Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Indestructible Super Cat and the Demented Ninja

Just so you don't think that trucking is always full of fun things like dressing up a stuffed rabbit as Liberace, ripping off insect legs, or being attacked by fish in Florida, I bring you:

The Day That Went On Too Long

It all started out like a normal day. We unloaded in the early afternoon and were ready for our next load, with plenty of hours left in the day to run.

We waited. And waited. And waited some more for our next load. Freight has been slow, so we made use of our time: Himself lubed the chassis, changed the fuel filter and built a barn. I did a photo-shoot of Liberace Rabbit and Meow Meow posing in different parts of the truck.

Himself building a barn or something.
We have different ideas of
spending time wisely.

Several hours later, our next load came in and we headed out to pick it up, in the cornfields west of Chicago. The directions to the shipper were written by someone who just flew in from Bizarro World, where left turns are really right turns and north is south. The fun thing about going in the wrong direction in a semi with a 53 foot trailer, is that you have to go miles and miles out of the way before you can turn around.

We made it to the shipper in the early evening, after going 40 miles out of the way, only to find that they couldn't load us until the next day, they were running behind.

There were no truck stops within 7.3 thousand miles, which meant no shower. This would have been enough to ruin my day, since I would rather tell David Hasselhof that I'm his biggest fan, than go to bed without a shower.

But wait! There's more!

We found a quiet place to park behind a grocery store near a big field, and within walking distance to a nice restaurant. We had a lovely dinner, a pleasant  walk with Jas through the neighborhood, and then washed up in the grocery store bathroom. Not ideal but eleventy times better than a port-a-potty. We'd made the best of things.

Fast forward to midnight. I woke up to Jas hacking, smacking and generally sounding sick and pitiful, so I got up, dressed, and took her outside. She ate grass for fifteen minutes, threw up some and we got back in the truck.

She drank a gallon a water and settled back down on the passenger seat instead of her bed. The windows were open about half-way to let in the cool night air and we figured it felt good to her too, after being sick.

Jas in my seat.
Her bed tucks into the space
on the floor in front.

We were all awake by then but we eventually got back to sleep, only to be woken up again at 3 am to a loud noise. 

Himself turned on the light. Jas was gone.

I looked out my window from the top bunk and saw her, going around in circles and called to her. I thought she was having a seizure. And then I saw something furry with her and in my sleep fuzzy mind I wondered, why was she dancing with a cat?

And then I woke up.

Oh crap. She had a cat. In her mouth. They were not dancing.

Himself threw on pants and shoes and jumped out of the truck and onto Jas to wrestle her free from the cat.

Jas and the cat had reached an agreement by that point: Jas agreed to run around in panicked circles while the cat agreed to attach itself to Jas's face with its teeth. Once Himself got involved and held Jas down with his body weight, the cat kindly agreed to let go of Jas's face.

Jas, not being the brightest knife in the drawer, tried to go after the cat again, but by that time I was helpful, and we both managed to get Jas back in the truck before the cat ate all our faces off.

"I won, right?"

I got the flashlight and went back to make sure the cat was ok but it was gone; all I found was a pile of fur. I think I heard it snickering contemptuously in the distance.

Jas was bloody and smelled of cat pee. We cleaned her up and checked her wounds; they were all superficial, except for a new hole in her ear which we drenched in peroxide. She drank another gallon of water and then slept like a baby, secure in the knowledge that she showed that cat what was what.

Because in her mind, she *totally* won. And would launch herself out the window like a demented ninja again if given the chance.

Himself and I didn't fall into such a peaceful sleep, however.

Surprisingly, adrenaline, the smell of cat pee in a small space where the windows are closed, and anticipation of having our face ripped off by an indestructible super-cat is not the best recipe for a good night's sleep.

Unless you're a demented ninja, of course.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

9 Books, 3 Outfits, and 1 Diva Rabbit

Hurry up and wait.

It's one of those days.

Freight is slow in Indiana or Illinois or wherever we are. They're right next door to each other in real life and on our atlas, so whatever.

