One brave little peeper fighting the good fight…

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Mornin’ all.

Guess what we have?

PEEPERS!!!

…actually, let me clarify. We have a peeper. One singular, lonely little peeper outside going, “Guys? Guys? Hello? Anyone? Guys? Guys? No one? Shit.”

Hang in there, little peeper dude. By tonight you’ll have friends.

SO warm out yesterday! Today is supposed to be the same. Then…well, then we aren’t going to talk about the weekend forecast. We’re just going to enjoy the warm couple days and hope little peeper dude has a sweater. He’s gonna need it.

We grilled last night. Ribs. And in spite of it being a Monday, many of our neighbors did the same. It was almost like a summer night.

Almost.

In the summer, we’ve got enough warm nights for the local folks to wait for a weekend when they can turn their backyard BBQ into one long Friday and Saturday hootenanny. We didn’t get the drunken shouting or fireworks. The “classic rock” end of the street did not try to drown out the “country” side, which is good because our house is smack dab in the DMZ (de-musicized zone) (stop groaning. You know what you signed up for when you opened this blog. Take your lumps.). It was a warm Monday night, and everyone was just happy to char their meat while their kiddies played tag. It was almost peaceful.

Almost.

See, while the people behaved themselves, there was an animal war going on, one that I don’t think many city dwellers would understand. Peepers and BBQing locals aren’t the only sounds of warm weather. Around here, you’ve also got the pets that have spent the winter cooped up inside.

“Bethie, we’ve all heard dogs barking at each other.”

Yes. But have you ever heard how a dog’s barking sets off a rooster, who then irritates a duck?

We’ve got many families around us that keep chickens. In the winter, small chickens wouldn’t do so well under two feet of snow, so they’re either kept inside or folks use them and wait to buy more chickens until it’s warm enough to put them outdoors.

“What do they do with last year’s chickens?”

…really? I mean, I know you’re a city slicker and all, but even city slickers have KFC.

But, like I said, not all. Some folks do bring their chickens in for the winter, though those are more like pets and show chickens.

“….show chickens? Now I know you’re screwing with me.”

Google it. You’ll find yourself looking at some fancy ass chickens.

…did you Google? Apology accepted.

Now, there’s a neighbor who keeps chickens and ducks. They live up on the hill behind our house, so we’re in an audio bowl, if you will. We can hear everything coming off that hill as if it’s happening right next to us.

Their neighbor has a dog. It’s a big dog with a deep voice. The baritone doggie does not like the off-key rooster. The off-key rooster doesn’t give a shit. And the duck? Hell, I think he was just like, “Oooh! We’re shouting now? I’M IN.”

It went something like this:

Cockadoodle doo!”

BARK BARK WOOF.”

Quack?”

COCKADOODLE DOOOOO!!!”

BARKWOOFBARKBARKWOOF.”

Quack! Quack quack?!

*moment of silence*

…peep…”

Ah, the sounds of almost summer in my little hamlet. They never seem to change. I was raised here, not half a mile from where I live now. My grandparents lived up on that street on the hill behind my current house. These sounds are familiar, comforting…nostalgic.

Hey, remember ambrosia salad?

Warm nights around the grill always remind me of my Grammie R’s house when I was a child, when we’d have family cookouts, though we never called them cookouts when they happened at Grammie’s. I have no idea why. Maybe because they were more than that.

When you picture a cookout, you picture a come-as-you-are, relaxed hang out. My grammie wasn’t formal, she was just very “50’s housewife.” She’d have these great parties, and food would be cooked out on the grill. But she was always dressed, her hair done up, the house immaculate. It was structured chaos, where a cookout is just whatever happens.

I’m not saying the structure in any way diminished the good time. Boy, were those nights fun! They’d get louder and louder as the beers and cocktails flowed, and we’d dart in and out of the happy adults, even happier to be able to have fun with the other kids while the grown ups were distracted. And yes, these parties would have us running in the yard catching fireflies at some point like a goddamn Norman Rockwell painting. I said they were very classic American cookouts, and I wasn’t kidding.

And the food. THE FOOD. My gram was an amazing cook. She always put on a spread that was over the top, and yet, just right. And all of it was 50’s and 60’s party foods. Little meatballs on toothpicks, cream cheese stuffed celery, chips and dips, crackers and a cheese ball, the kind that’s covered in chopped nuts and is an unnatural red and orange belly bomb. Mmm. Salads. The salads! Regular tossed salad, of course, but also potato salad, jello-salad, pistachio salad, ambrosia…

The main course would be meat, chicken or steaks, that Grandpa would fuss over at the grill pit he built into their stone wall while the rest of the guys would mosey on over and give their unwanted input. I don’t remember ever eating a hot dog or a hamburger at one of their parties. If it was chicken, it got a good soak in Italian dressing before it hit the heat. If it was steak, it got a luxurious teriyaki marinade that was so good it is one of our Family Recipes.

Potatoes with sour cream. All the accouterments any classic housewife would have on the table, too. Pickles, in several varieties. Olives, green, of course, since they have the cute little pimento stuffing… There was no half-assing it with Grammie. When it came to food, it had to be done right. And in her mind, every party would be a raging success if the food was on point.

She wasn’t wrong.

Good food = good times.

“Uh, Bethie? You do realize that’s not the healthiest attitude about food.”

No. Don’t do that. Don’t you psychoanalyze my nostalgic trip brought on by warm weather, the sounds of the neighborhood I grew up in, and the fighting spirit of the lone peeper. Don’t you dare.

EVERY CULTURE EVER has epic food tied to their major celebrations. You want a good time? Feed people, throw on some music, and let the booze flow. While maybe it’s not the absolute healthiest attitude about food, it’s not the worst, is it? The worst has to be the comfort a quart of ice cream brings you when you eat it alone in a dark room while watching tv because you feel like a fat piece of shit so fuck it why not.

Gah. We got off track.

There is a trend right now to bring back those classic foods, and I’m all for it.

I want ambrosia salad.

All those foods, actually. Wouldn’t it be fun? I want to have fruit magically suspended in Jello. I want my kids to know the simple beauty of stuffed celery, and I even want them to experience the disappointingly fake taste of those cheese balls. I want them to romp around the back yard while steaks and chicken are tended by folks arguing about “one flip or two”, while a couple old ladies sit in lawn chairs drinking cocktails and being sassy.

And I want to do it right along with them.

The classic 50’s housewife trope sucks in almost every way. But they nailed the food. You gotta give ’em that. They nailed a summer evening with the ones they loved. I want to do that this summer.

I think I’ll skip the curlers and the shell of Aqua Net, though. Wouldn’t want to put on airs.

Thus concludes a Nostalgic Musing for Tuesday, April 11, 2017.

