I was going to do so many ridiculous things…

At first this whole school closing thing felt like an impending snow day. The storm was coming, we knew it was going to be serious, but there was still that slightly contained giddiness of “Holy shit! I’m gonna get to sleep in!” There was no way they were going shut us down, maybe we’d get an extra week tagged on to spring break. But shut down? No way.

Then within the space of about 45 minutes from the governor’s decision to the official district email, they shut us down on a Friday the 13th no less.

Briefly, unrealistically, time opened up and I was going to do so many ridiculous things. It was going to be hiking and new restaurants with Bloody Marys.

Unfortunately, it rained 3 inches overnight and created flash flooding, and restaurants are now only allowed to offer carry out or delivery. No sitting and enjoying.

A new tattoo sounded like a good use of time. Maybe some bees around some existing flowers. Nope. On the 18th they shut down all hair and nail salons, and tattoo parlors.

Ok. Cats. What about adopting another cat since I am now going to be home for an extended period? I mean I can’t really take a new cat to the vet because my vet is only doing virtual check ups or hand offs in the parking lot. However all of my favorite shelters have closed to visitors unless there was an adoption already in the works. Probably for the best.

Birdie says that there are more than enough cats on these sheets.

I also have an overwhelming urge to buy toilet paper, but clearly that’s not happening.

Back in the good old days of March 12 when Target still had paper towels at the end of the aisle.

The reality is that time hasn’t really opened up. When I wake up at 3 am to go pee, my brain starts making lists and running what-if scenarios. Which might be part of the explanation for why I-on total going to work auto pilot- backed my car into my garage door as enthusiastically as possible. I self-isolated by trapping myself and my vehicle in the garage.

We got out, but I’ve put in as many hours this week as normal setting up e-Learning and trying to wrap my head around how to move forward in an engaging way when none of my instructional cat videos will load to our online classroom! Our tech people are on it; they’ve had the lion’s share of organizing, building, and teaching the teachers.

I can’t complain that I get to keep working when that is not the case for so many. I’m not sick and I don’t know anyone who is…yet. But I did cancel my normal spring break time when I would have been hanging out with MomBert because I was increasingly paranoid about infecting her as well as the looming possibility of a state wide or national lockdown. These cats won’t feed themselves.

Meanwhile my students are looking at a blackhole for the end of their school year. Spring quarter at a high school is an unending shit show of state testing, awards ceremonies for every group in existence, Senior-itis at its peak, prom, and graduation. Very few of those things are projected to happen now. They may end up with a certificate in the mail and a gathering of 10 people or less to celebrate unless those get outlawed.

At least when the weather changes, I might be able to practice some social distancing with a hike.

******By the way this was supposed to be a light, jokey post about how all my trivial plans were systematically shut down by the government, but that went sideways about as quickly as a quarantine order. Sorry.

I don’t see an expiration date

My extensive artistic works, spanning decades.

While I was home visiting during spring break, MomBert guilted me in to going through two huge tubs of crap which mostly dated from my high school experience. I have no urges to revisit high school, but apparently I don’t rate unlimited storage in her closet. I did make a dent, but only got it down to a crate and a half. Based on the contents of my gigantic scrapbooks, I might have some hoarding tendencies. I saved it all! I think asking why would require a whole other post,and a therapist’s assistance.

However I did discover two amazing things that had me laughing. After graduation, I went on one of those pre-planned educational tours –much like the one several of my students are on this week-with my French teacher and several classmates. In among every brochure I never needed to save from the trip, was the handwritten note from MomBert giving me permission to drink! (It was 1992! This is a no-no today.)

There’s no expiration date so I’m taking this as permission for life! Thanks, Mom. Did that!

I also discovered that as a toddler I had the sight, but only in regards to cheesy 70’s art. There was a small spiral notebook filled with cut out and pasted magazine images that must have appealed to little me. MomBert said we spent a lot of time cutting and pasting. There were plenty of cats and outdoors pictures including a classy cigarette ad of guys smoking while roughhousing with colts. However the page that got me yelling across the house featured an embroidery owl that hangs in my kitchen from our latest antiques road trip last summer.

