Monday, December 5, 2016

Lies and deceptions- and this time it's personal (aka, not a political post)- UPDATED

My parents were able to spend Thanksgiving week with us this year. It’s the first time they’ve seen the farm, so it was really nice having them here. 

But, on the last morning of their visit, the lie was finally revealed.

Back story: I crashed into arachnophobia pretty hard when I was 8 years old. It was August, and the movie Arachnophobia had been released on VHS. My family rented it from Blockbuster Video- yeah, I know, I’m dating myself here. Anyway, I wasn’t allowed to watch the whole thing, for one it was “too scary,” and it was also past my bedtime*. I was under the bed sheet, and it started doing that thing where it kind of shifts and tickles. Now when it does that, I’m up faster than jackrabbit on speed! Because on that fateful night, in August when I was the sweet, tender, innocent age of 8; I thought nothing of the shift in the bed sheet- right up until a HUGE MANEATING SPIDER JUMPED ON MY FACE! This thing was huge- covered my nose and mouth, down to my chin. I flung it off and tried to scream. I opened my mouth, but no sound could come out.

I ran into the living room, where my parents were still watching the movie, and in my panic, managed to choke out the words “spider” and “help” while frantically pointing towards my room.

My dad started searching. All the lights were on, and he started systematically peeling off all the bedsheets. No spider. The explanations started coming, “It was just a dream… because of the movie…” Vaguely, I became aware of an additional weight on the sleeve of the t-shirt I wore to bed. I looked down, and staring up at me was the evil demon beast. It was SITTING ON MY SHOULDER watching my dad search for it like, “Hey, when you find it let me know!” I was paralyzed. My mom was not. She finally saw it, too, and flung it off my shoulder, screaming, and I was screaming, and the spider was scuttling, and my dad was confused as hell!

Finally, though, my dad found the spider- a harmless garden spider, big, scary, but ultimately harmless. Instead of killing it, though, he scooped it up and put it outside delivering the “It’s more afraid of you than you are of it” line. “Good for the garden…blah blah blah.”

Except he didn’t find it.

On the last day of my parent’s visit, we were sitting out front having our morning coffee on the porch. One of the evil demon beasts crawled across the back of my hand, and I flicked it off. The evil overlords- scorpions, in case you’re new here- have obviously put spiders down a notch on the list of evil for me. I’m not sure if that’s a good thing or not. Anyway, my mom remarked at how calm I was, and that there was a time I would have freaked out. Then, she asked Steve if I’d ever told him the story of the spider (above).

Yes, I did. “And to add insult to injury,” I said, “Dad took the damned thing out and released it.”

“No, I didn’t. I never found it.”

“Wait. WHAT?!?!”

My father LAUGHED HIS ASS OFF! He didn’t find the stupid spider, he LIED about it so I’d go back to bed! For all I know, that spider never left! It probably still follows me around! That cold breeze over my shoulder isn’t a draft, it’s the fucking spider waiting for me to let my guard down so it can make its final strike! It’s probably the one who unleashed the evil overlord scorpions on me! Does that mean the spider is actually the Emperor of Evil who control the evil overlords? I’m just a puppet in the game of evil world conquering arachnids!

Lies! Lies and deceptions!


Is anything real anymore? 


*Ok, a brief aside here, because I honestly cannot figure out if the correct way to write this is "past my bedtime," or "passed my bedtime." Oxford is no help either. I decided to use "past" because it's a specific time- bedtime- but I'm still not convinced that it's not supposed to be "passed" in that the time for bed has gone by. I suppose I should just be glad that it will be this thought that keeps me up tonight, and not the shifting of the blankets as the Evil Emperor settles in to watch me sleep.



UPDATE: I felt like adding a post script here because I've been reading a lot of disturbing stories online from people whose Thanksgiving family get together did not go well. The current instability in our country has created a lot of problems, and my heart goes out to everyone who is struggling to understand, cope, survive, etc. I am so grateful that the biggest family drama we had was a humorous reveal of something that happened nearly 3 decades ago! I'm one of the lucky ones, and that means a lot to me. To those of you out there who have had to cut ties with family for your own mental health, I understand. I've been there, and it's hard. Unbelievably hard. Just remember, you're always welcome in the Whanau. 

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. - Nelson Mandela

Looking through social media, it appears there are still a number of people who don’t seem to understand why some of us are afraid of what the new presidential entourage means. Now, first of all, I just want to say that there is a part of me that is happy for you if you can’t work out why we’re scared. I hope you never feel the sense of hopeless vulnerability that we are experiencing. At the same time, however, I’m deeply disturbed by the lack of empathy, and hope against hope that your children never have cause to feel this way.

Have you come across, or even shared, this little gem:


“I keep seeing people post on how they are terrified, or scared? Well.. what are you scared of exactly? War? Because that's happening. School shootings? Because that's happening. Pipeline? That's been happening. Terrorism? Definitely alive and well. Going broke due to health insurance? Mm yes. Corruption throughout the system? Already there. Police officers being murdered? Yep, that's happening. Bullying? Check. Loss of jobs? We've got that on lock. A tanking economy. Yep. Being discriminated against for your religion, political views, sexual orientation, race? That's been going on. Rape, murder, violence, riots.. all going on and has been.
So tell me, what are you scared of that is not already happening basically everywhere? This isn't a Trump problem, this is a people problem. Y'all need to reevaluate your own selves..
Maybe America is a little too scared and a little too easily offended.
Quit being scared, crying around, offended by everything.. step up and do your part as an American, no, as a damn human being. Treat others with respect, help and encourage one another, raise your kids right, be a contributing member of society. Make sure your hands are clean, that's your job. Burning the American flag? Get out of here with that crap, how about you do your job to make it a better place.
But right now, all I see is hate. It's disturbing, and the ones with the most hate are being exactly what they claim to be against.”
Maybe America is a little too scared and a little too easily offended. Quit being scared, crying around, offended by everything.. step up and do your part as an American, no, as a damn human being. Treat others with respect, help and encourage one another, raise your kids right, be a contributing member of society. Make sure your hands are clean, that's your job. Burning the American flag? Get out of here with that crap, how about you do your job to make it a better place. But right now, all I see is hate. It's disturbing, and the ones with the most hate are being exactly what they claim to be against.” Maybe America is a little too scared and a little too easily offended. Quit being scared, crying around, offended by everything.. step up and do your part as an American, no, as a damn human being. Treat others with respect, help and encourage one another, raise your kids right, be a contributing member of society. Make sure your hands are clean, that's your job. Burning the American flag? Get out of here with that crap, how about you do your job to make it a better place. But right now, all I see is hate. It's disturbing, and the ones with the most hate are being exactly what they claim to be against.”



