Life with He-Man

I started this post 2 months ago.  Two months ago, I had the majority of it written in my head, and a month ago, I had completely forgotten it.  Post death due to procrastination.  Then something happened that reminded me why I wanted to write this.

Let it be said for the record that I live with He-Man.  I’m not kidding, and I’m not bragging, it is just a simple fact.  My dear husband was blessed with some seriously strong upper body strength.  It definitely has its perks, like for opening jars, moving furniture and stuff in general, and doing anything requiring a fair bit of strength.  But life with He-Man also has some negatives, especially when he is married to someone with limp noodle arms. I ain’t no She-Ra.

For example, one day a few years back, I had bought an apple peeler/corer.  One of those kitchen gadgets that you tighten to a surface with a clamp, you know?  Well, He-Man attached it to one of my shelves for some reason or another, and I needed to move it.  I tried to loosen the clamp.  Uh uh.  No go, not happenin’.  I thought maybe I got my “Righty-tighty, Lefty-loosey” backwards.  Nope, I was going the right way. After about ten minutes of no progress, I had to literally take a hammer and whack the poor peeler off of the shelf to loosen it.  All the while I was muttering very, very bad words.

Another example, about two weeks ago, Jason had turned off the valve to the toilet upstairs for some reason and it needed to be turned back on to flush it.  I tried to turn it….yeah, right. “Hand tightened” with him is equivalent to me using a wrench with a cheater pipe on it and beating the crap out of it with a mallet.  He was trying to relax in his chair when I came back down, obviously defeated.  “Well, all you have to do is turn it!” he says.  I gave him that narrow-eyed look that only a wife can give a husband, and which a husband must come to understand, and he tromped upstairs and danged if it didn’t just turn for HIM.

So YESTERDAY, we had something happen that reminded me why I wanted to write this.  Here we are at 7:25 a.m.  I am furiously trying to get two dogs, two guinea pigs, and two fish fed, two kids in the car with all their stuff, me in the car with all MY stuff, and He-Man comes to the back door with a dead-looking broiler chicken in his hand.  Uh oh.

He has a funny look on his face.  A limp chicken is in one palm, and a machete in the other.

He says,”Well, I had a little accident this morning.”

Me: Uh huh.

HM: Well, see, all the chickens were running at me and wouldn’t get out of the way, they flipped over all their food dishes so I tried to push them out of the way with the food bucket, and….(voice trails off)

Me: Uh huh….and?

HM:  Well, I accidentally hit this one in the head with the bucket.  But see, it’s heart is still beating, and I just thought maybe it would make it.

Sure enough, on the chicken’s right temple was a growing purple welt just above the eye.  Now, in HM’s defense, if you have never seen broiler chicks come after food, you would really be shocked.  In fact, it’s such a crazy thing, that as soon as I figure out how to upload a video of them at feeding time, I’m posting it.  Broiler chickens would eat 24 hours a day, non-stop, and if they ever eat up all of their food, no matter if they were only out for 5 minutes, they will run at you like an all out chicken feeding frenzy.  You literally cannot walk into the pen; you must shuffle your feet unless you want to crush a bird.  It is like walking into a living sea of crazed and rabid white birds.  You also have zero chance of getting any food in the food dish if you don’t pick it up, because you have 24 big chickens all attempting to get INTO the food dish at once.

So, in He-Man’s defense, what had happened was that there were 24 big, hungry birds that ran at him full force.  When they did, they flipped over one of their three food dishes which proceeded to launch about 2 cups of chicken food slurry (it had rained the previous night) through the air.  With the flying slurry and the chicken landslide, it’s easy to see how things can get nuts. Which is how one of the chicks got clonked upside its poor little head. When he swings a bucket, to him it was a gentle swing.  To the chicken, it’s a 5 gallon Bucket O’ Death. Shouldn’t chickens have an innate fear of buckets anyway?  So, He-Man gave the poor chicken a concussion and now here it lay in his palm, possibly ready to go to the big 10 Piece Chicken Dinner in the Sky.

