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July 30, 2007

Ah...finally getting around to another update. Things have been busy here at Spenardo del Sur.

I had some visitors not too long ago. My aunt (who's also my godmother), her daughter/my cousin (who holds the rare distinction of being someone I'd hang out with even if we weren't related) and my cousin's six-year-old daughter drove over from Louisiana. They're actually from my mom's side of the family so they're not really related to any of my Alabama family.

We went swimming, made smores over the campfire, shot off fireworks (in which yours truly sustained her very first fireworks-related injury - burned just enough to hurt but not so bad we didn't all laugh our asses off about it), almost had a wild turkey fly into the windshield, drank beer and listened to a bunch of Tom Waits.

The six-year-old, named Maya, got along famously with the chickens. She was frightened of them at first but, by the end of their visit, she and Cheepacabra were the best of friends.

 

They even took me grocery shopping! That was a real treat. I'm so sick of having to make $20 worth of groceries last two weeks. It's so sad that something as simple as cheddar cheese has become a luxury item for me.

Since they left a week ago, I've been hunkering down here at home,catching up on weeding, watering and mowing. The garden is doing well - producing lots of fresh veggies daily. Here's my haul from this afternoon:

As I write this, I have a pot of homemade corn chowder (from scratch natch) simmering on the stove.

I'm not the only one around here that likes fresh corn. Deer have been making night raids into the garden to nibble on my ears.

 

And then there's the worms. Since I've never used pesticides on my corn, about half of the ears sport a big fat corn borer larvae inside. They usually only eat the top of the quarter or less so I just cut that part off. If they eat more than that, I feed those ears to the chickens. Those birds can pick an ear clean in a minute. Plus, they eat the worm.

 

On a sour note: The saga of Capt. Douchebag continues. I don't want to go into all the messy details right now, but I was contacted last week by yet another ex-girlfriend of Tom Hibbs. After comparing stories, we learned that our relationships with Tom overlapped for almost three years. Sigh...I wasn't even the other woman, I was the other other woman. Oh, there's a hell of a lot more to the story but that's all I'm saying for right now.

 

On a happy note: I became an aunt last week! Meet my nephew, Wyatt:

 

 

 

 

July 17, 2007

I want to thank those of you that have mailed care packages to me out here in the boonies. Angela's been fairly regular with goodies like tequila, chocolate and jars of strong bleu cheese packed in oil (a favorite treat unavailable here).

A couple weeks ago, Shelia mailed me a giant box of gifts from her and some of the tribe. It was filled with tools, books, fireworks and a great kite with a picture of the Kool-Aid man on it. The top of this hill is the ideal place for flying a kite - lots of open space and almost always a breeze.

Saturday, another package arrived - this time from BMac & Dani. A jar of my favorite hot sauce: Sambel Oelek. Half a pound of pine nuts that are going to taste so good with the tomatoes and basil in my garden. Hummus mix to go with the all the cucumbers I pick everyday. A big can of American Spirit tobacco to feed the monkey I still keep on my back. And much needed mousetraps which I've already put to use.

Just the other night I saw one of those little bastards darting inside the open paper tray of my printer. When I opened the printer, I discovered the mouse had been stashing watermelon and gourd seeds in there (as well as one white button). I keep the paper tray closed now.

While I'm bringing the hammer down on tiny mice inside, Artemis is busy killing big mice outside. These are much larger than the wine cork-sized ones I've been after. The ones Artemis brings home are like fat sausages.

She usually lets the kitten, Cheech, play with them for a while. He hasn't caught anything larger than a grasshopper on his own yet but, to be fair, the grasshoppers here are pretty big.

They get even bigger than this

 

Cheech gleefully bats the dead rodents around for a few minutes while Artemis watches from the wings.

 

 After a few minutes, Artemis will snatch it away from him and eat it - bones, tail, guts and all. It's pretty gruesome but she seems to enjoy it. I just wish she'd stop enjoying it in front of the front door.

 

 

 

The chickens are doing well except that I have three roosters and that's apparently going to be one too many. The older they get, the more aggressive they get. Not so much with me but with the each other as well as the hens. So now I'm left with the difficult decision of which one is going to get the axe (as well as where I'm going to get an axe).

 

 

Rooster number one is the most aggressive of the three. He considers himself cock of the walk and I often have to remind him that I'm the one who rules the roost.

But he's the biggest and most robust of the roosters so it seems a shame to get rid of him.

He was also the very first of the chickens to hatch. How can I eat my first born?

