Thursday, December 25, 2008

‘Twas the morning of Christmas

And the day had started as many others; the dogs and I headed our for morning chores, leaving K sweetly slumbering with visions of sugarplums dancing in her head.

Four out of five of the dogs returned to the house with me and settled in for their Christmas Day naps.

Then K with her coffee and I with my beer were waiting for one last bad dog to come here. . .

When what to our wondering eyes should appear, but Emmett
And what’s that in his mouth?
Could it be a deer? Well that explains his absence: he was doing some last minute shopping. Awwww, look honey, Emmett brought us a gift.

We certainly don’t have any others like it. Now to figure out just what to do with it. . . Happy Holidays to all who follow the antics here at MisFit Farm. May your new year be full of unexpected gifts and unadulterated joy!

Sunday, December 21, 2008


Saturday morning phone conversation with my mother (WFKN):

WFKN: So, how are things at the house?

A: Well, to add a new wrinkle to things, we had a bat in the house last night.

WFKN: No way! A bat in the house? It’s YOU!!! IT’S YOU!!! You are the only
person I know who has had a bat in the house, and you have had them in
two different houses!!!! IT’S YOU!!!!

When I recounted the conversation to my sister, her observation was, “Oh, that’s where we get our healthy sense of self-loathing.”

Both are true statements, or at least both statements contain elements of truth.

It is true that I have shared living space with bats in two different homes. My sister says she knows of other people who have had bats in their home, so while it is uncanny to have had it happen in two different domiciles, she encouraged me not to take the situation personally.

As my sister reminded me, bats are naturally occurring creatures, after all. As I have been admonished in the past, they are actually quite useful, eating something like a kerjillion times their weight in mosquitoes and other insects. SOME PEOPLE even erect bathouses to attract the creatures to their premises. Just think of all the money I have saved in bathouses across my lifetime, since there is something, unfathomable to all except bats and my mother, attracting bats into my home.

Having had bats in my house on more than one occasion, I feel competent to observe the following: no matter how many times one has had a bat in one’s home, one is always a bit surprised when they come fluttering through. O.k., let me personalize it. No matter how many times I have had a bat come into my home, my initial reaction is always surprise. Even now, seasoned bat-herder that I am, it takes a moment to bring the aperture of reality into focus before I spring into action.

As for the other inhabitants of this home, who have the luxury of not taking the incursion or its resolution personally, the dogs were completely nonplussed. I imagine if the dogs could talk and I were to squander the opportunity to ask them, “Did you see that bat?!” The answer would be a resounding, “What bat?” K, who was neither nonplussed nor personally affronted, named it Bernie.

Here’s another thing: I have lots of stories about bats in the house. More than one. Maybe WFKN is right, maybe it is me.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Documents and Drenchings

While it cannot be said that our homebuilding drama has come to an end, we did take another significant step last Friday when we finalized the paperwork to close on the mortgage for the house. Now, instead of just owning debt with a theoretical house, we own debt with an actual house.

In my personal and professional life, I have had several opportunities to close real estate transactions and real estate mortgage transactions. I have a pretty good idea of the mechanics, including how long it should take one to complete such a transaction. So when the notary responsible for coordinating the closing called and said to anticipate an hour and a half I was, in a word, skeptical. I hold monthly all-staff meetings where we discuss everything from agency toilet paper usage to federal legislative initiatives in less time. An hour and a half, indeed!

As K later observed, had this woman told us to expect the process would take an hour and 42 minutes, you could take it to the bank that a closing initiated at 4:00 p.m. would be done at 5:42 p.m. K surmises you could ask this woman where she would be at 1:27 p.m. on Thursday, and she would be able to give you GPS coordinates.

When the notary arrived, she pulled sheath of papers, littered with “sign here” and “sign and date here” reusable post-it flags, out of her attaché case. Having clearly organized and adorned the “documents” with said flags prior to her arrival here, she proceeded to re-assess their organization and re-acquaint herself with their orientation as a prefatory matter. She moved items adjudged to impinge upon her social space and removed the ink pens from my desk, placing a pen in each of our hands, explaining that only blue ink would be accepted. She advised that we were to sign all documents as our names appeared on the particular document. If a middle initial was included, we were to sign with the middle initial, no more and certainly no less. We were chastised to write our dates in a standard format, using “2008” or “08” as the year indicator, but under no circumstances were we to use shorthand “8.” Our handwriting was to be clear; mistakes would be punishable under penalty of death, or at least through correction by one line through the mis-marking, each of which would need to be initialed by both of us.

There were to be no markings within ½ of the edge of any page. In an amazing display of rough estimation, she used her finger tip to indicate the inadmissible margin on the page. I offered her the use of a ruler to ensure complete and total accuracy, which met with only a single wide-eyed blink.

She always referred to the paperwork as “documents.” As she was “closing” the top of the “8” on one of my dates, I asked if it was permissible for her to alter my signature in such a way, again eliciting a single wide-eyed blink. By the time we escorted the woman from the building, K had developed a nervous tick and kept muttering, “penmanship class” under her breath.

The exacting and concise world of this woman was sharply juxtaposed against the chaos of the world we inhabit when we arrived home to discover a freshly installed fountain in our basement. Apparently, while we were busy running the gauntlet of closed “8’s” and accurate signatures, a water pipe one of the contractors for the home delivery company had capped came uncorked and was issuing rivers of water into the dog’s room of the basement.

So the project I had intended to start at exactly 7:03 p.m. Friday evening was rescheduled at a time TBD as I swept and sucked the 2.34 inches of standing water from the basement floor instead.

Friday, December 05, 2008

Santa Comes Early

From the warm, safe, spacious distance of the nearly completed house, I think it is safe to say we have wrung every last ounce of life and structural integrity from the trailer that first provided our family with shelter here at MisFit Farm. Maybe all things are relative, and from the luxurious accommodations we now inhabit, the conditions at the trailer seem a little more bleak. On the other hand, it is entirely possible that the conditions at the trailer were really THAT BAD, but I refused to acknowledge it at the time out of a sense of self-preservation, or at least the preservation of my self-dignity.

True, three of the five windows in the trailer were crammed with rolled insulation and permanently sealed with the weather-proofing shrink wrap.

True, the central air conditioning abandoned us last summer and was replaced by a window unit held in place mostly by boards propping it up from the outside, since the window frame didn’t seem up to the task.

True, water from an unknown source collected in the ductwork for the trailer’s ailing HVAC system.

True, the bottom of any cabinet under the two sinks in the house had been pulled out following leakage incidents from different occasions.

True, the aforementioned water leakage on one occasion (we were on vacation at the time) was extensive enough to completely buckle the kitchen floor thereby popping up the lovely parquet tiles.

True, the hot water heater would mysteriously trip the breaker on the unit, requiring me to dig into the back of the closet to re-set it, hopefully a few hours before actual hot water was needed.

True, I had to crawl under the trailer to augment its structure in a way that made leveling the washing machine possible.

True, the floor at the front door was growing a little spongy.

And we won’t even go into the aesthetics of the place.

