Tag Archives: Canned Ham

Pwall-Ticka-Abe

I decided to take a break from clearing cedar trees around The Ugly Duckling and spend a day at home, sewing curtains for her naked windows.

I’d purchased the fabric on-line two years ago at the very apex of my mid-life crisis, but had never paused long enough to turn it into something. Also, there’d been the problem of not owning a sewing machine.

IMG_1146But, smart me, the only thing I chose from my aunt’s estate was her ancient Sears Kenmore Model 1755.

IMG_1145

 

And, even though I haven’t sewn anything more than a button in twenty-five years, it would be like riding a bike. The first step would be figuring out how to make curtains.

I sat in front of the computer and pulled up a blog on how to sew lined curtains, (which was surprisingly helpful.) I carefully measured the fabric – twice, folded down and ironed the hem and then sat down at the prehistoric machine. I plugged in the Sears Kenmore Model 1755 and no sparks erupted so I pushed on the pedal. The needle jumped up and down at breakneck speed while visions of professional-grade draperies danced in my head.

I positioned one of the two spools of thread I’ve used over the past twenty plus years to sew on buttons, wrapped it around the bobbin and pressed the pedal. No bobbin winding.  I pressed again and again until a little puff of smoke appeared and the pungent smell of burned rubber filled the room. I removed the bobbin gear and took it to my garage workstation.

IMG_1142I oiled and cranked and oiled and cursed, but it would not budge. After an hour I threw the part on the floor gently released the problem to the Universe.

By now, it was getting to be afternoon and if I was going to finish the curtains by the end of the day, things were going to have to go perfectly. So, the Universe told me to stop screwing around and go get a new sewing machine. I hopped in the car, rushed to Sears and bought their cheapest machine.IMG_1143I raced home, opened it up, put the spool of thread on the machine and ran the thread over to the bobbin winder. Nothing. No spinning, no whirring. Nothing. I ripped open paused and read the stupid directions, unthreaded what I’d done and tried it the right way.  Success! Bobbin spinning like a top.

Then it stopped. I stared at the bobbin for a full minute trying to wrap my head around what the freaking problem was now.

Evidently, in only a short twenty-plus years of button sewing, a person can use up one hundred yards of thread.  IMG_1144

 

Cursing a blue streak (just the way my friends Bob and Kerry taught me), I stomped back to the car. I pulled my smart phone from my purse and asked Siri to tell me the closest fabric store.

“I found one place close to you,” she said.  “Would you like to go there?”

“YES!” I shouted.

“I’m sorry, I can’t understand that. Please try again.”

“YES! YES! TAKE ME THERE!”

“Where would you like to go?” she asked.

Screeching out of my driveway, I headed to a hobby store a few miles away. I turned into an empty parking lot.  Closed.

I jumped the curb on my way back to the street.  Then feeling it was my last resort, drove to Hell on Earth, Super Target.  Not wanting to waste a minute wandering around the massive warehouse, I hiked over to customer service (the opposite side of the building where I parked) and demanded to know where the thread would be.

“Ummm, do we sell thread?” Becca, the customer service representative asked me.

“That,” I said through clenched teeth, “is what I’m asking you.”

“Oh.”  She picked up her walkie talkie and asked the black box if they sold thread.

“Pssht. Fssht,” it replied.

Becca looked up at me and said, “All the way to the back wall, Aisle D33.”

I arrived at Aisle D33 to find it filled to overflowing with all the colors of the rainbow – for towels.

Trekking back to the customer service desk, I scowled smiled politely and said “Hi. I’m the woman looking for the thread. You said Aisle D33, but that has bathroom towels on it.”

“Really?” She caught the gaze of another employee and asked, “Where do we keep the thread?”

“Next to the irons, I think?”

Becca looked at me and smiled.

“But,” I spluttered, hands waving in the air. “Where are the irons?”

She repeated my question to the little black box.

“Pwall.  Ticka Abe,” it replied.

Becca translated. “Aisle E38.”

Aisle 39 - Irons

Aisle 39 – Irons

I found the irons on Aisle 39, but no thread.

I found the sewing items on Aisle 38

Who sews with thread anymore anyway?

Who sews with thread anymore anyway?

 

But, still no thread.

As of today, the Ugly Duckling’s curtain fabric sits in a pile, to be completed along with the replacement glass for the broken wasp-den window and, the three cabinet doors that are missing and, the exterior paint job and…

The good news is, according to Wikipedia (which is always correct) I’m doing exactly what I’m supposed to be doing for a Midlife Crisis.

