Friday, February 27, 2009

Light Blogging

Over the weekend. I'm at FarmBro and SIL's, playing with the munchkins.

They call it babysitting. I call it playtime.

Ya'll enjoy your weekend, cause I sure will!

Thursday, February 26, 2009


There is a practice, handed down from generation to generation in rural areas. It's used by city workers round about here to locate old pipes that never made it into the city diagrams.

This practice is much-maligned in some circles, and much heralded in others.

I'm talking about dowsing.

There is a lot of controversy over this particular subject even amongst those who believe it works. Some say that it is the body getting in tune with Mother Earth and communicating with the conscious mind through the medium of the pendulum or rods.

Others say it's an outside force pointing the rods and the dowser in the right direction.

A lot of people say it doesn't even exist.

Some of ya'll will believe, and some won't. It's up to you to make up your mind which group you fall into, and how you feel about it.

The man who's opinion I always respected most on the subject had little to say about it, really.

When asked, grandpa would say "We can do it, some folks can't. I don't know what it is, I don't know how it works, but then, I don't know much about how that dag gum teevee does it either, so that's all right."

Grandpa witched hundreds of wells, with scary accuracy. He could tell you where to drill a well, how deep you'd have to go, and how many gallons per hour the well would support. When people went missing, he was right there looking for them, too.

When Elizabeth Smart went missing, Grandpa called to offer his assistance. Shortly after that call was made, he came to the Old Homestead, bearing his rods.

After a short discussion with Farmmom, a hair brush that we both shared was stripped of a few hairs, those hairs were tied onto the rods, and we trooped outside.

I'd seen grandpa witch a well, and I'd seen Farmmom check the path of a water line, so I had an idea what was going on.

Grandpa told me "Stand here, hold the rods like this, loose, let 'em sag a bit, thats right, and close your eyes. Think about finding the person the hairs belong to."

He and Farmmom then walked in circles around me, and I tried to think about finding things.

One rod swung back and forth, following, near as I could tell, one set of footsteps, impeded by my shoulder as the person would walk behind me. The other rod swung immediately around and began bumping me on the shoulder.

After a while, grandpa told me to open my eyes. I was sure that I'd failed the test, and wasn't a dowser, given the wacky behavior of the rods.

Grandpa pursed his lips for a moment and then said "I've never seen anything like this."

Slightly dissapointed, I asked "So I'm not a water witch, then?"

"Weeeel, no, I think you are."

Remember I mentioned that they used hairs from a brush that Farmmom and I both used? Apparently, one rod had followed Farmmom like "a puppy on a string" in grandpa's words, and the other had never followed anyone, just flipped around and started bumping on my shoulder.

They got hairs from both of us.

The relevant authorities in Salt Lake declined Grandpa's help, something that bothered him until she was found. But he'd planned on dropping everything and taking Farmmom and I to help look for her.

After that, I spent some time experimenting with this strange talent, finding quarters tossed into the yard, things like that. Farmmom told me that she had to use copper rods, while her grandfather, grandpa's dad, had used a forked stick exclusively. She told me of how Great Grandpa would forget to wear gloves, and wind up with bloody hands from the stick twisting in his hands, pulling him this way and that.

It's a family tradition, she told me. Not everyone in the family can do it, but there's usually at least one in every generation.

"Never take money for finding a well," Grandpa told me. "It ain't something we learned to do, it's just something we can do." He got a thoughtful look in his eye, "When I was a kid, my dad told me we were just helpin' out the neighbors. When I got older, I figured that since I really didn't have nothin' to do with it, it wasn't right for me to charge folks."

The man would spend hours tromping through fields, finding a pocket of water and asking the rods about it. He did it right up till he physically couldn't do the tromping through the fields. And he never accepted a dime for it.

I've never witched a well. I've never been asked to, but I'm a dowser. It's one more piece of the heritage I inherited from my grandfather.

I believe, do you?

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


A lot of people talk about their knives. I've never really talked about mine, since it's less of a toy and more of a tool, for me.

See, everyone in my family has always had a pocket knife on them. Except for, for a few years, me. For a few years, I was in high school, not cutting twine, etc, and got tired of having the slip-in-the-front-pocket style knife jabbing me every time I sat down. So I quit carrying one.

Fast forward to my 18th year, when I started working road construction. Farmmom and I were running across a lot of situations that required a pocket knife, as you do when you work outdoors... and I didn't have one.

So, Farmdad dug in his myriad of knives and tossed me this one:

I had planned on carrying the big chunky thing for a few days, until I could find, and purchase, something of my own. Then I became comfortable with it, and I kept forgetting to get a new knife... and then I began to love it.

It's big, it's bulky, but it's my knife. After four years of every day carry, various cutting and hacking activities, that knife is nearly as much a part of my ensemble as my rings. I don't wear it when dressed up, but that's about it.

The clip allows me to slip it into my back pocket, clipped over the outside of the pocket, and know exactly where it is at all times, unlike the no-clip models I'd tried before.

In this picture you can see two places on the grip which look like there ought to be something in them:

There used to be. Those slight hollows used to be the home of two pieces of fancy skateboard tape... on steroids, I guess. It was the same style of "grip" material, except more so. They were glued in with something that seemed to be a molecular bond... and I wore them out. Not only did I wear them out but they came loose in the middle, first. Not as surprising as it might be, considering the small screw holes that they were concealing. I have no idea what was intended to be screwed into those holes, but they're threaded and everything. The grippy-bits been gone for a couple of years now.

The finish is beaten, battered, scratched, worn away, and otherwise abused, as you can see. But the blade is just fine:

The blade lock has never malfunctioned on me, opening or closing, and while it has been sharpened with everything from a restaurant grade motorized knife sharpener to a steel from a high-end set of kitchen knives, it's always gotten the job done for me.

No matter whether the job is cutting twine, re-adjusting a loose screw, prying open a paint can, picking muck out from under my fingernails, trimming a mane, removing cockleburrs from various of my furry children, or, once, as a visual aid during an offer to cure that whole "testosterone" problem, this knife has gotten it done.

I can operate it one-handed, despite its size, and wouldn't trade it for all the shiny little toys in the world.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Happy Birthday!

Today is FarmBro's birthday, tomorrow is his anniversary. Since I know my SIL occasionally reads this blog, I'm gonna go ahead and drop them a line so they don't think I forgot them when I say....

Happy Birthday LawDog!

I figure since I've met him, and happen to know when his birthday is, it's only polite to wish him a good one!

The post office wouldn't let me mail a stripper general delivery, though. Something about regulations......

I have to confess that when I started this blog, I didn't read many myself. LawDog's was one of them. In a way, I suppose you could call him my BlogFather, since it was while I was reading his blog that I decided to start mine.

Or maybe I'm the illegitimate BlogLoveChild of both him, and AD since both of them really inspired me through their stories to give this whole thing a shot.

So thanks guys, for being such excellent writers, and down-right good folks, and for making a crazy skinny chick in Colorado think that just maybe, she might have something to say that the blogosphere might be interested in hearing....

Now write more!*

*Yep, I slipped a plea for more entertainment into a touching post. I'm that shameless. *snicker*

Monday, February 23, 2009

Quick Note

A few days ago I posted a giggle (well it made me giggle) about someone finding my blog through a search for "why the FBI is looking for me" or some such...

Poking through the sitemeter, there are more of them.

Folks, if you're wondering the whys, hows, and wherefores of the Federal Bureau of Investigation... This blog is not where to find it.

It disturbs me enough that folks are finding me through these searches that I'm contemplating going back and removing the post that's leading them to me.....

And now, back to your regularly scheduled roofing.

Musings on Writing, and It's Effects Upon Those Around You

I've fallen into bad habits, whilst away at college.

See, when I started this little blog a while back (frankly I'd have to get into my posts and go all the way back to the first to tell you when it happened) I wasn't living alone.

As such, I had trained myself not to go completely insane when I was writing and someone would feel the urge to talk to me, change the TV channel, sneeze, twitch, cough, scratch themselves, breathe, or otherwise interrupt my writing Zen.