So, one of the nagging concerns at the back of my mind has been, once the house is built, what to do with the trailer? I am prohibited from permanently keeping it by the zoning variance I received to build the home and by edict of any other person with any sense of taste. Its continued presence has created a nightmare for our loan officer as the underwriters wanted it gone BEFORE we closed on our note. I fault my loan officer for marking “Asian/Pacific Islander” as my ethnic background on our application. The novelty of marking the box overwhelmed his good sense, I guess. So when he was struggling with the underwriters about removal of the trailer, I pointed out that because of his “novel” response on my application they probably thought I was going to move my home village from the island into the trailer.

Truth be told, the underwriters had a good point. I really haven’t had any good ideas about how to dispose of the trailer. Given the lovely recitation from above, we had considered calling the Lecompton volunteer fire department and offering to let them use it for firefighting exercises, on the condition that they first let it burn to the ground.

In the meantime, every person who asked, “so, whatcha’ gonna’ do with that trailer?” received the same glib response, “Free to a good home. Whoever drags it off first, has to keep it.”

We arrived home yesterday to discover that someone had taken us up on the offer, or at least made a good start on it.
I seriously have no idea who is responsible for this. I have searched deep within myself for something – a sense of loss, of outrage, or of deep questioning. I am surprised, as a major control freak, however, all I find is a sense of wonder and relief.

Yes Virginia, MisFit Farm believes in Santa Clause.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

A Glorious Thanksgiving

So, with the erection of a house nearing completion just in time for our family Thanksgiving gathering, what could possibly add more excitement into life at MisFit Farm? How about the addition of a new foster baby to the mix?

Enter the sweet Princess MiMi/NeNe/Leia.

Although we can count among our blessings that the house did not catch fire from cooking with the stove-incorrectly-plumbed-for-natural-not-propane-gas, that my mother baked the pumpkin pies long enough to prevent mass food-poisoning, that the leaky septic pipe was spliced back together before the convergence of a dozen festive family members, or that no one was harmed by the tipping dishwasher, the blessing of the love of these creatures eclipses all others.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Third Time's a Charm

Now, while I can’t say this is necessarily true for love and marriage, the third time seemed to do the trick for convincing the nice fellow from the local building inspection office to approve the integrity of the wiring and electrical system in the house. Unofficially, we passed our electrical and plumbing inspections yesterday. Big sigh of relief.

The cynic in me says the poor inspector was just tired of combing through the unintelligible mess of the construction process, but K, being the sweet-natured optimist she is, credits Carl.

Carl is the electrician dispatched to the house to resolve all remaining electrical issues on Monday, just in time for the Tuesday morning inspection. Aside from being a capable and competent electrician, Carl apparently has quite a story to tell. And he told it to K. His whole life story. Two brain surgeries. Divorce. Previous vocational aspirations. History of electrical wiring experience. His own personal homebuilding journey.

Here is the thing: people love K. Without an ounce of hubris, I say that babies and animals nearly universally take a shine to me. Without meaning offense to the intelligence of any, note the difference: creatures who can talk gravitate toward K; creatures who do not, like me.

People don’t just love K, they love to talk to her. And talk, and talk, and talk. I don’t blame them – I myself love talking to her, and most people who spend about five minutes with me figure out quite quickly that I am a talker. I have often thought my snide observations about people talking to K evolved from a jealousy – not from a perceived threat so much as an assertion of my perceived right of first refusal to her attention. “Hey, back off, mister – that’s my K to talk to!”

Although I am not surprised at the comfort others find in talking to K, I am sometimes taken aback at the topics, level of detail, and lack of sensitivity people feel compelled to share with her. On more than one occasion, I have found myself thinking, “If so-and-so said something like that to me, it would’ve been the last thing said for a gooooood long time.” When I find myself coming upon K in the midst of a grocery aisle confessional, the lines from one of my favorite movies, Harold and Maude, run through my head. In the movie, Harold says to Maude, “You sure have a way with people.” To which Maude responds, “Well, they’re my species!”

Of course, as Carl was sharing his life story with K under the pretense of asking her advice on something (that’s another thing – people often turn to K for advice, and unlike the people who call me for the purpose of reinforcing their pre-ordained plan of action, people seem to actually listen to and take K’s advice), I was at work, so it’s not like he was cutting into my talk time. With the rigors of my Monday at work, I was in the infrequent mood where I had nearly talked myself out for the day, so I wasn’t in the space to thrill and delight K with my usual banter and repartee. Carl’s life was an interesting byline for the day, and more importantly, his good work has cleared the way for what we hope to be real progress on our own homebuilding journey.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Lunatic Ravings of the Sleep-Deprived

I had an epiphany of sorts this morning.

I wasn’t doing anything special, just standing at the gate to the pasture, holding it open for the dogs, when I “captured” a very distinct feeling.

As I completed my morning walk with the dogs, I tried to sort out whether it was a true epiphany or just the lunatic ravings of the sleep-deprived before ultimately deciding the two were quite possibly differences without distinction.

I was standing at the gate to the pasture, holding it open for the dogs so we could continue our morning routine, when Mercy came barreling up the hill, bounding, leaping, spinning, and running straight for me. All at once, I was seized with an overwhelming sense of how strangely at peace and calm I was with the beauty and wonder of her madcap dance, and imminently frantic and scared I was of what seemed to be our inevitable and impending collision.

Thankfully, disaster was averted as I executed a well-practiced matador sidestep and Mercy pinwheeled gracefully through the open gate.

Walking with Mercy is a lot like playing a marathon game of low-speed “chicken” without having first obtained all parties’ consent. You find yourself constantly checking over your shoulder to keep her in your sights, lest you be bowled over unawares.
As with this morning, some times you think a collision is impending and fated, when she will pull up or careen around you at the last minute. You learn that her movement or trajectory can be affected by just the slightest touch to a hip or flank. You discover the Cha Cha DiGregorio deep within by swinging open the front door to release the hounds, exhorting Mercy to pull up and press on, or celebrating a perfectly executed lope across the yard.

Perhaps epiphany is overstated. Possibly all people walk through life with a mixture of jubilation and terror, although I tend to think not. Maybe this is just the texture of emotions we call life at MisFit Farm.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Synonyms and Self-Perception

Using the definitive online thesaurus, a search for the word “judgmental” redirects the user to the main entry for “arbitrary,” with synonyms of “discretionary, personal, subjective.”

On the other hand, a search for the word “judgment,” yields the following robust vocabulary list: acumen, acuteness, apprehension, astuteness, awareness, brains, capacity, comprehension, discernment, discrimination, experience, genius, grasp, incisiveness, ingenuity, intelligence, intuition, keenness, knowledge, mentality, penetration, perception, percipience, perspicacity, prudence, quickness, range, rationality, reach, readiness, reason, reasoning, sagacity, sanity, sapience, savvy, sense, sharpness, shrewdness, sophistication, soundness, taste, understanding, wisdom, wit.

My last blog entry and video was essentially a subtle anti-paean to the protracted timeframe associated with one very small but very important piece of our homebuilding process, the construction of our deck. We have, at every step of this process, tried to be patient and understanding of the demands placed on the various parties involved in the homebuilding process. We, o.k., I, really have tried, and patient is not a vocabulary word many would associate with my personality type.