I noticed an Everything's $1 Store on a walk with Jas so I decided to kill some time and see what all I could get for $1. I was prepared for aisles and aisles of cheap plastic toys, generic canned goods, and greeting cards written by robots with a questionable grasp of English. I was not prepared for this:

Books! And not just any books, but ones that looked interesting to me, not just thrillers and romance and vampire-werewolf-zombies. Not there's anything wrong with those, yes there is, I just don't like them. I like stories rich with human complexities. Stories of faraway lands and strange (to me) cultures. Stories with characters that have flaws and things aren't black and white.

Plus, stories that were only $1!! I found nine decent books for $1 a piece. $1! I was like a kid in a candy store. Did I mention they were only $1?

But wait there's more!

I also found three outfits for Liberace Rabbit for only 50¢ each. 

You remember Liberace Rabbit and his friend Meow Meow, right? I'll catch you up: 
Cloth rabbits (they do not like to be called bunnies) that I made outfits for before I started blogging because I thought it would be fun, but it's hard making rabbit kimonos and showman/rabbit costumes.
Also, they were hoping to marry astronauts, but NASA ruined that little dream when they put the kibosh on the space program. So, sometimes they share a sample bottle of mouthwash to ease their pain. Don't judge them too harshly, it's not easy being a rabbit of indeterminate sex with a taste for flashy clothes and pilots.

The outfits are for Liberace Rabbit, since he's more of a diva than Meow Meow, who prefers to only wear kimonos. I will have to do a little tailoring to fit Liberace Rabbit though, because he's so svelte. Plus he'd like them with more *dazzle*.

I think $1.50 for a three-outfit wardrobe change is a good deal. There's a cowboy outfit, a fireman outfit, and some kind of gingham pantsuit he''s hoping to channel into a Dorothy-from-the-Wizard-of-Oz look. He also wants me to get him some ruby shoes, a cowboy hat, and a fire-hose, but we'll have to see about that.

I don't want him to get too carried away.

Of course now that I have all this work to do, a load comes in.

At least now we can get out of Indiana. Or Illinois.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

The Sweet Smell of Crazy

I love it when nature sneaks up my nose in a good way.

While we were getting loaded the other day in Modesto, California, I took Jas for a walk. We were in an industrial area; blocks and blocks of warehouses, concrete, and no nature to speak of, with only a strip of dirt along the road and some trees here and there.

All of a sudden I stopped and took a deep breath, wondering what I was smelling that was so familiar and aromatic. Just as the name came to me I saw the big tree right in front of me. Eucalyptus! (Like eureka! only more fragrant.)

Did you know that eureka is California's state motto? It's Greek for "I have found it" and refers to the discovery of gold there.

I love the smell of eucalyptus. It has a clean, almost minty but kind of zingy smell. I brought some leaves back to the truck and stuck them in the a/c vent to go with the rosemary sprigs I had found earlier at a truck stop.

Rosemary is a common landscape plant in California, I'm always finding it and I love the smell of it too. Piney and zingy. (Zingy is the word of the day, apparently)

Have you ever noticed that you can't really describe a smell without referring to another smell?  Or zingy.

I have a super-smeller nose which is both a blessing and a curse.


One time I saved us a eleventy hundred dollars because I identified a leak in the rear differential on our truck using my nose.

The gear oil in the rear differential has a particular smell and I when I walked by the rear tires I caught a whiff and told Himself. He got a flashlight and crawled under the truck and sure enough, there was a small leak.

It was only a matter of time before all hell broke loose and the truck exploded in a fiery death ball.

Himself wants me to point out here, that the whole fiery-death-ball scenario is not true and I would like to point out that it's a lot more exciting than the truth, which is something about grinding gears and costly repairs, etc., etc. We agree to disagree.


My smeller works so well that I can tell when Jas is yawning three feet behind me. Her mouth smells like a dumpster behind a fish market where the garbage men are on strike.


The eucalyptus and rosemary zinged up my brain so much that I decided to make a list of my favorite smells and I asked Himself to do the same.

My list of good smells:                                Himself's list of good smells:

limes                                                       wet dog
mint                                                        diesel fumes from an old bus
rosemary                                                 bleach and Comet mixed*
eucalyptus                                                grill marks on meat
lavender                                                  strawberries

One of us is clearly a psychopath.

Does this bed
make me look crazy?

What's your favorite smell?

* Comet and bleach mixed together will kill you in a fiery death ball.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Awkwardness of the Unicorn Chicken Award

Hey! Look over there, a shiny thing!