Grammie’s teriyaki Marinade:

½ cup veg oil (original recipe is corn oil, I believe, but I use canola. Don’t use olive, as it’ll impart a flavor you don’t want)

½ cup soy sauce

1/3 cup packed DARK brown sugar

½ tsp black pepper

½ tsp powdered ginger

½ tsp garlic powder

¼ tsp ground mustard

½ tsp secret ingredient

Pour over steaks that have been beaten or poked. (Yes, I know that it’s not food safety standards to poke the steaks. But I always poke ’em. What can I say. I live life on the edge. It’s up to you whether or not you want to walk the tightrope without a net like me.) Marinate in the fridge all day, flipping them around every couple hours. Cook steak on grill, pour marinade into small saucepan. Boil the marinade for 2 minutes to kill any bacteria and thicken, then pour over your baked potato. Trust me. Your mouth will be happy. But, once again, cook that shit. DO NOT use the marinade raw after meat has been soaking in it all day!

…and if you think I’m sharing the secret ingredient, you’re dreaming! It’s a family recipe. Duh. But, this will be a good base. Try different things and make it your own.

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An eerie sounds rolls through the cold, dark house…

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Mornin’ all.

If you were sitting in my house right now, you’d be breaking out the ghost hunting supplies. There are spooky, eerie moans coming from the other room. It sounds like a tortured soul trying desperately to make contact with anyone who can right the injustices of his former life so he can finally traverse the mist and enter the white light.

Oooooh. Scary.

In actuality, it’s simply one of the teens. He sleep groans. It’s kinda like talking in his sleep, only far more hilarious. At times like this, he sounds like a ghost. Think hokey sheet with two eyes cut out and banal level prankster underneath waving his arms and saying “wooo-oooo-oooo”. It’s exactly like that. At other times, he sounds like a chain saw in the distance. He’ll start really low, then go up in pitch, then back down.

See? Comedy gold.

His teen roomie doesn’t find it so funny. But that one snores, so I don’t really think he’s got a leg to stand on.

Say, remember when I went to the uppity dump the other day? Well, I went again yesterday.

“Hoping to hear more about Hillary, Bethie?”

Nope. I’m excavating a closet I haven’t touched in probably six, maybe even seven years, and who knows how long it’s been since I’ve been all the way to the floor? We’re talking cretaceous period, folks. I’ll let you know if I find fossils.

ANYWAY, I went back to the transfer station with a load of cardboard for recycling. I dumped it in the container, then broke down the box I carried it all in to add to the recycling bin. A snotty ass woman comes up to me and said, “It was good of you to break down the box first and be considerate of others. Good for you.”

Let me paint the picture. She had a stack of six tupperware totes by her car. Each tote was labeled. Each label was written in loopy cursive. The labels were laminated.

The woman herself was probably around my age. She wore a pink vest even though it was only 30 degrees. She had fingerless gloves on. She wore a sweatband as an ear warmer. Clearly this is a woman who has completion issues.

Before she approached me, she was sorting her recycling, which was silly, since it was already sorted and cursively-labeled. Trust me. Anyone who takes the time to loop and twirl the esses in “glass” has then filled said container with the intended material. So what she was actually doing was making a show of looking like she was sorting her recycling.

“Look at me!” she all but screamed. “I care so much about the environment that I refuse to waste material on silly things like fingertips on my gloves or sleeves! And I don’t just recycle…I DOUBLE recycle!”

You know the type.

And then to turn around and be condescending to me? Gah. What a self-righteous *grumble**mutter*… People like that really piss me off. I get it, lady. You’re recycling. Good for you. Want a fucking medal or something?

No, wait. She doesn’t get the medal. I get the medal in that scenario because unlike her, I brought my recycling to the dump in a recyclable container.

“OOOOOOHHHH!!!”

WUT. *drops the mic*

…*pics mic back up, brushes it off*

Seriously. What a douche.

I was also bemoaning the lack of interesting/joke-worthy headlines when we last spoke. Apparently the internet heard me and responded loud and clear. Or maybe it was just the full moon. Whatever caused it, I’m happy to say….

Strike up the band!

*catchy theme music playing in a minor chord to indicate that it’s almost Halloween*

Oooh! Nice twist! Okay, cue the go-go dancers!

*ladies come out zombie-style, lurching across the stage to the eerie beat*

I am LOVING this! Can we do it every day? …no? Okay, well, then, let’s enjoy it while it lasts, because it’s time for a….

*** HEADLINE ROUNDUP !!! ***

*spooky unresolved chord at the end* *zombies all moan “Brains”*

Bravo! Brava! Brav…whatever you say for a zombie! Everyone give that five-star performance a round of applause!

Yes, it’s time for a Roundup. For those who might not know, a Headline Roundup is exactly that. I scour the internet for news headlines that strike my fancy and round them up. Maybe they’re poorly written. Maybe they’re confusing or misleading. Or maybe the editor did the best with a bizarre situation and they leave you with a vague sense of “WTF?” They’re treasures, every one. And like always, they are 100% real. I just supply the wise-assery after. Those are the rules. Step on up and let’s play!

– Victim of UConn Mac and Cheese Tirade Says He Does Not Accept Apology

In fairness, do you know how cutting mac and cheese can be? Some side dishes take it way too far.

– Massachusetts Witch Takes Warlock to Court Over Harassment Charges

Now that’s a sign of progress. Wasn’t that long ago witches weren’t that keen on stepping foot in a courthouse.

– Possible Carcinogen Seeps into Well from Animal Burial Ground

“…homeowners were told immediately to stop drinking the water.” THEY WERE DRINKING THE WATER!!!! ZOMG

– Celebrity Fears, Phobias Revealed

Because the one thing modern celebs absolutely needed was another way for people to torture them over the internet.

– Owner Hears ‘Kaboom’, Finds Car on Roof of Michigan Home

Pea shooter –> potato gun –> punkin’ chunker –> automobile cannon… What did you expect? It’s basic evolution, folks.

– How to Survive Daylight Savings Time and Shorter Days

Finally, a way not to die every single year.

– What Your Least Favorite Chore Says About You

It says doing chores sucks. Does this really need to be an article?

– Environmentalists Warn Snow Leopard Could ‘Vanish’

They’ll melt from the global warming.

– Trump Begs Iowa Voters For Support

And so the desperation phase of the election cycle begins…

– Homeowners Faced with Big Bills to Fix Dams Deemed Unsafe

That’s what happens when you try and upstage the Joneses. Trust me, stick with a moat. Way less upkeep.

– Deer Looking for Love Collide with Cars Instead

Dammit Michigan! Stop firing the auto cannon at the stag clubs right now!

– Prep School Kid and Sis Robbed Drug Dealers

Moral…compass…going…haywire…

– Black Market Butt Fillers Ruined Her Life

…gonna be honest. Once again, I’m having a hard time deciding whether or not to feel bad for anyone in this scenario. You’re confusing me today, MSN.

– Tractor Beam Uses Holograms Made of Sound to Move Objects

YASSSSSSS.

– Rare, Earth-Bound Space Junk Offers Rare Opportunity for Scientists

Oh sure. It’s a “rare opportunity” when THEY go through a pile of junk, but it’s “hoarding” when I do it. Pfft. Double standard much?