As Heinlein said: (Gimme a minute to search the intarwebz for the exact quote, as my copy of The Cat Who Walks Through Walls is in my car, and it's cold out there, and I'm in my PJ's) ((Great Googly Moogly, how can it be this hard to find that quote?? Who in their right mind doesn't know that it's one of the greatest quotes on writing of all time, and post it prominently on any collection of quotes by the Grand Master of Science Fiction???))

Ok, side track here, folks, I realize that there is a more... base... quote about writing than the one I intended. However, the quote I'm searching for is more complete, highly accurate in my experience, and danged skippy brilliant.

So all you Heinleinites compiling quotations pages, step away from the implied mental masturbation* and think for a moment, will you?

Ok, here's the quote (After locating tenny-runners, donning said tenny-runners, stomping out to my car, and retrieving the book.... damnit that's my emergency book.):

".... Writing is anti-social. It's as solitary as masturbation. Disturb a writer when he is in the throes of creation and he is likely to turn and bite right to the bone... and not even know that he's doing it. As writers' wives and husbands often learn to their horror. And- attend me carefully Gwen!- there is no way that writers can be tamed and rendered civilized. Or even cured. In a household with more than one person, of which one is a writer, the only solution known to science is to provide the patient with an isolation room, where he can endure the acute stages in private, and where food can be poked in to him with a stick. Because, if you disturb the patient at such times, he may break into tears or become violent. Or he may not hear you at all... and if you shake him at this stage, he bites." -- Colonel Colin Campbell/Richard Ames, The Cat Who Walks Through Walls, by Robert Anson Heinlein.

Now, to me, this is a perfect explanation of the writing process. I do tend to snap at people for derailing my train of thought, if I'm out of practice in dealing with such interruptions. I did manage to train myself to be somewhat less violent, while living with the Farmparents, and they are understanding of the condition in a way that only people who have lived with such occurrences for years can be.

It helped that they avoided directly interrupting me while I was writing, unless it was absolutely necessary.

Staying with Mamaw and Step Grandpa, however, has made me realize how nice I had it while I was away from home. (I love you guys, really, and it's not your fault I get snippy, not really.)

See, when I was in my own place, if I got the urge to write, I simply turned on some music to drown out the sounds of the neighbors and random street activities, and wrote.

I might snarl a bit if the phone rang, but really, I was interruption free.

Now that I have some more free time on my hands, I've been trying to write more. Of course, I'm also co-habitating with other people. It becomes somewhat tense when I'm in the middle of a phrase that I'm not quite sure how I want to finish, to all appearances staring at the screen with a faraway look in my eye, and someone asks me a perfectly reasonable question.

Occasionally, it derails my train of thought to the extent that the clean up crew can't find any survivors, and the entire thing is scrapped. Which doesn't help the whole cranky writer syndrome.

I'm not the world's greatest writer, but the need to write does not care how good the writing is, it just cares that you write. The quality is dictated by the person, the quantity by that strange urge that, in myself, seems to manifest itself as a twitching in my fingertips. When I have written enough, the twitching goes away.

My hard drive is not full of things that I've written that will never see the light of day. The practice of going through a writer's things after they've shuffled off this mortal coil and hailing that Lo! We have discovered Never Before Published Material! has always slightly disgusted me... the writing of Variable Star and other works which a writer started, or intended to start, is excepted from this, however.

In those cases, the writer either intended what they'd written to be seen, or planned on them being of a quality to be seen. In the case of a sheet of notebook paper shoved in the back of a file cabinet, covered in scribbled handwriting, I feel that it's a case of the urge to write without the ability to ensure quality, at that particular moment. Lacking the testicular fortitude to look at said scribblings, realize that they're crap, and destroy the evidence, or perhaps having the all too common feeling (I get it myself) that everything they write is a piece of themselves (true) but not being able to bear parting with it (bushwa, to steal a phrase from LawDog) they stuff it in the back of the drawer hoping that no one will see it.

Of course, if a writer achieves any measure of fame, upon their death things will be gone through and those things will, inevitably, see the light of day.

In an effort to curtail the publication of such examples of the need to write without the ability to make it quality stuff, should I ever achieve the level of notoriety required (I plan ahead,) I often type up things, read them through, realize they are complete crap, and promptly delete them. No hard copy, no electronic copy, they exist nowhere but in my mind.

Occasionally these pieces of drivel which I have culled from the herd later spark a good idea, so I still write them. I just don't let anyone see them, and get rid of the evidence faster than you can say "flush."

The Ex witnessed me writing, and I explained the snappishness thing to him, but he asked me, one memorable evening, how the book was coming.

"It's not, I'm blocked."

"But, you've just spent the last two hours staring at the computer and typing."

"Yep, I was writing."

"But not the book."


"Was it more weird stuff?" (He found my taste for werewolves, fanciful mental powers, and talking animals a bit strange...)

"Nope. It was a treatise on the habits, appetites and behaviors of the common phallic appendage." **

"Can I read it?"

"Nope." (Cue offended look.)

"Why not?!?"

"Because it doesn't exist anymore."


"I deleted it."


"Because it was crap."

"But, you edit stuff, right? Go back and re-write it..."

"It had no purpose. There was no reason for it, and it was crap anyway."

Confusion abounded. Why write, if I wasn't going to keep what I wrote?

Because I had to. The twitch was in my fingertips, and if I hadn't written something, I would have wound up even crankier than when my train of thought gets derailed in the middle of a scene.

Writing. It's the monkey on my back. And there is no Detox.

So here's my public apology to my family and friends for all of the times I've bitten, or snarled, or snapped, when I've been writing. And my public thank you for understanding!

* "Writing is nothing to be ashamed of, but do it in private and wash your hands afterwords." The most famous Heinlein quote on writing, apparently. While the concept of mental masturbation in writing may be accurate, really, there are other, better quotes!

** Yes, I did write this. No, it doesn't exist anymore.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

On The Other Hand...

Today I was reminded, in a pleasant way, that chivalry is not dead, Gentlemen still exist, and they somehow turn up in El Marto Del Wal on occasion.

Purchased a wire kennel for the Fuzzy Pup today, since he's a Houdini and I haven't (yet) been able to locate the escape hatch he's using this time... Normally, if I'm not around, I put the pups outside to enjoy the day, which they think is just fine. However, with Fuzzy Pup going a-visitin, and I suspect likely a-courtin (what kind of schnauzer mixes will show up around here?) that's not really an option.

Mamaw, being a firm believer in the pup-containing powers of a baby-gate, purchased one for use in shutting the pups in the kitchen, on the tile, when no one was home.

I had my doubts, and after two attempts, this plan was abandoned.

First time, Fuzzy Pup found the gallon of canola oil that Mamaw had set out of tripping range near the nifty cart that holds her microwave.

His coat was nice and shiny, though.

Second time, Mamaw made a sweep to make sure that any containers not utilizing a mechanical closure (and twist-tops don't count, he got the lid off the gallon jug without damaging it's effectiveness) containing foodstuffs or other "interesting" stuff were out of pup range....

And he opened the flour-jar that takes a rocket scientist, two PHD's, and a mechanic to operate properly.

So, she checked on the price of kennels. Now, I'm not against kenneling dogs when you're not home. Farmdog doesn't require such treatment but she's a well behaved pooch and for most of her "oh, that looks really interesting/tasty/confusing/it's gonna eat me so I must destroy it first" days she was riding around in the car with me, not home alone.

A couple of times spanking her with a shoe (it was a cheap foam flip-flop, relax... it was like spanking her with a wet noodle) she'd chewed was enough to get the point across that her toys were her toys, and people toys were people toys, and never the twain shall meet. "Not Yours" causes her to instantly abandon whatever object she was investigating and look slightly guilty.

Fuzzy Pup, on the other hand, is in the height of his "everything is mine and I'll do as I please with it" stage... which is seemingly aggravated by his being a male and intact.

Or maybe it's a schnauzer thing, or a Fuzzy Pup thing. This is after all the same dog that heels pretty well perfectly off leash (if I can get that "no" or "leave it" command through his thick head to the full-stop point, he'll never have to wear a leash again) but will run and hit the end of a leash, with no provocation, mind you, hard enough to flip himself over backwards. Repeatedly.

I think he likes it.