  • acquisition of unusual or expensive items such as motorbikes, boats, clothing, sports cars, jewelry, gadgets, tattoos, piercings, etc. – Hmmm, no mention of large ugly vintage campers. Wikipedia made a mistake.

 

I Own a Crack Den for Wasps

No Flip Flops

No Flip Flops

I finally gave up one of my Crazie Town mid-life crisis dreams.  The one where I tour the United States with The Ugly Duckling; the 1955 camper I bought two years ago from the flip-flop-wearing not-a-killer, Ed.

No sitting with her on a beach or on a mountaintop.  No Tin Can Tourist Rally or Sisters on the Fly event for us.  But, she has made it possible to fulfill another mid-life crisis dream.

Before the Vintage Camper vision, I’d dreamed of having a little cabin on our 113 acre family farm.  I’d gotten pretty close, meeting with a shed-building company and designing a 10×10 rustic hut.  A week from installation, they called the county for a building permit and were rejected.  It seems that even though across the road there is a plastic skeleton sitting on a broken toilet and next door they have 12 English mastiffs chained up, I’m not allowed to have a structure without running water.

With a lot of tears a little creative thinking, I realized I already owned the perfect little cabin — on wheels.

Ugly Duckling to the Rescue

Ugly Duckling to the Rescue

I drove  hill and dale looking for the perfect place to park her.

IMG_1125

And finally settled on a knoll overlooking the pond. Before you go, “ahhh” I should tell you that this has got to be the world’s ugliest pond. What ever Bubba my dad hired 30 years ago to screw it up  fix it, managed to make it worse.  It’s not deep enough to sustain anything but a few frogs and an acre of pond scum.  But, it’s water and I’m dreaming of the day the crops produce enough money when I can screw it up fix it.

Maybe it is the OCD in me, but I’ve enjoyed carving out my own, personally-designed campground.

I cleared out piles of cedar branches.

Wrestling with Nature

Wrestling with Nature

I bought a picnic table and, against my straight brothers’ wishes, painted it shocking pink — to the delight of my gay brothers.

LGBT Friendly Campsite

LGBT Friendly Campsite

 

Built a fire ring

PERFECT!  Maybe? Nope.

PERFECT! Maybe? Nope.

and, like the giant sofa the movers place in your house that you decide needs to be six inches to the left, I moved the fire ring and rebuilt it again.

Let There be FIRE

Let There be FIRE

I also discovered that the Ugly Duckling is like a crack den for wasps. Not the White-Anglo-Saxon-Protestant kind, but the one with wings and a painful sting.  And, shortly after that, I was crushed to discover that in an 8×8 space, you should never use a broom to chase them away.

Wasp-1/Mayor-0

Wasp-1/Mayor-0

 

Math is Hard [insert whining voice]

This One is Too Small

This One is Too Small

After several horrible months in our teeny-tiny apartment, we have finally purchased a home.

Because I’m not confident of my ability to make any logical decisions right now — for example; I took the inheritance I received from my father and purchased a black hole of problems in a vintage camper — I hired a design company to help me with the remodel.

Even though, I’m pretty confident I could have made this

IMG_0236

Into this:
IMG_0292
And this:
IMG_0264
Into this:
IMG_0293
I could never go any further with the plan.

Not only does the design team supervise the demo and construction, they also help with the decorating.

To assist them with their plan, I had the contents of one of our storage units, (the one that held all our furniture) delivered to the new house. I instructed the moving crew to line my items up in such a way that the design team could view all of my precious possessions  — like the coffee table made from an old wooden hardware cabinet or the eight foot tall antique secretary given to me by my mother-in-law — and then they could decide what was worth keeping and what should be relegated to the basement.

Turns out, none of my junk worldly goods are going to fit into the new hip, modern, design. Really? Not even the rusted head of a broken sledge hammer I kept in our living room? So much for the tiny thread of hope I held that I had good taste.

The one thing the design team loved and said they planned to put over the mantle in the hearth room, is this painting – which they called. Portrait of a Man.

Portrait of a Man

Portrait of a Man

I love Portrait of a Man, because it was painted by our son (my step-son) and  because it is a picture of our other son (my birth son). However, I don’t display this picture in a place of prominence because, our two daughters (my step-daughters) might be offended by a large exhibition of “my” son.

