Wildlife and Other Critters

Remember O.C.? Her name has now been officially changed to “Cleo – Queen of the Raccoon Hunters”, but she’ll still answer to just “Cleo”. The appointment has been made. In a couple of weeks she’ll be de-clawed. She’s going to be an I.C.! Hubby gave the ‘command’ this morning to make the appointment. Oh, and just in case, she’s to be kept kenneled up until then because he doesn’t want her to be hurt. I knew he was a marshmellow inside… it just took awhile this time for it to show itself.

Me: I thought we were at our limit
Hubby: But she’s such a nice cat
Me: You told me she was going to be the outside cat
Hubby: You don’t want her getting hit on the road or killed by a raccoon, do you?
Me: Noooo… but YOU told me this wasn’t going to happen!
Me: Remember, this is your decision. You wanted this. I didn’t ask for it. Okay?
Hubby: She’s such a nice cat…she flips and flops and waves her paws at me…
Me:… uh huh. She’s got your number, doesn’t she?

On a related note, a neighbor had his cattle get out a day or so ago and the DNR have been investigating (DNR = Department of Natural Resources). They think they may have been spooked by a cougar! They’re finding evidence of one in our area – roaming the creeks and timbers. We live next to a crick in a timber. The winter we were building our house Hubby and I spotted some very large cat tracks and wondered at the time if there could be one in the area, but really had no evidence. Now it appears we may have been right. It makes sense, I mean we have lots of deer and other wildlife for them to feed on. I’ll have to watch myself a little more closely when I’m out in the woods… and make sure the puppies don’t get too far away.

Also on a related note, we’ve had twin fawns in our backyard. They are the cutest! They run and play with each other like a couple of puppies. It’s so funny to watch… The other morning they were playing around and something caught their attention in the woods, so they bounded off around the corner of the fence and along the cornfield heading for the thicker timber. A few minutes later we saw what had spooked them… “mom”. She came out of the timber and went chasing out after them. It was just like a couple of kids… !

Soul Mate

A milestone went by and I forgot to mention it, or if I mentioned it I didn’t give it enough credit. Earlier this month Hubby and I celebrated our 25th wedding anniversary. That’s the ‘official’ anniversary, although we actually consider a year earlier when we got together to be our ‘real’ anniversary.

It wasn’t a storybook romance. It was a strange sort of an affair. I was married, and although we (the ex and I) were sharing an apartment, two children, and a mountain of bills, we were not sharing the marital bed. We’d decided we couldn’t afford to live on our own, neither of us wanted to live with our parents, and we still considered ourselves friends, so we’d just share the space and all that was in it and lead our own lives.

The ex worked days. I worked nights. After work I would sometimes go out with single girlfriends. We would go to a college town a little ways from where we lived and hit the local bars. My girlfriends had already spent way more time in these places than I had and knew some people, so that made it easier.

I found out about a year after I’d first started going to this local bar that my now-husband had seen me there with my friends and had asked around about me and found out that I was still married with two kids – so even though I didn’t know him, he knew somethings about me.

I’ve told the story of how we met before, and won’t go into all that again… but suffice it to say when I met him it was comfortable. Safe. He made me feel a way I’d never felt before – that it was all going to be okay. He’d wrap his arms around me and give me what I called a ‘bear hug’ and it would bring tears to my eyes it was so perfect. He was so strong, but could be so gentle with me.

He listened to me – his deep brown eyes totally focused on me. He was shy, but was brave enough to try and bring me out of my shell. He was smart and funny and warm and all the good stuff…

I wasn’t looking for another attachment. I’d told myself – and actually told him that I wasn’t going to get involved with anyone again. I’d had enough. Men were okay as friends, but marriage was out. Good thing he didn’t listen to me!

He made me feel so good about myself… something that was sorely lacking in my life. He didn’t just love me for my body or my looks or what I could do for him, he loved me for me. I’d already been through some pretty rough times and my trust was pretty thin. I was cynical, always looking for the downside – waiting for the other shoe to drop. I kept thinking he was too good to be true.