Anyway, he's already half kennel-trained, if a little spoiled to being a free-range pup, since Bestest Friend, who gifted him to me (she breeds the fuzzy little critters) kennels her two bitches and her stud. They're house-dogs, no doubt, family pets, but they get crated when no one is home, and momma and pups are crated pretty well constantly until the pups are ready to start exploring. (Ample potty-breaks for momma, no worries, but Bestest Friend says that Fuzzy Pup's mom, anyway, will close the crate door herself if someone leaves it open.)

Anywho, back to the original point, we needed a crate. Local dept store had only a 20 inch model, not really what we needed, so Mamaw told me to get one at El Marto Del Wal.

Of course the things were on the top shelf, and of course someone had shoved a mangled box from the stack of the size up from what we needed over on top of the stack of the size we needed.

So Farmmom and I are standing there, pondering this situation, and I reach up to check the feasibility of getting the danged thing myself. No dice, I could take down the larger crate and then get the smaller one that I wanted, but that would necessitate leaving the larger crate sitting on the floor. I couldn't shove it back over onto its proper stack myself.

I am not a fan of creating more work for folks who don't get paid all that much anyway, not to mention the inherent rudeness of leaving the box sitting somewhere that it might be in the way of Grannie Goodcookies trying to get kibble for her beloved Pomeranian.

"Better get an Associate," I proclaimed sagely, and Farmmom and I both turned, only to spot a man that can only be described as a gen-u-wine Long Tall Drink Of Water perusing the treat aisle behind us.

He looked up, looked at me (5'7) looked at Farmmom (5'mumblemumble, but shorter than me) looked at the top shelf, and very politely asked, "Do you Ladies need some help?"

"Um. Well, we just need to get a kennel down, but I can't quite manage it myself so I was going to get..." (Not being one to impose, it didn't really occur to me to request his help. Frankly I was boggling slightly at being addressed as a lady while wearing a brown Queen of the Lake hat, orange hoodie, tahr-smeared Wranglers and beat-up Thorogood boots.)

"Which one do you need?"

"Um. The smaller one?"

And thusly he reached up (not near as much a reach for him as it was for me) and shoved over the larger kennel, retrieving, and placing in our basket, the one we wanted.

Me being me, I opined:

"It sure is nice to have tall people in the world!"

So, nice man with the rather spiffy hand-tooled(?) leather belt and the plaid shirt, if you assisted two women to retrieve a wire dog crate in El Marto Del Wal today, Thank You.

Frankly, you did a bit more than save us a bit of a walk to find whatever Pimply Faced Youth they had working the pet section today.

Growing up in a county where the standard used to be that a gentleman tipped his hat, cowboy or ball cap, to a female as she walked by, held the door in that understated sort of "I was standing here anyhow" way*, and generally assisted folks of both sexes wherever he saw a need, I've been a little discouraged lately.

See, our current Sheriff (whom I've ranted about before, I know, but trust me this one is a tiny one) not only doesn't tip his hat to us setters (he doesn't wear one,) but he declines even a genteel nod to acknowledge our presence. Or the presence of anyone, really. The finer points of Country Manners are lost on him entirely.

As a result, the Deputies have ceased such practices as well. Two Sheriffs ago, if a Deputy had failed to hold a door for a lady in the presence of the Sheriff, or if the Sheriff had even heard that the deputy had failed in his duty to be courteous and helpful to the residents of our fair county, said Deputy would have been quietly called into the back office and dressed down but good.

There used to be a belief that the elected officials, and their hirelings, should be good role-models to the younger generation. Strangely enough, it worked, to a certain extent. While the young males of the county did not routinely hold doors for their female friends, they did so for dates and elders. Things like that.

It seems lately that less of that kind of etiquette is being practiced anywhere, and it saddens me. Such niceties are the social lubricants that keep members of society from rubbing together too hard and starting to smoke.

So thank you, Nice Man. You've reminded me that there are still Country Gentlemen out there, who may not make grand gestures but make a habit instead of small gestures, with greater impact.

I feel better, being reminded.

* This right here is why I'm so awkward when a man quite obviously opens a door for me, or holds out a chair. It's always been such an understated gesture here, that it's a bit of a shock to realize that, hey wow, there's a guy holding a door for me! The understated nature of the door-holding does not, of course, preclude me from saying "thank you" as I pass, or at the very least offering a small smile and nod. Social lubricants, like I said.


My head was full of snark.

I found myself, whilst on the roof struggling with a falling-apart paint brush to smear roofin tahr (not roofing tar, roofin tahr... like the dog says.... it's a hick thing,) contemplating what that stuff must be made of. Not the ingredients on the can, that's obviously a lie, since no man-made substance, not supplemented by witchcraft, can possibly be that damned sticky. And goopy. And gloppy. All at the same time.

Here's what I've come up with so far:

Two parts drool from the Hounds of Hell, collected whilst they sleep and dream of daisies and rainbows.

One part tears of an obsessed man (these are most likely obtained outside of Angelina Jolie's house...)

A waft of lies, (best effects if collected from a man drunk on "two beers")

And most importantly, if least available, two drops of honest working sweat from Sumdood's brow.

The fact that these ingredients would make only a small amount doesn't deterr me from believing I'm on the right track... the stuff multiplies anyway. Then drips crawl off from the "mother" smear and wait in ambush for an unsuspecting roofer to step on them, and spread them everywhere.

Also, happened to be in El Marto Del Wal today searching for additional roofing supplies, ran across some... er... well political correctness specifies that I say hispanic but let's face it, this dude was a vato.

Anywho, we're walking along behind this shaved head vato and I happen to see something on the back of his head. I figured he had one of those weird-ass haircuts I've been seeing everywhere, with the head shaved all the way to the back, but leaving enough hair to shave a pattern into on the very back of the head.

Those things are bad enough, but worse, I was wrong.

This guy had a tattoo on the back of his head. A word. His.... name???

I dunno, maybe it was a nickname, but it said "Bato."

I looked at Farmmom with some confusion and asked "Does that guy have his name tattooed on the back of his head??"

"Well, he's got something tattooed on the back of his head, I don't know if it's his name, but we could ask..."

Always helpful, my mother.

Anyway, I pondered this for a minute, as it struck me as so absurd that there had to be a reason.

Finally, putting together his appearance (clothing, not race,) demeanor, and the quality of the tatt (looked like either a very well done prison job, or a very poorly done professional job,) I figured it out.

It's so that his cellmate doesn't forget Bato's name when he's tappin' dat... er... I mean... when they're getting acquainted.

It's the only thing that makes sense to me, anyway....

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Another Taste...

For those of you who are new, or need a refresher on Jane, go here and then here and finally here.

I give you, Chapter Four..... Not polished, but really none of what I've put up here so far is what I'd consider polished, and ya'll haven't complained yet...

Jane got back to her apartment that evening exhausted. Meredith had quizzed them in her class, on anatomy and diseases of the respiratory system. Jane’s memory was good, but with all of the various ailments of a horse’s lungs, it was an overload.

She tossed her book bag in a corner and flopped onto the couch, breathing a sigh of relief that the day was over with. She loved being in school, and she was good at her classes, but sometimes she wished she could do everything but the riding class online. Keeping her shields up all the time was absolutely necessary in the highly-charged emotional environment of the college. So many people, feeling so many things, it was overwhelming if she let her shields slip at all.

She never wished she didn’t have her dual talents, but she often wondered what life was like for all of the people who didn’t have those odd little quirks that set her family and many of her friends apart from the majority of society. She wondered if life was easier if you couldn’t read people’s emotions, or talk to animals.

Her phone buzzed at her hip, and she groaned, but grabbed it anyway, looking at the caller ID. Seeing the name, she grinned, and answered.

“Hey, mom!” Jane propped one arm behind her head, holding the phone with her other. “What’s up?”

“Hey pumpkin, just called to give you an update on Buck. He’s settling in fine, but he still won’t stay in the pasture. He insists on being in a stall at night.” Marie Marx sounded tired, to Jane’s trained ear.

“Well, my vote is to let him go out when he feels comfortable. Just leave the door open on the stall. He’s not going to go very far from the herd, after all.”

“You’re right, and I finally got your father convinced to do just that. He thought we should lead Buck back and forth to increase his human contact, and I told him when Buck wants human contact, he’ll come get it. He’s a personable horse, he just needs time to heal.” Jane thought her mother sounded distracted, which was unusual. She was working hard with Buck, trying to help him as much as she could, without pushing.

