Tag Archives: Xandy

Nah, Poisonous Things Taste Bad

Spring has finally…well, you know the cliché, and I thought that it would be nice to update everyone as to what is happening here at LongMeadows Farm. So earlier this evening, I took my camera and ventured around the farm to see what I could find.

I first passed my husband Xandy who, even as I write this, is busy installing a new deck, which I have to add is his idea of relaxing on this Father’s Day.

Xandy working diligently on our new deck. I'll post photos when it is done.

Xandy working diligently on our new deck. I’ll post photos when it is done.

I walked to check on our three raised beds that we put in last year to give our larger garden a break (more on that later).

One 12' bed is entirely for tomatoes. Another is the home of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.

One 12′ bed is entirely for tomatoes. Another is the home of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage.

 

We have caged some of the tomatoes, and have left others to grow freely. This happy plant loved yesterday's rain, and today's (albeit  windy) sunshine.

We have caged some of the tomatoes, and have left others to grow freely. This happy plant loved yesterday’s rain, and today’s (albeit windy) sunshine.

 

I then walked up by the pool to check on our third bed.

This bed is the home of everything from peppers, to zucchini, to carrots, to beets and other greens.

This bed is the home of everything from peppers, to zucchini, to carrots, to beets and other greens.

The radishes are finally coming to an end, but oh how they have served us over the past couple of weeks.

The radishes are finally coming to an end, but oh how they have served us over the past couple of weeks.

We also have a 1/6 acre garden plot that had been planted by the Browns for over a decade. After a couple of years of pleading, Xandy finally assented to DO SOMETHING about the noxious weeds that had overtaken the plot.

The newly tamed garden plot.

The newly tamed garden plot.

He planted winter rye which we left last year to grow. Earlier this spring we grazed the rye and then Xandy tilled the land twice. What was left is the most amazingly rich soil that I have ever seen. Although, I have to admit that is not saying much considering I have only been gardening for five years.

We have decided to plant half of this plot each year on a rotational schedule. Today I planted crimson clover on the left side, along with in between rows of the rest of the garden.

Here is a tender corn chute that has just emerged. In this plot we have planted onions, potatoes, squash, green beens, and the rest of the tomato, broccoli, and cabbage seedlings that we (I mean Xandy) didn't have the heart to kill.  Funny how that works, he saves the plants and I have to put them in the ground. But I digress...

Here is a tender corn chute that has just emerged. In this plot we have planted onions, potatoes, squash, green beans, corn and the rest of the tomato, broccoli, and cabbage seedlings that we (I mean Xandy) didn’t have the heart to kill. Funny how that works, he saves the plants and I have to put them in the ground. But I digress…

I then walked back by Xandy, out front to check on our garlic. I found my dog relaxing on the front lawn.

This is her favorite spot in both the early evening and early morning.

This is her favorite spot in both the early evening and early morning.

Our garlic, I noticed, is doing fabulously.

The tasty garlic scapes, seed pods that shoot up from the middle of the plant, are starting to grow. I cannot wait to snap them off for cooking.

The tasty garlic scapes, seed pods that shoot up from the middle of the plant, are starting to grow. I cannot wait to snap them off for cooking.

It was while I was picking a few weeds out of the garlic, that I found an interesting purple flowered vine with a hard, round pod that I  wondered if Xandy could identify. I walked back to the deck and asked if he knew what it was.

“No idea,” he said and proceeded to pull apart the pod.

It was hard, and almost felt like a nut.

“It’s wild cucumber, I think,” he said, and then took a bite out of the pod.

“WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING?” I yelled back at him, “That thing could be poisonous.”

“Nah, poisonous stuff tastes bad.” He said, and took another bite. “Hey, this tastes good. I think we should cultivate it.”

I went inside and frantically searched Google and our Audubon Field Guide for answers. I kept listening outside to be sure that I still heard noises from him, and I wondered where we had put the poison control number. Then I found this:

Glecoma hederacea -- Ground Ivy Not poisonous. Surprisingly he was right. It has actually been used for medicinal uses for centuries.

Glecoma hederacea — Ground Ivy
Not poisonous. Shocking. It has actually been used for medicinal purposes for centuries.

The plant could be toxic for these guys, however:

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So I don’t think that we’ll cultivate it just yet.

