Friday, October 28, 2011

Stingy Jack

Ever wonder why we carve Jack O'Lanterns on Halloween, or even where the name "Jack O'Lantern" comes from?

An old Irish legend tells of a worthless man named Stingy Jack, who was a mean old thief always up to no good.  One day Stingy Jack stole some items from the church and as the villagers were chasing him through the woods he stumbled across the Devil who told him it was time for him to die.  Stingy Jack told the Devil that he could capture many more souls if he would turn himself into a coin and then when the villagers found Jack, he would offer the coin in return for the items he had stolen.

The Devil agreed and turned himself into a coin and jumped into Jack's pocket.  However, one of the crosses that Jack had stolen was also in that pocket, so when the Devil jumped in he lost all of his powers.  Jack buttoned the pocket and told the Devil he would only let him out if he agreed never to take his soul.  The Devil agreed and Jack let him out.

Years later, when Stingy Jack died, he was not allowed into heaven because of the worthless life he had led, and because of his deal with the Devil, he was not allowed into hell, either.  Stingy Jack was forced to wander the earth at night and when he complained to the Devil that he could not see, the Devil threw him an ember from the fires of hell.  Stingy Jack took a turnip, carved it into a lantern and put the ember inside.

Now days we don't use turnips, and we don't carry our Jack O'Lanterns around to light our way, but we do use them to tell sort of a story, don't we?  To check out some true works of Jack O'Lantern art, visit Gypsy Mare Studios.

~Stingy J

Thursday, October 27, 2011

I Can't Dance, Either

OK, I know this is cheating a little, because I posted this video before, but I think it is even more fitting now than it was then, considering Halloween is fast approaching as well as my current state of being (i.e., between work, school, and getting the farm ready for winter I'm not much more than a walking shell of the human being I once was). So...enjoy!


 And if you find yourself in a bind on Halloween, just remember, zombies can't dance. ~J

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

I'm Looking Through You

In honor of Halloween being just around the corner, I thought I'd help get everyone in the "spirit" by posting this:


 The Beatles and The Muppets--two classics!  Halloween couldn't get any better if I had a bowl full of candy corn.

Or could it?

Stay tuned, boys and ghouls!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Someday, Sunday

This was quite a productive weekend for me.  I was able to find some very basic grass hay for the horses to play in between their morning and evening feedings, which due to my hectic schedule, can sometimes run as far apart as 5am to 1am.  

The kids were sure to tear into it right away...

...and spread it all over the place as much as possible.

It makes for a good scratching post as well.

This grass hay isn't meant to replace their usual meals as it is a mix of old grass and new and basically has little to no nutritional value, but since the horses have zero pasture access and very little hay available because of the drought, these bales will serve as basically a boredom-reducer.

Fabian agrees--it's not great, but it's something....

Then Fabian tells me not to speak for him anymore.

You don't see Bambi in these pictures because unfortunately we had a pretty scary episode of some sort of colic/digestive distress happen Thursday afternoon through Friday and after an emergency trip to the vet my wonderful friends over at Painted Prairie Farm offered to put Bambi in their "intensive care" area of their ranch so she can have eyes on her 24/7 as she recovers.  I missed class Friday, which will really set me behind, and I had to work Friday night and was not able to get out of my shift, so I am truly blessed to have such wonderful people in my life to help me out in a bind like this.  Bambi is in terrific hands and will hopefully be well enough to come home next week.  Since some days I am gone for up to 20 hours, it makes perfect sense that she be somewhere where she can be watched at all times.

It was a scary and exceedingly stressful situation, but I am blessed to have wonderful friends help me through it.  

This weekend Dad also made more progress on the south building's roof, which I'll post about soon. The chickens and turkeys got plenty of time outside their pen as well.  One little hen took the time to smell the marigolds.

Marigolds really don't have that great of a smell, which I think she discovered.....

The dogs also stretched their legs!

Sophie was beside herself with joy because she got to travel so much with me this weekend.  Saturday morning she accompanied me to the co-op so I could get a couple of tires patched (one on the trailer and the other on the truck), and then she went with me to get the hay bales.  Silly girl is a travel'n dog.

