Tuesday, November 25, 2008

To The Point

Reason Only Controls After Emotion And Impulse
Have Lost Their Impetus
(Carlton Simon)

I will never understand my perpetual failure to learn from past experience. It is a human thing

I think and not related to gender. I have observed that most children will repeat an unpleasant

event several times before deciding it to be not worth the effort. That applies to adults as well.

On sunny and rare, (by virtue of their being in Oregon) days, I try to be prepared for

landscaping tasks. We have a very ancient but running Alice Chalmers tractor affectionately

named Orangey by our family. Orangey is very old and has a delicate disposition, so my husband

must often wou her with many gifts of extra hydrolic fluid, and filters of various types. He is

understandably protective towards her and tends to go on and on about her proper use.

This day, as I was preparing to seize the sun, and go forth on Orangey, my husband stopped

me for one of those interminable lectures that only he is capable of delivering. As he droned on

about the need to check fluid levels, staying in low gear, (did he think my middle name was

Mario for crying out loud?) and always to walk the trail because you never know what the winter

rains have , blah, blah, blah. My brain was chewing holes inside itself, trying to find some way to

escape the lecture I had heard every spring for the 19 years we had been married.

At last, he had become distracted by the need to go instruct one of the children on the proper

use of a hand saw and I was able to escape. Orangey and I slowly dieseled our way down the

over grown trail, with me contentedly ducking the barbed tentacles of black berry vines run

amuck, and preparing myself mentally for an entire day of cultivating the south 40!

Actually it’s only 8 acres, not forty, but after 3 or 4 hours it begins to feel like 40. I was so

pleased with myself. I had inched along carefully and though I had only walked 3/4s of the

trail, everything had gone smoothly so far, and hey what were the odds that anything bad had

happened to the rest of the property?

I was feeling quite smug and indignant about my husbands attitude, when out of nowhere

an uncharted ditch appeared on the landscape! Of course I had been remaining very alert, except

perhaps for a few moments of justifiable back patting, so I reacted instantly. But big, huge, old,

farm machines with delicate dispositions don’t respond in the same manner. I stood straight up

on the brakes and the clutch praying to stop in time. Miss Chalmers, (what I call her when I am

displeased with a behavior) had other ideas. She slid, as if on purpose, to teach me a lesson

for not obeying her owners directions exactly, straight down into the ditch which might as well

have been a canyon. After trying the various tricks my husband taught me, and eventually

draining all the charge from Miss you know who’s battery, I took a desperate measure.

I called my husband on the cell phone. A heavy sigh issued forth from the phone.
Upon his arrival I was prepared for the tirade I felt I must needs endure. I am determined to

maintain my cool and humbly accept his contrition, because after all he did ask me to walk

the ENTIRE trail first.

However any human being can only survive so many deep heavy sighs, mutterings,

shoutings and outright, “I TOLD YOU TO WALK THE TRAIL FIRST!”, statements. How

much more like an idiot did he expect me to feel? No longer able to stand the onslaught, I

launched my own verbal defensive arsenal. One loud derisive comment led to another and before

I knew what was happening, I was left to tote the battery the 900 yards back to the shop. Heat,

briars, and the dead weight of the battery began to fuel my own anger. So, 10 minutes later

when hubby comes meekly walking back to me, apologizing for his behavior and offers to take

the battery from me, I am suddenly taken over by a demon and snarl that I am totally capable of

doing this myself and anyway I am never going to speak to him again! You would think that

after 19 years of marriage, a person would cease to feel the need to make a point.

The only point I ended up making was that stubbornness only begets trips to the

chiropractor. Later in the evening that wonderful, thoughtful and wise husband of mine, carried a

fully charged battery out to the field, started her up and using the bucket and rear wheels, climbed

forward, almost straight up and out. Meanwhile, back at the house, even though my two year old

had been warned many times before, not to pick the cat up by the pointy ends, or the part that

looks like a handle, miss kitty reminded him of our lectures. His lesson was sharp, to the point

and most unpleasant. I consoled him and reminded him that sometimes lessons just have to be

learned by experience.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Why Kids Get Confused in Public School

The Big Bang?