I spent a lot of time with him, as much as I could. Finally we decided I would move to his town and see how it went. I was reluctant to take my children since I had no means of support yet in this place, so I spoke to my ex and we decided the kids would stay with him for a short time while I got a job and got settled. He didn’t know about the new man in my life, and I didn’t want to hurt his feelings by bringing it up. I just let him believe I was doing this myself.

I moved, and my ex ended up moving back home with his parents, with our children. I got a job, got settled, and tried to see my children. His parents wouldn’t let me. They hit me with a lawsuit – they were suing for full custody. I was crushed. They would answer the phone and wouldn’t even let me talk to my ex, guessing rightly that he still had feelings for me and wouldn’t put me through this – let alone our children.

My guy stuck through it all. The rants and raves and crushing tears. He was there for me. Finally, after several months of back and forth, and finally at least some visitation, we went to court where my ex met me at the door and said he and his lawyer had come up with an idea. Joint custody. This was very, very new at the time and you had to talk the judge into it. You had to convince the judge that you got along well enough with your ex to have joint custody, so you weren’t pitting the kids against each other. We did that. I was to have the kids during the week, he was to see them on the weekends.

We rejoiced. My guy now not only had a wife, but two children under 5 – the confirmed bachelor was a family man. He jumped in with both feet. As much as he loved me, he loved my children and treated them like his own. He never treated them differently… if anything he was heartbroken when they had to go to “their dad’s” – because he felt like that was him.

Through the years, and a couple more kids, and a lot more critters, we’ve been through heaven and hell. Several years ago all the bad things that I thought I’d successfully put behind me, hidden in boxes of my mind came tumbling down and out jumped the demons I’d tried to vanquish. They took me by surprise and my husband by bigger surprise. It was a few months of hell on earth – nervous breakdowns aren’t fun – but I’m so much better now. I give all the credit to him. He saved me. He loves me. He really does.

To some he may not be the best looking man – He’s no Brad Pitt or Ewin McGregor. He’s more Tom Hanks and Harrison Ford. Not perfect, but he’s so beautiful inside it makes up for any flaws. He’s funny. He’s smart. He’s sexy. He doesn’t think so. He has no confidence in himself. He’s beautiful to me. He makes terrific babies. He really is my soul mate. 25 years is only a blink… I hope we get a lifetime more. It’s been quite the ride. Happy Anniversary, Honey…

Dear Co-worker

I’m confused. Isn’t that thing sitting on your desk a computer? Isn’t it in your office? Isn’t it connected to the same internet as my computer? Don’t you have the same operating system? The same software? The same monitor?

Then why do you have to use my computer when I’m not here? Dumbass.

(A word from the management: Before all of you ask, I can’t put passwords on my stuff because we’re an “open” and “cooperative” office here and occasionally others must use my computer. I say “must” in the event that they have work-related things to do, not looking for baseball cards on E-bay. Thank you.)

You Can’t Kill ‘Em III

I am an only child. When I was a child, that bothered me some. Now I have to admit I’m grateful. Occasionally I look around at our four children and wonder, “What have I done to you?” I wonder if I’ve burdened them with guilt trips and heartaches to last a lifetime. I wonder if they’ll end up hating each other, or at least a strong dis-like. So far it’s been good. They had their normal upsurges when they were young, but now as young adults they actually seem to like each other and get along well. I feel blessed.

Hubby, however, is not an only child. BIL has been discussed a bit. Now I will introduce you to the other sibling…here to be known as the Princess. (MIL is the Queen). The Princess is two years younger than Hubby. She was the one that when he quit college and went into the Navy proceeded to get not one, not two, but three, ladies and gentlemen… three college degrees. She got enough for all three siblings. Her parents were so proud.

Then she proceeded to forget everything she learned and moved to Virginia with her husband to manage a dairy farm. Oh.Woe.Is.Me. Yes, OWIM became the mantra we heard over and over until we wanted to puke our guts up every time MIL said “The Princess called today”. GAK.

We decided if we didn’t live 3 miles away from MIL, or at least 15 like BIL, then we, too, could claim object poverty and lives with no joy. Perhaps then MIL would take pity on us and we could be treated like visiting royalty every time we decided to bounce into the area. I know, I know, I just got done begruding MY SIL for saying my daughter was spoiled, but I mean, REALLY. I try to be equally spoily with all my kids. (Is spoily a word?)