“Ok, mom, what’s going on?”

“Nothing, pumpkin, everything is fine.”

“And I’m the Pope. Spill, you know you’re going to anyway.” Something was worrying her mother, and Jane was going to find out what it was.

“I thought you couldn’t read people over the phone!”

“I can’t, not that way, but I know you too well to miss that you’ve got something on your mind.” Jane smiled slightly. Her parents had never been able to hide their feelings from her, but her mother never stopped trying to be a mom and keep her worries from her child, anyway.

“Well, actually,” Marie sighed softly, “George is pregnant again.”

“Oh, no, mom, you aren’t listening in on the kits, are you? You know she always loses at least one of them. You’re the one that told me not to listen for them until they’re actually born!” George was a gray fox vixen that had lived under the shed at her parents’ ranch for as long as Jane could remember. No one really remembered how she’d gotten the name George, but the vixen was amused by it, and used to spend hours with Jane trying to say the name vocally. She’d gotten pretty good at it over the years, much to the amusement of Jane’s father.

They only rarely caught glimpses of George’s mate, and only once had he talked to them, when George got caught in a live trap on the neighbors land. They’d taken to calling the shy male Fred after George had made the attempt to introduce everyone.

“I can’t help it, sweetheart, I worry. Anyway, they’re just starting to really think, and everyone seems fine, except that they’re already thinking about how cramped they are. I think she’s got a big litter this time.” George normally had three or four kits to a litter, and had no problems, but gray foxes could have up to seven.

“Mom, there’s nothing we can do for her, or them. We just have to wait it out, and if it gets dangerous, try to convince her to go to the vet.” Jane knew her mother was in for heartache if she kept listening to the kits. She’d become attached to them all, and mourn the ones that were lost at birth.

A knock at the door announced Trev’s arrival, hopefully with food. “Mom, I’ve got to go, Trev is here to study. Stay out of George’s belly, ok? I’ll come down tomorrow and check on her.” Jane had always had a better record for reading pregnancies than her mother, and she could hear the babies more clearly. Her father thought it was the combination of her two talents, her mother thought it was because she’d spent so much time with the pregnant mares and cows when she was little.

“Ok, sweetheart. Thank you.” There was a little relief in Marie’s tone, and Jane felt better about her decision to go home and check on the kits. If it would ease her mother’s mind, it was well worth the drive.

“I love you, Mom, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“I love you too, pumpkin.” Jane ended the call as she pulled the door open to see Trev holding up two bags of take-out Chinese food in one hand, and a stack of papers in the other.

“Take these to your dad when you go tomorrow.” Trev handed her the papers and made a beeline for her kitchen, getting plates and silverware.

“Hi to you too,” Jane said as she glanced through the papers, “what are these?”

Trev turned from unloading the bags, a fork in one hand and an open container of fried rice in the other. “Flashes. I don’t know what they all add up to, but your dad asked me to write down all the bad stuff I get flashes of. I think he’s trying to find a way to make precog more useful, by collecting the bits and pieces we get that never make sense until after the fact, and putting them all together.”

“That’s actually a pretty smart idea. You fortune tellers never seem to see the whole picture until it’s too late, or nearly too late. If you’re not all seeing the same snippets, maybe they can be pieced together into something resembling a clue.” Jane laid the papers down on the coffee table and joined Trev in the kitchen, loading her plate with her favorites before sitting down at her tiny table.

“That seems to be the idea.” Trev sat next to her and started digging into his plate full of food.

“So who is trying to piece all of the information together? That’s gotta be a big job, there’s what, fifteen people with precog in the area?”

“Eighteen. My mom found a set of twins that just came into their talent last week. They’re only fourteen, but she says they’re strong.”

“But who’s the poor schmuck who has to go through all of that?” Jane stuffed a bite of broccoli beef into her mouth, savoring the rich flavor and feeling some of her tension ease away at the comfort of having her best friend with her. She could always count on Trev to know what she needed, sometimes before she did. They’d been friends for so long that they didn’t even bother finishing each other’s sentences anymore.

“Um. Your dad’s been doing it, but he’s going to ask you to take over this weekend. He wants to get the next two books out, before the conclave. It’s the empaths’ turn to finance it, remember?” The supe community took turns hosting the major event so that no one had too much of a financial burden. Jane’s father contributed the most to the fund for the empaths, because he had the most income.

Jane stopped chewing and stared at Trev. She swallowed hastily and glared at him across the table, “You couldn’t have given me a little more warning on this?” She couldn’t take on any more responsibilities, she was swamped!

“I only got it this afternoon. I think he hadn’t made up his mind that he couldn’t do it himself until he got the stack from the two new girls.” Trev looked sheepish. He tried to warn her of the big things that he saw that would impact her, but he didn’t always see everything.

Jane sighed, “It’s ok, I’ll find some way to do it.”

“You always do,” Trev said around a mouthful of eggroll. “Anyway, what class do you have a test to study for?”

They finished their meal, and broke out the books. The evening was full of quizzing each other back and forth, and laughter. It wasn’t the first time they’d studied together, and they had their routine down. When Trev finally left Jane was still exhausted, but she was in a much better mood.

She sat down on the couch, wanting to go to bed but needing to figure out how she was going to take on the added responsibility of sorting through all of the random flashes of the precogs.

She chewed her thumbnail and stared blankly across the room for a while, until her computer chimed with an email, drawing her eye. She laughed suddenly, much relieved. Then she got up and went to bed.

A Question for The Fiction Writers Out There....

When I write, there's somewhat of a brain-disconnect. The back of my mind knows the story, and the front of my mind occasionally throws out a "Wait! Rephrase that..." but that's about all the action the front of my mind gets until the re-write.

So occasionally, I'll write eight or nine pages, and go back to check for any gross errors, just a quick scan, and have a moment where I think:

Now why in the hell did I put that irrelevant little tidbit in there?

If I can't figure it out right away, I'll leave it alone and leave the story alone for a bit, and then go back. If I still can't figure it out, I label it useless and take it out....

Sometimes though, I'll be re-reading, and the back of my mind will let the front of my mind in on the joke, and I suddenly know why I put that in, where it ties in later in the story, and what the significance is... all at once.

Does that happen to anyone else or is it just yet another example of how I'm really weird?

Friday, February 20, 2009

You Little......!

Well. Swung by to check the cows on the way home from the chiropractor this afternoon.

May I say, I love my chiropractor?? She's an amazon of a woman, who never hesitates to yell at me when I throw myself too far out of whack and wait too long to go see her, but greets me every time with a hug and a smile regardless of how much work I make for her. She folds me into positions that ought to be impossible for the human body to achieve, and yet, I feel better when she's done.

Not to mention she has known me since I was tiny and has been my chiropractor since the first time I needed one. She knows all of my own personal body quirks, put me back together after six weeks in an immobilizer when I broke my arm, and just goes ahead and adjusts me all over because she knows that if one thing is out of whack I've probably thrown the rest of it out too.

Ok love fest over.

Anyway, checked on the cows and spent a little time just standing outside the car looking everyone over... and of course the curious calves had to check out the car.

Every one of my windows has the bovine stamp of approval (nose prints and slobbers,) along with all four tires.

Anyway, when I went to get back in the car I realized I'd left my driver's side window down.

I realized this because one of the larger calves was trying to figure out if my seat cover is edible.

Wild cattle that we have, I walked up close enough to smack the calf before he moved, and I shooed him back to the rest.

Then I looked down, and my soda cup was tipped to one side. Not spilled, but tipped in the cup holder.

And the straw was missing.

Little sucker tried to steal my soda and, failing... stole my straw!

That'll teach me to leave my window down, I guess...

Thursday, February 19, 2009


If you're asking... you probably already know...

And no, I don't want to know what you did with the body, even if it was a "really super cool idea."


When I got my new laptop, I had the bright idea to dump everything off the old one onto the external drive. I'd get the old laptop wiped, and get through the move, and be able to take my time doing hard back-ups.

Good Idea, no?

Not when the USB port on your external hard drive case goes bad...

I wanted to get at something on the external drive yesterday, so I plugged it in to the wall (no drawing power from my laptop... it's hard on the battery!) and plugged it into the laptop, and waited for the puter and the external drive to get all friendly again.