Still here?

Remember, a while back when I got a couple of blogger awards and I was all awkward about it and stuff?

Well, it has happened again and guess what? I'm still awkward. Yay me.

Vanessa over at 5 Things About Nothing Important has bestowed kind words and and the Liebster Award upon me and since she has admitted that she too is an awkward person, I don't feel bad about not following the rules.

At 5 Things About Nothing Important you can learn things like how ticks have sex, why men have it easier at special occasions, and how fun it is to share a bathroom with boys. Check her out. She's funny, real, and sometimes you learn stuff in just 5 things.

Robyn over at Hollow Tree Ventures got the Liebster Award from Vanessa too and because she thinks I'm scared of her Baby (I am) she passed the award to me and that's how I ended up with two awards.

If you read the comments on this blog, you know that Robyn is funny. She is also good at math, drawing killer stairs of death, and party planning. Every post is funny and sometimes there are charts, but even better than that, I get to share in the joy and triumphs of having kids, without having to actually touch any. Win. Win.

I'm still a rebel and not following the rules but I feel like a wanker by not passing on some love to another blogger who deserves it so I am bestowing the illustrious Unicorn Chicken Award to Point Counter-Point Point Point.

I just made that up and it's kind of cheating because it was Robyn's idea and she also gave them an award but that doesn't mean I mean it any less.

Confused? Me too.

Here are just a few examples of why PCPPP deserves a Unicorn Chicken:

Have you ever wondered how many Japanese words there are for poop and what that has to do with golf? Find out!

Ever had a bad job interview? Not this bad.

Did you know that sometimes squirrels try to kill themselves?

Christian is a regular commenter here and half of the team over at PCPPP and I have two things to say to him:

1. Thanks for always making me laugh here.

2. Do you ever get tired of figuring out how many P's go into to PCPPP? It's giving me a headache.


I really super appreciate the people who read this drivel and I double-dog super appreciate the people who take the time to comment and I infinity appreciate it if you say nice things about me. Just don't do it too often or I will get a big head.


Monday, May 21, 2012

Wallking Dead (almost) in New Mexico

I didn't mean to pull his leg off. I just didn't want him to crawl up my pants.

I blame the city of Las Cruces.

It all started because we were looking for a roadrunner made out of trash. We had passed it many times on I-10, just before Las Cruces. Usually, we wouldn't remember it until we had passed the rest area exit and saw it standing in the orange dirt, too late to go back.

This time we remembered it and pulled into the rest area in time, parked and went in search of the roadrunner. We thought it was strange that there were no signs for it or pathways marked out. Just a bunch of hilly, hot desert.

We set off for the direction we thought it might be in, walking up hill and valley in the blazing sun.

The area was pretty, and the desert has so many interesting plants and animals, but why, in the name of pasty skin, does it have to be so hot?

We never found the trashy roadrunner. Maybe it had all been some sort of desert hallucination.

This is the view from the
supposed home
of the elusive trashy roadrunner.

After walking for minutes hours and not finding it, we got back in the truck and continued east. I got on the computer to find out where we went wrong when I felt something crawling on my arm.

It was a lime green Walking Stick, about 2 inches long. They are so weird/cool looking and he was moving pretty fast. I put him on my finger and let him walk around, trying to take pictures at the same time. It was awkward, so I put him back on the computer and let him walk around the keyboard, but it was too sunny in the front of the truck so I moved to the back.

He was a very good natured Walking Stick, if a little hyper. He perched himself up on the USB magic internet stick and kind of swayed around on his six feet. Later, I read that that was a defensive mechanism, he was trying to mimic a twig swaying in the breeze.

I could almost hear him whistling and saying, "nothing to see here folks, I'm just a computer twig, swaying in the breeze of the a/c. Move along."

I picked him up again to play with him some more to get some better pictures and that's when he fell on my foot and then crawled up my pant leg.

And that's when I freaked out and tore his leg off by accident, because it's one thing to be playing with a Walking Stick out in the open, but it's a whole other ball of worms to have one crawling up your leg when you can't see it.

Because when a harmless Walking Stick that you have been playing with for 15 minutes goes missing in your pants, it immediately turns into a venomous bitey Chupacabra. As everyone knows.

