Happy Harvest, Florida Style

In case you are wondering, this is how Florida does pumpkins. And you may be thinking that we carved these the first week of October, giving them a full 3 or 4 weeks to rot. This, friends, is not the case.

We carved these pumpkins on October 24. This is 8 days in Florida.

No wonder I can’t lose weight. Internally, I’m moldy and rotten. No one can survive in these conditions.

It’s terrible.



Really, I’m joking. Besides the rotting vegetation that I’m going to have to sandblast from my porch, we are happy. It is November 2 and while my heart tightens a little every time I think about how fast the days are passing me by, I’m also working on the best Christmas mix ever and embracing the days ahead.

Happy Harvest, wherever you are.

Catching up and a Lil Ditty about The Gateway to the Ocean

i always feel a bit strange just talking about what’s been going on. I don’t really do things that way. There are sort of two ways to follow my life: (1) Just tag along and experience it, or (2) Accept the retelling of it in stories. I’m not so great at the bullet points. I think in stories. It has to shape up with a beginning, middle, and end for me to tell it.

That said, I’ll try to bullet point a few things before I talk about the gate.

*I’m currently working on getting a patent for my new torture device for racoons. It involves wiring ordinary outdoor trashcans with explosives. Working title is The Coonflagrator. I’m not married to the title, but I’ve already married and started a family with the invention.

*Chickens like water. If you own chickens, make sure you give them water.

*On our annual pilgrimage to Texas, it became apparent that i will never road-trip again without some sort of horrific health issue with the kids. This is a disturbing discovery that I pretty much have to solve. I can’t stop road-tripping. I wonder what would happen if I didn’t tell them. If I just stuck them in the car and pretended I was going to the grocery store. At 4 a.m. In another state. 

*You would think the horrific health incidents might have occurred in Louisiana. This was strangely not the case. That doesn’t mean there was any love gained, though.

*Just recently, I spent some time at the beach with the local cousins and my kids. It was perfection in almost every way.


And that leads me to the Gate. The Beach Gate. The Gateway to the Ocean. The gate that should never, ever have been erected.

Years ago, the family beach condo sat nestled in some sea oats and looked out toward unspoiled sand and sea. As you walk out toward the ocean, to the right there is a pool, fenced in as pools should be. To the left there were two tiki hut cabanas with picnic tables. And in front of you, there was nothing.

Then one year we showed up to frolic in the sun and came face-to-face with a large, white, pvc fence that ran the width of the condo’s property. Some grumpy old bag had decided that too many people were wandering off the street and using their beach access and WE CAN’T HAVE THAT. So they put up a white, plastic prison to keep out the riffraff. Most of the time, though, it traps the wrong people.

It never fails to trap me on the opposite side of where I desperately need to be.

One year they had the gate rigged with a combination that never worked. You could punch those numbers in all day long with the force of a lumberjack and the precision of an accountant and still be standing there with your pooping baby, locked far, far away from diapers, or ambulances, or valium.

When that combo code thing utterly failed, they went to the standard lock and key method. I know it SOUNDS simple enough. You keep the key on you. Use it. Viola! But if you have one key and 8 people in your party, you are bound to end up in an awkward situation on the wrong side of that gate at some point.

Not that I would know.

It was a Monday afternoon and we had decided to order pizza to be delivered to the beach. We would eat it at the tiki cabana, so as not to interrupt our frolicking too much.  I had my very smart phone with me outside, so I looked up the number for the pizza place and dialed it without a lot of forethought. I knew what I would be ordering. But I was grossly underprepared for the anything else.

I was sitting in a beach chair enjoying life and placing my order when the woman on the other end asked the most natural question in the world: What’s your address?

Um. I don’t know. I think, um, there’s a 9 in it. Hold up. I’ll go look real quick.

Real, Quick.

I went running, while on the line with the Pizza Lady, muttering things like, I’m really sorry. Hang on while I just get to the parking lot and look up at the building. Almost there. So sorry.

All of my ludicrous muttering came to a screeching halt when I got to the gate and realized my nephew had the key and was swimming like a drunken octopus in the pool. Have you ever tried to make a 12 year old boy hear you when they are under water and you are on the phone with a pizza lady? Yeah. It doesn’t work. Most 12 year old boys don’t hear you even if you manage to pipe your voice directly into their hear aids.

So instead of just muttering stupid apologies, now I was yelling for my nephew to come bring me the key. That’s much better.

This did not work. I was then faced with the decision to find another way into that parking lot to get the silly address or hang up and change the evening menu to grits and fruit snacks. As I was trying to rather immediately decide on my next course of action, a shirtless man walked up. I didn’t look at him immediately, because at that point it was hard to even see around my own thoughts. I was about to pass out from the pressure. When I finally did look at him, because it suddenly occurred to me that he might have a gate key, I had to take a slight step back. He was covered in blood, holding his arms like he had just been scrubbed into surgery, and was holding a large knife in his left hand.

It seems like I shouldn’t ask this guy for a gate key. Or anything. But the pizza lady.

“You don’t have a gate key, do you?” I asked him. Please don’t kill me right here in the open.

