I’m 2 days and roughly 4.2k behind in NaNoWriMo. I got up early to write but I am currently surrounded by niece and nephew playing My Little Pony (Fluttershy is in danger and only Spike can save her). Gonna have to go find somewhere new and some good headphones.
You said that your old house had 6 flamingos and a volunteer avocado tree. What is a volunteer avocado?
A Volunteer Avocado is when you mom was raised in Cleveland by people with only a passing relationship with fruit but a tremendous interest in both urban agriculture and not paying for things, so she can’t stand to get rid of a perfectly good avocado seed, so she gets it to germinate in a mason jar on the kitchen counter, then plants it in the front yard to see if it’ll actually grow but your house is on what used to be a chicken farm so it’s got stupid good soil and the little avocado grows hell-for-breakfast in the CA sun and chicken-shit dirt and in three years it’s as tall as the house and your mom leaves the front door open at night so the wolfdog can get outside in short order because your neighbors love avocados too and come into your yard at 3AM with a ladder to steal them and you wake up in the middle of the night to your parents yelling at Mrs. Mcgurkey about what the FUCK do you think you’re doing, and you use that word the next day on your Demon of a fourth-grade teacher and she actually hits you because she’s a piece of shit but one of your classmates throws his chair at her first and you become best friends and spend the rest of the year giving her hell culminating in the Mantisocalypse.
“Teamwork and friendship. The love and friendship between our members. Our bromance or brothership is strong. The fans probably like the way how we are attached to each other. This is our strength.” -BTS Secret to global popularity (cr)
So a friend of mine in instagram and I were having this conversation of how the vAs are so precious and a gift to us fans so here’s a little tribute for them. Keep up the great work and we will always support and love you guys~ 😘
So when i was like… Six? Seven? My family and my Dad’s parents took a trip back to Iowa to see the family there and record a video of all the places Grandpa grew up. Which resulted, at one point, in all of us hiking out to a cement slab int he middle of a cornfield and Grandpa saying “This is where the schoolhouse USED to be.”
The whole thing is pretty hazy becuase I was having heatstroke/carsickness most of the time but I remember the following:
Grandma in the backseat with me and my sister, working on the HUGE catherdal window quilt she hand-stitched to pass the time. It ended up being about 9ft by 12 ft when she was done, and we still have it at my parent’s house.
an ungodly amount of corn
which I realize everyone says about iowa, but the corn is one of the few thingsi recall with VIVID detail- the musty but very ALIVE smell of it photosynthesizing, the rouch texture of the leave and how my bare arms and legs got scratched up from hell to breakfast when i went wandering it. The violently geometric rows that would snap back to noneuclidian madness- I could never get to where I intended if i tried to cut across fields- Always on the wrong side or too far past where I wanted to come out. or on the wrong property, on one occasion.
You’re never alone in those fields, not really. There’s a distinct Otherness about being three feet tall in the midst of six-foot corn, the closeness, with gaps where you can see forever and ever, the constant rustling like you’re being pursued. I’m willing to chalk a lot up to paranoia but I know the Wolfdog has better senses than me and that when she growled at something, she meant business.
The one thing we did find in a field was a swan.
Just chilling, sitting in one of the troughs. It was there with a bunch of Canada geese, hiding in the shade from the midday heat. It let me get within arms length before putting it’s head up, looking me dead in the eye from a sitting position. It began a low, continuous buzz, like bagpipes right before they scream. Mazel warned it with a low “Whurf” noise, and it stared her down for a minute, before it decided I had some kind of prior permission and decided I could stay.
I also found a small ceramic otter, half buried in the dirt.
That field used to be a lake, apparently.
I’d also never been anywhere with lightning bugs prior to that august, and didn’t believe them until one of the Iowa cousins caught one for me and showed me that it was, in fact a bug and not the lawn about to explode from swap gas.
Maybe I was just sweaty and prone to spilling punch on myself but they rather liked me, landing all over my skin and hair. I felt lighter than air when they came, like I could float away with them into the night.