I picked it up, and it cracked open the other eye.  It was breathing and the heartbeat was strong, so I told him to put up the machete and stick it in one of our brooder boxes to give it time to recover from the accidental clonking.  Sure enough, when we came home that afternoon, said Concussed Chicken was up and going strong, albeit sporting a little ‘shiner’ on the side of its head.

So maybe He-Man will never make a successful poultry farmer, or at least he shouldn’t have 5 gallon pails at his disposal. Well, we can’t be all things, can we? The chickens did some revenge, though. When he turned around to go put the bird in “CICU” (Chicken Intensive Care Unit, pronounced “Chick-U”), the food slurry that the chickens had launched in the pen had splattered across his entire back.















On the left, we have an organic sweet relish. It’s a very tasty relish. It has minimal ingredients, and no high fructose corn syrup, which is apparently extremely difficult to NOT find in a store bought relish. It is a 16oz. jar. It cost me $6.00. Yes, six dollars just to avoid having HFCS in my food (plus, no food dye! )

Now, on the right we have nine 16oz. jars of homemade bread and butter pickles, which can be easily transformed into relish with one pulse of a mini food processor. Cost? Well…

I had the jars and rings already, so I don’t count that. Pickles were 7 dollars (no, I didn’t grow any this year…too burned out after last year). Sugar was around 2 dollars for what I used. Spices around .50. Vinegar around 1.50. So, we’re looking at $1.22 per jar. Total cost? Eleven bucks out of pocket. I don’t count labor, because I enjoy doing it, and I’m not going to sit around and try to figure out propane costs. Still, you can definitely see the benefit of doing it yourself!

My Sanity Garden


Now here is a garden I like. This is my herb and rose garden off the back deck. Although there is some Bermuda trying to invade, it is a fine bladed variety, and not the coastal Bermuda that I have nightmares about.

This garden has the following roses: Belinda’s Dream, The Fairy, John F.Kennedy, Duchess du Brabant, and 2 unknown varieties. Why 4 of them are pink varieties, I do not know. I guess subconsciously I love pink?

It has these herbs/veggies: sage, dill, fennel, rosemary, lemon balm, real tarragon, pineapple sage, catnip, hore hound, and chives.

Lastly, the ornamentals: Black and blue salvia, Persian shield, wisteria, violets, milkweed, sweet William, and 4 o’clocks.

It’s my happy (grass free) place.

The Minimalist Me

A couple of months ago, my friend Vera posted a link on Facebook from The Everyday Minimalist.  As I read through the blog, I became interested in this minimalism thing.  Then I found The MInimalist Mom, and it’s been all downhill from there.  Less kids’ toys? Less clutter? Less to dust? SIGN THIS CHICK UP.  I’m so bad about bringing home all sorts of vintage “treasures” (read: crap that no one else would touch with a 10 foot pole). Some of that is fine, but my God, how many porcelain chickens does one person need?  I have no less than 65 REAL chickens…do I really need a flock of fake ones eyeing me suspiciously from my kitchen shelves, all the while collecting dust? Do I really need items just for ‘decoration’, period?  I loathe dusting my shelves in my living room.  Why do I pack them full of useless crap?  Why am I hanging on to my black dress with the leopard collar whose hemline hits my legs at just the wrong place that I have worn a total of 3 times in the past 11 years? (all to funerals) How many pens does one household need?  I had about 50 pens in my ‘junk’ drawer, and I hated 48 of them.  I’m a super picky pen person. 

