Archive for July, 2008

We Will Always Remember the Colossal Closet Collapse of Aught Eight

July 30, 2008

One of the things that I like least about living in a trailer is how so much of it is built on a smaller scale.  The heights, the widths, the depths of everything is smaller—low ceiling heights,  narrower shelves and cabinets, and far more shallow kitchen drawers.  At least, that has been true of the three trailers I’ve lived in.  Of course, they have all been kind of old and a little shabby.  I understand that the newer ones are much more luxurious, with many accoutrements from the world of the rich and ostentatious. 

Not only are our shelves narrower, they are also more flimsy.  They are constructed of vinyl-coated wire and supported by rather thin metal brackets.  Our closet is a “walk-in” closet, but you can only sort of shuffle in sideways like a crab, and forget trying to turn around.  So I guess you’d call it more of a shuffle-in closet.  It would be a fine closet for Munchkins, but we are full-sized (O.K., make that fuller-sized) adults.  So our closet is stuffed to capacity.

Anyway, the other day, the kids and I were sitting on the front porch when we heard a BOOM! that seemed to come from the inside of our house.  We raced inside, thinking perhaps that a deer had crashed through our back sliding glass doors or that our ailing heat pump had finally blown up.  We looked around.  Nothing.  It was only when I went to my closet to look for shoes that I discovered the source of the sound. 

It was the sound made when the metal brackets your vinyl-coated shelves rest upon all bend together at once bringing down with them not only all the clothes on the shelves, but the clothes hung underneath (which were attached to the shoddy shelves) thereby crushing the clothes in the big Rubbermaid boxes beneath that.  Yep, it resulted in what was pretty much a solid, unmovable wall of clothes.  I couldn’t even open the closet door. 

And this capped a week when our old combo TV/VCR refused to turn on after a videotape got stuck in there, our heat pump air conditioner stopped cooling right, our heat pump thermostat went out of whack, and my Camry started making faint grinding noises.  And the poison-ivy rash that has tormented me all summer (making my lower right leg look like I have some hideous, disfiguring, communicable skin disease) is back.

So, what are we going to do?  Well, first…some cortisone cream for my leg from that economy-sized tube I got at Walmart.   And, as for the closet, Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man is on the case.  He’s constructing a closet that (as he says) is built like a brick out-house. (I love being married to a carpenter).   We’ll never have to worry again about colossal closet collapse calamities (at least in our bedroom).  And eventually, we’ll deal with the other stuff.

But for now, I’m all for a day of denial—a day spent out on our porch, reading a favorite book, eating an orange creamsicle,  and talking to my favorite companions, my really cool kids and husband.  A day spent thinking only of the present moment—the breeze caressing my face, the sweet clang of the bell on our neighbor’s cow, and the many shades of blue in the distant layers of mountains stretching out before me and in the brooding stormy sky.  Yep, that’s the ticket—a nice, long day of sloth and denial.

So, until then, I could use a little cheering up.  Tell me something that will make me laugh.  Or, at least, smile a little.  Please?


A Fine Vine (Inclined to Twine)

July 22, 2008

One of the most exciting things for us about moving to a new place is getting to meet new plants.  Although we moved here six months ago from elsewhere in the North Carolina mountains,  we’ve lost several hundred feet in elevation and gained about five or six degrees in temperature.  And although both areas are in the same planting zone (Zone 6), there’s quite a difference in the landscape. 

So here at the doublewide, we see quite a few plants that we’re not familiar with, most of them growing in the fields around us.  We’ve left several mystery plants to grow in the new planting beds we’ve made, thinking that they looked promising for wildflower growth, only to watch them develop into very large, very deeply-rooted, very prolific, and very ugly weeds.

One of the plants we’re most curious about is the vine that grows along part of our barbed-wire fence.  I say “grows along.”  Actually it grows up, down, around, across, along, and aside. The most interesting thing about it is that once a tendril grows all the way to the top of the fence post, it just keeps going, shooting heavenward.  Then all the other little vine stems follow that one, spiraling around it, one after another, until it forms a large green braid, a big corkscrew several inches in diameter whorling out several feet above the fence post.