Apparently written by someone under the name Scott Strader on Facebook. Isn’t social media liberating?

Ok, so let’s see if we can break this down, shall we? I’ll keep it as short as I can.

War, school shootings, terrorism, corruption, loss of jobs. Yes, all that is happening, and will continue to happen, and if you’re not the least bit scared about how normalized they’ve become, then you are definitely part of the problem. Besides, do we really want a man who has filed for bankruptcy six times? Ok, possibly not every case was entirely his fault, after all the casino business hit a rough patch. Sort of like a country that’s been in a recessionfor a few years.  Has anyone informed him that filing a chapter 11 for America would be a very bad idea?

Health insurance. Do you truly believe that a man who refuses to pay his bills actually cares for the common person? He is big business all the way, and that means the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies have an ally to support them as they continue to bleed us dry.  Obamacare is anything but perfect, but millions of Americans rely on it to insure themselves and their families. And yes, that’s just one of the many things Trump has backed down on it, but it remains a fact that the threat was very real, and very scary, and remains scary, to a large number of at-risk people.

Pipeline. Yes, we’ve been fighting the pipeline that is endangering the lives of Americans and threatening the sanctity of the environment. The fact that Trump received a sizeable bribe donation from the CEO of the company that wants to rape the land endanger lives install a massive, dangerous pipeline despite the ongoing issues with the line already in place, is just one sign that he doesn’t mind selling off ourchildren’s future. Another sure sign that he is completely out of touch with environmental concerns is that he appointed a person who sounds more like a conspiracy theorist than a profession as the head of the EPA.

Police officers being murdered. Sorry to say, but without comprehensive gun reform, this will continue to happen.

Bullying, rape, discrimination. You just described the newest leader of our country.

But honestly, we’re not afraid of Trump. I’ve never met a President, and I don’t intend on starting now. It is a frightening thought that he will be shaping policies that will affect us for decades to come. Looking at who he’s appointing to his cabinet, the threat of loss of civil rights that have been fought for over lifetimes is all but ensured, and that’s not good news either. But the terror that is filling so many Americans isn’t entirely about him.

So what are we afraid of?

We are afraid of a world where school children chant, “Build the wall!” While their classmates cry and the teachers don’t do anything to stop it. *

We are afraid of a country where a black woman, filling her car with gas, is accosted by three men who pull a gun on her and tell her they could “kill her right now and nothing bad would happen because she’s just a piece of meat.”*

We are afraid of a place where two school girls can get on a bus and tell the blacks they belong at the back of the bus because Trump’s President now. *

We are afraid of a society where a white woman jogging on the morning following the election passes by a group of men and when one yells out, “Who owns your pussy now?” no one says anything. *

We are afraid of people who think it’s perfectly acceptable to send a Mexican man a terrorist note made out of letters cut from magazines and pasted to a piece of paper telling him to leave the country. *

In a word: You. We are afraid of the people who are either so self-centered, or downright malicious as to have the gall to ask that question. We are afraid of the people who voted in hatred, live in hatred, and continue to treat the rest of us like we are the ones that forced this horror on our country. We are afraid of people who saw a sexual predator and decided he would be a good role model for our sons and daughters.

You gave hate a voice. Now we all pay for it.

Yes, there are riots going on right now, and that needs to stop. Did you know that in many cases it started as a peaceful protest, a way of supporting each other while we process what has happened, when some people who saw an opportunity for chaos descended? Did you realize that the vast majority of protests are remaining peaceful? The only hate crimes I’ve seen are those by people who loudly support Trump. By people who name Trump as the reason they can hurt others without consequence. There are bad decisions on both sides.

So right now, we are organizing, we are filtering, we are supporting. Right now we are planning to stand up for ourselves and those who cannot. Right now we are doing our job to make America a better place by not sitting idly by while racism, bigotry, and misogyny rips away at our core values.

If you are so offended by our honest and visceral reaction to this, then maybe you need to try being honest with yourself. Maybe it’s you who have not been “keeping your hands clean.”

To my fellow citizens, by brothers and sisters who have been united by this ugly situation we’re in, stay strong. Fight with love and tolerance no matter how dark the night. We stand together, we stand strong.



*All of those stories are firsthand accounts I read through a supportive group. This is what people are truly living through. 

Friday, November 11, 2016

Childhood's end

It was a wonderfully warm, but not too warm, day when my parents broke the news to me that Santa wasn’t real.

I was 8 years old and I think it was sometime in early November, but I can’t be certain. I think it was after we’d had a simple lunch at the table. I only remember a slight feeling of shock, then, upon seeing how much they struggled with the words, I decided to think more about it later and said the words I thought would make them feel better, to stop their frowns. I remember being acutely aware of people, especially adults, that Christmas season. Trying to make sense of this new world that I’d suddenly been plunged into. A world where magic didn’t exist.

I rejected that thought. Magic was still real, and I saw it all around me once I cared enough to look.
It was years later before my dad took it all back. “Santa does exist,” he told me, “it’s just… different.” He didn’t need to. “I know,” I said, “I’ve always known.”

When it came my own child’s turn to hear that magic was fake, he got a wholly different speech: “Santa is not some dude that flies around the world delivering presents to good kids, it’s the spirit of peace and love that inspires people to be better to each other. That spirit that inspires us to help the less fortunate. Santa is real; he’s just not a jolly fat guy in red. “

It’s the spirit of tranquility that makes adults not hate each other quite as much as usual. Bring on the Christmas season! We need it now more than ever.

I’ve been struggling with this election. I’ve tried to close myself off from the world, because the world is an ugly, dangerous place right now. I honestly did not expect my own reaction, but the fear that has gripped me since Tuesday night has been intense. I thought it wouldn’t really matter to me who won, who our next President was, I just wanted the campaign over.

How wrong I was.

I think it’s because I truly believed that America was better. That we still had enough human decency to not elect such an obviously dangerous person.

My family is not on the front lines, not entirely. We’re “white,” so that’s our protection. We’re not Christian, my son and I have mental illnesses, my husband and step-daughter are immigrants, and I’m not strictly heterosexual. We’re not on the front lines, but we’re not far back.

I’m scared. I’m scared of what could happen. And I can’t trust anyone.