So, for years, Portrait of a Man has lived in my basement  because of all the agitation it could cause in our blended family.

Being a step-parent is a delicate operation and I work hard to balance our out-of-balance family.  Photos around the house are counted and re-counted. A picture of Husband with his son should be balanced out with a picture of Husband with my son.  A picture of me with step-daughter’s kids should be balanced out with a picture of me with my son’s child.  Christmas is a mathematical nightmare.  Do I use the number of presents as an equalizer? Or is it the amount spent on the present?

If I apply my blended family calculations to Portrait of a Man, and with the following givens:

(a) = painted by step-son

(b) = picture of my birth son

(c) = does not include step-daughters

(d) = no good will come from this

Then, (a + b) might equal zero. But, I’m pretty certain (a + b) – (c) =  (d)

Explaining these calculations to my friend, Kerry, she posed a question I’d never asked myself. “Do you really think your grown kids give a damn?”

Is that (f) in the equation?  Dang. Math is hard.

Th-th-there’s Nothing Out Here That Can Hurt Us, Right?

When we last left our heroine, the mayor of Crazie Town, she was enjoying the bucolic surroundings at a remote farm in eastern Kansas. [Click here  to get caught up.]

Nothing but peace and quiet for miles

Nothing but peace and quiet for miles

I sat dozing in the sun, enjoying the peace and quiet when I was startled awake by the roar of a heavy-duty pickup truck pulling up beside me. My brother, Rick, jumped out and, without a word, fired up a weed-wacker.

HolsteinHeiferChewallTractorA few minutes later, I heard the “putt-putt” of Dad’s ancient tractor and watched  my nephew, Jordan, appear on the horizon behind the wheel.  The rusted red monster limped it’s way toward us with one nearly-flat tire.  Jordan made short work of carving out a grass free zone for us with the attached dilapidated mower, that banged an out-of-balance tune with every turn of the blade.

While they worked, Mary and I opened the box containing the privacy tent I purchased to cover the deluxe port-a-potty I’d purchased. I laid the items out on the ground and dug around in the “it can’t be empty” box looking for directions. Fortunately, Mary had put together her fair share of tents, so I handed her the foreign objects and she assembled them into a….well, not a tent exactly.

“Uh-oh,” Mary said. “There aren’t enough poles and two stakes are missing.”

“No problem,” I said, looking at the short, sagging, expensive privacy tent. “We’ll just pee in that stand of trees over there.”

Jordan and Rick disappeared as quickly as they’d arrived.

Eventually, I got around to opening the box with the grill I’d purchased and ripped open the package of hardwood charcoal I’d purchased for a premium price at the organic grocery store.

Somehow, I managed to cook up a delicious dinner of sautéed salmon with shallots and butter. I decided this camping thing wasn’t so bad after all.

Mary produced a bottle of champagne she’d purchased to celebrate my first camping trip.  Neither one of us had ever opened a bottle of champagne but we’d seen it done on TV enough to know there would be a loud POP! followed by the flow of bubbly alcohol. She pointed the bottle toward the setting sun and wiggled the cork.  We cringed, waiting for the explosion.

“Thump.”

The cork fell to the ground between our feet.

Image 6

“Uh-oh,” Mary said “Isn’t it supposed to have bubbles in it?”

“No problem,”I said and added ice to our glasses. We then christened the camper. Well, not exactly christened. I didn’t want to hit The Ugly Duckling with the bottle of champagne for fear she would collapse.

We relaxed into our camp chairs and watched as nature provided a perfect opera. A triplet of deer pranced by. They paused to gaze curiously at us, and then leapt gracefully off stage, toward the creek. A turkey wandered into camp and, surprised to see us, gobble cursed us as he hurried away, stage left. A meadowlark arrived on the table in front of us and sang the closing aria.

There we were, sitting there, minding our own business, wiping melted marshmallows from our chins, when I heard a loud “HUFF” coming from the tall grass behind us. It  sent the hairs on the back of my neck to stiff attention.

“Uh-oh,” Mary said. “That sounded big.”

“N-n-n-no problem,” I said, quaking in my boots. “Th-th-there’s nothing out here that can hurt us.”

To bolster our courage, we broke out a quart of melted chocolate ice cream and gulped it down.

“HUFF.”

“Uh-oh,” Mary said, jumping into the fire ring next to the coals. “It’s still there.”

