Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Tooth be Told

Several weeks ago my oldest child (nearly 5 1/2) came to me claiming she had a loose tooth! "Oh Geez," I said. "Don't touch it! You're too young for that, something's wrong." Well, I didn't say it like that, but that's what I was thinking. So I ran to my Emergency Information Station (the internet) and looked it up, and wouldn't you know? She IS old enough to lose teeth! I can't believe it's possible.

Anyway, a little background. When I was of teeth-losing-age, my mother was... bothered... by loose teeth (or dealing with them) and always admonished that I go show Grandma. Grandma is a whole series of blog posts, but suffice it to say that she was a No-Nonsense School Nurse. Invariably she would soothingly say, "Let me just take a look... I promise I won't even touch it." One second later she was proudly holding the wobbler in her fingers and I was bleeding at the mouth and hurting at my young trust being so unabashedly abused. The really odd thing is how long it took me to "learn my lesson." Now, by those PhD types who do such things, I was considered very, very intelligent. However, I believe there must be different categories of intelligence, because that supposed intelligence was absent regarding my teeth, because there were at least a few more rounds of the above interchange before it dawned on me that if I wanted control over this issue, to keep my mouth shut (firmly) if my pearly-whites were migrating.

A while after my daughter showed me her tooth, Infamous Grandma was coming for a visit. She suffers from macular degeneration, but in all ways is still as feisty as she was a generation ago. I told my daughter, "Gi-gi (great-grandma) is coming tomorrow, and you may show her your loose tooth, but don't let her touch it unless you want her to pull it out. She might say it will be ok, but if you want it to stay there longer, DO NOT let her touch it." She heeded my advice and the tooth survived that weekend. However, Gi-gi came for another visit and I had flashbacks when, while I was distracted on the phone, I looked over to find her cradling my daughter on her lap, white dishtowel in hand, crooning in that same sweet, hypnotic tone. Without looking too entirely distressed, I halted my phone conversation and said, "Don't! Don't.. don't.. don't do that, Gram." My daughter snapped out of her trance and decidedly removed herself from Gi-gi's lap. Gi-gi warned me, however, that if I didn't get that tooth out, she'd swallow it in her sleep one of these days.

I am happy to report that that did NOT happen!

The tooth was VERY loose on Monday the 26th. So loose I was sure I could nudge it out without hurting my daughter's gums or psyche. I told her to go look at it in the mirror upstairs, and while she did that I got a white dishtowel damp and a fruity snack for my 2 year old. Kinda like a gooey, linear, organic fruit roll-up. Of course I portioned some out for my daughter. She got to the table before I could tell her what we were going to do, and ate a bite of the fruit stuff. I brought the towel over, and said, "I think we can get that tooth out really easily, open your mouth." She hurriedly popped the last bit in her mouth, chewed quickly and swallowed. Then she opened her mouth.... "It's gone!" I yelled. "Where is your tooth?!?" She felt the gap with her tongue and said, "maybe it's upstairs?" Of course it was not upstairs, but in her belly. I offered puking as a way to retrieve the special tooth and she declined. She cried in disappointment, that she would have to wait for the next loosening tooth to figure out the whole tooth-in-water-equals-coins thing (haven't used the 'tooth-fairy' phrase), and my Mama's heart cried for my first child's first lost tooth being eternally lost (I'm not willing to seek it out IF it could survive her digestive tract).

So we will be patient for this next tooth, though maybe a little less patient than I was with this one...

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Bank of America?

I think not. Bank of The Americas, maybe. This has been an interesting circumstance. Many of you probably know about Bank of America's recent policy-change to begin offering credit cards to "those without social security numbers or credit histories". Of course, they started it in Los Angeles county, they'll expand it later this year.