 

 

 

 

Rooster number two is the friendliest of the bunch. He's the only rooster that lets me pick him up and he enjoys a good belly rub. He's also one of the first to run out and greet me when I show up.

Unfortunately, he has a gimp leg. He has no trouble getting around nor does he appear to be in any pain but I worry it may become a problem in the future.

 

 

 

Rooster number three seems a little stupid - even for a chicken. He's the most skittish of the roosters but I really like his coloring.

 

Beauty, brains or brawn? I can't have all three.

Decisions, decisions, decisions...

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

July 10, 2007

If you've been keeping up with my posts, you know that I attended my first cockfight last month. While I was disturbed by the spectacle, I was looking forward to attending a larger "chicken derby" on the Fourth of July - what was to be the last round of local cockfights for the season. 

The cockfight I witnessed last month was just a single fight held in someone's backyard. The derby on the Fourth was supposed to be a larger event drawing more people and larger wagers. I'd heard that a lot the Mexican and Central American immigrants in the surrounding area had brought their love of cockfighting with them and lent a Latin flavor to the local sport. I'd even been told of a man who showed up in a little roach coach and served goat meat tacos.

I imagined a bizarre melange of rednecks and Hispanics. Bud Light and churros. Rebel flags and norteno. But I never did find out how closely reality mirrored my imagination because the original holiday chicken derby was cancelled.

Rumor has it the couple who own the property where these derbies are  held recently split up and the wife was threatening to tell the cops of the upcoming event. (It's not so much the cockfighting itself that is the big crime, but the gambling that accompanies it.) The husband got spooked and cancelled the event. So another local stepped up to the plate and said he'd hold a Fourth of July derby at his place.

The same Boomhauer Brother that took me to the cockfight in June picked me up at 8am Wednesday morning. It was only a couple miles to the fights. I immediately recognized a few of the men from last month's cockfight.

Again, the event was overwhelming male. There was one woman - probably about my age - and she lived there. Also a few girls who were probably still teenagers.  They were skinny jailbait-looking girls with great asses in painted-on blue jeans but hard faces that you know won't age well. Cigarettes dangling between fingers with impossibly long nails and t-shirts with slogans like Save a horse, ride a cowboy.

There were a few young boys too. Again, hard to tell their ages, but I definitely would've carded them and their feathery little baby mustaches. Even a few toddlers in attendance. Not sure whose kids they were. They wandered around as freely as everyone else.

The bulk of the crowd was made up of white guys between 30 and 60. Quite a few of them clad in rebel flag t-shirts. There was even one honest-to-god skinhead covered in tattoos that ran all the way up his neck. Out in the real world I would've probably just  mistaken him for a punk rocker - but this ain't a punk rock kinda town. Though I guess this is my real world now.

There were probably about 60 people total - many who'd brought roosters to fight. Most hadn't brought their best birds. A lot of them seemed to consider the event a chance to cull their flocks and cut down on summer feed bills. The wagers weren't nearly as big as those I'd heard occur at other derbies - mostly in the twenty dollar range. But then this derby was sorta thrown together at the last minute.

The fights were held in a large three-walled wood-framed building covered in tin. The floor was hard-packed dirt. In the back was the "ring" which was cordoned off with a tin wall a little over 2-feet high. The ring was probably 8x15 feet. A couple plastic juice jugs hung in two of the corners - each with a hole cut near the top and filled with water. During fights, the handlers would dip their hands inside and wipe down the roosters' legs or faces.

Off to the left side, near the front, was a smaller ring - perhaps 7x5 feet. At the height of the event, two cockfights would be held simultaneously. Across from this second ring, on the right, was a table set up with hot dog fixings and bags of chips. There was also a large cooler full of soda. Beer could be found in coolers in the beds of various pickup trucks. Yes, I was drinking beer at 8am. By the time the fights were over at noon, I had a six pack and two hot dogs in me.

There were around 40 cockfights that morning. Everytime a fight ended, wallets would emerge from back pockets and money would change hands. The men would step out of the ring with their birds and two more men and two more birds would take their place. Some would use the brief lapse in action to grab another beer or hot dog.

I watched a lot of the fights from ringside, kneeling down by the short tin wall where I could watch up close - sometimes only a foot or two from the action. Close enough that I covered my beer with the palm of my hand to keep out the flying dust.

I haven't changed my mind about cockfighting. It's still brutal. But the people watching was superb. It was just too surreal to find myself at ringside shoulder to shoulder with a four-year-old girl all in pink - from her shoes to the scrunchy in her hair to the toy cell phone clutched in her tiny hand - watching roosters battle it to the death. The same four-year-old girl who minutes earlier had been attempting to feed roosters clumps of grass she pulled out of the ground.