Except... they didn't. No real panic, probably the cable got messed up. So today I found another cable and tried it. No dice.... then I tried both cables on another computer, just in case Vista was the problem.

No Love.


Had a bit of a freak out when I realized I couldn't access the information (everything off my old laptop, which equates to about 99.8% of my computing info that's not backed up...) and got ahold of BrotherBrian.

BrotherBrian told me it was more likely the USB than the drive itself, which let me breathe a sigh of relief, but told me to test the drive before ordering a new case for it.

Which of course involved a little techno-geekery, pulling the drive out of the old case and plugging it into the extra slot on Mamaw's E-Machine. Not a lot of geekery, mind, but at least I knew which plug to look for...

I actually did a little happy dance when I started up Mamaw's tower and realized the drive wasn't pooched.

So, the external is back in the faulty case (to keep crap out of it and to keep everything in one place for later) and set aside, info that I wanted to access, the reason I tried to get into the external in the first place, is pulled off onto thumb drives, and a new casing for it is ordered.

Relief, thy name is Mass Storage Device Detected.

Sunday, February 15, 2009


I've been doing some more writing lately, working on Jane. I've got another two chapters just banged out, and I'm going to get as much done in the rough so to speak as I can stand to do before I go back and polish them up for posting.

What ya'll are getting of Jane on here is still what I consider "rough"... changes will be made down the line. There are some things that I still need to go back and fill in, but the bones of the story are there, and readable.

Once I get the skeleton finished, so to speak, I'll go back and polish the whole thing to a high shine before I start shopping publishers... And I may do a couple more chapters and leave ya'll hanging, just because I don't want to wind up hearing "well it's good, but it's all already on your blog."

I haven't decided yet, but at least now you folks know I'm still working on it, and I may even have some writer style input on it soon, which will be immensely helpful.

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thank God It's Over

Yay! Crass commercial exploitation of a long-standing argument between the sexes!!!

...... Scuse me a moment while I mop up my sarcasm.

Ok, now that that's done...

Today was just another day for me. Sure, I had reminders that I'd rather have skipped, but hell, I'm almost getting used to that.

Also, the day pretty much sucked from the standpoint of accomplishing things...

Someone turned my horses out of the corral, so I couldn't take them up to D. Couldn't take time to catch them again today, because if we did, we'd miss the start of the sale.

Which would have been the whole reason I put the damn horses in the corral in the first place.

Went to the sale, they didn't have any billy goats. Had a couple of kids that would one day grow up to be billys, but we really weren't looking to buy bait.

There weren't even more than a couple of good views at the sale...

I tell ya, it was a hell of a waste of good Wranglers, in that place today.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Coyote Training

Ya know, some of em are learning "Play Dead" really well....

Can I Borrow...


FarmBro's birthday (and anniversary) is coming up.

FarmBro has been having to borrow rifles from Farmdad to go shoot coyotes.

So last night the Farmparents went over to Bro and Sis In Law's house to visit a bit. Bro had gotten called back into work for something, and wasn't home, so the Farmparents hung around for a bit visiting with SIL...

When Bro walked in, Farmmom told him "I need a favor."

Bro, figuring she needed him to build something or fix something or lift something, groaned quietly to himself.


"I need to borrow a rifle."

"Um, ok? What do you need?"

At this point I figure Bro was trying to decide which .22 rifle he was more willing to have destroyed. Considering the amount of firepower at the Farmparents' house, this is the only conceivable reason that Farmmom would need to borrow a rifle from him.

"A .223"

Reports say that Bro was, understandably, looking at Farmmom like she'd gone off the deep end. He didn't own a .223, had never owned a .223, and here was his mother asking him to borrow one....

"I don't have..... dayum."

Farmdad had picked up the box containing the .223 rifle that was Bro's birthday present.

From the sounds of things, it's pretty nice... If I can pry it out of his hands long enough I'll get pictures and post them.


In other news, Eldest Nephew is getting a running start on FarmBro's ER visit record.

See, Eldest Nephew has a fun game. He's got a pair of John Deere boots ("Just like yours Auntie Farmgirl!") that he loves to wear. However, when he takes those boots off, he likes to fling them over his head to hear the thumping sound they make when they hit the floor. No amount of "Don't do that, you're going to break something" has managed to curb this activity. At least not when he's out of Bro and SIL's immediate sight line.

So the other night he takes his boots off, and flings them, and one of them hits the light fixture directly above his head.

Yep, broke the light fixture, kiddo got cut. Right by his eye, so we're really thankful that he wasn't hurt worse.

(This, of course, on top of his previous attempts at killing himself by falling through a window onto a patch of winter-trimmed rosebush stumps, and whizzing in a plugged in lamp.... Really, it amazes me sometimes that the males in our family survive long enough to reach puberty, let alone reproduce.)

Off to the ER they go. The Doc on call just happened to be the one that took care of 90% of Bro's visits when he was going through his accident prone stage (we're talking at least one visit to the Emergency Room per month for like... a year and a half.)

SIL sees the Doc coming in, and having worked at the hospital back in the day, so to speak, smarts off, "At least it's not one of your frequent flyers!"

Doc looks at her, looks at Eldest Nephew, looks back at SIL and just says:


He didn't quite manage to get stitches, Doc used the fancy dancy skin glue instead. This, of course, means that he'll try harder next time. He's a little boy, it's what they do....

Thursday, February 12, 2009


Been sick the last few days with some kind of bug, but I think I'm finally getting over it.

Tomorrow, I have to go out and get a couple of the horses penned so that I can load them Saturday morning and take em up to D, who is going through horses to ride at the sale barn just about as fast as he can borrow them.. I'm taking him Legs and Red, because they need the work.

I also have to unload stuff from the trailer so that I have something to haul them IN.

Saturday, take the ponies to D, and then on up to another sale barn to see if I can't pick up a goat.

Yes, I said a goat.

See, if you've got a (one, singular) billy goat with your cattle, the goat will chase off coyotes.

Llamas will do the same thing, but I just don't want to deal with one of those nasty suckers.... much more work than a goat. Not to mention they're flat out mean and they bite and spit.

So, I need to go to the auction and see if I can get a big ugly billy goat.

That is, if I can come up with a pickup that will pull the trailer and two horses that far, and back with the goat. Farmmom's truck is having some serious issues, and I really don't want to be crawling under the hood with duct tape every ten minutes.

Nope, not joking. Kinda wish I was.....

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Other folks have said many things on this subject, so I'm gonna leave it short and sweet...

Preparedness is not crazy people wearing camo all the time and stockpiling guns and ammo.

Preparedness is "Just In Case."

Just In Case you lose your job.

Just In Case there's a tornado, or a hurricane, or a monster snowstorm.

Just In Case something goes wrong, preparedness is being able to deal with the situation easily, comfortably, and without relying on others that may not be able to get to you, or you to them.

Whether a minor emergency situation (being snowed in with no way to get out) or a major one (hurricane wipes out everything in your area)... It's smart to be at least marginally prepared for the kinds of things that are common to your area.

Wanna know more? Check out Mark's Blogtalk show this Friday. He's having some folks that know a lot more than I do about the subject on.

If I don't catch it the night it's on, I'll definitely be listening to the archived version.... No knowledge is wasted knowledge.

(Seriously? A refund from the power company??? I could handle that!)

Sunday, February 8, 2009


It seems to me that I need to revisit this topic (covered previously in this post) since I've gotten several questions about it since I posted it.

Many of the suggestions I made in that post were accepted with minimal explanation, but I keep getting questions about the part where I talked about screaming.

I figured I covered it pretty well there at the time, but since I'm still getting questions, I'll address it again.

Some of the folks who have now met me can attest to the fact that I am not going to win a real wrestling match. I can take all the classes I like, any martial art you care to name, and the pure-dee fact of it is, if an attacker is big enough, they can sit on me and pretty much neutralize any real physical threat to themselves.

Not that I'm not going to make them pay in pain for every inch on the way there, but cripes folks, I'm little.

Being a practical kind of girl, I sat down years ago and thought about it. What would I do, if I were attacked?