“I do, actually,” he paused. “But I can’t get to it.” This wasn’t going to work. I yelled for my nephew again. He made some sort of explanation about cleaning a fish. Then he concluded with, ‘This is a bit awkward, but you can open my pouch and get my key if you want to.”

Hmm. This is definitely the strangest Gate Fiasco I have encountered yet. Fishing Dude needed to be where I was standing in order to hose off. I needed to be where he was standing to get my own address. Only a gate and a fanny pack stood between our two destinies.

I opened that fanny pack with the pizza lady still on the line. There were like 800,000 things inside that pouch. It was like his last 8 tax returns folded up and tucked away for his fish murder. Who needs THAT MUCH STUFF while fishing? There was no finding that key.

By this time, which seemed like the next morning, my nephew had come to my rescue with the key and I was free to run like a gazelle toward my address. FINALLY. I gave the woman my address and then asked about how long it would be. 40 minutes. No big deal. OK. Thank you. See you then.

Wait! She says. What do you want to order?

I’ll bet she told a slightly different version of this story to whomever was standing next to her when she hung up the phone.

The pizza was good.

The address is 19418.

I will never EVER forget those numbers again.

The Pizza Lady gave me her personal cell number, because she found me so charming, and now we chat twice a week.
Wouldn’t that be something?

The fence in question is in the background. There is a break in the fence where we tied the gate open.


What the world really needs more of is George Zimmerman. I was hoping to watch a dude gain weight on a daily basis as I heard more about racial slurs. If his trial was shot with stop action photography, you’d be able to watch him get fatter as the trial progressed. I’m guessing jail food is not as bad as they say…

As tired as I am of George Zimmerman, I’m even more weary of racial slurs and the media blitz about them. I would go as far as to say that most of them people whining right now use the words they are whining over. I mean, the news this morning is all about Trayvon Martin calling Zimmerman a cracker before he got shot. Cracker is horrible? When did that become horrible? The answer is, yesterday. No one knows the real meaning of it or the origin. But if you use it, you’re a racist. Better go get yourself a real lawyer and start eating twinkies.

Moment of silence for the twinkie, please. Miss those things.

Call me a cracker and I’ll call you a sandwich. See how stupid this is?  I’m fine with cracker. I like to eat them. They are salty. And crunchy.

I don’t even like Paula Deen and I think what has been done to her is deplorable. We are a sick society looking to crucify the very people we idolized 5 minutes before. And the ones slaying her in the media are probably vile, vile people. More vile than Paula will ever be. Her main mistake was being too honest. I think that’s sad.

I just made my kids tacos for lunch. Fresh. It’s the only time this summer I’ll feel proud of our lunch, so I decided to post it. Of course, Squishy Knickers stuck with chicken nuggets. She is missing a few connections in her brain that link her to refined eating.

My upstairs sounds like the kids are running a saw mill from 1922. Don’t worry, they aren’t. I don’t even let them read books about sharp machinery. It’s the sound of three kids skating on very old wood floors. We inherited 3 pairs of skates and it just happened to fit the three youngest kids PERFECTLY. As I listen to the skating, watch the skating, worry over the skating, and protect my flip-flopped feet, I have waffled between “send thank you note” and “infest her house with live crickets” to the person who gave us the skates. Mostly I’m grateful. And if there is anyone to blame, it is me. I said, “YES! We’ll take them!” to a Facebook post. That’s what I get for taking a short break from Edward Snowden and getting on Facebook.


I bet the government already knew I was getting the skates…


Some blogs come easier than others

I owe a few people a pig story. I said I was going to write that up before the new year. Here it is, only January 6, and already I am a liar.

New Year’s Resolution: Stop lying so much.

It’s good to have goals.

I am in the middle of writing up what happened with the pig. I am at least 800 words into it but I just have to quit for the night. Tomorrow the kids go back to school. No one is dreading that more than me. This has been a glorious 2 weeks. I have loved having them home and being home.

But 6 a.m. will not delay coming just because I am up writing about pigs.

So I’m going to bed.

I thought you should know.

Aren’t you glad we did this?

I’ll try not to leave you hanging past tomorrow. As if you care. But in the interest of not lying in 2013, I am not making any promises…

I have become this person.

It’s probably worth noting, because it adds to the insanity, that I moved my car AND sat on my butt in the yard to shoot this photo at just the right angle for the antlers. Prior to the moved car and butt-in-yard, the antlers were getting lost in the trees. Much like an actual hunt, I imagine.

27 Days until Christmas. Do you have your Car Reindeer Kit? Just embrace it. Trust me.

Spider spray

Wow. Where’ve I been lately? Oh, who’m I kidding? Nobody cares.

Life just gets busy. I never catch up on laundry. Never. This aggravates me to no end, too, because I was one of those know-it-all 20somethings who used to utter things in my mind like, “Stupid people. Why are they so domestically handicapped that they can’t catch up on laundry? Poor little hobos.”

