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Friday, July 29, 2011

Stinkin' chicken

I know from smells. I grew up on a farm where my father raised hogs and cattle. My grandfather-in-law had both on his farm until he retired a few years ago, but they're still nearby. He insists that pigs "smell like money."

As a girl, I helped "put up chickens," which was euphemism for butchering. (That particular wet chicken smell came back to haunt me during my college years when I worked 2 summers building Hondas in Ohio. Something about the damp cotton gloves smelled exactly like chickens that had been dunked in boiling water -- helps remove the feathers.) I spent my fair share of time at stockyards when Dad took animals to market; the FFA (Future Farmers of America) boys sometimes butchered livestock in the school shop, sharing the essence with our entire school. So I get it: the smells can sometimes be. . .less than pleasant.

But whatever they're doing in the area around Gainesville, Ga. makes the average farm smell like a bakery first thing in the morning. Perhaps it's the commercial aspect of the operation; after all, quantity is certainly a consideration when you're talking odors. Or the presence of turkeys as well as chickens? Or just the rendering? (Another great euphemistic phrase.)

I had taken the boys to Gainesville yesterday to meet up with friends at a children's museum. After several hours of fun, it was time to come home.

Whatever was wafting through the outdoor air was powerful! (And I have to give credit where it's due: Those folks at the museum must have a supercharged air filtering system because, thankfully, none of the stench had made it inside.)

Boy #1: Ugggghhh! WHAT is that SMELL?
Ma'am: Dogfood? No, but similar. Corn products? Worse than that.
Boy #2: Blegg!

They both covered their noses and mouths with their hands and tried not to breathe. A bit down the sidewalk, we passed a museum employee heading back inside, so I asked about the smell. "That? That's poultry," she replied.

The smell played tag with us all the way home, dancing in and out of the car's air system. So today we're grateful to live in not-Gainesville; and we're very sorry for those who do.

-Ma'am

Sunday, July 24, 2011

What's in a name?

You might be wondering about Ma'am of the House. It's not your typical blog name, I realize.

Some months ago, Boy #2 was telling me how he, Boy #1 and Daddy were the "mans of the house." (I'm a sucker for preschool grammar.) This was not long after a recitation of his duties, which include smushing any bugs that come calling while the other "mans" are away.

Wanting to know exactly how much he understood about gender, I asked if Mommy was also a man of the house. No, he assured me, I was not a man.

So I pushed the envelope: "If Mommy's not a man, then what is she?" (I'm also stuck in Bob Dole third person land for a few more months while he gets a grip on pronouns.)

He wrinkled his little brow, considering my question. And, after some moments, his face brightened: "You're the ma'am of the house!"

Indeed I am.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

On the Wing

A bird got into the house this week. I don’t know what kind of bird – and, frankly, I don’t care – but it wasn’t my fault. But it was my job to get it out, which is a hard thing to do when you’re dealing one of the stupidest creatures on the face of the earth.

There it sat, on the ledge of the palladian window above my front door, trying to fly out through the window. It had not flown in through the window in the first place, but darted in the front door. Which was two feet below it. Wide open. And apparently completely out of its memory.

Once I calmed down enough to assess the situation, I began trying to convince the bird to get out. This consisted of:


1. Moving 2 fans to the upstairs landing to blow threatening breezes. Succeeded in ruffling feathers only.


2. Firing almost an entire bean bag of lima beans at it. (Did you know lima beans bounce? )


3. Calling The Husband at work. He helpfully suggested I consider killing it. (Really? When it’s 2 inches from the largest piece of glass in our home? And with WHAT could I even accomplish that?)


Internal dialogue: Would a broom reach it? Nope, I’m too short. Even from the upstairs landing? Still nope. If I got the ladder. . . . Scratch that. Can’t get
the ladder off the hooks in the garage by myself. Even if I could, do I want to
be closer to the stupid thing? Double nope.


All this time, the bird is trying to fly through the window, stopping long enough to peck at the window. The large window covered in tinted film that I dearly love because it keeps us from being fried if we happen to walk into a patch of sunlight during any month other than December. Then it stops, looks over at me and chirps. I swear, if it's inviting friends in, I will consider the death penalty. Where was I? Oh yes:


4. Calling my nearby friends whose husbands just might be home around lunchtime. No luck.


5. Calling the business whose employee had let the bird in on his way out of our house. Can he come back? "Well, he could, but I’m not sure what he’d be able to do." Thanks; your estimate better be really good.


Flutter, flutter, chirp. Chirp! Flutter.


6. Calling the police non-emergency line. No help there, but I did spend an inordinate amount of time on hold.


7. Since I was on hold, I googled "get wild bird out of house." Lots of helpful suggestions here, like "throw a towel or blanket over the bird, carefully pick it up – avoiding claws and beak – and carry it outside to release."


8. Calling Animal Control. Thank you, County, that I can’t actually speak to a person at Animal Control. But I left a message, hoping someone would hear the desperation in my voice and run right over.


9. Calling my father. Yes, he lives 1,000 miles away, but he’d know what to do, right? He had some good ideas, so I. . .


10. Enlisted help from Boy #1. While actual darts in the Nerf gun might have been helpful, I appreciated the moral support, as well as his enthusiasm. This was mitigated by having to continually remind him not to stand under the bird and to come up by me (I've seen that Hitchcock movie one time too many).


11. Got out the 4-year-old’s fireman backpack water gun. Ah, a glimpse of freedom! While the water didn’t convince the ignorant bunch o’ feathers to LOOK DOWN (For the love of Pete, can’t he just look down???), it did make the ledge slick enough to give me hope he might fall.


What about the broom? Right: not long enough to reach. But maybe with a towel tied to the end?



That, as it turned out (after what seemed like 4 billion attempts), did the trick. Got the towel draped over his empty little head, the wet ledge helped him slide right off, he saw the open door and flew out. Leaving behind plenty of (ahem) evidence that he'd been there. Including a few spots on my off-white sofa. Grrrrrr.


The Husband – being the only one able to get the ladder down – was sweet enough to clean up all the evidence on the ledge that evening, including spraying everything thoroughly in Clorox Anywhere sanitizing spray.


And that, my friends, is why the term “bird-brained” is spot on.


Ma'am of the House, and now disperser of wildlife