Saturday, May 2, 2009

Running with the Bulls

Okay, so it wasn't so much bulls as cows. Which made the whole thing much more funny and a lot less terrifying than I would imagine a herd of bulls would be.

Would you like to hear the story now? Yes? Okay. So, I jog. After a fashion, anyway. I manage about three tortuously slow miles three days a week. One of the reasons I'm so slow is that the road I run on goes up from the lake in a very vertical manner. This road is a gravel road near my house with very little traffic, which is fantastic, because I really don't need an audience to my suffering. Except yesterday, I did have an audience. Of the bovine variety.

See, one of the farmers on the road had moved a herd of about 40 cows into a pasture right next to the road to graze. They were all just hanging out in the corner closest to the road when I came wheezing by. This was the first time I had seen them there, and I thought it only polite to say good morning. They were all staring at me--I couldn't just run on by. I don't know if it was the fact that I spoke to them, or the fact that I was a person and they're used to people bearing corn, or the fact that I was moving at a faster pace than people normally do around them, but they all watched me approach and then they started to run with me. On their side of the fence, obviously. It was hilarious. The whole herd was just loping along with me until we reached the end of their pasture.

I'm happy to say that I was able to keep ahead of the pack. Then they crowded up against the fence and watched me until I got to my turn-around point shortly thereafter. But they didn't run back with me on my return. I guess they had decided I wasn't bearing corn after all, so what was the point in running?

That totally made my morning, though. Definitely something I never got to experience running in the city. Me and the cows, lumbering along. I imagine I look about as graceful as them when I run, so it seemed only appropriate.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Hey, Kids! It's TULIP TIME!

We're coming to the end of the spring flowers at Blackrock. They go through definite stages. First to come are the snowdrops, then the crocuses, then the hyacinths and daffodils, and now we're at the tulip stage.

Tulips were this huge deal in Albany, because Albany was a Dutch settlement originally. There was a big Tulip Festival in the big city park in Albany every spring, with Tulip Princesses sweeping the streets in their wooden clogs in the parade before the festival. This is some kind of Dutch tradition that I never quite understood, but whatever. The tulips were pretty, anyway.

The MiL managed to get a good photo of some of our many tulips yesterday. Along with puppies in the background. I know! Puppies AND tulips? Life is good.

Blackrock is a magical place.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Library Geek

That's me. I'm a library geek, and I have been for a very long time. In fact, my very first real job was at the public library. I worked as a page, shelving books. That was a great job. Though difficult for someone like me who has a tendency to read a little of anything I get my hands on. I seem to recall standing in the shelves flipping through a lot of the books I was supposed to be shelving.

I also seem to recall that the children's picture books were filthy. Seriously, if you have cause to touch those books at the library, wash your hands immediately. That's probably how the swine flu is spreading. EW.


Before I was a library employee, I was a heavy library user. I have been all my life, and I still am. Why buy a book if you're not sure you'll like it? What a waste of money. I much prefer checking out a dozen random books for free at the library and then, if I don't like one or more of them (which is often the case), I can just toss them aside without guilt.

I also love that more and more libraries are expanding their movie selection. This was a saving grace for A. and me in Albany, where the main library had a huge collection of movies. Not just weird literary adaptations, either, but all kinds of movies. We had ZERO money at the time, and many, many hours of entertainment were provided to us free of charge courtesy of the good taxpayers of Albany.

And now I volunteer at the village library nearby. I figured I might as well--I'm in there all the time, anyway. It's a teeny tiny library, but all the teeny tiny libraries in the area are affiliated, so I can use my card at any of them. I can also request anything from any of the other libraries be delivered to my home library for pick-up. It's not as convenient as having one huge library to browse through, but it's really nice to have a library in our tiny village so I don't have to drive 20 miles to get to one.

So, what's your take on libraries, duckies? Are you a library person or a bookstore person?

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Hugs for All!

