Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell

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We smelled “the smell” again.  In the same place.

Behind the wall, in the front vestibule–just like before.

Two weeks ago I was dumb enough to believe my husband’s declaration, “It’s just a dead mouse.”  In my defense, several winters ago a grey field mouse set up shop between the walls in our house.  He made little scritch-scratch noises that were kind of cute and since he didn’t eat much, I let him freeload.  Now and then I would “accidentally” drop a sunflower seed on the kitchen floor just so I could see the flash of his little pink belly.  It was all sunshine and lollipops until the rotten bastard died in the wall.  Game changer, let me tell you.   It bloated and stunk for a bit but we all got over it–well, except for Mr. Mouse.

Thinking that I just had to tough it out again, I lit soy candles and spent most of my free time upstairs, praying that no one would ring the doorbell.  After a week, we decided that a mouse could not possibly make that much smell.  Bets were placed that it was a racoon. The reek took on a life of it’s own.  I started sticking my nose inside my shirt and walked around smelling my boobs, waiting for it to go away, still clueless.

The following week, the doorbell rang.  I took a deep breath, ran downstairs, and opened the door while trying to slip outside to talk on the porch.  Our farmhand, Bryce, shot me the skunk eye.  He caught a big whiff.  I said, “dead mouse,” and he said, “No way,” and made a bee line for the basement.  From my spot on the porch, I heard his gagging.

Our freezer had quit and dark, thickened venison blood was dripping out of it, pooling on the floor, all putrified.   We looked at each other and I said, “Let’s get out the matches.”  Burning the house down at that point seemed legit.  I told him if he won’t let me burn it down, then I will start packing the suitcases.  Instead, Bryce called Adam and told him to grab a dolly from the barn on his way over.  Adam showed up with the elephant masks, too.  I ran away.

Meijer had everything a killer would need to clean up a big mess:  mops, duct tape, black plastic garbage bags, shovels, and bleach.  Lots of it.  I didn’t quite know how I was going to use the duct tape, but figured it was essential.  On my way home I noticed the backhoe was out.

 

 

 

A Horse Called Music

!!alalala

It’s one of those melancholy moons tonight where memories bend and reflect.  The wine helps.

Earlier today I was listening to the 30th annual Farm Aid radio show, featuring Willie Nelson (and many other bands)  live from Chicago, my home sweet home.

His song, “A Horse Called Music” is so beautifully written that I get lost in it until the tears that trickle down bring me back to the here and now.  The song fillets my heart and lays it wide open…especially at the end.

Click the link and let the words and tender tune soak into your body.  My gift to you tonight.  Elevated cowboy art, featuring Merle Haggard.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R_Hc8cEplSQ

Three Strike Rule

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My 19 lb. kevlar canoe had been enjoying a 3,500 mile ride through both the Black Hills of South Dakota and the Badlands/Big Horn Mountain Range perched on top of my Chevrolet Tahoe and it was paddled, finally, on String Lake in the Grand Tetons near Jackson Hole, WY.

After more than three weeks of watching wild sunflowers roll by, I caught a deafening tailwind in Nebraska with gusts of up to 40 mph on top of steady blowing prairie wind.   I was rolling 68 mph on a desolate highway in the middle of the great plains when a great gust caught the canoe, she flexed, and the straps blew out.  All I could do was look in my driver’s side mirror and watch her sail skyward, up and over the opposing lane.  I pulled my whole rig to an emergency stop, one quarter of a mile up the road.  (My biggest fear was that the canoe had dented the Airstream on its way to greener pastures)

Highway flashers were on, and I was out, running back to see if the canoe was in one piece.  She was laying there provocatively, splayed out among the wildflowers, on her side, and not a care in the world.  I cussed her out and hoisted her up on my shoulder to start the trek back to the truck on “The Walk of Shame” in the 97 degree Nebraska sun, counting my lucky stars.  This time I strapped her down extremely tight and added another line in a criss-cross for “insurance.”  Several cars went by, but not one car stopped to offer any help.  If I were 30 years younger and wearing a pair of daisy dukes and a wet tee shirt, I guarandamntee ya I would have had help.

