October 15, 2014

It's the End of the World as We Know It.

About a million years ago I discovered the wonderful world of Quirk Books. I love them with all the fire of a thousand suns. Partially because they publish amazing and strange books and partly because they send them to me FOR FREEEEEEEEEEE (said in my best Adam Sandler from Bedtime Stories voice.....do not judge me, I have small children).

The second book I read from the Quirk library was written by a man soon to become one of my all time favorite authors: Ben H. Winters. I've already reviewed the first 2 books in his Hank Palace/The Last Policeman series (I'd link to them, but a raging headache is making everything 85,000 times harder than it should be) and absolutely loved them both. The first book got me through The-Summer-of-Hospitalizations. The second helped get me through long, hard days spent lounging by the pool as The FarmHands splashed about. The third kept me up nights I should have been resting. It's a hard life.

I actually finished the latest a few weeks back. I've needed time to marinate in, meditate over, and all around savor this one.

World of Trouble by Ben H. Winters is the final installment in The Last Policeman series.

You can't help but fall in love with Hank Palace. There are wrongs in the world that have to be righted regardless of the fact that the world won't exist in just a few days. When the rest of humanity is hunkering down, going bucket list, or checking out early, Hank is traveling from Massachusetts to Ohio with his shady side kick Cortez, on a bicycle, hauling his newly acquired dog in a little red wagon, in search of his conspiracy theorist little sister (Holy run on sentence, Batman).

You can't help but hope for the the best for Hank and his baby sister Nico. You can't help but accept his optimism as fact. You can't help but know, deep down that everything is going to end well for them. You can try, but it won't work.

Will Hank find Nico before Maia collides with Earth causing life as we know it to end? Will Nico's conspiracy friends have one final, world saving trick up their collective sleeve? Will Cortez bean him in the head with a maglite for the last can of pork 'n' beans?

That's basically where this review has to end for fear of spoilers, sweetie.

Just trust me on this- if you haven't started the series at all, go to Amazon now and order all 3 books. It will be easier than finishing one and waiting for Amazon to ship you the next. Better yet, get all 3 on your e-reader and skip the shipping process all together.

August 27, 2014

And now I'm scared of big box furniture stores.

Do you remember Eric? My Internet boyfriend in publishing? The one who sends me books that I read and then send you all flocking to Amazon to purchase? Well, he struck again.

This time he sent me one that has prevented a decent night's sleep since I finished it. Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix is a strange mix of Ikea knock-off catalog, workplace satire, and haunted house ghost story.

According to the Quirk Books website, "Something strange is happening at the Cuyahoga location of Orsk, the all-American furniture superstore in Scandinavian drag whose forward-thinking slogan promises 'a better life for everyone.' Each morning, employes arrive to find broken Kjerring bookshelves, shattered Glans glassware, and vandalized Liripip wardrobes- clearly, someone or something is up to no good. To unravel the mystery, five employees are to spend a long dusk-till-dawn shift at the store, unaware of the darkness that awaits them."

The day it came in the mail I had to have my eyes dilated so I only got through about 1 chapter before having to give up what with all the light and movement and me looking like something out of a Japanese horror movie. Now I think it may have been a premonition.

This is one of those books that I really wanted to quit reading but couldn't. From the first, the layout of the catalog/novel intrigued me. Shopping while reading? Yes, please. But flipping through the illustrations quickly left me feeling a bit uneasy. Something just wasn't right, so I dove in and couldn't put it down. Heebie-jeebies abounded. And to be entirely honest there were about 2 pages I had to skim to keep from gagging (just remembering those pages makes my gorge rise).

The setting was meticulously mapped out (including an actual map which was a godsend for people visually inclined like yours truly). The characters were all relatable if often irritating- much like the people we all work with. The story was intriguing and unsettling. The illustrations, doubly so. The end result? I have never and now will never set foot in an Ikea (or Orsk, should they ever come into actual existence).

While Horrostor is available from Amazon for your e-reader, I highly suggest picking this one up in the physical form. The book hits shelves on September 23rd but is available for pre-order now.

July 27, 2014

Bringing Balance to the Force

You may or may not know that I am a bit of a geek.

I grew up on Star Wars and Indiana Jones. I love Lord of the Rings in all its forms (yes, even the Peter Jackson monstrosities). I could talk for hours about the fact that Firefly can never come back now that ____ and ____ are dead (spoilers, sweeties). I can Netflix the heck out of a season of Doctor Who, Supernatural, The IT Crowd, Heroes (except for that hot mess of a third season), and Torchwood. I get goosebumps when LEGO comes out with a new geek themed set. I have a stance on the whole DC vs Marvel thing (normally I find myself firmly in the Marvel camp, but I can't miss out on a good Batman movie, and Wonder Woman is my tattoo of choice). I could spend exorbitant amounts of money at ThinkGeek.com and have an entire Pinterest page devoted to all things geekery. I can discuss the finer points of the Governor's psychosis and theories on Terminus while tweeting about Phineas and Ferb's Star Wars crossover episode. And that's without even scratching the surface of my John Hughes 80's film obsession.