I also had a bit of good news over the weekend--Gray Kitty is back!  I had three cats fixed at the beginning of this year--Milton, his momma, and his sister, Gray Kitty.  Well, gray kitty promptly disappeared, seemingly unable to forgive me for her ordeal at the vet.

I had no idea what happened to her, but assumed she had been either eaten by a coyote or strayed off to a neighbor's farm.  However, this weekend, she arrived and announced I would be feeding her as much as she could eat at all times.

These barn cats know I'm a sucker.  Right Momma?

In case you don't speak kitteh, that face means "yes ma'am!"

Fluent in Feline,

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Saturday Night

On Saturday night, everyone gets together in their finest.

The girls get all dolled up and sit at the bar, chatting with their girlfriends.

The boys arrive and start strutting their stuff.

The girls continue chatting and drinking....

And then--uh oh--it's him again....

Hello ladies.  Funny seeing you chicks here again.

Can I buy you hens a drink? 

No thanks, Harold--they're free.

Then before Harold knows it, his competition bellies up to the bar.

Um, excuse me...I was sitting there.

The competition leaves and poor Harold is left to drown the pangs of rejection.

 Just another typical Saturday night on the farm,

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Diet

 If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you know that one of the issues I've struggled with is losing weight.

Don't we all?

Well, I think I've finally figured it out.  Of course it's easy to say "eat less and exercise more," and that is the truth.  But what do you do when you are exercising more and eating less and the weight still isn't coming off? What do you do when you find yourself trying to count calories, exercise until your body breaks down, and the scale doesn't move for over a year?

I tell you, dear friends, I think I found the solution.  And lucky you, I will even share this most awesome secret to weight loss.  Listen up, here's what you do:

Oops, sorry!  That's not it.  Wrong graphic.  The graphics department has been sacked.  And a moose once bit my sister. 

Anywho, here's what you do:

1.  First, you get laid off and despite much searching, applying, and many interviews, you are unable to get a job of appropriate wage.  In the meantime your savings gets sucked through an inter-spacial vacuum never to be seen or heard from again.  Unemployment cuts you off because they say you have no money left in Tier 1, but you don't qualify for Tier 2 because you have money left in Tier 1.  Then you die.

 2.  Second, you decide to go back to school, apply, get in, get all your i's crossed and t's dotted (strike that--reverse it), and then apply to many minimum-wage jobs, begging on all fours for them to please work around your weird, strung-out school schedule.  The only one who agrees (as they ask you to stop groveling) is a corporate restaurant who hires you as a server.

3.  Third, work many hours on your feet, walking as fast as you can at all times while carrying hot food, cold drinks, heavy, dirty plates, while weaving in and out of other-server-traffic for minuscule pay; walk all over campus with a heavy backpack; then (and this is of utmost importance) be so poor that you can't afford to buy food! It really helps the latter if you have animals that you are responsible for keeping fed, so that any income you do manage to eek out of your employment goes directly into the bellies of your critters instead of you.

Nicole Richie must have a lot of critters....

I do believe if you follow these steps, like I have, you will see the same success on the scale.  In three months I have lost twenty pounds and am down a jean size (the smallest size I've been since the first time I went to junior college).  Of course I had to sell my soul to buy a few pairs of jeans in my new size, but I never did need that thing anyway.

Dieting is just wishful shrinking,

Thursday, October 13, 2011

By Any Other Name

"What’s in a name? That which we call a rose 
By any other name would smell as sweet."
 ~William Shakespeare, Romeo and Juliet.

My parents named me sort of weird, which is fitting, don't you think?  My legal name is not "Jessica."  It's Jessie, which was oh so much fun for me in kindergarten when the hit song at the time was "Jesse's Girl."  Never mind that the "Jesse" in that song was a boy.  Never mind that I was already at a social disadvantage being the tallest kid, by far, in my entire class, had feet the size of canoes, and was incredibly awkward and nerdy already.  I had that stink'n song to live down.

Thank you Mom, Dad, DNA and Rick Springfield.