That’s if from the farm for this evening. Haying starts tomorrow. Xandy mowed a swathe tonight to be wrapped for silage tomorrow. I guess I won’t see him until September. Hopefully, he won’t eat random plants until then…

 

 

 

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Filed under Gardening Attempts

Then I Defy You Winter!

So, that damn Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, as most of us know, and we have been in the throes of a long and frigid winter. For one amazing Saturday we were teased by mid-40 degree sunshine, only to have it ripped away from us. This Saturday our thermometer registered -5 degrees (and that was in the sun).

Today is March 2nd and we decided that enough was enough, shadow or no shadow — today we would tap our maple trees. It is a rite of Spring. We put holes in five of the trees on our front lawn which usually (depending on the year) provides sap to make enough syrup to last throughout the year. I have to admit, Xandy usually taps the trees, but this year I thought it would be a fun family activity so I invited myself along.

 

Here I am tapping my first tree.  Online, I see that most people in the 21st Century use electric drills for the holes -- but not us. Our drill is part of the tradition.

Here I am drilling a hole in my first tree. Online I see that most people in the 21st Century use electric drills for the holes, but not us. Our drill is part of the tradition.

 

After the hole is drilled we place the tubing. We don't have those cool pails like the big sugar houses, but this works.

After the hole is drilled we place the tubing. We don’t have those cool pails like the big sugar houses, but this works. We use food-grade five-gallon buckets to collect our sap. If you look close enough you can see that they are wine making buckets. We have a carboy of banana wine fermenting right now.

 

Although I think our tapping right now is wishful thinking as NOAA is predicting the temps not to get above 20 for most of the week, this tree had some sap flowing after we took the drill out.

Although I think our tapping right now is wishful thinking as NOAA is predicting the temps not to get above 20 for most of the week, this tree had some sap flowing after we took the drill out.

 

Kitt by the end product.  I was freezing by this time, but she seemed to be doing just fine.

Kitt by the end product. I was freezing by this time, but she seemed to be doing just fine.

A photographer from the local paper stopped in the dooryard just as we were finishing up and had us pose for some photos.

“I’d rather take pictures of people doing this than shoveling snow,” he said. We nodded with the understanding of just how God-awful this winter has been.

As the photographer drove away, Xandy had an idea.

“You know I have always wanted to tap the telephone pole. Wouldn’t that be hilarious? People would drive by and wonder what the hell we were doing.”

Thankfully, we don’t have any more tubing, or that photographer would have had another pic for the paper. I shook my head walked towards the barn as Xandy and Kitt went off to “feed things.”

I think the critters were getting hungry.

I think the critters were getting hungry.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Farm Follies, Introduction

Baby Got Bat

“There’s a bat flying around upstairs,” my husband said to me as he went to bed last night.

“A WHAT?”

“A bat. You really need to get your hearing checked.”

“I heard you. I was just processing. What the hell are we going to do?”

He stared at me blankly.

“Can you close Kitt’s door, so the dang thing doesn’t go into her room?” I called after him as he ascended the stairs to do battle. Or so I thought.

About fifteen minutes later (I had to finish the episode of “Suits” that I was watching, a new guilty pleasure –Xandy can handle the flying rodent, I rationalized), I turned on the hallway light and went upstairs to bed. With each step I took, I glanced around for any creatures of the night. The hallway was silent and clear. Even though Kitt’s door was wide open, I didn’t worry as I assumed my husband had taken care of the problem.

Something still nagged at me, however, and I turned on our bedroom light. My husband looked at me amorously from beneath the covers.

“So you must have gotten rid of the bat.” I said as I approached the bed.

“Nope. I have no idea where that thing is.”

“SERIOUSLY? Only you would think of…” I turned to see the small, black critter clinging to the wall opposite the bed staring at us. “It’s right there!”

“Would you look at that.”

“So now what do we do?”

“No clue.”

The bat didn’t even flinch. It just remained in the same position like a miniature gargoyle standing watch.

“We could go to bed,” he said, and it took everything I had not to scream back at him. The last thing we needed was to wake Kitt up.

“We have to get this thing out of here. They carry rabies for God sake.”

Xandy grabbed a dirty work T-Shirt from the floor and walked towards the bat.