My teachers told this Fairy Tale
But forget to classify it thus
Called it Science that could not fail
And over it, made such a fuss.

Large quantities of nothing
Decided to pack in so tight
And then exploded all together
With not an argument or fight.

They told me that this formed gas
that flowed outward into space.
Then this hydrogen and helium,
shaped planets in their place.

Wait, they said, this was not fiction..
And only dimwits thought about God .
But doesn’t flowing require friction?
Movement in that? How Odd!

No they said, this is just science pure.
We aren’t sure how, but we know.
And its science you can be sure!
“The Theory” told us so!

But, I asked, because that is
What science was about,
Where did that energy come from
To ignite the nothing from without?

And how can an explosion
form that which you say is not,
make heat and so much density
When you said nothing got hot.

How can nothing get hot?
When there was zero to splatter?
How can nothing get dense?
In a vacuum that has no matter?

How can nothing decide to condense ?
And then decide to go blooey?
If gravity makes so much sense
This sure sounds a lot like hooey!

This theory appears to violate
the laws of physics you taught
I can’t begin to assimilate
This faith based theory you’ve bought.

So I’ll answer questions by way of compliance
I’ll learn the terms with precise diction,
And laugh at something taught as science.
But really was just science fiction.

By Cathe Frederic
aka The ShrubBunny

Written Years Ago But Still Applicable

Pinching Lincoln Till He Screams!

I really love to shop! That love often conflicts with reality. Having 9 people to care for
on a limited budget often means pulling every creative penny pinching stunt I can think of.
The thrift stores are on my checklist of stops when ever I venture out of the house for
any reason. In this land of over abundance and blended families where children sometimes
wind up with six sets of grandparents, mommies are forced to go through and toss items
the little ones are no longer interested in. A few days before and many weeks after every
holiday season, the thrift store shelves are loaded with Americas bounty, often times with
items that have never been opened. Last Christmas I purchased a toy weaving loom for
ninety-nine cents. It had been opened, but all the parts were there. I can just see some
harried working mother, looking over the complicated directions and discretely tucking
the afore mentioned item away on the top shelf of a childs’ closet and waiting for the
moment when it can be secretly transported to the nearest donation area. Her childs’
loss is my childs’ gain.
When green peace, whom I disagree with in methodology, sends me stickers with a
request for a donation, I burn their propaganda in the wood-stove, warming my home
with the tree they cut down to ask me for a donation, and happily give the stickers to my
children to play with. When businesses give me refrigerator magnets emblazoned with their
advertising I carefully cut out photos of family and friends and glue them on, adorning
my refrigerator with cost free magnets. The glue was free because I made it from a
recipe in a book obtained from a magazine at the library. The flour that was called for in the
recipe was free because my friend who gets free surplus food didn’t care for it and gave said
flour to me. Ok, ok, I did pay for the propane to cook the glue with but I had to buy that already.
Most of our clothing is given to me. When ever anyone hears of the number of people in our
family, they automatically assume I will accept large donations of any type of clothing. And I
learned long ago not to turn anything down when barter has become the underground economy
that it is today. So I get a bag of clothing with sizes most of which fit everyone but us. I have

my children help sort, wash and repackage. These items then become barter goods for other
items I can use. Thus, the size 10 white leather shoes is traded in for 3 pair of childrens shoes.
My family food budget averages around $400 dollars per month. I could make do on less,
but I’m too lazy. Surplus food agencies abound. Cooking from scratch is not hard especially if
you expend the effort in the beginning and teach your children to cook. Some one once said,
“Foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds”. I spent $300 for a Champion juicer. What
at first looks like an extravagance becomes a necessity with a family this size. I make my own
fruit based ice cream, nut butters, jams, and various other expensive items, not to mention
delicious juices. Less expensive juicers were available but would never have survived the use.
You want some homemade quick jam? Obtain any dried fruit, boil with a little water and
blenderize! You have instant jam, quick, cheap, and easy!
Save those plastic garbage bags. They have hundreds of uses. If I didn’t like plastic, because
I thought maybe today it was better to cut down a tree rather than pollute a landfill, why paper
bags it would be. After using them, I would have the kids collect pine cones, fill the bags and
fire up the old wood-stove again.
I’ve been squeezing that historical coin for more than twenty years now. At first it was from
necessity. Now it has become a matter of pride. I can make do with less than you and have as
much or more than you! Don’t get me wrong. I certainly do my share of consuming out there. But with my method, I will be spending those hard earned pennies on what I want. Not what
some advertising firm tells me I want.