People I thought were my friends, people I thought cared about my family voted against our safety. They voted, almost with fanatical relish, to put my family in danger. That is something that I can’t forgive, and it’s going to take a long time before I can be nice again. It will take a long time for the resentment to ebb. Probably until I know we’ll be safe, which may be never. We may never again feel safety, and that’s a hard pill to swallow.

I’m trying not to hate these people; people I thought of as friends. People I thought I was protecting by voting for the lesser of two evils. People who fed me to the fire. So far, you may have guessed, I’ve failed. Hate is filling me so entirely that I can’t eat. I can’t sleep. I haven’t done either properly since the election. Food tastes bad, sleep is filled with monsters. I’m waiting. Waiting for the next threat to show itself.

And every time I see the face of our new dictator, all I see is my own demon- the one person who’s very thought still sends me into a panic attack nearly 14 years later. A few weeks ago I sat in a lawyer’s office trying to explain, and completely lost control. I sat there and sobbed, humiliated at my own weakness. Trump is a trigger to many of us survivors. The fact that he’s a self-confessed sexual predator isn’t really the issue- there’s plenty of them around. The fact that he’s a self-confessed sexual predator in a position of power isn’t even the issue- there’s plenty of them, too. The issue is that so many of our neighbors and supposed friends said that it doesn’t matter. That we don’t matter. They agree that women are there to be objects, that we don’t count. That we somehow asked for this. That complacency is the issue.

I saw a comment stating that not all Trump supporters are racists. Not all Trump supporters hate women. But does it really matter? You voted for a man that gave the scum of our country carte blanche. It’s all ok, because our President does it!

It’s not ok. It will never be ok. It’s as far from ok as you can possibly get.

There was a woman in my co-op who absolutely horrified me. She claimed she was voting for Trump because she had to vote with her conscience.

It’s your conscience to rape women?

It’s your conscience to torture innocents?

It’s your conscience to kill people that look different from you?

It’s your conscience to deny every ideal we’ve based our country on?

It’s your conscience to plunge the earth into an environmental disaster that we may never recover from?

If that’s true, I’m not sure I want to share the same space as you. This isn’t about politics anymore, it’s about humanity. People who have put their humanity on hold because some demagogue has promised them the holy grail. It’s about the fact that your conscience includes the mass destruction of everyone who doesn’t believe the same overused tripe you do.

For those of us who have lived our lives on the edge of outright dissension, it is terrifying that one manipulative megalomaniac can wield so much power over our disenfranchised populace as to put us into actual physical harm. The world may not be ending, but it has certainly changed, irreparably, for the worse.

So what now? A lot of people are asking that, but nobody seems to have a very good answer. “Keep fighting,” seems hollow when everything we’ve been doing has failed. “Do more,” is even worse when we’re so tired from the battles we’ve waged over months and ended in the message that we are worthless, we don’t matter.

The thorn? Clinton won. At the time of this writing, the votes are 99% counted and Clinton is in the popular vote lead by 395,050. That’s a lot of people who have had their voices ripped from them.
So let me share another story.

I did not vote early because I didn’t know who to vote for. I didn’t like any of my options. At 2pm central time on Tuesday, November 8th, 2016, I “forced” my son to go uptown with me to vote. I grilled my immigrant husband, who is much more politically aware than I am since I’ve never tried to pretend that my vote actually matters, who he thought I should attach my name to, knowing full well that I hate Hillary Clinton and everything she represents. I headed uptown, braving rain and flooded creeks, still not sure who I should attach myself to. I’d read accounts and seen photos of women voting for Hillary Clinton in tears because the thought of a woman president was so incredible, so life affirming, that they could not contain their emotions. It was a powerful message that they believed in so strongly that their emotions over flowed unchecked in our patriarchal world that disdains from such shows of weakness.

I voted for Hillary Clinton. And I nearly cried. But not for the reason you’re expecting. I felt the tears threaten as I selected her from the list, because I didn’t want her as my leader, but she had a better chance than most at beating Trump- and anything is better than Trump. Present tense.
I was not and am not proud of my decision to kowtow to popular demand and vote for someone I didn’t truly believe in- but let’s be honest, I didn’t really believe in any of them, I was only voting against the one I couldn’t live with in the strongest way I could. Not that it mattered. I could have written in Cthulhu and it would’ve counted as much.

Because I don’t matter. Message read loud and clear.

Just for the record, I don’t support the anti-Trump riots. I don’t think that’s the way out of this mess. I don’t what is, but I certainly don’t think that’s it. But I understand it. When you take everything away from people and leave them without any acceptable way to defend themselves and their loved ones against hatred and injustice, they tend to react in violent ways. It’s fear that fuels that reaction, and I hate to say it, but it’s not over yet. The elites think people are easy to control when they’re denied basic rights, but actually, when they have nothing left to lose, people become as untamable as any jungle. There is no stopping the will of survival.

I have struggled my entire life with people interrupting me when I speak, because I don’t matter. I try to limit my words, obviously not easy for me, just to try to avoid people talking over the top of me. And yet, I have literally been interrupted when saying, “Hello.” One word, unfinished, because someone is so much more important than I am. And I have been forced to accept that out of politeness. It’s what good girls do.

But it’s very difficult to combat racism, sexism, bigotry, and hatred when your voice has been taken from you. When no one will give you the opportunity to speak. When every effort to force your right to speech is met with sexist derision.

So, this is my declaration. If you are afraid, so am I- we can be afraid together. If you are angry, so am I- we can be angry together. If you are confused, so am I- let’s figure this out together. If you have forgiven, please teach us how, because we are struggling.

And if you voted for Trump, please try to understand that right now we’re trying to find a way to forgive the betrayal, contempt, and outright hatred. We’re trying to understand what is so offensive about wanting equality. We’re trying to find our footing in this new world where hate is encouraged, and intolerance is expected. We’re trying to decide how to teach our daughters they’re still strong and our sons they still need to show respect when the adults in control have shown the absolute opposite.

I don’t know how or if we can move forward from this. I don’t know that I want to. Everyone I look at is an adversary; everyone I have to deal with is plotting my downfall. Maybe it’s paranoia, but they just voted to put it into action. Trump just kicked over that domino and I simply don’t know who to trust. So, right now I’m trying to keep to myself and not piss too many people off. But I am hurting, and it’s not going away any time soon.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Scorpions: The continuing reign of terror

Last summer, my parents gifted us with their spa because the water situation in California was getting critical and they couldn't fill it and keep their water consumption reasonable. So we bought a trailer and towed it from California to Texas.

