Archive for April, 2009

Of suckers and ironing

You see, I don’t fish.  Therefore, I don’t know all details involved in fishing that are OBVIOUS to die-hard anglers, and so I probably made a fool of myself this morning.  However, that is okay, because I learned something, and I really do love to learn.

I was walking on the late shift today, and around 8:35 AM, I watched a full-sized pickup – towing a bass boat, of all things! – pull down into the tiny dirt parking area beside the bridge.   It rained hard a few days ago, so the creek is up, but it’s still only a couple feet deep – not to mention rock-strewn – so I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what these guys were up to.

Earlier this week, when it was three-and-a-half feet deeper than it is now, you might have been able to float a bass boat in it, but there’s no way even in high water that you could launch at the bridge.  Between the parking lot and the dirt area next to the creek are several carefully positioned boulders that totally prevent vehicles from driving to the water.  What were they going to do?  CARRY the bass boat to the creek?  At least my walk would not be dull.

Over the next few minutes, there was much to-do in the area of the trailer hitch.  Stuff, including a cooler and five-gallon bucket, was unloaded from the back of the truck.  Then on my next pass, what to my wondering eyes should appear, but an ironing board by the trailer’s right wheel!  WOW!  These guys were obviously smart enough to realize they couldn’t launch their boat into the creek; so instead, they were going to knock out a little ironing.  Their wives would be proud.  Personally, I can respect that in a man.

Next, out came some kind of electric (gas-powered?) knife.  It sounded like a distant lawn mower.  Maybe it was a Saws-All.  Heads down, the men began going after whatever was on the ironing board.   They’d saw for a few seconds, pause, closely examine whatever it was, put some of it in a large Zip-Loc, and then – horror of horrors – fling the rest of it up into the grass beside the bridge abutment. Not only that, every now and then they’d fling what looked like long plastic bread bags up into the grass, too.  I was stunned at their littering boldness, and I was beginning to get angry.

We happen to be sticklers about not littering, and the idea of these yahoos throwing their fish guts and plastic bags all about down near the creek really got my goat.  I made a mental note of their truck’s license plate number.  Then from the bridge overhead, I called down:  “Yo!”  They looked up.   Pausing till there was no traffic passing, I hollered, “I’d appreciate it if you wouldn’t throw your litter into the grass.  Just haul the litter out with you.”

One of the guys motioned about with his Electro-Knife and hollered something back at me, but a vehicle passed just then, and I couldn’t hear what he said.  They both kept staring at me and talking and waving and pointing with that knife.  They really didn’t look all that thrilled to see me, and I confess that I felt a bit intimidated.  And of course, with my less than perfect hearing (but surely it was really the traffic noise, right?) I was still unable to understand them.  I decided that Lone Sweaty Woman probably shouldn’t walk down and go eyeball-to-eyeball with Men Wielding Knife, so I just turned and walked on home.

But, my goat having been got, I really wanted someone bigger and uglier than me to tell those guys to stop littering by the creek!  So I called the Taney County Commissioner’s Office and asked who I should call to report someone littering on public property.  That nice lady connected me to the sheriff’s office, and that gentleman listened to my story and said he’d send a deputy out to talk to me.  I told him I didn’t want the guys arrested or anything; I just wanted them to stop littering by the creek.

Some few minutes later, the deputy phoned.  I told him my story while he listened patiently.  Then he responded, “If they’re cleanin’ fish and throwin’ the guts and carcass in the grass, well now, that’s not litterin’.  That’s all biodegradable and the animals’ll eat that stuff.”  I thought, but did not say, “Yes, but what about the stench until they do?”

