Archive | April, 2011

Rural Dictionary

29 Apr

Since understanding our isolated and unique childhood will help you to better understand us, then we had better help you understand some of the terms we throw around.  Understand?

One-Room Schoolhouse:  A misnomer.  Actually we had three rooms.  A bathroom, a porch (where we hung our backpacks and coveralls), and a classroom.  One teacher.  Grades K-6 in our case, although most others were K-8.  Not all grades were represented every year.

Country School:  The collective term for all the one- or two-room schoolhouses in the county.

Coveralls:  One-piece, army green outerwear that we donned in winter weather until the invention of snowpants.  Snowpants changed our lives.  I loved 1983.  If you had snowpants prior to that year please do not tell me about them. IMPORTANT: Coveralls are not to be confused with OVERalls. Overalls are the denim contraptions made famous by railway engineers. Coveralls were made famous by cold farmers and their cold children.

Town School:  Where town kids went to elementary school.  And where the rest of us ended up when we had finished Country School.

Town:  Ainsworth. Between 1400-1800 people depending on the census year.  Ten miles from our house, eight of which were dirt roads (see below.)

Road:  By definition roads are made of dirt.  They are covered in washboards when it is dry, and mud when it is wet.

Washboards: You know those bumpy, metal things on which pioneers washed their calico frocks? Translate that onto dirt. Make the bumps bigger, but just as hard. (This is NOT how we washed our cars.)

Rural Route: The beginning of every address for people living north of town.  (The people south of town had HC addresses.  They were weird.) Recently the state implemented a 911 system that requires actual street names.  It’s a major bummer.  I no longer know where my parents live.

Farmers: Live north of town.  Grow things like corn and pigs.  Wear caps.  Had Rural Route addresses.

Ranchers: Live south of town.  Grow things like hay and cattle.  Wear cowboy hats.  Had HC addresses.

Feed Lots:  Lots and lots and lots and lots of cows in one spot.  That’s why they’re called Lots.

Pick-up:  Not the clever line that Adam Beel used on my sister one  speech trip.  They’re what the rest of the world refers to as a “pick-up truck” or merely a “truck.”

Truck:  Differentiated from a pick-up by at least eight really bigs wheels.  Probably more.  They omit choking diesel fumes and loud metallic rumbles.  They are also responsible for washboards.

Quonset: A large semi-circular building made of corrugated steal.  Useful for storing hog feed, corn seed, trucks, and tractors; providing the only paved surface on which to ride bikes; and sliding down when the snow drifts up the outside.

Cow Tank/Cowboy Swimming Pool:  Either placed under a windmill to hold water for cows at pasture, or placed in our yard for summer water recreation.

Honey Wagon: Our self-imposed public forum ban prevents me from divulging the contents this tank-like contraption.  Know that it’s purpose was to take undisclosed contents from the pits underneath the hogsheds far away from our homestead.  If the wind was from the north it was never far enough.

Butcher Pen: You hope that I’m going to tell you that this is a writing implement that advertises our favorite meat shop.  Sorry.  It was the pen where Dad kept the pigs that, due to some physical deformity, couldn’t go to market.  We would sit on their shed and name them.  Stop it, it wasn’t that sad.

Rolling Coulter:  Pizza Cutter.  We were adults before we learned this is not  what the vast majority of Americans call the cooking utensil they use to slice their deep-dish.  A real Rolling Coulter is a sharp, wheeled object pulled behind a tractor to cultivate fields.  Farm and kitchen implements often crossed paths in our childhood.  Once my mother had me convinced I need to go borrow my uncle’s giant harvesting tractor to finish a recipe.  It said combine . . .

System:  Giant sprinkler.  They spin in a circle around fields which are, not by coincidence, planted in a circle.  Stacy and I will own this one some day:

Irrigation Ditch: There are two seasonal definitions Summer:  Big man-made ditches that bring water hundreds of miles to  fields where it is pumped into systems or brought through little ditches and tubes down the rows of corn.  AND  Fall, Winter and Spring:  nearly empty schoolyard boundaries where students can play during recess out of the sight of their teacher.  Remaining amounts of water are useful for peeing contests and ice skating.

Irrigation Ditch Road:  Roads, usually with two tracks, one for each wheel, that run along irrigation ditches.  Theoretically they are for use only by irrigation district personnel.  Theories-schmeories.

Sandhills:  Think desert dunes covered with scraggly grasses.  So, so gorgeous.

