It’s the only thing that matters! It’s the only thing that lasts!

(Did I mention I watched Gone With the Wind with the DHFs in Kentucky? Because I did. And it permanently warped my brain so that now whenever someone says anything about land I basically re-enact that scene where all the voices in her head go “TARA” and it scares me a little.)

Ahem.
Anyway.

Today was a great day to dig. It was warm and sunny and extremely windy. I dug my garden at Grandma Vegas’ house and I spent like two hours hunched over gathering rocks and sticks for my herb garden and a basket experiment, respectively. Dad told me (as I was tearing dead branches apart and getting a million scratches all over my hands) that my great-grandaddy Enoch used to make baskets.

I think I am growing into my ancestry. Farmers, mostly. People who grew things and made things and knew things. People who lived on the land.

And that was when I had the whole TARA! moment and only snapped out of it when the dog barked in my face.

But I still thought about land. Mom asked me if it felt good to be “working in the earth” today.

It felt very good.

And Dad, whilst I was doing these things, was working on a bench he is building out of the wood from our old backyard fort. He tore it down when we moved and brought the wood over with this plan in mind. Of course, the sun was already going down when he decided to drag out his tools after an afternoon of yard work and neighbor-meeting. I found it interesting that he picked up sticks during daylight hours, but decided to start doing things that involved, you know, sawing in the half-light.

Then I got home from dance just now and he also set up a turntable in the basement.
More on this later.

For now, I’ve got to go to bed… (Hopefully I won’t have another horribly realistic nightmare like I had last night– it was that I got a phone call from the library telling me that I’d been rejected!)

Yours till the night lights,
Pen

I could live on bread and cheese. (And only on that? So can a rat!)

Today I am what Poncho is calling his “human lab rat”, meaning I have this chart where I am to record my heart and breathing rates at certain times– the first of which was ‘upon waking’. I don’t think that one turned out very scientific, as I didn’t have a watch of any kind, and was trying to count my pulse and the seconds. So it says that my heart beat 30 times per minute, which makes it sound like I was in a half-alive coma state. (Possibly this is true. I had just woken up, after all.) (I don’t think “woken” is a word.) (Too bad.)

Also today I went to the grocery store with Dad. This was our list:
salsa
onions
cheese
bread
hamburger buns

This is what he tried to convince me to buy:
apples
butter pecan syrup
pecan pie
pastry
some kind of soup
apples (again)
basically everything we happened to walk past

Then we ended up standing in the middle of the deli area because someone he knew was there, and they were talking. Whilst the deli counter lady was calling to me from behind, and Dad was not telling me what kind of cheese to get, so I asked for sharp chedder. This prompted the deli lady to go into great depth telling me that they did not have sharp cheddar, well actually they did but it was expensive and–
Me: “OK, never mind…”
Lady: “Do you want a half pound of it? A quarter? Are you sure? Do you want a slice to taste? Here it is, it’s good, it’s wrapped in wax.” (because only legit sharp cheddar is wrapped in wax, apparently)
Me: “No, seriously–”
Lady: “Oh, I see, you’re sorry you even asked.”
Me: …………………….
Dad: “Ask for some colby jack.”

You see why I juse loooooove shopping.

Now Dad is actually cooking the hamburgers, and sighing and talking to himself and– “Oops, somethin’s on fire.”

Oh boy.

~Pen

PS: Yes, the title is from Annie Oakley. Yes, I remember that from third grade. Though not the accompanying dance moves, sadly.

sparrows in the holly bush

Well, I don’t have much to say, but it’s been FOREVER since I blogged and I hate to be away so long.
So.
Here I am.

So much has happened between Christmas and now that I feel like I have to catch up. Christmas was awesome, obviously, and New Years was extremely lame (Mom says we need to come up with a new tradition– I vote for playing games because…) my birthday was SUPER FUN and it involved going to the park, eating delicious food, being with my friends, and playing Spot It with my family. Grandpa kept shouting “whale!” for the dolphin, and it was so fun playing games with everyone. I also got a birdfeeder for my bedroom window (no birds have found it yet even though some sparrows live in a holly bush literally five feet away).Oh, and we had cookies.