He continued, “It’s sucker season, and them suckers go on up those creeks this time o’ year.  And they’re big fish.  They’re probably cleaning a load ‘a suckers.  Now when ya’ fillet them suckers, ya’ pull out all the meat.  That’s probably what they’re puttin’ in the plastic bag.  Then, the skin, you peel that down, but it’s still attached to the carcass, and them’s big fish, them suckers, so when you toss out that skin, why, it stretched, and seriously, it’ll stretch to about twice as long as the fish.  That’s what happens what you fillet ’em.  So what you seen that looks like a bread bag when they threw it is probably that skin still atached to the carcass.  But that’s not litterin’, cleanin’ fish and tossin’ the guts in the woods or on the ground.  There’s nothin’ illegal about that.  Now, one thing is, you could call Conservation.  Becuz if they’re catchin’ fish illegally, or if they don’t have a fishin’ license, now that would be a crime.  But you’d need to call Conservation on that.”

He was really quite polite and very patient with this obviously totally ignorant city girl.  I thanked him for calling me back and told him that my main concern was just keeping the land around the creek clean.  He assured me that the foxes and coons an’ such would take care of that.  He reiterated that no crime had been committed, but that I could call the Conservation department if I thought they were fishing illegally.

Now, how I, a confirmed non-fisherwoman who doesn’t even know how to GET a fishing license, much less whether suckers are in season this week, would know that is beyond me.

So, thus ends another interesting anecdote in Taney County living.

Ya’ll come back now, ya’ hear?


Getting it in gear

Tonight Josiah was driving us home from church.  He did a fine job.  We stopped to get gas in Springfield – we seem to do this every Sunday and every Wednesday now, thanks to our Asian (read “miniature”) gas tank, then stopped at the pharmacy drive-thru in Ozark.

We got back on the freeway and headed down into the hills.  Now, as my family will attest, my hearing is not quite what we all wish it were, meaning that I miss a lot when the only sensory input is aural, so when Josiah said, “do you hear that grinding noise?” no, actually I didn’t hear it at all.   But I did glance over at the speedometer, and my eyes did happen upon the tachometer, which was registering a steady roughly 4000 rpm.

This did seem uncommonly high to me.  It usually runs around 2700 rpm when zipping along on the highway, but sometimes, when climbing an exceptionally steep hill, it goes up to 4000 or even 5000 rpm and remains there for up to a half mile, even after cresting the top of the hill.  I guess eight-year-old, 96,000-mile transmissions are allowed to do things like that, so I wasn’t too worried.  Surely it would drop back into a normal range soon.

It did not, and Josiah was alarmed, to say the least.  He kept on commenting about it, which caused Andrew to get anxious, so I had to first reassure Josiah that it was not that big of a deal and that he could just tell Dad about it when we got home (that is what dads are for, isn’t it?) and then reassure Andrew that we weren’t going to have a wreck and that we WOULD get home just fine.    A mom’s direct responsibilities cease only when she’s asleep.

As we worked our way up the steep hill from Busiek, Josiah said, “See, Mom, it’s all the way on the floor and it’s not accelerating at all!  And it’s still over 4000.”  I replied, “Yes, but there’s not one thing we can do about that now.  Just keep driving and let’s get home.”  However, it slowly dawned on me that maybe there WAS something we could do about it.  Maybe, just maybe, the van was in 2 instead of D, and somehow, with all those reams of grey matter between us, we had BOTH failed to notice it!

“Josiah, maybe it’s in second.  Maybe when you took it out of park at the pharmacy, you accidentally shoved the prandle handle too far and it went into second.  Pull into the gas station at Saddlebrook.”

He did.  It was actually in the tranmissional nether region between second and drive (go figure), and it had been there for about 12 miles!

It’s a whole lot easier to drive on the freeway when your vehicle is in drive.  I’ve been told that it’s a whole lot quieter, too.  = )

“Mom, may I use your blow dryer?”

So said the fifteen-year-old male with the half-inch long buzz cut.  Hmmm…  I asked WHY he wanted to use it and WHERE he planned to use it.

He wanted to try to dry out an old computer keyboard that may have become moist inside when he wiped off the keys with a damp paper towel.  I think the keyboard was already dead.  It’s definitely dead now.

