Snowshoes and SnowCanoes

After school dismissed today, everyone hustled to the spring carnival. I watched the start of the men’s four-mile snowshoe race with a few other teachers. Five of my kids crammed themselves onto a four-wheeler and watched for a while, then took off to sell raffle tickets. I bought two for a moose hide.DSC02114We waited for a while, but soon realized that the pie-eating contest wasn’t going to start until the race ended. It takes a while to go four miles on snowshoes, so we headed home for a snack. The way things unfolded, we missed the pie-eating contest and the baby contest altogether, but it was well worth it. Three of us hiked out to Big Lake and checked out one of the islands.

DSC02121I even found time for a paddle!

DSC02129I swear I’ll make it to more of carnival tomorrow, and I promise I’ll take pictures at the princess coronation on Friday. I’m being bold and heading out to the dance now. I’m going to hide in the back so nobody asks me to dance, unless it’s a square dance, in which case I’ll tear it up. Who knows?

Two hours later:

DSC02137Athabascans fiddle like folks in the Appalachians. I danced once with an elderly fellow who wore a necklace of bear’s teeth and caribou legskin moccasins. He told me that his sister had made them for him before she passed away. He also had on a particular sort of hat that I’ve seen here before, a slouchy black cap with a white bow on the front. He came up to about my nose, and his eyes disappeared when he smiled.

The second dance seemed to last forever: it was a line dance, but it wasn’t called like contra, so I felt pretty clueless at first. There were five couples, and one led. The pattern wasn’t too complicated, which made it easy to follow but not too interesting to dance. There was a lot of bopping in place, waiting to swing someone down the line, which was good because it went on for so long that I had to keep running to the seat where I’d stashed my stuff to strip off more layers.

As I was leaving, a fourteen-year-old girl I know was demanding they do a square dance next and grinning. Maybe I should have stayed, but it’s late and there’s school tomorrow. I walked home in my t-shirt, sweating from the long dance and giggling at the dancing aurora. Carnival is a good time.

Labor Day Week Photo Explosion!

According to Levi and Sizzy (who escaped today, to no one's surprise and everyone's exasperation) you haven't known true happiness until you've done this.

According to Levi and Sizzy (who escaped today, to no one’s surprise and everyone’s exasperation) you haven’t known true happiness until you’ve done this.

Mud is bliss.

Mud is bliss.

We spent the weekend in Texas with Sean's family.

We spent the weekend in Texas with Sean’s family.

Sean taught his nephews some porcine wisdom about the joy of getting dirty

Sean taught his nephews some porcine wisdom about the joy of getting dirty

We came home and had a Wednesday cookout at the lake.

We came home and had a Wednesday cookout at the lake.

There was even some paddling, (not the kind we have in schools), and a swim and float with eyes full of the cottonball sky.

There was even some paddling, (not the kind we have in schools), and a swim and float with eyes full of the cottonball sky.

Our meat chicks arrived today, and, after spending the afternoon at school with Mr. P, immediately soaked themselves in their water and began to shiver. We don't have a hair dryer (they're not environmentally friendly or useful to people with little hair) so we toweled them off as best we could and stuck them under the lamp.

Our meat chicks arrived today, and, after spending the day at school with Mr. P, immediately soaked themselves in their water and began to shiver. We don’t have a hair dryer (they’re not environmentally friendly or useful to people with little hair) so we toweled them off as best we could and stuck them under the lamp.

They're all fluffy again, and adorable. No sign of spraddle or gunkybutts yet.

They’re all fluffy again, and adorable. No sign of spraddle or gunkybutts yet. These birds are destined for plates all over the scintillating metropolis of Marianna, AR. We ordered extras so we could sell to our friends, and people seem into it!

Boople and I adored them from afar. Neither of our cats has ever posed a threat to our chicks, but we'll leave the little critters in the spare room with the door shut, just in case.

Boople and I adored them from afar. Neither of our cats has ever posed a threat to our chicks, but we’ll leave the little critters in the spare room with the door shut, just in case.

Who could believe this cutie is a skilled killer?

Really though, who could believe this cutie is a seasoned killer?

Allergies to bees, lead and sweat

Sean has been in a creative mood all week. He’s done some drawing and painting, but, most wonderfully, he leaped up last night and declared “I’m feeling inspired!”
“Inspired how?” I inquired of the grinning fellow, posing like a superhero before me.
“Inspired to cook!” He proclaimed, and sprang to work in the kitchen. These are the best days.

IMG_2577

Practical projects make my heart flutter. Anything that simplifies or brightens daily tasks is worthwhile to me. My superhero name is The Obviator. Though it doesn’t really improve the functionality, refurbishing this coffee table was my great accomplishment of the week:

IMG_2465

Materials:

  • Crappy old coffee table
  • Unwanted maps
  • Paint
  • Paint brush
  • Elmer’s Glue
  • Polyurethane to seal the top

Paint the coffee table, water down the glue a tiny bit, affix the maps making sure to minimize air bubbles, add a few coats of watered down glue to the top, allow to dry, seal with polyurethane. Don’t let your cats jump up there during any of the drying phases.

