Saturday, July 9, 2011

Flat Jack

Flat Stanley is a children’s book by Jeff Brown, which has been around for a long time.  If you have ever taught elementary school you know all about Stanley.  Seems a bulletin board fell on him and flattened him.  After poor Stanley adjusts to his new flat self, he discovers that it isn’t all that bad to be flat.  He can do things that a full-bodied kid can’t do.  It isn’t long before he comes up with a little scheme to mail himself to exciting places.  These circumstances make for a great plot line.  Children love to think of being able to sneak into places covertly. 
When my grandson, Jack was in the second grade, his teacher used this book to make a writing assignment interesting and had the children make a flat version of themselves.  After they admired one another’s flat alter egos they mailed themselves to another city hoping that they would have a wonderful adventure to write about and ultimately make their own little books.
Jack mailed Flat Jack to San Francisco to visit Uncle Rob.  It wasn’t long before I got a frantic phone call.  “Mom!  We lost Flat Jack!  We can’t find him anywhere!”  I spoke to Jack’s teacher, who happens to be a friend and an ex colleague.  She said that she’d have him make another to add to the project when the pictures of the adventure were returned to school.   Since time was short, Rob quickly fashioned a new Flat Jack, using a photograph of Jack’s face for the head.  Now Flat Jack looked quite real.  Flat, but real.
They took him for an airplane ride.  They strapped him in the front seat of their plane, took his picture, and took off.  Flat Jack got to fly over and take pictures of The Golden Gate Bridge, Angel Island, Alcatraz, the Bay Bridge, and other wonderful San Francisco landmarks.
Then suddenly, horror of horrors, Flat Jack got air sick.  Some disgusting paper green stuff spewed forth from his flat little mouth!  (Let me tell you here that green stuff spewing from someone’s mouth is prime second grade humor.) The green stuff ended the flight. 
They landed and went back to Uncle Rob’s house.  There, Flat Jack played with Rob’s puppies, Mellie and Butler.  Puppies, being puppies, chewed poor Flat Jack to pieces.  The last photo was taken of these pieces scattered all over the floor with the dogs in the background; thus documenting the demise of poor Flat Jack.
His book was a hit, because not only do second graders like to be grossed out by barf, it appears they also enjoy canine dismemberment. 

Bought the Farm

Farm Report
There is an inspection of the Shasta County property happening as I write this.  Richard is pacing up and down with the phone in his hand waiting for Rob to call with the results, and, he hopes, other news. 
     I have put some books into boxes, only to be told the boxes are too heavy.  We have taken one carload of books to the library.  We will deliver one more load later.  I have started six piles of stuff that I want to give to people but I haven’t made a dent.  I am paralyzed.  I don’t know what to do next.
    During my teaching years, when it was time to go into my classroom to set it up for the new year, I always had to count on going in and spending one whole day sort of standing in the middle of the room and turning in circles wondering what to do and where to start.  I suppose I am doing this now only on a grander scale.
    The dynamics of this impending move are far reaching.  Every day another person cries.  The grandchildren are upset.  Martie feels abandoned.  Richard and I feel guilty, as well as burdened.  We also feel that this will eventually be a good move for all of us.  We will be down here often to check on things and visit.  I will miss Martie’s everyday presence.  She is my best friend.
    The fax has come with the report on the house.  Seems the cowboy who is selling has done his own electrical work.  (jerry-rigged)  He added the garage without a firewall.  There is a container of propane under the stove (much like our barbeque).  There is much to be done to this property.  I have insisted on a mold inspection, which is not included in the regular inspection.  I don’t think my asthma could take mold.  Everyone thinks I’m a weenie.  Richard could snort mold daily for weeks and never notice it. 
    Two days have passed since I began this entry.  We now have a well water report.  WELL?  Just exactly how does this well thing work?  What if my dogs wee-wee on the ground near this well thing?  Does this mean the dog wee will seep down into the well water?  Is this well lined with a thick anti-bacterial wall of cement?  Does the Sparklettes Water delivery truck come out that far?   I am a “City Okie”, as I have told you before. 
    Don’t any of you DARE plan a trip or cruise without letting us know!  I’ll need connections with civilization now and then during this adventure.