But Husband? He's another story. A much simpler story.

You see, Husband is not a geek. Not even a little bit.

In fact, he'd never seen Star Wars until we were engaged. He can't sing along with School House Rocks. When I yell, "HEY YOU GUYS!" I'm never sure if he thinks I'm quoting The Goonies (which he has seen) or The Electric Company (which he hasn't seen). He falls asleep every time Doctor Who comes on. He leaves the room when we start quoting The Princess Bride. Last week he asked me if Monty Python and the Holy Grail was suitable for the children (to which I answered, "Wellllll.......for the most part......if you skip the entire Castle Anthrax scene," from the kitchen as I loaded the dishwasher).

The cause is not entirely hopeless. Like all red blooded American men he does enjoy a good superhero movie, but our taste in superhero movies varies greatly. He'll go see The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings with us, but has no interest in my rantings about why Jackson felt the need to drag The Hobbit out into 3 movies but leave Tom Bombadil out of  Fellowship entirely.

I don't think he understands how deep my love of Han Solo goes but when we had one of our last date nights he did agree that buying Cowboys & Aliens was a better move than picking up some rom-com. We will never go to SDCC together (even if it is on my bucket list) but he doesn't balk at my indoctrination of our children.

And the FarmHands? They run and play in the woods all day with their donkeys and horses and chickens.....but someone's always The Doctor, or a Stormtrooper, or Wolverine. I think it's a good compromise.

July 26, 2014


Today has been a struggle.

My emotions have been like an open wound- exposed with nothing to protect them.

BabyGirl is sick. School starts in 2 weeks. Today I took the three youngest FarmHands shoe, school, and grocery shopping by myself. There are storms rolling in and Bitsy has a recently developed phobia meaning we're in for a night of tears and a clingy 7 year old.

On the way home from town this afternoon a country song came on the radio.

I am Rosemary's granddaughter
The spitting image of my father
And when the day is done my momma's still my biggest fan
Sometimes I'm clueless and I'm clumsy
But I've got friends that love me 
And they know just where I stand
It's all a part of me
And that's who I am.

I've heard it many times before, but today it struck me hard. It's not a terribly emotional song, but today it left me raw and near tears.

This mess with Husband's family has me feeling on edge and isolated.

Changing churches after 18 years has me feeling unsettled.

School starting soon has me feeling anxious.

The kids I went to grade school with are celebrating their 20th class reunion this weekend and that has left me feeling nostalgic.

Art is having a tough month and that has me feeling homesick.

This afternoon I realized in just under 1 month we will come up on the first anniversary of Grandpa M&M's death.

July 20, 2014

Tiny Donkeys, on the Farm, Make me happy....Yeah, that's as far as that goes.

You may remember back in December when we added to our livestock. Ruby, a miniature horse, and Opal, a miniature donkey came to live on the farm. A few months later the cousins who sold us our girls gifted us Deacon, their mini stud horse. Deacon is more than 20 years old, missing an eye, and had been dubbed "The Walking Dead." He's done pretty good at our place. Put on weight and decided the girls aren't going to boss him around too much.

At the beginning of June, Ruby had this little guy:
His name is Jasper. Deacon is his daddy. (This picture was taken the morning after he was born.)

Back in the spring I started following a small farmstead with a FB page. The lady who runs the page is a friend of a friend. In March one of her mini donkeys threw a little stud jack. He was beyond cute and I commented on a few of his pictures.

Just over a week ago she contacted me to see if we wanted to buy him. There was another buyer lined up but she had to back out. So today, Charlie (formerly known as Leon), came to live on our little farm.
 He met Ruby. She wasn't terribly keen on sharing her home with an interloper even if he was the same size as her baby boy.

 After a few tense moments, Husband had to pen Charlie up to keep him safe from the girls but still let them get acclimated.  It didn't take too long.
 Before too long Charlie and Jasper were playing and becoming fast friends.
I love watching the two of them play. 

When Charlie grows up the plan is to breed him with Opal and add to our herd. Ruby was bred shortly after Jasper was born so there should be a new baby here around May. My fingers are crossed for a filly. 

July 18, 2014

Partying with HT

BabyGirl has been gone for 3 full weeks. She came home on Wednesday. She went home with QM, spent a week and a half in TN, and then they took Pa and headed to Colonial Williamsburg, Virginia for a week.

