Monday, June 30, 2008

Am I losing it?!

So here is a chance for you to laugh at me. I seriously thought I was coming to the place in life where everything turns white, including the straitjacket I would be wearing. Now admittedly, I likely qualify for that kind of establishment, but I like to put off the inevitable. You know, fully procrastinate to the best of my ability.

We had a nice day out, meaning we had to go get groceries or we would be licking the peanut butter jar clean. So a trip to Sam's was in store. After spending a LOT of $$, reviving Mr. Wizard there at the checkout lane, and dragging the back end of the van down the road, we went home. Next up, the hauling in of the groceries.

Miss Independent, remember her? Yeah, loves to do what we are doing and needs NO help?! Well, carrying in groceries is not one of those tasks. She asked to go swing, and frankly, it was one less person or animal I would stumble over while carrying stuff in. Mr. Wizard and Curious George are among the helping hands.

Molly and company is involved too... I kind of imagine their thoughts going something like this "Yes! I am so excited they are back! I bet they bought more food for us! Let's trip them so they drop it! Wait, she is grabbing the hamburger next, let the butter and half & half go by first." Do I really think they are after us and our loads of food? Answer me this, do they have four feet?!

So as I am loading up with the 4 gallons of milk to carry in, I swear I hear a moo. But that would be ridiculous and all too coincidental. Besides, we may live in the country, but no one around here has cows. Coming for yet another load, this time may have been the hamburger... another moo-ish sound. But it isn't a cow, so that can't be it.

After hearing it another 2 times later while pushing Miss I. on the swing, I went to investigate. Keep in mind, our humble 5 acres is surrounded by my neighbor's 71 acres. Old MacDonald I will call him. He has talked of cows before, so maybe he decided to do it. I listen, and hear it again. That was off to the north, I am gathering my kids at this point, I need them to prove I am still sane. Then I saw it!

A mother and a calf. Squinting into the setting sun, I am trying to decide which side of the fence they are on. Are they loose? Are they inside his fence?? I holler at Mr. W at this point. My eyes just aren't what they used to be. "Honey! There are cows! Are they supposed to be there or do we need to call someone?!" His reply was no surprise... "Oh yeah. I forgot to tell you..." He knew they were coming, Old Mac had stopped by while mowing and filled him in a couple days ago. Some other farmer needed to rent his pasture. Cool! I'm not insane and have cows to play with!

So off we went on an adventure to check out the cows. Now anyone not familiar with the beast, you need some info. This particular mammal tends to be Nervous Nellies when out of their "norm". They tend to bellow a lot, especially to calm their frightened calves, or to at least locate them in the tall weeds. I should also paint the picture more clearly, weather has been beautiful, our windows are open. Yeah, we can hear them when the windows are open. Wonderful to hear... unless you are trying to sleep.

I take the kids to see them. I am explaining to George that when approaching them, we need to be quiet, and stop now and then so we don't frighten them. Sometimes bovine can be a tad skiddish and could run into the woods away from us. SO not the case. They didn't run, but they didn't come close enough we could touch them either. I decided to take count. We had four cows and three calves. Wow! Seven new neighbors!

As the sun started settling in behind the trees in the west, I knew it was time to head in. It was time to listen to our crickets, frogs, and now COWS as we sleep. Goodnight moooooooooon...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Amber Waves Of Grain

So this may be obvious, but this is wheat.

I looked out my window and could not believe the color I saw. The way the sun hit the wheat, it was the most pure color I had ever seen.

With each passing cloud, it seemed to change hue. It was so amazing, amazing enough to take over 100 pictures just of wheat... seriously?! No wonder I was hoping my neighbor wasn't looking over here. I wanted to hide my obsession with his field.

But seriously, storm clouds behind beautifully green trees, with yummy golden stalks. All that behind a very rustic fence, how could I not obsess. The color and opportunity it offered to me was not something I have seen yet out here! Not to mention how peaceful a field can be when my windows are shut and the kids are inside.

And only one person saw my insanity the whole time...

He will never tell.

Product Rave: Kool-Aid Singles.

(Photo to be posted when I have more!)

That's right! Your all time fave as a kid is now portable. You can take an assortment of flavor with you and enjoy it on the road if you like. Go get some! You will enjoy it!