Un-freaking-believeable…after merging back onto the highway, it was only ten miles before the Bitch blew off again in the God forsaken Nebraska wind.   I knew I had cinched her down tight and right.  So, in disbelief, I set the flashers again and headed back out into the scorching heat and rattlesnake grass to see if my luck held out.   There she lay, tickled pink,  three football fields back, laughing at me in the tall prairie grass.  The Whore.

I was hot and I was pissed.  I said to no one there, “Why you green Bitch…one more time, and I don’t care if you are broken or not, you are staying in the ditch.”  Because Eff-U.  It was a scorcher in the sun, I was sweaty as Hell,  and my trucker mouth was going 100 mph.

That’s when I heard a little whinny.  A horse.  It was a chestnut brown gelding with a strong Roman nose and a triple 7 brand on his left hip.  His mane was rich cocoa colored and tattered.

There was a flash of a lone star belt buckle as a cowboy I had just passed on a cattle drive dismounted.  He had a greying mustache and deep lines around his steely blue eyes.  I caught the scent of sweaty leather and rolled tobacco with each wind shift.  Without a word (cowboys don’t talk much) he picked up my canoe and started back toward the flashing lights.  I drooled along after him–and his horse!

Together, we put the boat back up top and after looking at my set up, his hands went to work on a knot that he said, “Would do the trick.”  (I think that is all he ever said)   When it was done, I walked around the truck, inspecting.  Before I could thank him proper, he had vanished.  My eyes followed a galloping dust trail in time to watch him stop, look back, and  reach up to tip the sweat stained brim on his Stetson.  That’s when it dawned on me that I had met the Marlboro Man.

Somewhere out there, under a Stevie Wonder sky, pierced by all the stars in the Milky Way, is a man who just doused his evening campfire, confident that this little lady made it home just fine.

 

 

“This dog don’t hunt.”

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He listened and a great sadness came. 

For ten years Zeke had given his all.  He burst through thickets and many times cut himself on brambles and thorns to reach downed birds for his god.  He took his job seriously.  There were times when the fur between his toes was covered in painful ice balls, and still he cut to the whistle, ran and retrieved.  Now, he was a little slower and a lot stiffer when coming out of the field. He was crippled up for a few days after a hunt, but always ready to go again.   The twinkle in his eye was hidden under a greying brow, but it was still there!  His 12 o’clock tail rocked furiously between 10 and 2 whenever he heard the word “birdies.”

Lately, though, he had been left behind.  Every. Time.

Heartbroken, he stood and stoically accepted his sentencing, “This dog don’t hunt.”  as his man handed him over to a shelter and drove away.  Zeke had played with the man’s children and watched them arrive one by one.  He will miss them.  He will miss the man, too.  As dogs do, he settled into homelessness.  People came everyday but no one looked past his grey face and egg beater gait.  They saw what was used up in him, not what was left to give.

On the last day the shelter could keep him, Zeke was rescued.  A woman arrived who had read Zeke’s story online.  She offered to foster him in her home, with her children and pets, until she found a Forever Home for him.  The shelter lovingly packed up his things (AKC Certificate, his vet records, leftover heart worm medication and a big tub of Vita-Pet Senior Glucosamine chews.)  He still wore a personalized collar with the name Zeke on it and a phone number that used to mean home.

His foster mother cleaned him up and took lots of adoption pictures of him to post on facebook (a site where Miracles can happen!)  Days passed and Zeke continued to soldier on. 

Then a woman 300 miles away read Zeke’s story and she wanted him.  She loved him in his old age and understood his young heart.  She, too, was a little stiff in the joints and grey.  She rescued a 12 year old girl, Dot, last year and wanted a companion for both of them to round out her family.  Her husband had passed away a few years ago and so she no longer made long drives by herself.  BUT SHE WANTED ZEKE.

Zeke needed a second miracle:  Transport.

People say that facebook isn’t real.  Well, it is real to Zeke and to me.  This writer read Zeke’s story and called his foster mother.  We women pulled together to make a second miracle for Zeke, the “Dog that don’t hunt.”   The pick up time was set for 11 a.m. in Muskegon, MI, two hours away from my start point.  When I met Zeke, I could see that he was a real gentleman.  His carriage was strong.  His eyes were warm and alert.  He held his head proudly.  He didn’t jump up or go wild.  He was a mature boy who had nice manners.  This was no throw-away dog!   Zeke called “shotgun” and we were off!