“No. Not that. Grab that garbage can. You can trap it and then we’ll cover the can.”

“With what?”

I glanced around the room. Thankfully, a few days ago I had gone on a TJ Maxx shopping spree and had purchased a new set of sheets. This night I was happy about the wasteful use of cardboard in the sheet packaging.

Xandy dropped the T-Shirt, not entirely convinced that my method would work. He grabbed the small bedroom wastebasket and walked slowly towards the bat, which still hadn’t made any sort of movement. I hoped it were dead. That thought only lasted seconds, however, as the moment the can covered the thing, it started to fly around inside of it. Xandy carefully slid the piece of cardboard between the wall and the can, and moved the can from the wall.

I wondered if bats could chew through cardboard as we descended the stairs. Seconds later our visitor was set free to fly the night sky.

“Hey it worked!” I was thrilled that a plan I hatched actually came to fruition.

“Yeah, well, the shirt would have worked fine.”

I just shook my head. Sure it would have. I thought about changing my profession to animal wrangler, but thought better of it when I actually considered keeping the light on for bed.

“This is totally going in the blog tomorrow,” I told him as we finally climbed in bed for the night.

“Only you would document our sex life.”

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August 5, 2013 · 8:14 am

Once a Cheater

On the day that we were married, Xandy delivered hay. Granted, we eloped, but still.

“It’ll be fast. I promise,” he said and then off he went to the farm, to load up twenty or so bales to deliver to some customer whose own livestock was hungry.

I should have known then.

Being a farmer’s wife means that, especially during the summer, you lose your husband, taken not by another woman but by a darker enchantress — the farm. She offers constant stimulation and a place where there is always something needing to be done and/or fed.

Even before moving to the farm, before we were married, I would often not see Xandy until well beyond dark. He’d come home covered in hay and sweat, with a smile that I knew was not for me. It was his idea to marry in early May so that he wouldn’t “be on a tractor pulling a hay wagon for all of our anniversaries.” Truthfully, I yearned for the days when we would finally be living together on the farm so that I could see him more.

And see him now, I do.

I see him out in the hay fields on a tractor round-baling or on the back of a wagon loading square bales. I see him walking the fence in our lower pasture or opening a new paddock for a herd of cattle that just won’t shut-up — wanting the fresh grass that they see beyond where they are fenced in. I see him heading to the barn with his red bucket filled with warm water ready for the milk replacer that keeps the motherless calves in the barn alive or in his truck driving away to check on the free running cattle up the road.

My father-in-law told me, when Xandy and I were first married, that I should not let Xandy talk me out of a vacation. “We can come and watch the farm,” he said. “Don’t let him tell you that he can’t leave.”

I thought about that for the hour or so that Kitt and I sat and waited for the local 4th of July parade. I realized, as I watched fathers with their wives and daughters walk to find spaces to sit, that it never crossed my mind to ask Xandy to go with us to the parade. As I loaded Kitt into the car, he and his father discussed the haying that they would be doing for the day. I waved and left. Perhaps the reason that I never asked was that subconsciously I knew how miserable he would be. He would go, because I asked him to, and then he would tap his foot and look at the sun, quietly longing to be back where there was work to be done. I would then feel pangs of guilt taking any pleasure away from whatever we were doing.

The number of fathers at the parade actually stunned me. Don’t they know that now that the sun is out, there is hay to be made? I thought about that again when I saw friends of mine with their baby at the library yesterday morning. Together. The library. Really.

In the middle of the day.

Xandy and I often talk about taking a family vacation  or an actual honeymoon instead of just an overnight to Boothbay Harbor which is what we had. Maybe someday we will do that. For now, I plan trips for Kitt and I — as she is too young to help in the hay fields. Santa’s Village sounds fun.

“Won’t it be exciting when Kitt is old enough to hay?” My husband looks at me in gleeful anticipation  as I read to him this post. “Then I can come home from work and you can have all the hay raked and tedded ready to go!”

“Um, yeah, exciting.”

Then I will have lost both my husband and daughter to that temptress. Can’t wait.

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July 6, 2013 · 8:33 am

Cow Emergency

I felt as though I had just fallen asleep when I awoke to the ringing phone. For those interested, the phone in our bedroom is not a rotary, but it is attached to the wall across the room. The distance seemed like miles as I glanced at the clock. 1:45 AM. This can’t be good. I pulled myself out of bed and picked up the phone.

