Let it snow…and snow..and snow…

So the wood is stacked. 8.5 face cords of it. It took multiple days, and gallons of sweat were lost in the process.

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The leaves have been raked…well, mostly. There are still a few piles somewhere under the snow which will be sure to be absolutely delightful to attend to come spring. What I can’t understand is that Hubby keeps cutting down trees (He did not cut all our wood. There’s just not the time for that.), but the amount of leaves does not seem to be decreasing. (We are not tree-huggers up here. We are unapologetic tree-burners. Have you seen the price of a tank of propane? Let’s just say that heating totally with propane for a full winter would equal the cost of a really lavish trip to Disney World. And if I have to choose between hugging a tree and enjoying a lavish trip to Disney World, the mouse would win every time!)

The first snow has fallen…and the second…and the third…and the…I don’t know. I’ve lost count. This week has been one of the most bizarre November weeks I can ever recall.

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So this week I learned how to run the snowblower. I’ve lived up here for 22 years and have never felt the need to know how to use one before. There was one ill-fated attempt last winter when I thought I would give it a go. I had my dad on the phone attempting to walk me through the get ‘er running process. It was a no go. (How frustrating to be talking to the man who used to OWN the snowblower now parked in your garage and discover that he has no idea how to talk you through starting it up!)

This year, though, I decided it was time to learn. So I got Hubby outside to show me what was what. It all looked so simple, until I saw that pull cord…you know, like they have on lawn mowers. I have a very bad relationship with pull cords. Let’s just say that my bad feelings toward pull cords came about when we owned a lawnmower that I not-so-affectionately referred to as Demon Spawn.

I am proud to say, though, that I overcame my fear and got it going today all on my own. Sure, I could leave this “manly” job for the man in the family, but even though a feminist I am not, I think it’s important for me to know how to do these kinds of things.

Bring Me Some Bon Bons and Turn on the Soaps

I feel that I should explain how I came to be “perched upon my pedestal,” lest you get the wrong idea and start thinking that I do nothing all day but sit on cushy pillows eating bon bons and watching the soaps. (By the way, I’ve never even seen a bon bon, let alone tasted one, and the last time I watched a soap was before child #1 was born and Passions was still on–anyone remember that one? Crazy story lines and bad acting galore!)

So the whole “pedestal” thing started with a neighbor. I met this neighbor, who wasn’t a neighbor yet, at child-birth class when #1 was just a bump under my really ugly maternity shirts. (Because cute maternity clothes did not yet exist in my corner of the world I was stuck with billowy shirts and really ugly leggings.) The woman seemed pleasant enough. Friendly. We struck up a conversation and later found out that our offspring entered the world within days of each other.

Fast forward a year or so. (Baby #2 is now just a bump under my slightly less ugly maternity shirts and Baby #3 is still just a sparkle in my eye.) Property was purchased in the Middle of Nowhere, a house was erected, and the discovery was made that “Nice lady from childbirth class” is also a resident in the Middle of Nowhere. Hooray! We’ll be friends!

Neighbor comes over one lovely autumn afternoon while the leaves are peacefully drifting to the ground (and rapidly piling up like snow during a blizzard) and we commence with the getting acquainted chit-chat. I am quickly convinced that Neighbor has read exactly two books in her life…The Bible and some book on birth order…both of which she quotes with equal fervor. The Bible quoting does not bother me. But that other book…I can feel my eyes rolling back in my head in either disinterest, disgust, or both right now as I relive the whole conversation. (I need to interject something here. This conversation took place at least 8 years ago, maybe more. I ran into Neighbor at the store this past summer and she’s still quoting the book.)

Neighbor asks me where I fell in the birth order of my family. I’m the baby. I’ve got an older brother. Oh my…she had nothing flattering to say about me. Then she proceeds to tell me how she thought upon first meeting me that Hubby puts me on a pedestal. (I will interject again here to somewhat refute this accusation. Hubby loves me, respects me and treats me well. But other than in that sense, there is no pedestal around here. Hubby works hard at his day job, sometimes 16+ hour days. Thankfully he can work from home most of the time. When it comes to many of those pesky household chores like lawn-mowing, wood-stacking, cooking, cleaning, and drain-unclogging he just doesn’t have the time. Since there are no little fairies waving their magic wands around here, that work falls to me. And let me tell you, there is nothing glamorous about pulling a wad of hair out of a clogged drain…which I did just this morning.)