It’s just a part of life’s rich pageant!!!!!  

Mothers Day Travel Fiasco

                 Event in the Life of Lynn
Yesterday, Mother’s Day, I woke early, took a shower, and went to breakfast with Martie, her beau, and the kids.  It was entertaining as meal events usually are with Jack and Rachel.  They love a captive audience, and their ability to mimic funny lines from movies always makes me laugh.
    After breakfast they took me to Long Brach Airport to hop a plane to San Francisco to spend the rest of the day with Rob and Leigh.  They had sent me an e-ticket and I had printed it out, given it a glance and tucked it in my purse.
    Martie dropped me off at the curb and I went in to check in and get my boarding pass.  The lady behind the Jet Blue counter said, “I hope this isn’t for flight 456, because they are closing the doors right now.”  (How did she know!?) 
It seems I had read the arrival time as the departing time.  These things happen with me.
She quickly picked up the phone and asked someone on the flight crew, “Can you take another runner?”  Sadly for me the doors were closed and they were pulling away.
She placed my name on the stand-by list for the 3:00 flight, and informed me that I was the fifth name on stand-by.
Now I had to find a phone, as mine has been lost since April 24th.  (I called about it and there hasn’t been any activity on it since then, so it’s probably around here somewhere, or I threw it in the recycling bin again.)  Try to imagine how difficult it is to find a pay phone in this day and age!  Now try to imagine how difficult it is to get someone to give you 8 quarters for $2.00.
When I had found both, I called Rob and told him my predicament.  He was ever so patient.  He said he’d call around and see what he could find and call me back in ten minutes.  Then I had to tell him about my missing cell phone, so he told me to call him back in ten minutes.
When I called him back he said, “Grab a cab and go to LAX.  There’s an 11:30 flight on United.” 
One half of an hour and $46.00 later, I was at the self check-in at United, reading on the screen that the flight was closed.   
Nearing hysteria, I had a conversation with the clerk that started out a bit snippy on her part, but when she looked on her computer screen she suddenly became ever so polite, and said I could proceed to gate #85.
Apparently, Rob flies with them so much that he belongs to some hoity-toity-special-business-boy-club.  When I got to the gate, the clerk asked where would I like for my assigned seat to be, and I answered,
“On the plane, please.”

It’s not easy being me.

Misplaced Queen Latifa

Last Saturday we lost --- well, misplaced one of our cows, Queen Latifa.  Richard spent an hour and a half searching the property, looking for her.  Frustrated, he made another check of the ponds to make sure that she wasn’t stuck in the mud.  We couldn’t figure out where she could be.  The rest of the cows were standing around eating the hay he had just put out for them.  It just wasn’t like Queenie to miss a meal.  Usually the sound of the ATV will cause them all to run happily, for the barn.
Just the fact that she wasn’t with the others was strange.  The cows do everything together.  If one cow is in the shade of a twiggy little tree the rest of them are all smushed into the same little spot of shade.  There may be twenty-five trees in the pasture but it seems that cows will always gather under the same tree. (Probably to gossip.)

If Queenie ran away, they would all run away because of the afore mentioned togetherness thing.  They have done this before.  They escaped to the neighboring Cow Creek ranch about nine months ago.  But the fence has since been repaired and reinforced, thus ending those neighborly visits.

We even thought about the possibility of something like a mountain lion attacking her.  After all, it hadn’t been a year since our neighbor, Shannon, had to shoot a lion that attacked and killed her little goat.  She dropped it with one shot.
But there would have been evidence of that if it had happened.  A mountain lion couldn’t eat a whole cow, no matter how hungry it was.

We decided the cow had been rustled.  There was no other explanation.  But after more discussion we realized that wasn’t probable either.  The way our property is situated, anyone coming in would be noticed.  Shannon would see any unusual activity, and she’s armed and dangerous.  (We feel comfortable knowing that she is there to protect us.)

So where was the danged cow?