– A Scientist Built an AI Computer to Figure Out How to Take Better Selfies

FIRED. You are now officially FIRED FROM SCIENCE. Please pack your bags and head to the bubble gum pop section of humanity immediately.

– Dog Named Trigger Shoots Owner

A woman walks into the bar. She slaps her hand on the counter and says, “I’m lookin’ for the paw that shot my man.”

– Annoying Teddy Bear Sings Until You Destroy It

Heh heh heh. It honestly does. It sings a high pitched, awful version of the birthday song until you actually physically break it. Where can I buy one?

– Singing Teddy Bear Draws Ire, Outrage

The gist is that people believe that creating a bear that must be destroyed is going to turn kids into serial killers. Damn. Looks like they might not be on store shelves anytime soon. Bummer. I had such plans…

– See How This Pricey Cracker Survived The Titanic

My guess is that it was savvy enough to get to the head of the line at the life boats promptly to secure a seat.

– See How This Pricey Cracker Survived The Titanic

…ya know, reading the headline again, unless you saw the photo of an actual saltine-like cracker, one might easily take this as a really cutting jab against all the wealthy folks who were given priority on the life boats over the rest of the passengers…

– Chewbacca Arrested for Driving Darth Vader to the Polls

CHEWIE NOOOO!!!! How could you switch sides?

– Missing Cat Found With Wine Hangover

…how do they know it was wine?

– Russian Police Find Half a Ton of Caviar in Speeding Hearse

Of course they did.

– Student Scores in Reading, Math Drop

Your common core, not hard at work.

– Two People Dead After Explosion At Oregon Gun Range

People died at a gun range? What is this world coming to.

– We Can’t Eat Our Way Out of the Invasive Species Crisis

Duly noted.

– Ford Responds to Trump: ‘Facts Are Stubborn Things’

Oh snap. Need a little aloe for that burn, Trump?

– Ex-cop Gets Year in Jail for Asking to Lick Woman’s Feet

Texas, not Florida. Yeah, I know. I was surprised, too.

– Idaho Agency Finds Historic Footage of Parachuting Beavers

I KNEW IT. They tried to cover it up, but I friggin’ knew it! You watch. Area 51 footage is next. #thanksSnowden

– Feds: Company Put Cheddar, Swiss in “Real” Parmesan, Romano

Holy shit. No wonder the mac ‘n cheese was so testy. I guess we learned a valuable lesson here. There’s always another side to the story.

Thus concludes a Roundup for Wednesday, October 28, 2015. Costume making today. I’ve only got one to make this year, and he wants to be the Grim Reaper. You know, keep it light and happy this Halloween. I’ve got an old rusty sickle I think I can turn into a kickass scythe, but I’m on the fence about coating it in fake blood or glowing paint to make it eerie…hm…

It be a briny day for this landlubber…

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Mornin’ all.

Okay, so the madcap book writing thing is not going to plan.

“You’re procrastinating again, aren’t you, Bethie?”

No!

…well, maybe a little. I hit a sticky section. I know how I want the book to end, I know the generalities of the plot line, I even have a few distinct scenes in my head ready to flow through my fingers to enter the world. However, to get there, I need to get past one major bump in the road that feels like it’s covered in wet tar.

I think I know how. I had a burst of inspiration last night.

Unfortunately, that inspiration can’t be used yet. This is building up and it’s going to be one of those situations where my fingers feel like they’re injected with Red Bull and I’ve got the headphones on blasting my murder playlist (literary murder, folks. Jeez. What kind of idiot do you think I am? If I was actually going to murder someone in real life, I wouldn’t have a playlist called “murder”, would I?) and going to town. I need to be able to sit in the zone and just write.

I haven’t been able to do that this week, and I won’t get a chance to until at least tonight. Very soon my herd of giants will be waking up eager to get to…the Pickle Fest!

Yep, today is our little hamlet’s annual festival to celebrate what I believe is one of the tastiest methods of food preservation.

It seems like the hubbub is a little more bubby this year. This could have something to do with multiple factors. First, we live in the general area of the infamous Pumkin Fest. Remember that? It was on the news because some asshats decided to have riots there. RIOTS. At a pumpkin festival. I think people are kind of amped to see whether or not there will be trouble at our little fest.

If there is, I guarantee it won’t last long. Unlike the big city of past pumpkin shame, we’re a small town. In NH. I’ve said it before, but in case you’ve forgotten, let me refresh your memory with a simple math equation to keep in mind anytime you travel through my fair state:

small NH town = lots of guns

Hm. I suppose that’s less of an equation and more of a life lesson, huh? Here. I’ll make it more mathy so it seems important and official:

trouble making outsider + small NH town = wicked bad fahkin’ day fer that guy

Get the point?

Anyone would be beyond stupid to try and start shit here. We’re celebrating pickles today, people. Pickles. Vegetables that have been given balls and grit through copious amounts of vinegar and salt. This isn’t some bullshit fest to honor a damn hipster coffee-flavoring gourd. This is real mans’ man’s stuff. Salt to toughen you up, vinegar to give you the squint of an ornery bastard. GRRRR!

“Whoa now, Bethie. Calm down.”

*deep breath* Don’t be startin’ shit in MY fest.

There. Had to be said. Though I don’t think there will be any legitimate problems, I do think the “what if” is driving the buzz.

Another excitement factor this year is how nice our town is starting to look. There are some redone buildings downtown. An investor came in and converted a building that started out as a factory, changed to a store, housed a hardware business forever, then sat useless for a decade into a combination distillery and farmer’s market.

No, wait. I know it might sound like a silly concept to combine a produce stand with a moonshine factory. But have you been to a farmer’s market lately? The prices are getting INSANE. I think it’s brilliant to get the customers all liquored up before they pay $4.99/lb for organic roots and twigs. Takes the sting off the sticker shock.

Love or hate the concept, the building has been totally renovated and looks so awesome. There has been a massive amount of activity in and around it this week…I wonder if today will be their grand opening?

Right next to the new highbrow boozery is a karate dojo. It’s in a tall, skinny building on a corner right next to a very narrow bridge. In my lifetime, there have been perhaps two dozen different companies that tried to run a successful business in that building. All of them have failed.

Local lore is that it’s haunted.

Back in the town’s heyday, when the tannery was running full steam and the grand hotel hadn’t yet turned into a bawdy house of disrepute, the building in question housed a high end garment shop. It wasn’t a standard tailor. This shop catered to the upper echelon who would stop over for a night in the grand hotel on their train journey north to the luxury of the White Mountain resorts that were a popular summer destination for the pre-civil war elite.

At three stories tall, the building is one of the largest in town and was very hard to miss. It sat directly across from the grand hotel itself, yet another marketing coup for a small town seamstress named Annabelle Green. Getting business was never a problem for the self-professed “Lady of Lace,” and her rich clients, happy with her work, would tout her ability far and wide. At her prime, she was creating fashion for the wives and mistresses of the most powerful men in the northeast. She quickly became one of the richest and most influential people in town, in a time when “rich” and “influential” were generally not words used to describe a woman.