“No prob–”

“HUFF!”

shutterstock_125462789

“Problem! Problem!” I shrieked. “Run for the camper!

The next day I looked up the sound on the internet.

It was a MOUNTAIN LION!

Click on the huff and then on “Cougar – Montana” to hear the sound. HUFF!

Then again, it could have been – according to the Parks and Wildlife Game Warden – The long call of a roe deer.  HUFF?

Peeping Toms, Ticks and Trouble

Image

Like any good Mid-Life Crisis purchase, the 1955 Aljoa camper I bought has been nothing but problems since the day I brought it home.
[Click here and here and here and here to get caught up.]

Image 1Recently, I was required to pay $300 for steel plates to be welded on the undercarriage that will support the special-ordered stabilizing jacks I needed because I’m a princess and can’t sleep in a crooked bed.

Then, on the way home from the the stabilizing jack installation, I failed to remove the grates off the stove and as I careened around turned a corner, they flew off and shattered into a zillion pieces.  Sigh. Do you know how hard it is to find someone who welds odd pieces of an un-nameable type of metal together?

Ignoring the fact that three windows were without screens and I had no spare tire, I decided Memorial Day weekend would be her maiden voyage. I was as excited as a five-year-old with a new toy.  Husband has not been all that thrilled with my mid-life crisis-itis so I planned the trip with my friend, Mary.

Homicidal Maniac

Peeping Tom

I was to arrive at her house by 9:30 so we could fill the water tank and tackle the last project preventing me from camping – installing blinds to keep all the Peeping Toms away. Yes, I’d be parking in the center of 130 acres of remote family farmland, but you never know who might be out there.

I got a bit of a late start because I needed to bring my entire home with me, including the two-year-old cowboy hat that’s never been worn. Everything but the kitchen sink

Then I had to hook up the camper by myself, which is no small feat, let me tell you.

Finally, I arrived on Mary’s doorstep at 10:30 am. I dragged eight roller blinds out of the car and onto the driveway.

“Uh-oh,” she said. “The cordless screwdriver isn’t working.”

“No problem.” I said, too excited to care who’d see me in my wrinkled birthday suit. I tossed the blinds in the back of the car and off we went.

“Uh oh,” Mary said, halfway to our destination.  “We forgot to fill the water tank.”

“No problem.” I laughed and pulled into the Home Depot where my niece, Kim, works.

Gettin' 'er done.She convinced them to let us use their garden hose to fill my little eight gallon tank. A small crowd gathered. We stood around talking and laughing while we waited for the tank to fill.

“Ha, ha,” Kim said. “It sure takes a long time to fill such a little tank.”

“It sure does!” I laughed.

Wait. It doesn’t take that long.

I ran to the other side of the camper where the tank was located. Water cascaded from under the cargo door.

“Uh-oh,” Mary said, handing the hose to Kim.

“No problem.” I hurried back to the side of the camper with the fill cap and snapped it shut. “Let’s just go.”

Mary and I climbed in the car and headed off to the farm. Thirty minutes later, I pulled off the road and onto the grass choked path that leads to a hill overlooking the entire property and miles beyond.

No peeping Toms here.Weirdly, the magic camping fairies had not prepared our camping site, so made an emergency call to brother Rick and nephew Jordan pleading with them to come out and mow a patch of grass for us.

While we waited for them to arrive, I opened the door to the camper. Water ran across the floor and out, onto my shoes.

“Uh-oh,” Mary said.

“No problem?” My confidence wavered.

We examined the source of the water and discovered that there wasn’t a leak. Evidently, back at Home Depot, we’d been overfilling the tank by several gallons and the water shot out a pinhole-sized air vent in the tank – sending water, not just out the cargo door, but all over the floor of the camper.

Grass WhistleFortunately I’m a germaphobe, so had everything packed inside plastic tubs. We dragged the contents of the camper out to the grass, but not before we set up our tick trap. Mary is a bug-aphobe and insisted we lay a white sheet down so we could see the ticks as they marched over to attack us. This would have been easier if the grass weren’t three feet tall, but we managed. We sat around in the sun making grass whistles, flicking creepy black ticks off the white sheet and waiting for the interior to dry.

I closed my eyes, tilted my face toward the bright sunshine and, sighed with contentment, knowing all my problems were behind me.

“Uh-oh,” I could hear Mary say. “This is Crazie Town and problems are never behind you.”

Tune in next week, for the rest of the story.