Richard looked depressed.  He even said that maybe he should just get out of the cow business.  He already has one misplaced heifer.  She ran off in a fit of PMS last September or so.  We still haven’t been able to locate her.  I guess the other cows were afraid to follow her what with her bad mood and all.

 He gave up his search and came in to watch the Oklahoma Sooners play Florida for the championship.  That didn’t go well for him either.  He was glum.

Yesterday morning he went outside and there she was. Queenie the Cow had come home.  OK!  He was Rancher Richie again.  He resumed being his usual jovial self.

This morning he hollered at me from the back deck to come out and see why the cow had been missing. When I looked there was a new calf, a little bitty replica of Queen Latifa was standing right beside her mama!  Apparently Mama had been hussying around without our knowledge. 

Richard had had her inseminated earlier last year but when she didn’t have a calf when she was supposed to we knew that hadn’t worked.  We had no idea that she had taken matters of motherhood into her own hands. 
We don’t know if our wanton cow broke some moral rule of cow decency or not, but we don’t really care.  The calf is too cute!

Random Letters to Random People

Dear Weather Dude,
Will you pu-leeze quit putting those big L’s up in the sky above Whitmore.  Remember last week when you put that big H up there?  It was all sunny and bright and made me sing, “Oh What A Beautiful Morning.”  Now go.  Change the L to an H.  I’ll wait right here.  The “L” makes the door to my studio stick.

Dear Shoplifters,
Thank you so much for adding those impossible-to-open blister packs to our lives.
Really, what are these made of, anyway?  This material ought to be used by the military, to reinforce tanks or something.  

Dear Safeway Musac Makers,
     If you must put “Three Times a Lady” in your music feed, you are just going to have to put up with my out-of-context, maniacal laughter.
See, all I hear is “You un, to, tee time da wady”
Ala Eddie Murphy’s Buckwheat. 
And that’s just how it is.

Dear Dr. Dentist,
    When you are getting ready to do your root canal thing, surely there is a better way to test for the correct tooth than poking it with dry-ice-on-a-stick. Why did you take all those x-rays? And how am I going to get down from the ceiling? And what are you going to do now that I cleared your waiting room with my blood-curdling scream?

Dear Teachers Everywhere,
Please take a lesson from your colleagues in LA. They chose the wrong people to hold up as exemplary citizens for their students during Black History Month.  Apparently OJ Simpson, Dennis Rodman, and RuPaul are not appropriate role models for young people to emulate.  The teachers were removed from the classroom.
 (I am wondering…what’s wrong with RuPaul?)

Dear People Who Put The Bloody Shirt Belonging To Robert Kennedy and the Photograph of Marilyn Monroe on Her Death Bed On Display in Vegas,
You will need to wait for about a hundred more years to display the shirt without getting any negative feedback from the public.  Abraham Lincoln’s bloody shirt is permanently on display in Washington D.C. and no one complains about it.  It is there along with the bloody pillow he died on, the gun that killed him, and his bloody coat and boots.
    However, you might want to rethink your idea of putting a photograph of Marilyn Monroe, dead or alive, in the same exhibit with any Kennedy.  I’m just saying.

Dear Blanket Jackson,
    I am so sorry.  You are in for it, Sweetie.  You must never go out into the world among other children. You will be ridiculed and pummeled. Other boys will not care that you are a beautiful child.  They will not care that you had a famous father.  They will only be interested in taunting you because your name is Blanket.

Dear Rush Limbaugh,
    Did you know that your voice is being used to deter the vicious Bark Beetles that have killed twelve million trees in California’s national forests?  I knew you were good for something.

Dear Teenage Girls,
    Vampires aren’t real. 

Dear People Who Send Me “Public Notices” That Look Like Traffic Tickets or Semester Grades or Mid-Term Reports,
  Putting “Important Documentation, Do not discard” stamped in red will not work any longer.  I know it is an advertisement for hearing aids.  You are wasting your stamp.

Dear Newspaper Reporters,
A man found dead by the river with a bullet hole in his head and a knife sticking out of his chest should be classified as a little more than “suspicious.”  While we’re at it here, if a person in a truck runs over a pedestrian and then turns around and runs over him again, it is not “Probably” done on purpose.