It's hard having that set standard within you. I don't know if I can describe it adequately. For me, things usually fall down on one side or the other. Right or Wrong. And where it falls often requires action on my part. Emailing congressmen, writing companies, discontinuing business with companies. Bank of America falls into the latter. I cannot continue to do business with a company who is doing this. I don't blame them for wanting to tap a market, but capitalism without some standard of righteousness is abusive. I am morally opposed to illegal immigration (I am morally opposed to many illegal things), and I can't continue to support a company who is aiding, even encouraging this felony. Which brings me to a recent phone call...

Have you ever tried to cancel a credit card? I have, and am usually met with a series of questions regarding my decision, "Why do you want to do this? Is there something we can do to keep your business? Why don't you just hold onto it for emergencies?" and such. I have even been conned into holding onto said credit card. It's easier after a 20 minute argument with someone who is fairly pleasant (it's much easier if they're not). Well, I called Bank of America to cancel my 2 credit cards. One of them was an MBNA card I've had for 9 years (that they acquired last year). There was actually an option to for 'closing your credit card account with our automated system'. What? Since when? Has closing accounts become so routine that we can now do it with the push of a button? Well, I didn't want to take the easy way out. I'd had no response to my emails, so I wanted to account representative to put down a notation as to why I was cancelling my accounts. So I held. I held through several messages of "we are experiencing a high call volume. If you cannot hold, please call back at a more convenient time". I could hold. When the gal got on the phone, I gave her my information and told her I wanted to close the account. She said, "Ok, that account will be closed, you'll receive blah blah blah in the mail... Can I help you with anything else?" "Yes, I'd like to close my MBNA account as well; would you like to know why?" {silence} "I have a problem with Bank of America's recent policy to offer credit cards to undocumented people." She quickly interrupted to tell me that these cards were only offered after a long business-relationship in goodstanding. "Yes," I told her, "I read about that. Three months with a checking account." She quickly began her little script again for the account being closed and something being mailed. And that was it.

Now, I have a cousin who is a customer-service representative for Bank of America. When she heard I was having a problem with their policy, she wrote the following:
In order to get a checking account with the bank a customer has to have documentation that fulfills the USA Patriot Act as well as the Know Your Customer (to prevent money laundering). Which means that they have to show some sort of proof that they are not in the country illegally. We can not open a checking account with out that proof, and the only way that one of those customers can get a credit card with us is to have a checking account in good standings with the bank for at least three months. This has generated a lot of negative news coverage, but the news isn’t telling the whole story. When I get back to work on Tuesday I’ll look on our company’s information stations (A.K.A. ACE) and get the exact information about what is needed to open a checking, cause only those who have a checking account can have that credit card. (emphasis mine)

Some sort of proof that they are not in the country illegally? Huh? This whole thing would bee a moot point if that were true. Their pilot program wouldn't have to be in LA if it were true. How will these people establish a credit history? When I run someone's credit, I use their social security number. Hmm.. I'm sure they've got a system to deal with it, but geez. And when they run up a few thousand, and can't afford the 21% interest, and hit the road for greener pastures, who will be stuck with the bill? By the way, I haven't heard back from my cousin yet.

Now, I still feel yoked to the devil here, because my car loan is with Bank of America. So far, no other bank I've talked to can even come close to the interest rate I have, and a higher rate would be really hard on the family budget. Here's where the rubber meets the road with my moral compass, I guess.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Pray For My Brother

First, perhaps, some history. My brother is 1 year 10 months younger than me. But though he be younger, he has exceeded me in some ways. He is very well traveled. He has been to Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Illinois, Kansas, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Mississippi, Minnesota, Montana, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New York, New Jersey, New Mexico, North Dakota, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, West Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin, Wyoming, District of Columbia, Newfoundland, British Columbia, Bermuda, Azores, Ireland, England, France (it was an accident; he got lost), Germany, Turkey, Crete, Cyprus, Sicily, Kosovo, Bahrain, Luxemburg, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait, UAE, Qatar, and maybe other places. His wife has been to Antarctica, but that's another story. Now I don't know if it's the traveling, or the imbibing he has done at some of these places, but look at this poor guy... Now he started out Ok; Little Piano Man and all (He's actually a pretty talented musician when he tries). And he had good friends. Who had a duck. All pretty innocuous. But somewhere along the line things changed. Now, I was away at school for awhile, and didn't keep tabs, so I can't pinpoint the moment that things began to spiral out of control. But they obviously did. I mean, how do you go from hugging your pet duck at Christmas to this... mutant... sad...attempt at being a cowboy?? Very worrisome, I know. But from there to using a toilet-seat-cover for a hat? That is a long way from a stetson.