Crazie T and the Whale

If you need to catch up on my Crazie Camper Caper, click here and here.

Where we left off…I’d been in contact with Anonymous Kevin, the person hired to deliver my 1955 Aljoa from Denver to Kansas City, and arranged to have him arrive on Saturday, the 6th.  Unfortunately, I would still be out of town but my good friend, Sharon, agreed to meet him at my house to take possession.

During my time in New York, Anonymous Kevin sent several emails updating me on all the work he was doing on the camper.  “Repaired broken taillight.” his text read.  “Saw that camper came with trailer brakes so hooked those up for you,”  was the next.  And finally, “Hooked up the electrical so the camper battery will recharge while you’re driving down the road.”

This last one came in while I was at dinner with some friends.  Although Anonymous Kevin had offered to deliver the camper to me for free because of all the problems, these friends became his champions and begged me to pay him.  “Look how sweet he is,” Kelly said.  Followed by my friend Hunter asking,”I wonder if he’s single?”

All the way home from the airport I anxiously awaited seeing my tiny little retro camper that I remembered looked like this.

Only, when I drove in the driveway it looked like this.

Somewhere in the month that it had been gone, it changed colors and grew about 30 feet!  I closed my eyes until I made into the garage and then pulled the curtains so I wouldn’t have to look at it.  What was I thinking?  I can’t handle that!

The next morning I opened the curtains and I swear, the whale had grown another 20 feet.  I closed the curtains and avoided the front of the house entirely.  In the early evening, I stepped out to the get the mail and noticed that although the monster loomed large, it seemed a little less intimdating.  Maybe it wouldn’t be so bad.  I retrieved the keys and walked over to take a look inside the whale.

Remember, how I bought the thing in less than 20 minutes?  Turns out deciding that catching my return flight home was more important than say, looking it over, was not such a brilliant choice.  If I’d taken my time, maybe I would have seen that the top of the door curved in a perfect way to catch rain as it was going down the road.  Or maybe I would have discovered that the sink not only wasn’t plumbed, but wasn’t even attached to the counter.  Or I could have taken a moment to realize that the lights in the bedroom area had their on/off switches broken off and were hanging by their original threadbare wires.  Or better still, I could have looked underneath the whale to discover the two giant holes, allowing access for any size critter to join me on my camping trip.

Sunday, I pulled on my Grown Ass Woman suit and drove it to the repair shop where I walked away with a four page punch list.

This whole adventure reminds me of what happens when, during a mid-life crisis, a husband leaves his wife for a sweet young thing.  The new girl seems so sparkly and energetic, but after a while you see that she’s more worn out than you realized and she takes a lot of money to maintain.

I’m a Grown Ass Woman

Yes.  It’s another trailer story.  Hang in there with me a little longer and I promise, the excitement will change to some other Crazie subject.

What’s happened so far:

  1. Contracted a severe case of Mid Life Crisis-itis.
  2. Became obsessed with finding a Canned Ham (vintage camper).
  3. In one day’s time, flew to Denver – purchased camper – tucked it into a storage facility – flew home.
  4. Spent several days trying to figure out how in the heck I was going to get the thing from Denver to Kansas City, finally deciding to pay an anonymous man named Kevin to bring it to me.
  5. Anonymous Kevin has since had more truck trouble than the Detroit car companies, so my little 1955 Aljoa is somewhere in Frontier, CO.

I recently began a campaign to rescue my Aljoa by calling every friend and relative I could think of to drive out with me and pick it up.  Although many, MANY people offered to help, the timing was never quite right.

One night, while I was whining to my friend, Mary, she said, “You’re a grown ass woman.  Get in your car and drive over there to get it yourself!”

I hung up the phone and paced around the house.  You know what? I thought, I am a grown ass woman.  I can drive 1,000+ miles by myself, towing an unfamiliar 2,400 pound object behind my car.  I went to sleep, confident in my ability to accomplish anything.

Then I woke up the next morning and thought, You know what?  I am a grown ass woman!  A grown ass woman who’s smart enough to figure out she doesn’t want to drive 1,000+ miles by herself, towing an unfamiliar 2,400 pound object behind her car.  

So, it’s back to trusting Anonymous Kevin, who promises to deliver the little Aljoa to me FOR FREE, because I’ve been such a sweet little patient angel.

Of course, if it’s not sitting in my driveway when I get back from out of town, I’m driving out to Frontier to put some serious whoop-ass on Anonymous Kevin.