Back to the birth order business…

So, with steam coming out of my ears, I looked into the whole birth order baloney and found that because Brother is quite older than me I’m apparently an only child and thus must fall under the stereotypes of only children??? It’s all silly. So, “Ha, Neighbor! It appears you can’t stereotype me as easily as you’d like.”

While it annoys me that Neighbor is of the belief that I’m living some carefree, cushy life, I’ve decided to take her annoying words and turn it into something that makes me happy…writing about my life in the Middle of Nowhere.

Bobcats and Blunders

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This is “Little Lady” Luna…and it’s all her fault. You see, Luna requires a walk every day. No walk = crazy cat-chasing lunatic. Which is no good for our four furballs who barely tolerate her presence. Though, I have to admit, with a walk she’s still a cat-chasing lunatic. She’s just a little less energetic about it.

Our problem is that we don’t have time to walk her during the day. In the summer, light isn’t a problem. But as we head into fall, the sun has been setting earlier and earlier. Where we live, out here in the middle of nowhere, there are no street lights. Houses are few and far between and the trees are so thick that moonlight doesn’t permeate. Our flashlight beams provide meager illumination. It’s a little scary. Especially if you think about what could be lurking just a few feet away. Like a bear…a bobcat…bats. Apparently we love our pup a lot, because we ignore our personal safety on a daily basis to make sure she doesn’t turn into a chubby pooch.

So, last week, armed with our usual supplies (2 flashlights and a can of bear repellant) we set out for our evening walk. All was going well, and it seemed as if we would complete another uneventful walk unscathed. Then we turned a corner and started down the slightly-better-than-a-two-track road that comprises part of what we call the “short loop.” The “short loop” is for nights when it’s really dark, really late or really cold. At slightly more than a half-mile, we’re never all that far from home. There’s one house on the “short loop” and, though a light shines inside or outside on occasion, no one lives there on a regular basis. The trees tower over the road, and it’s like walking through a dark, gloomy tunnel.

Hubby and I were, ill-advisedly, talking about vampires and that new show on FX, “The Strain,” way wrong thing to be doing on a dark, gloomy stretch of road, when from behind us came a very loud hiss. We’ve got four cats. They can hiss loudly, as they’ve demonstrated nearly everyday since Luna came to live with us last year. This was much louder than a housecat’s hiss. We were, understandably, startled. Luna was unconcerned, which leads us to ask, “What kind of guard dog is she?”

Hubby popped the safety off the bear repellant to have it at the ready, and we continued on…for about another 10 feet. That was when we heard the most stomach-twisting, adrenaline-producing sound–it sounded like a shrieking woman and it was right behind us. (And still no reaction from the dog.) But we couldn’t see it, because we only had those meager flashlights and it was in the trees somewhere probably crouching with its butt wriggling in that stance that cats use right before they pounce on their prey.

I took off. I’ve never run so fast in my life. Plus, I had Luna, and she’s quite speedy. I’m not certain how I managed to keep my feet from getting tangled up as she tugged me down the road. I assumed Hubby was following. He was, but he was trying to shine the light behind him as he ran, so he wasn’t moving nearly as fast.

There was no more noise from the bobcat, and we assumed that our exciting “adventure” was all completed for the evening.

We reached our driveway and waited for Luna to complete her business. Then Hubby started walking her toward the house while reliving the encounter. Just as he started talking about the hiss, he heard a hissing sound. I’m not certain what happened next, but I know things were dropped and the air was filled with the most awful mist. I was coughing. Hubby appeared to be in agony. Somehow the bear repellant, which he had not put the safety back on, had gone off in his face, all over his coat, all over his jeans. He was a mess from head to toe.

Thirty minutes of eye-washing in the sink, a washing down with Dawn and water solution, a thorough scrubbing of his sandals, and a tossing of his ruined jacket ensued. The bathroom looked like the scene of a murder. Red was smeared all over the wall and the light switch. It was pooled on the floor from where it had dripped off his coat. His eye was swollen shut, and just imagine what that hot pepper stuff does to your nose and throat.

A day later he was mostly back to normal.

A week later and I still feel my heart rate speed up when we walk down that road in the dark.