Being seventeen is waaaaaaay more enjoyable (so far) than being sixteen. I don’t know why; I just felt like at sixteen there were somehow all these societal expectations– driving, working, being a grownup yet a typical teenager. I hated telling people I was sixteen! But now, I’m seventeen and I feel like the pressure is off– if I’m not driving now I must be waiting until eighteen and the same with everything else. I’m in an in-between age where nothing in particular is expected of me and I love it. (Perhaps that is why I loved being fifteen as well…. So nineteen must be my next fun age. Hm.) I feel like I have the freedom to “stretch” and evolve at my own pace and not rush into things just because I’m now old enough for it.

I wish I could vote, though. (Not that citizens get to vote on anything important [cough, SOPA/PIPA].)

The other main thing that I have been doing lately is writing. I am so excited about the way that White Funeral is shaping up. It’s different from the original in many ways, yet I feel like it’s closer to the original concept. Things haven’t really changed, it’s just that I understand them better now. So things that I’m adding are things that I feel were in the original, just not fully revealed or explored. I’m really having fun unveiling things, and feeling like, “oh, that’s what I really meant when I said that”. Sometimes I think my subconscious writes and I just try to follow along.

Oh, and one more thing: I taught my dog Lily to speak! (I mean bark on command. If she was really holding conversations with me I would have mentioned it earlier.) Anyway, she does the trick perfectly… unless other people are watching.
Me: “Dad, watch, I taught the dog to speak.”
Dad: “Wow, she learned English? When did that happen?”
Me: “Noooooo… You know what I mean.”
Dad: “She does that too much already.”
Me: “No. She’s a good doggie! Lily, wanna treat?”
Dad: “Too much noise…”
Me: “Lily! Lily! Sit. Good. Speak!”
Lily: ………. *tail wagging*
Me: “Speak!”
Lily: …………*staring hungrily at treat*
Me: “Lily, speak!”
Lily: ………. *squirms*
Me: “Speak, Lily! Speeeeeak!”
Lily: “woof-BARK!”
Dad: “Wow. Amazing.”
Lily: *sneezes on me*
Me: “Thanks…”

I like your Eeyore sweatshirt.

So, today is Poncho’s birthday! He had his friends over today and there was much Lego ninja-ness. So yesterday we were trying to get things ready for that (on top of a lot of other things), and we had all paused in the kitchen, where Mom was standing in her pajamas and freaking out.

Mom: “I’m really stressed, OK? I’m under extreme stress.”
Dad: (sarcastically) “No way, really?”
Me: shaking my head in the background and mouthing ‘not cool’ to Dad.
Dad: “I mean… what can we help you with? Do you need something?…. I like your Eeyore sweatshirt.”

Then we all just burst out laughing. 

So, happy 11th birthday, Poncho!

Love,
Pen

PS: dear blog readers… I didn’t mean to be gone that long, alas. Life’s been crazy (Halloween, movie making, writing, house hunting– and finding!) but I’m back now. :)

PPS: Like the new header? Picture is courtesy of Dodge’s fab photography skills. He also had to help me upload it as I clicked the mouse a hundred times, frumiously saying “It’s not loading! It’s not loading!” 
Dodge: “What are you going to do when you need to download stuff for two hours? New computers need that.”
Me: “You’ll do it for me. Right?”
Dodge: “Riight.”

How peculiar…

It was the middle of Mass. The homily had just gone on for ages, and we were now standing and saying the Our Father. I felt a bit warm, so I started to take off my coat.

Then I found myself
                                            f
                                               a
                                                  l
                                                     l
                                                       i
                                                          n
                                                            g
                                                                .
                                                                   .
                                                                      .
for a very
long
time
and I had a dream that I was Alice
falling
           and falling
                            and falling
                                         down the rabbit hole…

Mom was calling my name. Oh, I thought, it must be morning. I opened my eyes.

About forty people were staring down at me. I was at church!? Suddenly I realized that I must have fainted. Someone was behind me pulling my hair off my face. Mom was putting my feet up on the pew. About three other people came over and told me to lie down, which I already was doing, and one lady reached over to check my pulse. Mom borrowed someone’s cell phone and called Dad and told him to come and carry me out, and then she started crying. Which made me feel bad, but also worried because I wanted all the strangers to get away from me. All the people were asking questions and saying things, and suggesting taking me out in a wheelchair.
Me: “I can walk! I can walk! I’m OK!”