Do not doubt my powers!

Sheds delivered!

Spring break found me once again getting ready to tromp around the BF’s acreage in search of dead stuff or leftover bits of living stuff: sheds…deer antlers, y’all.

The look on the BF’s face at selfie time: “Damn it. NOT this happy shit AGAIN. Sonofabitch.” He’s so excited!!

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We saw evidence of deer in our adventures. Plenty of trails, hoof prints, rubs and poo, but no bony remnants. In fact, we didn’t even run across any other bits and pieces of any creatures!

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Evidence of deer

I peed three times on deer trails so I definitely left evidence of my presence. I assume the deer conversation will be something like, “Who is this magnificent creature who drinks so much coffee?”

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My “yea, I peed in your woods!” face.

Our finds revolved around interesting fungus more than anything else.

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According to FitBit 2.8 miles and 25 floors later, we were tired, cold and empty-handed. The day ended with convincing the local Domino’s to sell the BF a “take and bake” pizza. This is what happens when you live so far from civilization that pizza places won’t deliver and it is more efficient to cook it yourself given the drive time.

However while pizza places won’t always deliver, sometimes other entities will.

The lack of finds was disappointing, but it was a good walk in the woods, something that I don’t get to do often. Yet two days later, I got a text from MomBert that the neighbor’s dogs had made a special delivery to my sister’s yard.

A shed! In the sense that this particular deer shed its entire skull.

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My sister wanted the skull out of the yard before my nephew saw it. Otherwise he would want to hang it in his room. That kid knows how to decorate.

The skull is a bit juicy and smelly yet so it is currently wired to MomBert’s fence. Hopefully nature will clean out the tasty tidbits without dismantling anything.

Spring Break: The Recipes

Mid April, our spring break is just a distant memory which also illustrates how I think about things to write and then promptly procrastinate when shinier ideas come along. Of course, I thought I would do my usual teachers gone wild spring break posts, but…..it’s mid April now.

Whatever. Let’s think about food.

At the beginning of the break I traveled to exotic Southern Ohio to see the family. As is our habit, we made s’mores. MomBert always has the ingredients on hand which is perfectly logical for when your 42 year old daughter comes to visit.

It was ridiculously cold because how else would Ohio treat spring break? So we experimented with something that MomBert saw on t.v.

Toast marshmallows over gas flame. I guess a few seconds in the microwave if you’ve got electric.

Roll toasted marshmallow in prepped melted chocolate and crumbled graham crackers.

smores

We could not get our chocolate to be as creamy and pliable as the t.v. chocolate, but that didn’t stop us from eating two each.

In my own home, I experimented with a recipe that a friend posted on Facebook. (See, that’s what Facebook should stick with: recipes and cat pictures, not random memories!)

Deep dish pizza via cast iron skillet!

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425 degrees for 25- 30 minutes.

The first time I made it, I burned the Hell out of the crust that was over the lip of the skillet. The second time, I kept the crust within the rim and got better results.

Both of my pizzas came out kind of juicy because I like adding vegetables.However they were delicious, heated up well the next day, and because my cast iron is well cured, clean up was easy.

I could pretty much eat pizza or tacos every day.

Birdie sensed that I was putting some slivers of leftover ham on the pizza and zeroed in. She’s such a carnivore.

birdiemeats

Spring Break Extravaganza: Hunting for Sheds

Monday-Looking for Sheds

Because I already visited the available antique stores, my mom and I needed a different activity on Monday. Her BF lives out in the country and has access to several acres of wooded land so she proposed going out to tromp through the woods to look for sheds.

I felt like a dog when the owner says, “Let’s go for a walk.” So excited!  Spring and fall make want to be in the woods, but no one in my immediate circle of geographically convenient friends share those urges. Spring and fall means that they will spend most available daylight hours parked in front of a t.v. watching either basketball or football.