With apologies to my handyman

Dear Scott,

I did it.  It’s all MY fault.  It’s not Josiah’s fault, because he only tried to fix what I asked him to fix.

In flinging out the clean sheets to put on our bed, I inadvertently bumped the ceiling light fixture, and one of the three little chains popped, leaving the fixture dangling at a rakish angle.

Shocked and slightly embarrassed, I called for Josiah to come rescue the light, and he did.  With me holding the glass shade up high (no small feat for a height challenged wife), he reconnected the broken chain, and all was well.

That is, until I looked up at the light from a different angle and saw a hole in the ceiling.  It looked like the metal base of the light had been bumped off-center, so that it was no longer fully covering the hole. I perceived the hole to be unsightly and inappropriate.

P:  “Hey, Jo!  There’s a HOLE in the ceiling!”

Jo:  “Uh. . . yeah.  Hasn’t it always been there?”

P:  “I don’t think so.  I’ve never seen it before.  Maybe when I bumped the light it shoved the fixture off-center or something.”

Jo:  (analyzing the situation) “Well, I think it was there before, but I see what you mean.”

P:  “You know, I’ve been looking at this light for twelve-and-a-half years, and I’ve never seen a hole like that before.”

So, Josiah very gently tried to shove the fixture a bit to one side, so as to cover the hole.  We both assumed it would slide over, but when he did this (which he only did because I found the hole to be un-aesthetically pleasing), something up in the ceiling broke, which left the whole fixture dangling precariously.  This was clearly not a good thing.  We both felt quite bad, but I think I felt worse, because, as earlier stated, it was ALL MY fault.  We both studied the dangling fixture for a moment.

P:  “What do we do now?”

Jo:  “Take it all down and re-drill the holes to re-mount it in that sheetrock.”

P:  “Hmmm…  Dad is NOT going to be happy about this.”

Jo:  “No, he’s not.”

P:  “Well, do you think it will hang there all right till Dad gets home?”

Jo:  “Ummm. . . maybe.”  (and then, looking at it more closely) “You know, maybe we should just take this (glass shade) off, because it’s so heavy.  It might fall.”

P:  “Yes, but it’d be on Dad’s side of the bed and would only hit his feet.”  (and then, abandoning humor for reality)  “Well, I guess you’re right.  Boy, Dad is NOT going to like this, but I promise you, you won’t get blamed.  I’ll make sure he understands that it’s all my fault.”

So I held the shade again while Josiah carefully unhooked the little chains.  And now we have a naked bulb hanging out of a hole in our bedroom ceiling.

Just for fun, he decided that since the shade was down anyway, he SHOULD spin it like a top on the bedroom floor, which he did, and I must admit that it was slightly impressive.

I will clean the shade.  I am VERY sorry to cause you this inconvenience.  It was my fault, not Josiah’s.  Laura may have broken the plate, but I bumped the light.

P:  “You know, this light fixture is really pretty and probably an antique, but it has always been a real pain.  Since the hole’s all exposed now anyway, maybe we should just get a whole new light fixture.”

Jo:  (laughing)  “You’ve got to be kidding, Mom!  After the bathroom?!?!?  NO WAY!”

P:  “Yeah, I guess you’re right.  It could end up being a $6K light fixture.”


Wife of Youth

Keeping your baseboards clean

My mom was a big fan of clean baseboards when I was a kid, and I definitely respect and appreciate Mom.  However, I am personally able to leave a dusty baseboard untouched for quite a few months years, and I have obviously passed on this trait to a percentage of our offspring.

We are expecting to lodge an undefined number of AIM folks here for a leadership camp this weekend, and at least some of them will probably be sleeping in Katie’s now-vacant room.  Hence, this afternoon, Jessica and I went up there to survey the scene and do any necessary damage control following Katie’s recent spring break.

Now, I had asked Katie to leave her room in decent shape, and to her credit, she truly did.  In fact, the only things that really needed to be done were changing the sheets, dusting a few surfaces, and vacuuming.  However, before I began vacuuming, I decided it would be prudent to take a broom to the carpet edges, sweeping out violently beating out the several months’ years’ worth of accumulated dust and junk, so the vacuum could suck it up.