Lucky as she was in her career, she could not find a husband that would allow her to continue to control her own business. There are two separate engagement announcements in the old newspaper accounts for Annabelle, and two separate gossip bits about those engagements ending without marriage. Though the specifics are mere story with no actual verification, the rumor was that after the second failed engagement, Annabelle kind of went mad.

I don’t think that’s true. It’s a rumor that’s endured through the generations because after the second broken engagement, Annabelle refused to deal with men. There was a sign in her shop that forbade men from crossing the threshold. She insisted that all accounts be settled either by mail or by hand delivery from the “party serviced,” meaning the women, not their husbands. She would not speak to men on the street, and when it came time to pay her own tax bills, she’d always send one of her workers to deal with the male-centric town offices.

I think people said she went bonkers because they wanted some explanation other than “she hated that she was used and abused by men her whole life and they were assholes that deserved to be shunned.” I think in that misogynistic society, any woman who was sick of mens’ shit was just called “mad”. They couldn’t believe that THEY were the problem, NOT her.

Anyway, whether she went mad or not, that last attempt at love was a turning point. She loved her business before. After? She was a woman obsessed with it. She poured herself so completely into the shop that there is an old log in the town hall that proves she was fined for breaking the working hours ordinance no less than seven separate times because she just would not stop the machines and send her employees home by 6 pm.

The town, getting sick of her shit and sick of her attitude and just generally sick of her, had enough of the late hours right in the middle of their town and began to put the pressure on to drive her away. There are myriad ways a small town hellbent against one lone businesswoman could make her life hell and cause her business to dry up, and it seems every one of those tricks was employed.

I’d like to tell you that she bucked the system and kept on sewing. I can’t. The system beat her down, and in 1842, she had to close her doors. However, she lived on the third story, and by that time, she owned the building. They could make her close, but they couldn’t make her leave.

Annabelle would spend her days sitting in a chair on the balcony of the third floor, glaring down at the townspeople like some crazed, bitter gargoyle. They tried fining her, but there was no law against sitting on your own balcony and looking at folks. As she sat, day in and day out, her eyes passing judgment on everyone, she allowed her building to fall into disrepair. Right in the center of town and across from a grand hotel, the peeling paint and broken windows were not only an eyesore, they were a major flip of the bird to those who made her dream crumble.

They tried forcing her to keep her building neat and tidy. She never showed up to the hearing in front of the town board of selectmen, and she also never paid the resulting fine. The town took her to court. Or, tried to, anyway. She refused to leave her building to go to that court hearing, either, and a judgment was passed in her absence ordering Annabelle to either repair the building, or cede it to the town under threat of physical eviction should she not comply.

Do you think Annabelle complied?

Legend has it that the scene was a great, riotous affair on the day the police went to forcibly evict Annabelle. Gossip accounts of the time make it seem like there were hundreds of people gathered to witness the event, with folks squaring off on either side of the debate. The “let an old woman live in peace!” do gooders against the “make that bitch pay for ruining our town!” contingent.

Personally, I doubt the veracity of that part of the story. I’ve lived in this town almost my whole life, and while some things change about a small community over the years, the basic ethos will always remain. Though we do like a good spectacle, I think to get teeming masses involved, there would have to be some free beer or snacks.

Now, don’t get me wrong…I’m not saying there wasn’t drama on the fateful day. Though not the riotous affair the rumor mill created, it was one of our town’s most infamous events.

As the police forced their way into the building to apprehend the once powerful Annabelle, she gave the town her one last “SCREW YOU!” and dove off her balcony to her death. She landed right in front of the building, her neck twisted and blood staining the sidewalks in the very center of town just as a coach of wealthy travelers, some no doubt her former clients, pulled to a stop at the grand hotel right across the street.

Since that day, every business that has tried to make a go of it in Annabelle’s building has failed, some of them only a few months after opening their doors.

When I was a kid, the trend was to try to make it a little restaurant. Former tenants claimed that they’ve come in in the morning to find rows of glasses shattered, or the refrigerator with all the prep food for the next day unplugged and thousands of dollars worth of groceries spoiled. Things placed in the attic will be mysteriously shredded. Odd music will play when the owners are there alone at night. You know, standard haunting type stories.

However, even the folks who claim not to believe in ghosts have left the building in a hurry after more nefarious happenings. There are dozens of reports of people being pushed or tripped on the stairs. Reasonable men and women have fled in a panic after feeling as if they’ve been punched or slapped if they dare enter the third story, what was once Annabelle’s private quarters. Two people have been driven to insanity by the relentless torture, and one sadly died the same way as the seamstress herself.

No business lasts there, people. Why? Because Annabelle won’t let it.

…nah. Just kidding. Gosh you’re gullible today! The building never housed a high priced seamstress shop. I’m pretty sure it was the opposite of a grand hotel *nudge**nudge* *wink**wink* if you catch my drift. A saloon on the bottom floor, and bottoms on the top. I bet people did die there, but it was probably from gonorrhea or a heart attack. Maybe cheatin’ at cards like a yellow-bellied varmint.

It’s true that no business has lasted in that space, but the reason for that is quite simple and, frankly, boring. The building is in a horrible location. It’s right by the first of two intersections in town (yes, two WHOLE intersections), with a narrow bridge on one side and just awful parking, to boot. Any business like a shop or a restaurant, where people know they are only going to be there a short while, will not do well. It’s such a hassle to back out of the parking right into the intersection that people decide it’s not worth it to come back.

A dojo, though…now there’s a winning idea. Why? Because parents can drop their kids off and then park anywhere downtown. They’ve got at least an hour to wait while the kids are in class, so there’s no hurry, no rush. All the downtown parking is free, and if you’re not in a time crunch, the dojo is definitely within easy walking distance. Hell, a lot of the folks are probably going to head on over to do their laundry while they wait anyway. A dojo might work there, it just might.

Even if the dojo doesn’t last, the owners of the building have decided to spiff it up, too. They redid it to look like a cross between the old saloon it most likely was and a modern building with a bank of large windows on the entire second story. It looks classy, that’s what I’m saying, especially right next to the farmer’s mar*hic*ket.

Aw shit. I just put it together. The drunk-ket is in cahoots with the dojo. The folks who drop their kids off to kick ass in karate can then go drink some expensive liquor and buy kale while they wait. Brilliant.

We’ve also got a new candle shop in town. Yep, candles.

All of this together gives us fancy roots and organic twigs, craft liquors to make people forget they are going to eat said roots and twigs, a dojo where the folks who are going to buy the liquor and roots and twigs can send their kids while they do it, and a fancy candle to take home as a New Englandy memento.

Oooh lah lah. Lookit us all high and uppity over here. Bring on the snotty cheese-eaters!

…but remember, we still have guns. Lots of them. And even though a vast majority of the gun-toters will be watching a cow take a shit in the field to see if they struck it rich, I guarantee they’re all good enough shots to take down any rioters from that distance.

You know what we call that ’round here?