I'm in the process of downloading and order prints from the 900 or so photos that came home from the trip. You can tell when people have fully forgotten the days of 24 exposures on a roll of 35 millimeter film. BabyGirl doesn't have a clue what "film" is and I'm pretty sure my folks have forgotten. But it's all worth it if it causes my daughter to tell me something anything about her trip.

When they brought her home, HT hitched a ride. Yesterday he came over to spend the day while QM and Daddy went shed shopping for Busha and Bucka. He spent the night, went to VBS with the FarmHands, and is hanging out with us today until Grammy and Pa come back after him.

This is my FB status from last night:

I am the worst aunt ever. I only let my nephew play Wii for 1 1/2 hours. I wouldn't let him watch Supernatural. I made him play outside today in the beautiful weather. I wouldn't let him stab his cousin with a pocket knife. I didn't let him run screaming at the chickens, horses, or goat. I wouldn't let him roast his own hotdog over the fire (I didn't let any of them as I wanted to eat & be in bed before 10 pm). I made him eat "all" of his hotdog before he got roasted marshmallows (there were still 3 good bites left when I let him share it with the dog). I made him take a shower. I made him help clean up the toys he got out so there will be room for him to sleep tonight.

On Wednesday I was awesome.

Today I'm pretty sure I suck.

But this boy is beyond entertaining- that is, when I'm not ruining his life by not letting him sleep in #1 Son's bed or making him eat his lunch at the kitchen table.

When he got here yesterday, the kids were at VBS so we had about 15 minutes on our own. He walked around the living room and kitchen (where he's been 500 times before), looks at me and says, in his best 22-year-old-seeing-his-buddy's-bachelor-pad-for-the-first-time tone, "Aunt FarmWife, I really like your place."

While making lunch yesterday I asked if he like pineapple. HT only has 2 settings: on top of the world, and depths of depression. He jumps and shouts, "YES! I LOVE THAT STUFF!" so I handed him a bit of dry pineapple I was snacking on. He bites in with relish, stops short, and stars at me like I grew a second head. "What is this stuff?!" I explained it. He rolled the piece around in his mouth for a moment, grimacing like he's trying to chew up earthworms, and finally says, "Aunt FarmWife, I like my pineapple wetted down."

After lunch he was laying in the living room floor. Suddenly he jumped up and ran to the living room window. "Is that a horse or a giant chicken?!"


"Oh, nevermind. It's just a cow."

#1 Son told me a story from VBS this morning. The song leader asks the kids for "God sightings" everyday during closing ceremonies. The kids volunteer things they've seen in nature: clouds, a butterfly, wind, a squirrel, etc. Today was his first trip to VBS and, naturally, he needed to chime in. He raised his hand and told the song leader, "I got a new video game of Transformers and it's got MEGATRON!"

Yup. It's been real interesting.

July 15, 2014

Absences followed by begging.

I know I don't come here often. I know I am a fair weather friend. But I also know that if you're still taking the time to check in here you must care for me at least a little bit. The begging will come later.

There are some very deep, very painful, very personal issues in the extended family. Husband has taken a firm stand on something that has the possibility of causing a lot of healing or a lot of hurt. Right now hurt is the frontrunner.

Without going into detail, Husband drew a line in the sand with his extended family on Sunday. One that means, for the moment, we will have little to no contact with members of the family we love the most. Our hearts are breaking. I know theirs are as well. But I deeply believe that this is a step that has been years in coming. And, for us, it is a stand that has everything to do with the physical safety of the FarmHands.

I know that the family we are currently estranged from would never intentionally put our kids in harm's way. I know they love our children almost as much as we do. I also know that their actions are enabling someone else, someone who couldn't care less about our kids, to put them in harm's way. This individual has caused unimaginable hurt in the past and is currently, quite possibly, the most toxic individual I know.

After years of hurt and anger and secrets, on Sunday Husband publicly stated that if the enabling continues, we are out. The family members involved do not see things the way we do.

Not only does this remove us from the center of our family, but it removes us from our church family. When the two are nearly the same, you can't cut one tie without cutting both.

My prayer is that someday we will all come to a place of healing, forgiveness, truth, openness, and strength. I pray that damaged relationships will be mended. I pray that toxic relationships will be ended. I pray that the decision my husband has made for our family is the right one and that it will show our children that no matter the cost, they are what we will fight for. I pray that we all come out of this better in the end.

I am sharing this today to beg you, my friends, to lift us up in prayer. All of us. This is injury that time alone will not heal. Only God can mend these broken places in our lives and in our family. Please, please pray for us.