Once I got started sweeping out the edges, I wanted to finish (not that I’m compulsive or anything. . .)  Jessica graciously pulled Katie’s nightstand out from the wall so I could attack the carpet beneath and behind it, and what did she find, but – SHOCK AND AWE – a check for $96.66, made out to Katie and dated July 1, 2008! Jessica called Katie, who was quite pleased to know that she now has almost $100 more than she thought she had.

Moral of the Story:  Listen to your mother; there is wisdom in keeping your baseboards clean.

Found word

While playing Keesdrow today, Andrew wanted to know if he could use the dictionary to look for words.  We all said no, but then relented, as he was decidedly the vocabularic underdog.

In this particular game, it is to your advantage to play words that use a given letter more than once, so imagine our amazement when he confidently (with open dictionary in one hand) played L-A-G-N-A-P-P-E.  What the heck was that?

He grinned and read to us the definition:  “a small gift given with a purchase to a customer.”  Well, so it was, although with effort, I vaguely remembered seeing that word spelled with an “i” many years ago.  However, after the “pupa” incident, I wasn’t about to challenge that, and Andrew continued to scan the dictionary and find interesting words.

Wins and losses is not all it’s cracked up to be.  Scott’s softball team was scheduled to play in a tournament this (Saturday) morning, starting at 9:30 AM.  At 10:00 PM last night, there was a 100% chance of rain at 9:00 AM with thunderstorms likely.  Knowing the tournament would be rained out, we didn’t get moving any too early today, but when I did stagger to the computer, there was suddenly a 0% chance of rain at 9:00 AM, and it was sunny!

So we raced to the ball field, but the Promise Keepers were soundly trounced by a much better team.  One loss.  Of course, we were also short a player; we having nine to their ten.  The PKs play in the church league, which is kind of the bottom of the league barrel in Branson.  The opposing team probably plays in the Men’s Recreational Leauge or even the Men’s Competitive League.

It was a double elimination, so we played again at 12:30 PM.  It rained through most of the game, and we were down by nine runs.  Our team captain, who had missed the first game due to a prior commitment at a golf tournament(!!!), showed up in the middle of the second game and batted, eventually scoring a run that would keep them from being run-ruled, but it was determined that he was the 12th batter, and although that’s okay in our normal league, in this tournament only 11 batters were allowed.  So the run didn’t count, and the rainy, muddy game was over.  Two losses.

This afternoon, Katie’s last afternoon with us before she returns to college, she, Scott, and I played Scrabble.  I’m not sure why I do this to myself, as I almost always lose, but I sure do enjoy it.  I lost, and – sooprize, sooprize, SCOTT won!  Word games are not his strongest suit, and for anyone to beat Katie at a word game is newsworthy, so we were all duly impressed.  One win.

Then, Andrew, Katie, Scott, and I played Keesdrow, another word game.  In this one, if you challenge a word and the word ends up being legit, the player who was challenged gets double points for the word.  Scott played “pupas,” and I – with a sideways glance at the second-semester Latin scholar beside us – challenged it.  Doesn’t  everyone know pupa a Latin word and the plural would be “pupae?”  Well, wasn’t I sooprized to learn that (according to The Official Scrabble Dictionary, which was our chosen authority today), either plural is acceptable?!?!  That measly little 35-point word netted Scott 70 points, and he ended up beating Katie by a mere four points.  Two wins.

As we were wrapping up that game, we turned on the TV and found the Cardinals playing at Chicago, tied 5-5 in the top of the 11th innning.  Well, we were kind of bummed that we hadn’t realized earlier that they were on, but we watched the end of that one, in which the Cubs hit a homer in the bottom of the 11th.  = (  Three losses.

So, for the day we’re 0 for 3 on ball games and 2 for 2 on word games.  Well, that would be the royal we on the on the word games.