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Thus concludes a briny Musing for Saturday, Pickle Fest Day, 2015. I’m off to buy a jar of half sours so I can pre-game.

“Uh, Bethie?”

Huh?

“Are you going to explain the cow shit comment?”

Well now, I don’t think I will. Mystery is the spice of life.

Embrace it.

We’re havin’ a heat waaaaave…a tropical heat waaaave….

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Mornin’ all.

It’s twenty degrees warmer this morning than yesterday morning. It’s a face-melting 14 out there! I busted out the tee shirts and sunscreen for the kids.

I joke, but seriously, it does feel a ton warmer. I’m reluctantly acclimating to this horror we call winter. Why do I need to acclimate? Why can’t I hibernate?

That’s it. I’m forming a new Super PAC. We’ll call it the Anti-Acclimation Pro-Hibernation League, of AAPHL for short. Our goal will be government sanctioned hibernation laws for all northern areas of the country. Our mascot will be a bear. We’ll go on tour with our mascot and try to drum up support. Crowds love bears. It’s a winning idea.

“Uh, Bethie? I don’t mean to piss in your Wheaties or anything, but how are you going to get a bear to go on tour with you in winter?”

…oh. I guess we can’t actually parade a bear around this time of year, can we? Fine. We’ll have a picture of a bear. Pictures can be just as moving as the real thing. Besides, I think PETA will be less likely to protest our rallies if we don’t drag a sleeping bear around by a collar.

“And what, exactly, are you rallying for? You do know it’s not illegal to hibernate, right?”

Well…I mean…I guess not *strictly*. But they certainly don’t make it easy. If I want to hibernate all winter, well, dammit! I should be able to hibernate free from consequence and…

“So you essentially want napping laws.”

…don’t you?

“Guess it makes as much sense as any other Super PAC.”

Glad to see you’re on board! I’ll send you a pamphlet and an online petition once we work out the details.

There was an event at our local elementary school here in town last night. The 8 year old was completely jazzed for it. The mum, eh. Not so much. I dragged the 16 year old with me. Not only is he the only one that could also provide me with entertainment (he’s a crack up), but he was probably the only one of the three that would actually go. I wasn’t expecting to have much fun, but I was very pleasantly surprised.

The event was Casino Night.

“Casino Night…at…an elementary school…?”

…yeah, that’s what I thought at first. A bit of an odd choice. However, there was no gambling. The night was held to cap off a unit of math the middle schoolers had done. They worked very hard to create games of odds and math. Every kid from the school who attended had a casino card, and when they did one of the activities, they’d get a sticker. At the end of the event, they tallied up how many stickers they collected and got a prize from the table of neat give away items the local bank donated.

It was a pretty damn cool event, if you want to know the truth. It’s a small school, only a couple hundred kids grades pre-k through 8th. I was actually very impressed with how much they managed to do. I’m a big old nerd, too. I absolutely love seeing what kids can make, and some of the games and displays they came up with were super impressive.

They have a fantastic theater director there who is so unafraid of embarrassing himself that he pasted on fake sideburns and donned a white jumpsuit and glittered cape to pretend to be Elvis. All. Night. Long. Even when he sidled up to give the 16 year old a hug and a slap on the back because he hasn’t seen him in awhile, he stayed in character. He said, “Well-uh, hey now, partner! I haven’t seen you-uh since we tore up Reno!” Fan-Tas-Tic.

The flow of the night needed a bit of work. Some of the games took awhile for kids to play, making the waits in the line take awhile. But the idea was great, and if they do it again next year, if they just tweak it a bit, it’ll be a huge hit. An impressive showing by the staff and students of what in this area is widely considered to be a sub-standard town. Last night’s event was full of creativity, hard work, excellent teacher and staff involvement. No, we couldn’t hold it in a fancy event center. But I guarantee that a larger percentage of parents and families showed up to support their kids last night in our “dumpy little redneck town” than any functions the richer schools in the area hold!

…er…sorry. I wave the hometown flag a little hard sometimes. Hey, SOMEone has to!!

As great as the event was, there were a couple people there who didn’t realize that:

a) They were in a school.

b) The school was filled with children.

c) Those children do not want to hear about gutting a deer, “fixin’ that fuckin’ muffler,’ or who Becky went home with from the bar the other night.

* Sidenote: If your name is Becky and you’re from a small town in the southwest corner of NH and you happened to go home with a man after a few too many last weekend….woman to woman, you need better friends. STAT.*

Now, lest you think it turned into a wild, spittoon twangin’, jug chuggin’, fiddle hoppin’ hootenanny, there were a couple hundred people at the event, and only a handful of them had no class. The gossip chicks who totally did NOT have Becky’s back, the “fuckin’ muffler” guys, and the details of the deer gutting happened only between a few people. You get those folks in every crowd. There is always someone who doesn’t understand how to behave in a mixed group, regardless of geographical location.

One such woman looked to be well put together. She had her make up on and her hair did. High heel pumps (which are NOT allowed on the gym floor dumbass) and a fancy pocket book which I’m sure cost more than a couple cars I’ve driven in the past. She started to chit chat with me about her son running one of the game tables, and it all went fine until she asked about my younger son. I said he was in third grade. She got this horrified look on her face and said, “Third grade? I thought he was a kindergartener!”

Now folks, I don’t know if I’ve ever mentioned, but my 8 year old is…diminutive. He’s not a dwarf or little person (no offense meant, I genuinely do not know which term is preferable), he’s just short for his age. Like his dad, he seems like he’ll just grow later in life. I know this. HE knows this. And it’s been quite a struggle to get him to be okay with the fact that there is only one other kid in his class that’s as short, and she’s a girl. We have pointed out that his oldest brother was very short, too, until 9th grade, and that his dad didn’t actually have a growth spurt of note until he was 19.

Everyone can see he’s short.

My question is, why in the HELL would an ADULT feel the need to point it out? Not just in a crowded location, but right in front of him??

I was flabbergasted. I said, “The boys in the family grow later. This guy here (16ager) was the same height at 8. So which game is your son’s?”

I wasn’t justifying for the lady, you understand. That lady could take her spiked heels and fancy purse and shove them up her hoity toity ass. I was trying to make it okay for the 8 year old boy who just heard an ADULT be HORRIFIED that he was so short. And call him a KINDERGARTENER.

Have you ever had an 8 year old boy? They are loud and brash and fully believe themselves to be five years older, ten feet taller, and twenty times stronger than they actually are. Being called short and three years younger is almost the ultimate insult. The only thing that could have piqued his ire more is if she also said he looked like a girl.

…and even that, meh. I’m not so sure he’d care as much. As long as it was an 8 year old girl.

So giving any response to Shithead Sal wasn’t me trying to justify or explain anything to HER. My words were for my kid.

You’d think she would have realized she was choking on her own foot at that point, but no. Clueless Carol had to keep pushing the issue. She said, “But 8? I don’t believe it. He’s so tiny!” It was clear that Nancy Numbnuts was just going to keep grinding him into the ground, so I ushered him along and made a point to once again tell him how wrong it was for someone to care about his height.