I am SO behind...

I realize it has been a while since I have blogged. Faithful readers, no fear, I am going to get you all caught up. All 2 of you!!

I wasn't doing too bad, then had writer's block, had a vacation which is one BIG blog coming, a visit to the parent's, school prep, school starting, anniversary, and a 3yr old's birthday tomorrow.

So do not despair, this week is ketchup week. OH, I mean catch up... I have canning tomatoes on the brain.

Friday, June 20, 2008

For The Birds

I will give you two guesses what this blog is about. I will even make it multiple choice for you!! It is either about me horribly singing along with an oldie, or about a Mockingbird. Surely you have it guessed right!

We seem to have a resident Northern Mockingbird here! I was letting the dog out and could hear this LOUD singing bird. I had never heard it before. So I listened, and spotted it up on our light pole. He sat there just as proud as he could and sang his heart out. So in true Mellyn fashion, I run for my cameras. I knew I would need the zoom lens, switched it out, and he was still there. I never run into that kind of luck as usually, my wildlife subjects hightail it as they hear me thundering through the house towards my camera.

I took a few pictures of him and realized, what made this bird so brilliant, was not his looks. It was his song! So I ran in and grabbed my other camera, that has video, so I could record him. I got a little bit while he was up on the pole. He then displayed the most beautiful wings as he flew over to the nearest tree. I pursued him, kind of like Jeff Corwin would have, and recorded the tree, since I couldn't see him. He then decided he needed a new spot. I once again bellycrawled over to that pole he perched upon. OK, so I actually walked there, but it was for the good of the story.

I recorded a tad more before he decided to head towards the creek. All that singing must have made him thirsty. I decided that was pretty cool, and needed to confirm what kind of bird this was anyhow. I head in, telling my friend Mop all about this wonderful bird and what it was. I started showing her the first pics I had snapped. That's when through the open window, I could hear he was back!

I grabbed the Rebel again and out the door I went. This time taking over 50 pictures... hey, it was on continuous shot, I wanted a picture of his beautiful wings. As he sings, he will sometimes leap 3-4 feet into the air and land back down where he was. What a showoff! I nailed it, I got a picture of his wings! I decided I was going to try to get closer to him so I could get a bigger shot of him. My zoom lens is good, but I always want more.

After those 57 shots, I went inside, showed off my trophy photos and changed my desktop background. I decided to try to load the videos of the sound to the internet to share as well. I am not sure why this bird got so much attention from me. I hope he has the same luck with his fellow Mockingbird ladies. I don't think you could have too many in your backyard. I did read however, they loves berries. Elvis (yes I named him), I will make you a deal, you eat all the mulberries you want, don't touch my blackberries, and you can raise a family here with us!

You can imagine my surprise and excitement, he was back this morning on top of the pole greeting me! They truly live up to their name, they do mock other birds and sounds. Apparently the more sounds he knows, the more attractive it makes them to the females. This morning, I could recognize a few sounds he made! One being the song of a robin, the sounds of a small frog croaking, and this last one cracks me up. I heard it yesterday and thought it sounded like a baby cry. As I stepped out this morning to feed the cats, they were all crowded around at my feet meowing and crying... Elvis started in too!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Water, Water Everywhere And Not A Drop To Drink

Flood gate in place

River runs at far tree line. This is looking from park pavilion.

Viewing the levee from other side of pavilion. Local steel mill grandfather retired from, in background. Note mud on all the grass.

Tree trunk under water

Water line on the building in the park.

Anyone up for a quick game?

Water has gone down since the pics I found online.

The house that has somehow not flooded yet.

Gift shop is almost submerged

My uncle's tavern

People, not cars, using the bridge to get to the other side.

My pic of the railroad bridge.

River from the Memorial

Sandbags at the Memorial

Barn on the other side of the river and flooding.

Flooded field, no irrigation needed, crops are ruined

A very common sight.

What a trip!

So I left off with the trip to my parent's house. It is about a 4hr drive from our house, if we take the back way. I would love to say I like taking the back way, but really, I would much rather take Freeway, major highways, and only drive for 3.5 hours. Yes, that 30 minutes truly makes a difference. However, Mr. Wizard & I have been taking this route for quite sometime now, since we learned how to shorten it a bit. We pass by and through several small towns along the way, with sights to see the whole time. I find it actually occupies my kids a tad better than a freeway through forest, pasture, and field. We occasionally get to see an Amish horse-drawn buggy, old bridges, old covered bridges, and the heart of small communities.