Dot and Zeke Meet

One cheeseburger (okay, two cheeseburgers) and four hours later, Zeke arrived up north, at his FOREVER HOME, near the beaches on Lake Huron.  His new Mom hugged him and he met Dot.   He rolled around, marked his favorite tree, and played fetch with Dot in their one acre fenced yard, which was filled with shady trees and a nice woodlot.  They became a family.  Today, the world is a better place because Zeke is home.  He is loved.  Zeke curls up in a new bed–where he chirps in his sleep while his four paws are up in the air, pumping and running.

Zeke is hunting birdies again.


 

Casseroles Need to Die

!!!!lalalalalalal

When compared to traditional dinners featuring a roasted meat, potato, and a vegetable, casseroles don’t stand a chance. Have you had a pork roast slathered in tuscan oil and topped with fresh herbs complimented by a roasted sweet potato and green beans baked with Lipton brown gravy and onion soup mix sprinkeld on top?  OMG

Invented at the same time as TV tray tables in the 70′s (another mistake) –casseroles have worn out their welcome.  They all involve cheese as a flavor cover-up and  feature five ingredients or less.  Kill me now.

Break out two chicken breasts on the George Foreman grill and sautee some mushrooms in butter on the stove top to pour over the them.  Done.  What could be easier?  Add Idahoan instant mashed potatoes and nuke a package of  frozen niblets corn.   Beat that Mr. Casserole.  The gauntlet is thrown.

The casserole is grossly over rated.

For the love of God, stop.

 

The Wedding Bouquet

1991 Old MI Jennifer on dock CUTE

We walked along the rocky beach, picking out the prettiest stones.  Our flip flops flopped in unison.  She toddled along in her pink ruffle-butt swimsuit and carried a plastic sand pail, holding the shovel in her right hand and stopping every ten feet for buried treasures.  When she wrapped her baby arms around me, her skin smelled like sea salt and hot pretzels.

A bell rang in the school yard signaling recess; a time for playing Cat’s Cradle and hopscotch–carefree and pony tailed.  Her science project was still incubating at home.  The guinea pig was fed.   A new two-wheeler was wrapped and hidden in the garage, waiting for her birthday.  Innocent, she was made up of lightening bugs in a jar, sparklers, and moon glow.

Sobbing into a wet pillow, sure she was going to die, she swore off all boys.  Forever.  They were unreliable, nasty Sasquatches who needed too much looking after.  Besides, there were better things to do–like driving with the radio blaring, the windows down, and the sunroof open.  She checked the rear view mirror every two minutes to see if she still looked good in her sunglasses.

She had the jello shots ready in time for the coin toss.  Bags of chips littered the sorority house and her posse was dressed in green and white Sparty pride.  Ohio State Sucks.  She’s got finals on Tuesday and no spare time.  Life is a blur of deadlines, drama, and planning a spring break trip.  She calls home.  “Mom, I miss you.”

Rubbing her feet after a 14 hour shift, she wonders to no one there, “Is this as good as it gets?”  Her apartment is tastefully filled with bargains found on the fly.  Her roommate has four legs and a waggly tail.  She’s been to the bullfights in Spain, Oktoberfest in Germany, and the Beaches of Normandy.  Still, she wonders.  She waits.  She works.

A small panic sunk in as she and he realized that this was it.  Today was the last day of restaurant training.  The end.  The goodbye.  Pushing the clock, they decided to go out for dinner.  Not a date, just dinner.  They didn’t think about each other that way…until the second glass of champagne.  Electricity, no…Thunderbolts.   There is no she anymore; there is “we.”

A wedding bouquet is wholly made up of all the things that make up the girl.  The ties that bind, securely wound at the base of the bouquet, hold her childhood memories.  The colorful blooms hold her hopes and dreams.  A bride now, she courageously holds on to her past and her father’s elbow as she starts up that aisle, trembling.  She dares to look ahead, at the groom, and her heart leaps into his arms and their future.  They are ready to begin a new story. 

 

 

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