For better or worse, it was definitely one of my more memorable Independence Days. I will say it was far more enjoyable than last year's. That's when I embarked on the Great Tequila Tsunami after receiving that damned "Dear Jackie" email from Capt. Douchebag. Five and a half years devoted to that asshole only to be dumped in a hastily typed email found in my inbox when I came to work the morning before.

One entire year of feeling like the biggest chump on the planet for not being able to figure out that he'd been married the entire time. Over the course of the last 12 months, I've discovered a number of other lies he told me - some which were just as huge.

I haven't mentioned it here before but, a few months ago, he finally agreed to explain himself. Of course, his confessions didn't come unprompted. It took an email to the president of the company he works for to get the dialogue flowing.

Yes, I blew the whistle on him to his employer about him using the company credit card to pay for our dates,  his use of company vehicles to take me on vacation and how he duped the company into paying for the love nest apartment. I was also sure to mention that,  since the company sent him to multiple cities across the country, Anchorage probably wasn't the only place he was pulling this shit.

I'm not going to post the contents of the emails Tom and I exchanged this spring  - mainly because I promised him I wouldn't. It's not that I owe that asshole anything, but I did give my word. Let's just say his explanations fell short of satisfactory. But then what is a satisfactory explanation for asking me to marry him when he was already married and had no plans to divorce his wife? And who's to say anything he wrote in those emails was the truth anyway? I think it's already been well established that he's a pathological liar.

Did spilling the beans to his boss make me feel any better? Not really. Can't say I feel comfortable in the role of vindictive ex but I just couldn't let him get off scot free. Fuck him - he deserves a lot worse.

I expect the next six months will be filled with a lot of reminiscing about where I was a year ago. The second half of 2006 was filled with a lot of first and last thises and thats. I'll try to keep my melodramatic melancholy off these pages but I can't promise anything.

On the positive side, I've dropped almost 60 pounds over the last 12 months - more than half of that in the 5 1/2 months since I've been in Alabama. Mostly due to the tremendous amount of manual labor and the glaring lack of liquor stores and good restaurants. This place has been bootcamp, rehab and solitary confinement all rolled into one.

 

With summer in full swing, the insect onslaught continues. The cats have developed fleas so they now live outside full-time. Another thing I miss about Alaska - no fleas. Now that the cats are no longer in the house, mouse patrol has fallen on my shoulders. Since I don't have any mousetraps yet, I have had to improvise until I get into town to buy some.

I made a mousetrap using a toothpick, wine cork and the top of a CD cakebox. I stick a bent toothpick into the wine cork and then prop the cakebox on top of it. I put a little peanut butter underneath as bait. Laugh all you want at my Wile E. Coyote-ish ingenuity, but it does work.

Since it's a live trap - and I'm far too wussy to kill the mice once they're caught  - I take them far from the house and release them into the woods.

 

While I manage to keep the worst of the creep crawlies outside, every now and then, Mother Nature manages to get inside.

Last weekend I was laying on the couch, reading a book, thinking I would drift off to sleep after finishing the chapter I was on. Out of the corner of my eye, I spot a little movement. I turn my head to see something dark and small with legs. Probably just a spider, I think. Nothing too alarming. I'll squash it with my book and then continue reading.

I lift the corner of my pillow and discover it is most definitely NOT a spider. What I'd seen was actually the ass-end of huge centipede crawling around inside my pillowcase!

I grab the pillow and run for the door. Then I run back for my camera because I need to document this monstrosity.  I'm holding the edges of the pillowcase like a bag, jiggling it to keep the centipede inside so it doesn't crawl out and disappear somewhere in the house. I had no idea those things moved so damned fast.

I run naked onto the lanai clutching the pillow in my hands, camera strap in my mouth. I'm using my feet to keep the cats from running inside while trying to shut the door behind me.

I put the pillow down but have to keep turning it over and around with one hand to keep the centipede where I can see it. My other hand is furiously fumbling with the camera. The camera's memory is full and I'm frantically pushing buttons looking for photos I can delete to make room for ones of the centipede.

I finally manage to snap off a couple a couple pictures before it slithered away between the floorboards.

 

 

GAAAHHHH! This place will be the death of me yet.

 

 

 

 

  

 

Comments? Questions? Spare change? 

Send it to Jackie at RanchoSpenardo.com

 

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