You can take the girl out of Spenard but you can't take Spenard out of the girl.










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August 25, 2007

I've been wanting to update the site but I've been having camera issues. I keep thinking I'll have it worked out by the next day but it's still not fixed. The camera is fine but the problem is in getting my computer to recognize the camera. And the disk tray in my laptop is fucked so I can't just reinstall the camera software nor can I find the right software to download. Short story is I can't transfer photos from the camera to the computer. But don't fear, I have a plan and hope to have everything back up and running in the next few days.

There's so many things I want to photograph and show you. The kittens are painfully cute. Their eyes are now open and they're moving around more, though still very wobbly. I was worried that Cheech, the older half-brother of the kittens, would be a problem. At first, I kept the kittens in the back room where he couldn't get at them. After a week, I tentatively introduced him to the kittens and he just fell in love with them! They all sleep in a big lump together with Artemis, the mama cat. Cheech is even nursing again right alongside the kittens. It's adorable and creepy all at the same time.

I'd also show you how I've turned the car I drove from Alaska into a giant food dehydrator. It's been so hot the last couple weeks and it's even hotter inside the car, which is parked in the sun all day long. I've been sun-drying lots of Roma tomatoes and a couple different kinds of hot peppers. Next, I'll be drying apples.

I'm also waiting on the camera issue to be resolved before I kill the rooster. There's no question that I absolutely must document the occasion. For my birthday, Angela sent me a small hand axe to perform the job. It also has a knife concealed in the handle. It's a sweet little hatchet and everything is now in place to kill that damned bird - except for the camera.

I also wanted to take pictures of these giant tumor-like growths that I've found on a few ears of my corn. I looked it up on the internet and found out it's a fungus. In the U.S., it's called corn smut and is considered a blight. But in Mexico it's called huitlacoche (weet-lah-KO-chay) and is considered a delicacy - used much like mushrooms. In fact, huitlacoche costs more than the corn it grows on. Since I can't show you my own photo, here's one from Wikipedia:

So now I'm excited about getting to try a new food. I was already planning on preparing the rooster with a red mole sauce. Now I'll be incorporating huitlacoche into the meal as well. And of course some of those tasty homemade flour tortillas I've been frying up recently. If only I had some tequila. Better still would be a dinner companion with whom I could have a decent conversation. Alas, I'll have to be satisfied with my fresh organic chicken and corn fungus.

And last, but by no means least, the other thing I wish I could show you is a picture of my very first homegrown chicken egg. I found it this evening when I went to lock up the chickens for the night. I even know which one laid it  because the eggshell is a light green color. I only have one hen that would lay green eggs. Eggs from the other hens will be either brown or white. Tomorrow morning, I will eat my first farm-fresh egg for breakfast.



August 14, 2007

Whatta weekend! I had eight houseguests. A few weeks ago, I sent out an open invitation on CouchSurfing.com for members to spend a weekend at my place and watch the Perseid meteor shower. They came from Alabama, Georgia, Louisiana and Kentucky.


Darryl came from New Orleans with his dog, Maria. Not only did he show up with beer, whiskey, soda, coffee and three boxes of beignet mix, he also fixed the toilet handle that had recently broken.


Brian and Rain came from Tuscaloosa. They were accompanied by MuZen the chihuahua. Rain makes one kick-ass salsa.


Starting on the left: Seth and Sandy came from across the border in Georgia. Amy in the middle drove down from Huntsville. Jeff-Mark and Keely win the award for furthest traveled - all the way from Lexington, Kentucky.

And yours truly, the hostess with the mostess.


Those of you who remember the days of Disgraceland and the Ratboy may be interested to know that Jeff-Mark turned out to be Ratboy's long-lost hippie twin brother. In addition to looking a bit like him, he also has many of Ratboy's mannerisms - including bringing congas to a party.


The Perseid meteor shower was absolutely spectacular, especially since there was no moon this weekend. We watched from blankets we'd spread out in the backyard. When lying on your back, your entire field of vision is nothing but night sky. One of the highlights of Saturday evening was stretching out on our backs, staring at the Milky Way straight above and listening to Pink Floyd's "Dark Side of the Moon." We may not have had a laser show, but we did have  shooting stars and dancing hippie chicks with glo-sticks.