“You have cows out, I think.” Said the unfamiliar, female voice on the other end.

My mind didn’t quite register what she said. I think that she understood, as she gave me a moment and then went on, “We just drove by your place, and saw the cows up the road. Do you guys pasture up there?”

“Yes, we do. Honey?” I called over to Xandy hoping that he’d awaken. He barely moved.

“I looked for your number on the internet. We live on a farm, too, so I know that you’d probably want to know.”

“Thanks so much.” I hung up and called to my husband again. This time I added, “the cows are out up the road” to the end of my pleading. He jumped out of bed and dressed within moments.

Let me pause here to explain a little of our grazing practices.  Right now we have cows in three different areas. Most are behind our house, some are across the street in our upper pasture, and five are up the road at the neighbors property. It is the latter that caused Friday evening’s troubles.

“Good luck.” I think I said to him as I crawled back in bed. “I’d come, but you know Kitt.” I have never been so thankful to have a toddler.

I awoke four hours later and reached over to find the other side of the bed empty. Worried, I went downstairs half-expecting to see my husband asleep on the couch, but instead found an empty house and dooryard.

He never came home.

I started to worry that maybe those docile critters were more vicious than I had previously thought.

I called him immediately from my cell.

“Where are you?”

“I slept in my truck. There’s no electricity down here.” That is an enormous problem, as the fence on that land is the flimsy single wire electric fence held up by small fiberglass poles. The only thing holding those cows in is electricity.

The house phone rang as I began to answer him.

“Honey, I have to go the phone is ringing.” 6 AM. Also not good. While I have learned that people have no problem dropping in at early hours, 7 AM is usually the earliest.

“Good Morning. You have cows out all over the place here this morning.”

Another female voice, this time that of a neighbor who lets us know when the cows are out up the road.

“I feel so bad for you guys. There’s one on the yellow line right now.” She said as she hung up. I called Xandy and let him know he needed to find them.  I began to feel helpless.

After another hour passed. I called Xandy again, this time to ask him if he needed me to call his father.

“He’s already here. I called him after I got off the phone with you.”

That also can’t be good. My father-in-law lives an hour away.

“Still no electricity?”

“Nope.”

I went to the freezer downstairs and took out a pound of bacon. It was going to be a long day.

Over eggs later, as his father went to buy extension cords, I learned of my husband’s plight the night before. It seems as though the electrical ground wire that powers the electric fence no longer works which allowed the cows to knock down the flimsy wires and leave the pasture.

“I didn’t have a flashlight, and I couldn’t get them to follow me. I came back to the barn and got some hay. It worked for a while.” He told himself he had two options: leave the cows and go back to bed or sleep there in his truck in case they got out again. He opted for option two. They later escaped, again, this time across the road to a nearby brook. He knew that he needed help when he saw that, and called in his father for reinforcements.

“I started to wonder if our cattle had become carnivores.” I told him.

His father returned with supplies and told his own past story of escaped critters.

“I had a couple of work horses that got out around 6 AM and the fog was thick,” he told me. “Cows, at least, are afraid of the road. Horses, are not because they are used to being on it. Those horses took off running up the middle of the road. THAT was scary.” The farmer’s example of a fish tale, I supposed.

Xandy came back in from feeding the critters in the barn and headed back out with his father to fix the electricity, which happened finally by 12:30 P.M. Xandy was asleep on the couch by 1:00 P.M. This time, I was able to let him sleep.

Until the next cow emergency, I thought. Which, thankfully, has yet to happen.

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June 30, 2013 · 10:35 am

No, Honey, You Have to Stand Up When You Do That

I was raised in a household of women. I mention this only because men in many ways are a mystery to me, as I am sure women are for most men.

My lack of understanding came out yesterday when I was outside working on our raised beds, replanting some of the seed that the flooding rains washed away. Kitt looked at me and said, “Mommy, I have to pee.” Wondering when children stop telling their parents this, and then realizing that I still say the same thing to my coworkers, I nodded and told her to come back out when she was done.

She then began to pull down her pants in the middle of the backyard.

“What are you doing?!?” I screamed out at her, incredulous.

“Well, I want to pee in the grass.”

