26 06 2006

I realized that I referenced the Shamrock story in the previous post thinking that I had written about it in this blog at some point. After perusing the history files, I see that I have never shared this story in the blog genre.

It’s a shame. One that I will try to alleviate today. Then maybe, you can see where the hysterical laughing/crying jag came from.

Look Who’s Coming To Dinner
My sister was born on March 16th – the day before St. Patricks Day. Did I mention that her name is Shannon? Yes. Shannon, the Norwegian-Irish lass.

I’m not exactly sure how “Irish” lambs are. I suppose there are some of the little buggers roaming about the Irish countryside…..

I distinctly remember the day – I was probably 4 or 5 when my Mom and I carried this adorable little lamb out to the bus stop to surprise Shannon for her birthday. The lamb had a little green ribbon around it’s neck with a pin on it that said, “Kiss me I’m Irish”.

We named the lamb, of course, Shamrock.

Shamrock grew, as lambs are wont to do, into a full-fledged sheep in a very short time. He had no idea he was a sheep, since we were on a cattle ranch and had nothing to compare himself to. He hung out with the rowdy cow dogs where he learned to chase cows, bulls and cars.

The cows and bulls were so totally freaked out at the sight of a woolly little lamb rushing toward them menacingly. Herding the cows using Shamrock was definitely more expeditious than using the dogs.

The cars, on the other hand, didn’t seem to notice a difference.
Shamrock also loved to head butt.
He also liked to head butt people in the butt (which I supposed would be called a butt butt – but I digress…).
I had a little white pony-riding helmet that had fingernail polish painted polka dots in red all over it. I would wear this helmet and spend an afternoon head butting the pet sheep.
(It is about here that the hysterics began to creep towards the surface. I mean, really. How in the world can this story be real? It’s ridiculous.)

After a few years my Dad announced that Shamrock’s car chasing days were through. He had found him a beautiful home on a sheep ranch in Idaho. He would be the bellwether of the flock and never be subjected to any harm.

This was a win-win that was out of character in a rancher. We were taught at an early age that you did what you had to do. My father loved his animals and there are none that were better cared for, but it was a business. And business is business. (The story of Patches comes to mind here – but that is for another time.)

So, Shamrock went away to Idaho with many hugs and tears, but happiness was in our hearts that he would be happy and safe. I still have the image in my head of Shamrock ambling over rolling green hills, bell on collar, leading the sheep to greener pastures…….

Be very careful in believing that the grass is always greener.

A few months later, Grandpa was over at dinner. We were all gathered around the dinner table – Norman Rockwell style – when Grandpa said in his heavy Norwegian accent, “Well, ya, is dis da kid’s sheep? It’s goot, not too tuff.”

We had been eating Shamrock for God knows how long.

The children screamed. Mom insisted she didn’t know. We cried and cried and retched and cried.

And Dad and Grandpa got the hell out of the house.


What We Did This Weekend – Ant Edition

25 06 2006

I don’t even know where to start. What a fantastic time…

First of all, it was 95 degrees yesterday – almost unbearably hot. This may have dampened the enthusiasm of some potential guests, but everyone important slathered on their sunscreen and joined in the “sweating like pigs” revelry.

Ant is, of course, wonderful. He was incredibly brave and drove from Seattle – a totally strange city and country and side of the street AND side of the car drive…..and made it, on time and pretty much intact.

Because of a comment in a former post regarding the “No Testicles” rule in my house, he came ready to check them at the door.

And I had a special little bag for him to leave them in that said “Testicles Here”.

And he brought the girls gifts and a lovely ceramic Loch Ness Monster for me. And if there is any way to immediately make it into my heart – it is the giving of gifts.

I cannot tell you how hysterical it was to sit at my table full of friends, listening them argue and laugh and talk over one another about so many subjects – work, Walmart (it’s evil draw and the white trash Walmart task force that has stymied every damn one of us), KMart, Politics, War, Red/Blue States, single Mothers….I’m sure I have missed many subjects here, but you get the picture.

I can’t help but think that when I made the conscious decision to make good, solid friends and put some hard emotional work into improving that aspect of my life, that it has worked out better than I could have ever possibly imagined.

Sierra, Megan and Sean. This is my “so-called-friend” Megan who refused to tell the end of the Shamrock story when I was so hysterically laughing and crying at the same time that I didn’t think I could make it through. Her tough love got me over the hump, though.

Ant is way back there in the black shirt. I was enjoying myself so thoroughly that I did not get any other pictures of him. Oops.

But, he did pose for some pictures with the Minty Squirrel that will hopefully make it on his blog soon.

And this is how the girls felt about the day. They played with so many kids in the front yard inflata-pool ALL afternoon. But it was good.

Very good.


22 06 2006

This last weekend I agonized over the Father’s Day thing.

There are many ways that John is not a good father to the girls. But they love him, and they don’t realize what he doesn’t do for them.

They know that he shows up once or twice a week. Takes them to get some groceries on Sunday mornings, buys them a DVD or something and rides off into the sunset – having done his duty.

What do you get a part-time father?