Over the course of the weekend, we probably saw well over 200 meteors. Most were your garden-variety shooting stars but a couple were extraordinary. One falling low on the southern horizon looked like an orange fireball dropping from the sky. A few left trails that hung in the sky for up to ten seconds but the best meteor of all was on Saturday night. It exploded directly above our heads, leaving a streak the size of a fat airplane contrail that was visible for thirty seconds. It looked like the sky had ripped open. We were dumbstruck, able only to point and say "whoa!"

There are very few natural displays I've witnessed that outshine that particular meteor. It was comparable to watching the most awesome display of the aurora borealis compressed into mere seconds.


In other news, it was my birthday last week. I have now begun the last year of my thirties. Unfortunately, I had to spend my birthday morning filing my very first car insurance claim. The day before, I accidentally backed up into Rufus Boomhauer's truck and left a long and nasty scratch on the side. None of the Boomhauer Brothers drive shitty beaters - they all have nice new pickup trucks. My truck got a small scratch and a cracked tail light - nothing I'll ever  bother fixing.

It's been triple-digit temperatures for the last week. I'm finding it so difficult to be outside for any significant length of time during the day. Haven't seen rain since sometime in July. Haven't been able to have a fire for weeks. Even the kudzu is starting to wilt.


I think I've made my decision about which rooster is going in the stew pot. I'm pretty sure it's gonna be this guy, Rooster #1:

He is by far the biggest asshole in the coop. The more I'm around him, the more I warm up to the idea of killing him. I think removing him from the mix will make everybody - especially the hens - much happier. Let's just say Rooster #1 is not a very tender lover.




Just yesterday I was down at the coop when Cheepacabra was trying to evade his violent overtures. My head was down but I heard a scuffle that made me look up. All I saw was Cheepacabra's feet speeding straight for my face. She had planned to land on the top of my head but, because I raised my head, I wound up with a sharp-clawed foot in the eye.

I now have a black eye as well as a scratch that runs from the top of my forehead down to the corner of my mouth. It almost looks like I have a great Bond villain scar.

It's not even the first time I've been whacked in the face by Cheepacabra. A week ago, when trying to avoid the rooster, she flew across the pen and hit me in the same eye with a flapping wing. It felt like getting punched in the face. I didn't know a chicken could pack such a wallop!




Yet for all of Cheepacabra's protests, she still winds up as his comfort chicken. As soon as my new hand axe arrives in the mail (a birthday present from Angela), I will put a stop to it.


Last, but certainly not least: Artemis had her kittens last week. Thankfully, she only had two. I found them Thursday morning under what is essentially a metal box next to the house. Since the temperatures were going to be around 100 degrees, I decided a metal box in the sun was not the ideal location for tiny kittens.

Artemis wasn't the only one who thought this box was a good place for raising babies. A big fat black widow spider was also tending her large egg sac in the same space.



I brought the kittens inside and set them up in a box with a blanket in the back room. Fortunately, Artemis approved of the arrangement and that's where they are right now.




August 6, 2007

Wanna know how hot it was yesterday? Sure ya do.

I was headed down to Frankencoop yesterday with some food and water for the chickens. I stopped on the way to pick a few ears of corn as a treat. As I was shucking them, I noticed something odd. One of the ears had about half a dozen kernels that had popped. You know, popcorn! Yikes!


It's supposed to be hot like this all week. It's only noon right now and it's already 98 degrees.



August 5, 2007

Ugh...it's just too hot to be outside. It's currently 101.3 F in the shade. Tomorrow's supposed to be even hotter. It is just impossible to work for more than 20 minutes at a stretch. So instead, I will sit here next to the fan and tell you about one of my recent encounters with the Boomhauer Brothers.

One of them called me last Tuesday and asked if I wanted to tag along for a trip to the beer store. I told him I only had $10 and that had to last me until Friday. He responded with "I didn't ask you if you had any money. I asked if you wanted to go to the beer store."

Well, if someone else is buying, hell yeah I'll go to the beer store!

Half an hour later, a black '89 Caddy limo comes snaking up the driveway, past the pile of wood and tin that used to be the barn. It pulls to a stop in the driveway behind my pick-up, next to a row of corn.

That's the remnants of the old barn in the background. At the bottom right you can see where I've started to stake my tomatoes.