It has saved our bodies several times over the last year. After doing physical labor on the farm, having the ability to soak in a spa with jets made the difference between walking the next day and hobbling around like Gollum if he'd been hit by a truck.

The spa has an integrated cover so it's easy to close it up when it's not in use, and helps to keep most pests out of it. When the lid is closed, there's a bit of a lip that's sealed with a rubber tube. Most bugs come against it and go away. There are two exceptions: fire ants and scorpions.

During the Spring, when we got a lot of rain, there were a few times when fire ants got into the water and decided to live in the pipes. When we turned the jets on, we were assaulted by fire ants. That was interesting, to say the least. We wound up draining the pool to clear the ants out. Now, we control the ants around the spa so we don't get eaten alive while we try to relax.

Scorpions just think it's an awesome place to hide out. When we open the cover, we do a quick check around the edge and take care of any scorpions that are sitting there. Normally there's only one- they're fairly territorial.

Yesterday, when we opened the spa, sure enough, there was a scorpion hanging out on the edge like, "What's up guys? Can I join you?"

Smoosh! Problem solved.

So I opened up the other side, and there was another one! Apparently, he'd seen what happens if you ask to join in, so instead of asking, he just jumped in. Into the spa.

Now you're thinking, "Yeah, so it drowned and you scooped it out. What's your point?" What you're forgetting is that scorpions spawn from all of the evil in the world. When there's negative energy, it condenses into scorpions, and right now, there's a lot of negative energy floating around. That's making the evil spawn ridiculously strong.

The scorpion did a graceful swan dive into the water, gently floated down to the seat, THEN RAN DOWN TO THE BOTTOM AND UNDER THE FILTER INTAKE! IT RAN UNDER WATER!

Steve didn't see it running, he thought the current from the intake sucked it in. He had the net scoop and was trying to flush it out from under the cover, but it wasn't coming out. I unplugged it, thinking that maybe the sucking was making it impossible to move it, and assuming it would've drowned by now. Steve got a screwdriver, and removed the cover, but we still couldn't find the body. When suddenly, RAN ALONG THE BOTTOM!

Tail up, claws out, IT RAN UNDER WATER THE SAME AS ON DRY LAND!

Just let that sink in for a moment. Scorpions apparently have no problem living under water.

Dude.

Steve eventually caught it and got rid of it, but there is now a special paranoia for me.

Monday, August 8, 2016

Sapphire Skies

Our little farm is in the middle of Texas. Summers in central Texas are harsh; incredibly harsh. Throughout July, the temperature stays high and the rain is non-existent, so the landscape becomes cracked and desolate. The trees that thrive here are resilient, and occasionally there is a bit of green left in their shade, but everywhere else it's cooked. So when the almost unbearable heat of August hits, there's no escaping it.

This has been the first year that we worked on a veggie garden- which is going really well. We had a great crop of cherry tomatoes, peppers, and pickling cucumbers. We've managed to harvest a couple of watermelons. And just this morning, we picked our first okra! But we've stopped watering half the garden- the cherry tomatoes, cauliflower, and tomatillos, because the heat was just proving to be too much for them. We've had to move our potted plants around due to the intensity of the sun as well. We're still learning about our environment.

This morning we woke up early- it's the only time of the day we can function for very long outside- and transplanted an eggplant before sitting on the porch for breakfast. It's how we start every day. After breakfast, Steve started work, and I went to let the chickens out for the day. They spend most of the day wandering around the yard, foraging for insects, and keeping the place remarkably clean! You know, except for the chicken poo.

As I walked across the yard to their run, a breeze touched my face. A cool breeze! I breathed deep and smelled the promised of Autumn. The promise of cooler days and nights with the windows open. The promise of sitting around a camp fire (Summer means burn bans) drinking mulled wine and roasting marshmallows. I looked at the sky and realized that instead of the burnt out Summer sky, the blue is starting to deepen to the sapphire of Autumn.

It's going to be hot today, and for many more days. August is one of the hottest months. But the promise is there if you pay attention. The promise that this harsh Summer will release it's hold on us and we will enjoy a reprieve. We've certainly earned it.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Not just a number

It’s just a number,

It doesn’t define you.

It doesn’t tell your story,

It doesn’t speak to what you’ve done.

It doesn’t showcase your children,

It doesn’t celebrate with friends.

It doesn’t toast birthdays,

It doesn’t enjoy long quiet evenings, snuggled up on the couch.

It’s just a number.

So why is it so important?

Why does it change how we feel about ourselves?

How we feel about others?

Why is it so hard to look at that number steadily climb as the grey hairs come in and the wrinkles form?

It’s just a number, but it matters so much.

In a world full of judgement and hate,

Where we constantly find ourselves alone,


Is it really any wonder that it’s not just a number?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Babysitting

Our neighbor had to go into the hospital for surgery this week, and asked if we would look after his animals. So of course we accepted! We go up to his place to check on his birds- he has a bunch of baby chickens and turkeys, and racing pigeons. They're very cool. The most fun, though, is we have his 4 ducklings staying in our brooder. Our bathtub brooder in our master bath.

You may remember when we got our chickens and they stayed in the bathtub brooder until the coop was finished. And yes, Toby is once again fascinated and highly protective of the babies.

Little whack whacks
We're only watching them until this weekend, but we've already decided that next year, we want to get some ducks. They're awesome. But here's what I've learned about ducklings this week:

1. They are hilarious when it comes to water. They had one of those little chick water things, but they emptied it within minutes every time we filled it and put it in the tub. I put the little litter box in filled with water so they could have supervised swim time, and the first thing they all did was drink a bunch. I suddenly realized that they could get a proper drink from the chick waterer because their bills are too big/work different. So we went to the dollar store and picked up some smallish disposable cake tins. They love it! And yes, they like sitting in it and splashing a bit, but being in the bathtub, that's just fine. We just have to change out their straw occasionally.

2. They grow fast! Yesterday morning one of them was standing as tall as it could trying to reach the mesh over the tub, but was still about an inch too short. This morning they're all chattering away at the mesh! They don't even have to stretch up that much!

3. The sound they make is not as high pitched as the chicks. I'm sure if we had 21 ducklings, the noise would be comparable to the 21 chicks. There are times they are quite loud. However, the peeping sound they make is several octaves lower than the cheeping the chicks made. It doesn't pierce your skull in quite the same way. One of them, the little black duck, is already starting to make little quacking sounds.