When our kids were little we scraped and saved to buy them a swingset that was large enough that all four of them could play at once. MIL came over and saw it and the next thing we knew there was money flying across the country so the Princess could have one for her children. Hmmm…

When our youngest was only about 6 months old, we loaded the whole family in the van (not such a thing as a mini-van then, kiddies) and made the Trip From Hell. Because at the time Hubby worked for his dad on the farm, it was highly frowned upon to take a vacation. Therefore, we were sly… we figured they’d approve a vacation if it was going out to see his sister! Yeah…that’s the ticket! Boy, did that ever backfire.

First we were trying to keep it on the cheap. With four kids under 7, McDonalds was breakfast, lunch and dinner for 2-1/2 days. The youngest was either carsick, had flu, or was teething and pretty muched cried the whole time. As we were all craming in one motel room at night, I ended up taking him to the van and trying to sleep there while letting him scream his head off and not wake up the other family members and/or motel guests. Did I mention I drove the whole way?

In the August heatwave, we arrived bedraggled, tired, and ready for things to stop moving. Hubby got a little carsick himself going through the Smoky Mountains. This was before they had nice freeways going through, nooooo… it was two-lane-watch-out-here-comes-a-logging-truck-on-our-side-around-the-corner-I-said-WATCH-OUT-AAAAAAAAAIIIIIIEEEEE!

We unloaded the van and the kids that could walk ran around with the Princess’ two children. Get that energy out, kids! Then Hubby went to the barn to see his BIL… the Princess’ husband (ya following?). He walks in and BIL says, “No time to talk, look around if you want but I can’t stop to show you around”. No “hi”, “how are you”, “nice to see you”, “how was the trip”…

Hubby walked in the house and wanted to pack up the van and leave. He is basically a very calm, rational man. He had cartoon steam coming out of his ears.

On top of it all, we didn’t realize we’d walked in on the first day of the Cattlemans something-or-other. Like a fair/sale/whoop-de-doo all rolled into one. The adults started breezing around and whipping the kids around and “oh, would you mind watching the little preciouses while we go to the thing tonight?”.

Hubby went with them. I stayed home with six kids under 7. (I still have a full head of hair!)

The next day I did laundry, cooked food, cleaned, babysat. All in a 100-year old house that had no air conditioning (at all), and whose windows were painted shut. That night they took all the bigger kids. I stayed home with the baby. Ahhh… all I had to do was bake a loaf of bread, do the supper dishes…. you get the picture. I forgot to mention, they didn’t believe in TV. Yes, indeedy we’re havin’ a hot time in the ol’ town tonight!

When they walked in the door at 10 o’clock, exhausted, our youngest daughter who at the time was just 2-1/2, came in and sat on the sofa and peed. Yeah, peed. She’d been half-asleep and was potty trained, but accidents DO happen… unless you are in the Princess’ house, then it MUST HAVE BEEN ON PURPOSE. Your 2-1/2 year-old daughter has just become the SPAWN of the DEVIL. THIS SOFA WILL NEVER BE THE SAME. Oh for cripes sake! Burn the damn thing if it’s that bad!

I cleaned and cleaned until that sofa was cleaner than it was when we came. The Princess hovered around making sure it was clean. Yep, you can eat on it if you want, Lady…

The rest of the trip was spent traveling to neighboring areas, Washington, Arlington and to the beach one day. We left BIL at home with his “Ladies” (the cows). We took all the kids. It was hot. It was hell.

After a week of working harder than I do at my own home, we left for our own home. Now the oldest child was puking. The youngest was still crying, and the middle two were just plain cranky. When we got home and pulled in the garage, Hubby got out and on his knees and kissed the concrete floor. “I don’t care what they do to me, I’m NEVER going out East again. Ever.”