OMG!! Walk in the woods!! Squeeeee! (One of us is not thrilled.)

OMG!! Walk in the woods!! Squeeeee! (One of us is not thrilled.)

We met up with the BF at his house, donned layers of fluorescent orange gear, and headed out. The BF must have thought that we were on a major mission because he immediately proposed that “you girls” take the ridge by the pond while he went down by the creek as if we were working some type of flanking maneuver. I personally think that after the selfie, he was second guessing whether or not he wanted to be in the woods with us. Logically though, we would cover more ground in the search for sheds.

Starting in January, deer shed their antlers. Their testosterone drops since mating season is over; no need to have antlers to fight other males. They start rubbing their antlers against trees until the antlers fall/break off. Other forest creatures view the sheds as tasty bone flavored treats. New antlers start growing in the spring. The velvet on new antlers is actually tissue and blood vessels covering the growing bones. Rinse, repeat every year. So fucking weird.

I guess about as weird as us wandering around in the woods looking for them.

Bed and tracks

Bed and tracks

Mom and I took our assigned route and quickly started following a worn deer trail with deep hoof prints in the red mud. It makes sense to follow the web of deer trails because an antler could drop anywhere along the way. We came across several rubs where deer had worn the bark off of trees. We also dead ended in a deer bed. Grasses had been matted down in several spots inside a thicket and the ground was covered in deer hair.

Rubs

Rubs

We occasionally reconvened with the BF, got our new marching orders, and parted ways again. We were on the neighbor’s land. The BF said  that in addition to three deer stands and a deer crop circle, the neighbor probably has game cameras all over the place so he’ll be able to review our activities. He might get a little something special on one of his cameras because I peed in the woods. My trail now.

At one point, Mom and I were down in the hollow while the BF was up on the ridge. We were making our way up to him like graceful mountain goats, when he waved and held up a skull. Jackpot!

When we finally made it there to inspect his find, the shapes, sizes, and right-between-the-eyes bullet holes made it clear that these were not deer skulls. The BF said that the neighbors must have butchered pigs. These were pig remains.

Meanwhile, Mom and I were poking around, turning things over, and taking pictures. Mom had uncovered two long bones with sockets and was oohing and ahhhing over their weight and “artistic curves.” The BF was silently aghast.

Mom: (pre-horse realization) "These are so cool!"

Mom: (pre-horse realization) “These are so cool!”

Mom to BF: “Hey, do you have a bag in your jacket  so we can carry these back?!”

BF: “WHY would you want those?”

Me: “Why do we want random deer antlers?”

He mumbled something about possibly coming back later to get things then wandered away.

We continued to rummage through the leaves, and inspect the skulls. The smaller skull clearly had a snout shape and tusk-like teeth on the sides that the BF had pointed out when qualifying both skulls as pigs. However the other skull was over twice the size of the smaller skull, and did not have any tusk protrusions. Instead, it had  a row of huge square teeth up front.

Me to Mom who was still waving around her “artistic” bones: “I don’t think these are both pigs. Look at the shapes of the teeth.”

Mom: “It’s too big  for a deer and shaped wrong for a cow.”

Me (whispered): “I think it’s a horse.”

Mom: “Oh, the neighbors have pigs AND horses. Why didn’t he tell us that was a horse?”

Me: “That’s why he walked away.”

Mom, looking at “artistic” bones: “I don’t think I want to carry horse bones.”

The BF claimed ignorance of being able to identify horse skulls, but acknowledged that the neighbors had only pigs and horses on their property. We never found any sheds. I found a tiny set of jawbones that could belong to any number of rodenty type things with fangs. The BF gave me a turtle shell he found which I will interpret as an apology for his identification “mistake.” We saw bluebirds and walked back across the field to the house accompanied by  the neighbor’s hound dog.

Find the bluebird.

Find the bluebird.