The most important thing we've learned, though, is 4. They smell REALLY REALLY BAD! I mean, HORRIBLE! Who would've thought that 4 ducklings would be so much worse than 21 chicks? Honestly, Steve duct taped a screen over the window so we could open it and get some air flow because we thought we were going to pass out from the stink. They're not as dusty as the chicks, but geez they stink! Before we get ducks of our own, we're going to build a duck coop and run that they can go directly into, because there's no way we would last very long with this smell!

We will miss them when they go home this weekend because they are fun to have around. I definitely will not miss they smell, though.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Tribute

Asha
It's been a few weeks since I've updated here, and mainly that's because I just wasn't up to talking about it. We lost our beautiful cat, Asha suddenly. I suspect she'd been sick for a while, but she hid it quite effectively. It still hurts that she's gone, and there are still moments when I look for her.

So fluffy!
Steve got Asha after his first marriage broke up and he was struggling. Her name, Asha, means hope, and that's what he really needed.
Pounce!
She was never really a playful cat, but she was a voracious huntress! After a few birds, Steve put a bell on her. It didn't stop her entirely, though. She still brought birds in on occasion, and lots and lots of bugs!
Unamused. 
When I met her, she did not like me! I was the other woman and she let me know she was in charge and Steve was her's! We would sit on the couch at night watching tv, Asha in Steve's lap, and she would growl at me if I tried to snuggle too close to Steve.
Love
Eventually, I won her over and she would lay in my lap and growl at Steve if he tried to displace her.

Living in New Zealand, it rained a lot. She had a cat door that gave her the freedom to come and go as she pleased. When it rained hard, though, she would go out her cat door, get thoroughly soaked, and sit at the glass door in the back and meow at me pitifully. I would then stop what I was doing, get up, let her in, and towel her off while cooing over her. As soon as I was done drying her, she would go straight out the cat door, around the house in the rain, and sit by the back door again meowing at me pitifully. By the third toweling I'd tell her that was enough and if she did it again, she was on her own. So, she'd curl up and go to sleep in my lap.
Sun worshiping
On sunny days, you could always find her just by looking for the softest, sunniest spot.
Getting comfortable is an art. 
And she was always adept at getting really, really comfy!
Reaching through the wall. 
We did a massive building project to our house, and it included effectively cutting one half of the house off from the other. We realized that Asha needed a way to access the whole house, so we put a cat tunnel in one of the walls. When we sold the house, a lot of people thought it was a great idea!
Front door guard. 
Asha thought it was great, too. She had a sunny spot where she could watch the goings on out the front door. It was one of her favorite spots.
Boo
Of course, you can't have a black cat without the Halloween reference. She didn't like company, so she wasn't big on trick or treaters, but I think she liked the decorations.
Not quite best buds
When we brought Zack home as a puppy, she was ready to disown us. She eventually tolerated him as long as he was properly afraid of her. Toby was something else entirely. He was never afraid of her, and she eventually ignored him.

She hated the flight from New Zealand to the States. And hated the drive from California to Texas just as much. But she was regal about the changes.
Just keep scratching
As long as she got plenty of hugs and scratches, she could cope with just about anything.
Hunting for lizards
When we bought the farm, she decided she really liked being a farm cat. She never wandered very far; she never had to go far to find lizards to hunt.
"I think I love you."
"Please remove this thing."
When Jynx joined the family, Asha was pretty much resigned to the fact that I bring babies home as often as I can get away with it. It was still a grudging tolerance rather than acceptance, but Jynx doesn't give anyone the opportunity to not love her. Asha was no exception.
Good-bye
So, good-bye my beautiful girl. You will never be forgotten.

Monday, May 9, 2016

The one where we say good bye to Weezel

You may remember last fall when the chicks arrived. We had ordered 12 Australorp female chicks, but when we picked up the box, we were told they threw a few males in there for free for added warmth. We'd ordered 12 expecting 8 to survive- we'd done our research and made peace with the fact that not all the chicks would live to see adulthood- so were seriously surprised to find 21 peeping chicks when we opened the box! There were 13 little black Australorps, and 8 yellow chicks.

Every single one survived.

We figured the yellow chicks were all male, and as it turned out, the extra Australorp was, too! Denzel is quite the handsome devil. At the moment my camera is vexing me, but I'll try to get a great photo of him in the sun soon. He's also huge! He comes to about my knee, and looks down on our Cairn terrier mix, and all the neighborhood cats!

As for the yellow ones? Well, that's farm life, and they were quite tasty. I've never had meat that we raised and butchered ourselves, but I highly recommend it. There's something satisfying in knowing that your food had a great life.

When we butchered them, though, there was one that was just too small to justify killing. There was no meat on him! I'm pretty sure he was the little runt that I'd had to treat for pasty butt a few times. We made a rapid fire decision to try to find him a home. I named him Weezel, and posted "Free Rooster to a good home" on some of the online boards I'm a member of.

Hello!
It wasn't until after I posted that I realized what a stupid thing it is to post a free rooster to strangers. I'd rather butcher him than submit him to possible cock fights!

So I went to take down the post, and already had a hit. I had a look at her profile, and she looked like a decent person, lots of chicken care posts, how to pamper your chickens, the whole thing, so I messaged her to arrange for pick up of Weezel.

She never got back to me.

There was another person interested, and she looked really nice, too. Young couple just getting started, born and raised in farm country.

She never got back to me either.

Then one a home schooler claimed him. She had to finish their coop, so I agreed to hold him for another week. But then she realized she'd bitten off more than she could chew.

Meanwhile, our girls had started laying eggs and Weezel was getting more and more frustrated. Denzel was nearly twice his size and so was the dominant male. Weezel was not allowed to mate with the girls, and they would squawk and fight him off until Denzel came over and beat him up every timed he tried. We were getting worried that he was going to get hurt.

Another home schooler, who already had two hens and wanted to start breeding them was interested. So, we arranged for pick up. She lives a fair distance away, but I had to go to Costco (70 miles away from us, but only a short drive for her) anyway, so I packed Weezel in a box, and off we went!

She loves him! She didn't really get a great look at him when she picked him up because he was in a cardboard box, but a few minutes after picking him up I got a text from her: "This rooster is gorgeous! Thank you so much!"

Weezel gets to live happily ever after.