So there I was, flopped on the bed in my pajamas and robe this morning while A. put on his tie*. I was trying to think what I would post about today. Mostly in jest, I asked A. if he had any ideas about what I should post. He said I should talk about my emotions. This was a joke. He knows that I don't do that, and I know that he would be horrified if I did. People 'round these parts are not given to emoting.

BUT. It did give me an idea for an Audience Participation Day topic, which of course is my fall-back when I don't know what the hell to post and I'm sitting blankly at the computer wondering why in God's name I feel driven to post every day. Who posts something every day? Who could POSSIBLY think up something interesting and entertaining every single day? Who does that to themselves--VOLUNTARILY?

Ahem. So, here's the topic for Audience Participation Day: Hugs.

I know! Fun! What I want to know, though, is if you're a hugger. Do you hug people when you haven't seen them in awhile? Do you hug people you're meeting for the first time? Or is the thought of hugging so horrifying to you that you don't even hug your own parents?

My mom hugs everyone. But then, she's Southern. They do that. A.'s family, true to the regional tradition around here, doesn't even hug each other. I fall in the middle--hugs only for those I know very well. Otherwise, I find it awkward and uncomfortable. Especially when you get in one of those situations where you go to shake hands and the other person swoops in to hug and you end up sort of patting them on the shoulder and half-hugging. AWKWARD.

But this isn't about me (HAHAHAHAHA--of course it is). Inquiring minds want to know: Where do you fall on the hug scale?

P.S. Hug is a really funny word if you read it enough times.

* I know how depressing it must be for him to see me lounging about while he puts on the trappings of his prison for another day of fantastically fun lawyering. Life sucks sometimes. Sorry, babe.

UPDATE: Today is Sara's birthday (and her twin sister, Miriam's, too). Sara was a co-worker at my last job. I should have known it's her birthday, but I am TERRIBLE at remembering birthdays. And now I feel doubly bad, because she remembered mine AND sent me a card. I suck. So please, if you will all go over to Sara's site, However Absurd, and wish her a happy birthday to make up for my suckiness, that'd be swell. Thanks.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Woodchuck Gardening

Time for another garden update! Wheee! You know you're excited.

When we last left our seeds, they were newly-planted and still a mystery. Would they germinate? Would they sulk in the soil like angry teenagers refusing to come out of their rooms? Or would they bravely poke out of the soil and start growing, only to be cut down in their prime by a stupid cutworm, IN THE BATHROOM?

All three, as it happens. Most germinated; some, like that bastard hot pepper mix, never came up at all; and more than one seedling was snipped off by a cutworm, despite the fact that the seedlings were still inside. Totally bizarre and frustrating. So I decided the only way to save them was to re-plant them in different pots and different soil. I needed to do it anyway, because the ones that survived that asshole cutworm were getting too big for their little toilet paper roll pots.

Now. I have heard tell of people who go to Home Depot or wherever and stock up on all the supplies they might need for gardening: pots, soil, plant markers, etc. I know these people exist, but I am not one of them. Here's how a woodchuck plays it.

Leftover potting soil from when the MiL planted flowers for the wedding? Check. Old pots in odd sizes retreived from the chaos of the barn, plus some saved sour cream and yogurt containers with holes poked in the bottom? Check. Plant markers made from cut-up cottage cheese containers and a permanent marker? Check. Thirty-year-old trowel? Check.

And there you have it. I didn't actually have to buy anything to pot these things up. And despite the admittedly trashy supplies I used, I still think they look awfully pretty after their transplanting.

But then, a mother always thinks her babies are beautiful.
I am fond of standing there gawking at these tiny little plants in their small pots and imagining the pounds and pounds of tomatoes and eggplants that will eventually come from them. I have a lot of spare time on my hands, obviously.
So, let's just all keep our fingers crossed that nothing else mounts an attack against my defenseless seedlings and they all manage to make it into the ground. It's the uncertainty that makes gardening exciting, right? Right.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Late to the Party

Okay, this has nothing at all to do with killing chickens or shearing sheep or planting seeds or anything related to the country at all. I suspect this may be a relief for some of you. Anyway, onward . . .