Then I formulated a basic set of contingency plans (which seems to me to be the thing to do, think about it before you have to put those plans into action, so that you don't waste time) and went to the Farmparents and discussed them.

Farmdad had some good input, as did Farmmom, and I incorporated those things I thought would work for me into my battle plan, so to speak.

Slow-speed runs on certain self-defense moves with Farmdad were an occaisonal evening activity for several years.

But the one thing that I always run across that people question is the effacacy of the scream.

"Save your breath for fighting," some folks say... or "No one pays attention to a scream."

Ok, then, if no one pays attention, why don't you try going into downtown (city or small town, it doesn't matter) and screaming your head off.

Me, I tend to be a worst-case scenario kind of girl when it comes to self-defense. I figure if I plan for the guy who's too quick, too tough, too hopped up on something or other to really care what I do to him physically short of breaking the brain-nerve circuit, then I'll be pleasantly surprised if it winds up being the wussy little dude that cries as soon as you yank on his wedding tackle.

Part of that worst-case plan is this: he's going to get ahold of me in such a way that there really isn't much I can do to hurt him. It's possible, cops do it all the time, to much bigger people than me.

So, the plan says scream. I have practiced my scream, and the effects seem to be two-fold. One, everyone within hearing range comes to see what the hell is going on. Two, everyone in close range complains that it hurts their ears.

Hell, it hurts my ears. But, that's a good thing.

It's a distraction. And, long shot but still worth trying for in the worst case scenario, it may distract the attacker enough that I can manage to squirm free, and/or hurt him in some significant way.

It seems to me that any chance of getting away or getting some of my own is worth while in a situation where a person is attacking me. If it comes down to the point that I feel the need to defend myself, Big Hairy Bad Guy sure as hell ain't trying to take me home to meet his mother for tea.

If I can make enough of a nuisance of myself, or draw enough attention, there's a chance that he'll give up.

If nothing else, it's likely he'll try to shut me up to stop me from drawing said attention, which means taking one of the hands that's restraining me away and putting it over my mouth. That results in a better chance of me getting away or causing damage.

I can take being beaten. I might even be able to take being raped. What I can't stomach is the thought of doing nothing to stop someone intent on doing me harm.

I've made my scream a part of my arsenal of self defense. I've figured out what it takes for me to make it truly ear-grating. I've spent time on this because I think that it is a valid tool....

Because sometimes, the best you can hope for is a good samaritan a couple of blocks over.

Our Fine, Upstanding Sheriff

I seem to remember, a couple of years ago, a race for the office of County Sheriff. The incumbent was a good man, who'd done a good job with limited resources, and done his best to increase those resources.

He felt a responsibility, and a duty, to the people of the county, not only to uphold the law but to help avoid incidents wherein he might be required to throw someone in the local hoosegow. Mediating domestic disputes, giving youngsters a stern talking to (and let me tell you when that man got stern, youngsters listened..) and otherwise greasing the wheels of our little society were more common activities for him than slapping cuffs on people after the fact.

In my eyes, that made him a good cop.

His opponent was one of his deputies, who wanted the stature more than the job. He made promises during his campaign that he either had no intention of keeping, or was too stupid to realize he couldn't possibly keep.

Stamping out underage drinking. Wiping away drugs in the county. Peace and harmony for all, with lowered crime rates and leisurely walks on the beach. Never mind that we don't have any beaches...

Unfortunately, a majority of the folks in the county were too blinded by the shiny promises to look beyond them to his record as a deputy.

Questionable arrests, complaints, and a general air of power trip with or without the badge actually being on.

( "You know I could find a reason to write you a ticket, right?" he said to me one sunny summer morning before he began campaigning for the office. "You could," said I, "but would it hold up in court?")

So, he was duly elected, and proceeded to abuse his power.

Lets take a look at a list of what in my mind, seem to be his highlights.....

1. Locking a group of inebriated teenagers in a barn, because he couldn't stack them deep enough in his vehicle to get them all in. And yes, I do mean stack. Were they drunk? Yep. Were the charges justified? Entirely.

But what does it tell you when every one that contested the charge got it dropped because of the methods he used?

Aside from locking them in the barn and purportedly stacking them three deep in his vehicle (it is undisputed that he had too many of them in the vehicle to allow for safe transportation... the exact number varies depending on the person you talk to, and since I haven't talked to any of the teens involved about it, I'm just going to label the three deep thing as hearsay) he questioned them without their parents present, and used threats, again without parents or guardians present, in an attempt to learn who bought the alcohol for them.

2. The "Drug Dog"... that took off after a thrown tennis ball while working a traffic stop. Across a busy highway. Because the handler didn't have his leash.

I honestly wouldn't be surprised to hear that this dog "hit" on a ham sandwich in someone's cooler. The handler is an idiot, the dog is poorly trained, and the whole concept of having those two paired up and "working" seems to me to be a big red flashing neon arrow pointing towards a large suit for the county.

3. A while back, a man was killed. Our Illustrious Sheriff was telling anyone who asked (rather than declining to comment on an ongoing investigation, which would seem to me to be the prudent course) that it was suicide.

The information that I have is all hearsay, but it's from sources that I trust to actually know what the heck is going on, and not feed the rumor mill for the sake of feeding the rumor mill.

So tell me, those of you who have reason to know... how much talent does it take for a man to shoot himself three times with a shot gun, pick up all of the shells and get rid of them, and go lay down and die.

Oh, did I forget to mention, the three shots were to his head? At extremely close range, according to my information.

4. And one of the best ones, is his policy on concealed weapons permits. He is allowed to set the regulations and level of training required to get a permit in the county.

Since one of his deputies went through and became a certified firearms instructor, it is rumored that he has been requiring anyone who applies to get their training from said deputy. Since my permit was issued by the previous Sheriff, and re-issued at the beginning of the current regime's term, before the rumored requirement came into effect, I haven't had to deal with that particular little faux pas.


Since our courthouse went high-tech (shutting off the front doors of the courthouse and installing a metal detector on the south door) they haven't managed to hire a security guard. So, random members of the Sheriff's Department will man it at odd times, and the rest of the time it's turned off and unmanned.

One memorable day a couple of people were headed into the Court House on business, and The Man himself was manning the detector....

"What all will this thing pick up?" asks one.

"Everything!" Our Sheriff proclaimed proudly, chest puffed and extremely proud of himself.

As the first person walked through the detector without emptying his farmer's pockets (nuts bolts pliers and various other metal objects that can generally be found in any farmer or rancher's pockets at any given moment) our Sheriff deflated.

He hung his head a bit, and muttered, as his face began the slow red creep of embarrassment....

"It's not turned on."

It's just my opinion, of course, but it seems to me that the perfect job for a man of few words (and unfortunately it seems to me at times, a man of even fewer brain cells...) is standing guard over a metal detector that isn't even turned on.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking Pinky?"

"I think so Brain, but how will we ever get the people to re-elect me??"

Filthy Varmints

Allow me a moment to fill in my readers who are not "country" folks, here.

Canis Latrans, the common coyote. Best known around the country for their nocturnal singing, which many call the "pack song", when healthy and well fed, they are actually a pretty impressive sight.

If you would like to see a healthy, and well fed coyote, go to the zoo, it's about the only place you'll find one.

In the wild, they are often infected with mange, and half-starved. Also, highly susceptible to rabies.

It was only a few years ago that the state of Colorado offered a bounty on coyote ears, as the population overran the resources of the area.

Now here's the kicker. If a single coyote out hunting happens upon a cow that's down calving, possibly having trouble, it will call in the pack.

Unlike most predators, who instinctively kill their dinner before they start eating, if a coyote can get one leg to stop kicking, they'll start eating that leg. They'll attack the nerve bundle at the base of a cow's tail, and paralyze her, and eat her alive from the ass up.

Last night, we had to put a heifer down because between the time we found her and realized she was having problems calving, got a trailer, and got back out there, coyotes had stripped the calf's head down to skull, and tore hell out of her back end.

Once a coyote pack gets one cow that way, they've figured out an easy meal. They'll go after any calving cow they can find. The only solution is to kill the entire pack before they can kill your entire herd.

We're working on it. The Game Warden is working on it... He went right out with a rifle when we called to inform him of the incident, and that we'd be killing the bastards responsible. He said he'd leave the carcasses lay where he shot them, so this afternoon we'll go out and see how many of them he managed to get.