Two ladies (who informed me they were nurses) helped me stand up and walk out of the church. Then they sat me in a chair in the hall, Mom following after, still crying.
Mom: “What was I thinking? My husband has a gimp knee, he won’t be able to carry her…”
Me: (musing) “How peculiar…” Also, embarassing.

Dad finally did show up, and I thanked the nurse ladies. They told me that next time I felt like I was going to faint, that I should sit down so I’d have shorter to fall. “You’re a tall girl, you know,” they said, while I was thinking: I’m only five foot four!

Once we got home, Mom made me lie on the couch and eat honey on toast. Now we could laugh about the experience… Well, mostly. She refused to leave my side (and is still sitting near me as I write this).

Mom: “An usher actually had to walk me out of the church. They were like, ‘Don’t worry, ma’am, this happens at least once a week.'”
Me: “Did it make a loud noise? Did I hit the floor?”
Mom: “No, you fainted very gracefully. It was like Pride and Prejudice.”
Poncho: “Or like the lady on the Masterpiece Mystery beginning… *sigh!* Also, I saved your hat from the flith of the floor.” 
Mom: “Did you realize that you said ‘how peculiar’, like Alice?”

I guess I still felt like her a little bit. 

It was a very peculiar sensation, fainting, and I’m actually glad I have experienced it– now I’ll be able to write about it accurately if any of my characters have a fainting spell! Downside: Mom might start carrying smelling salts with her to church.

I was actually hoping I might have woke up with some new power, like an accent or the ability to play electric guitar. Doesn’t that happen to people who faint? Oh no, wait. That’s when you get struck by lightning. NEVER MIND.

But I promise I’m OK now. (Seriously, Mom. I. Promise.)

Watch Wars

Dad: “I never came home on time, so my parents bought me a watch for my birthday.”
Mom: “That’s why they got you a watch? …I’m sorry.”
Dad: “Yeah. But then I lost it like the next day.”
Me: Snort. “Sad.”
Dad: “Well, they got me a new one, the same watch. But then someone told me that my neighbor had found my watch. When I lost it I told this neighbor to let me know if he found the watch because I lost it outside somewhere. So I go next door, and my neighbor opens the door and he’s wearing my watch! So I punched him in the face and took it back.”
Mom: “So then you had two watches.”
Dad: “No. ‘Cause I sold the other one to my cousin for twenty-five bucks.”
Me: “What if your neighbor just happened to have the same watch?”
Dad: “Then I guess I stole it.”
Mom: “In addition to assaulting him.”
Dad: shrug.

Spring Break

Yesterday, it being spring break and all, my family drove down to Columbus so we could go to Cosi. Poncho was there in November with Mom and Dad, and they thought we would all like to see it. So we got up early and packed into the car to set off on our journey.

Usually I like long drives. I like looking out the window at the woody scenes passing silently by, at the farm houses and tumbledown sheds and old barns, at the spreading fields and thickly forested hillsides.
Instead, the ride was not so peaceful.
Dad blasted the music and “put the pedal to the metal” (as Grandpa Vegas would say… he would have also remarked that we “musta been flyin'” and then probably made some car noises… vrrrrrrrrrrrr….). I watched the spedometer and found that we were going 90 mph!
Me: (clenching my teeth and bracing for my surely inevitable death) “Slow down, man!”
Dad: “I’m going with the flow of traffic, see? I wanna catch up with that horse trailer up there, he’s making good time.”
I tried not to watch the road.
Apparently, so did Dad.
Dad: “Hey, look, deer!”
Dodge: “Keep your eyes on the road!”
Dad: “That wouldn’t last long. Shreds your eyeballs right up.”
Yep, that’s my dad. Always has a smarty-pants answer.

Every once in a while, though, we did manage to slow down…
Dad: “There’s a snake in the grass!”
Me: “Huh?”
Dad: “Hey, Smoky, get off the road! Look at him, he’s causing a hazardous scenario.”
I noticed the state trooper car Dad was pointing at. All around us, the drivers were slowing down to the actual speed limit– which now felt like a crawl– and everyone was getting cramped.
Dad: “There’s a snake in the grass! There’s a bear in the air!”