On the final day of deck construction last week, an unfortunate convergence of events resulted in K driving in to work, leaving me to tend to business here at the trailer and use the motorcycle as conveyance into the office.

While finishing up my tasks, the crew of two men who had been more or less working on the deck arrived and began doing precisely that. In the meantime, I took a series of phone calls, prepared myself for what promised to be a chilly trip into town on the motorcycle, tried convincing the motorcycle it was warm enough to start so we could get moving on our day, brought the trash barrel up from the road, and undertook a number of other enterprises while essentially waiting for the motorcycle to get warm enough to want to start. It is a little warm-blooded. Like its primary rider, the motorcycle prefers not to set out while the temperatures are anything below 70 degrees.

As I was basically fiddling around, the fellow who has done most of the deck construction came walking up the drive. I hopped off the motorcycle where I was happily perched, enjoying the warmth of the sun on my black jacket, and headed towards him. When I asked him if he needed anything, he responded by saying that actually, he was checking on me to see if everything was o.k. or if I needed a ride to town or something.


So the whole freezing ride into work, all I could think of was that probably the reason it has taken so long to build the deck is this boy scout of a construction guy has probably been delayed by helping little old ladies cross the street, delivering kittens safely from trees, and catching babies falling out of sixth story windows. Thankfully, the temperature was 44 degrees, so by the time I arrived at the office, I was too busy thinking about the involuntary muscle contractions in my legs and the frozen throttle-position of my right hand to continue to perseverate on the poor, beleaguered, maligned deck builder.

As I sit here, over two weeks after the first day of deck-building, and enjoy the view and the deck's superlative construction and design, I can say honestly, I forgive all those old ladies, kittens and babies who caused the delay in completion for this part of the house.

And when I look closely at the synonyms for the words judgmental and judgment, it reminds me of the punch line of a bumper sticker: you say that like it’s a bad thing.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Take Me Back to Sunny Country Side

I have come to the conclusion that homebuilders must be baseball fans.

I will let that thought sink in for a minute, because I can hear the questions: homebuilders? baseball? Hitting the sauce again before lunchtime, Ami?

Here is my explanation (the long version):

Baseball is a game of failure. A good batter has a hitting statistic of .300; an awesome one checks in at .500. As a former softball coach explained to me one time, that means the best of the best in baseball only hit the ball 1/2 the time they are at-bat, and each at-bat, they usually get at least three swings at the thing.

My problem with the coach's explanation to me was twofold: first, we were playing slow-pitch, which I quite frankly thought was a poor analogy, what with the ball taking a slow, loping arc and sailing across the plate at, say, 2 miles per hour, versus the screaming 90 miles per hour at which most baseballs are hurled. I mean, when someone says, "I threw him/her a softball," the idiom describes the opposite of a "hardball" or difficult question, right? If you fail to hit something small hurtling 100 mph at your face and instead do something smart like duck or run, that seems to be a lot less of an indictment than failing to hit something bigger ambling in front of you at a snail's pace.

Secondly, I am not o.k. with 50% In academic terms, that's not even a "C" grade. I don't know if 50% is even an "F" grade. I never looked that low on the report card. My agency is preparing to have our annual chili cook-off. This year, I designed lovely aprons as prizes (courtesy of cafepress - check out the line of Great Dane Rescue of the Ozarks products at First place boasts: 2008 Chili Cook-off Winner. I resisted the temptation to print on the other two: 2008 Chili Cook-Off First Loser & 2008 Chili Cook-off Second Loser. In what I consider to be a tremendously selfless act of sacrifice, I instead had the other two aprons adorned with: 2008 Chili Cook-off Runner Up.

An additional observation about the sports analogy: baseball, like many other sports, is an activity where the meaning of time does not correlate with any notion of "real time." After many years married to a television and sports addict, my step-mother learned to always ask the clarifying question, "Are we talking real time, or sports time?" An inning in baseball, just a matter of three outs, can last a lifetime.

So, to make my point. Homebuilders appear to be satisfied with abysmal statistics. Homebuilders do not appear to operate on time that correlates to calendars or watches. Hence the connection between homebuilders and baseball.

But don't just take these wild, unsupported allegations at face value. I present the following demonstrative video exhibit as further proof:

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Of the Pope and Fried Pickles

I don't remember my parents having conversations like many of those we have here at MisFit Farm. For that matter, I don't remember many people having conversations like many of those we have here at MisFit Farm.

K and I snuck out for lunch one day last week, to partake of the seasonal delight of pumpkin pancakes at a local greasy spoon, Hanover's Pancake House. If anyone should find him or herself in the Topeka area within the next couple months, Hanover's pumpkin pancakes come highly recommended. So do their fried pickles, but I would not recommend both in the same sitting.

In the booth behind us (well, behind me - which was a blessing as I would have been completely engulfed, had I been able to both look AND listen), two women spent the entire time talking about other people. We don't have that problem here at the Farm. We have lots of nonsense to keep us entertained.

K: Uh – oh, looks like you have company.

A: Huh. Trinity. Hey, Trin, I was trying to accomplish something here. You stink. You still smell like skunk on your face. Maybe you can sit on my lap later this decade.

K: She’s coming up anyhow.

A: So I see.

K: How can you continue to type while she’s squirming up into your lap?

A: I dunno. Is this a trick question? Is the answer: a ruthless devotion to the Pope?

K: Eeeeeewwwww – she smells like skunk.

A: Only the head part.

K: Eeeeeewwwww – she’s putting her head on your shoulder. It’s right by your face! How can you stand it?!?!?!?!

A: The smell or the fur in my mouth?

K: Eeeeeewwww – all I can say is, you must really love her.

A: Nah, I just respect her for having such low standards.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Don't It Always Seem To Go

It was bound to happen. On some level, it is nearly unfathomable it hadn’t happened before now. Big, active dogs. Country living. Close proximity to nature and her many creatures. To quote the Joni Mitchell song, “Don’t it always seem to go/ you don’t know what you’ve got/ ‘til it’s gone.”

One thing we won’t have an opportunity to miss anytime soon is the lovely bouquet d’skunk Emmett and Trinity introduced to the family this morning as we were trying to complete daily hygienic rituals and zip off to work.

What does one do in this situation? Although I find K’s olfactory hyperbole with regard to skunk odor to be quite amusing, when said odor comes bounding in the front door attached to two loveable, large dogs, what is one to do? Emmett and Trinity clearly took direct hits to the face. Upon entering the trailer, they each began a painful series of snorkel maneuvers across the living room floor, butts high in the air, faces rubbing across the carpet whose overall aesthetic value is improved by adding a scratch-and-sniff feature.

I like to think of myself as a responsible person. I have a responsibility to lead by example and show up to work “on time.” I have a responsibility to look after the safety and overall welfare of the animals. I have a responsibility to keep K in at least a minimally habitable environment, until the house is completed. The introduction of one pissed-off skunk threw all of these responsibilities into a calamitous mental and emotional train wreck.

Not having any easy answer, I decided to take a shower. Whereupon I was joined by Trinity. How miserable does a dog have to be to ask to get into the shower with you? And how weird to you have to be to allow it, 10 minutes post-skunk spray? I tried washing her with the Hy-Lyt dog shampoo that was handy just outside the shower, and the result was a Trinity that smelled like wet dog, skunk and flea shampoo. I was able to wash out her eyes and face with enough water she quit exhibiting signs of distress. But the overall affect for the odor in the trailer was non-extant.