Sunday, November 23, 2008

And Now For A Commercial Word From Me

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Instead of using steel scissors ( allowing evil corporate steel manufacturers to profit)
individual members of our family faithfully chew through each fiber carefully snipping and nibbling
them to square perfection. We are gradually losing our teeth but hey,
the environment is worth it! They are then washed by hand in the river,
using only biodegradable soaps that were hand made by a family down the street,
on their wood stove and using the ash to make their own lye,
stirred with a stick with the bark still on it.
They are then hung out to dry ,on a clothes line made of renewable hemp,
incorporating the use of solar power!
My 7 children will place each PCP in a recycled zip lock bag,
(note to neighbors, please rinse bags before disposing of them, otherwise it gets really gross)
saving our land fills and fossil fuels, a double win! PCPs are made from a renewable resource,
that adds oxygen to the air and provides local growers with income.
Each loofa plant provides a shelter for local flora and fauna,and for every one loofa harvested two more are planted,
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The pickins in the Oregon economy right after our return from Alaska

were dreary at best. I picked moss and sold it, shaved chittum trees

of their bark and sold that and I even packed said items into the side

basket of my old schwinn bike and cycled on my own power to the

local merchant to sell them. In case you are unaware, chittum bark

is what they make laxatives from. The bark back then sold for .32

per pound. Since we needed firewood anyway, and there did seem

to be a need for the um, end product in this country, I was able to soothe my conscience

over stripping these trees of their bark along with cutting them down and I went

about my merry but trail blazing way. I even picked up our goat milk on my bike,

fed the kids on brown rice, wild black berries and government commodities.

Our oldest daughter took the two little ones down to the river to catch crawfish

about twice a week and arriving home from the woods we would feast on a poor

mans miniature lobster dinner, with dandelion greens and taters dug from the neighbors

garden. But my apartment over the shop was too small, (boy did I have alot to learn).

We only had one vehicle that ran sometimes. It rained and rained and rained in the

winter. I had grown up with a steady pay check and we had never known the uncertainty

of not knowing weather there was going to be a paycheck or not. I had always worked

but now I had babies and I did not want to have someone else to raising them.

Hubby with all his multitude of talents and education could only find a job driving school

buses. The economy was really bad. And we both had student loans to pay off.

Needless to say, after dealing with students who shot spit wads,

toted hand guns, and cleaned their fingernails with machetes while riding

the bus, we decided it was time to move where he might find a more lucrative position.

About this time a friend from California called and offered Hubby a job at

the then outstanding wage of $10 per hour! Dollar signs clicked and rolled

over and over in our eyeballs. Though we didn’t move to Beverely Hills, we

did immediately pack our bags and embark on another grand adventure.


A bathroom is a bathroom is a bathroom. Right? Before I tell you about our move to California, I feel I must indulge in a little out house tale.

As I had mentioned in a previous story, our new home contained no toilet. The apartment sat on top of the shop and looking out the upstairs windows sat the cutest little wooden shack with a crescent moon on the door. After having been instructed on the proper care and maintenance of said facility, I decided we had to make the building more, aesthetically pleasing. No sense in becoming a barbarian after all.

Scrounging scrap paint my sister in law and I painted the interior bright yellow and hubby cut a window on the side to allow light in while accomplishing various bodily tasks. We found a spare glass window to fit the hole and since this type of building was bound to be crawling with insects, I painted large lady bugs on the interior walls. By golly if I had to deal with bugs at least some of them were going to be there by my choice.

