An Upper Midwestern Spring

We have so much to do around here in Spring. There are lambs being born, meat chickens to take care of, plants to start indoors and transplant, mowing, weeding, planting, end of school stuff, planning for summer stuff, 4-h events, registering for the fair, getting all of our ducks in a row for summer camps and classes for the Zanimal. Other people say, with a smile, “Wow, it’s spring!” and we who live on farms laugh nervously and say, “Yes, Wow.” But we mean wow in a different way. Add to that all, for me, a book release. It’s a bit overwhelming. So, I’m just going to jump around here a bit, ready?

Part 1: Lambing Season

We’ve got lambs! Four lambs, now. We may have four more by the end. Professor Batty came to visit between two lambs and four lambs.  I’m happy to say Viola finally had her lambs! Two of them, both black, one male, one female. The morning before last, I went out to check on her, and they were just born- still gooey. She was licking them off. She seems proud of herself, as she should be.

The following day, I was going to castrate the male (in case we want to keep him- I hate the logistics of separating a male all of the time, so I just castrate them) and Zanimal was super excited for me to show her how to do it! So, I did. I used the “*teeth” method. Joking. I used the band method. She hugged the lamb and I — well, you can imagine. She hugged the girl lamb, too, and I docked her tail. Zanimal is now “Official Lamb and Sheep Hugger.” Whenever I need a sheep to hold still for me, I am to call on her, and we will do a Good Cop/ Bad Cop deal: she will hug them and I will hurt them (albeit for their own good, of course).

  • Some shepherds bite off the rams’ balls with their teeth to castrate them. It’s effective. Yep. Not crazy at all.

    Part 2: The Self Portrait

Speaking of the Zanimal, at the end of the year, she just brings home backpacks full of trash. Among all of the crap, I found this gem:

A self portrait, clearly. I really like a few things about it.

  1. It’s not symmetrical. The one thing I’ve learned from doing lots of portraits is that people are not nearly as symmetrical as I thought they were. She seems to know that instinctively.
  2. She didn’t show it to me. She doesn’t care about this portrait. She’s modest, maybe. I don’t know. I’m just glad she didn’t put me on the spot about it.
  3. It looks like her- which is an important aspect of a portrait, you have to admit.

Part 3: Summertime

So, today I was mowing and weeding and putting a tarp up for Viola and her lambs to lie under (it’s hot). And tomorrow, I’ll do more of the same. And next week, more of the same, plus the Zanimal is home from school.

Things speed up over the summer. Wisconsinites wake up one day and come out of their holes and there are parties! Parades! Beer Festivals! Art Fairs! Brats! Bands! And on and on, all summer long, and then we’ll look back and wonder where it all went? And every year, I think What the heck am I going to do with this kid all summer? Because I like her, I really do, but I feel a bit of pressure to be entertaining or educational. Creative. I’m a creative type, you know. It’s expected of me. But I also, at heart, feel that children do better when they entertain themselves. So there’s the constant, “Let’s do this fun thing! (After this list of chores.)” But also the, “Do your own thing, I’m busy!” kinds of days. And also, of course, the “Let’s go to the lake. It’s hot” kinds of days.

Anyway, I guess what I’m saying is, I may not be blogging much. We’ll see.

Part 4: The Mystery of the Runners

When we first moved here from Colorado, we lived on the Isthmus in Madison, and we noticed all of these nearly naked people running by. Just running by, all summer long. Always, they looked straight ahead and did not acknowledge that we were there. Fast people, wearing shorts and shoes or shorts and sports bra and shoes, and that was all. And we wondered where they all came from, and where were they all going? After living here a few years, I *discovered that they just wake up one morning and say, “It’s time.” They take off their clothes, put on their shoes, and they start running around the lakes. And they run all summer. They never stop running. Day and night, they run, until the nights get cold again. And then they stop. They put away their shoes. And they sleep until next summer.