Having refreshed myself with an invigorating shower, I decided to clear a bunch of my clothes (well, o.k., t-shirts) out of the trailer, in case the odor became so pervasive it infiltrated the dresser drawers. I set the clothes I intended to wear to work that day out on the front porch. I turned on every fan available in the 14x 50 foot space we call home. Not knowing what else to do and seeking to bring order from chaos or at least escape the horrifying smell overtaking our living space, I headed out to work.

Here is the list of attempted antidotes and a very unscientific review of their effectiveness:

Tomato juice; didn’t try it, but thanks for asking; the chemical explanation I located on the Internet explains that the poison from skunk spray paralyzes some sinus nerve endings and tomato juice works on others, so the skunk smell doesn’t go away, you just quit smelling it. I have meetings to go to. I have an office where my presence is required in way that does not make others vomit upon entering. I don’t need to not be able to smell, I need to not smell.

White vinegar; I read that I was to boil a pot of white vinegar on the stovetop, simmer it until ¾ has cooked off, and then open the place up, turn on fans, and the odor would be escorted out by the vinegar. It smells like we have opened a pickle factory here at MisFit Farm. The smell of overcooked vinegar is seething from the walls of the trailer, which greets you just before you get knocked off your feet by the smell of skunk as you cross the trailer threshold.

Krebaum’s Formula; A chemist, Paul Krebaum, wrote an article in 1993, proposing that the best remedy for neutralizing skunk spray is to apply a wash consisting of ¼ c. baking soda; 1 Qt. hydrogen peroxide; and, 1 – 2 teaspoons of dishwashing detergent. This chemist was not fooling around. This stuff works. Unfortunately, it only works on the part of the dogs not close to the eyes or face, so while we have managed to de-skunk 7/8 of each of the dogs, there is still a very stinky 1/8 that likes to kiss, rest on my shoulder, and be rubbed. Also, I can’t figure out how I would apply this solution to the entire trailer.

Neutroleum Alpha Concentrate; Underneath the bold letters announcing the exotic and effective-sounding name of this product, purchased for top dollar from the Vet college here in our fine state of KS, is printed in tiny, fading letters, “Odor masking formula.” Never mind.

Despite my under-functioning at the time of the event, we have all survived the great skunk attack of 2008. We have learned important lessons about the chemical composition of skunk spray, the likes of which we had never before entertained. Additionally, we were given an opportunity to offer another quality product analysis and endorsement for our faithful readership.

Oh yeah, and K submits the following as proof of my undying love for Trinity, skunky face and all.

Friday, October 03, 2008

Soak up the Sun

It has been pointed out that I have been extraordinarily remiss in my blogging of late. Work on the house continues and being a constant nag with the various contractors has demanded a lot of energetic and emotional capital. We now appear to be about two – three weeks from completion, and the feeling of being held underwater with my arms bound, a leg missing, and a foot on my neck is less intense, albeit not gone.

I don’t blog much political, but I do blog brutal honesty, so if I were to say that I hadn’t thought to myself once or twice across the past few days, “what in the world are you thinking, buying into a mortgage in the middle of the downward spiral into recession?!?!?!” – I would be lying.

Luckily, the dogs don’t know anything about the slow march into economic purgatory, so they continue to soak up the sun in these last warm days of the summer. The trees are beginning to turn. Hope springs eternal that we will be settled into the house to host my family’s Thanksgiving dinner this year. Given my nephew’s insistence on saying grace and then the brutal honesty he uses the platform to express, I may re-think the whole offer to host Thanksgiving. Last year, his prayer was, “Dear God; Thank you for this food, and please do not let any of us get sick from it.” I shudder to think what the dear boy must pray about on my behalf.

Not that I am making excuses, but over two months ago, I began packing, anticipating our impending move into the new house. Stupidly, I packed away what I mistakenly thought would be “frills,” including my entire CD collection. This explains part of the lag in blogging. Access to the music I rely on to accompany these video clips has been limited, as it requires moving six boxes, removing the tape from the box containing half of the CDs, digging through the CDs only to discover the one I may want is located in a different box of CDs, systematically opening all of the boxes of CDs (which we packed into smaller boxes after discovering that placing over 100 CD's into a single box made it quite heavy) and being unsuccessful in locating the CD I had in mind, returning to the original box to find the disc I was looking for in the hurly-scurvy and now completely un-alphabetized jumble, replacing all the CDs into the boxes, re-applying tape to the boxes, re-stacking them, and retiring to the living room to complete the video.

So tonight when the chaos at the new house was too much, I opted for the above, and while not the greatest video ever – let us consider it proof of life for the inhabitants of MisFit Farm.

As soon as I am done laying the hardwood bamboo flooring in the spare bedroom at the house, painting the laundry room and kitchen, hanging the Mickey Mouse wallpaper, tiling the master closet and bathroom, installing a customized roll-in shower, putting up ceiling fans, and moving all of our worldly possessions and those other possessions we are being gifted from various and sundry locations, I swear I will re-chain myself to the computer, and get to work on bigger and better ways to share the joy that is life here at MisFit Farm.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Ruminations on What We Lack

It recently occurred to me that there is one thing MisFit Farm lacks.

It isn’t kibble

Chew toys


Or room to run

We ARE curiously devoid of dominance humping. I do not know if this is a happy by-product of the missing limbs or other orthopedic issues many of us brandish, if our pack order is so well-established under Mercy’s domain attempting to express dominance is pointless, or if our pack dynamic is so dysfunctional no one wants to hump his or her way to the top of the heap.

Whatever the reason, and for all the blessings we can boast in spades, I confess my delight in this one particular lack.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Of Homebuilding and More Heavy Equipment. . .

The basic logistics of “homebuilding” were evading us. Notwithstanding dire economic forecasts foretelling doom for the new housing market, we were unable to locate a contractor who seemed to be desperate enough to want to build our house. So about a year ago, we decided to try a different approach.

We waltzed into a showroom, plopped down the blueprints we had spent hours poring over to make “perfect,” and asked to have a pre-fabricated house built. We did not labor under the misconception that this route would be less expensive. We were looking for something that would be easy. We were looking for something fast.

Nothing in our world is easy. And although K likes to take things slow, I can move too slowly for her, even. Over a year later, we are finally seeing some real progress on the project.

So here’s how this thing works, more-or-less: We customized our home plan, and then began the process of de-constructing our ideal to conform to the way they construct the homes (read: off-site, in a factory, to be shipped on trailers). We contracted with a “traditional” homebuilder to construct the non-factory built parts, such as the basement, porches, decks, septic, HVAC, etc. . . Then one day, after much wrangling and hand-wringing, the parts of the house appear, split neatly down the middle, and tightly shrink-wrapped. Another day, a crew comes to pop the roof up into place. And then, at long last, a big crane rolls into the yard and installs the house parts onto the basement parts.

Warning: this video is very long. Please feel free to skip over the painfully boring parts. There won't be a quiz later, and my feelings won't be hurt, I promise.