To the point where I went chasing them rather far into the woods until I ran into an old barb-wire fence, mostly rotted and easy to pass, covered in blackberries. I was about to cross when half a dozen turkeys came running full-tilt at and then past me, hardly chattering at all. I decided to take their lack of words and went hack to the cabin.
So you have some context for the WEIRD part of the trip.
We’re driving around the county of I can’t remember I was six and Grandpa is driving, and he turns down what I’d assumed was another dirt road when Mom starts asking about “Uh, do you actually KNOW the people who live here?” “Oh pshaw. it’ll be fine.” and I realized we were in some backwater Iowan’s DRIVEWAY, pulling up to a house, right about the time when the Bull charged the car.
“EDWIN THERE’S A BULL.” Shrieked my grandma, grabbing both me and my sister and heroically yanking us out our seatbelts and to the other side of the car, behind the quilt, in hopes it would protect us from potential impalement. Gandpa, Bless Him, stopped the fucking car and leaned out the window to look.
“Aren’t you handsome!” He laughed and the half-ton of angry pot roast stopped up short, blinking stupidly, before cautiously trotting up the rest of the way and attempting to stick his head in the car for skritches. He was stopped by the fact that his horns didn’t fit in the damn window.
Grandpa proceeds to drive the rest of the way up to the house, bull following us, before casually… getting out of the car, walking right up to the front door and ringing the bell. A Pair of the most American Gothic-looking people answer, looking bewildered at the elderly, plaid-covered man in front of them, offering them a ham of hand.
“My name’s Edwin, and I grew up on this farm- Did you ever meet the Fitzgerald’s? I was hoping I could show my family around where I was a boy.”
“Oh my god.” Said my mother, burying her face in the seat. “He’s going to be shot.”
“OH WELL COME ON IN!” The Gothic Americans say, apparently thrilled. “WE’VE GOT PIE AND LEMONADE AND AIR CONDITIONING.”
“…Or not.” mom shrugs, relived. For the moment.
So the family piles out of the car and into this house, which while rustic and probably charming, is also crammed to the brink with more fucking memento mori than a dutch painting museum that got invaded by a Dia De Los muertos parade.
I’m talking taxidermy animals, portraits where everyone is skeletons, mannequins covered in flowing cloaks, pinned insects and pressed flowers, tiny skeleton dolls sitting in corners, a literal wall of scythes, a hall of livestock skulls and on the mantelpiece, in a glass bell jar, an actual human skull. I, six years old and a weirdo, am immediately in love with this place.
“That’s Great-Uncle Richard.” The lady says, fondly. “He’s the one that your grandpa’s family sold the farm to!”
“COOL.” I say as Grandma takes out her rosary.
“COME ON IN FOR SOME PIE.” hollers the gentleman from the kitchen. We go in and there is not one but like, SIX fucking pies on the table and milk and lemonade and whiskey and an angelfood cake and it’s all very Norman Rockwell except for the part where the kitchen is Not Immune and there’s a centerpiece pf chipmunks taxidermied to be drinking tea in the center. I am DELIGHTED, my grandmother is praying harder. My mom had decided she’s going to enjoy this encounter and sits down for a lemonade and a slice of apple pie while my Dad gently tell my two-year old sister to not lick the skeletons.
Everyone has a grand time sitting around the table with these people, Lucille and Barry, talking about the history of the farm and long-passed relatives and crop yields and whatnot. Except for my grandmother, who is Too Catholic For This, and when my ADHD ass gets bored and asks to go look at the animals, says she’ll go with me, despite being decidedly non agrarian.
We go outside to find Mazel sitting in the water trough, becuase being part husky in Iowa in August is HARD, and sometimes one needs to get soaked up to the neck to cope. The Bull is displeased by Strange Dogs sitting in his trough, but she leveled him with a look and low noise that was more rumble than growl to remind him she was Canis Lupis Decidedly-Less-Familiaris and she ate his cousins ground up for breakfast and he decided he had important Bull Business on the other side of the barn.