“Honey, there’s a perfectly good bathroom in the house. Please make use of it.”

“But I WANT TO PEE IN THE GRASS!”

“NO. INSIDE.”

She ran off towards the inside. A few minutes later she came jogging back towards me smiling.

“Did you go inside?”

“No. I went in the front.”

“Ugh, why did you do that? I told you to go inside.”

“Daddy taught me how.”

Of course he did. My first thought was of the DHS worker who was going to knock on my door because I obviously was not taking care of my 3 1/2-year-old daughter, my second was the memory of Xandy relating to me how he showed her how to pee in the barn.

“You know that she is not a boy right. She just can’t stand up and pee.” I had said to him at the time.

“She’s fine. She likes it!” He told me. I think I told him that no girl likes peeing all over herself because she is standing up straight, and he nodded and walked off like he usually does.

Now, a couple of years later, as I sat rocking on the front porch with my sister-in-law (whose idea it was for this post), I noticed that Kitt had pulled her pants down and was sitting in the grass on a hill in the front yard.

“What is she doing?” I asked my husband as he walked toward me.

“Peeing.”

“But she is sitting down in the grass!”

“Yeah well, she was having a tough time standing up so I told her to sit down.”

“HoNEY, that is NOT how girls pee outside. Seriously. She has to lean.”

He answered with a nod and a “It’s a work in progress.”

It sure is.

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June 20, 2013 · 6:59 am

Day #6: Farm Improvements Part Two

My husband has a Political Science degree from Northeastern (have I mentioned that?), and while in college he spent three months at an internship for a nonprofit in Belgium. While there, he spent time working on a variety of environmental issues — with the largest being climate change. Part of the discussion at the time was the changing climate in northern areas (like Maine). According to the research, we here in Maine would start to experience more temperate winters and rainier summers.

With those rainy summers in mind, Xandy later created a five-year plan for the farm which included a larger tractor, a round-baler (to augment the square-baling system that the farm already uses), and a round-bale wrapper. There are a few reasons for that plan, with one of the major being that with a wrapper, you can wrap wet hay to make silage. His plan has now been accomplished.

LongMeadows Farm, LLC is now the proud owner of the following pieces of equipment:

Purchase #1 -- the John Deere circa 1985. This is, by far, the newest tractor on the farm. (If you don't count my John Deere D140 lawn tractor!)

Purchase #1 — the John Deere circa 1985. This is, by far, the newest tractor on the farm. (If you don’t count my John Deere D140 lawn tractor!)

 

The round baler -- this thing is DEFINITELY much easier than throwing square bales. Although, you don't get quite as fit haying with this.

The round baler — this thing is DEFINITELY much easier than throwing square bales. Although, you don’t get quite as fit haying with this.

The wrapper -- My sister says this thing looks like a carnival ride when it is in action. I will have to upload video later this summer.

The wrapper — My sister says this thing looks like a carnival ride when it is in action. I will have to upload video later this summer.

Tune in tomorrow for my last installment of me being nice to my husband. (I hope that he doesn’t get too used to it!)

 

 

 

 

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June 3, 2013 · 9:40 pm

Day #3: The Winter Projects

On this sweltering, spring day (the thermometer in my classroom reads 86.2 F right now), I thought it would be nice to write about my husband’s winter projects.

I often think about what my husband would be like if he didn’t have so many things to keep him busy. Since this is the week that I have vowed not to make fun of him, I won’t talk about how I think that he would surely become some sort of raging alcoholic or gambling addict because he would be so bored.

That would be mean.

Every winter, Xandy has his “To-Do List” filled with a variety of projects. Some of this winter’s projects included a puppet house for Kitt and refinishing rocking chairs for our front porch.

If you look closely at the photo of our farm, you can see the red chairs on our front porch. Here is a photo of Kitt in front of the puppet house this morning, please disregard the rest of the mess that is the den around her. :

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The house turned out much larger than Xandy expected. Right now, we have a stool in the back so that Kitt can more easily reach through the curtains.

Past winters have brought us these gems:

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This is actually two years worth of work. The first is the hutch itself, and the second is the wine rack on the bottom. He made it so that it fits 1.5 L bottles. I guess I may be the raging alcoholic. Or maybe my cat Ciggy is…look at her check out the rack!