Yet to go: hew the two halves together, pour/build the deck, front porch, access ramp and basement interior walls, install guttering, finish the sheetrock and on-site installation for things like the eat-at kitchen bar and roll-in shower, and install flooring.

Piece of cake. Fast and easy.

(Of course I am posting this a full two weeks later and progress to date has been limited to: two halves hewn together, interior walls framed in, and electric panel and mast erected.)

Fast and easy. Right.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Power Grid

The excavator was at the Farm again last week, which we now understand translates to “Uh, oops.”
This time, instead of uncovering a wayward water line, he was able to locate a barely buried electrical line someone with a desire to see the property go up in flames had used to run power from the pole at the trailer to a shed located on the property. Since the shed had a breaker box and I had tried to use one of the plugs to run a table saw several years ago with little success, I was aware of the presence of some weak and waning electrical current but have to admit I was unaware of the etiology of the electricity. I had warned the contractor a while ago about the possibility we should give the “call before you dig” number a ring, but since (like the water line) the burying of bare Romex© to create a power source is not what one would call textbook, the “call before you dig” people were unable to help us.

Under ordinary circumstances, I do not believe locating the line with a piece of heavy machinery would result in dramatic consequences. Let me stress: under ordinary circumstances.

In this case, the uprooting of the line caused a power surge which was not appropriately thwarted by the breaker at the power pole. The trailer, and more significantly, its four canine inhabitants, lost power when the surge popped a fuse about the size of my forearm located on the transformer.

The trailer lost power around 9:30 a.m.Demonstrating keen intuition, K came home after her morning appointment, arriving at 11:30 a.m. to a slightly stuffy trailer with four dogs who were more than ready to clamber into the car for some air conditioned relief. On my way home at around 1 p.m., I called Steve and asked permission to use his house as a canine staging ground so K and the kids could get some air conditioned respite that was not fueled by unleaded gasoline. Of course he quite graciously agreed. To thank him for his tremendous act of charity, only one glass figurine hanging just outside his front door was shattered (sorry, Steve! – I promise to replace your glass hummingbird hanging thingy soon as I find a suitable replacement).

By 4:00 p.m., the big guys in the big trucks had come to replace the big fuse and we were back onto the power grid.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Dreaming with a Broken Heart

I dug a hole last week. A big, deep hole, and I laid Azure in it.

And since last week, we have tried like hell to learn to live with the big, deep hole she left in our hearts.

I have spent the past two days tearing through my CD collection looking for the perfect song to put with these photos. Among the candidates: “Joyful Girl” by Ani DiFranco, “Round Here” by Counting Crows, and “Drunken Angel” by Lucinda Williams.

As it turns out, Azure was highly photographed. She was always into something, giving us cause for exasperation and jubilation. I have long maintained that while we, the bi-peds, are pretty unremarkable, the krewe makes us vicariously interesting. Azure, meanwhile, tipped the scales from amusing to downright zany.

As her final act of defiance two weeks ago, she ate the seat out of her favorite chair, the ugly green/brown plaid one featured in many of these photographs. When she had dug out all the stuffing and the springs were erupting from the chair's innards, I asked K if she thought I should drag it out for the trash company to haul off. Azure continued to use the chair, shooting us annoyed looks as the springs poked out and she tried to twist her body and avoid the non-cushioned parts, so K said to leave it be.

I hauled the chair to the “curb” Wednesday after I buried Azure. Like Azure, it turns out it held a conspicuous place here at the Farm.

No one has tipped over the toy box for a week now.

When I empty the vacuum canister, there isn’t hardly any toy fluff.

Phone conversations are not punctuated with the rattle of a puzzle ball richocheting off the trailer walls.

The food Mercy tosses out of her bowl in protest of her anti-allergy diet sits waiting for us to sweep it up, since Azure doesn’t scavenge behind her any more.

We no longer keep a two-baby-gate pile-up at the bedroom door, because Azure was the only one who would challenge the single-height barrier.

Until it was time to wash sheets today, no one had “torn all the covers off the bed.”

The three dog beds in the living room remain completely intact.

We have not plowed through a dozen pig ears, pork rolls, and stuffed Kong © toys or a jug of animal crackers in the past week.

For the first time in a long time, chaos has not been the order of the day.

So why do we feel broken into a million pieces?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Monster Dog

The movies these days are full of the “reluctant monster/hero” motif. Just this past weekend, I was treated with the rare opportunity to view one such movie, The Incredible Hulk. I found the movie strangely compelling, although I have to admit to not patronizing many movies, so my basis for comparison is, at best, lacking.

When Trinity was found on the side of the road just over two years ago, her “passenger side” front leg had clearly suffered injury. The woman who found her immediately e-mailed the rescue and dispatched photos, which were sent with the label “Monster Dog.” Trinity's ability to persevere through what had to be incredible pain and then the horrifying experience of being introduced to a pack of Miniature Pinschers both make her remarkable; a hero, even.

Notwithstanding the motif of the reluctant monster/hero a la Incredible Hulk, Hellboy, the Thing, the X-men, Trinity has no dissonance about her role in our world.
She is the unabashed lover of all. She is the quintessential dog: devoted and loyal companion, energetic and mischievious compadre, vigilant and conscientious caretaker, and unending and loving comforter.

If we had a yearbook here at MisFit Farm, Trinity would be voted most popular, not just because of her effervescent personality, but because of some unseen force that makes her tremendously attractive to other creatures.

One time I flew with a group of friends to have a “play weekend” in Chicago. We ate dinner one evening at a restaurant called Club Havana. (It was in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, circa 2001 for any Chi-towners reading this.) It was, as the name would indicate, a Cuban restaurant. Our waiter was this heavily-accented, short, bald, musty-smelling man named Jose. As attractive as that may sound, it does not even begin to capture the raw. . . appeal Jose oozed. The three women at the table (two of whom – the hard-sell variety), were practically eating out of Jose’s hand. He told us the flowers on our plates were edible. We ate them. Slightly drooling, we chomped on the sugar cane he proffered up in our Cuba Libres. We were abashed when he had to admonish us that, no, we should not eat the decorative twigs adorning our flan desert plates. The only explanation for Jose’s strange appeal: phermones.

Trinity shares Jose’s power of pheromone, which based on the reluctant monster/hero motif, even for over-adrenalized green gamma-stoked monster/heroes, seems to come with the package. Today, we celebrate two years with the lovely Trinity, our hero, companion, compadre, caretaker, comforter, and reluctant, although tolerant vixen.

En Fuego!

I’m not trying to brag or nuttin’, but K bought me what has to be bar-none the coolest “bike” -- evah.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

She Lives!

Azure is not going to die. After she got so very sick, she improved ever so slightly. Not a lot, but enough to refuse any medications we tried to foist onto her. Enough to some times join us on our walks. Enough to take a lunge at a well-intentioned and quicker-than-he-looks neighbor Steve. Enough to demand to be petted, enough to voice her displeasure at our refusal to let her into the bedroom to sleep in the bed, and on occasion, enough to tip over the trash can to drag its contents across the floor.

But to say she was back to her old self was not truly a reflection of the mischievous little creature we have come to know and love. Her appetite had not truly returned, and she was losing weight. The types of food we have used in the past to coerce compliance were ineffective at prompting even a second sniff of interest. Her energy level seemed far too low. Our dog toy bill has been extraordinarily manageable.