We finally did make it to Columbus unharmed. Well, my eardrums may have suffered some damage. But oh well. I was just happy to see Columbus. I really want to spend more time in the actual city, rather than some attraction such as Cosi, next time we go down. I want to see if it really is better than Cleveland (which is how it seems, but who knows? Maybe it’s full of snotty people like in Lakewood, or maybe its public transportation is just as crappy as RTA, or maybe it’s insipid and fakey. Only one way to find out). 
We got into Cosi and there was a huge line of people wrapping around the entrance area. Luckily, we got to skip it since Mom and Dad bought a membership last time they went.
We went up to the members desk, where a guy greeted us with “How are you folks today?”
Dad: “Horrible, thank you.”
And the guy didn’t even notice.

Thus began our Cosi adventure. The boys and Dad and I did the Adventure exhibit, which is an interactive thing where you go into this big setup that looks like caverns, and you have to solve puzzles and go through mazes and such to find clues and get into this Observatory thing. When we got out, we found Mom and set off looking at all the other exhibits. My favorite was Progress, which is a set that you can roam around on. It’s supposed to be the same street but at different time periods. One was “Dr Quinn time” as we called it, and the other was the 60’s.
Near lunchtime, Dad and the boys decided they were going to go outside into the science park thing. There was a tiny green house out there. When they came back in, they told me that it was a Pod, an super-efficient eco house. Of course I had to go see it. Dodge came with me, and as we gazed into the tiny dwelling, we were both struck with what shall be heretofore referred to as Obsessive-ComPodsiveness. We started dreaming up Pods for ourselves. Single-person Pods, family Pods, Pod villages.

Dad and Poncho hung out at the oceans exhibit for a while as Mom took Dodge and I through the whole museum in search of more information on the Pod. She’d seen it while we were in Adventure, but she couldn’t remember where it was. Along the way, we ended up stopping to play with a voice changer, a metal dinosaur, a slow-mo video thing, optical illusions, and a wheel race thing (where I tripped over a metal post and got a nasty bruise). We finally found the Pod information after meeting up with Dad and Poncho again. Dodge and I swore we would build a Pod this summer.

When we finally left, hungry and tired, it was snowing. We stopped at the Scariest Fakeworld EVER, and then we went all the way home. Dad drove the speed limit on the way back, although this time I thought he would fall asleep, which was just as scary. And the roads were not too good from all the snow.
Before we got home we stopped at Grandma and Grandpa Vegas’ house, where Mom told me to tell them about the ride to Columbus.
Me: “Dad was going 90! I was so scared! And then he was getting all hyper, he kept saying stuff like ‘there’s a snake in the grass! There’s a bear in the air!'”
Grandpa: “Oh yeah, Smoky.”

So that was our grand adventure for the week. Dodge is as we speak drawing plans for the Pod he is going to build, and he’s even got Dad thinking about where we can get materials… So, things are interesting around here. :)

Peace,
Pen

“Red alert! Cloth napkins! Red alert!”

So, last night my family (Mom, Dad, Dodge, Poncho, Grandma Vegas, and me)  all decided to go shopping. But before we went, we had to stop and eat something. So we spied a restaurant conveniently located right outside the mall. Dad convinced us to go inside.

As we stepped inside, I looked around. Everything seemed normal… until–
“Red alert! Cloth napkins! Red alert!”

The alarm sounded inside my brain. Cloth napkins on the tables! And then the waitress handed Grandma a “Lent Specials” menu which included calamari. Add that to the fact that, as Dad put it, “the people all looking at us like ‘they’re gonna eat here?!?!'” and we should have gotten out of there right then. But for some reason we didn’t. 

The lady led us deeper into the resturant… (humhumHUMhum!)

We sat down at a long table where there were carrot stick out for people to snack on… Except there were only 6 carrot sticks. 
Dad: “What is this resturant, pretend you’re starving to death on an island? One carrot stick ration for each of you.”