And I don't even want to know if he's a pirate, or a woman, or a pirate-woman here... But the eyes... THE EYES!!! Man, lay off the smokes, or something. What is with that? I guess that's the stage right before the rest of your face starts falling off...

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Happy Valentine's Day!
If I can manage it, I might make a delicious cake for the occasion. Just what we all need.

It has lately come to my attention that I'm not as unique or creative as I thought. An old friend of mine (who likes to jaunt about Asia) sent me some pictures that really put me in my place. This is a really good thing. We can't improve until we know there is room for improvement. We can't aspire to be better or more efficient until we see the possibility of such. Well, now I see the possibility. I thought carrying 3 piglets in my trunk was fairly unique. Now I see the folly of my ways. Here is proof:

I don't know if you can tell, but that is three FULL-GROWN porkers on a moped. Leah Luher took this, and the next one. The others are from unknown sources. Now, these pigs might well already be dead. I'm not sure. It's hard to tell. Perhaps they're paralyzed with fear and dread or maybe just hog-tied.

This is one I never thought about. A passenger, certainly, but not a ... water buffalo? Maybe it's just a cow of the vietnamese race. Hard to say; I don't usually view them from this angle.

I don't suppose a ten-hour trip would be appropriate for this kind of piglet-transport, but when hubby gets that old Honda CL360 going, maybe he'll let me retrofit for such projects? Of course, with Zeke's latest issue, we might not have to worry about transporting piglets. But the chickens are doing well, so perhaps we should keep in mind the next picture when I have surplus eggs to get to the farmer's market? I must admit, though, that this gentleman is not wearing a helmet, and while I respect his right to risk his life, I don't know that I can respect the girly shoes some of these guys are sporting.

This one is worthy of some perusing. I do believe these birds are alive and maybe enjoying this trip. Well, maybe not enjoying. But if they were dead, their heads and wings would be dragging the pavement, for sure. Around here you can't reasonably sell live poultry at the farmer's market, so I'm not sure you'll see me astride a poultry-mobile.
The next one is very comforting to me. I see that we should never need a minivan. Obviously, if we have even 3 kids, (and quit making valentine cake) we should be able to get from point A to point B getting 60 miles per gallon or more. Though I suppose we'd need to manufacture some of those pig-crates if we want to get home from costco.

This one I just had to throw in there. Aside from the obvious peculiarity, WHY would one need to transport a dead shark (I THINK it's a shark)? Do we eat these? Mount for display? Scare the neighborkids? Maybe scare the neighborkids. That's what I'd do.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Alas, Poor Zeke!
What an embarrassing post. More so for Zeke than I, if he was cognizant of it. I keep pretty close watch on a great blog dealing with pasturing pigs and other things, and the blogger himself has been very generous with his time and experience and has answered many of my piggy questions. I began to notice that boars on his blog looked.. shall we say, different? than my Zeke. Now, his pigs are primarily the white kind, and mine are not, but boars are boars are boars when it comes to their... boarhood. So I posed a question to him, regarding the difference between our boars. To see a wonderful selection of healthy male boar parts, check his blog. :) Zeke does not have the same robust profile, and it is looking like he is "cryptorchidic", that is, having the condition of undescended testicles. Of course, the reason most mammals testicles descend is to keep the temperature just right for producing sperm. Too hot and you're sterile. It looks like Zeke's are too hot, as they must still be inside him somewhere. This is very bad. Zeke was no cheap bacon, and I drove 10 hours 1 way to acquire him.

