You all are aware that my mother raised me in her parents’ household after ‘our’ divorce. I referred to my mother’s parents as Mama and Papa. They were eccentric and I loved them dearly. I was especially fond of my Papa. He called me his barnacle.
They threw away the mold after they made my Papa. A frustrated farmer stranded in the city, his idea of vacation was to pile us into the car and head off to the Ozarks to tour all of the hen houses he could find. My mother, who worked full time and sometimes went to school as well, did not think that this was a very ‘cool’ vacation and wisely stayed at home.
We drove up and down little country highways gaping at cows in the fields in search of the next hen house. (“Look there…that’s an ANGUS there, Tara!”). We’d park in some dusty ol’ farm yard. Mama would sit in the car. I felt that I should AT LEAST get to get out of the car!
As you can guess, if you’ve seen one hen house, you’ve pretty much seen ’em all! And Papa REALLY wanted to ‘talk shop’ with the other farmers so we were stranded pretty much til one of ’em was talked out…
I got carsick pretty regularly and one trip I think I had had two 7-Ups and there was still no restroom in sight…we could get pretty deep in them hills in search of hen houses. This time was a real potty emergency! Finally Papa found a little ol’ sundry store. It had an outhouse restroom with its own tarantula on the wall over the hole. I’ve been told since that tarantulas aren’t in the Ozarks, but I know better!
One highlight was the time we actually got to stop at a ‘tourist trap’! Yes, yes! It is true! We stopped at Cherokee Village and I watched them make pottery and stuff…well, I saw pottery sitting on tables and they told me how they made it. I picked a little miniature clay vase with a purple flower on it. Papa fussed all the way to the car because I believed those cons who were trying to pretend to be the real thing. I was wounded! After all, didn’t I have my authentic clay vase? “Yeah!”, Papa snapped as we headed off to view another hen house, “it’s made in CHINA if the truth were known!” I was biting my tongue for a good few minutes til I tumped the thing upside down. There on the bottom it was stamped in bold, bright blue letters ‘Made in Taiwan’! I didn’t say ONE word!
There aren’t many of the old hen houses left in the Ozarks anymore, y’all…the conglomerates have swallowed them up…I remember one man bragging how many generations had run their farm. Once in a while I see one I remember! Rory just marvels.
It wasn’t what you’d call great fun but I was with my Papa and if I could just drive up to one more hen house with him today….what I wouldn’t give.
Avignon — our labor of love, our home
I have told you that we built our home with our own hands. We finished the main living quarters first and finished the basement last. The basement serves as quarters for gameroom, a large pantry room, laundry area and a garage.
1) We live on a farm under huge oaks with a treeline which surrounds our property. This tree line has proven to be very healthily alive with all manner of forest life, even though it is just a treeline.
2) For a few months, we had no garage doors. There were doors between the house and garage but no electric ‘roll up’ garage doors which open and close for the vehicles to drive in. AND, unbeknownst to us, we had a drain line opening which wasn’t sealed well enough for a small amount of time ‘back in those days.’ It may have been a small amount of time that the drain wasn’t sealed as it should’ve been, but I suffered major trauma during that small amount of time. I never knew what I’d find in my basement at laundry time. There was the time I opened the area which was waiting to be made into a bathroom to vacuum and was face-to-face with a frog IN MY HOUSE. He began jumping around wildly looking for someplace to run to and so did I. Th’ Brick duly replaced the displaced froggie into the wilds and we were all happy. If only ALL of the basement wildlife stories could’ve had such a happy ending…
There was the night of the skink. I had gotten our winter jackets out and thrown them in front of the washer while waiting for another load to finish washing and the girls and I had gone to the grocery. (Th’ Brick was working 3 – 11 back in the days of his shift-work.) When we got home, I emptied the washer and began to dig around in the pile of jackets and a large skink shot out of MY WINTERWEAR. He shot in one direction and I shot in another.
When I came back later, picking my way gingerly through the pile of coats, out he shot again! Mr. Skink had the basement to himself the rest of the evening! Rory couldn’t find the little fella’ when we got up next morning and HE got to do however many loads it took to do those coats. To have observed the girls and me for weeks after, you’d have thought our basement was haunted, so cautiously did we approach it and so gingerly did we slink around while in it.
The best was saved for last, however. Again, while vacuuming, I opened the area waiting to be made into a bath and there, on a stored patio chair was a strange looking ‘wad’ of stuff. I bent down to observe closer and I realized that RIGHT THERE, hanging on the bottom rung of MY PATIO CHAIR, was a very small, pinkish, baby copperhead IN MY HOUSE!
I ran in my usual direction and was safe upstairs before I realized that THIS animal was TOO important to leave to my usual battle plan of ‘out-of-sight, out-of-mind.’ Thank goodness daughter Anna appeared and went into the basement with me to witness this phenomenon– and there he was, still wadded up on the bottom rung of MY CHAIR.
During the afternoon I wended my way downstairs several times and the snake apparently got sick of it because the last time I saw him, he was headed toward where we all assume that he came from and was never seen again. Soon after this, we approached the phase of construction to where the whole basement was well sealed and doored and life settled down as far as the basement wildlife.
THEN there was the morning in my kitchen, UPstairs, when I opened the potato bag from the grocery and found a baby rat snake…
I confess. I am a chocoholic, y’all. My two daughters have followed in my tracks. I don’t know whether this makes me sad or whether I feel a proud bond with them over this. It depends upon how plentiful the chocolate supply is.
When we’re all gathered around the TV for a girlie night piggin’ out from a plenteous supply of chocolate, I feel that we’re all happily bonded. When I scrounge desperately for a wonderful, rich sweetie that I KNOW was there yesterday and now it is GONE…well…I’m not sa’happy then…
I have a friend who can really relate to this. When pregnant with their first child, her husband worked the 3-11pm shift. She made a luscious chocolate cake and left it sitting out in view so that he could have a treat when he arrived home that night. The cake called her pregnant little name, so she got out of bed and returned to the kitchen for just a slice. It still looked beautiful and she sighed happily and went back to bed.
The calls from the cake became more and more urgent, however and after several trips back to the kitchen, she was appalled to see how little of the cake was left! She went worriedly back to bed, but it suddenly hit her that hubby would KNOW who ate ALL the rest of that cake!! She was SO ashamed! She got up squalling and ate all the rest of it and hurriedly cleaned every trace of chocolate cake from the kitchen. She raced back to bed just in time to ‘be asleep’ as he came in.
He moved around in the kitchen a bit and came on to the bedroom and nudged her gently, “Hey! Do I smell a cake or something?”, he whispered. She FROZE! Then she did the only thing that any good, honest Christian young woman could do under the circumstances. “NO!”, she snapped. “I don’t know what you’re talking about! Leave me alone and let me go back to sleep!”
Hahahahahaha! It was a couple of years before she even told me about this unfortunate occurrence! I’m not sure whether she’s ever told him or not!
What’s your most memorable chocolate story?