There are some who start their retirement long before they stop working. -Robert Half

Sunday, September 13, 2009

The End.

Dear Blogworld,

So, I've been putting off this entry for a while now. I guess I just figured that as long as my blog isn't over, my year with Grammy and Papa isn't over either. That's how it works, right? Yeah. But, now that I'm three weeks into graduate school, I suppose it is time to move on...

Maybe you're wondering what will come of all these experiences I've had, and maybe you don't really care, but I am currently compiling my year into a book that will someday become a bestseller and Grammy, Papa and I will make zillions of dollars which we will use to:
1) Hire someone to take care of that dang flower garden at church
2) Feed hungry children
3) Start our Food Network show, Grammy and Me!

I hope you've enjoyed my life, because I know I sure have! I mean, not that it's over or anything morbid like that. It's just different now...and by "different" I mean vastly less awesome. But, I have discovered that I really like writing (yes, Mom, you were right the whole time...I like writing) so I'm starting a new blog: Things People Do. Plus, Papa always tells me I have good penmanship, which either means I have good handwriting or that I'm a good writer. I'm not sure. Maybe he means both.

So, as we used to say in Girl Scouts:
Day is done, gone the sun,
Something something something,
All is well, something about rest,
God is nigh?

(Actually, the only thing I remember about that good-bye song is the beginning and the fact that it had the word "nigh" in it. I just liked Girl Scouts because I got to wear a beanie.)

Thanks for reading!


Sunday, July 5, 2009


Like I've said before, Grammy and I like to put lemons in our water.  We have a special dish in the refrigerator that holds our cut lemons and we have a special cutting board we use to cut them.  Papa likes lemons, also, but likes them in his iced tea, not his water.  Every time we go out to eat, Papa gets iced tea and puts in two lemons and two Sweet-and-Lows. 
The other week, my little brother, Logan, came down to visit and we all went to Kline's for dinner. Papa ordered his iced tea, but it didn't have a lemon in it so he asked the waitress: "Could you bring me some lemon? I really like a lot of lemon in my tea."
In response, the waitress came out with an entire bowl filled with lemons. I mean, there was probably a whole lemon in there.  When she set it down on our table, Papa just laughed and said: "She obviously doesn't know how much these cost!"  I could tell he was happy that he had all those lemons, but he was still embarrassed, so he made Grammy hide the lemon bowl at the back of the table behind the salt and pepper shakers.  At the end of the meal, Grammy wrapped up the lemons in a napkin and took them home because: "They would just have to throw them away anyway!"
Recently, Logan and I have been taking turns mowing the grass for Papa since we live in hot and humid Missouri and it grows so darn fast. So, when we got home from our lemon experience at Kline's, we shoved Logan on the riding mower and sent him on his way. That is, after we made sure he complied with the lawn-mowing dress code.

Lawn mowing dress code:
-Big yellow ear muffs that amazingly block out all sound.
-Safety glasses. Well, Papa always tries to make us wear the safety glasses at least, but they are actually a pair of his old prescription glasses that none of us can see out of because they aren't our prescription. That doesn't stop Papa from telling us how protective they are, though. Logan really wishes that he could wear them because, who am I kidding, they are incredible. They are square and have really thick lenses. Unfortunately, lawn mower disasters would most likely happen if Grammy and I allowed him to put them on.  When Papa tries to get us to wear them, Grammy just says: "Bill, they can't wear those! They can't see anything out of them! Just let them wear their sunglasses!"
-Old shoes. And if you don't have any old shoes, you have to wear their shoes. One time I was wearing my tennis shoes and Grammy walked up to me with her "gardening shoes" and told me I should wear her shoes so mine don't get grass stains.
-A hat.  Grammy makes Logan wear this bucket hat and makes me wear this big, floppy straw hat.
-Sunscreen. And a lot of it. Sometimes Grammy will make you reapply halfway through. Though, it does take three hours to mow the lawn, so it's probably good that she makes us reapply. 
-A water bottle or jug. Along with sunscreen patrol, Grammy is also the water police. Even though it apparently gives you cancer, Grammy still reuses her plastic water bottles, so when you mow the lawn, she'll give you a frozen bottle to hydrate yourself.
-If it is really sunny out, Grammy will also make you wear a long-sleeved shirt.

Now, growing up in the Brunner house means that everyone knows how to mow the lawn. That being said, when we mow the lawn at Grammy and Papa's, we start back at Lawn Mowing 101. The first time you mow, Papa will take you out and teach you about how a lawn mower works and show you all the recommended gears. Then he will stand outside and watch you mow the entire lawn, giving you hand signals to tell you where he wants you to go. Since the hand signals are quite confusing, I've developed a key:

If you see Papa:
-Wave his arm in a circle above his head, it means you should turn around. Most likely so that the mower doesn't blow the grass onto the sidewalk. Sometimes, however, waving his arm in a circle means to go around something. If unsure, just start doing one of these things and watch for his reaction. If he stops waving, then you did the right thing.
-Jab his finger in a certain direction, it means you should probably go that direction. Either that or he's telling you to avoid something in the yard. Like a bird house. Or a tree.  If he stops pointing, then you did the right thing.
-Walk toward you, he has something to tell you. It is probably something like: "Make sure you don't hit Grammy's flowers" or "If you think you missed a spot, you can get it on the next round." 