IMG_2537 IMG_2566

On Wednesday, we totally pigged out on nori rolls and watched Frozen with Ian. We talked big talk that day about key lime pie and key lime pie ice cream. Since Freckles is our only layer right now, we’ve had to wait a while to accumulate the necessary eggs for these projects. I made the pie a few days ago, and we’ve had to employ great self-control to keep from finishing it off before it can be added to the ice cream (which takes four eggs). Thank goodness we picked up some pullets this week. We are not getting enough eggs.

We were chasing the pullets out of their sequestration in the henhouse one evening (Cappy and Freckles wouldn’t let them out) when a wasp stung Sean right in the nose. His cheeks and top lip swelled up so much that he looked like Hermione’d jinxed him to hide his identity from Snatchers. We drove down to the neighbors’ and Nancy took one look at Sean and sent us on to the doctor. The folks at the doctor’s office giggled over the comparison between his swollen visage and the photo on his license, gave him a steroid shot in the butt and a prescription for an epi-pen and sent us on our way. Sean wore sunglasses in public for a day and a half like a starlet trying to fool the paparazzi.

Yesterday, our neighbors took us for a ride in their party barge on Moon Lake. While we were floating on foam noodles in the muddy oxbow lake, succumbing to our first sunburns of the year and talking about allergies (Sean was still looking vaguely rodentine), Nancy told us the story of her grandfather’s death.

The year was 1921 and my grandfather had just acquired a divorce, a rare thing in those days. He was a bit of a lady’s man, and he’d been fooling around with the secretary in his office at the county courthouse. She was under the impression that he planned to marry her, though he had no such intentions. When she realized that he wasn’t serious, she came to work with a gun to shoot him right there in the courthouse. He didn’t want to get shot, so he tried to take the gun away from her. While they were struggling, her daddy came in, and, remembering that my grandfather kept a gun in the desk drawer, reached in, took out that gun and shot him in the gut. Shot her, too, on accident, but didn’t hurt her. My grandfather, it turns out, was allergic to lead. He died a week later.

In other news, we’re getting ready to teach summer school at Lee. I’ll be teaching Algebra 1 to two groups of kids each day in 90 minute blocks. I’m so excited! I’ve always wanted to teach 90 minute blocks, and I love teaching Algebra. Bonus points: the money is really good and we’re working only until about 12:30, so we still get to work in the garden and get outside in the afternoons. I’m going to try something new where I don’t have rules exactly, but instead I have a poster that reads something like this (shoulda taken a picture: whoops)

In this classroom you will…

Challenge Yourself

Respect, Honor and Support Everyone

Follow Directions

Ask Why

Learn from your mistakes

Act like and be treated like a young adult

I like it because it sets positive expectations for the kids and for me. These are better than rules: These are facts. You will do these things. I can give both positive and negative consequences based on these statements. I’m really super-stoked.

Canoeing Montage!

IMG_2501 IMG_2506 IMG_2513 IMG_2527

As for me, I’m not really allergic to anything, but working out(side) in Arkansas in the summer makes me sweat, and sweat makes me itch and go all bumpy from eczema and before you know it I’m a mess. It’s a great excuse to come in and take frequent, cool showers.

Got any summer plans? No. But I’ve got a canoe.

Summer’s here and time is measured in drops of sweat and changes of damp clothes. Last night, the heat woke me from a sound sleep for the second time. It’s stifling when you can’t open the windows for fear of the blackflies.

It’s cool and bug free on the lake. and the moon has been enormous and golden, floating like a reflection in the sky full of glittering water beetle stars. In the evenings, we’ve seen the sun set twice over the water and it’s filled a part of me that I didn’t know was drained. We’ve explored some of the coves and creeks nearest to the boat dock by day; we’ve seen herons, turtles and a snake that slipped through the water silently. We’ve managed to cram four people into the canoe and not flip it, and to mostly avoid sunburn. I don’t have summer plans, but I do have a canoe, and I could pull a Huckleberry Finn from here.

IMG_2460

It’s only fifteen minutes from sitting on the couch to floating on the lake. Bonus points: the canoe has a built-in cooler.

A neighbor is delivering a round bale of old hay sometime this week and we’ll use that to mulch the garden. It’ll be a tremendous help for keeping the garden moist and minimizing hose-dragging. We had a soaking six inches of rain last week, but the summers here are not wet, and dragging a hose around in the heat is a torture I’d prefer to reserve for my enemies only, when possible.  We’ve managed to clear the weeds around the cucumbers (we’re getting several every day now) and in some of the aisles, but we have a long battle ahead of us. Little green tomatoes and winter squash are appearing on the vines, and we’re looking forward to blackberries in a few days. Cabbages and some garlic came in today, and carrots and turnips yesterday. We’re moving into the hot months where nothing new is planted and we just weed and harvest and try to keep the bugs and coons from eating everything we grow.

Image

We brought in our first batch of garlic today. Drying isn’t really a thing here, but we’re hoping for the best.

Image

I was taught to not pick up hitchhikers, but his pack looked so heavy and he seemed harmless. I gave him a ride from my cabbages all the way to the woods.

We’re heading up to Forrest City to watch a World Cup game at the Mexican restaurant this evening. If we’re lucky, we’ll pick up a few pullets in Wynne to keep poor Freckles company. In other livestock acquisition news, Sean is seriously scheming to buy a feeder pig and drag it to North Carolina for a luau in a few weeks. His Granny is turning 90 and we’re going to help celebrate. My partner is seriously nuts. Who does that?!