Dear Kitty Cats Who Live At My House,
The beautiful mouse guts that you leave for me so artistically arranged, on my front mat are enough for me.  You don’t need to put any more dead birds in my car.  I did not notice it until I was out in traffic and that can be dangerous.

Dear Flying School Using The Air Above Whitmore To Teach People How To Fly,
Please quit practicing stalls over my house.

Dear Water Pick,
I hate you.
Dear governor of Texas,
 I do not think your prayers for rain idea will work.  However if you add some feathers and Native Americans you may just get a rainstorm or two.  Then again, you can just wait until the rain cycle comes around again—which it will.

Dear People who put perfume on those folded over strips in magazines,
Stop it!  It doesn’t make any difference what you call your scent it all smells the same in a magazine.  You are wasting your time as well as your stinky perfume.

Dear Bug Walking On My Ceiling,
Perhaps you could go walk on the other side of the room.  Even better go walk in the kitchen.  There is stuff to eat in there.

Letter to Rachel

Dear Rachel Skye,
This is your Gigi, who misses you so, so much.  If Mommy ignores you when you say, “Nyet, nyet, nyet” just call me, OK?  You are my precious baby and I will give you anything you want.
    Here is a helpful reminder for you; If you get a stuffy nose, don’t let Mommy know or she will come after you with one of those fuzzy sticks that you hate.
    Also, if they make you eat things you don’t like, just call 894-3400. 
    If Mommy puts that scratchy dress on you just call me and I will save you.  We will sing together, and stay up late, and eat ice cream, and then go outside barefoot and look at the moon.
    I will teach you how to tap dance and how to say, “It was temporary insanity” when you get into trouble. We will read a thousand books and I will let you wear all of my jewelry at once.
    We are going to have a great time, you and I.
Your very own Gigi

Cows Out

Today my Northern California granddaughter and I were working diligently in my studio.  She was making a scrapbook to take with her when she goes to her dads after school is out.  I was making a tray to add to my wine/grape vignette on top of my china cabinet.
As we worked in companionable silence, I happened to look up to see our brown mama cow in the back yard.  I squealed, probably an expletive, (sorry Haily), as I immediately thought of my garden in the front yard.  Last year, every time I had it all planted and looking nice, the cows got out and ate it.
    My screeches alerted our vigilant watchdogs who began barking profusely and chasing the cow, driving her ever closer to my garden.  I rushed out the door screaming for Rancher Richie!  My four-pound Maltese ran out with me adding to the frenzy and along with it the worry that the cow (on the way to my garden) would trample her.
    Can you imagine the noise?
Rancher Richie, hearing the commotion, came running out the back door with his jeans halfway on.  Seems he was in the bathroom when all this came to pass.
     Haily and I ran into the front yard to redirect the cow away from my plants.  As we continued on around the house, I discovered our black mama cow in the fenced in garden area feasting on the strawberries.  When she heard me yelling and saw me waving my arms, she stepped across into the next raised planter and began to trample what was left of the bush beans.  Rancher Richie with his trusty “cow spanker” began driving them all back toward their proper pastures.
    He closed the gate he had inadvertently left open, opened the larger one and ran the mama cows back where they belonged.  Now he was after the babies, who were happily dining on white roses.  They ran to their escape gate, and were sorely distressed to find it closed.  For some reason they wanted very badly to go back through the same gate they came out of.  It took some doing on everyone’s part to convince them to go in the larger open gate.
    When we had everyone back into their proper locations, we began to have a discussion about how all of this took place.
    It seems that Rancher Richie was watering the doomed garden when he glanced up and saw that he had also turned on the sprinklers in the back yard, where I had earlier hung the sheets on the clothesline to dry. 
They were not drying. 
He became so concerned with the state of the sheets that he ran out of the garden, leaving the garden gate open.  Then he ran out of the pasture, leaving that gate open as well.  He came to discuss the sheets with me and promptly forgot that he had left two important gates open.  I suggested we leave the sheets to re-dry.  He went into the house.
    As Hailey and I went back to work, I marveled at the fact that the slightest diversion from the norm will set a series of mishaps into motion out here on the ranchita.
    The sheets dried again.  There were no discouraging words.  Just a bit of squealing, mooing, and barking.