Of course, there are outliers- there always are, with any group. There’s the lady who runs up Gammon, all the way to Woodman’s West, at any time of day. What is her deal? Sometimes you’ll see her on PD, too. I mean, she only runs on the busiest roads. And long distances. You can be in town all day and see her twice, seven hours apart, running, still running. So strange. Lately, she’s been carrying a cell phone and talking on it constantly while she runs.

I, too, have taken up running- indoors. On a treadmill. After injuring my ankle a few years ago during a mud run, it took a year to heal, so I am very wary of uneven terrain. Baby steps. I’m starting again on a treadmill. I listen to The Gist while I run. The Gist is the perfect time: about 27 minutes. Two miles, plus a cool down lap. A nice jog. I imagine Mike Pesca running beside me, never getting out of breath, interviewing famous people, right there in my basement. This is not strange. This is where I belong.

Part 5: Too Much Sun

Is it just me, or is this the most rambling thing I’ve ever written on here? I’ll blame it on the sun.

The Ghost

My daughter brought this book home from the fourth grade book swap. 

The fourth grade book swap just isn’t what it used to be, is it? They grow up so fast. Sigh. 

Inside the back cover, we read that this book is about a newly divorced Londoner who goes to Vermont and stumbles upon a two hundred year old diary of a beautiful lady, who manifests to him in person, somehow. 

The end of the synopsis reads, “In The Ghost, Danielle Steel brilliantly interweaves past and present, bringing to life two stories, centuries apart, in a timeless novel of courage, healing, and love.”

Sounds great for a nine year old reader. Except, it needs horses, doesn’t it? I suggest Steel change all of the characters in this book to either horses or puppies, to make it more palatable for the fourth grade book swap crowd.

Although, in defense of including it, it does actually say, “Everybody reads Danielle Steel” on the back cover.


What is up with this author photo, by the way? I so want an author photo of myself like this. Could anyone help me with this? 

Free Picture Books for Adults (Crazy Hanahshosh has more crazy deals)

Yes, you’ve thought about reading a book. Maybe you even downloaded the Kindle app to your phone. But then you thought, “None of these big grown up books have pictures. What a bummer. Oh, never mind.”

But, wait! Don’t give up! Shoshanah Marohn’s books have pictures! Even the adult ones. And they aren’t naughty pictures, either. Just nice pictures.

What’s more, while Shoshanah went off partying for the big weekend, I, Crazy Hanahshosh, have highjacked this site and her Amazon publishing account, and all of her kindle books are free this weekend! So you can just download and read! Friday, Saturday, and Sunday!

Because, that’s how I, Crazy Hanahshosh roll. The books for free are:

Exhaust(ed): The 99% true story of a bus trip gone wrong.Exhuasted

“It’s like Jack Kerouac meets a nicer, more whimsical Hunter S. Thompson…” -Chris Wagoner

Eighteen-year-old Shoshanah travels across the country by Greyhound bus, with only her Grace Kelly coat and her Elements of Style book to protect her. Original art work adds to this eccentric tale of travel on the cheap in 1993. Both terrifying and hilarious, this ill-conceived road trip is doomed from the start. It’s funny because it’s 99% true.

Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen

Avoiding Sex with Frenchmen
It’s Paris like you’ve never seen it- ugly, unromantic, and hilarious.

Pure as newly driven snow, three teenaged girls arrive in Paris, with little money and a large passion for art (especially art where lots of people die gruesome and terrible deaths). Immediately, they are constantly propositioned by men. Everywhere. Anything they do, men ask to have sex with them. They don’t say hello or how are you, they just ask to have sex with them. Why do the French men like them so much? What is wrong with these people who won’t let you walk ten feet without asking to have sex with you? Will the three of them even survive the trip? Sketch drawings of every Frenchman who approached them complete the hysterical telling of this ill-fated tale.

and one children’s book:

Murgatroyd Buttercups, by Yosha Bourgea  

Take a fantastical journey to the grocery store in this intriguing picture book! Murgatroyd Buttercups is a unique girl with a unique way of doing things. Follow her on grocery day, as she sling shots her way into Simple Town, where things aren’t quite the way you might expect them to be. Children and adults of all ages will enjoy this book. Reading level is about third grade, but with all the pictures, it would be a good one to read out loud to younger children. The book is 86 pages long, but still small enough to fit in a large sock.