I drew in a fake leg for him.
He wasn't impressed.

I felt really bad about it so I took some more pictures before we stopped. Then I put him on some kind of desert bush next to a truck stop to live out the rest of his life with only 5 legs.

And that's how the city of Las Cruces, New Mexico ruined my day.

And it was no picnic for the Walking Stick either, I'm sure.

Now that I think about it, the bush looked like an oleander, which are highly poionous to humans. Hopefully, not to Walking Sticks.

Weird Walking Stick Fact:

When mating, Walking Sticks generally remain coupled from 3-36 hours, after...uh...completion, and in extreme cases may remained coupled for 3 weeks. Who do they think they are, Sting?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

The Story of Unicorn Chicken (and a small nervous breakdown)

In yesterday's whiny post, remember how I mentioned a few things that I wanted to tell you about, but I was too hot and gritty to look them up?

In case you didn't get through all that whine, here's a recap:

* A Unicorn Chicken

* Green Trees

* Alien Crop Circles

The Universe is aligned against me now because of all my complaining and today my internet connection is so spotty, unreliable, and maddening, I might as well be in the 20th century. Remember how fun that was?

But whiny though I be, I have forged on and looked up the things that I mentioned, so that I can share my new knowledge with you and then I can promptly forget it because that is what happens to any new information that my brain gets its hands on.

Side Note: I would also like to point out that the Universe wants me to use Wikipedia, even though I am against it, by making it so, so easy to read. Why are the Science Fact-y things so hard to find and read? I like cold, hard facts, that are researched and proven and true, not just what a bunch of people have always heard so they write it down on the interwebs as facts.  
I will use a Wikipedia fact if it is linked to a source that is facty but I try not to even go there because I'm afraid I'll get sucked into the easiness of it and quit double checking stuff. Damn Wikipedia and its well laid out and easy to read maybe-facts.

The Unicorn Chicken.

Walking in a field in Phoenix, while it was 105 degrees, Himself and I caught sight of a greyish bird running into a bush. It was grey with a red head, not quite as big as a chicken, and it had a unicorn...uh... corn. (What is that thing called on a real unicorn?)

We only got a glimpse of the elusive Unicorn Chicken because he was fast and flat out disappeared into that bush with his magical corn. Plus, we gave up pretty quickly because we were on fire.

It turns out it was a Gambel's Quail and not a mythical Unicorn Chicken at all.


Gambel's Quail are a tubby, ground nesting bird, common in the southwest. They are mostly monogamous; however, the female can be tempted to form a "pair-bond" with a male who is not the father of her children, by offering her bits of food when she is feeling particularly taken for granted. I think "pair-bond" is science speak for "hussy".

The Green Tree.

I'll give the desert some credit here, by admitting that there are some pretty unusual and beautiful plants that are native to the southwest.

The Palo Verde tree is seen all throughout southern Arizona. It is hardy, drought resistant and very pretty. Palo Verde means "green stick" in Spanish and it's a good name, because it is very green and stick-y.

My dinky little camera doesn't do the color justice. The bark is lime green and smooth, wrinkling at the elbows where the branches bend, just like a person's.

The leaves of the Palo Verde are small, thin, and kind of fern-y looking. A lot of desert plants share this tiny leaf trait, it's called microphylly and it helps prevent water loss and keeps the tree from overheating. Because of the green bark, if a severe drought hits, it can drop all of its leaves and still carry on its job of photosynthesis.

That's pretty awesome, Palo Verde Tree, but I don't have leaves and only turn green when I'm on a roller coaster, so you can keep the desert and I'll stay in the truck.

Alien Crop Circles.

Let's get out of the desert for a minute, shall we?

In northern California, on I-5, there is a rest area just before you get to the town of Weed. (Motto: Weed Like You to Visit)

You know how rest areas and parks have those wordy signs that talk about landmarks and history and stuff in the most boring way possible? I don't read them, but Himself does and he said they mentioned some strange rock circle formations in the fields along the highway and that no one knows how they came about.

Sure enough, as we got back on the highway, we noticed them on both sides of the road. None of the pictures I took turned out, we didn't have the right perspective, I guess. But there were dozens of them, a perfect ring of rocks surrounding a gentle hump of grass.