Mom wanted to order a baked potato. She found what she thought was one, but the waitress informed her that it was actually baked potato soup. “We don’t serve baked potatoes until 5 o’ clock,” she said.
After she left:
Mom: “What the heck? Why don’t they serve baked potatoes until 5?”
Dad: “Because their baked potato chef doesn’t come in until 4.”

All in all, it was very weird. Dad and Dodge kept acting up, the food was good but expensive, and the interior of the resturant was dim and a strange modern sort of style, which made  me feel like I was in some kind of creepy spaceship.  And we did get a lot of weird looks. Whatever.

I was just glad to be out of there. I was full and the artichoke I’d eaten was so delicious. But I still felt kind of wretched afterward.

Next time, I’ll remember to speak my mind. I’ll sound the alarm! Cloth napkins are always a sure sign.

~Pen

Horse Chestnut Charles

Well, so far it looks like the groundhogs were right about getting spring. In fact, we were just talking about it last night…

Me: “How do they know if the groundhog sees its shadow? Just because it has one doesn’t mean he sees it.”
Mom: “When he goes back in his burrow they say he saw it.”
Dad: “Of course he goes back in his burrow. There’s a million reporters out there with cameras going off. Well, he’s in a cage anyway.”
Me: “What about Buckeye Chuck? Is he in a burrow?”
Dad: “No, he’s the same. But at least he’s a Buckeye.”
Me: “Yeah, Ohioan solidarity.”
Dad: “Except, in some fancy suburb, he’d be Horse Chestnut Charles… He pops up wearing an argyle sweater…”

I happened to be drinking water when he said that and he made me almost choke. Oh, Dad’s humor… Which reminds me of another story he told us yesterday night, about when he was in an elevator and some lady got on.

Her: “I hate these elevators blah blah blah blah blah.”
Dad: “Well, it’s better than the alternative.”
Her: “The stairs?”
Dad: “No, being thrown from the roof.”

Yep, he’s weird, but we love him. :)

-Pen

PS: I started reading 1984 and it’s stupid. I mean, wow, subtle, Mr Orwell. *eye roll*

Nice Holiday Traditions

Dodge: “Come here come here come here! Look!”
Me: “Huhhh?”
Dodge: “Okay, you stand behind that wall, and watch the stairs…”
I looked at the stairs, and Dad was standing at the top of them, looking down. The box containing the fire-retardant tree was balanced at the edge of the upstairs landing, and Dad had a mischevous grin on his face…
Me: “NO. You wouldn’t.”
Dodge: (evil laughter)
Me: “It’ll break!”
Dad: (evil laughter)
Dodge: “One, two, three, GOOOOOO!”
The tree fliew down the stairs in a spectacular flip! And Poncho screamed as the box landed at his feet.
Me: “Oh my…”
Dodge: “We did it last year too. It’s a tradition.”

Later…

Dodge was beginning to actaully build the tree, when he noticed that the stand was not in the box. Meanwhile, Dad was lying on the couch with a footlong piece of floss in his mouth. (Don’t ask.)
Dodge: “Where is the stand?”
Dad: “In the box.”
Dodge: “No it’s not. It must be upstairs.”
Dad: “Well, it’s supposed to be in the box.”
Dodge: “Well, it’s not.”
Dad: “Well, it should be.
Dodge: “Well, it’s not.”
Dad: “I’m not going to get it.” He started to play guitar using the floss as the string, pulled tight from his front teeth.
Dodge: “You are such a child.”
Dad: “Am not. Ow, I think my tooth is loose now.”
Dodge: “Hmm.”
Dad pretended to sleep, leaving his floss hanging out of his mouth. Daisy came along and smelled the minty flavor… and started to chew on one end of the floss.
Dad: “Ehhhhhhhhhh! Ehhhhhh!”
Dodge: “I’ll save you if you’ll go get the stand.”
Dad: “EHHHH!”
Dodge (takes the floss): “Go now or I’ll drop it on your face.”
Dad: “I’m going, I’m going!”
He finally got the stand… It is quite beautiful…

Dad: “Hm, I think it needs more tape.”
Dodge: “Really?”
Dad: “Yeah, I put a new piece on every year. It’s a tradition.”

What a night. Phase One of putting up the tree is now complete.