Tonight, Bro is going out, with his buddy, his spot light, one of Farmdad's rifles and grandpa's coyote call...

He's a better coyote hunter than I am, or I'd be right out there with him. I'm giving up the satisfaction of seeing the sumbitches die in the interests of having more of them die in a more efficient manner.

Friday, February 6, 2009

I Need a Sugar Daddy...

I am addicted... addicted I say, and I fully admit it... to the printed word.

If I don't have a book in my hands, car, or within reach, you'd better check my forehead, cause I'm sick.

Reading is, of course, an expensive hobby. I've often commented that it's a good thing I don't live closer to a real bookstore.

Recently, I've been considering shifting over to e-books, rather than paper books, except for my very favorites, because I've been hearing that e-books are getting cheaper all the time.

Of course, no one likes to drag a seventeen inch laptop around with them all the time.... or at least, I don't. I want something that's handy enough for me to have with me most of the time, which means an e-book reader.

I hadn't really looked into the pricing or availability until today.

I'm reading good things about the e-ink technology, and it does re-assure me somewhat that the power is only used to turn the page, but jebus crisp, three hundred dollars??

That's six bookstore trips at my usual limit of fifty dollars spending per trip. And then buying the e-books on top of that... and the e-book prices don't seem to be too much cheaper than paper!

My limited storage space would thank me for the purchase, no doubt, and I could continue collecting paper editions of my favorite titles, because in my mind nothing will ever replace the sensation of paper in your hands.

The smell of binding glue, the texture of the paper, the weight of a book, all of those are part of the reading experience. For money's sake though, I'd be willing to switch to an electronic version.

I just don't have the spare dosh lying around for such a thing.

I'm beginning to think that I need a Sugar Daddy for my habit anyway... I read most books in a day. Thankfully, I can go back and re-read books, especially the best ones, but I still crave the new stories... The downside to being one of those people who can read a book over and over again, of course, is that once I have a book, I'm reluctant to let go of it. The boxes and boxes of books in storage attest to that quite nicely.

Even Ebay doesn't seem to have any reasonably priced decent e-book readers....

Shame. Now that I've looked my technogeek side wants one. My frugal side will just have to beat it down, though. Nothing either side isn't used to by now....

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Valentines Day PSA

I'm not a very good "girl" I guess... I've always tried to ignore Valentines Day.

But it comes every year, around the same time, whether I pay attention or not.

I try to get Farmmom flowers or a Valentine's themed stuffed animal every year, just to see her smile, but other than that, the whole thing could vanish into thin air, and I wouldn't mind too terribly.

It's a couples thing, really.

So, gentlemen, if you've got ladies in your life that you care about and want to make smile, order your flowers now. It'll save stress later, and you'll look a lot better if you're not bringing her cellophane wrapped grocery-store flowers.

Oh, and if my opinion matters at all... skip the roses. Everyone in the world gives or gets roses. Be different, get her daisies, lillies, buttercups or bluebells. Anything but roses.

I would much rather be amythysts and wildflowers to a special person than diamonds and roses.

If you feel you must give her roses, go unusual. Peach, lavender, fire and ice. If you know her favorite color, ask the flower shop to find roses in that color... they can usually do it.

If nothing else, go into the flower shop, and ask to see what they have available. Look for something that reminds you of her, and ask them to make an arrangement.

If you just can't make it into the flower shop, break out the credit card, go to FTD or 1-800 Flowers and pick something out online. These sites make it really easy to schedule the delivery, meaning you can get it taken care of now, while you're thinking about it, and not have to worry about it as the day approaches!

Trust me, fellas. She'll appreciate you giving her a dozen red roses. She'll love you for giving her an arrangement that you can honestly say made you think of her.

Post Secret

I'm altering the time on this one, to keep my Valentines Day Public Service Announcement at the top for another day... Gotta make sure the menfolk that only read me first thing in the morning get their reminder to order goodies for their loved ones, too.

I am addicted to this site.

It's not really a voyeuristic thing for me, although there is a bit of that. And it's not just the artistic way that some people convey their secrets.

To me, there is something deeply touching about so many people surrendering what may be their deepest, darkest secrets to a complete stranger, who then shares them with the world.

Perhaps sending in a secret is a freeing experience. Maybe the people who send their secrets to Frank feel a sense of relief, that they've finally told someone, even if he, or the people who read it thereafter, will never know who the secret belongs to.

I know that I've seen secrets that made me want to cry. I have seen postcards that bolstered my faith in humanity, and ones that have undercut it. Secrets that made me laugh, and some that in a very few words conveyed enormous meaning.

I dare you to read the Sunday Secrets for three weeks, and not find something that touches you on a level that most of the people around you don't even know about.

Maybe it's just a silly thing that one man in Maryland is making money off of (you can buy the books, and see Postsecrets that never made it on the site.)

But then again, maybe it's not. I think it's worthwhile.

Check it out, and judge for yourself.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Interesting Question....

Suppa41 over at Living History sent me an email asking a really good question. (Yep, I'm that nice, if ya'll send me a question and I blog about it, and you have a blog and I know where it is/you link me to it, I'll link you in the post about the question. New policy, that I just enacted right this minute.)

"I work as a AV professional and we had a request by a client for a video wall that is 5’ by 65’ to train horses to herd.

Just wanted to get your thoughts on this “idea” and if you think it would actually work. We don’t want to get sucked into a project that has the prospect of not paying because the horses didn’t learn and getting stuck with a mess of equipment."

Well. Lets take this one step at a time.

First off, while using a "flag" or stuffed pillow like cow on a series of ropes and pulleys with a motor on one end and a remote control has become fairly standard practice, that is still a real object. It's something that the horse can relate to, it's three dimensional, even if it only moves in two.

A sixty five foot long video screen, however, is not.

Now, I may be entirely off base here, but I've never seen one of my horses cozying up to the boob tube to watch Mr. Ed re-runs. I'm not sure that images on a wall would be a concept that they could grasp as a training tool.

As a matter of fact, running through the scenario in my own head, I see a large chance that a lot of damage will be done to said video screen bout the first time someone tries to get them near it. Horses spook at a weird shadow on the ground... a wall that moves... that's just asking for trouble. They have no idea that the images on the screen aren't going to jump off of it and eat them.

And, if you put a fence between the screen and the ponies, they're only going to want to work from the other side of the fence.

Another question I have is: What is this "herding training" they speak of? I can see possible applications in cutting, but that's about the only equine sport involving cattle that you can really train for without... well, real bovines. And then it's just to get the whole "this is my line, I have to block you" concept through their heads.

You don't "train" a horse to herd cattle. You go out, and you herd the damn cattle. When you start, yes, you have to tell the horse which cattle to put pressure on, which ones to chase after, and when it's time to back off a bit and just let them amble on down the road. As you go along the horse starts to watch for that cow that's looking for an opening to make a run for it.

The horse does learn, so I suppose you could call it training, if you really wanted to. I call it Saturday afternoon, myself.

But the point is, you can't "train" that in an arena. It's something that they have to learn on the job, in my experience. You get your horse to the point that he or she doesn't take off for the horizon, or the sky, every time you twitch, and then you go and you work.

Personally, I like to have my horses to the point that they don't try to give me flying lessons when I swing my leg over before I start taking them out to move the herd.... Just a precaution, and a courtesy to the neighbors.

I hate those "Hey, there's a horse in our yard," calls.

As for whether or not it will be a valid training tool for cutting, which may be what was meant by "herding".... I am not the world's authority on training horses, but to me, it doesn't seem like it would be too useful.

Or maybe I'm just enough of an old fashioned girl that I think there are some things high technology ought to just be left out of.

After all, the beef is better when it's grass-fed, the sky is bluer without the smog, and, in my mind, a good horse doesn't come from training in the arena or corral.

A good horse comes from spending more time with your mount than your mate, from stumbling home after a full day's work together, from play in the pasture and in the saddle, nights spent walking in circles because your partner has colic.

And most importantly, a good horse comes from two very basic things:

Trust, and Love.

Trust your horse and he'll trust you, and a horse that loves you will walk straight into Hell with you, if you ask them to. It's your responsibility to make sure that they've got enough water when you get there.