I survived, albeit scarred for life, and although I do get called "Jessica" quite a bit, I don't really mind.  After all I've been called much worse.  People who do so might as well call me George, though, since "Jessica" isn't my name.  I did have a boss who called me "Jamie" the entire time I worked for him.  Eventually I stopped correcting him and just went with it.

The only time I ever really mind is when someone who is named "Jessica" goes by "Jessie" and then I come along and they ask me if they can call me something else since they already call "Jessica" "Jessie."  It's like, hey, man--you stole MY name.  Get your own.

Then they typically do call me something else, I suspect, although it's not to my face.

I was named after my dad's Sunday School teacher.  Her name was "Jessie" (not Jessica), too.  My dad said she was a very kind woman, which is nice.  Then he said she died a slow and painful death to cancer, which is not nice.   When he told me the latter I had to wonder, why did he give me this name again?

And then people wonder why I'm the way I am.

My parents were going to name me Brandi but then my uncle named his dog Brandi, so my parents didn't want to name me after my uncle's dog.  Come to find out, though, much to the pleasure of the more immature members of my school group that were on our trip to Ireland, there was a dog in County Kerry at Rascal's The Old Schoolhouse named Jessie.  So I'm still named after a dog.  You may draw whatever conclusions you would like from there.

And now you know the rest of the story,

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


I got arrested.

Let me start at the beginning.  Since I spend a lot of time in my car, driving the hour back and forth to the "city" where I go to school and work, I have to be sure to try to keep my car as clean as possible or it would get out of hand very quickly.  I often stop at gas stations even if I don't need anything, just to throw out the trash from in my car (empty cups, fast-food wrappers, etc).  I never had any problems with doing this before, up until today, anyway.

I pulled up to the gas station pump, gathered up the trash from my car--a couple of empty cups and an empty Wendy's paper sack--threw it into the trash receptacle and drove away.  A few minutes later I heard sirens behind me and saw a flash of lights in my rearview mirror.  I wasn't speeding, so at first I didn't even think they were pulling me over.  However, as I pulled my car over to the right and saw the police car doing the same, I began to worry.

What in the world could I have gotten pulled over for?  I was obeying all traffic laws.  My tags are up-to-date.  I had my seatbelt on, like I always do.  I just couldn't figure it out....

I went ahead and dug out my license and my registration, but as the cop approached the car he asked me to step out.  What the heck?  I was confused but I did as I was told.  No sooner had I done so than he began asking me about where I had just come from and where I was going.  I told him I was just on my way to class.  Then he asked me about the gas station.  I told him I had only stopped in to throw a couple of things away in the trash can.  

Then he said something that really had me confused.  He asked me, "Why did you leave without paying?"  I was absolutely lost at this point.  I told him, "I didn't know I had to pay to use their trash can."  The next thing I knew I was wearing a pair of handcuffs and sitting in the back of a police car.

When I went in front of the judge I was asked again why I hadn't paid.   At this point I was so flabbergasted that all sense of tact had left me.  I exclaimed, "pay for what?!"  

"For the gas."  the judge retorted.

"I didn't get gas.  I only threw a few things away, " I explained.

Then the judge asked, "Well, can you prove that?"  

"Um...can you prove I got gas and didn't pay?"  I was completely and absolutely at a loss as to what was going on.  Why in the world would I be arrested just for not paying for gas.  I worked at a gas station many years ago and had drive-offs quite often, and no one was ever arrested.  What was going on here?!

The judge explained, "You have the burden of proof here.  Now, why did you assault an officer of the law?"

At this point I was at a complete loss.  I had no memory of assaulting anyone.  In fact, I have never even so much as hit anyone in my entire life.  I didn't understand why a judge was asking me these questions, why I had no attorney, why things had gotten so out of hand so quickly.  I needed to talk to someone I trusted.  I needed to get someone to understand.  I was innocent!  This was all so utterly ridiculous!!

Then my alarm went off.

Trouble is my middle name,

Sunday, October 9, 2011


In the course of changing paths in my life, I have met lots of new people and have encountered some of the same questions time and time again.  I'm not complaining in the slightest--I actually really enjoy meeting new people, learning about them and of course if they ask me about myself that is all part of the process, right?  I do find it interesting that I get a lot of the same questions and reactions to my responses over and over again.