Now, I haven't given any of the Boomhauer Brothers proper fake Christian names yet but the time for that has come. So the owner of this sweet ride shall be forever now known as B.J. Boomhauer.

It was B.J. who, back in February, stopped by when I was pulling stuff out of the old shed and wanted to know what I'd be willing to part with. He's the same one who gave me the cat and kitten (Cheech's bot fly larvae finally dropped out of his face and Artemis is pregnant again) and occasionally buys old iron farm implements I find around the property. His uncle (who is not a Boomhauer Brother) is the man who gave me the eggs that hatched into my chickens.

Billy likes to collect a lot of junk - including cars. A couple weeks ago he got an insane deal on this limo. It's in beautiful shape. No A/C though but the electric window buttons are on the door right next to the ashtray(!). He thought it would be fun to take it for a spin.

After making a stop at Frankencoop to lock the birds up for the night (it's the equivalent of a block away from my house) we headed for the border. Georgia border, that is. Redneck fools, package stores.

Well, the next thing ya know, old Jackie's cruising the winding back roads of the rural south in the backseat of a black limo. B.J.'s in the back with me. At the wheel is Rufus Boomhauer and sitting shotgun is Jed. I've only met Jed once before, about a month ago. Rufus is actually B.J.'s real-life brother. They are the only Boomhauers who are honest-to-God brothers.

B.J. hands me an ice-cold can of Natural Light from the cooler in the middle seat. We each light up cigarettes and watch the landscape whir by: cow pastures, churches, ancient barns, middle class houses, ramshackle shacks, children in yards who stop their games to stare at us. The sun is getting ready to go down and everything looks stunningly beautiful.

I try to remember the last time I was in a limo. It's been a long time - not since I lived in Hollywood. My mind drifts back to the night Little Feat played the Greek Theater. I went with Rick, my friend that just recently passed away. He was Little Feat's road manager back in the '70s. Martin was with us too - he co-wrote many of their biggest hits. The limo picked us up at Rick's house. The band must've provided the ride because I don't think any of us would've splurged on it.

I try to remember what I was wearing but that memory is gone. I'm sure I was dressed to the nines though. It was Los Angeles and I was in my early twenties going to a sold-out concert at the Greek with a backstage pass enabling me to eat free food, drink free alcohol and rub elbows with a bunch of famous people. I'm sure I looked fabulous. Oh man, those were the days...

B.J. nudges me out my nostalgic reverie and offers a bag of fried pork skins. Sure. Why not? When in Rome and all.

After thirty minutes and two Natty Ices each, we reach the little Georgia beer store. Rufus pulls the car up to the front door. Three old black men are holding up the wall, smoking cigarettes and talking. I find myself incredibly self-conscious as I step out of this ludicrous car. I nod and smile as I hurry through the door.

Inside, an employee finishes mopping the floor. The Boomhauer Brothers and I traipse across the still wet tile and wander off to various parts of the store. I head in the direction of the bathroom.

When I look in the mirror, I am startled by my own reflection. Now, none of us had dressed up or anything. All we were doing was driving to the beer store. The most I had done was put on a clean T-shirt for the occasion. My jean shorts are dirty from working outside all day and I have beat-up combat boots on my feet. I haven't worn make-up since I went to mass with my parents on Easter Sunday. My hair's in a disheveled, wind-blown ponytail. I look like hell. Even if there isn't anyone in a 50-mile radius to impress,  I still can't believe I just stepped out of a limo looking like that!

I drag a brush through my hair and go back out to look at the beer display. The choices ain't that great unless you like Bud or Miller. Corona's the best thing in the case. I spy an even smaller array of wines in the corner. The best thing there is Little Penguin but the only flavor is white shiraz. While it's far cry better than the Boone's Farm next to it, I go back and grab a six pack of the Corona. At least I can reuse the bottles when I finally get around to brewing my own beer.

Back in the limo, I'm keeping an eye on the half can of Natty Ice by my feet. I don't want to pick it up until we're back on the road. B.J. opens the door on the other side and loudly asks so that anyone in a 30-foot radius can hear "Ready for another beer?" I take the can from his outstretched hand and set it on the seat next to me.

The drive back was uneventful: Just sippin' cheap beer, watching the landscape and marveling at how absolutely bizarre life can be.





Comments? Questions? Spare change? 

Send it to Jackie at RanchoSpenardo.com


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