Across the past few weeks, we have become alarmed enough to collect urine samples and take them in for analysis. We have looked for infection. Loss of kidney function. Presence of anything abnormal. Absence of anything normal. And every single test result has come back just that: normal.

Notwithstanding the normalcy of the test results, Azure just did not seem normal. I was worried. I was watching her every move for signs she was going to either come ‘round the bend or kick the bucket.

Then one day it occurred to me that maybe, just maybe Azure wasn’t really that sick. Maybe she is just playing us. It could happen. She is that smart, or perhaps we are just that stupid. Either way, I decided, “Azure is not going to die,” and I quit watching her for signs of impending death. And amazingly enough, I quit seeing signs of her impending death.

This evening at dinner, I made Azure leave the table area and behave. She sat and scowled at me as I happily sat next to K and devoured my BBQ chicken pizza. After dinner, for the first time in a long time, I felt a little tickling on my leg and looked down to see Azure holding a tug rope in her mouth, looking up at me with those blue eyes and pink piggy face, asking for a game of tug. So we played. She isn’t as strong as she was before, and we weren’t as rigorous as we played in the past, but Azure initiated play, even after a long evening walk and outside time doing lawn and garden work. Her tail was wagging and her eyes were sparkling, even after she rolled over to submit to a chest rub as I celebrated my victory. Later in the evening, when I leaned over to give K a kiss and then caught Azure’s eye, K cautioned, “If she poops on your clothes again, you have only yourself to blame.”

Azure is not going to die. At least not of natural causes anytime soon.

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Relax, it's only Pig Sh*t

I was called home by the contractor to meet an official from the county health department last week.

The good news is: he seemed to be nonplussed by the abundance of dogs here at the farm. The bad news is: he was not nearly alarmed enough about the dark, oozing liquid one of the subcontractors observed leaking into our west basement wall. They were concerned about the possibility the uphill neighbors had cut corners in the building of their septic and lateral fields. The gentleman from the health department assured me it was not runoff from a human waste source, but theorized it was the product of runoff from the neighbor’s hobby pig farming operation a/k/a the 4-H project run amuck. In this case, literally run amuck.

Now there’s a tough one to figure out. Do I prefer to have my neighbor’s waste seeping into the basement or my neighbor’s pig waste seeping into the basement? Hmmm. . .

Seriously. I really had to think about that question. I am sad to say I am somewhat more relieved to discover “Oh, it is only pig sh*t.” This homebuilding thing has lowered my standards considerably.

It reminds me of this time I was working the fish cannery in Alaska. There was a lot of dysfunction associated with the melting pot of summer workers, the long hours, and the really pretty hard work. One day, the very creepy man whose job was to walk around and sharpen our knives had taken a belly full of harassment from two young guys from Fairbanks. He repaid their harassment by walking up to them and nonchalantly spraying mace in their faces. When my friend and I were talking about the incident a few hours later, we were stunned to realize we were talking about the episode with this oddly detached and unconcerned tone. “Oh well, it was only mace. It’s not like it was muriatic acid or he stabbed them or anything.”

I see the look of stunned disbelief reflected on others’ faces when I say, “well, at least it’s only pig sh*t.”

Undeterred by – well, anything, the work on the house has continued. The excavator did a little fancy earthmoving to re-direct the pig farm runoff around the north of the house. Since “it’s only pig sh*t,” this seems to be a suitable response for all parties involved, although I really did harbor a secret hope that the health department, zoning or some other responsible county official would address the issue of the six – 16 pigs residing along my property line.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Yes Fred, Two Miles of Pipe

Just to place my very slight hyperbole into context, last night’s torrential rains “moved” the temporary (I assume) flexible pipe into a more photographic position.

Our neighbor(?) came down yesterday evening to discuss the situation, and was greatly illuminated by her ability to witness the two miles of pipe laying on the ground. The very, very long period of embarrassing air bursts emanating from her pipe the evening before were quickly explained.

On a side note, any anxiety we had about this situation negatively affecting the neighbor’s (?) toilet habits was also resolved. She is comfortable evacuating in the great outdoors.

K called me from home today to report that a lovely old gentleman and presumed member of the subcontracting team who will participate in the next steps of basement and foundation construction was here. He was slopping around in the muddy quagmire known yesterday as our excavated basement, mumbling to himself and brandishing a shovel. His handiwork is evidenced thusly:

Seriously. He hand-dug this little trench to encourage flow-off of some of the water that had pooled in the excavated area. K sounded a bit mystified when she called. I was alternately impressed and charmed when I came home to pay witness to his efforts.

And, because I know the real reason anyone cares about this blogging endeavor is because of the stories about our kritters and not the continuing saga of our weak homebuilding efforts, here are a couple of contributions:

It did rain overnight. The lightning began around 3:30 a.m. K got up with the labs to turn on a light (so the lightning was less obvious) and medicate them. By 4:00 a.m., the storms had started in earnest. I got up with the dogs, turned on the radio, sat down to do some work I had been lying in bed perseverating about anyhow, and listened for a break in the rain. At 5:00 a.m., I thought I could hear a lull in the rain. I grabbed a flashlight and dashed out to complete goat, horse, chicken and cat chores.

Today was the day we had been expecting the Vet to come “geld” Bill. Although I didn’t have much hope that any part of the day would be salvaged for such activity, I decided to place Bill’s halter on so we would be ready just in case. So I grabbed the halter, and put it on Bill in the cold. In the rain. In the dark.

And here is another reason I love K. When she called to report the arrival of the lovely fellow with a hand spade, she casually commented she had gone down to check on the goats and Bill and had removed his halter. It seems he was having trouble eating with the muzzle part in his mouth.

And as a final note, the dogs love the new landscaping. Mercy especially enjoys the big mud hole and its therapeutic benefits for her paws.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

In the Hole

So, if one piece of heavy equipment in the yard is a good thing, it would stand to reason two pieces of heavy equipment in the yard is even better.


That second piece of equipment would be the emergency backhoe brought in to assist the emergency plumber with making the emergency repairs to the neighbor’s (?) water lines the first piece of heavy equipment unsuspectingly pierced.

Go ahead, ask the question out loud. No, the real question. The one that is the subtext of the first question that came to mind.

The answer: I swear, we are not idiots. As evidenced by the inordinate amount of time spent preparing for the heavy equipment, we attended to every detail. We checked with the water company, the phone company, the cable company, the electric company, the propane company, every imaginable city and county office of: zoning, planning, platting, plotting, a daydreaming.

And as for the first, more socially appropriate question: we do not know why the neighbor’s (?) water line runs down the center of our property.

The defense presents as exhibit “A” this crude drawing:

Wherein MisFit Farm is the area in red, Steve and Carolyn’s homestead is roughly represented by the area in yellow, and the property owned by the neighbor (?) is grossly underrepresented in green. The brown area represents the house, which is not even close to scale or proportion. The left side of the image is south-oriented, and the neighbor (?) is located to the north of us. Steve and Carolyn are to our west.