Well, I’m happy to report that I no longer even have a junk drawer (seriously), and the pens have mostly been relocated to work, aside from my favorites.  I still have the depressing black dress (for now), and my porcelain chickens are still crowing and pecking from their perch in my kitchen, but I’ve made progress.  Another part of the minimalism ‘thing’ is only buying quality items.  One of the things that really caught my attention was buying well-made clothes. Though I am usually a total Goodwill girl, I do occasionally buy things from Target. Now, we all know that Target usually is pretty cheap, and a lot of their clothes look like a hot mess after you’ve worn and washed them a few times. The fabrics are cheap and pretty junky and I don’t know who designs some of the clothes, but I think they are intended for 2 kinds of people: those who weigh about 85 pounds and those who are shaped like a trapezoid.  At least, that’s how many of the clothes are shaped.  By the way, I’ve never met a person shaped like a trapezoid, but wherever they are, I’m pretty sure they buy their clothes at Target.

Anyhoo, so I really started paying attention to how clothes are made.  I know that in my own closet, I have a pair of jeans (very expensive, supposedly high quality) that look great on the hanger, but when I put them on, they pull to the right.  I don’t have a particularly large right butt cheek, (nor am I trapezoidial (?)) so I know that the cut is ‘off’.  Glad I didn’t pay full price! It’s still irritating that they were touted as top of the line and ‘quality’ when they obviously aren’t. If anyone is out there with a significantly smaller right leg and a size 8, you let me know.  I have a pair of jeans for you.

So, my mantra has been “Minimalism, minimalism” everytime I go to a store.  So far, it’s been working, I am glad to report. Last week, we went to the pinnacle of consumerism: the Galleria Mall in Dallas.  I haven’t been to a mall in years.  Now, the Galleria is a very, very nice and clean mall. Still, I guess I didn’t realize how there is a store for everything.  We went into a flip flop store.  Nothing else, just flip flops.  Cool idea, except the cheapest flip flop was almost 60 dollars, with many of them topping 100 or more. I’m sure that mall rent isn’t cheap. 

Then, we took our youngest to the American Girl store.  Oh, my Lord.  It is a neat store, it really is.  However, the cheapest thing I found was an eight dollar hairbrush.  I starting sweating from the moment we entered the store.  I did buy my girls some 18 inch dolls the other day.  From Target. They were about 25 bucks each.  I call them “Ghetto Girls” (only because they were cheap in comparison to A.G. dolls) True, their hair and their joints aren’t American Girl quality, and their feet are bigger for some reason, but it was hard for me to justify spending an extra 85 bucks per doll for something that may get its fingers chewed off by our dogs. Anyway, my child went running from display to display.  Does your doll need a violin, horse, piano, wheelchair, crutches, braces, VW bug, iron bed, birthday party tea set, allergic food kit with epinephrine shot, ears pierced, or hair styled? Cause they have it ALL.  We even asked about the Bug.  Real rubber wheels and trunk and hood open.  It was 350 dollars.  Yes, that is correct. I think Jason turned a little pale. 

I admit that I love Kit, from the historical dolls section.  She looks like my daughter, and her era (the 40s, I think) is something that I really love.  There is even a canning kit complete with a real enamel canning pot, an enamel colander, canning jars, and little fake tomatoes.  Sigh.  (MINIMALISM, MINIMALISM. WALK AWAY FROM THE DOLL)

I’m happy to report that we walked out with nothing at all.  There was no crying or begging or any silliness when we left the store.  Let’s be honest…I know that the cute little enamel pot will end up buried in the sandbox, the dog will eat the tomatoes (which will end up in the yard…eventually), and I will break my foot stepping on the oh-so-cute faux glass canning jars.  If I’m going to drop 30 bucks on something, it likely won’t be Kit’s canning set.

Then, I went into a Williams-Sonoma store.  Never been in one, but I’ve been wanting to.  This is like the American Girl store for cooking moms (and dads). I drooled over the Peugeot pepper mills (I wiped it up), the Kitchenaid attachments, and All Clad cookware.  I asked about a tomato corer, since I have stabbed my hand no less than 10 times this year coring tomatoes. The salesman handed me one. It was made in France with a wooden handle. It was a very nice corer. It was seventeen dollars.  I waited until he walked into the back room, replaced the corer and got the hell out of there.  I’m sure it would have lasted me the rest of my life, but the Goodwill girl in me was screaming that there has to been a coupon somewhere.  So I, too, walked out of my dream store empty handed.  As I walked back to my family, my daughter excitedly informed me she had ridden the escalator ten times. It was her first escalator experience. Then she told me that she ran back to her daddy because she thought people would think she was an orphan and try to take her home (???) You gotta love some farm kids.