Would I decorate my house or garden with either the pig or horse skull? Absolutely!

The question becomes why they would have been perfectly acceptable without question if they were deer skulls, why they were sort of okay when we thought they were both pig skulls, and why they became less acceptable when one turned out to be  a horse skull.

p.s. I was blissfully tromping through winter-free woods, then traveled two hours north when this happened:

Seriously, Ohio?

Seriously, Ohio?

Spring Break Extravaganza! : Photos, cleaning, zombies…oh my!

Friday- My First Spring Break Photo

My first official photo of Spring Break was for my driver’s license. I got a postcard in the mail on Thursday reminding me that I had a birthday over a month ago and that my license expired at that time.

Oops.

This was not even remotely on my birthday to-do list because I just got a new license about  a year ago since I thought I had lost my license at the time. It turned out that the old license was against the wall under the hoosier cabinet where any number of furry paws must have pushed it. “It slides on the tile! Wheeee!” The lesson to be learned is that I should more frequently and more thoroughly clean under furniture.

Friday after school, officially free to run wild, I went to the DMV. Fortunately, on a  Friday at 4:00 there were few other people who thought that standing in an overheated room that wreaked of cigarettes and old lady church perfume was a good idea. Two people away from being called, I had a tiny DMV flashback/ panic attack brought on by listening to the employees continually ask, “Will that be cash or check?”  The DMV is the only place on Earth still not set up for credit cards. I quickly ransacked my purse, checking all emergency cash spots. If this was over $25 and some change, I was out of luck.

I was able to swing the $25.75 down to the last little penny I had, and got to pose. It was so exciting! First picture of Spring Break! Whoooooooo!

DMV employee: “Ma’am, please put your top down. We need to be able to see all facial features.”

Saturday- Oh, It’s Clean Enough

I don’t like cleaning. Sure, it looks good and feels good when it’s done; but with myself plus four cats, it’s a never ending battle of dust, dirty laundry, and fur. Among my many projects over break, cleaning would be one starting Saturday.

I can attest that all the surfaces in my bathrooms are cleaner. Several loads of laundry and some rugs were washed. However vacuuming and putting laundry away is TBA. I lost my momentum after a  trip to Target and two hours of tech support bingo with my home computer.

The cats were having a contest to see who could be least helpful to mommy. I’m not sure who won, but all four melted into sun puddles that day.

Can't help clean. Meeelllltttiing

Can’t help clean. Meeelllltttiing

I eventually said screw it and made cookies.

Sunday-Old Lady

Sunday, I traveled to exotic and “warm” Southern Ohio for pizza lunch and familial visitations with Gpa and company (All the people I know who went south to Florida, Vegas, and Mexico are totally jealous). Having a few hours to kill before meeting up with Mom-Bert, I hit all the available flea markets and antique stores in town. Not many, but enough to fill some time and  leave me with a reasonable nap time on her couch.

At one shop, the resident feline greeted me and then trailed my progress through the place. I’m not sure if the cat was about working a sales pitch or if I looked sketchy and needed to be followed for security reasons. If I failed to acknowledge him/her frequently enough, the cat would jump up on tables and chairs near me as a reminder that it needed petted and talked to. Every shop needs a cat.

"Let me talk to you about our table selection."

“Let me talk to you about our table selection.”

I didn’t make any purchases, but I did come back to an item that attracted my attention on earlier visits. It’s a yard long embroidered flower garden of bright, cheery flowers. I like the colors, the variety of flowers, and the non-standard shape of the piece. However start combining embroidery with all my other tchotchkes, and suddenly this will turn into a grandma’s house. I polled an honest friend and my Facebook connections, getting pretty much the same response: it says old lady. I’m conflicted. It’s pretty, I’m drawn to it. If it were a painting or multimedia piece for the same price, I probably wouldn’t second guess buying it. Just something about embroidery……

But it's pretty.

But it’s pretty.

Ricktator versus Porch Dick—This should probably be its own post.