Thursday, March 22, 2018

Penny's Creeper

Picture this:  You and your family are spending a nice little Saturday out at the strip mall.  Sun's out.  Cows are mooing.  You walk into JC Pennys 'cause, you know, fly threads, and there in the women's unmentionables stands a lone man.  He's not shopping, he's not picking out something for his wife, he's just ... there.  Honey, you ask, should we call the manager?  Please don't.  It's only me.

No, this isn't some sort of weird confession, and yes, that was my Saturday afternoon with Dylan and her friend.  They had to have matching outfits for the upcoming talent show and Regina was working, so I got volunteered.

Things started out strong.  The first thing I saw when we walked in was that flannel shirts were 70% off.  I thought I could hide there, in the men's section, until the girls were done, but then they asked me to hold their extra clothes while they tried stuff on.  Pennys, weirdly, puts their dressing rooms in the middle of the women's bras and underwear.  That's where I was camped out, spending what felt like waaaaay too much time trying to act un-pervy and not stare at the chonies.  Mothers held their children a little tighter as they passed.  Fathers looked disapprovingly.  I felt shame.  One lady, who'd seen me exchange shirts for the girls said, "You're a good dad."  I said, "Thanks," but I really wish I'd said, "I don't know them," because I double-down on awkwardness when things get really weird.
These are not pictures from that day.
Snapping photos in the chonie section would've
really raised a few eyebrows.

Really though, probably no one batted an eye at the hillbilly lost in the bras.  And I'm sure I wasn't the first.  As a reward, we treated ourselves to shakes, candy, and the local tattoo parlor.  The latter also doubles as an art gallery, so we perused while the artist was getting a tattoo.  We learned a lot.  And while we didn't celebrate the day with tats, I did get to enjoy the sugared-up giggles of two 5th graders on the ride home.

The lesson?  Pennys has smokin' hot deals on flannel shirts right now.  And that was about it.  But, if I ever have to stand in front of their dressing rooms again, I'm definitely wearing a trench coat and sunglasses, just to do a litmus test on how much awkwardness one store can handle.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Let's Talk About Chicks, Man

When Regina and I moved into this house, in the spring of 1999, there was an enormous, creepy chicken coop out back.  It looked like something out of Blair Witch.  We should have torched it immediately, instead, we got chickens.  I did my best to patch up the coop, but the skunks and raccoons found all the flaws in its design and Regina frequently woke me up in the middle of the night with a, "There's something in the coop."  I'd grab the shotgun I kept beside the bed for such occasions and Regina would grab the spotlight and we'd run outside to watch the raccoons scatter like we'd just broke up a really cool party.  Occasionally I'd blast one of the chicken killers, and once, when the problem got out of hand, we had the county trapper come to catch an especially diabolical raccoon.  But we were no match for their love of farm fresh chicken, and when we got down to just 2 hens, I didn't have the heart to sacrifice them to the beasts, so I gave them to my cousin.  Then I promptly tore down the coop.  It took us about 10 years before I built another, slightly safer, one and we got back into chicken farming.

The new coop is pretty secure.  The skunks can't dig underneath to eat the eggs, and the raccoons can't pry up the roof to eat the hens, so our girls' only predators come when we let them out.  We had Rodney, the Polish hen (she looked like Rod Stewart circa 1988), who got carried away by a hawk or an owl.  She lived through the flight, but had holes in her head and was never really quite the same.  Elvis, our first St. Bernard, once stuck his head in a box of baby chicks and gobbled them up like they were little nuggets.  Several have just died mysteriously, as chickens are wont to do, and a few have been fed up to Nacho, my brother's old Golden Retriever.

Last weekend we returned home from a movie date day and noticed we were missing Jerry, a big Brahma hen.  We scanned the perimeter and looked for the hiding hen or a pile of feathers and when nothing came up, we called Nacho's owner, Grant.  He said he hadn't seen anything suspicious, but the pile of feathers he'd seen in his closet earlier should have set off some sort of internal alarm.  Ollie, his daughter, went in the closet later that day and found Jerry hiding behind the shoes.  Nacho had carried her, alive, a quarter-mile up the road to his house and hid her in a closet.  She had a pretty good chunk out of her back so we doctored her up and put her in a box by the wood stove.  By day 2 she was no better and when Regina took her outside for fresh air she croaked.  Dylan took it pretty hard and made me promise I'd bury Jerry, which I reluctantly agreed to do.  I've never buried a chicken before and I wondered to myself if tossing Jerry in the river would count as a burial at sea.

We're down to 4 chickens now and one is so small she lays quail sized eggs.  Cute, but not so filling.  Our girls are on the 1 egg a week laying plan, but only if the weather is nice.  Don't get me wrong, the eggs, when they come, are delicious, but the effort and cost are hardly worth it.  But we're in this for the long haul.  I'll go dig a nice grave for Jerry, and we'll all keep a wary eye out for Nacho.