Now, in my mind, pigs are good for 2 things; eating them, and making more pigs. It's great if you can do both with the same pig (be careful of the sequence, however). Boars, especially those of dark breeds, can have an apparently nasty carcass odor and taste. So for my purposes, I must balance the pros of a boar (reproductive capability) with the cons (risk of boar taint). Now I'm faced with all the cons, and none of the pros, making him a very poor investment and likely a very poor meal.

I called a local vet to gain his opinion, and his recommendation was to... palpate? dear Zeke to ascertain if he is indeed cryptorchidic. Now, laying aside my thoughts and expectations in life, and how I never saw this chore coming, it still poses some challenge. What exactly am I palpating for? Golf balls? Jelly beans? I'm sure if there's baseballs in there they're well hidden. Aside from my lack of knowledge, there is also the consideration of whether or not Zeke wishes to be 'palpated'. Zeke seems pretty tame, but then I'm usually only around to feed him and rebuild his house while he's eating. Yesterday, though, I was down to just whey to feed them (also the day I was trying to photograph his scrotum for Walter to check out - another unforeseen task), and when I stepped into their pen to accomplish my task, he and Trudy let me know how unimpressed they were with their breakfast. Usually they squeal and grunt and holler when they're waiting for me, or if they're fighting each other for command of the trough, but this time their back was to the trough and my back was to the electric fence. Thankfully it was near a corner I could get to and hop out, because I'm not sure how to deal with a disgruntled grunter.

So my to-do list now includes molesting a pig, calling a butcher, taste-testing for boar taint, and finding out if the breeder carries a manufacturer's warranty to cover this defect.

What is life coming to?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Tax time!
I wish they'd go to a fair tax, or consumption tax or something. It certainly would make this time of year far easier. But likely put an industry of accountants out of business. Every year it gets a little more complicated. We bought a house in 2000, had a baby in 2001, bought another house and converted the first into a rental in 2003, had another baby in 2004, started a home-based business in 2005, sold the rental in 2006, and this year might add some 'farming' income. I am almost an expert in schedules A, C, D, E; might have to learn F next year. While the piles of paperwork (yes, I'm too cheap and untrusting to turn it over to someone who knows what they're doing - besides, the hard part is assembling the data in the first place, which I'd have to do even with an accountant) are 'taxing', my dilemma over the 'pasture' continues. We got rid of the renters and their horses, around the beginning of the year. I don't expect to see December's rent ever. But now we have to figure out just what we are doing. Looking into a k-line system kept me busy for a while, but since looking at the costs of the pump, the power pole, the hole to put said pole in, and the transformer, I don't think it'll be a project for this year. Which leaves us with the gravity irrigation for now. But we need to have SOMETHING on the land, to get the nutrient-cycle going. I thought 2 pigs might be nice to clear the little locust trees out, but it may take them several years to accomplish the task on the entire acreage. Perhaps I will borrow some cows. Or pasture 1000 chickens. Which leaves me trying to figure out what to do with 1000 chickens, to say nothing of the processing. We did buy an old Ford 8N tractor last week with a front-end loader and a rear scraper blade. We're getting a disc from a friend as soon as the ground thaws enough to release it. That may help take care of the weeds a bit, and keep the driveway driveable. I've been poring over half a dozen seed catalogues. I really like this one, but this one is nice too. Both have decent prices, for seeds and shipping. Burpee is a little more expensive. But they have a few things I can't resist too. I need to find a rototiller attachment for the tractor if I want to prep the garden I want without it taking a month.
Do I have it in me? I am fairly adept at many things, but not really expert at anything. I have many interests and passions, but am I passionate enough to stick with this, to see it through? Perhaps that depends on my goal. Am I in this to make a financially successful farm? Am I in this for a hobby, to provide clean food for only my family's table? It's hard to decide. I don't know that there is enough of me to caretake the house, cook, raise kids, educate kids, raise the garden and animals, caretake the pasture, etc. and make it pay. There may not be enough of me to even make it happen, let alone 'pay'. :)