Why do people do this? Why do ADULTS do this? Why do they think it’s okay to point out differences in children?

What was Debbie Dumbass’s thought process that lead her to believe that it was not only fine to proclaim what she perceived as an inadequacy in my child, but to then keep pressing when it was clear that I was attempting to get her to shut the hell up? There were a million other potential small talk topics. The childrens’ art projects on the wall next to the line. The event we were waiting for. The principal who walked around handing out Mardi Gras beads. Shit, we’re a poor community without any sports teams, but we’ve somehow managed to keep having weather. Talk about the weather.

Or, don’t talk. Give a polite nod, tell your son’s age, and be done. I didn’t know Jessie Jerkoff, and she didn’t know me. She did not owe me conversation, and I would have been completely fine if she never opened that diarrhea maw of hers. We could have nodded uncomfortably, then looked away as normal people do when they’re in line.

Thankfully, it didn’t ruin the evening. My son had a great time, and even the 16 year old admitted he really liked seeing some of his favorite former teachers. The games were fun and there was free popcorn. Can’t have a bad time if there’s free popcorn!

So that’s our local school report.

There’s a school in Alabama making headlines this week, and not for their fantastic Elvis impersonator or his performance I believe Roger Ebert would have called “inspired.” A middle school principal has come up with what she believes is a brilliant way to ward off would be school attackers. Have you heard about this? For those not in the know, I’ll catch you up.

Her brilliant plan is to have a cache of weaponry on hand in every classroom for the children to use.

Hang on. Before you go launching an anti-gun rally, the principal’s idea is even DUMBER than using actual weapons. What does she want to stockpile?

Cans.

Actually, “canned food items.” Over and over she kept saying “canned food items.” It got so annoying.

She sent a letter to parents requesting that they each donate one 8 oz. canned food item. She said that at the end of the year, if the students did not need to use the cans for protection, the canned food items will be donated to a local charity for consumption. She said the parents should consider the canned food items as a last resort for children to be “empowered” to help protect their school from an intruder, and assured parents that the children will not be walking around the halls with loaded canned food items.

…I added the “loaded”. That’s it. The rest was legitimately what she said about the canned food items.

(See? “Canned food items” gets old quick, doesn’t it?)

As you can imagine, the comments section under the article was absolutely hysterical on the surface. There were too many witty quips to list them all, but they ranged from, “Canned tomatoes don’t kill people, CANS do,” to, “If I was a shooter, you’d bet your ass I’d gun down a canned asparagus wielding little puke. But a kid with a Chef Boyardee can would give me pause,” to my personal favorite, “It needs to be said. All it takes to stop a bad guy with a can of peas is a GOOD guy with a can of peas.” I chuckled. Snorted, actually.

And then I got over the giggles at the absurdity of it all and realized it’s not really funny. It’s not funny at all.

Everyone’s afraid of school shootings. Of all the possible phobias out there, this has got to be one of the most justifiable, especially if you’re a parent of a school aged child. Remember Sandy Hook? Since then, there have been 74 shootings in schools. And that was just a couple years ago! School shootings are real, they are happening, and schools HAVE to be prepared. I am not arguing that whatsoever.

But people. The way to prepare is NOT to arm children with useless “weapons”. With ANY weapons. It is not a child’s responsibility to try and stop a shooter. And what in the bloody hell is a can of flippin’ peas going to do against a gun?

The moronic principal says that this plan is “empowering” for children.

Right. Well, let’s take a look at how the scenario would play out, shall we?

Gun man is crazy. By the very act he is about to commit, we can say with absolute certainly that he is not a mentally stable individual. He has rage. He has bitterness. He has a taste for revenge that is so twisted that his primary targets are little children.

He walks into the school. Maybe he shoots some teachers or staff along the way. Gets down the hall. Enters a room with children, only to have some cans thrown at him as soon as he opens the door.

The principal would have us believe that like a black bear raiding your camp for munchies, this would be enough to fluster and scare the attacker and he would run away.

The principal is fucking dreaming.

Gun man is NOT a black bear. He is NOT more afraid of you than you are of him. He has a gun, and if something is thrown at him, he will use it. He will turn it on the kid who stood up from behind cover in order to pelt 8 ounces of canned food item uselessness at him and he will blast that child away. He will remove the threat. He will not hesitate to add to the body count, because his entire point of going into that school on that day is to rack up as many kills as possible.

It’s not funny. It’s not clever. It’s not “empowering.” It’s a death sentence.

And yet, the community there is blindly following the principal’s insane lead. Not a damn one of them will point out that the emperor is not wearing clothes.

Our schools around here do lockdowns if there is a problem. As soon as an intruder is detected in the school, the doors to the classrooms are locked. The lights shut off. Teachers have been instructed to get children behind book cases and other furniture items, and the children are to remain as quiet as possible. An alert goes out to police immediately, and in the drills they’ve done, they can have the entire school locked down with police on site in minutes.

Is it perfect? No. There is no perfect system when you’re dealing with sick, crazy individuals. But I guarantee you these steps would be infinitely more successful in a worst case scenario than relying on children to throw cans at a psycho.

Thus concludes a school themed Musing for Friday, January 16, 2015. I’m off to go out back and sunbathe on my deck for awhile. What? It’s a balmy 21 now! Can’t miss out on this little slice of heaven…

Step right up, folks, and keep and eye on that cow’s ass…

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Mornin’ all.

I got up this morning and the 90’s Ace of Base song “I Saw the Sign” was playing on the radio. There are far worse ways to start the day, my friend. I had to keep myself from singing it out loud and my bebopping almost spilled my coffee. What can I say? I can’t be held responsible for coffee spills when a 90’s track takes hold.

The song holds a special place in my heart. Two, actually. The first is that it was oddly one of my father’s favorites. It would play and he’d point his fingers and make a Bill Cosby face and shuffle around the house sorta to the beat. He did that to Milli Vanilli’s “Wishing Well” and pretty much anything by Paula Abdul, too, but I never held that against him.

The other was a party my best friend and I threw. It was a sleepover with a luau theme. We were mini Martha Stewarts without the douchebaggery and put a lot of thought into that party. While we decorated with homemade lei streamers, we played “I Saw the Sign” over and over. That was an epic event, even if I DID get in trouble for someone throwing Jell-o jigglers onto the freshly painted ceiling to see if they would stick.

Spoiler alert: They did.

Anyway, wicked awesome 90’s tunes + smile-inducing memories = a good way to wake up!

I had a good weekend, too. Mother Nature decided to give our little hamlet an excellent round of weather. Now, I’ve lived in NH long enough to know that when you get a few bee-u-teeful days in a row at the end of September, it’s usually a pre-apology for things to come. Indeed, a quick check in with the old farmers at the almanac let me know that it’s supposed to be a bitter and long winter. Mother Nature is bribing us. I’ll take it, though. It was in the 80’s. And sunny. And the leaves have really begun to turn. And there were pickles.

