Friday, March 18, 2011

In which Fiddle and I emulate our friend the Grand Old Duke of York

I have an endless repetoire of annoying songs. 

With no provocation whatsoever, I will burst into "If You're Happy and You Know It", the "Hokey Pokey", and "Bunny Foo-Foo." 

My co-workers at the library are always a bit cautious around closing time, because my most effective technique to clear the building by 9pm is to announce that the library is closing in 8 minutes and I will begin singing in 7 minutes.  It's amazing how quickly this threat gets the most sedentary of library patrons out of those comfy chairs and into the parking lot.  The accoustics of the library lobby are outstanding--if I sing out loud in the lobby, they will hear me back in the paperback shelving.

If I'm grumpy, I will sing "All Gods Critters Got a Place in the Choir", which will stick in your head for hours, and you'll find yourself trying to do the hand motions while you brush your teeth before bedtime.

If I'm really, really grouchy, I'll sing "The Beanbag Song", which is absolutely the worst earworm in the universe and will stick in your head for months.  God help anybody in range if I sing that one.

On good nights, I sing "Hit the Road Jack" and "Good Night Ladies".  The staff sings backup as they close out computers and turn off the lights.  It's a good way to end a good day at work. 

On long rides, my vast song library is useful to keep Fiddle and me moving down the trail.  Today, as we climbed and then descended Mt Washington (aka "the hill of death") the song I sang for Fee was:

The Grand Old Duke of York
He had ten thousand men
He marched them up the hill--
and he marched them down again!
and....when they're up they're up
and when they're down they're down
and when they're only halfway up they're neither up nor down!

(we jog a few strides together for the last line, and then I start over again)

Here's a little video footage from our ride today.  There's no singing, I promise.

Tell the truth:  what songs do you sing?  Do you let anybody else listen?

Thursday, March 17, 2011

In which it is a good day to share a story, so I think I will!

I got a call from the local elementary school: "Can you come tell us a story for Saint Patrick's Day?"

You betcha!  I thought y'all might enjoy it also, so here it is:

A Field of Buttercups – an old story, greatly retold
It was a long time ago and far away from here in the green land of Ireland that a girl woke up early on Saint Patrick’s Day morning, jumped from her bed, kissed her mum on the cheek and waved goodbye, for she was off into the countryside to catch herself a leprechaun and make her fortune.

She walked for a very long time, and as she walked she kept her eyes wide open, and she kept her ears sharp up, for she knew that a leprechaun is very small, and very quiet, and very tricky to find.

She walked up hills, and she walked back down them.

She walked across creeks and she walked across bridges, she went around rocks and trees.

And as she walked, she kept her eyes wide open and her ears sharp up.

Finally, in the late afternoon, she heard the sound she’d been listening for: a soft tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap. She stood still, and listened again until she heard the sound again: tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap.

The little tapping sound was coming from over a wall, and so the girl crept up close to the wall and listened again until she heard it: tap tap tap tap tap, tap tap tap.

She looked over the wall, and she saw what she’d been looking to find: a little leprechaun shoemaker, hard at work with a tiny hammer and tiny nails, making a tiny fairy shoe for a tiny fairy foot.

She reached out her hand, so quietly, so quietly. She kept her eyes right on that leprechaun and she didn’t breathe nor blink until she
grabbed him!

“I’ve got you now, leprechaun!” she cried, “and I’ll not blink away from looking at you until you take me to your golden treasure.”

The leprechaun looked over the girl’s shoulder and gave a tiny squeak.

“Take my treasure if you want it,” he said to her, “but first you must turn and run from the lion sneaking up behind you!”

But the girl was too clever to fall for that.

“You’ll not trick me into looking away so you can disappear,” she told him. “Take me to the gold, and be quick about it!”

“Oh,” said the leprechaun in a mournful sad voice, “but if I give you my treasure, (sniff), then my 230 small children will go to bed hungry at night, and their little (sniff) tears will fall like rain from grey clouds.”

And he wiped at his eyes with his little green hankie as he spoke.

But the girl didn’t fall for that, either.

“Your sad stories are nothing to me, and you’ll not get me to cry and look away,” she said. “Take me to the gold, and no more of your foolishness.”

So the leprechaun had no choice but to lead the way to the place where his golden treasure was hid.

Together he and the girl walked up hills and down again, across creeks and across bridges, around the rocks and around the trees until at last they came to a vast field filled with brilliant yellow buttercups.

In the center of the field of buttercups, the leprechaun pointed at a particular flower and said to the girl, “Dig under that flower and no other, and you’ll find all of my treasure.”


The ground here was hard rock. She scraped her boot on it (without looking away from the leprechaun, of course) and knew that she would need a shovel to dig under the flower. But of course, she had no shovel with her.

She thought for a moment, and then (without looking away from the leprechaun, of course) she untied her green hair ribbon, and carefully (without looking away from the leprechaun, of course) she tied it around the stem of the buttercup.