Oh, and remember the big stink about the sofa? Would you believe 10 years later they were here visiting and their boy ran a four-wheeler into my husbands’ relatively new pickup? Yes, there was damage. That was after the year they came out and the boy flipped the four-wheeler on it’s side and broke the handlebars. Oh… and that was the year or two after they came out and the kid tried to run over my husband with the combine that the Princess INSIST son must ride in. Why, you ask, didn’t you take away the four-wheeler? Because MIL said it was okay. … and, no, Hubby didn’t beat said child within an inch of his life. He treated him better than they treated our kids. Well, I guess he did give him a paddling when he tried to run him over, but of course then HE became MEAN UNCLE (HUBBY) to my Hubby’s delight he never asked to go in any equipment again!!

Their kids are grown now.

The Princess still whines.

The BIL hasn’t been to Iowa since FIL died several years ago. He must stay home and take care of his ladies… of course, somehow they manage to rent a house on the beach for a couple of weeks a year, and they’ve been to Australia, Ireland, Norway, a few other places… Just doesn’t make sense, somehow.

We’ve never been back to Virginia.

Can I Get A Little Love Here?

Hubby spent the evening at a Combine Clinic. Yeah. It’s every bit as exciting as it sounds. A bunch of guys go to the local “big green machine” farm equipment store and learn how to run their combines. Oh, okay, I don’t know. They already know how to run them… I think it’s just an excuse to stand around and talk. Like farmers don’t do that enough!

Then, of course, you’ve got the free meal. BBQ beef sandwiches, chips, green beans, potato salad and lemonade. That alone will bring most of them out of their caves long enough to listen to whatever is being presented. Free food. Does it every time.

After the ‘official’ meeting is over and the ‘official’ meal has been consumed, then the jawing (visiting to you more refined people) moves down the street to the local bar where they talk about what they just learned in the meeting gossip about everything and anything including Asian Rust in the soybeans to drought effects on the corn to aphids in the soybeans to “what in the heck was ol’ Jonesy thinkin’ when he did (insert favorite dumb thing here)?” From what I gather – remember I get this second-hand – it pretty much ends up being the same things hashed and re-hashed.

Finally they all drift home.

Hubby climbs into bed and snuggles up against me… ‘at least I’m not a mean drunk’….

A Little Anal

Don’t get me wrong… I love the guy. He’s funny, sweet, basically pretty naive and innocent, and he loves my daughter. Yeah, I’m talking about my new SIL. He’s a truly good guy… but he’s a little anal. Yeah. Really.

You have to understand, he comes by it naturally. I don’t know his family well, but from what I’ve seen I love his mom, his two younger brothers are sweeties, and his dad is…oh, gee, how can I put this nicely…? He’s thrifty. No, that’s not it. He’s conservative. Nope, that doesn’t quite say it either. Okay, no more pussy-footing around… he’s cheap. Nice, but a bit obsessive when it comes to money.

This, I’m afraid is one of the traits that has passed down a generation.

I’m glad my daughter has someone who is conservative, as God knows her father and I aren’t very good at it, but there comes a point where I draw the line. We aren’t rich by any means – we’re middle class, but Hubby’s theory has always been, “You can’t take it with you”. The line was drawn this weekend. Daughter and I were doing a bit of sale shopping. You have to understand something – I’m not really a typical woman when it comes to shopping. I only go to the mall about four times a year and I’ve almost always got a list or an idea of what it is I’m going for.

Having said that, there are a couple of stores I like going to for comfy clothes. Old Navy is one of them. I practically live in sweatshirts and fleece in the wintertime and my wardrobe consists of t-shirts the rest of the year. Because I wear them all the time at home and at work, they get used and abused and it doesn’t take long for them to get ratty looking. I mean, after you’ve let muddy-pawed critters tromp all over you and worked up a good sweaty lather in the garden, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out it’s going to eventually not look like new. Soooo when I spot one of my favorite places, we often take a lap through the store to see if anything is on sale I can stock up on, like tees or sweats.

While in one of those places this weekend, I did get a few sale items, then she and I both spotted these long, fleece tops at the same time. They looked soooo comfy! Yes, even though it was 100 degrees heat index out at the time, we both have vivid imaginations and can see ourselves curled up with a book in the dead of winter wearing the ‘gotta have‘ shirt. But! I haven’t told you the best part! It wasn’t just the perfect cozy shirt, but it was on sale for $4! You heard me, $4!