We get into the barn where there were about 20 dairy cattle having a nap in the shade that afternoon before milking, and I point up and shout ‘LOOK GRANDMA JUST LIKE CHURCH’. Growing up agnostic had left me fuzzier on certain religious matters, and I naturally assumed that the gaunt, rather tortured looking figure hanging from the rafters was a crucified Jesus.
It was not.
It was, I would later learn, a sculpture of Great-Aunt Margret, wife of Richard-on-the-mantle, who had a wild sense of humor and had left instructions that she wanted to be strung up to watch over her beloved cows and also to terrify any would-be rustlers. Her family had the good sense to not leave an actual corpse hanging from the rafters, but whoever made that scultpure did a Damn Fine job capturing the pants-shitting terror Margret had been after. Grandma attempted to haul me out of there but I was much more interested in the cows, and merrily fed them scattered bit of hay through the bars of the queuing area before the milking stall under Margret’s watchful eyeless sockets.
I also found a nest of pitch-black kittens, a white and very arthritic hound that managed to get up and follow me around the barn anyway, and a fat, green-black chicken that came up to my navel and wanted chin scratches. There were various other odd decorations scattered around the property- the large, wrought-iron sculpture in the middle of the duck pond was particularly choice. It was constructed of several arches and a few curled spikes, so that when it was viewed with a reflection on a still day, it formed an eye. It was a splendid afternoon.
When I got back to the car, grandma had added another seventeen cathedral windows to the quilt out of spite and was ready to wring my grandfather’s neck. We hauled mazel out of the trough, patted the bull goodbye and left with some lovely family history and a furious grandmother.
Lucille and Barry passed away a while ago, but we always exchanged christmas cards, and I’m still Facebook friends with their daughter, Juliet. She;s thinking about turning the farm into an eco-amusement park.
So to actually answer your question, Jolly Ranchers.
Wait, so who was the first dumbest dog you've ever met?
The dumbest dog I ever met was a secret genius.
So when I was five, my Aunt Helen called me to inform me that since I was the next-oldest of the cousins, I got to name her new puppy. Unfortunately, she called me at like 9 in the morning and my ADHD ass was really focused on the concept of breakfast so I said “Pancake”. And Helen, bless her, named her little German Shepherd Puppy “Pancake”.
For the first few weeks, Pancake was a regular dumb, clumsy and awkward puppy. Then he… kept doing that. And getting weirder. Pancake could run up the stairs just fine, but refused to go down them. He’d trot right up to people… diagonally. he’d travel most smoothly at a 45-degree angle, feet crossing like a fancy line-dance.
He was also… not bright. If his dishes were moved, he wouldn’t be able to find them until walked to the new location several times. He also had a long-standing feud with the stop sign at the end of the drive, lunging and snapping at it every time they passed.
He did mange to enjoy life. Helen’s husband, my Uncle Nicolas likes to play the accordion after his third glass of wine at family functions. Every previous dog has either hid under the couch, or in Mazel’s case, growl menacingly until he stopped. Pancake LOVED the accordion, and would howl along with it, tail wagging happily. Helen breeds Morgan horses, and while they mostly hated the dogs and tried to murder any of the other dogs that came near, Pancake could walk right up to them, licking noses, and even allowed to approach foals.
“I swear, that dog only has half a brain.” Nicolas joked.
Eventually, Helen noticed that Pancake was walking into corners and furniture, mostly on his right side. She took him into the vet, and they realized he was blind in his right eye, despite there being no apparent damage. They took a scan of his brain, wondering if he’d been hurt at some point.
Turns out Uncle Nick was right.
Pancake’s right hemisphere was perfectly normally developed, but his left was literally about the size of a walnut. The vet said it was an absolute miracle that he was alive at all, but he didn’t seem to be in any pain. Helen commissioned my Mom, and she made him a padded right-side face mask becuase if he couldn’t see out of that side anyway, they ought to protect his eye.
Pancake lived to be an astonishing 12 and a half, half blind and friend of the horses.
Why You Should Pay Attention In Class, Feat. Dad and Dr. Puck
Gather ‘Round everyone, it’s time for another installment of Family Lore!