Now, I may be on the verge of a nervous breakdown because it has taken me ALL DAY to do this post due to poopy internet access, OR there is some sort of conspiracy to keep this information away from the public (except the ones that read rest area signs) but I have no proof for you that these things exist.

Go ahead. Get on the Google and search for weird rock circles in northern California and see what happens. Nothing, that's what. And probably the black helicopters are going to start circling our truck at any moment and frankly I will be kind of relieved because this internet thing is just one big hassle.

I did find a story about a woman who picked up some rocks at San Onofre State Beach in southern California, that later exploded in her shorts pocket and caused 2nd and 3rd degree burns.

I guess my day could be worse.

I am hitting the Publish button now while the signal lasts and before my brain explodes. And I leave you with this thong that you can have for the low, low price of $12.50.

You can buy it here.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Yes, I *would* like some cheese with my whine.

My lips feel like the bark of this dead tree.
There is not enough ChapStick
in the world
to make me live in Arizona.

This isn't a real post because:

A: it is so hot that my brain hurts and I can't bear to look up the cool things I've seen on the Google right now. (Trees with green trunks, a unicorn chicken, and some alien crop circles, for example.)

B: it's so windy that gritty dust is getting everywhere, especially this keyboard and I am not liking to touch it. (yes, English is my first language, thanks for asking.

4: I am trying to figure out how to get out of acknowledging people that are nice to me by giving me awards. (I'm squinting at you Vanessa and Robyn.)

7b: it is so hot.

We are getting loaded in Superior, Arizona at a place that makes calcium something or other and we aren't allowed to idle to run the a/c and our little a/c is broken and the sun is the devil. The devil. And you have to wear a hard hat to go to the bathroom.

And, I had to take Jas on a walk because she refuses to cross her legs. Did you know that in Boxer math, 10 minutes in 100 degree weather equals 3 bowls of water and 2 hours of heavy breathing? She's such a wuss. I only drank 1 bowl.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

It's Miller Time!

But I'm not talking about a bland beer, I'm talking about miller moths.


They are harmless, in that they don't bite or sting or eat plants or clothes. They aren't particularly ugly either; like most moths they are just the plain, furry-bodied and dusty cousins of the more flashy butterfly.

But they can cause heart-attacks. Or maybe a quasi-heart-attack. Or at least scare you enough to make you flee your house or wreck your car.

In the daytime, they like to hide out in dark places, under rocks and leaves, in door crevices and in our mailbox. When it's miller time at home, I know to open the mailbox slowly and not stick my face in it right away, because as soon as the daylight hits them, they come fluttering out by the dozens and it's not that pleasant to have them in your mouth.

See how flat they get?
These guys are between the coils of
a garden hose.

The miller moths start showing up in May around Douglas. They are the adult form of the army cutworm and they flutter around by the zillions on their migration path to the mountains in search of flowering plants and nectar.

We've been in Wyoming for almost 10 years, so we're used to them by now and I hardly ever get surprised by them in the mailbox anymore. That's a lie.

So the last time I went to our mailbox, I opened it up, waited a second while the millers fluttered out and grabbed the one envelope in the box.

Side note: I love mail. Love. It. Real mail, not junk mail. I am a junk mail ninja, killing it at the source by opting out of unsolicited mail and credit card offers. And for the junk mail that slips through anyway, I email them and tell them to take me off their list and they do. Because I can totally make big corporations bend to my will.

So, I walk inside with my one piece of real mail, a letter written by a human, and plop down on the couch to read it, savoring the experience. (I didn't know until this moment that I was such a mail nerd) I slip my finger under the completely sealed envelope flap and a Mothra sized miller flits out, grazing my hand with its fuzzy, fat body and fluttering itself against my arm before taking off for parts unknown.

I don't know where it went because I ran out of the house like it was on fire and for all I know it got a beer out of the refrigerator (not Miller though, so haha on it!) and sat down on the couch to watch tv. Although we don't get any channels, so haha on it again, unless it can figure out the DVD player. But I think that's just giving it a little too much credit.

Although, they can cause car wrecks too, so really we're only just now finding out what they are capable of.

In completely unrelated news, the grass is so tall in our backyard, that Jas doesn't even realize she's being stalked by a gargoyle.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

No, YOU suck it up Walter Cronkite! Oh, and Happy Mother's Day.