Horizon:  Many of you in the tree-littered parts of the country may have never seen one of these.  It’s where the land and sky meet.  Without trees.  Really, really pretty.

Bromegrass:  A tall golden grass that covers irrigation ditches.  If you pinch your fingers at the base of the seed head and strip them up off the stem you can make “Baby Yucca” plants.  We might have done that a few thousand times as children.  I have an entire essay about bromegrass that won an award in High School.  If my Mom didn’t accidentally throw it away when she was purging floppy disks, I’ll share it with you sometime.

Dear Ainsworth, I’m sorry.

27 Apr

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I have been known to “undersell” my upbringing in Ainsworth. I may even, at one horrifyingly disrespectful teen-angst filled moment in my life, have cursed my father for raising me in such a barren wasteland. The fact that the town’s second name was officially “The Middle of Nowhere” (as coined by a professional horse-shoer or bowler or something…) was a point of embarrassment for me. I’m not going to go on – I don’t wish to admit the disdainful thoughts I’ve had about the land of my birth. I’m ashamed.

So, here begins my official apology. They say (through countless quotes and sayings that I am too lazy to Google right now) that seeing things through the eyes of your children is, um, smart. Yeah, smart. Innocent eyes and all that… Anyway, they’re right (not sure who “they” are, but spot on they are). Bringing my young children to my hometown is now one of my very favorite things to do. This is where they learn to get dirty. They run and run and run without A.J. and I freaking out about them getting hit by a car or being carted off by a rogue child thief. They turn farm implements into X-wing fighters. They get to go to work with their grandpa. They are so under the influence of fresh air that they almost (see “almost”) forget to quibble with one another. Then, every evening the over-consumption of this same fresh air knocks them into heavy dreamless snoring.

And they LOVE EVERY MOMENT of their time in Ainsworth. Me too. It reminds me of the things that made me the blogger that I am today (Ha! I’m a blogger!). Folks, my sister and I are very much defined by our years in the middle of nowhere. I think I’ll blog about it more often. I am desperate to share with you stories of our 1-room schoolhouse days, recess soccer, high school speech contests (and the bus rides taking us there), corn freezing, cleaning pig buildings, tubing down Pine Creek, church lock-ins, being snowed in at Gramma’s, running away from teachers in irrigation ditches, Oh, Oh, OH! I could GO ON! So just wait. It’ll happen. Nothing can stop me now (except for the extensively afore mentioned sleep deprivation).

Still Life Sports Photography

26 Apr

I’m afraid our sons have inherited my athletic deficiencies.  Jerry might try to tell you its his fault, but I’ve seen him bowl.

I’ve always been scared to death of balls.  Specifically, those that come flying towards me.  I don’t think I’ve caught a single thing, outside of a cold, in my entire life.  Sure, there was some volleyball in Jr. High and High School.  They put me in to serve, and if they could have made a substitution mid-play they would have.  Balls should be traveling away from my face.  Always.

Maybe Jerry’s on to something with this whole bowling bit.

On Easter our boys were playing outside with their first cousin once removed.  They were no match for his speed, ball handling, and maneuvering.  So, Thomas asked for another ball so he and Abe could play their own game.  A much more mild mannered game.  Scroll down very, very slowly through these pictures you can see them in action.

 At this rate I could probably join them.  That is, if I got a face mask and some knee pads.

Shhhh. Do NOT tell Christina I told you this.

21 Apr

It’s poop.

The thing we’re not supposed to discuss on public social forums is poop.

I’ve lifted the ban for this brief moment because I think it’s important that you know. And that’s okay. There’s been a 20+ year ban on licking in our family that sometimes just HAS to be lifted. That’s how it is with bans. I know that you understand.

Okay – the ban’s back on.

It’s Not All Boston Rob and Sleepless Nights

20 Apr

My sister is wrong.  Funny, but wrong.  In addition to our  Infinitesimal (or Infantisimal) Exhaustion and Reality TV we cover other subjects.

Here’s a list:

1. How tired our husbands say they are.  And whether or not we believe them.

2. Our vocabularies.  The use of words like ‘repartee’ should always be lauded.  The same goes for ‘lauded.’

3.  A subject on which we hold a self-imposed public forum ban.  It’s not what you think.  Or maybe it is, I don’t know how you think.  Unless you’re one of our husbands, in which case it’s not that.

4. Yelling.  We compare stats.  How much? how loud? at which child(ren)? and, most importantly, for what completely irrational reason?