Tuesday, March 6, 2018

Wine and Wipes

Our hands were too disgusting to take photos,
so here's a photo of our kids inside something
that sort of looks like a crab.
You've all seen fancy fundraising galas (at least in the movies) where dinners are served by white-gloved waitstaff and folks spend exorbitant amounts on silly auction items like sea lion rides or original paintings of sad clowns by Brittney Spears.  Scott Valley has those types of dinners, only different.  From September to May (non-haying season) you could likely attend some sort of annual fundraising banquet every week.  Every event tries to have its own unique twist, but they always include at least two of the following three items: a dessert auction, a gun raffle, and a silent auction.  The fancy ones have all three.

Last weekend we lucked out and Regina got us tickets to the Ft. Jones Masons' annual crab feed.  Sound fancy?  It's not.  You get a paper plate loaded with crab and a plastic bib.  Sound awesome?  It is.  It's only the second time we've been able to score tickets because they're so coveted.  The first time was BC (before-children) and we screwed up by showing up somewhere between the two very strict start times.  They were kind and fed us anyway, but we'd broken some sort of crab-feed taboo and I was sure we'd be black-listed forever.  Twelve years later, we made it back on the cool bus and we weren't about to screw things up.

The Masons, for reasons that are unclear to me, serve an all you can eat crab feast that also includes "classic" crab side dishes: spaghetti, hard boiled eggs, garlic bread, and salad.  Everyone around us kept raving about the spaghetti and told me I had to try it.  It tasted like spaghetti.  At a crab feed.  Why in the hell would I fill my gut on spaghetti when I have crab legs to crack?  I asked that and was met with funny looks.  The egg, by the way, was delicious, but then again, I'm still new to this.

We arrived mostly prepared: we brought baby wipes and wine.  The wine, of course, we drank, but the wipes were a hit.  I think everyone in the hall came by at some point and sheepishly asked for one.  I felt like we gained a little street cred.  I thought our fundraiser dinner game was pretty top shelf, especially with the baby wipes and all, until I looked around.  People brought more than one wine variety (I guess one for the crab, one for the spaghetti), melted butter dipping pots, homemade cocktail sauces, and even linens.  It gives us something to which to aspire.  Next year, Dylan will macramé us our own crab bibs and Regina will fire up an appetizer hibachi in the corner.  Grady and I will up our crab cracking game and we'll be the envy of the hall.

Tuesday, February 27, 2018

I Love Poopies

I'm 2 doctor visits and 10 days into a lung-rattling, swollen-sinus Crud and the only thing I've learned is that A) it's not the flu, and B) it's not pneumonia.  I can only assume that I have what the internet is calling some form of rare and aggressive ebola.  This may be my last post.

But, what the illness has taken away (tons of work, and I missed taking the kids to the Bow Shoot), it has afforded me loads of puppy time.  And, as Fabian, our ranch hand/backyard dog breeder, always says when we ask him why he has so many litters of puppies, "I love poopies."  Hard to argue that.  Pancho Villa (the puppy, not our ranch hand) and I have bonded over Godless on Netflix (so good), and naps.  And, since I'm doped up on so much NyQuil at night, I've slept through the worst of crate training (sorry, Regina).

Even Boi, Pancho's father, has settled in nicely to ranch life.  He and Lardo do the "Big Loop" every morning and clear the property of vagrants and roustabouts, then make it back to the truck for the morning trip to school.  The rest of their day fluctuates between trampoline time and sunny naps.  It's like they're at a really crappy summer camp with only one activity.

I think the dog therapy is working.  Today, I actually walked outside!  I'm starting to buck up a little and, aside from the prescription drugs, I'm giving all credit to my recovery to the puppy.  Puppy-time is really the best medicine.  And NyQuil.  It's pretty good, too.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Dog Crazy

I went to Klamath Falls last weekend and came home with a dog, its son, and the flu.  Two out of three ain't bad.

I'm no dummy.  I know that withholding puppy pics while droning on and on about kids and the ranch and whatever made me chuckle last week is a form of torture for most.  Besides, I still have the bug, and really want to sit on the couch and watch the season finale of the Australian crime-drama, Wanted.

So, in as few words as possible, here's Boi (not to be confused with my second-ever horse, Boy, or the guy named Sandy whom I called Boy because I didn't believe any parent would name their son Sandy.  I was young, ok?), the Australian Shepherd and Border Collie mix.  And, of course, the star of the show, Pancho Villa.  Or Chancho (we've been on a Nacho Libre kick).  Or Lord Pupperston, or Robot.  We're still working on a name for the puppy.  And, of course Lardo.

We may be overestimating how much he can eat
You're welcome.