For me, it almost becomes a study in human nature.  I expect the responses and if I were in their shoes I'm sure I would do the same thing.  As a sort of an "outsider," though, I get an unusual perspective and this allows me to not be surprised by the reactions of others as much as it allows me to study and analyze them.

It's just the geek in me, I suppose.

Here's how the Q&A usually goes:

Them: "So Jessie, how many kids do you have?"
Me: "None."
Them: "Did you say...'None?!'"
Me: "Yep," I say nonchalantly with a smile.
Them: "But...uh....what are your thirties?!"
Me: "Yes, I'm 36."
Them: "Oh, you don't like kids?"
Me: "No, I like kids."
Them: "So...uh...why don't you have any?"
Me: "I just never found myself in a place in my life where I felt I was responsible enough to care for another human being."
Them: "Oh.  Are you married?"
Me: "Divorced."
Them: "So are you with anyone?"
Me: "Nope, just me."

Awkward silence.  Crickets chirping in the background....

This is how I imagine they think I must feel. 

I can understand to someone who has several kids, a spouse/significant other, etc that it would seem very odd for someone to live by themselves and probably completely foreign to them that a person could be very content to do so.  I suppose I could easily be psychoanalyzed and a conclusion could be drawn that because of previous bad experiences I am afraid to set myself up for any more emotional pain, that I'm distrusting of others, or that I'm a control freak and bringing more people into the mix in the form of a significant other and/or children would throw my OCD out of whack.

Or, one could just say, that I am perfectly content being the captain and crew of my own ship for the time being.  If that changes, then that's just dandy, but I'm just not into trolling the shores desperately searching for a crew.  Shiver me timbers, you know?

I honestly don't know what the answer is.  I just know that I feel like I'm not in any hurry at all to have kids.  If it ends up being "too late," that's ok by me.  If something changes in my life that I do get to have a child then that would be fine, too.  The way I see it, I have many more basic things to worry myself over at the moment--changing careers, building my home, becoming financially stable.  A lot would have to come together for me to justify caring for another human being in any capacity.  Struggling is difficult enough when you're on your own, but being in this situation with a family--well, that would be truly devastating.

Perhaps it is my lack of a sense of urgency that is unsettling to many people.  I hear this a lot: "Aren't you afraid to die alone?"  Well, I hate to be the bearer of bad news, but everyone dies alone.  There's no great leap into the clouds, hand-in-hand.  Even the people who I have been close to when they died passed away when no one was in the room.  Honestly, even if we were there, I'm not sure if they would have even known.  For the animals I have had to put down, I am not sure if their death was any "easier" being close to someone who cared about them.  Death is an ugly, difficult thing.  Unfortunately there's just no getting around that part, but what we can change is everything we do with our lives up until that point.

We're born alone.  We die alone.  It is what we do in between that really matters.

If my "in between" doesn't include reproducing, I'm not sure that it means that my life was incomplete.  I know there is a lot of joy that people derive from their families, but there is a lot of heartache as well.  I have friends with kids and friends without kids and I cannot honestly say that one group has a better life than the other, in either case.  There are both happy and unhappy people in both groups.  What I see, that separates the "full lives" from the others, is their willingness to LIVE their lives, no matter who they are with.  The ones that embrace their lives, that do what they can to experience the things that they love, seem to be the happiest people I know.  The ones that don't make excuses, that love themselves, that purposefully seek out ways to have fun--just plain old fun--are the ones that have the fullest lives.

I'm not sure what the future holds for me. I used to think I could plan out the path ahead of me but now I know it is futile. All I can do is do my best each day, be thankful for what I have, and hope for the best.

Oh, and have fun.  Have!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Never Say Never

I've learned never to say "never" anymore.

I used to say "never" all the time.  I used to say I'd never live in Missouri.

And then I lived in Missouri.

I used to say I'd never live in Texas.

Then I lived in Texas.

