Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The great Hollyhock Massacre

I went out this morning to water my garden. The heat had backed off just a little and there was a slight breeze moving the humid air. It was quite pleasant. In fact, if I closed my eyes I could almost convince myself I was standing near the coast feeling the morning fog burning off.
As I walked down the driveway I glanced over to the little corner at the far side of the yard and saw:
Now, to the untrained eye, it might look like just a nice little ordinary corner of the yard.
But with my level of expertise I immediately noticed that something was awry.
Something definitely missing in this picture.
There should be bushes in that corner. Tall stalks of hollyhock bushes.The ones I planted there last year and have been babying for months. The hollyhocks that had rows of big buds just days away from bloom.

Bushes just like these!

But there were no hollyhock bushes in the corner of my yard, just a big empty space.

What happened?! Bushes don't just get up and walk away! (Well, maybe in San Francisco they do but I'm not in San Francisco am I!)

They were so close to blooming. I was so excited. I have wanted to grow black hollyhocks for so many years.
But there will be no hollyhock blooms in the corner of my yard this year
because there is a pasture just behind the corner of my yard and living in that pasture is one of these:

and one of these:

and so I have

Monday, May 24, 2010

What a...

nice, beautiful, quiet morning.

Oh, shoot, I did not just think that, really I didn't!

Yep, here we go again...

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Going all to pieces

What a nice quiet morning!
Those are the words that always seem to get me into trouble out here in this beautiful country. Nice quiet mornings just aren't allowed in Missouri, apparently.
The storms had finally passed, everything was washed clean and the clouds were drifting more gently through the skies.
What a nice morning to relax.
I walked across my family room and happened to glance out through the glass door expecting to see a glimpse of the beautiful little valley that slopes down behind our yard. Before I saw the green grass and trees, before I saw the little pond or the hills off in the distance, something else caught my eye. On the back porch, a few feet in front of me lay a long little body with coppery-red hourglass markings down the back and wicked little yellow eyes watching the house. Fifteen inches of sheer nastiness.
No nice quiet morning no more!
Off to the garage I headed to grab my heavy reinforced-toe muck boots. I figured I didn't have time to go all the way to the shop to get the flat-edged shovel so I had to settle for the shovel with the rounded blade. Seemed like a good idea at the time...
I came back to the glass door and looked out upon my adversary. Did I really want to open this door and leave my nice, safe abode?
Sure, I live in Missouri!
Once through the door and onto the porch, the gravity of what I was about to do started to turn a knotty little fist in the pit of my gut.
What if the little sucker managed to get around the shovel and bite me?! I had no audience! I always figured that when it was my time to go I would have an audience and it would be "the mother of all Oscar moments." How do you have a "the mother of all Oscar moments" with no audience?!! Time to get a game plan.
The little monster was busy looking over my head, watching the two birds' nests up in the rafters of the deck over this porch. I moved the shovel a little bit to see if his attention would move to me but he didn't waver in his gaze. I moved carefully over to the other side to see if his eyes would follow me but at that moment it seemed I pretty much didn't exist. Now I knew for sure I was dealing with a male.
I moved back to my starting point and began to review the Discovery Channel show I had watched just the night before featuring Bear Grylls teaching what to do in life or death situations. Last night he covered what one should do to survive a venomous snake bite.
Oh man, why didn't I pay better attention to what he was saying?! I was too busy making stupid jokes about taking "vitimins" (that's how he pronounces vitamins) and peeing on oneself because that seemed to be his answer for almost everything on his Man v. Wild show.
Wait, there was something about a snake being able to strike at a distance of half its body length. Or was it one and a half times its body length? Maybe I should go research this on the internet right quick so I can be sure...oh wait, I have dial-up, never mind!
All right, he's just over a foot long, my shovel handle has got to be at least four feet long, I'll just hold it waaaaay back here at the very end. Oh, would you look at that, the shovel blade is round! Huh!
(like I said, grabbing this shovel seemed like a good idea at the time!)
So I find myself understanding the importance of getting the edge of the shovel tightly fitted to the back of the snake's neck on the first attempt and due to the roundness of the shovel, I don't have a whole lot of surface area to work with--not a lot of room for a mistake in this situation.
At this point you might guess that the poor little snake was completely mesmerized by my overwhelmingly powerful stupidity--can you just imagine the little guy contemplating what size of helmet he needs to get me so I don't hurt myself?
A few deep breaths. Right, well, this has to be done. What if it gets away and sets up home in the backyard and one day the kids are playing in the grass and he is there to bite them?
Just how important are my kids to me anyway?
I have teenagers... maybe it'd be better if I just went back in the house... No, wait, that won't earn me the mother-of-the-year award will it? Shoot!
O.k., here goes nothing!
I fight every inclination racing through me to just pick up the shovel and bring it down as fast as I can on the snake's neck. This has to be precise, no second chances. If I miss he's going to bolt. There are two ways he can go: he will either come straight at me (iieeeeee!) or escape out into the yard. If I let him escape I know he'll be back with all his buddies to beat me up when I least expect it.
I move the shovel blade closer to him, he doesn't move. Whew! I inch the blade a little closer. Still no movement.
See what the power of overwhelming stupidity can do for you? And you've always talked like it was a bad thing!
Finally I have the shovel close enough that I am confident I can swiftly get it onto his neck with accuracy. I hold my breath and take the plunge.
Immediately all I can see are nasty wicked fangs. I feel the tense muscle of the snake under the shovel blade. I can feel it contracting as he tries to bring his head around to strike the shovel but it is secure.
Wow! What an interesting sensation that is!
I have never killed an animal before, never felt the bristling muscles protesting against what I'm about to do. What a horrible sensation! But it all comes down to the choice between the snake and my kids and the mother lion inside of me roars to life. The snake's head was off in an instant and I found myself standing, surveying my handy work.
And people think skydiving is exciting! Bah!
You want excitement?
Come live in Missouri!

Oh, and, just for fun I'm going to print this picture:
and hang it at the foot of Joe's bed after he has gone to sleep tonight. If you hear a blood-curdling girly scream in the morning, well, you know why I have yet to win the mother-of-the-year award. heh heh heh

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Monday, May 10, 2010


Jason and our kiddos gave me this picture by John Rossini for Mother's Day this year. Such a pretty picture with oreo cows in it!! I love it!