Saturday, January 31, 2009

What time is it?

There is this certain little, special thing about living in Smalltownland. A certain something that affects every millisecond of our days here. Smalltownland actually sits right next to the time line that divides the central and eastern time zones. Now, I know what you are thinking. If Smalltownland sits inside the central time zone then, what's the big deal?

The big deal is this......Smalltownland is really, really small. Quite scenic and incredibly historic, but nevertheless small. If you happened to be employed in either the educational or medical field, then you are okay. Otherwise, you must leave the area in search of a job. Thus, we have multitudes of people who live in the central time zone, but work in the eastern time zone. Quite frankly, this leads to confusion. Some folks, who work in the eastern time zone, just like to keep their clocks on eastern time, even though they live in the central time zone. And, vice versa. Confused yet? Keep reading.....

So, the people of Smalltownland have devised a few vocabulary terms to solve this problem.

Slow time - the time on your clock if you live in the central time zone.

Fast time - the time on your clock if you live in the eastern time zone.

County time - this also means central time or slow time

Thus, if you write out your daughter's birthday party invitations you must specify "fast time" or "slow time". If you make an appointment at your local hair salon you need to ask, "fast time" or "slow time". Because, living in the central time zone does not, in any way, automatically mean that you observe central time.

I know this all sounds a bit crazy, but after you live here for a little while you just get used to it. When I first moved here, I used the terms central and eastern time. And, no one knew what I was talking about. I had to learn to use the vernacular terms, fast and slow time.

If you are not totally confused, we actually have some people in our county who do not change their clocks in the fall or spring. So, in actuality they observe central time for part of the year and eastern time for the other part of the year. I find that so confusing it makes my brain hurt.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Off the grid....

For the past few days we have been off the grid. No electricity at all. Continued freezing rain put the power out, in our end of the county, on Tuesday. It did come back on today, but it has not been steady.

Our wood stoves have really saved us. They provided heat for us and heat for the house. Thus, our pipes did not freeze and add to the problems.

We heated up meals on the wood stove and drove into town in our farm truck. However, that was precarious. Many, many trees have fallen from the weight of the ice. Limbs are on the small country roads and some power lines have fallen as well.

No TV, no video games, no computer blogging!!! The horror of it all. What do you do? You drive to grandma's house in town, where she has electricity and hot water.

And then you come back to your old farm house in the evening and lounge by the wood stove. You put on a headlamp and read a 704 page novel. It was a great book.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Ice, ice, baby

We are in the midst of a terrible ice storm. It is a pure miracle that my "internet by satellite" situation is working for the ten minutes it will take to write this post.

The fruit trees are sagging and the evergreens look much worse. However, ice does make for some spectacular pictures.

It continues to rain here. Yes, it is really raining. Liquid rain that falls and then freezes on everything. The power has gone off twice today and quite frankly, I will be surprised if it stays on tonight.

The weather forecast is calling for more ice today and then an inch of snow tonight. It is looking like we might even be out of school for the rest of the week. Unless, of course, some tropical heatwave comes our way. Oh so doubtful.....

Sunday, January 25, 2009

History in the making

I have mentioned in my writings before that I am married to a super secret squirrel. And thus, I refer to him as, Secret Agent Man. He gets to jaunt around the country doing super secret stuff and throughout his career has been able to participate in many historical events. This past week was no exception.

He was in Washington, D.C. , witnessing the inauguration of our new president. Security units, from all over the country, came into Washington to assist in managing the vast population of people that filled the city.

I will admit that I have sometimes envied his job. He has met many important, historical, political figures and he has been able to participate in all types of events.

However, I did not envy his job this time. He was outside for thirteen hours during the inauguration, beginning before daylight. That is definitely not my kind of work.

And the official word on this wacky picture is that there was one port-o-john for every four hundred people present. Not my kind of odds.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Come on, you know you want one

Recently, here in smalltownland, the Deerslayer made a fine discovery. A nice little patch of Hedgeapples growing behind a local church. Some of you reading this might know these items by a different name. Perhaps Monkey Balls, Horse Apples, Green Brains, or Mock Oranges. They are, in fact, the fruit of the Osage Orange Tree. Osage Orange Trees are either male or female, so not all of the trees will bear this fruit. Hedgeapples are not poisonous, but if given to cattle they can choke on them.
Folklore says that Hedgeapples are used as a natural repellent to spiders and insects. I put several around the house and a small pile in my kitchen. I think their scent is wonderful. Historically, the wood from the Osage Orange Tree is used in making primitive bows, for hunting. You would most likely see these in decorating magazines today. I believe Martha Stewart is a big fan of them.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

I am a real mom now....

Fairly recently my little Deerslayer got off the bus at my place of employment. He stated that he would need to be back at his school in an hour for a special band concert. Hmmm....a concert I was really not aware of, that he had naturally failed to mention. And then, just by the way, he happened to mention that he would be needing a white shirt, black pants, and some black shoes to wear to the event that evening. WHAT???!!! At that moment a very lovely coworker (who herself had raised three children) touched me on the shoulder, told me to take a deep breath, and that this moment would soon pass.