“Now,” she said, “I shall let you go free. But first you must promise not to move you gold away from this spot. And second you must promise that you will not move or remove my ribbon from the flower where I tied it.”

The leprechaun made those promises, and so she let him go. He turned himself around three times and disappeared—and the girl, she never saw him again, nor any of his kind either.

She ran back home as fast as she was able.

She kissed her mum on the cheek as she ran through the house to the shed where they kept the gardening tools. Then she kissed her mum on the cheek as she ran back through the house again with the shovel.

Then she ran as fast as she could, up hills and down again, over creeks and bridges, around rocks and trees until, just as the sun was beginning to set, she came to the field of buttercups.

And what do you think she saw?

The leprechaun had been as good as his word: he had not touched her mark on the buttercup.

Instead, he had tied an identical green hair ribbon around the stem of every other buttercup in the field.

Thousands of buttercups.

Thousands of ribbons.

They all looked the same, and there was none that looked any different from the others.

Well, the girl did the only thing she could do: she sat down, and she laughed at the good trick the leprechaun had played on her.

Then she gathered up an armload of buttercups, tied up with green ribbons and she carried them all home and gave them to her mum.

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

In which veterinary medicine is found to be superior

I've said for years--in all seriousness--that if I get sick or injured, I don't want to be treated in a hospital. Those places are awful. It's difficult to imagine going in there and actually getting better, you know?

I'd much rather be treated by any of the veterinarians I see at my local vet clinic or at endurance rides. Those docs know how to treat some serious injuries and illnesses...and they don't mess around.

(Notice that when I gashed my hand, I actually did go to a doctor for stitches and a tetanus shot...but my follow-up laser treatment was done with the vet!)

Yup. That's my plan: I'm going to the vet.

Maybe next time I'll get that pirate's hook.

Monday, March 14, 2011

In which I blow my opportunity to get a real pirate hook

I lost my balance on a short ladder the other day, and grabbed at the barn frame to "save" myself from falling.

Ugh.  That's a sharp edge!  I applied a compression bandage and drove myself to the doc for a couple of stitches.

(I went unwillingly, of course.  You expected something else?  But Jim pointed out that I couldn't remember when I got my last tetanus shot, so off I went, grumbling and cussing all the way).
Jim met me at the doc's office to hold my (other) hand and take photos. 

He also got some video footage of the stitching...but since that soundtrack includes some very amusing girl-conversation comparing tattoos, I will spare my gentle readers.  However, the doc's advice on tattoo placement is very good.  Ladies: do NOT get a rose over your heart on your 20th birthday unless you want the rose to be "long-stemmed" by your 50th birthday.

The doc said she'd give me a PIRATE'S HOOK instead of a finger splint if I didn't swear through the entire process.

Damn, that didn't work.  I got a splint.   Damn.
(a hook would be a lot more useful!)
Some swelling from the wound trauma, and weird-looking bumps on my skin, courtesy of the textured vetwrap.

We went to see Patty and the laser, of course. 
The machine has different settings for "swelling reduction" and "antibiotic" and "wound".  Patty kept flipping switches and twirling dials, and I used 'em all! 
Then, back to the barn to paint the walls.   Our plywood walls need to be primered + painted before they are put in place...and now that we have a roof, there's a dry spot to do that work. 

Unfortunately, thanks to recurring wind squalls, it hasn't been warm enough for the paint to cure.  Jim procured a turbo heater, we set up tarp-walls on the barn frame, and set to work in our little blue cocoon.
We sorted out the boards we needed, and started painting.  And painting.  And painting.  The primer has an anti-mildew agent in it because we live in (you know it) the Swamp. 

EVERYTHING gets coated in KILLZ around here.  Sometimes I feel like I should bathe in the stuff.

Lisa's friend Aom came to visit, and as we always do with guests we immediately put her to work. 

The girls did a great job with the paint, and Willy was kept busy all afternoon shuttling boards into the right locations, and Jim and I did a lot of everything, including keeping the tarps from sailing away in the gusty winds...and cussing at them when they tried to sail away with us in tow!

Coming soon to a barn near here:  walls.

At least, I hope  they're coming soon!  Stay tuned!

Here's a joke that a storytelling friend sent, in honor of the hook I didn't get:

A pirate walked into a bar and the bartender said, "Hey, I haven't seen you in a while. What happened? You look terrible!"

"What do you mean?" said the pirate, "I feel fine!"

"What about the wooden leg? You didn't have that before."
"Well, we were in a battle, and I got hit with a cannonball, but I'm fine now".

"OK, but what about that hook? What happened to your hand???"

"We were in another battle. I boarded a ship and got into a swordfight. My hand was cut off, and I got fitted with this hook. But I'm fine, really."

"What about that eyepatch? How did you lose your eye?"

"Oh, one day at sea a flock of birds flew over. I looked up, and one of them shit in my eye."

"You're kidding," said the bartender, "you can lose an eye just from a little birdshit?"

"Yeah, well, it was my first day with the hook...."