Sometimes stories do have good endings.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Whanau Head Count

Ok, we're all here. But wow it was a close run thing!

Last night, at 1am, we got nailed by the strongest storm we've experienced in Texas. I was waiting for a tornado warning, although I'm not entirely certain the push would have come through the weather. I'm pretty sure the radio and cell towers we can see from our bedroom window got nailed by lightening. And I was shocked there wasn't a scorch mark in the back yard from a bolt of lightening (with the thunder at the same moment, that's how close it was) that put me in a fetal position! It takes a lot to do that to me!

The most interesting moment, however, was when Jynx got out of the bedroom and we had to go get her.

Since I was up anyway- there was no sleeping with the intensity of the storm- I decided to get up for a waz (my new favorite word, it means to pee). Which is when I discovered we were out of toilet paper. So, Steve, being the amazing husby (my other new word, purely by accident) that he is, asked if I had enough to finish.

"I'd have to use kleenex."

"Hrrumph. That's not good for the system."

"I could use the cardboard tube, but that's not good for anything."

He got out of bed and went to the storage room to get more. Jynx waited for him by the door. I knew what she was up to, so I tried to distract her, but as soon as that door cracked open, she was out like a shot!

When I got out to the lounge, Steve was looking miffed, holding her food dish, and Jyxy-ing to the couch. She was under the couch and refusing to come out.

Suddenly, a new noise joined the constant crashing of thunder and pelting of rain. Steve and I looked at each other and started closing the windows which had all been wide open. Not all the way, mind you, if a tornado were to hit, you don't want the windows closed. I know that much at least.

Then, the french doors blew open.

Seriously, they just blew open!

There was lots of crashing on the porch, and I had visions of ultimate destruction. Steve leaned his weight into the doors to shut them again, and the strobe light effect of the lightening showed us the armageddon happening outside. I got very scared, I'm not ashamed to admit.

We got the doors closed, and I turned back to find Jynx crouched by the couch. I picked her up and she was shivering, poor thing. As we walked down the hall, the power kept flickering off, which added an even more ominous feeling to the whole event. We went back to the bedroom and sat on the bed waiting for it to either blow over or pick us up and take us to Oz.

It blew over.

The destruction wasn't nearly as bad as I had feared, either. We lost some branches off a few mesquite trees, and one of the pecan trees snapped off completely. Out on the road, there's a couple of telephone poles that are down, but we're on satellite so we didn't notice.

I think today is going to be pretty much wasted, though. Being up for nearly 2 hours in the middle of the night because the world is shattering doesn't lend well to a restful morning!

Although, we're also very thankful. It could've been much worse. According to the reports this morning, there was a tornado that touched down a few hours drive northeast of us. Injuries reported, but no deaths, thankfully.

Spring in Texas! Isn't it fun.

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Kiwi-isms: Yeah-Nah / Nah-Yeah

"Whanau" is a Maori term meaning family. I've talked about this before, but it bears repeating.

Steve is a Kiwi, meaning he is from New Zealand. When we got married, we lived in New Zealand for a number of years, which means I picked up a bunch of the local colloquialisms, or Kiwi-isms. I also got an entire class of preschool kids to use "Dude" in the proper Californian fashion, much to their parents dismay, but that's a story for a different day.

Today's Kiwi-ism is the extremely useful Yeah-Nah/Nah-Yeah combination.

When I was a kid, I would sometimes be asked a question that deserved a positive "yes" response, but was framed in a way that "yes" didn't really make sense.

What?

For example, this morning I had just finished making the coffee and Steve asked, "Did you make the coffee already, or not yet?" As an American, that's kind of hard to answer. Instead of a simple yes or no, you have to fully explain that yes, the coffee is made. It's much easier with yeah-nah.

"Did you make the coffee already, or not yet?"

"Yeah-nah," meaning yeah, I made the coffee, nah it's made. If I hadn't made the coffee yet, I would've said, "Nah-yeah," meaning no, I haven't made the coffee, but yeah I would. If I hadn't made the coffee, and wasn't planning to, it would simply be, "Nah," with a strange up slanted inflection and a pointed look meaning you're making the coffee this morning, dude.

Ok, it's not the best example, but trust me it comes in handy. It's just really hard to explain!

"That movie was good, but it wasn't the best ever."
"Yeah-nah, it was alright." = Yeah, it was good; nah, it wasn't the best ever.

"That cake wasn't very good, was it?"
"Nah-yeah!" No, I disagree with you, it was the absolute best! Mmm...chocolate.

Sorry, I digress.

Now, it should be noted that this is not the American yeah-no/no-yeah. I did a quick Google search, and this is a huge phenomenon in American speech patterns that I was unaware of, but with, apparently, different connotations. From what I can tell, the American yeah-no/no-yeah is just a way of starting a response, sort of like "you know," "like," "so," or even "uh." It's a pause while people's brains fully absorb what's just been said. The Kiwi "yeah-nah/nah-yeah" can be a stand alone answer.

So, next time someone says that the dry tasteless chocolate wasn't very good, huh? You can reply confidently with, "Yeah-nah!"

Thursday, April 7, 2016

Bunnies made of hate and barbed wire

I have eczema.

I suppose I should be relieved it's not ring worm like I thought. Although, ring worm is curable, eczema isn't.

Right now, all I know it that my legs feel like they're being humped by bunnies, if bunnies were made of hate and barbed wire. That should give you an idea of how I feel, and why I've been a little out of sorts for... a while. This flared up about 2 months ago. It's gotten very old.

I don't even get the benefit of cute twitchy noses. Hate bunnies can't smell. 
Also, the doctor announced that I have rosacea. Seriously?

And he circled two moles that we need to keep an eye on.

How did one doctor appointment age me so much? I went in 34, and came out somewhere in my 60's.

Well, it's after 5pm now, so I should probably eat dinner and get to bed. Phbbbt.

Monday, April 4, 2016

One year

On Saturday, April 2, we celebrated the one year anniversary of signing the mortgage documents and owning Whanau Farm! I found the Facebook post that I posted...

Ahhh...sweet little naive me. 

Well, it's been quite an interesting year! Turns out the previous owners were not as great as they seemed and we're still trying to clean up their mess. Our neighbors were not very enamored with them either since they basically trashed this place. Fun.

Also, we learned that the inspection we had done on this place before we bought it was worse than useless. It was actually illegal to sell us this house because the electrical wiring is illegal.

We've replaced the front porch that was mostly rotten and had lots of termite damage. Replaced the chicken coop that was atrocious. Slowly, we're getting through our list of things to do.