So, I have now seen the movie "Twilight." I never read any of the books and knew nothing at all about the story or the movie, except that the people at the village library I volunteer in never shut up about it. And then said library got in a copy of the movie, so I checked it out and watched it. The movie really wasn't bad, though the smoldering looks got to be a little much at times.

BUT, the point is that there was this one song in it, during the pseudo-death scene, that I really liked. I wanted to know who sang it. Used to be, before the wonder of the Internet, I would have to sit through all the credits, amusing myself with bizarre names and words like "gaffer," before the song credits rolled at the very, very end. I used to do this a lot, because I pay attention to the songs in movies. But now? Now I just jump on Google and type in "twilight movie song Bella dying" and it tells me that song is called, "Let Me Sign," and is performed by none other than Robert Pattinson, who is the actor playing the lead role of the teenage vampire in the movie. Google also linked me to YouTube. And there I stayed for at least an hour.

I'm not a YouTube person (a YouTuber?). A. actually really likes it, mostly for videos about sheep shearing and playing with welding torches. It seems YouTube has something for everyone.


I had never looked at YouTube much. But I discovered when the Google link sent me to this video thing that for one, I really like Robert Pattinson's style of singing, despite the fact that he gets a little experimental with his voice and sometimes ends up sounding like a caterwauling cat (this is my favorite song of his, with thankfully no caterwauling). And for two, YouTube seems to be exclusively populated by 11-year-old girls who want to marry Robert Pattinson.

Okay, that second one isn't strictly true, it was just because of the subject I happened to be looking at. But seriously. There are only about five songs of his that have been recorded, mostly at live shows, but those five songs were used OVER AND OVER AND OVER for endless montages of Robert Pattinson video clips and photos. One was even titled "Robert Pattinson, will you marry me?"

This is . . . bizarre, isn't it? Even more bizarre? YouTube allows comments for all the videos. So if you scroll through the comments on these things, the WHOLE THING is a series of "OMG, HE'S SO HOT!! LOL!!!!" But I spent a good half an hour clicking through all the similar links on YouTube and reading these comments. It's a fascinating linguistic study, actually. And pretty hilarious, too.

So tell me, duckies, since I'm new to the YouTube party: What's your biggest time-sucking subject on YouTube? Monster trucks? Cooking demos? Music? Feel free to post links, so I can waste more time online than I already do.

Thank you for your cooperation.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Sneaking Some Summer into Spring

There are always a few days in spring that feel like summer. Yesterday was one of those days. It was 82 degrees at 9:30 a.m. I know this because we started shearing sheep at 8:30 a.m., and by the time we were done with the first one, I was so hot I figured more time must have passed than I'd thought and it had to be at least 10:30. But no, it was 9:30. And it was hot. So instead of going to sit down on the beach with a cold drink like sensible people, we sheared the ram.

That was lots of fun.

Then, smelling like sheep ourselves, we went to the dump. On our way home, we stopped at our friends' house, who are good enough friends that they didn't comment on our sheep stench or the fact that we had sheep shit on a good portion of our clothes. And THEN, we finally went home to shower and crash.

By 5 p.m., we had recovered sufficiently to have a cocktail or two and then go sit down on our beach, where we had the first bonfire of the season and spent a couple of hours marveling at the fact that we were sitting outside. In short sleeves. And weren't cold. Glorious.

But the fun didn't end there! When we went back up to the house around 10 p.m., we had a message from a friend who told us the nearby college was having a fireworks display on the lake that night. So we went to another friend's dock, about a mile away from where they were shooting off the fireworks, to watch. Man, I love fireworks.

Today will be back to normal spring weather--65 degrees and cloudy. Better weather for working outside, which we will be doing, but the one really warm day was a nice little vacation day, anyway.

And yes, a vacation day at Blackrock can include shearing sheep. Welcome to my world.