A cute little toilet paper holder and a decorated can of lime, (keeps the odor down) completed our refurbishing task. Not bad. The only drawback to this tidy little domestic scene was my 6 year olds late night imagination. Add a daddy who was an incessant tease and trouble was bound to ensue.

The night came when she could no longer hold it till the early morning hours when there would be daylight to guide her. We encouraged her to head downstairs while we turned on the flood lights. We watched out the windows as she cracked the door open ever so slightly and looked around for monsters lurking in the dark.

Suddenly she leaped out the door and slammed it so hard the entire house shook. Fast as lightning she bolted for the outhouse door! SLAM! went that same door as she was safely inside, secure for the moment from dreaded demons of the night. Even they wouldn’t enter the outhouse.

Then daddygot this mischievous grin and said, “Watch this”. He waited with his hand on the flood light switch while our daughter finished up her task. Just as she stuck her head out the door and checked left and right for monsters, he flipped the lights out. A scream pierced the night air!

If I had a stop watch I am certain I would have clocked her return speed at more than twice the original speed! The door to the downstairs slammed even harder making all the windows vibrate. She was so furious with us she forgot that she had been frightened. She did remember to carry her own flash light after that. This is when we all began to develop the habit of not drinking anything after 6:00 pm.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Across the US Via Bicycle

Happy routine had settled quietly onto our now blended family. Eldest daughter resided with her mom and step dad in Oklahoma. Second eldest daughter was delighting in being a big sister. This third baby was quiet, compliant and content. What could possibly disturb this domestic tranquility?

When baby number three reached six months of age we got a phone call from my husbands’ sister. She informed us that their dad was heading out on a cross country trip on his bicycle and she was very worried. Her husband could only ride with him to Idaho and then he would be on his own. She then told her brother, (as only a sister can) that if he didn’t join their dad for the remainder of the trip, she would do horrible things to him and never allow him to forget it if any unmentionable accident were to happen to their dad! “But sis!,” appealed my husband. “I havn’t found gainful employment yet and we are flat broke with a new baby”. Sis volunteered to fund his portion of the journey and loan him her husbands bike. He could pay her back later. Which only left finding a way for the rest of us to get all the way across the US.

Yes my husband and his dad really did ride across the US on bicycles. But this story is about our journey by bus across this great land of ours. I had to borrow the enormous sum of $400 from one of my Aunts. I think they only agreed to loan us the money so they could get a really good look at him when he got to the south eastern portion of this country. Kind of the same way you stare at zoo creatures. He was after, all a Yankee. By this time they were all beginning to wonder about him anyway. Not only were we jobless, pennyless and had a brand new baby, they knew how crazy I was and were now rather concerned that I had married in kind.

I purchased the bus tickets and began the 3 day journey via Greyhound. My older daughter and I kept looking out the bus windows for signs of Grandpaw and daddy. We had entertained the driver and many riders with our story about daddy and his dad riding across the country, so befor long everyone in the bus was looking out the windows for the two crazy, I mean intrepid adventurers.

For me the trip was rather uneventful if you exclude the colorful characters that always lurk around bus stations. The baby and my older daughter enjoyed the trip and I was young enough to endure three days of sleep deprivation. The real fun began when we got to NC.

I picked hubby up at the bus station in Virgina as he was saying good by to his dad. My did they look GOOD! Each had lost weight and were muscle toned down to their little toes. Grandpa flew back but we journeyed on by bus to NC.

My family couldn’t understand. My husband explained about his trip as only an ex-journalist could. He was greeted by puzzled looks. They were all thinking, “He looks intelligent enough. Doesn’t look like a mass murderer or anything crazy. There aren’t any warrants out for his arrest. Hmmmm.” So all they could say to each other was, “Why did he ride across the US on a bike when he has a family to support and is as old as he is?”. My mom always swore that if she hadn’t been awake when I was born she would have insisted that they had switched me with her real baby at birth. I was the only one so far to have married out of the South. And goodness knows you still couldn’t trust anyone north of the Mason Dixon Line.