You see......we live in a tiny, extra teensy-weensy, little town. We have no clothing, nor shoe stores. Okay, okay, we do have a Dollar General. But, he needed more than a pair of fake Crocs and a camouflaged t-shirt. The Deerslayer's news meant that I would have to drive to the neighboring town, select clothes/shoes, get him dressed, and back at his school in less than an hour.

Let's does that commercial go?

shoes - $23.99

two pair of black pants (in case one didn't time to try on) - $35.00

belt (in case waist on pants was too big) - $10.99

white shirt - $12.99 (never to be used again, as it ended the evening being covered in trombone oil)

One happy, proud, smiling kid, waving to his dad - PRICELESS!!

Thanks to Secret Agent Man for this fuzzy photo...bless his heart.

Also, a special thanks to my coworker, Ms. New York, for taking the time to make me breath, before I passed out, right then and there.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Baby, it's cold outside...

Around here, this week, we have been struggling with some bitterly cold weather. People in the southern areas of the United States are not prepared for temperatures to hit zero degrees and we have been no exception. For us, cold weather means keeping the wood stove running both day and night. And yes, it does mean getting up during the night to stoke the stove. But on the plus side, it also means warm lazy dogs sleeping by the fire, a cozy house, and a warm glow that will put you to sleep in mere seconds.

This year Secret Agent Man has been very busy working and traveling. So, he actually had to BUY wood, instead of cutting wood from our farm. This has hurt his manly feelings just a tad, as he always preps the wood pile for the winter. I find that it is a good idea to stop and pick up a small load of wood in your laundry basket, after you have hung some clothes out on the line.

Although it might seem very rustic that we use a wood stove in our house, it is nothing compared to how rough it was for my ancestors. I am able to put wood in the stove and let it burn, creating a warm house. But, for many early farmers a fire would not burn all night. All I have to say about the following book excerpt is, thank goodness for matches.

"We'd build the fire up in the fireplace and sit around that at night. We'd take the ashes up and rake hot coals and maybe a chunk of wood and cover it up with the ashes, called banking. The next morning, whoever got up first, would rake them out. He'd put some kindlin' in there and build up a fire. We didn't depend on matches then like we do now, so we'd have to keep the fire covered up. If your fire went out and you didn't have any coals to build the fire, you'd have to go down to the first neighbor and borrow some coals. You'd take a bucket or somethin' down there and get the bucket full of coals and bring them back to the house and get your fire started."
R.M. (Mack) Dickerson, Summer 1976
The Foxfire 40th Anniversary Book
Faith, Family, and the Land

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A band-aid for my Ruby

You know how you pine for something for a long, long, long time? You desire this thing with your innermost being, although deep down you know you are being materialistic? And then, out of the blue, it really happens! You get that one thing you have been dreaming of and then your Secret Agent husband slams into it with his enormous Mac Daddy truck? Yes, it's true. My beloved Ruby took a hit from Secret Agent Man.....after having her in my possession for a mere five days she already needed a trip to the ER.

But, never fear, because here in smalltownland we have this great guy who can fix most any damaged car. At first you might not think he has these capabilities because he drives around town with a big screwdriver for his antennae. He also happens to go by the nickname, "Pig". You have to expect this kind of quirkiness around here.

Ruby came out of his shop looking like nothing had ever happened to her. Even though Pig called to let us know it would take a couple of extra days because we had that "new fangle-dy" paint on Ruby. He gave her the spa treatment, buffed her down, and made her extra sparkly. Thanks Pig!

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Why I love January

First off, I think there are many reasons to dislike January. You have the whole let down because the holidays are over. The weather is cold and dreary. There are no flowers, no green grass, and no garden. But just when I get a little discouraged, the seed catalogs start to arrive in the mail. My favorite is the Baker Creek Heirloom Seed catalog. This year the catalog is even more extensive than ever before.

Baker Creek sells only non-hybrid seeds and seeds that have not been genetically altered in any way. Many of their seeds have been sent to them by "seedsavers", people who save seeds through the generations. There is a striking amount of variety in their catalog, especially with the melons.

Their selection of tomatoes includes all colors in the rainbow. This year I am looking forward to growing some Flame/striped tomatoes and maybe some Cherokee Purple tomatoes.

I am also looking forward to growing:

watermelons - this year maybe Black Diamond
cantaloupe - Golden Jenny again this year
And many, many pumpkins - Galeux d'Eysines, Rouge Vif d'Etampes, Turks Cap, Jarrahdale, and many, many more...pumpkins are my favorite

I am also planning on growing more herbs than I did last year. Also some flowering Nicotiana, an old variety of flowering tobacco plant with a wonderful scent.

Everything I have listed is really just a start. I haven't even started marking catalog pages and circling items that I want to order yet. I am predicting a long order this year!