Silly, Silly Farmdad

He gave me power tools today. And pneumatic ones too!

Got the rafters re-enforced, and most of the sheeting put up to make the base of the new roof, in the area over the kitchen and bathroom. We were literally one board foot short on our 1X12 stuff to finish the sheeting. Not bad for a guestimate.

I managed not to fall off of my precarious perch (pictures were taken, and may follow, of me a-straddle the wall running the Sawsall) but did put a little more blood and sweat into the house. Caught the web between my thumb and index fingers on a nail and made a nice divot...

Said bad words too... it doesn't look like much of an injury, but it sure hurts like heck.

'Specially when you pour peroxide on it.

I also managed to break the roofing nailer. Not real sure how, but we still had the palm nailer, so we got it done.

Sometimes, for a Farmgirl, the best sound in the world is "pop pop pop popopopopopopopopthunk."

'Specially since it means progress on my house.


It's supposed to be a gorgeous day today, and I can't go ride!

Somehow, getting a roof on my house before the snow comes in this weekend seems just a wee bit more important, but still, a part of me is one sad cookie.

Tomorrow is supposed to be nice, too, so if we get the roof stuck back on today, maybe tomorrow I'll take off with my saddle and a bridle or two and go see how the chilluns are feeling.

Maybe take Monkey out and just go play for a couple hours... I feel a need for speed, and he's got it.

At least I get to be outside today and enjoy the gorgeous weather, even if I'm not on the back of a horse...

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Darned Sleep Schedule...

I'll get it lined out one of these days.

It's ten pm and I find myself sitting here, not really even tired, again. Probably a weekend full of late-night excitement. Around here, we roll the sidewalks up at midnight, so there really isn't that much to do of a late evening.

So, I thought I'd drop a few lines in here thanking everyone who's come to take a peek at me since the weekend outpouring of linky-love. Kick up your feet, take a look around, have a drink. If you like what you see, come on back!

Maybe, if I entice enough of you, I can catch up to AD's sitemeter scores. I doubt it, but a girl can hope, can't she?

Come on, folks. You know you want to visit my site sixteen times a day, just so I can rub it in his face....

Kidding! Don't yell at me for whoring for hits. (That sounds sooo wrong...)

More seriously though, I hope that ya'll enjoy what you read, and keep coming back. It is, after all, for the ego boost, adoration, and gifts of cash and chocolate that I write this silly little thing in the first place.

By the by, I'm still waiting for the cash, chocolate, and adoration. Must be lost in the mail....

Off to put on a DVD and try to sleep. Chronicles of Riddick tonight, that way it increases my chances of having nice dreams of buff men with hawt voices, instead of nightmares about Borat in a mankini.

Don't ask.


The discussions on writing this weekend got me thinking about the nature of words.

I like words. In fact, I love words. They are the glue that holds society together, and the hands that rip it apart....

Without words, we wouldn't have such concepts as love, romance, or honor. Or, we might have them, but giving a thing a name makes it real.

The versatility of words is amazing to me. I tend to use some of them more often than others, just like anyone else... We all have our verbal quirks, after all.

The way different words impact different people, and putting them together in different combinations to see which ones stick, so to speak.

I'll admit something right here... half the things that ya'll love in this blog, phrases, imagery, and such, are things that I've just thrown out there because I couldn't think of a better way to do it.

I don't do drafts. If I save something as a draft on my blog, it's never going to make it on the main page. I've got a bunch of those that I swear I'm going to finish and post someday... but if those tales ever see the light of day, they'll be completely re-written.

If I'm not satisfied with it in one sitting, for a blog post, it's stale the next time I look at it. We here at Tractor Tracks are dedicated to bringing you only the freshest words and phrases.

Jane is, of course, the exception to this rule, which is why it takes me so long to get a chapter up. When I started, I was just messing around, so it was ok for it to be mediocre and awkward in places... but now that people like it and are asking for more, I feel like I have to give them my best.

I am honestly envious of people who can save a draft, go back and tweak it, and then post. If I don't get it up before I walk away from the computer, the words are doomed to languish in Draft, with all the other neglected words, smoking cigarettes and asking each other "what are you in for?"

There is a zone that I find sometimes, when I'm writing something, where everything else just goes away and if you could peek into my head you'd see some really good CGI of words and phrases swirling around each other in an ether of creativity, some of them finding their way down my arms and into the post, the remainder floating gently to rest until the next time.

Let me tell you, it's a good thing I'm a fast typist, because otherwise, I'd never be able to hold on to an idea long enough to finish it.

But all any of my writing is, and I suspect in their own ways most writers feel like this, is an experiment. It's just a little kid taking blocks and building something. My blocks are words, and sometimes I build a graceful tower, magnificent to the eye and ear, but it's precarious, and will fall at the first harsh look.

Sometimes, I build a solid little house that you couldn't knock over with a brick, and when people like it, I go back and what I thought was a squat, ugly block of a thing turns out to have hidden grace that I didn't even recognize the first time around.

And that is the amazing thing about words, right there.

Ain't they fun?

Monday, February 2, 2009


Just checked my sitemeter, and I was right. All of the linky-love bumped me from my standard hundred or so hits per week day and sixty or so on the weekends, to over two hundred Sunday and Today.

Thanks, guys!


Made it back to the old homestead safe and sound, so here's the after-action report I promised.

Shooty Goodness:

Sunday, we all went out to the pasture and made a lot of loud bang noises. You know you're shooting with some talented folks when you hear:

Bang. Plink.

Bang. Plink.

Bang. Plink.


There's also the fact that they were shooting at golf balls (that they couldn't really see) at a hundred yards with twenty two rifles.

Best quotes of the day:

"Oh my god, he wasn't just taking a leak, he was peeing in the bottle."

"Phlegmmy wins the Golden Shower Award, she got the pee bottle."

"Brass Hicky, that sticky Hicky." (To the tune of Brass Monkey)

And, my favorite, at the end of the shoot....

"Does anybody have any real rifle brass to throw out around here so that we don't look like a bunch of wusses?"

After the shoot we went to a little hole-in-the-wall steak house and had the quail appetizers (darned good quail... I was a little leery of restaraunt quail, but it was tasty) while AD took care of the dinner show, doing the entire dinner scene from the Nutty Professor. Perfectly.

I was rolling on the floor, couldn't get a breath, nearly peed myself laughing at him talking about relations. Meanwhile AEPilot Jim was telling the waitress "We can't take him anywhere."

The Drive:

There comes a point in any long drive when your mind starts doing weird things to you. I don't mind my eye getting caught by shapes in the clouds, that happens, but when I start seeing shapes in the cracks in the road, I get a little worried.

So that's when I stopped in Amarillo and got a coffee. And cussed cause MattG got the hands picture put up before me. Ya gotta watch them bigguns. They're sneaky buggers.

But, before I got to the book store, I was driving down the interstate, and suddenly the Farmdog started barking. I glanced back at the vehicle on my right and saw a big golden head stickin out a back window... she was protecting me from the dog in the other vehicle on the interstate. But, what really made me laugh was when the truck got a little ahead of me, I saw another little puppy head sticking out underneath the Golden Retriever's... it was some kind of terrier, and I was only sure it was a dog because there was a nose, and it moved. Everything else was obscured by its long hair blowing every which way like some kind of blonde Medusa.

AD asked me, via text message, if I'd made it home yet while I was sipping coffee and stretching.... When I told him I had stopped for a break and gotten a cup of coffee, he told me to finish my steak from the Japanese Steak House last night. I told him it was gone before noon, and he oinked at me.

"I think I might have gained a half pound while I was there... everyone wanted to feed me."

"Where did you gain a half a pound?????"

"I'm not sure, but I think it might have all gone to my Snark Muscles...."

Because indeed, the snark was strong this weekend. We embarrassed several waitstaff at various eaterys, and each other.

I had an absolute blast, and as glad as I am to be home, it has more to do with the drive than the weekend....

I wanna do it again!

Edit: at the bottom on the right is a new set of links. I'm following the crowd and keeping a running tally of bloggers I've come across outside the fantabulous land of the pixels. If I missed anybody, a real possibility since I was hard pressed to remember all the names at the end of the night, let alone their URL's, just drop me a line and I'll correct the situation.