Need I mention that he didn’t get me anything for Mother’s day or my birthday? No? Okay, I won’t mention it.

I don’t ever get him anything personally, but I have always been the proxy purchaser of gifts from the girls.

I really, really didn’t want to get him anything – but I tried to put my personal feelings about him aside (again) and do the right thing as far as they were concerned.

And I came up with the perfect solution!

I bought them baseball gloves and balls because they both realized lately that they don’t really know how to catch or hit. And I am not in a good position to teach them since one of my least favorite AND least skilled sports is baseball.

I had them autograph the baseballs. Maya’s said, “I love you Dad, Maya” and Sophie – being a bit more verbose wrote, “Teach me how to play baseball Dad. Love, Sophie”.

And they spent all day with their Dad on Sunday. He took them to get groceries and then actually took them to a park and played catch with them for hours.

The gift ended up benefiting the right people. And inspired him to, for a day, be a real father.

20 06 2006

It’s a Wild Scottish BBQ!!

Come and meet the incredible international blogger – Anthony Stell (of fame, of course)!

When: Sunday, June 25th 1:00 PM to whenever – but I do have to go to work Monday….

Where: Shari’s house

Why: Because! I have never met him! What if he’s all crazy like Braveheart? I can’t be left alone with that!!

I will provide hamburgers/cheeseburgers, etc. I am counting on everyone else to bring other types of food. I still have some beer from my birthday! But not a lot…

Drunken Chicken

19 06 2006

My Grandpa Lars drank wine.

He was an immigrant from Norway so there was always wine, pickled herring and lutefisk around.

It wasn’t good wine. It was some variety of white from Ernest and Julio Gallo that had the twist off cap and came in large bottles, from even larger cases down in the cellar.

Where do you get wine like that in cases? It’s a mystery to me.

He also used a spitoon – which I had the uneviable chore of dumping out…..but that is an entirely another story.

Another chore I had was to haul his empty bottles out to the “empty bottle place”. There was no recycling on a ranch in Montana so these bottles would pile up. I can’t remember who would eventually haul them away after the pile got too big, and where they would haul them to, but the pile always existed in some form.

Yet another chore, that I shared with my sister for many years, was feeding and watering the chickens.

I hate chickens.

Remember Rocky the rooster? If not, please read this post and view these pictures for some background information. I tried to feed, water and collect eggs when he was in the outside pen. If fast enough, I could outsmart the bastard by shutting the little chicken door that led from the inside coop to the outside pen. This was usually done with manic running, crying and flailing of sticks.

There was a little creek at the top of the hill where we would get the water. Being small, a bucketful of water was too heavy for me to lug down the hill without spilling it all over my legs.

So I used one or two wine bottles from the pile.

I vividly remember lying on the ground on top of the culvert and dipping the glass bottles into the creek. It was fast running and you had to hold on tight. You also had to dip the mouth of the bottle just halfway under the surface in order for the bottle to fill quickly – water in, air out.

The smell of the wine would waft up into my face and I would inhale deeply. I loved that smell.

There was always some wine left in the bottle – and I never thought to rinse it out. Those poor chickens were constantly drinking what amounted to watered down wine – at least when I was fetching the water. I wonder if they noticed.

While remembering this last night I came to an amazing conclusion – one that has given me the possible opportunity to forgive Rocky.

He was just an angry drunk.

June 15th

15 06 2006

It was my Dad’s birthday today.

He never made much of his birthday. We always shipped our cows to the upper pasture on this day.

I think he did it to divert attention from it.

I thought about him a lot today.

He liked talking to people while sitting for hours in his truck. Just parked and talking.

He liked rocks and would bring me home cool specimens to examine.

He liked animals, taking care of them, raising great cows, spoiling them by feeding them special hay on the holidays.

He liked root beer floats. He even had special root beer float glasses that he would fix them in. You could come in on a hot summer night to find Dad, covered in dust from haying, sitting at the kitchen table with a frothy ice cream and soda treat in a fancy glass – scooping at it with his special long handled root beer float spoon.

He liked to complain about the rich California fisherman that would pay big bucks to float by the ranch in their guided fly fishing excursions.

He liked to quietly cause trouble. Then laugh about it.

He liked giving the dogs rides on the motorcycle in the evenings.

He liked his life. And I miss him in his death.

Happy Birthday Dad.

I hope you have all the best root beer floats and assorted paraphenalia. I hope you and the dogs ride the motorcycle every night. I hope there are no touristy fishermen where you are.

And I hope you are still causing a bit of trouble now and then.

Elementary, My Dear Sophie

14 06 2006

From Sophie’s Detective Notebook:

Grace’s CD is gone.

Clue 1 – My Mom left it on the kitchen table.

Clue 2 – Mickey poot it somewhere.

Clue 3 – We don’t know where it is

That’s all I know. Get a clue.

Clue 4 – The hamburger looks suspicious. And so does my butt. Shari looks suspicious cus she poot the CD on the table.

I wonder.

Maybe my friend has a CD that has Mamma Mia.

I think she was taking these notes during the birthday barbeque. And the butt thing? She is seven and into bathroom humor.

I, too, wonder.