Boi doesn't sit still, hence, only one pic.
Here he is teaching his son good digging habits

And a few seconds of a puppy dreaming, just in case you thought, "eh, he's not that cute."

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Big City Lights

Dreadford.  Methford.  The City.  Love it or hate it, and whatever we call it, trips to Medford, Oregon, are as unavoidable as belly shirts at the county fair.  And, like belly shirts, no one wants to see them, but no one can look away, either.  I'm not sure that analogy works perfectly, but it's pretty close.  I shoot for every-other-month supply runs to Medford.  I hold out as long as I can for whatever it is I might need -- arrows, chonies, cowboy boots, belly shirts, fish sauce -- before I break down and dash north.

This is not Dylan at my doctor's appointment.
It's her checking the pulse on a dog.
Trust me, that's way better than a photo of
us at the dermatologist's office.
Last week, I went twice.  I pulled the kids out of school early for the first trip and it was a mixture of pleasure and pain.  The good part was the trip to The Sportsman's Warehouse to pick up Dylan's bow. Standing around with a bunch of dudes while we discussed stabilizers and 5-pin sights for her pink bow was nothing less than a joy.  Three employees all helped Dylan while she flung arrows at deer targets and we came out of there with her tricked-out bow and a $10/2 lb. bag of gut cramping beef sticks.  That was the pleasure.

We also had to visit my dermatologist.  I'm the third whitest dude in the Pacific Northwest and, thus, go see Dr. T once a year.  I hold my shirt up like I'm a single mom at a Mötley Crüe reunion concert while he spot burns off weird bits from my body with liquid nitrogen.  At one point he put down the liquid pain and picked up a scalpel and cauterizer pen and went to work.  The kids looked on in both fascination and horror.  The room smelled like a branding.  I'm pretty sure they both immediately scratched "dermatologist" off their list of possible career choices.

Not the puppy we looked at, but still cute.
Trip Two was a little easier on the body, but more crushing on the soul as it was strictly a slam up to Costco.  It's a new Costco, so it's supposed to be nice, but I don't know what that means except I'm equally as lost there as I was in the old one.

Like Trip One, there has to be good with the bad, and one thing that Medford does exceedingly well is cheap Mexican food.  My second-favorite spot sits behind the sign-spinning asshole dressed as Lady Liberty and is adjacent to a Quick Cash store.  The burritos are the size of healthy babies and the horchata is fresh.  It melted away all the Costco induced anxiety and replaced it with happiness and gas.

From there we took the back way home.  By that I mean we drove two hours out of our way and went to Klamath Falls to "look" at puppies.  But that's another town, and another story.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Lunch Lady Dad

Nothing to do with food, just two kids and a cat
When I was in the 5th grade, I ate an onion sandwich every day for lunch.  I don't know why.  I never had one prior to the 5th grade, and, I'm pretty sure, I've never tried one since.  Also, that was the year that I wanted to start talking to girls, but they'd always run away.  That's gotta be a coincidence, right?  I guess 5th grade is just a wonderful age for food discovery.  And bad breath.

Generally, I get the kinds organized in the mornings.  Aside from peeling kiwis and french braiding hair, I also get their lunches ready.  Grady's easy.  Remember, grades K - 4 don't really give a rip what's in their lunch.  Food is just something that gets in the way before they can run out to the playground.  As a gluten-free kid, Grady's surprisingly easy.  I just toss some deli meat, cheese, fruit, and chips into his lunch box, and BAM! Done.

Dylan in her happy place.
Dylan, of course, is more complex.  It used to be easy making her lunch.  I'd made her a sandwich every day since kindergarten. But once she hit the 5th grade, her palate changed.  Now, I'm more like her personal yacht-chef, minus the cooking skills.  Luckily, she asks for either A) some sort of leftover combination, or B) cookies.  I oblige the former, and generally cave in to the latter.

Here's a good example.  Today's lunch included shredded sirloin over couscous with a chimichurri sauce.  If I made up a pu pu platter her lunch would have included all three of the most fun-to-say foods.  Some days she'll get onigiri, others she'll have wild game over rice, and when it's chilly, she'll get hot pumpkin curry soup.  It's like a little Blue Apron meal order kit, but for kids.  Regina does most of the heavy-lifting in getting the meals prepared; I just toss leftovers into a Tupperware and call myself chef.  I know my mom could have whipped up pretty similar lunches (although we didn't eat much wild game, and couscous was twenty years away from Scott Valley), which makes me wonder, why in the hell did I choose to eat onion sandwiches every single day?  Who was I so mad at?

I like that our kids will, at least, try any new food and they like just about everything.  Puddings give Grady the jeebies, and Dylan insists she doesn't like onions (despite the copious amounts in the chimichurri I put in her lunch).  At least I'm off the hook for making those boring sandwiches.  As long as I can put together leftovers in some sort of favorable combination, I'll be fine.  If I can't, we always have cookies.