“…pickles?”

Yes! This weekend was our town’s annual Pickle Festival!

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Relax, that’s just a kitschy banner, not a call-to-arms for the next supremacy movement.

Why pickles, you ask? Why not? We’ve got to celebrate something, right? The large town to the north has a pumpkin festival. I don’t care for that. It’s a huge waste of a highly nutritious, inexpensive food source and…

“Bethie! Stop. Do NOT disparage the Pumpkin Festival.”

*sigh* Fine. I won’t say what’s clearly obvious just because you like literally burning thousands upon thousands of pounds of food in what has got to be one of the worst examples of First World entitlement in the area that I can…

“WHAT THE HELL IS WRONG WITH YOU WOMAN?!”

Oh. Sorry. I didn’t notice the Pumpkin Fest tee-shirt you’re wearing. Or the pumpkin shaped novelty cup in your hand. Or the bracelet of souvenir charms from every single Pumpkin Fest. My bad.

Forget the pumpkins. Pickles are where it’s at anyway. What, exactly, is a Pickle Festival? It’s a chance to have a parade, eat free pickles donated by the Kiwanis club, listen to local bands, pig out on some carnival food, buy locally produced jewelry in the craft sale area, watch cows take a shit for charity… You know, same old that any “fest” would offer.

“Uh, could we back the truck up a sec?”

The cow thing, right? Yeah, a lot of people wonder about that. It’s called a Cow Flop (or Cow Plop…the two are interchangeable). What they do is section off a field into grids, usually with 100-1000 squares, depending on the fund-raising goal. Each square is numbered, and the numbers are put on tickets. The tickets are then sold, usually for like $5 a pop.

Next, a cow is placed in the makeshift pen. And then people wait for nature to take it’s course. Whoever has the ticket with the number that corresponds with the shat upon square gets a portion of the ticket sales.

“People get paid for a cow taking a dump?”

Yes, but for charity, so it’s cool.

“What happens if the cow doesn’t need to go?”

A cow ALWAYS needs to go. You install a cow into a field and you’re pretty much guaranteed a show within an hour or so. And part of the fun is watching the cow and waiting. It’s the same thrill you get from watching a roulette wheel spin or waiting for the blond in the glittery dress to announce the next lotto number, and people get disappointed if the cow lets loose as soon as it gets off the trailer.

“But what if it falls on more than one square?”

Then they split the prize.

“But…”

Honey, you’re putting way too much thought into this. A cow shits, people cheer, the charity gets money and the holder of the Golden Ticket gets to call all his or her pals and say they’re a winner. That’s it. It’s really not complicated.

You’ve got to admit, there are far worse ways to make money. This one’s virtually free to put on. There’s always a farmer around who’s willing to loan you a poopy cow for awhile. The only real cost is buying a roll of ticket blanks. Sure, we could have something more upscale, like the Met Gala. If we do that, though, we risk a Kardashian showing up. NO ONE wants that.

Anyway, there ya go. The next time you’re at a dinner party and someone mentions a Cow Flop, you don’t have to pretend you know what they’re talking about anymore. You’re welcome.

It was packed this year, too, and the festivities went on longer than usual. Normally the event wraps up at 4 pm, but the crowds tend to die down well before then. Not this year. I don’t know if people were just in a pickly mood, or if they didn’t want to stop wandering around on such a gorgeous day, but when I went through downtown at 3:30 to go to the store, it was still fairly busy and didn’t look ready to close.

I can’t tell you how good that is for a town our size. Any fest brings benefits to the community. If it didn’t, then the planners wouldn’t put up with the five alarm migraines they get from having to coordinate such a large event. However, I think if a small town like ours can put on such a successful event, the benefits to us are greater than if we were a large town. We don’t have an abundance of small businesses here. We don’t have a weekly draw, like a flea market or farmer’s market or any other kind of market, or any centers for concerts or sporting events. We’re just a regular old small NH town.

I saw a family getting out of a car with a Connecticut license plate. They had Pickle Fest tee-shirts on that they bought last year. We had out-of-state repeaters, and that’s exactly what we need. It’s all fine and dandy if the locals spend a few bucks on cotton candy. It’s much more valuable to the financial welfare of the community if we suck the dollars from tourists.

The parade was great fun, too. Er, for the most part. For some reason there was a float of very sad lumberjacks. And by that, I don’t mean, “Holy smokes, what a sad attempt to be lumberjacks.” I mean, they were lumberjacks who looked seconds away from openly weeping. They were lumberjacks but they were NOT okay.

A small town parade is something everyone should see at least once in their life. You really get a feel for the town by what slowly drives past. The leader of the parade was a classic car with the emcee of the event, Mr. Pickle (I can’t make that up) standing up and waving to the crowd from inside. There were band floats, two of them. After that, there were the sad lumberjacks, the happy Red Hat ladies, the content preschoolers all dressed up like bumble bees. Firetrucks, ambulances, and rescue vehicles, all competing with their sirens. A hovercraft.

YES hovercraft! I did not even know we had such a thing. It’s a rescue hovercraft for our fire department. Someone at the local FD found craigslist!

I mentioned the two band floats. In years past, we’ve only had one, a band from a different small town that has some notoriety in the area. However, we now have our own local town band! Two band floats, of two different small town bands. Why didn’t they tell the other band to get lost and pound sand? I think they were going for an edge, personally. High drama lends a bit of excitement to the event. Anything could have happened between such volatile groups. Flute keys are sharp as hell, and just look at a clarinet and tell me it’s not shaped perfectly to shove up…

The parade coordinator spaced the floats just far enough apart so you could almost tell what each band was playing. I think they should have played the same song at the same time, but that’s asking a whole lot from rivals. Perhaps that’s why the lumberjacks were depressed. They were stuck in a war they could not win and wanted no part of. I guess I’d be sad if I had Sousa in one ear and Fillmore in the other for an hour straight.

*band geek fist bump*

Tractors. Of course we had tractors. No small town parade is complete without some shiny or old, or shiny AND old tractors. One of the tractor drivers got into a little race with a mini car. That livened up the crowd! Candy was thrown to the delight of the kids (and one pushy woman in her 40’s that nearly bowled over the small children for a Tootsie Roll. YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE) and the parade was a success.

We got out of there once the parade was done. We had arrived early enough to walk around the event before the depressed lumberjacks had a chance to bring us down. Besides, the crowd was ten times worse after the parade, and, being local, we knew to plan for an early day. All in all, it was a fantastic event.

There was talk around town of canceling the Pickle Fest. It’s costly, the logistics send people into spasms of self doubt huddled in fetal positions in the corners of the town hall, certain residents don’t like the traffic and noise… I sincerely hope that this year’s success proves to the naysayers that this really IS a worthwhile thing for our town. I like to see us go forward, not back. We have a fest. We should hold onto it. I can tell you without a doubt that it’s better than anything our town did when I was a kid.

Progress in the form of pickles. I like that.