Today is Mother's Day and I'm not a mother (which I'm ok with) and for the first time I don't have a mother (which I am not ok with), but as Walter Cronkite used to say, that's the way it is, although it's a well known fact that men don't need their mothers as much as women do, so what did he know?

In fact, if Walter Cronkite were here right now I would give him a piece of my mind, because where does he get off telling me to suck it up when I miss my Mama and he had millions of adoring fans and all I'm asking for is one short, stubborn, red-haired woman?!

Way to ruin Mother's Day Walter Cronkite. Thanks a lot.


Walter kind of has a point, I guess, so instead of wallowing in self-pity and sadness I will share with you 3 things about Mama.

1. She was a voracious reader and could go through 2 or 3 books in a week. My earliest memories are of the library, crawling around the Children's section looking for Dr. Seuss while she pulled books of the shelf like the library was on fire; always checking out the maximum amount allowed. I stood by in awe with my slim volumes while she held an armload of books that seemed bigger than her.

2. She taught me the importance of looking at things from the other person's point of view. I remember coming home from school and complaining to her about how some kid was mean to me or smelled like pickles and her first response was always to ask why I thought the kid was mean, maybe I had provoked it? Or maybe the pickle kid came from a poor family and couldn't afford non-pickle-smelling soap. I hated then, but it really made an impression on me and I think it has given me more empathy as an adult.

3. She was smart about money and finances. And it was all self-taught. She grew up in age where not much was expected (or allowed) of women, where men handled the money and made the decisions and the women-folk took care of the babies. But she not only had good common sense, she had the financial acumen to make good investments with her hard earned money. She taught me everything I know about money and instilled in me a sense of power over my own future by handling money wisely.

No one loves you like your mama. If yours is still around, hug her good.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Runnin' Down a Dream in Dallas

Is there anything better than driving around in an anonymous city, in an anonymous car, listening to random rock and roll really loud, and being...well anonymous?

Rental car and Big Whitey

I spent two days in Dallas, unfettered and untethered, while Himself took a class about safety or spaceships or something. Since the majority of the time we are in the truck where Himself is captain of the ship and in control of all things and I am a merely a passenger along for the ride, it was a real treat.

Although, since I drive so infrequently, it takes me a while to get the hang of things like looking where I'm going, watching for road signs, and not killing anyone.

Sure, everyone knows texting and driving is dangerous but a Tumbleweed let loose on the highways is probably equally hazardous. For the first hour anyway. After that my natural ninja-like driving skills take over and all is well with the world.

Driving fast, music blasting from the speakers, going nowhere and everywhere all at once gives me the feeling that anything is possible. I get the same feeling with my first cup of coffee, that the world is mine and I will accomplish great things that day.

Of course, I don't. I get sidetracked easily, put things off, or get stuck in traffic--literal and metaphorical--still, I relish the feeling; it gives me hope. Tomorrow's another day, right?

I like driving around aimlessly and even if I don't know where I'm going I never feel lost. Even if I am.

I visited an old friend and took care of some truck stuff but otherwise had no real plans.

I got the big idea to walk around downtown and maybe find the grassy knoll and solve the whole JFK conspiracy thing, but that didn't pan out. Mainly because:

A: Every man, woman, and child within 1,000 mile area was also walking around and hogging up all the parking spaces. 
B: It was 198 degrees in the shade and walking with a dog among the concrete jungle didn't seem too fun. Plus, Jas probably would have peed on the grassy knoll and ruined any hope of evidence.

We found some relatively shady hiking trails but Jas and I both have an aversion to being hot, so we mainly drove around with the air conditioning on listening to music.

And the world was mine. For a while anyway.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How to be Good at Conversation and Sandwich Making

These guys are talking to themselves
while talking to each other
but they don't have eyeballs.
So it all makes sense.

Have you ever had a conversation with yourself, but with someone else at the same time and not at all on purpose?

Me too!

My column in today's Douglas Budget is all about how I am *not* having a stroke or a mental breakdown. Yet.

You should go there and read it and like it and hold it and touch it and squeeze it and be its best friend forever and call it George.

Or you know. Just read it.

Also? When not having a mental breakdown or a stroke, I make sandwiches that look like mice.