And this is home.

With all the little issues and headaches and total nightmares, this place is our home now. We're happy here.

Besides, the rot in the front porch is gone, we've got a great chicken coop, the veggie garden is started, and we're even starting to clear out the mess in the paddock. Our wildflower crop in the front yard is one of the best that we've seen in the area. And our century oak is stunning.

So, to celebrate (sort of) the signing of the papers, on Saturday we bought a portable building to use as an art studio! It should be delivered in about a month, and I can't express how excited I am. The last time we had a studio was 2012 in our New Zealand house. I miss having a dedicated area for creating.

We're definitely putting our mark on the farm.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

You gotta have fun somehow

The other day I had to go into Walmart to get a few things that either I’d forgotten, or that my local Walmart doesn’t carry. I’m pretty sure they don’t carry my son’s favorite sourdough bread (that all the other Walmart’s in the area carry) simply to mess with me.

I was not in a good mood. I had several reasons for being grumpy. For starters, apparently for some, Spring break is still going on and the wildflowers are still stunning, which means people are driving even worse than normal- hard to believe that's even possible. When you’re local and trying to get somewhere on time, it’s a huge inconvenience. Also, I had been going to an outing with my son to meet some people, but the address I had was incorrect, so after driving in circles for half an hour, I gave up. I was feeling disappointed and much like a failure. Also, I’d already been to Walmart (my “local” one) twice this week! And I’m currently going through some sort of medical thing that is making life more difficult than normal and I’ve been trying to not go to the doctor about it, but I’m running out of options, and I really hate the doctors. So yeah, I’m a bit cranky.

My mood was not improved when I discovered that of the four things on my list, the Walmart only had two of them. They did not have my son’s sourdough. Ugh. At least they had my favorite brand of bubbly wine. We can deal without the bread, but if they’d been out of the wine this story would’ve ended in handcuffs and my one phone call instead of typing it on my computer. Like I said, very bad mood!

So I took my three things (I remembered a third while we were wandering the store) to check out. I’m a terrible introvert, so I tend to choose the self-checkout lane. The Federal Government attempted to kill me when they made their ridiculous ruling that you can’t take alcohol through the self-check. Most of my “emergency” trips to the store are because the wine ran out too quickly. I think we have a fairy infestation, it’s the only explanation! Anyway, the express line had five very old men, all with full baskets (at least the maximum of 20 items) all lined up. Nope!

So I went to the next regular checkout. There was an older lady already paying, and another who had her things on the conveyor belt. If she hadn’t space her items out like my son separates the food on his dinner plate (honestly, sometimes it’s nice when food mixes together, not the poison he swears it is), there would have been plenty of room for my small purchase. I’m standing there, getting more and more annoyed because my hands are starting to hurt, and my son is rabbiting on about everything in the checkout lane, and I just don’t want to be there anymore! When the woman paying starts.

All her items have been rung up and are in her cart. She then slowly, painfully, gets out her wallet. Seems confused about how to open it for a minute. Finally, after much agony, pulls out her debit card. “Now,” she begins, “my bank just sent me this and said I can use it instead of a check.” Oh no.

This is the part where I finally looked at the cashier. The crossed eyed, special cashier. The slight sheen of drool at the corner of her mouth was like a giant flag- go to another line! But just at that moment, the woman ahead of me in line turned around and apologized profusely, struggling to move her items up on the conveyor belt so I could set mine down. Then she started talking.

She lives in the area, has for 20 odd years. But now her kids are grown up, her youngest has been living in the area, not with them of course, but in the area, but now he’s moving to Austin. They’re oldest lives in Kentucky, and her husband is thinking about retirement so what’s really keeping them there? “You know, sometimes you just have to pull up stakes and let God take the wheel. God moved us here in the first place, and it was definitely the right move at the time, but now I think it’s time for a change. Trust in Him and he will open doors!”

I desperately glanced over her shoulder at the payment process that had put me squarely in hell. “What does that mean, ‘swipe your card’? Is that even a word?”

“Yeah! Pay!” Now, you have to fully appreciate this checker (believe me, there’s a good reason to have this image). She looked to be in her early 20’s, possibly had Down’s Syndrome by her appearance, but seemed unable to fully communicate. She couldn’t really give directions to the lady on how to use the card machine, and just kept looking at her register with the most pathetically confused face. I was shocked that they didn’t have a helper assigned to come to her rescue when something like this happens! Poor girl looked like she was trying to remember who to call. Every time she’d glance at the register, one of her eyes would sort of wander across, then she’d look back the woman and they’d snapped crossed again. It was a little disconcerting.

Meanwhile, I heard all about how my new best friend had turkey on toast with cranberry sauce for breakfast because her son wanted turkey for Easter. Her husband said that wasn’t a proper breakfast, but it filled her up just fine. Still, turkey isn’t really an Easter meal, is it? She’s thinking about doing a ham this weekend, once all the turkey’s been eaten, because it’s just not the same! Her husband will probably laugh at her for it, but he’ll enjoy ham and eggs for breakfast next week.

The woman at the payment thing had finally managed to swipe her card, and now was trying to remember her pin. “Is that those numbers they sent me? They sent it in a different envelope! I didn’t even know what that was about! I knew I should’ve brought it with me!”

Then she started banging on the key pad! The poor checker looked scared and fluttered her hands over the machine, “NO! Nice!” She lumbered as she pet the side of the machine. “Nice!”

The woman huffed out a breath, “Forget it,” she finally said, obviously annoyed with the demands of ‘new’ technology, “I have cash.”

As she paid in cash and received her change (which seemed to take in inordinate amount of time), I continued to get a sermon about how God does provide. I wish I could be provided with ear plugs!

Finally, my new best friend’s attention shifted to the cashier. At the end of her items on the conveyor belt, she had a small bag of soil. She had two more in her basket. She smiled at the cashier and told her, “I have three bags of dirt.”

The poor girl looked at her like she’d just grown a second head and started speaking in tongues. A little more drool trickled out the side of her mouth hanging open in limp confusion.

The woman just smiled at her. And didn’t say a word.

Planets formed.

Stars were destroyed.

“Dirt?” the girl asked.

The woman’s smile grew with satisfaction that understanding had been reached! “Yes!” she exclaimed, as though somehow this was her reward. She pointed to the bag of soil on the conveyor belt.

Dawning awareness lit the girl’s face, and a smile slowly spread, “One!” she said, proud of herself for getting it.