Though it seems to grow enthusiastically, it doesn’t appear to be scheming to take over the world like, for example, our old friend kudzu (the vine that ate the South).  So we’ve let it grow, keeping a careful eye on nearby trees.

I would be most grateful if one of my knowledgeable, resourceful, and brilliant readers could tell me what our mystery vine is.  And whether we’ve been reckless by letting it grow unchecked and so may have to buy that goat or cow after all.

Is our fine, inclined-to-twine vine benign?  Or will our vine grow out of line—and so a vine to be maligned?

Morning Walk

July 11, 2008

There are few things sweeter for me, I think, than an early morning walk through our pasture.  Earlier in the summer, the field was sprinkled with daisies, but now, blue clouds of chicory hover just above the ground.  Bunnies startle up from the weeds and wildflowers as I pass, and birds dart out of honeysuckle thickets. The people who previously lived here kept cattle, which in turn kept the fields nibbled down and fertilized.  But we have mown meandering paths through the meadow that wander past the red barn, alongside our neighbor’s beehives, through the chicory, and near a lovely stand of fire pinks.

People keep telling us that we really should keep livestock, as though we are squandering our land riches by keeping the barn and field empty.  But the fields aren’t empty at all.  Besides the birds, bees, and bunnies, we’ve spied deer, coyotes, bobcats, and a handsome black snake.  And, yesterday, we were astonished to see an enormous bull in our pasture that had broken through from our neighbor’s place, likely enticed by our untouched forage. 

“That’s a lotta bull,” I said.

“Yep,” said Tom. “That’s a lotta bull.”

Thankfully, we had remembered to close the gate to our field because the bull made his way into our little barn, where he repeatedly rammed the utility trailer we keep there, knocking it over, possibly because it had a bit of hay underneath.  I was afraid he might trample our chicory, or the fire pinks, or the butterfly weed.  But fortunately, our neighbor, with the help of Blue Ridge Blue Collar Man, was able to lure the bull back home with the promise of fresh feed and a pretty bovine girl.

Normally, though, our pasture is peaceful and the silence of early morning broken only by birdsong.  It is not only a sanctuary for wildlife, but a sanctuary for us—our refuge in troubled times.  It’s hard to feel hopeless in the face of so much life.  Despite all the miseries and tribulations of this world, life goes on as usual here in our little meadow. 

So we will continue to smile when folks suggest that we should “do something with that pasture.”  Our barn may be empty, but our hearts are full.  Without cattle to eat them, wildflowers bloom, then go to seed (to the birds’ delight).   I listen to the hum of hundreds of bees making their morning rounds as I walk the dew-jeweled paths, and I breathe in the cool, early air.  Breathe in, breathe out.  Just breathe.   And that, for now, is all I need.  That, for now, is sufficient.

Shootin’ the Birds

July 4, 2008

[Great Crested Flycatcher with green cigar????]

I’ve been stalking birds.  Why?  Well, to shoot them, of course.

What?  Oh no, not for dinner.  Just shooting my Cannon…umm…Canon.  It allows me to capture forever the way the Great Crested Flycatcher looked as she waited to feed a juicy grasshopper to her baby.

You might say I’m a sort of bird paparazzi.  And like any good paparazzi, I’m looking for candid shots—perhaps even embarrassing ones.  That is, if birds got embarrassed.  I don’t suppose they do.  But they do get annoyed at the big, bushy-haired creature that follows them relentlessly. 

Unfortunately, unlike real paparazzi, I don’t have a fancy camera with a fancy telephoto.  So, my shots tend to be a little blurry and/or grainy.   But they give me pleasure.  And, if there were an avian equivalent to the National Enquirer, I could probably sell these shots for a pretty penny.  I can imagine the headlines:  Goldfinch Seen Wearing Disguise!  Bird Snapped With Fake Groucho Nose and Glasses! Exclusive photos!  Or maybe:  Mockingbird Finally Snaps!  Seen Throwing Tantrum!  Other Birds Say, “She was always using fowl language…and tended to brood.”

(Is it just me or does this goldfinch look like Groucho Marx?)

(Mockingbird having hissy fit)

(Robin in a private moment)