Soooo…I tell daughter I’m going to buy her one. She says… “well, when SIL calls in a few days to ask about it, you’ll have to tell him I’ve had it forever.” (The old hide the new stuff in the closet for a month or so, then bring it out and tell Hubby I got it a loooong time ago…she learned it at her mother’s knee). Why? I say… I’m the one buying it, not you. Here’s where it gets weird.
SIL thinks she shouldn’t take things from me, that she’s taking advantage of me. WTF? I get it when he’s trying to control her spending, but now he’s trying to control mine? To make her feel guilty for me buying something for her? I’ve done this her whole life – she’s my kid, for goodness sake! Hmmph. This isn’t setting too well.

I love the guy, but he’d better get his shit together pretty darn quick, or we’re gonna have words. This reminds me of my beloved grandmother who used to live right next door to us when I was in kindergarten. We were very close. She was, however, my biological mother’s mom and my biological mother died when I was three. My father remarried when I was five, and we lived next door to his ex-mother-in-law. Does that make sense? At any rate, she would babysit me every Friday night when they went bowling. Yeah, it’s exciting in this here Iowa-y place…

So we moved away after a year or so to another town, and my grandmother moved to California to be with my aunt and her family. About once a year she would try and come back and visit some of her family that still lived in the area, and me. Visiting me meant presents. She traveled a lot and she’d gotten me a charm bracelet. She would send me charms from all over when she visited, and then when she came back we would go find new ones that were just things I liked. One year she bought me an instamatic camera. She’d take me to dinner and we’d talk and laugh and catch up and then shop.

My parents, especially my mother, were furious. They had their minds made up that I was begging my grandmother for things that they couldn’t (or wouldn’t) buy me. I think she just wanted to make up for times we couldn’t be together and to let me have some things to remember her with when she was gone… like the camera that we took lots of pictures with of each other and I have to this day.

I’m sure SIL means well, but this behaviour just reeks of the kind of control that my parents tried on me years ago. It didn’t work then and it ain’t gonna work now. I hope he understands that someday…

They Got This One Right!

You Know You’re From Iowa When…

Vacation means driving through the Amanas or going to Adventureland

Down South to you means Missouri

You have no problem spelling or pronouncing “Des Moines”

You know the answer to the question, :”Is this Heaven?”

You know where all the Yoders live (or Andersons, or Van den Bergs)

You know what “hawks” and “clones” are

All the festivals across the state are named after a fruit or vegetable

You can locate Iowa on the map

You’ve ever been on a “Geode Hunt”

Your idea of a really great tenderloin is when the meat is twice as big as the bun and is accompanied only by ketchup and a dill pickle slice

You say “catty-wampus” instead of “kitty-corner”

You’ve never taken public transportation

You have boiled fish in lye for Christmas

You know what “uff-da” means and how to use it properly

You know what “Amish Country” is

The only reason you go to Wisconsin or Missouri is to get fireworks

You know exactly where “Field of Dreams” was filmed

When someone says they are going out for dinner or supper, you know which meal they are talking about. You listen to “Paul Harvey” every day at noon.

You think of the major food groups as deer meat, beer, corn, and soy nuts.

You’re pulled over and asked by the cop, “Had a little to much to drink, (your first name here)?

You own the complete “Dukes of Hazzard” video collection.

“Hick” is a style of clothing.

You can use the words, ‘crik’, ‘holler’, and ‘skunk weed’ in the same sentence.

Your Christmas gift, when you were ten years old was a shotgun (a BB gun if you were a ‘townie’).

You know someone personally who is involved in meth trade or manufacture.

Your idea of a party is throwing cans of WD40 in a campfire while you’re drunk.

You’ve been to a rave in a barn.

You’ve had sex in the back of a truck … amid cows.

You know that cows don’t sleep standing up.

You’re concerned about the rates of corn growth in Illinois as compared to that of Iowa’s.

You listen to Ag Day at 6AM … two hours after you get up in the morning.

You believe that trees in Iowa lean towards Nebraska … because Nebraska sucks!

You know several people who still refer to Japanese cars as “rice-burners.”

“Styx” plays a concert at the county fair, and people actually show up.

You don’t get nervous when you walk into a biker bar (unless you’re an Iowa City cop).