As we walked back to the entrance, I paid close attention to the clothes on display in the store windows. The blogs I have been reading were correct: most clothing is now made of cheap material, bad cuts, too trendy, and just bad overall styling. On most of the clothes, there were already loose buttons, and uncut threads.  In other words, it won’t be a season or two and they’ll likely end up in your thrift store pile.  Hmm. We were probably the only couple in the mall that day that left with nothing, besides the older couples who mall walk for fitness.

My Minimalism Mantra worked! 

I have gotten rid of so much stuff, I’m afraid that my house may appear semi-vacant to observers.  Okay, well not really, but I’m working on that.  Anyone need a flock of porcelain chickens?


Grass: 1, Me: 0

Okay, I give up.  I’m crying ‘Uncle’.  I’m tossing in my chips and hanging up my hat.  The Bermuda grass has won.  It has seeped into, and infected, my entire front yard.  There is no denying it is the dominant vegetative growth out there.  Forget the vegetables and my poor little flowers.  The Bermuda has ruined all of my beds and has choked out many of my plantings.

A couple of weeks ago, Jason was lamenting about the grass.  That’s a really nice way of putting it.  What really happened is that he was having to weedeat the front yard YET AGAIN and lost it.  Or maybe I should say he tossed it, because he threw the weedeater, and I do mean he slung it while screaming obscenities, across the yard.  I can only hope that the muffler burned a few blades of Bermuda grass in retaliation.  It was all about the grass.

Ten minutes later, he came back to the front yard.  I was (YET AGAIN) weeding and wisely had kept my head down and mouth shut during his grass tirade.

J: (loudly) Don’t you think this front yard looks like CRAP?  I mean, REALLY LOOKS LIKE CRAP?

Me: Yep.  (still weeding)

J: I have been weedeating for 25 years and I’m not doing it ANYMORE! NOT ANYMORE! (How I would love to see a photo of him with a weedeater held high above his head with a caption that read: AS GOD AS MY WITNESS, I WILL NEVER WEEDEAT AGAIN”)

Me:  Okay, well, you’re a fix-it type person, so figure out what we need to do.

Jason sits down and thinks for a bit.

J: I think we should scrap the whole yard. Fence, beds,brick path, landscape timbers, gates…everything.

I sigh.

Me: I think you’re right.

It’s a very hard thing to look at all of the work you put into something and realize you have to scrap it. I think about all of the hours of planting, laying the brick path, making the beds, putting up the fence…and weeding. Endless hours of ripping up grass.  I’ll be starting over at Square One, yet again, four years after moving in.  Still, there is also a part of me that is very excited. True, everything we did will pretty much be going down the toilet, but we get to start fresh. With no grass this time.

So, we’ll be tearing out the beds, fence, paths, timbers, arbor, and then using a box blade on the tractor to take it all back to sand.  My front yard is going to look like a sand pit for about 6 months.  I am giving us a 6 month break from our yard.  Well, kind of. I’ll still have to yank out the errant weeds, but at least there will be no need for weedeating, anyway.  I’m not sure Jason could handle that anymore.

We will stockpile the compost in the raised beds and I’ll have the fun and exciting job of picking out every sprig of Bermuda I can find.  FUN TIMES. Then, instead of raised beds, we are going to do direct planting from here on out.  The Bermuda just uses the frames as a hiding spot, and I can’t get it all out.  So no more raised beds for us.

Wish us luck. We’re gonna need it.  But at least there won’t be any more flying weedwhackers on our farm.