CMA 04

Did y’all watch the Country Music Awards last night?  I thought they were great.  Lots of performing; that’s what I like.  I was late to turn it on, though.  When I did, Martina McBride was singing the last line of a song I haven’t heard.  She sang; “I met God’s will on Halloween night, dressed as a bag of leaves.”  Hey, now, that’s what I like about country music.  The lyrics.
    There is none of this, “I saw you had a boyfriend, who looked like a girlfriend that I had in February of last year.” Like in pop music. 
There are gut level, underbelly, “double suicide drinking songs” like “Whiskey Lullaby.”
    Did you hear Allison Krause talk?  How annoying.  She should just sing.  Like Mel Tillis.
    This reminds me of a story that Mel told on a talk show once.  Seems he noticed flames coming out of the barn, so he ran in to tell his father.  Of course, the more excited he gets, the more he stutters, and a fire is certainly a cause for excitement, so he stood there saying, “th th th th th…!!!!!!!!”  Finally his dad, seeing that whatever Mel had to say was important, yelled,  “Just sing it, Mel!”  So, Mel sang, “Oh, the barn’s on fire” to the tune of Amazing Grace.
    So, back to the CMA’s…
My mouth just hung open when Big & Rich performed their song.  Did you notice that they had a DANCING MIDGET???! 
That ain’t country.
 “He put the bottle to his head and pulled the trigger” is country. 
“She left the suds in the Bucket and the clothes hangin’ on the line,” is country.
    I love “Girls Lie, Too”  Yeah them old gray sweatpants turn us on…We love to see deer heads hangin’ on the wall.  Yep.

I, too, say “Hey y’all and Yee Haw!”

CMA's o6

Lynn’s Review of the CMA Awards

Reba.  Well, she had on a purty dress.

Brad Paisley opened with his trite and simplistic song “The World.”  The tune is boring and the main words have been floating around on the Internet forever in those flowery-send-this-to 25-of-your-best-friends things.

“Oh, no,” I thought.
But things improved after that.

A new girl, Miranda Lambert, sang a song about her guitar.  She had a guy in her band with a Mohawk!  I felt Tammy Wynette spinning in her grave over that!

Brad Paisley’s “Time Well Wasted” won album of the year, with the great song, “Alcohol” on it.  It “helps white people dance.”
See?  He can do good songs if he wants.

Toby Keith should get an award for, “The Best Cowboy Hat Ever.”  I have liked him since he went toe to toe with Peter Jennings.  His band had cellos and violas in it, which I liked, but I’m sure I felt Hank Williams rolling in his grave over that!  Furthermore, if Hank weren’t already dead, he would have croaked over Dirks Bentley and his cute little face and his curly hair, along with the next guy, Jason Aldean, and his earrings.

Big and Rich brought down the house with their, “ Eighth of November.”  It was stunningly heart wrenching.  I like them and their usually wacky, off the wall style.  This was a new side of them.

Jennifer Nettles IS Sugarland and she needs to use her name, and drop that “Sugarland” business.  Have you seen her sing “Who says You Can’t Go Home” with Jon Bon Jovi?  That girl has got it going!  Anyway, SHE won the award for best new DUO!!  Who is that other guy, anyway?

Carrie Underwood, or as she is known in my home state, “Our sweet little Carrie,” wearing a princess dress, sang the winner of the best single award, “Jesus Take the Wheel.”  I don’t know how that song won over the seriously strong competition, but it did.
Carrie also was the winner of the best new female vocalist, bless her heart.

Some quick musings;

“Honky Tonk Badonkadonk.”  Trace really knows how to upset one’s spell checker, doesn’t he?

Did I hear correctly?  The politically “Un”correct, Gretchen Wilson, chews tobacco? 

Little Big Town was the only group who earned the word “BUY” in my notes this year.  Great harmony in their song, “Boondocks.”

I loved it when Vince Gill (Happy Cheeks) gave his humanitarian award to the little girl who was there courtesy of the Make A Wish Foundation.