So back in the late 60′s dad was getting his undergraduate at Cal Poly, because Dad was an early proto-nerd (like really, he wrote a bunch of the groundwork for the thing that would eventually become the internet), and Cal Poly had one of the first comp sci programs in the country. Also, it was like 10 miles from home, so he didn’t have to move out. However, because this was undergrad, dad had to take a bunch of non-major courses, so he decided to do geology because he’d been good at identifying rocks in boy scouts.
The course was taught by gentleman named Dr. Puck, yes really, who was a brilliant geologist, but teaching a bunch of somewhat uninterested just-out-of-high-school kids about rocks can wear on you, even if you aren’t some sort of deranged fey creature. So he tried his best to make it interesting, and Dad and most of the other kids had a fairly interesting time.
Dad recounts that there were two girls in class who spent the entire time blowing off lecture, talking and generally being a distracting nuisance, until they heard that a quiz was coming up, then they’d pester and bully anyone for notes, usually Dad. This went on for about three months and virtually everyone in class was grinding their teeth at these two, but Dad in particular, who did not appreciate being accosted in the hall by these two, who would alternately offer sexual favors for his notes, or threaten to start rumors about him if he didn’t help them study. Puck knew some shit was up, but dad wasn’t eager to start legal action in his first semester, not to mention it was the 60′s and rampant patriarchy would have meant nobody would have believed him.
One Day, Dr. Puck organized a field for the class to the Santa Cruz Mountains, which are full of all manner of interesting geology things, most notably, fossils. Really stinking cool ones. Everyone is having a nice time hiking through the hills, looking at all the picturesque geology, when they round a corner and see a Big Goddamn RIB, just sticking out of the side of the trail. Everyone goes OOOOOOH appreciatively, and Puck explains that this is an ancient Whale that UC Santa Cruz was digging up, but he knew someone in their geo department, so he got the goods on the site.
He then explains, in grand gestures and with the sort of vivacity that only people of Fey ancestry can muster, how this used to be an ancient seabed, but due to the magic Natural Geologic Process of Continental drift and Uplift, this whale was now some 2000 feet above sea level. He spent a good twenty minutes telling the tale, while everyone took notes.
Literally the moment after Puck finished, one of the girls finally noticed the GIANT FUCKING RIB and asked him “But Dr. Puck- how did whale get all the way up here?”
Puck, somehow, did not explode, but instead stood up to his full five-feet-and-one-and-one half-inches and explained in his most deadpan, eloquent lecture voice.
“This is a Great Flying Whale of the Cretaceous Period.” He gestured at the Rib. “They used to migrate here to Santa Cruz to breed, from their winter grounds in Hawaii, and would build magnificent nests out of kelp.”
Dad recalls stuffing his notes into his mouth to keep from laughing. His more silver-tongued classmates began to chip in.
“Didn’t they used to eat Stegosaurs? Just swooped down and gobbled them up.” a student asked, trying not to snicker.
“Indeed! They were far from the gentle giants we have today!” Puck agreed. “Teeth the size of your arm, and long sticky tongues to catch smaller prey with.”
“How did they fly?” Asked another, ready to hear a choice piece of bullshit.
“Oh, gravity was much weaker back then, so they could ‘swim’ through the air with only the aid of a few helium bladders.” he nodded sagely. “Yes, and when they fossilized, the bladders were preserved. Santa Cruz has some of the finest Helium mines in the world thanks to these magnificent beasts.”
“Wow.” Muttered one of the girls, scribbling notes furiously. Dad unwaded the parper from his mouth, ready to drive the nail into the coffin.
“Is this going to be on the test?” He asked, sweetly.
“Oh yes.” Puck nodded gravely.
Sure enough, two weeks later, there was a test, and at the very bottom was the following:
“EXTRA CREDIT: explain everything innacurate/wrong about The Great Flying Whales Of The Cretaceous Period. One Point per Idea that makes me Laugh.”
And that’s how Dad walked out of geology with 106% and the invaluable knowledge that people will believe ANYTHING if you speak with enough conviction.