The woman shrank an inch or so and her smile faltered. “No,” she explained patiently, “I have three of them.”

The girl looked at the bag of soil, back at the woman, confusion etched into every feature, “One,” she repeated.

Another woman got into line behind me. Although there was plenty of room for her to start loading her items on the belt, I was in the way because the woman in front hadn’t moved her cart forward. I tried not to stare at the exchange between her and the cashier, but it was a sort of terrified fascination. And I’d invested too much already to go to another line.

The woman grabbed the bag of soil off the belt and brought it to the girl. “I have this one,” she then pointed to the two in her cart, “and two more there,” she explained.

The girl looked blankly at the bag the woman was holding, then at the cart, and back again. Slowly, a smile began, “One,” she said, pointing to the one the woman was holding, “two, three!” she exclaimed, pointing to the cart.

“Good!” the woman said. I wonder if she used to be a kindergarten teacher. “Can you scan this one three times or do you need all three bags?” I had to hand it to her, not many people could be so patient.

The girl looked a little confused as she digested what was just asked, “No, I do this,” she said. She had the scanner in her hand, but it was difficult for her to find the barcode. Her eyes were seriously crossed.

The woman then started chattering away at her about life, the universe, and everything, causing the girl to occasionally pause in her work and stare at the woman. The struggle to comprehend was painful to watch. Eventually I was able to move up enough that the woman behind me could start putting her things on the belt. She put four items up, then watched the exchange between the woman and the girl, put her items back in her cart and went to find a different cashier. “Take me with you,” I thought as I watched her go.

At long last, all the items were rung up and it was time for the woman to pay. “Oh yes!” the woman said it like it forgot about this part of the ritual. NO! I screamed inside, not another one!

Thankfully not. She pulled out her card and efficiently paid for her items. As she walked away she cheerfully looked back, gave a little wave, and called, “Have a blessed day!” I’m guessing that woman has never had a bad day. I could do nothing but stare blankly after her. I slowly turned my head and saw that the cashier was mirroring my look, or I was mirroring hers.

It suddenly occurred to me that it was my turn. I had to do this now. I only had three items, this should go fairly smoothly, right?

Then I noticed something. Her eyes weren’t crossed anymore! She blinked a few times and said, in a clear voice, “Geez, I can’t do that any longer! It’s giving me a headache!”

“Wha..” now it was my turn to be a drooling mess.

She just smiled, “Well, you gotta do something to have fun at this job! I’ve been here since early and I’m tired, and, well, it’s kinda boring.”

Realization of what just happened slammed into me and I giggled. Yeah, giggled. “Oh my god!”

She just smiled and blinked her eyes a few more times to clear them. I paid for my stuff and as I left I said, “Have a great day!”

She called back, in her special voice, “You, too!” which made me giggle again.


As I walked past the express line, the old men who had been lined up there when I lined up, were still checking out. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Spingtime!

I really like Spring in Texas. When I was a kid in Southern California, Autumn was my favorite time of year. The crisp air cools off enough that it doesn't feel like your lungs are on fire every time you breathe in. The fall colors of red, gold, and purple against the sapphire sky is a welcome change from the burnt out white sky and dull brown landscape of Summer. All that is still true for Texas, even more so since more of the trees here actually change color in Autumn (the trees are perpetually confused in Southern California and so change color when it suits the individual tree). So why have I developed a love of Texas Spring? One word: Wildflowers.

Texas State flower- the Bluebonnet. We have a carpet of them!
So pretty!

I have no idea what this is. It's in our yard, and it's gorgeous!

Even the pear tree is getting into the spirit of things. 
Heck! Even the pine tree is into it!
Plus, today we have thunder storms. That also comes with a dose of tornado warnings (stay safe out there y'all!), but being in the Hill Country, those threats are pretty minor. This morning's coffee sitting on the back porch was awesome! Lots of fork lightning, and LOUD thunder. Doesn't get much better than that.

Home of the future awesome garden. 
Also, we've started getting the veggie garden ready for planting. Those hay bales are getting very close to being ready to support our seedlings.

This weekend we did the HUGE job of moving the fish pond. I never want to do that again! Part of the process was replanting the water lilies. They've obviously been neglected for years because there are a lot of them. We have too many! So, we're selling a bunch. Unfortunately, if they don't go soon, we may wind up throwing most of them away. This little pond simply can't support so many.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Take your capitalism and shove it

Sigh.

So, first there was water spitting out under the house. We had to get the plumbers in to patch the pipes, dig up the yard to find and remove the blockage, and clear out the grey water outlet pipe.

Then the electricity started playing up, so we had to get the electrician out here to fix it. There's still a plastic bucket in the yard that is serving as a temporary fix because three thousand dollars is a LOT of money right now. Turns out whoever wired this place had no idea what they were doing and what they did was illegal. I'd still like to find the inspector we hired before we bought this place and deafen him with my outrage.

Then, the toilets stopped working and we had to call the plumbers again. Who, again, had to dig up the yard trying to find the septic tank. Turned out the septic tank probably hadn't been emptied for 20+ years and was full to the top. Had to have it pumped out. Was not expecting the pumping to cost $350 and was further shocked when we received the $500 bill from the plumber!

This weekend, the water tank stopped filling up. The controller has been flaky since we moved in, and we suspect it was the original installed when the pump was drilled in 1986. Usually, we could leave it and it would suddenly realize there was something it was supposed to be doing, and would pump away for a while until the tank was full. We knew we'd have to replace it one day, but did it really have to be now? Looked online, controllers aren't expensive. Looking at maybe $100 or so, which normally would be ok, except with all the other emergency bills lately it's going to take some magic to arrange things so that we don't have a big problem. Of course, the water tank is now empty, we can't wait for one to come in the mail, but luckily they carry them at the hardware store, too. Yay!

For $250.

To my credit I didn't say anything in the store. I did let Steve pay, though, because I couldn't. I was barely controlling the hysterical scream that wanted to burst out of my chest like that alien in that movie... you know, Alien.

So what's next? What's going to finally send me over the edge? I know there's more, there's always more, and none of it is good.

Last month I thought we might actually be able to make it. We were finally seeing a light at the end of the tunnel and I was starting to feel like we were making head way. I had such good hopes for 2016, and February has murdered each and every one. It's the second month of the year, and I think I'll just sleep for the rest of it. I didn't realize that light at the end of the tunnel was a dollar sign.