kids

The Scoop

It’s been a month since my last confession… or my last post.

I don’t know the proper penance for blog neglect, so I’ll just say “sorry” and move along.

Here’s a book report on my absence.

I tackled the Vineyard in a prior post, but this is my photo book report. I’m kick-starting it with a sunrise shot from the island.

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photo by Mike Johnson

 

Things are pretty loosey-goosey during beach week. We sneak the dog along; everyone eats junk food; the grown-ups booze it up; the kids stretch their artistic wings.

And any canvas is fair game.

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Sadly, all vacations must come to an end.

Back home and a week later, a stranger deposited a car on the farm. Unfortunately, the delivery method obliterated two sizable sections of our pasture fence. Wood shards, mangled wire, and vehicle shrapnel laid in the car’s wake.

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Said vehicle did not fare well, either.

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The driver was not present when Martin discovered the car “parked” in our pasture. Thankfully, the horses were not in that field that night. The sheep were, but they avoided impact and didn’t have the sense to capitalize on their nocturnal freedom.

The police documented the scene and the tow-truck driver removed the car and gathered most of the mangled, scattered car parts.

Let’s see…what else happened?

Well, I tried to make sense of our cluttered kitchen. It wasn’t as disastrous as the vehicular damage above. But the outcome was lackluster.

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Foxhunting kicked off a little early this season. (The first weeks are focused on legging up horses and hounds). Brynn and Hadley made it out a few times — of course, with me in tow.

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I rode Jazz in a horse show at the Maryland State Fair at the Timonium fairgrounds. Jazzy was surprisingly tolerant of the carnival rides and the fair’s freakshow environment.

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Tempting and allegedly famous, but no pork sundae for me.

 

Amidst all these events — right when the kids went back to school — my mom decided to downsize her living arrangements. And when she makes a decision, she’s off to the races. In an instant, I was catapulted into 4 days of sorting through 150 years of family records, photos, documents and momentos from my father’s side of the family — in preparation to show the house and move on. (No time to shop for school supplies; the kids went to class with pencils in sandwich baggies and IOU notes for supplies later.)

Much of what I’ve earthed is boxed and stored. I’ve had scant time to review anything but here’s a sampling. This photo dates back to 1877 and the faint scrawl on the back is in Hungarian.

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Other photos are well marked, like this one of my father and grandparents after the war. Their years of DP camp living were history; in 1951 they were happily living outside Philadelphia.

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There’s lots to peruse, catalogue and label, when time allows.

Back to daily farm life.

Frog the cat disappeared in late-July. Although I hoped she’d found better digs, after a five-week absence, I feared the worst. But then she reappeared — dirty and scrawny but alive. I rehabbed her in Martin’s office. (“Why is Frog living in my office?” he asked as I set up a litter box. “Because she’s filthy and might have fleas or something else,” I said. “I’m not putting her in the house, for Pete’s sake!”)

Fortunately for Martin, Frog recovered quickly. Now we feed her far from the barn bullies.

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There’s more I could add to my book report. For example, Rocky, our beloved pony, had eye surgery last week. But it’s late and that story can wait.

And I’m not closing with a picture of a cancerous tumor bobbing in formaldehyde.

I began with sunrise and I’ll close with sunset. We have some fabulous ones here. My photos sell them short, but this one will have to do.

 

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Sorry, one closing journalistic sidebar: I planned to call this post “The Down-Low.” (Later, I realized that I confused “down-low” with “low-down.” But you get the idea… I wanted to give readers “the scoop” or “what’s new.”)

Anyway, I checked “down-low” to confirm that it’s hyphenated, and I spied the definition: down-low: pertaining to men who secretly have sex with other men. “What?” I thought. “WTF?”

So I looked up contemporary definitions and the results weren’t much better: a discreet activity or relationship, or men who identify as heterosexual but secretly have sex with men, particularly African American men who want to avoid the stigma in their community.

Wow, well there you go. You learn something new everyday!

Now that I’ve got the low-down on the down-low, I’ll just dish dirt, share the latest, or tell it like it is.

A Foolish Promise

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Back in February, when the kids and I visited Ireland, we couldn’t escape the topic of Donald Trump. In the car, we listened to radio news loops, detailing Trump’s quirky comments. In pubs, restaurants and shops, strangers queried us about The Celebrity Apprentice host’s political fame.

This was well before “Trump” and “presumptive nominee” shared a sentence. As of mid-February, six Republican candidates still jockeyed for the lead. And while Trump was holding the field at bay, most political pundits and media outlets treated his campaign as a farce. Trump wasn’t a real candidate; he was a titillating caricature, whose wacky remarks spiced-up a ho hum primary season. No one imagined he’d be ringleader in the presidential circus.

From my perspective, his campaign was fantastical. And on our drive to Dingle — prompted by another Donald soundbite — I declared the following:

“If Trump wins the presidency, we will move to Ireland.”

The kids lit up. You promise? they asked. I promise, I replied.

At the time, Trump had a better chance of walking on the moon than commanding the oval office.

But that was then… and this is now.

Trump’s presidential run is no longer groundless. And the kids haven’t forgotten my pledge. A couple days ago, they pondered a Republican win and lobbed out a bunch of questions:

Are we going to live with Auntie Sheep or will we have our own house? Will we move after the election or after inauguration? Can we bring Maisie? And what about the horses? Can we still go to sleep-away camp in West Virginia? Can my friends visit us in Ireland? 

I glibly answer their questions while pondering how to back-pedal out of a pinkie promise. We’ll have our own house; umm… I guess we’ll move after inauguration. Yes, we can bring Maisie, and maybe Rocky and Jazz, but not the other horses. We’ll see about sleep-away camp; and your friends can visit if they pay their own way… 

I never imagined I’d have to make good on a plan to relocate. Now I’m plotting a retraction.

Should Trump become the final one standing, I’ll renege on my decree and slather it with a heartfelt apology.

And if all else fails, I’ll pay them off.

Trump may become president, but cash is king.

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All Before 9 AM

A few mornings ago, I got out of bed and found this on the kitchen table:

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There was no reason to doubt its legitimacy. I recognized Martin’s handwriting and he was up before me.

Plus, no one has time to pull a prank at that hour.

I surveyed the box — he could’ve weighed down the lid with a bowl or a plate — but the top appeared to be undisturbed….

So I shoved it aside and started packing lunches.

A short while later, the kids emerged. They gobbled down their cereal and carried the box outdoors.

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I later learned that Martin discovered the corn snake while mucking stalls. The creature was coiled around the pitchfork handle, attempting an ascent to a bird’s nest.

As punishment, Martin decided that the snake should spend time with the kids. So he placed it where it wouldn’t be missed.

After being stuffed in a shoebox, the snake was less than thrilled to be poked and prodded on the deck.

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When Cayden tried to detain him, the snake bit his hand.

So we released the reptile on his own recognizance, and he vanished into the pumpkin patch.

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After that we piled into the car, but pulled over within a few miles to watch Pigpen’s odometer hit the 250,000 mark. We shouted out the open windows. I photographed the event.

Hadley thought we should celebrate with ice cream.

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From there, it was off to camp.

But not before The Boy shed his braces at the orthodontist’s office.

And all before 9 AM.

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