5.  Literature.  I know, she said that she hopes one day to return to conversations about this, but she is forgetting some really important recent exchanges.  They went something like this:
Her:  I really liked that book.”
Me:  Which one? Thomas, your shoes are on the wrong feet.
Her:  You know, that one about that one girl.
Me:  Oh yeah, I liked her.
Her: Yeah, me too, Charlie, did you go to the bathroom*? But I really liked the other girl even more
Me:  Yeah, that was . . Somebody get me a burp rag – quick! . . . a good book.
Her:  Yeah.

6. How much we miss sleep.  Oh, wait, she covered that.

7.  The weather.  If you press us we will deny that we talk about it.  But we are our mother’s daughters.

8.  Food.  Primarily how much of it we’ve eaten.  We’re like on-duty Navy Seals – we replace sleep with calories.  Don’t knock it, it’s effective.

9.  Our general worthlessness as mothers and wives.  Which may include, but is not necessarily limited to:
—sending our children to an Easter party with two dozen raw eggs
—forgetting to bring our child to school
—forgetting to pick up our child from school
— not showering for four straight days
— ‘accidentally’ nudging our husbands at 4:00 a.m. when a baby is crying
—letting Kung Fu Panda babysit so we can blog.

10. How much we love that people are reading our blog.  Thank you!

I should wrap this up now, Thomas is scared of Kung Fu Panda and needs me to start the Imaginext DVD for him.  He plans to watch it in Portuguese today.

*Please forgive the possible breaking of any self-imposed public forum bans.

This is no laughing matter.

19 Apr

I would like to share with you all a shocking story. Yesterday I was on the phone with my sister (you know her – she’s the one that regularly posts clever things to this blog). We talk on the phone often. In fact, I think she’s one of the only people I am really able to converse with on the phone. (Dear Others, take no offense – it is nothing personal. I am just not a “phone” person.) I asked her whether she had seen last week’s “Chuck” because I had something relevant on which to reference. She hadn’t. AND THEN SHE SAID THE MOST SHOCKING THING OF ALL TIME: “So I guess we don’t have anything to talk about.” WHA-!?!?!?!? WAIT! Gasp. Now, before you all become too worried please know that we then continued in a deep discussion of “America’s Next Great Restaraunt”, so really, nothing was lost, but a revelation was made by me. Christina knows nothing of this revelation because I think she is screening her calls (!!!). I reveal it to you all now:

I have been struggling with all things communication related since my dear son was born. Before that I was able to speak for hours in snarky tones and endless pregnancy complaints. Now it seems all playful snarkiness has left the building and apathetic exhaustion has been left in its stead. This is sad. Really sad. And here’s the real problem. I don’t know if you all knew this, but my beloved sister is just as sleep deprived as I. You can only imagine how stimulating our repartee is at this given juncture in our lives. It’s not. We often circle our conversations around how very little sleep we got, how very much sleep we want, and the impossibility of changing our given sleep amounts any time in the near future (Oh, and we talk a lot about reality television).

My point? I’m not sure I have one. I rarely do these days. Will you all patiently wait with me as my brain eventually re-activates? I’m sure it will. Someday….

Until then, expect that most of my blogs will consist of mindless prattle or complaints of sleepiness. When I’m human again I will speak of literature and parenting and politics (well, that’s a questionable one). Really. I will.

See? She was even talking to me shortly after giving birth to twins and WHILE having her picture taken. So much has changed...

Gardening Help

18 Apr

I don’t have a very green thumb, but Mom always says there’s something you’re supposed to do every spring when the forsythia blooms.  What is it?  Shoveling the sidewalks?

Not to Be Outdone

15 Apr

Just a couple of hours later Cele showed her brother she could not only sit up, but could do it while holding a toy.

Show off.

Cute Baby Tricks

15 Apr

Sitting.  Long enough for me to take a picture.  Or Four.

Our 2-day Vacay

13 Apr

Henry and I had a couple of “spa” days in the local Children’s Hospital. I’ll be honest, there wasn’t much at which to laugh. In fact, we were both pretty moody the entire time. He had good reason, I suppose, as a giant IV set-up had taken over his right arm. Me? I made a conscious decision to be pouty. Sometimes I do. Oh, come on, we ALL do, right? Tell me I’m right. Anywho, the irony of his crib’s weight limit (see photo below) and an uncomfortable breastfeeding discussion with the hospital’s resident Doogie Howser (who was hopefully unfamiliar with anything breast-related) were really the only things that elicited chuckles.

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