I remember when I lived in Arizona, the property my ex found to rent had an old chicken coop on it.  We had to clean it out so we could use it as hay storage and I think it was the first time in a decade that the building had been cleaned out.  It was the nastiest, most dusty, most disgusting thing I've ever had to clean and on that day I swore I'd never own chickens.

Well, we all know how that story went, don't we?

I also swore I'd never own a mutt.  I'd also never own a puppy. I'd also never own a little dog.

Sophie wiped out all those nevers with one loving look from those darling brown eyes. Of course since then I've gotten another small puppy (Evie) as well, just to make it official.

So now days I don't ever say "never."  Instead, I say "I don't see that happening," except for one statement:

"I will never win the lottery."

So far fate hasn't proven me wrong, but I am daring it to.

Make My Day,

Thursday, October 6, 2011

An Award

Thanks so much to Annette at News from Aspen Meadows for this wonderful award!

I've had a bit of writer's block lately, so this helps me decide what to write about for today!  I am supposed to award this to 15 newly-discovered blogs (which not all of these are necessarily newly-discovered since I haven't had much free time lately) and I sure don't mean/hope I don't leave anyone out, but here's what I can pull together right now:

Next, I'm supposed to say seven things about myself.  Hmmm....therein lies the problem.  I'm just not that interesting at the moment!  But I'll give it the ole college try, anyway!

1.  Over the last few weeks I've been making a concerted effort to face many of my fears.  This sort of got started because I've got an A (so far) in Chemistry I.  Lemme explain.  No, not enough time.  Lemme summarize:  My whole academic and career-life I have purposefully avoided any path that would require me to take chemistry because in high school it was the only class that didn't come easy for me.  Cut to me now in my mid-thirties, scared to death of having to take this class but realizing taking it is the only way I am going to get anywhere in my life and what happens?  I have an A.  I got a 97% on my last test.  It is by no means easy for me, but I think I'm doing ok.

Moral of the story is that I was dumb-de-dumb-dumb for being so scared.  I keep thinking of how differently my life would be if I hadn't been so scared of this one class.  That leads me to wonder how much fear is dictating other areas of my life, so I've been knocking down those fears one by one.  One of them has been posting pictures of myself, rather than just pictures of my animals (who are soooo much cuter), online.  You may have even noticed I posted a couple of rare pictures of myself a few posts ago.  Here's one I took and posted yesterday:

You cannot imagine how painful it is for me to do this, but I am doing it simply because it is painful.  Hopefully it's not too painful for my readers.  If it is, my apologies to both of you.

2.  I am also trying so hard to get all my positive mojo back.  It all faded away when I had to face the fact that I had to wait tables again, watched all my hard-earned savings go away and return back to the days of constant financial struggle (way too soon, I might add).  I've gotten quite adept at throwing pity-parties for myself and frankly I am just sick of myself.  Everyone goes through hardships.  Everyone has a story to tell.  I kept thinking "oh poor me, not again," but hell, I should be GOOD at this by now, right?  I am nothing if I am not resourceful as all get out!

3.  I have recently discovered Robert Newman:

Brilliant!  "No one is that popular."

4.  I just found out a couple of weeks ago that my paternal grandfather took pilot lessons for a while. My dad said, "He was always trying something new...just like someone else I know," while he stared at me.  I have no idea what he's talking about.

On a completely unrelated note, I am going to try my hand at synchronized water-ballet.  I just have to find someone willing to help me haul some water to the pond out on the north-40 so I can get to practice'n.

5.  Contrary to popular belief, I don't drink (much) or do drugs.  Now that I've stopped stress-eating (which hasn't been as much of a triumph of willpower as it has been a lack of sufficient income to fund said habit), I find that I have an opening for an experienced bad habit.  Must be willing to work overtime and be on-call at a moment's notice.  Apply in person--no phone calls, please.

6.  I didn't have to go to work or school today, so I slept in, worked out, then went outside and turned my compost pile, cleaned out the chicken coop, unloaded the truck (that was full of old wooden shingles) and filled it back halfway up with the same (Dad and I are re-roofing the south shed--more on that later). It was just another nice, relaxing day on the farm!

7.  I was adopted, but they gave me back.

He who laughs last, thinks slowest.