Enjoy the reading! I’m going back to sleep with my tiger. 

 

Name a Dead Poet Who Had a Handsome Beard

So far I’ve got:

  1. William Shakespeare
  2. Christopher Marlowe
  3. Walt Whitman
  4. Allen Ginsberg 
  5. Shel Silverstein
  6. Alfred Lord Tennyson
  7. Henry David Thoreau
  8. Rabindranath Tagore
  9. Dante Gabriel Rossetti 
  10. D.H. Lawrence
  11. Luís Vaz de Camóes
  12. Jim Morrison 
  13. Robert Browning

And a recommendation to read this (formerly) obscure book: 


All of this is, of course, for Birds in Beards 2: Dead Poets Edition, a new coloring book for adults. (No matter how great I make it, I don’t think I could ever make it cooler looking than Poets Ranked by Beard Weight.)

Is there a dead poet whom you would like to see drawn with a bird in his beard? If so, it is time now to leave his name in the comments section. 

Coon Skins

My cousin Greg took his own life a few days ago. If I made a list of one hundred people I knew, ranking from “most likely to commit suicide” to “least likely,” Greg would have been about 97. He was so comfortable with himself. He had a great (if wicked) sense of humor. He had a loud and bizarre laugh. He was one of a kind.

His friends called him “Dallass,” but I never did. Partly because I first met him when he was five and I was ten, at a family picnic. He ran up to me and screamed, “I’M GREGORY PAUL TICKERHOOF!” and ran away before I could answer him. So, I always called him Greg. He just called me, “Cuz.” Which was fine.

My favorite memory of him was just a few years ago, when I killed two raccoons on our farm. (The raccoons were killing our turkeys.) I skinned the raccoons, because I felt bad for killing them, and I didn’t want their pelts to go to waste. It was terrible, and I did not tan the hides well. At all. I visited Greg in his trailer in Western Pennsylvania, and I just mentioned the raccoon skins in passing, telling him how terrible I was at tanning hides. Greg was like,

“I’d like those ‘coon skins, Cuz! Send them to me!”

“Are you sure? I’m not kidding when I say I’m bad at tanning.”

“Oh, yeah! Send them!”

I drove home, and by the time I got back to Wisconsin, he had already messaged me three times about sending the raccoon skins. So, I mailed them to him. The skins weren’t really tanned; they were just dried with salt. Also, they didn’t have much hair on them, because I had killed them in summer, which is the wrong season to hunt for hides. I sent them to Greg anyway, thinking that once he saw the state they were in, he would just throw them away.

A week later, I got a Facebook notification that Greg had tagged me in a picture.

He had tacked those two coon skins onto his trailer wall, in the living room. He used thumb tacks to put them up on the dark paneling. It was this grainy, awful picture, and he had tagged me as one of the raccoon skins. I was MORTIFIED. There it was, for all the world to see, my trailer park roots. But I couldn’t untag myself, because Greg was so clearly excited, and he wrote something really nice with the picture, like,

“Just got the coon skins! Luv you, cuz!”

Or something equally nice.

I just had to make peace with the fact that my hipster friends would know my true roots.

As far as I know, he kept the raccoon skins on his wall.

 

I just tried to find the picture on Facebook of the raccoon skins, but finding a picture from five years ago on Facebook was impossible. I did find this video of him.

Ladies and gentlemen, there have been great explorers. There was Merriweather Lewis, exploring the great American West. There was Vasco de Gama, sailing the world. And then there was Dallass Gregory Paul Tickerhoof, finding where the crick ends (also known as, “Christmas in July Trailer Park Special”):

Rest in Peace, Cuz.