We stayed at my Aunts home where she treated us like Royalty. Various relatives kept slipping me money here and there while casting worried looks towards my husband. Of course I couldn’t say anything without appearing ungracious and up until then we were broke. So I took their money. Actually had enough money to pay a few bills when we got home. But I will never forget the loving looks of concern on their faces and the inquires to the police department. All from concerned family members. Were we full of faith or just full of it? Some times it’s hard to tell.

Shortly after we arrived back in Oregon hub got a new job down in California. Now he was a regular working stiff and my family all breathed a sigh of relief. California should have been what they were worried about. Next find out what happens when you take a wild home grown nut like me and try to plant it in the land of Nuts!

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Published March 1, 2007 family , food , health , humor Edit

So after the 4th false labor trip to Portland we were getting kind of bored with the whole process. It went something like this. Labor pains become 5 mins apart. Start old VW by pushing it down the hill and popping clutch. Drive to Portland.

But the drive to Portland was only a small portion of the ritual. Since I was a gestational diabetic I had strict dietary guide lines that I was told could end when the pregnancy did. Since Baskins Robins was on the way and since we had been really strict diet wise during the pregnancy it was decided that before we actually delivered, we would celebrate with a banana split extravaganza! (We knew the hospital was very strict regarding how many calories could be eaten in the day and one BSplit would be the entire days fare)

Full to the brim with comfort food, we would arrive at the hospital ready for the next adventure only to have the contractions stop! My husband was beginning to think I was holding out for the chow! We were up to our 9th trip in the Bug and decided to make the routine stop for the um, healthy bananas.

Certain that the 9th time was the charm we took our full and content selves up to OHSU.

By the time we were admitted, my water had broken and contractions were going full throttle at less than 5 minutes apart. We were ready! Hub donned the green paper fashion garments and prepared to snap the gloves on when notified. I was poked, prodded, wired for sound and placed in an indecent hospital garment. Oooh we were really jazzed! Waiting for the next contraction to arrive on time we all gazed at the clock.

Seven minutes went by before another one hit. And with less intensity then the last. Can’t argue with that little graph on the machine. Nurses, doctor and husband all looked at me with the same comment in their eyes. “Would you stop that for crying out loud and get on with it?!”

“Look you guys it’s not my fault! I’m 5 centimeters dilated, my water broke, and I’m 3 weeks over due! You figure it out! ” The doc scratched his head and reviewed my chart. “You know,” he began slowly, “it says here you are diabetic and high blood sugar can stop labor, so how about we test your blood sugar and you write down everything you’ve had to eat in the last 12 hours.” He walked away to get the phlebotomist and my man and I looked at each other and whispered, “Uh Oh!”

I wrote every good thing I had eaten that day on the list in large letters. Hub leaned over and said in a whisper, “Why didn’t you tell me high blood sugar stopped labour?! This is our 9th trip up here for cryin out loud!” “Don’t you whisper at me in that tone of voice!,”I whisper/yelled back. “I DIDN’T KNOW IT EITHER” “What are you going to put on that paper?”he asked me, leaning over. “I’ve put all the good healthy foods I’ve eaten in a list like this….” I began. “Man you eat alot when your pregers!” he blew a quiet whistle. “SHUT UP” I said out of the corner of my mouth. “If you had eaten my other half of the banana split like I asked you to we wouldn’t be in this mess…” I began. The doctor came in clearing his throat and asked if I was ready to get my blood drawn. “Sure,” I said, as I finished my list by witting Banana Split in teensy weensy letters at the bottom of the page.

Mr Wet-Behind-The-Ears youngster doctor drew my blood and sent it off to the lab. “Now,” he said, “lets take a look at that list while we wait for the results.” Hub and I hummed quietly to ourselves and generally tried to avoid making eye contact.

He read calmly for a while, then looked up at me over the top of his glasses. I grinned. Crossing his legs, he pulled his glasses off and rubbed his eyes in a very tired way. “Tell me seriously now,” he said, “is a banana split really on your dietary guidelines?” “Well,” I said, trying to look sheepish enough, “bananas are good for you.”

That night, little Melody was born weighing in at 9 lbs and 4 and 1/2 ounces. And the round, fat cheeks on that kid were to pinch for! Must have been all them bananas.