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Monday, September 29, 2014. I’m going to be writing today as I munch on a jar of leftover progress…after I go to YouTube and listen to some Ace of Base again. Once is never enough…

Slowly I turn. Step by step, inch by painfully slow inch…

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Mornin’ all.

*creeeeaaakkk*

Sorry. My back still wants to be in bed today. I’m hoping that this coffee will do for me what the oil can does for the Tin Man. Or at the very least, let me walk faster than a snail.

Do snails “walk”?

It took me quite some time to navigate the stairs. Fourteen stairs didn’t sound like many stairs before I set off on my lengthy journey. On the way down, I had some extra time to think about my day, ponder the meaning of life, develop an equation that definitively proves the Riemann hypothesis…

*fist bump to mathies*

…okay, maybe that last one didn’t actually happen. Hey, because of me, literally tens of people will google “Riemann hypothesis”. I have injected a short burst of interest into an oft-ignored subject. THE FIST BUMP STANDS.

We had another yard sale yesterday. We got a lot of tire kickers, but I noticed the junk/antique/crap shop across the street was having the same problem. They are an extremely popular little shop, and usually people walk out of there with their arms stuffed full of treasures. However, we saw more people than not driving away empty handed. There just wasn’t a buyer’s mood in the air.

I wonder if it was because of the cold? It started off legitimately chilly yesterday, and I know I couldn’t have been the only one thinking about winter being right around the corner. Perhaps the cold sparked some old, subconscious cue for people to hold onto their resources and not spend money, to save for the lean times ahead.

“Bethie, maybe people just didn’t want to buy your crap.”

…Or that.

It was a dribs and drabs and nickel and dime day. And everyone was looking for a much better deal than the smokin’ hot prices we already set. One lady actually tried to dicker the price down on a $2 item that was already dropped to $1 for her. Directly after being told she could have it for $1, she said, “Would you take fifty cents?” It was just that kind of day.

Still, made a few bucks, and every drop in the bucket helps. Stuff that didn’t sell that we just couldn’t bring ourselves to drag back in was put in a “free” pile. I tell you what. You want to get the attention of hundreds of people? Stick anything on your lawn with a “free” sign. It was like some weird zombie movie. They Came for the Free Pile. Within minutes, the mob swarmed, coming from nowhere and everywhere all at once. They attacked that crap as if it was their very life’s blood, pawing and pushing and throwing and gnawing. It was too creepy to watch out the front window, and we drew the curtains and sat staring at the door, rifles clutched at the ready, our terrified heartbeats matching the painfully slow ticking of the clock as we prayed that the horde would lose interest and just…move…on…

The rest of the afternoon passed without incident, but I tell you what, I hugged my kids just a bit tighter before bed, knowing all that could have happened.

Today we’re going to attack one of the garages and create another free pile. This time, though, we’ll be prepared. I think I’ll set up an electrified fence all around it. A zombie-be-good perimeter to protect our home just in case one of them can’t handle the surge of adrenaline at finding a pile of free junk and decides to see what other treasure may lie within the fortress.

KIDDING. Sheesh. You think I want to waste that much electricity? I’ll just put razor wire out and that should be enough.

That garage has some of everything you’d expect in a garage. There’s an old fish tank, an 80s tv stand, some random weed whackers in various states of functionality. There’s a huge pile of recycling we haven’t gotten around to actually taking to the transfer station, a sketchy bird with a nest in the rafters who, without fail, flies into the closed window instead of the open door when we go inside, tools, dead appliances…pretty much what you’d expect in a catch-all garage.

Well, everything but a car.

It’s a huge undertaking, but I have help today. Hopefully we’ll weed it out enough to where I can get the rest by myself when the dump is open.

**Drawback #843 of living in a small town: the dump is only open three days a week.**

Gut the garage, that’s the goal. I figure if we can at least get it sorted into sell, free, and dump, we’ll be doing well for the day. Then tomorrow I can focus more on inside the house. Ya know, I can only think of one other time in my life where I wished for a real genie lamp. But that time turned out okay, and it was a far more dire situation. If that turned out fine, this will, too. It’s just the getting there part I can’t stand.

One plus, though, is that cleaning up a hoard is one helluva good workout. Ignore the sore back. That I did because I twisted funny with a large bag of books I knew damn well I should have broken down into at least two bags. I was stubborn, and that was my own fault. But the rest has been some really great weight training. Old school. No fancy machines, no drill sergeant personal trainers. Rocky in Russia style. Blast a little Eye of the Tiger, strap a box of trash bags on your belt, and get to it.

I used to lift weights. Back in the day, I was on the school’s weightlifting team, actually. Two years, and I liked it. That came to a screeching halt when a friend and I had the brilliant idea of playing tackle basketball, with my ankle being the victim and ending up in a cast. That was that for the weightlifting, but I still have the medals to prove I was actually pretty good at it.

See, I like feeling strong. I’m a very large person. No matter what, I’ll never have abs of steel. I aspire to more of abs of slightly stale marshmallow peeps. That’s about the best I think I could hope for. I do, however, have very strong legs and arms that build muscle easily. I’d much rather be able to pick stuff up and haul it around than do 1,000 crunches in the morning. I’d rather my strength be a usable force, rather than one for vanity or bragging rights.

If I had a spirit animal, it would be a mule, and I say that with pride. Sure, a thoroughbred horse is prettier, but a mule can work hard all day long. I’m from sturdy, eastern European stock. My ancestors worked the cabbage fields by day and drank vodka all night. No thoroughbred could live through that.

I hurt my knee a few years back. I did it in the dumbest way possible, too: I dared to walk from the living room to the bathroom.

“Hey, if you’re going to live life on the edge, Bethie, you get what’s coming to you.”

I know. I fully cop to it. I blew it out good, too. One minute it worked, the next it honestly felt like there was absolutely nothing there. That one took a good two years to heal. In that time, I couldn’t do much in the way of yard work or winter shoveling or home repairs. As you can imagine, things kind of went to pot.

I tell you what. It feels very, very good that it’s only my back that’s kinked up this morning after all of this work, and NOT my knee. I even caught myself brazenly tempting fate by walking directly from the living room to the bathroom WITHOUT HOLDING THE WALL.

“Bethie…”

Save the lecture, and stop looking at me like that. Everyone has to get back up on the horse at some point. I made it without incident and I think I took a crucial step forward (pun ALWAYS intended). Though I don’t know if I’ll ever be ready to attempt tackle basketball again, at least I’ve put one demon to rest.

*roll neck most of the way*

Hm, well the combo of coffee, mindless babbling, and Bayer extra strength back ache pills seems to have oiled up the gears. I can almost turn and stare out the window now. I think that’s a sign that it’s time to get working. At least I have a helper today. If things get too sore, I can always grab a whistle and be the overseer.

Ya know, that’s not a bad idea.

…oh…the power…

Thus concludes the Morning Musing for Sunday, August 17, 2014. I’ve got to remember where I put that whistle. I’ve got an egg timer that I can set for my worker’s breaks. Hey, you think a clipboard would make me look more official, or would that just be too douchey?