The point I am trying to make is that this isn’t a “neighbor” in the conventional sense. We actually rarely see or interact with this person, since the part of our property that abuts hers isn’t even accessible without the use of a machete, anti-malaria serum and hip-waders. The access road to her home runs on the west side of her property.

The neighbor’s (?) water line, as it turns out, runs smack-dab down the center of our property.

To answer the second socially appropriate question: We have no idea what we are going to do. Our contractor was super – he had someone out this afternoon to “repair” her line so she wouldn’t be forced to bring her rubber ducky and bathrobe here to the trailer to bathe in the morning. But I shudder to think what the extra two miles of pipe will do to her already challenged and inadequate water pressure. And I shudder to think of the “who pays” and “how much” questions which will likely face us tomorrow.

Stay tuned: we can’t wait to see how this saga ends.

Monday, May 19, 2008

On Deck

Change has been afoot – apaw – and ahoof – at MisFit Farm. We received an e-mail from the contractor two weeks ago, letting us know that our house had come onto somebody’s radar. The excavators had one basement to dig and then our basement was next. His estimate was that they would complete the first basement early in the week, and then, weather permitting, arrive to dig ours at the end of the week.

Here is where K and I experience a fundamental disconnect. It is of the “glass half-full or half-empty” variety. K immediately seized upon THURSDAY as the day we should expect to see the heavy equipment. Rather than cast myself as a pessimist, I like to think that I viewed the estimated arrival time as task-oriented, rather than time-oriented. So I did not choose a particular day upon which to fixate, but left myself open to seeing the equipment arrive at the Farm after they were done with the basement before ours.

K is not a sports person, but I tried to explain the concept of “batter up, MisFit Farm on deck, and someone else in the hole.” The only part of the analogy K embraced was the idea that there would be a hole – for our basement. She really liked the sound of that.

Thursday came and went, and a dejected and disappointed K sat at home, anticipating the arrival of the equipment.
Thankfully, this disappointment did not dampen her elation to come home this afternoon to find destruction, clearing, and at long, long last, heavy equipment.

And I guess I have to admit, my sports analogy doesn’t really hold up, since tomorrow, we get a hole.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Little Moments

I make no illusions that living at MisFit Farm has been, in many respects, my salvation. It provides me with wide open spaces and room to make big mistakes. It gives me many things outside myself to focus on. It offers plenty of creative outlets for my hyper-ass. It routinely offers up little moments like these:

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Lessons from High School

I remember this lesson from High School:
If you put a drugged-up chick in your car, there is a near-certainty that you will end up with drool on your window, and a high likelihood that you will end up with pee on your seat.

Within the past 24 hours, Azure had begun acting a little lethargic. Returning home yesterday evening, we noted that her color was a little – off. It seemed like she was missing her usual piggy pinkness at the nose, and maybe the membrane around her eyes seemed a little washed out. She was eating and drinking fine, and willing to accompany us on our evening walk. She was her usual protective self over her pork roll treat. She just did not seem to have her usual bon vivant.

Not entirely certain what to do with a new, low-key version of Azure, but certain we wanted to keep a close eye on her, we let Azure sleep in bed with us last night. With the exceptions of delivering a couple of upper cuts to my chin around daybreak, I don’t know that she moved all night long from the little nest she made plunk in the middle of the bed, head resting on K’s sacred “Mickey Mouse” feather pillow.

Having returned from our vacation last week to find a variety of random objects misplaced and missing, it had not entirely escaped our attention that Coffee’s prescription bottle of Deramaxx turned up in an altered state, appearing to have suffered at the jaws of a massive chewing. Last weekend, Azure welcomed our yearly geese visitors with a dinner party whereupon she crashed their nest and consumed all of their eggs. In making the acquaintance of a new visitor to MisFit Farm, Azure rushed into the pasture to gulp down some breath-freshening horse dung breath additive. And these, of course, represent only the most egregious and obvious intake transgressions of note from the past week. How, then, to narrow down the offending source of malaise?

You begin the narrowing-down process thusly: sedate her to draw blood for a full work-up including a liver panel. Upon identifying some high white blood cell counts and what may look like a little bleeding in the tummy, direct an overweening Mom to take her home with a handful of medications, instruct Mom to offer up a cottage cheese and yogurt diet (can you hear Azure jumping for joy and shouting “YEEEES!”?), and keep a close eye on her for “abnormal” behavior. I don’t know how we are expected to modify her behavior to discourage things like perching on the kitchen counter, climbing on top of buildings, and destroying everything that crosses her path when the absence of this behavior would be the indicator that there is something “wrong” with Azure.

The good news is this:
Even though Azure peed on the seat just like those chicks from high school, unlike those chicks, I got to bring this one home.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Boo-Boo *hearts* Azure

Based on purely non-scientific observation, it appears as though Azure possesses a certain. . . attraction that is not readily apparent to some of us. Notwithstanding my admonitions to Coffee that dating crazy women only leads to trouble, he continues to be morbidly fascinated, even attracted, to Azure.

The other inhabitant of MisFit Farm with an intense interest in Azure is Boo-Boo, the goat. The problem with being adored by a goat is that it looks like it could hurt. At least the part where they ram their head and horns into you. I guess the whole “sneaking up behind you and giving you a love tap with my 8 inch horns and tongue sticking out” is a sign of goat adoration. I am perhaps not as brushed up on my goat-speak as I could be.

What we have been able to discern is that the only dog Boo-Boo has any interest in whatsoever is Azure. You can almost see the stars in his eyes when Azure is released into the pasture to run. While the other goats are intent on feeding time, Boo-Boo lurks in the background, awaiting his opportunity to prevail upon Azure and to convince her that they are a match made in heaven. He is crazy about her.

While Azure may be crazy, she certainly isn’t stupid. So, much to Boo-Boo’s dismay, Azure cuts him a wide path. I have been lurking around, trying to capture glimpses of Boo-Boo’s love overtures on video, but the following is the best I could do.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Squeeze Cheese Incident

MisFit Farm contains some staple ingredients. The grocery carts from weekly trips to the store almost universally feature “bunny milk” for K., “cheesy poofs” for me, animal crackers for the goats, and “squeeze cheese” for the dogs. Squeeze cheese serves as an inexpensive filling for Kong © toys, a masking compound for medication administration, and as seen here, a source of great amusement or an instrument of torture, depending on whether you are the squeeze-er or the squeeze-ee.

And because we are big fans of loose association, we offer this additional delectable cheese-themed video from a group called “The String Cheese Incident” (emphasis mine).
However you like your cheese, Bone Appetite!

Monday, March 17, 2008

Two Years

There is an amazing, barely perceptible place in the universe known affectionately as the “Dane hole.” I hadn’t realized we were traipsing into “Dane hole” territory when I hopped into the car and drove to Southern Missouri on Saturday, March 18, 2006. I thought I was headed to pick up a sweet, sensitive girl who would someday take the place of my boy, Coffee. I thought I was retrieving a girl who needed some extra TLC and a special place to settle into. I thought I was bringing home a girl who needed us more than we needed her.

How wrong I was. What I picked up was a whole new episode; a whole new experience; a whole new way of living. As it turns out, the fawn-colored girl I picked up has evolved into an ornery, entitled, delightful, jubilant celebration of life.

