough terms with them to corral them in the MiL's bathroom and stuff them back in their cage.

Perhaps an explanation is required.

We have two lovebirds, named Ella and Benny. Despite the name, lovebirds are NOT loving. In fact, if these two specimens are any indication, they're quite hateful. These birds fight with each other all the time, bite at their own wings until they're bloody, screech constantly, and bite human fingers that get within range. What lovely little pets.

As I'm sure you have gathered, I do not so much like the lovebirds. Which is one reason you have not been introduced to them yet. Also, they spend their summers outside on the front porch and their winters in the MiL's bathroom, so I kind of forget about them. And that's just fine with me.

However. The MiL is gone for a week, leaving the lovebirds in our care. The first day she was gone, A. went in to her bathroom to take a bath and I asked him to give the lovebirds fresh food and water. Which he did. Last night, when I went in there to refresh their supplies, Benny was perched on top of the cage. OUTSIDE of the cage. Nothing was open and I couldn't see where he'd gotten out, leading me to the conclusion that he had escaped when A. was fooling around with the cage the day before. I always like it when I can allocate blame to someone who is NOT ME.

So I called A. upstairs and explained that he needed to get the bird back in the cage. He knows the lovebirds bite. I do, too, which is why I called him up to grab the bird. But he very cleverly sidestepped responsibility by leaving the cage open all night, figuring Benny would go back in to eat at some point. And what, I said, if instead of Benny going IN, Ella comes OUT, and then there are TWO lovebirds at large in the bathroom? He did not answer the question.

You can see where this is headed, can't you?

Sure enough, this morning both birds are out of the cage. The bathroom door is shut, so they can't really go anywhere, but I have to go in there to feed and water them. I'll have to get some gloves on and get those little bastards in their cage one way or the other, because I'll be damned if I'll spend the next week fearing for my eyes whenever I have to go into that bathroom.

I hate birds.

Update: Immediately after posting this I donned my gardening gloves and cautiously crept into the bathroom. To find both birds sitting in the cage as if nothing untoward had ever happened, waiting for their food. Once again, I have created drama where there was none. But at least you have now met the birds.

And now we shall never speak of them again.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Well Hello, Poppets!

Welcome back to work! It is not yet time to feel totally depressed and miserable that the fun of the holidays is over--time enough for that next Monday, when New Year's Eve is done with and there are no more days off until Memorial Day. If you're A., that is, who did a wonderful imitation of Bob Cratchit as he shuffled off to work on the Friday after Christmas.


No depression today! Only happy thoughts! Which brings me to the question of the day: What was the best present you got for Christmas/Hanukkah/Hanumas/whatever you celebrate? A car? A diamond ring? A single ripe orange and a doll made of rags*? OR, did you get an iPod Nano, like a certain blogger I know who lives in upstate New York and may in fact be something of a technophobe but is nonetheless thrilled to have music when she runs if she could only figure out how to get all the songs she wants on it?

But this is not about me (I KNOW--an iPod Nano? Is that not the most surprising--and yet most awesome--gift A. could have given me?). This is about YOU and YOUR best gift. Lay it on me.

* If it was good enough for Laura Ingalls Wilder, it's good enough for me! (Except not really, because, man, what a screw.)

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back to Our Regularly Scheduled Progamming

Yesterday was so nice. I got to use my birthday as an excuse to not do a damn thing. AND, even BETTER, to make A. do things FOR me. Sweet.

I woke up far too early considering we had been out until almost midnight the night before. I started to creep out of the bedroom, and A. sort of half woke up and said, "Oh wait. It's your birthday. I have to make you breakfast." But I was nice enough to tell him to go back to sleep. Even on my birthday, I am the soul of courtesy. But then, a couple of hours later, I forgot about courtesy and ran back into the bedroom, jumped on the bed, and announced, "It's my birthday! Get up! I want some breakfast!"

Then A. hid under the covers and mumbled something along the lines of, "Thank God this only happens once a year."

But he did haul himself out of bed and make me breakfast. Then I opened my presents (and I don't care how greedy this sounds, I must say that I LOVE getting presents). Then we went to the dump. Even on my birthday, I cannot escape the Saturday dump run. But A. gathered all the trash, a task which normally falls on me.

Then, because it was pouring rain, blowing wind, and muddy and flooding all over the place, I elected to get a girly movie from the library ("P.S. I Love You"--pretty good) and sit on my ass inside for the afternoon. I did not make A. watch the movie with me, however. And I know he's grateful, because you should have seen his face when he saw what I picked out. He was nice enough to ask, "Do you want me to watch this with you?" But his relief when I told him that wasn't necessary was noticeable not only in the expression on his face, but in the contrails he left behind racing out the door to get away from the estrogen-fest.

Then we got dressed up and drove 40 miles to an Italian restaurant where we ate and drank far too much, and I got my leftovers in a tinfoil swan. I have ALWAYS wanted to go to a restaurant that packages leftovers up in the shape of a bird.

My dreams are modest.

I also did not do any dishes yesterday. A. didn't either, but he's doing them right now, because how punk-ass would it have been to leave them until today and then remind me it's not technically my birthday anymore, and so I could do them? Too punk-ass, and I'm sure such a thing never crossed A.'s mind.

I still have my birthday cake to look forward to, because the MiL left yesterday for a trip and will be making it when she gets back in about a week. Maybe I should insist that we continue the celebration ALL WEEK LONG.

No. I think that would be the end of A.