This trip was going rather well. We stopped at the local town to get gas. Bear in mind, I was nearly empty... $91 to fill it up. Thank goodness, that will last the whole trip and some into the week. We hit the highway, headed for the next town. I have always wanted to go to their Strawberry Festival, but never know quite for sure when it is. It was going on this weekend... looks like we missed it this year too since we have no time to stop!

Kids are doing great, we keep motoring on. Down towards our favorite campgrounds and the neighboring town. Past the lake and through the next State Park campgrounds. Turning onto another highway to head South, we see it.... a road closed sign. GREAT! Would have been nice if we had prior warning. I had even checked the DOT website for road closings since I knew we were headed to a flooded area. Construction closings maybe would have been a good thing for them to ADD to that list. Mr. W was right on, the detour set in place was taking us back to our camping area's neighboring town.

Forty minutes later, we are back on track. Just as we get out of this quaint town, Miss Independant starts screaming "Stinky Butt!!" over and over almost in a screaming chant. No, she still isn't potty-trained, so I figured either she had gone in her diaper, or needed to and didn't want to be sitting while doing it. Somewhat of a good sign though! Already delayed, and halfway between towns. We try calming her down and telling her we were almost there... the whole way... never-ending screaming. When finally reaching the outer limits of the town, I pulled into an ice-cream shop. To say it was the first and only thing, would only be a lie. I saw it, I knew where I was going, I now needed chocolate. This would also provide some standing time for my NON-stinky child.

Ice cream cones eaten... we are on the road again. The rest of the way going smoothly and full of kid's songs (purposely scanning over the Chipmunks). As we neared Mr. W's hometown, I got out the camera and got warmed up. Up to this point there had been little to no standing water. We had called his mom to inform her of the impromptu trip and made plans to visit with her for a bit.

Turning off onto a familiar exit, things became very clear and very real. The one road we thought we would take towards the river... shut off at the beginning. Venturing further into town, I had Mr.W turn off onto my grandfather's street. He lives only a block from the levee and I wanted to check on him. Since he had no warning of a visit, I decided we better not just stop in. No need to see him in undies today. We followed the road to the first park, climbed over the wall (flood gates were down) and headed in with camera equipment primed.

We left there and headed for the Memorial Bridge, his mom and her husband are coming by Harley to meet us there. I couldn't believe it. I have seen flooding in that area before, but NOTHING like this. I leave this blog now, to let the pictures in their own post, speak for themselves. I only shot pictures from 3 areas, but I will tell you, there is MILES and MILES of water to be seen.

Product rave: Soft serve ice cream from small town shops.
Go find a local shop today!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Safety First

Well, we went to my parent's house for the weekend. A total impromptu trip. Being Father's Day, and my mom's birthday, I felt like I needed to be there. I broke it to Mr. Wizard Friday night about 8pm or so. We didn't tell the kids until about the 100th time Curious George asked if we were going to "Mammaw & Pappaw's" house. Darn smart kid, he is. We had already planned on going to a Safety Day our county was having on Saturday, so our trip would be more delayed than normal. Not to mention, I needed to call mom and give them a heads up.

So Saturday morning, we get up... unwillingly early thanks to Miss Independent. She is the alarm clock on the weekends, too bad she wasn't equipped with a snooze button. We all got up, grabbed our various breakfast faves, and slowly got out the door to head into town. George was excited, because his alias is Mr. Safety. In preschool, the school had a safety presentation for all the students. Since then, anytime I hang a towel on the oven door, I get scolded and he moves it to the fridge handle. He points out that it is a fire hazard and I need to be more careful. This among many other safety related scolds.

So we pull up, get parked, and first thing to see was a lifeline helicopter. Miss I. has a thing about 'copters when they fly overhead. Loves them, points wildly, and gets so excited. She was none too impressed by this one that is just sitting there. She did finally decide to sit down next to her brother for a picture.