I did NOT like it when Reba made her Dixie Chick “joke.”
Singing with their foot in their mouth, indeed.

Rascal Flats won the best group prize.  They sang a song with Kelly Clarkson.  (Geez, why do I always think of Steve Carell when I hear her name now?)  Their song was wonderful but it certainly wasn’t a country song.

The tribute to Buck Owens was good.  His son looks just like him!  I have thought about Buck and “Hee Haw” since we moved to Whitmore.  I always want to tell people my phone number is BR549, because our whole township has the same prefix and people only have to give the last four numbers.  Anyway, Dwight Yoakam, Blink 182, a guy from ZZ Top, and Brad Paisley played Buck, and I feel pretty sure I felt him spin in his grave over the drummer.

Kenny Chesney?  Entertainer of the year?  I think not. 
Keith Urban, yes.  I am always impressed by people who can play the piano and sing at the same time.
Brooks and Dunn? Yes, they had me at Neon Moon.
Toby Keith and Rascal Flats? Yes and Yes.
But, Kenny?  Nah He’s a weenie beach boy.

Baggin' On the Country Music Show

    Y’all aren’t going to believe this, but I went to a school board meeting on Tuesday.  I swore I’d never attend another boring event again in my life and a school board meeting is the definition of boring.  But, there I was missing the first part of the CMA’s.
 Rob donated the money for a new playground at the Whitmore School in Leigh’s honor.  I was there for the presentation and that’s the only thing that would get me to go. 
When I could sneak out, I came home to the Award show in progress.  Willie was singing a Paul Simon song about being crazy, and then Paul sang a Willie song about being crazy.  Loved it! 
Then.  They gave the best song award.  Now didn’t Whisky Lullaby win the best song last year?  I’m almost sure it did.  I remember a double-suicide-by-bottle recording won.  There aren’t TWO of those songs, are there?  I personally like “As Good As I Once Was.” And “Alcohol” (that helps white people dance.)  I didn’t hear a thing about “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off”
An aside; when the family was all together last week, we heard that tequila song and I said, “There’s your song, Barb.”  She said, “I thought it was Your song.”  Martie said, “I thought it was MY song!”  Whitney said, “Actually, I believe it’s my song.”
 Like mothers: like daughters

Here comes some of my genteel, compassionate, benevolent musings, bless their hearts:

Kris Kristofferson looked like he’d been pulled through a sick cow backwards.

Who dressed Martina McBride?  And who did her hair?

How did Lee Ann Womack get best album!?  She’s only made one good recording in her whole life! (I Hope You Dance) and her voice is WIMPY.

George Strait is a big black hat with a nose and a mouth under it.  Ditto on the one good song. (You’ll Always Be a Fire I Caint Put Out) yes caint.

Kenny Chesney is a weenie.

Dolly Parton looks like a caricature of herself.  I especially liked her sock monkey mouth.  I DID covet her jeans, though.  I’ll bet Elton John wanted her whole outfit.

Shania Twain’s dress with that tight band around the vicinity of her knees made her walk like a two-year-old who has her panties down around her ankles as she rushes to the potty.

But of course, who am I to criticize?

Good stuff:
Keith Urban!
No wonder my niece stalks him!

Alan Jackson—still sexy after all these years.  I see he wore his lucky jeans. (They must be because I know he can afford some newer ones.)
Alison Krause did a great job with her bluegrass, and she didn’t talk!

Who is that girl who sings in Sugarland!  Great voice.  Time to dump her back up group.  Did you notice that Pat from SNL was playing the guitar?  Plus, do you think something is going on with her and Jon Bon Jovi? Whew!

Vince Gill is still cute.  I love a man with substance!

Faith and Tim -- Great!  Their new CD is all good.  Thanks, Duane!  Did anyone else notice how much better and more confident Faith got when her hubby joined her?

Brooks and Dunn.  Again.  Can’t beat ‘em.

All in all it was a great show, however the best song of the evening didn’t even get a mention.  It was the Fruit-of-the-Loom commercial, “You Can’t Over Love Your Underwear.”