The massive book and record rack. Check out the titles on the top -- Xandy went through boxes and boxes of books left on the farm from his great, grandmother and his grandmother. Not anachronistic at all, honey! (But super, cool!)

The massive book and record rack. Check out the titles on the top — Xandy went through boxes and boxes of books left on the farm from his great, grandmother and his grandmother. Not anachronistic at all, honey! (But super, cool!)

My favorite of his winter projects -- the book shelf he built me before we even moved to the farm. You'll notice that Kitt's books have begun to creep up the shelves. I think it may be time for him to build me a new one!

My favorite of his winter projects — the book shelf he built me before we even moved to the farm. You’ll notice that Kitt’s books have begun to creep up the shelves. I think it may be time for him to build me a new one!

Come back tomorrow for Day #4. I will start to show off some of Xandy’s home improvements.

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May 31, 2013 · 7:01 pm

Day #2: Yes, We are Building One of Those

This is the second of my week-long installments on why my husband rocks and has to do with something that he and my father-in-law have been working on this spring in our back pasture.

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Our Covered Bridge. Yup, just like we are in the 1840s.

Yes, That is exactly what you think it is — a freaking COVERED BRIDGE.

Last year the farm was able to put the bridge in as a cattle crossing. At the time, I remember my husband saying, “Ya know. It would really be fun to have a covered bridge on the property.”

This year — after hard work by he and his father — we are well on our way to having just that. To any of you construction-savvy folk out there, please realize that this has been built “farmer style.” When I asked Xandy just what that meant, he mentioned something about lack of braces and such (which I am sure are not necessary or anything).

Anyway, here are some more photos of the bridge:

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The view from the river side of the bridge.

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The view at the roof so far. The plan is to add a metal roof with funds from this fall’s beef sales.

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Looking out at the cows. I was worried that the building may freak them out, but no worries. They trotted right across!

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The approach to the bridge.

The Covered Bridge — reason #2 my husband my impresses me so much. Tomorrow — tune in for some of his winter projects.

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May 30, 2013 · 7:24 pm

Who’s an Anachronism?

After my last post, my husband asked me if I really thought that he was an anachronism.

I tried to suppress my laughter (TRIED, an audible guffaw came out), and said “I love you, hon, but, Um….yeah.”

I listed for him some of the reasons that I thought such, which (of course) he could not deny. Here is a version of our discussion:

1) He refuses to be on Facebook, or “FaceSpace” as he calls it. He doesn’t need “one more damn thing to waste time on.” Can’t really argue with him there — although when he wanted a page for the farm, he didn’t hesitate to ask me to build one.

2) We have not one but TWO rotary phones in our house.

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Kitchen Phone — it almost matches our yellow wallpaper.

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Den phone — man, I have to do something about that wallpaper.

“But I can HEAR better out of those phones,” he said in disgust when I added those to the list. I then reminded him that I was the one with the hearing problem. SIDE NOTE: what bothers me most about those phones is the fact that the handset is attached to the phone. This is especially annoying when someone calls while I am making dinner, and my husband (being helpful of course) looks over to our digital caller ID cordless phone to see who is calling, and then proceeds to answer the rotary. “Honey, it’s for you,” he says and then drops the phone on the counter far out of my reach.

3) Radio and Music Selection — I am the first to admit that I am not all “up on” new music. I honestly get most of my knowledge of new music from my addiction to Glee, but my husband is a bit more extreme. Wherever we go, the radio immediately is turned to one of two stations — AM1490 or AM1160 — one of which hosts the Frank Sinatra Hour. Both may have selections from some of the artists gracing his record collection, a representation of which follows:

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4) He is technologically challenged. I can’t tell you how many times he has ventured off into the living room to turn on Dora the Explorer only to realize he completely forgot how to work the remote control. I’d sit in the kitchen and wait for the inevitable “HONEY, I CAN’T MAKE THE CLICKER WORK.”

5) His lack of desire to leave the farm. Although this final addition to my list just may be the farmer in him. He claims to itch when he has to go anywhere south of Augusta. If you know Maine, you know that south of Augusta is pretty much ALL of the United States.

I am hard on him though — so next week, stay tuned for the list of all of the amazing things that he does. I’ll try to do one a day!

 

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May 25, 2013 · 1:47 pm