Off we headed towards the major gathering of miscellaneous booths. I was secretly searching for the bicycle safety booth, to snag a free helmet for the kids. Well, then we got caught up in the SWAT vehicle, George got to climb in and look around. Miss I., still unimpressed, patiently waited. P.A. overhead lets us know there will be an extraction demo in 5 minutes... darn, still didn't see that bicycle booth. Guess we will go grab a spot to watch this.

First off, I half wondered why they were showing us how to cut the car and what first responders do. Honestly, I couldn't figure it out, I blame it on the heat. But then it occurred to me last night... now kids would know what to expect if they were the ones to be rescued. Not a half bad idea! George was asking questions all through it, he was intrigued as they rolled the roof of the car backwards to expose the victim (a life-size, true weighted dummy) and all the glass everywhere. Little Miss loved all the movement, it didn't matter to her whether the dummy made it, he shouldn't have wrecked there in the first place.

On to the State Police 'Copter. We walked up to it, but didn't seem like it was to be climbed in. No one was really standing there to say yes or no so we played it safe. The kids did get some AWESOME shades, dog tags, and a Junior Pilot sticker. I saw a good photo op with the ladder truck so we headed that way. Just then, P.A. informed us, there was to be a repelling demo from that very ladder in 5 minutes... awesome. Chose our seats wisely, we had first dibs. No bicycle booth yet.

As the insane man made it to ground level we went exploring. There was a long line for the child ID booth, let's keep moving. Next stop was the bicycle booth... and guess what - no helmets left in their size... great. Across from the bicycle booth, kids were getting to use a fire extinguisher on a fire. Way cool, unless you are Little Miss. George could barely contain the smile as he started sweeping that water back and forth at the flames. He has now proclaimed, he wants to be a firefighter. Sorry Disney, you lost out on turning my son into a chef. The force of the firemen was too great for your little rat chef.

After we picked up coloring books, firemen hats, and fridge magnets we looked for more freebies, er I mean, info. That was when Little Miss spotted the balloons and stuffed dogs. Of course, she got her pink balloon, George a blue one, and both a dog. Daddy looks good carrying a pink balloon!

Next demo - LOL... had to pause for yet another chuckle. REMC is having a power line safety demo. About halfway through, the lights quit working and they had little to no power... LOL... in true REMC fashion. Seeing how we had 25hrs with no electric AFTER the storms were over last week, Mr. Wizard and I had to laugh. They proved themselves to be top notch this day.

K-9 demo next... what a good dog. I bet they had us all sitting so far back so the dog chose the boxes and not some of the citizens of this fine county. P.A. announcement, there will be a SWAT demo in five minutes. This demo will have use of flash bombs for those with small children. You know, they maybe should have told us WHEN it would happen in the demo so you can steady your camera on the right car! I jumped, I did, practically missed the rest of it. Miss didn't like it and was short of crying... dang it, I knew better.

Hey, line for Child IDs is lower (ran all of them off with the flash bomb!) I practically ran to get in line. While standing there, I saw one of George's good friends. I took him over so he could see him, little boys are so cute when they have spent a whole 2 weeks away from each other! Back in line, line moving slow, I reach for my phone. OH NO! No I didn't! Great! I am in a panic, line isn't moving, I head back to the van leaving the crew in line. Thank goodness, I had left it in there. I recently gave up my Palm Treo to use my RAZR... that thing is too darn small!

I came back, phone in hand and there is another announcement. The State Police helicopter was going to be leaving soon. We knew we needed to tie down small children and hold our hats. So we grab the balloons, George holds his hat on, Mr. Wizard somehow manages a balloon, his hat and Little Miss's hat. 'Copter takes off and Miss I. is taking it all in. Best part of the day for her I think!

Child IDs in hand, it's time to head home. I needed to empty out the van and go upstairs for the quick packing job. Mr. Wizard needed to spray our weeds since we actually had no wind! 3 hours later... van is packed, weeds are choking, and Mr. W is cleaned up. Floodwaters here we come.

To be continued....

Product rave: Depends Adult Briefs
For those times when flash bombs are going off unexpectedly.

No, OK seriously... home fire extinguishers

If you don't have one, get one. Keep one in your kitchen, keep one by a fireplace, and if you have a workshop or anything else where a spark can land... have one handy. They are relatively inexpensive and there is no reason to not have one.