You actually get these jokes and pass them on to other friends from Iowa.

You Can’t Kill ‘Em Part II

Once upon a time, there were a BIL and a SIL who had two boy monsters creatures flying monkeys children that were the most horrid evil wild precious children on the face of the planet. Just ask them. They’ll tell you. There were days that went from sunup to sundown when voices wouldn’t be raised in anger or jealousy or meanness or spite. (Sorry, I just swallowed my tongue. Happens every time I lie.)

BIL is the best flake fake looser leech dad in the world. SIL is the best harp whiner screamer bitch gossip mom in the world. With parents like this, how could THE BOYS lose? (Yes, this must always be said with capital letters.) When they were smaller versions of rat bastards themselves, they would get into something they shouldn’t and SIL would scream, “Jim*…! ”
He’d ignore her. “Jimmy!”….”Jimmy Bob stop that!”…. “James Robert, I said to stop that!”… You get the picture. This happened once when we were standing out by our cornfield and Little Jimmy* was digging up corn plants with his shoe. This is our income, our livelihood. This is not a good thing.

She’d yell, then go on with her conversation and ignore him until she decided to yell again at which time he’d ignore her again, until finally BIL would be called into play… “BIL, Go DO SOMETHING with your son!”… He’d look at her, look at the kid, and take another swig of his beer/pop/whatever. Realizing everyone was looking at him to DO SOMETHING, he’d take the kid to another room of the house or around the corner of the shed, where he was told he’d been naughty and to not do it again. For at least another 5 minutes, okay?

I’ve got four kids. I’m not into abuse, honest I’m not… but a swat on the butt isn’t beyond my realm of possibility when a kid is just plain ignoring you. I’m talking when they are at that young, impressionable stage in life when a swat can do some good. After they reach a certain age, then you can take away the internet cableTV car keys food.Yeah, you can argue with me that they’ll end up all damaged and hating life, but believe me these people did these kids no favors.

I’m also totally against punishing or berating a child in front of their parents. I hate it when others did it to my kids (most notibly BIL and SIL before they had children. With the look that says, MY kids won’t do that when I have kids!) and I feel if the parents are there it is their responsibility to handle it. Unless we’re talking doing something that would cause them death, like running in the street or catching their hair on fire. Then I’ll step in. Only then. Even if I have to bite my tongue until it bleeds.

Point in fact: A few years have gone by and now they are pre-teens. (Actually, now they are teens, but this happened a couple of years ago). Still, basically getting away with anything and everything. MIL has a huge house that she offered to let our youngest daughter live in with her for a couple of semesters while going to college. It was nice for her since she was newly widowed, and it was nice for our daughter – living with family. Daughter has to be gone for a month with a school project out-of-state. MIL asks one of THE BOYS (the oldest) to stay overnight for a night or two. Nothing you’d think twice about, right?

Daughter came home. Starting finding things ‘not-quite-right’ with her things. Let’s see… nail polish remover in her toothpaste? Bottles of expensive skin care products dumped out. Perfume dumped out. Underwear rifled. A couple of blank checks missing from her checkbook. Do you get the idea?

First she tells us. We’re flabbergasted. (That’s an Iowa word for those of you who don’t know – it means gobsmacked). We can’t imagine what happened. Then we found out Freddy* spent the night downstairs among daughter’s things. Hubby mentioned it to MIL. MIL couldn’t imagine it could be him! If not him, we asked, then WHO? Who has been at your house? Nobody. It’s locked. She lives there alone. No one has been over except Freddy*. Uh huh. Now, Hubby asks if she is going to have the talk with BIL… ’cause he knows if HE brings it up there will be feudin’ like you’ve only seen in the south. Okay, she’ll talk to him.

We heard BIL got a talkin’ to. Oh, yes. We heard THE BOY got a talkin’ to – sort of. We heard he admitted to some of it. WTF? SOME? How could he just do some of it and yet all the other was done, too? Yeah, we be stupid.

That was the end of it. No apologies to daughter. No offers to replace and/or pay her back for all the expensive items ruined. Nothing.

…and they wonder why we don’t have them over for ‘family events’.

*Names have been changed to protect the innocents little shits.