I probably never did think, “poor little hobos” in my head, but you get the idea. I’ve turned into those people. That’s how it works. You are an authority on everything until you get to do it yourself. Then suddenly you are just as dumb, or dumber, as everyone else. Maybe not Baron Wetty. She has a pretty good laundry system going, but she doesn’t live with my boys, either. I will lean on that as my excuse.

At any rate, it doesn’t matter where I’ve been, what I’ve been doing, or which year of taxes I am working on for an October 15 deadline. And it doesn’t matter if you are normal and do your taxes in April (or January like the Informinator). And it further doesn’t matter if you are a reject like me and do your taxes in October and have done them already. I don’t care.

I really do care. Can you hear the desperation in my tone?

Well, anyway. All that matters is that I’m delaying a torture chamber in TurboTax and sitting here on WordPress. And I’m going to tell you a story about the spider I killed today.

It was a quiet Sunday afternoon following a good morning at church. The TV was off and the kids were all playing downstairs and nearby. I was in the kitchen unloading the dishwasher. I rounded the corner into the dining room, to return something to one of the kids when I saw it.

There it was. The spider I’ve been waiting to see. The one I’ve been dreading. The one that haunts my dreams at night and that makes boys cry in the corners. It was a large, brown, spider–positioned perfectly in the doorway between the family room and the dining room. There was no getting over it without risk of sending it crawling away into a place where I’d never find it. It was almost big enough to go under it, but I’m not dumb enough to entertain that thought for long.

This spider was about the size of a silver dollar. Not too fat. Not overly hairy. But big.  I froze. I do that when I see something I have to catch or kill. I freeze and its life passes before my eyes in pictures of execution methods and animal reactions. I picture the many different options I have and what could conceivably happen as I do this. For instance, if a roach is on the ceiling, you simply MUST go through this exercise to ensure that you will not have a still-living roach in your hair after a botched kill attempt. In that situation, failure is not an option. That’s why I go with the flat, heavy paperback book and the technique of a fancy waiter. Smack, smack. It’s done.

So as I froze there today, considering the life of this spider, I decided to call in the troops and go with spider spray. I would do a combination spider spray, paper towel approach. SPRAAAAAAY and smash. Done.

But the spider spray was upstairs in the kids’ bathroom and I’ve already told you I wasn’t going to step over that thing.

“Mama’s Boy?” I called out for him tentatively. He was playing on the stairs. I think he does this because it’s the only place in the house with carpet. The boy likes his carpet.

“Yes?” He answered.

“Run upstairs quickly and get me the can of spider killer in your bathroom.”

“What for?” He perked up. “What is it?”

“Just go get the spray and then we’ll talk,” I urged. He ran off. It seemed like a million years before he got back. As he was running around upstairs, I backed slowly into the kitchen to grab a paper towel for Phase 2 of Operation ArachniKill. When the boy returned, he saw the spider and said, “Whoa.”

I know. Right?

“Throw me the can carefully,” I instructed. “Toss it to me underhanded.”

“What?” He was flabberghasted. “I can’t do that!” He said. We don’t play baseball around here. Clearly it was not a good plan to start out throwing cans of spider killer around. OK. New plan.

“OK. OK. Climb up on the piano bench and hand it to me through the door.” At this point, Beloved came around the corner on Mama’s Boy’s side of the spider and wanted to know what was going on.

“STOP!” I hollered. “Big, HUGE spider. Don’t take another step!!” She stopped and her eyes got large.  Mama’s Boy was perched precariously on the piano and was reaching the can across the threshold to me.

I took the can, aimed it, and sprayed…paper towels ready.


I doused that spider good. I expected it to go crazy. That’s what they do. They hate the stuff, but it paralyzes them on a short journey to DEATH.

There was no movement. No reaction. No death. No life. Nothing.

I sprayed again, totally shocked that nothing was happening.  Then I inched forward to look. Then I nudged it with my paper towel.

The kids were now laughing.

“Mama, it’s fake. It came out of the Halloween box.”

And so it had.

I crumpled it up in the paper towel I had prepared for it and threw it away, just the same as I would have if it had been real and dead.

That’s what you get, you stupid plastic spider.

Now who’s the real loser?

(It’s still me, isn’t it?)


Text of the day:”I’ll try that,” = “I’ll Terry heyday.” Because obviously THAT’S what I wanted to say.

If you are going to be a dork, at least be symmetrical about it.

My cardio workout for the day was trying to pick a horse’s feet. My 11-year-old was giving me advice. If you measure success on actually picking the horse’s feet, then I failed. Utterly. She wouldn’t even make eye contact with me. It’s like I wasn’t even there. I prefer to measure success on how many times I get kicked in the head, how many bones I break, or how many times I hear something pop inside an arm or leg.

Times kicked in head = 0
Bones broken = 0
Times I heard something pop = once, but that was inside my head when I thought I had to cut and laminate 100 tiny cards. Pheww. Dodged that bullet.

So I call that success. Todd picked her feet later. The right way. She respects him.

I filled up my van today for $3.28. Booyah, Winn Dixie Fuel Perks. Thanky, kindly. I’ll have that with a BOGO pork cop and some fried typist.