She reminds me of my grandmothers, not just because of her excessive, unannounced flatulence, but also because of her enthusiastic embrace of the mundane as she tosses a disemboweled fleece toy into the air in the living room; because of her unbridled joy in executing a perfect lope across the front yard; and because of her spunky, oblivious spring back into action when the lope ends in a tumble. She is completely unaware of her limitations. The fact that her walk resembles the crazy dance of a front-wheel drive pickup truck with bald tires driving on a frozen pond is completely lost on her. She is Mercy. You may worship her now. When I retrieved Mercy, I was advised by the Grande Dame d’Dane Rescue that we could select a different name for the peculiar fawn-colored girl I picked up that day. But each time one of us, bearing witness to a new variety of sit-and-spin, exclaims, “Oh, Mercy!” I am reminded of the absolute perfectness of her name. It features two of my favorite rhetorical tools: entendre and irony. Which pretty much sums up life with Mercy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Daylight Savings Time with Bill

We were able to make a more or less smooth transition to Daylight Savings Time this weekend, buoyed along by the previous week we spent living on Eastern Standard Time while visiting the (second) happiest place on earth.

The trip was my first to the Disneyworld complex, and I remain incredulous that the happiest place on Earth could really be inhabited by all the crying, distraught, overwrought children and parents I witnessed in my time there. At the Farm, it generally takes a serious storm front or the deprivation of a very meaty bone to reach the fever-pitch tantrum casually observed in the Disney patrons. Emerging from a mucky, messy, cold and dreary Kansas winter, the weather in Florida was much more congenial, making for one very happy feature.

Not to be shown up, Kansas decided to tease us with a beautiful early Spring day on Sunday, to welcome Daylight Savings Time. We took advantage of the sunshine and daylight savings to spend some quality time with Bill the horse.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Bunny Ears

With impending Easter festivities looming in the not-so-distant future, we here at MisFit Farm have been working on our technique for consuming the forthcoming and inevitable carob bunnies.

On the first day, we leave the prized rabbit alone as we indulge in the consumption of delights more fungible.

Across the next couple of days, we allow bunny to remain intact and free to move about the trailer.

Unable to allow this untenable intact bunny situation to continue forever, a deep, instinctual impulse overcomes Azure.

Why is it always the ears?

Friday, February 22, 2008

There Were Rules II

As in a previous post, note the use of the past-tense. There were rules.

Before we made and broke the rule about “no more than two dogs,” and “no dogs sleeping in the bed,” we had a rule about the acquisition of “exotic” animals, or at least the acquisition of animals that had not been previously owned by members of our immediate family. The rule was that, before we could acquire said animals, we had to first get a book about the breed/species AND read it. Consistent with the rule’s intended purpose and contrary to popular belief, because of the rule, there are species of animals for which we own the book but not the creatures.

The rule was broken with the acquisition of Bill, the horse. To date, we have not been able to even locate a book that would begin to provide the range of information we need about owning and caring for a miniature horse.

Aside from the obvious reference value in having a book about the animal type on hand under the book rule, the reading process gives us opportunities to engage in a robust dialogue about arrangements, idiosyncracies and preferences in advance of the animal’s arrival here at MisFit Farm. Agreements are made about important things like: what types of behavior we wish to discourage; what methods will be used to discourage and/or reinforce behaviors; and, how we will respond and react to unusual situations. Through this process, we are often spurred on to seek out additional information and resources, giving us a good foundation for parsing out the good from the bad information obtained from other sources, such as the Internet.

That the book rule had been broken was made abundantly clear to me one balmy evening last week.

Bill the horse is a fun little fellow. We play with his jolly ball. We go for walks. We chase in the pasture. We were engaging in a combination of these types of play activities after I got home from work. As it was beginning to get dark, I turned my attentions to the chores at hand and headed out of the pasture and up to the barn. Crossing the pasture, unsuspectingly enjoying the fresh evening air, I distinctly felt a touch on my shoulder blades. I turned around just in time to observe Bill reared up in what looked to be the process of removing his hooves that had, moments earlier, ostensibly been placed lightly, yet insistently on my back.

The best way I could explain what had happened to K in retelling the story is that it looked like Bill wanted me to give him a piggyback ride. Thankfully, he wasn’t too insistent on it, and was not dejected when rebuffed. If I didn't know better, I would swear he was actually laughing at my indignation.

Having entertained various explanations for his behavior, the one thing I feel I can conclusively and unequivocally determine is that there is not a book in the world that will provide me with a satisfactory answer for just what in the world happened in the pasture that evening. Nor do I probably really want to know. I am not that type of girl.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

K's Baby

Here is a synopsis of the conversation that took place the day I brought Azure here to MisFit Farm (keep in mind that I had been dispatched to take care of the “Azure” problem):

K: So, how did it go? How are you doing?

A: Uh, well, uh. Not exactly as planned.

K: Oh?

Pregnant pause.

A: Well. She didn’t eat any of the others.

K: She – who? Eat – who?

More silence.

A: Azure. Mercy. Trinity. Coffee. Skeeter.

K: Azure is there?!?!? At the trailer?!?!?

A: Uh.

K: Azure is there?!?!? At the trailer?!?!?

A: Well.

K: Azure is there?!?!? At the trailer?!?!?

A: Uh.

K: Azure is there?!?!? At the trailer?!?!?

Silence again.

A: So, you’re almost home?

K: Oh. My. God. When I get home, will I find Azure there?

A: Uh, yes?

K: What happened?

A: Nothing. I took her and Trinity to Kevin’s to do introductions and everything was fine. So I brought her home.

K: You brought her home? To the trailer? Azure? To stay?

A: Well, yeah. Yeah. Yeah. I guess. She’s doing fine. Everyone is fine. This will be fine. Everything will be fine.

So here she is at the trailer. Azure. Still. And everything is fine.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

Snow Days & Dogs

It has been a long time since I have seen a winter produce so much white stuff. I shoveled the front porch and stairs to the trailer last night just after midnight and by 5 a.m., I had to force the front door open against the newly fallen snow. As the snow continues to fall and accumulation ranges from 6 – 12 inches (with drifting), schools are closed, appointments have been cancelled, and traffic has been brought to a trickle. A snow day has been officially declared for Northeast Kansas.

Work, productivity and house-building are negatively affected by the white stuff, but the dogs seem to derive a sick pleasure from it.
I was recently reminded of the song, Solsbury Hill, when it was casually mentioned in a book I just finished reading. Popular lore has it that the song is about Peter Gabriel’s choice to leave the band, Genesis, but I like to think the song is about the more mundane, day-to-day choices we make: enslave ourselves to the “machine” or find meaning in our work; embroil ourselves in the pursuit of more material possessions or be contented with the blessings of gifts bestowed; emphasize that which we are “not” or embrace the things we “are.”

In Mercy’s case, the choice is to go skipping, leaping, and bounding through life.

As for the other inhabitants of MisFit Farm, in accordance with the “new trick” command we have taught our old dogs since Mercy’s arrival, “Get out of the way!”

Monday, February 04, 2008


Lest we be accused of being uncivilized, it is worth noting that, in addition to our newly annointed "house beer," MisFit Farm also boasts a “house wine.”