Sometimes, you'll look over at Papa and he'll be waving his arms around and you won't have any idea what he is trying to tell you. In this situation, I usually just keep mowing and hope I magically do what he's trying to get me to do. Usually, it isn't what he wanted me to do.

The first time you mow the lawn, Papa will watch you the entire time, hand signals included. The second time, he'll watch you part of the time, and after that, you're home free.  I asked Papa why he always watches me mow and he said: "Because you're safer and won't go as fast when I watch you. Who knows how fast you'd turn that mower on if I went inside!"

One of the hardest parts about mowing is cutting the grass around Grammy's flower beds. She has four big flower beds around the yard filled with day-lilies and irises that have leaves that stick out over the grass making it difficult to avoid them. During the spring, Grammy and I would care for the flowers every day. I had no idea that flowers required so much care and attention because as a child, I hated gardening. Maybe it was because gardening meant pulling weeds. And not just pulling them, but pulling them so the entire root came out and if it didn't come out, it meant digging out the roots. Living with Grammy, however, has made me appreciate and even enjoy gardening.  I never dreamed that I would find so much satisfaction in popping the dead tops off of irises or pulling weeds from the cracks in the sidewalk. Maybe this is just another sign of my impending retirement. Going out to check on the flowers, we always knew when Papa mowed the lawn, because aside from the shorter grass, there were chopped up flower leaves surrounding the flower beds. Grammy would pick up the severed leaves and say: "Look at these poor flowers! How hard is it to slow down around the flower beds!?"
Maybe the plants were looking sickly.  Papa doesn't like sickly plants.  One day I walked out to see him at his garden and he was digging up some of his tomato plants and planting new ones.  When I asked him what in the world he was doing, he just told me that he was getting rid of the sickly ones. They didn't look very sickly to me. He also tried to get rid of one of Grammy's Hostas because it looked sickly. Grammy wouldn't let him, however, because Grammy is the kind of person who will nurse a sick plant for years in hopes of reviving it.  Much to Grammy's satisfaction, the Hosta is blooming beautifully now.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The Hip Side.

Up to this point, you might think that the bustling metropolis of Owensville, Missouri consists only of church functions and Metamucil, but there you are wrong.  You, like me, might wonder where the 18-25 age demographic can be found in this quaint retirement destination. Luckily, I have been enlightened (though I use the word "enlightened" loosely so as not to confuse my experiences with things like art museums and classical novels). The other weekend, my friends Abby and Ashley came down to visit and experience the life I lead. Or maybe I should say the life I don't lead because Grammy, Papa and I definitely don't hit up the wineries and bars. Anyway, we started off our weekend at Wenwood Winery in Bland, Missouri where we sipped wine and listened to live music. I've decided that this is my favorite winery in Missouri. I mean, it's at least my favorite of the four I've been to. Wenwood Winery is way out in the beautiful Missouri countryside in an old, rustic barn. And they have a puppy there. And, after sampling all of their wine, we were happy and shocked to say that we liked all of them. Three points in their favor.
Our day then went from classy to classier as we ventured to Clancy's in Rosebud where we did not order the special (it was fried chicken and I'm not a fan of chicken-on-the-bone. Don't tell Papa). Ashley loved Clancy's (I mean, what's not to love?) even though they only carded her when she ordered a beer.  She told me she was amazed they didn't card me, too, since we both look so young, but I just reminded her that I'm a regular. And proud of it.
And if you thought the excitement stopped there, you're wrong once again. After Clancy's, we headed back to Owensville to experience the hoppin' nightlife. Now, I'd had dreams about the Hip Side of O-ville before, but those dreams had nothing on the real thing.  Our bar of choice for the night was the Miller Pub. Why, you may ask? Well, Julie, Ashley and Abby are friends. Abby is dating a boy named Chris. Chris has a dad named Ron. Ron and his wife Brenda own a bar in Owensville called the Miller Pub. CONNECTION MADE!  Isn't that nuts!? What are the chances that your best friend's boyfriend's dad would own a bar in the town you temporarily retire in!? Anyway, instead of boring you with a minute by minute recount of the night, I'll just give you some highlights:

Highlights of the Night:
-We made lots of friends. It could have been because we were the only people who weren't completely wasted, over thirty, and dancing, but who am I to tell? Our loudest new friend was named Adam. It was new friend Adam's birthday and he kept telling us the band wouldn't play him a birthday song. We asked him what his birthday song is and he told us it is House of the Rising Sun. Later, however, Adam somehow got ahold of a guitar and a microphone and started playing it himself, until he forgot the words and another guy started singing them for him. Apparently he's "usually 10,000,000 times better than that."
- I experienced my first bar fight! Actually, I experienced my first two bar fights. The first one was between new friend Adam and some other guy who thought Adam was hitting on his girlfriend. Jealous boyfriend was also one of the participants in the second fight. I guess I can check "witness a real bar fight" off of my Things to do Before I Die list.
-Ashley (who is married) got a phone number from a kid drinking straight from a pitcher. First off, I call him a "kid" because he seriously looked like he was seventeen. After carding him, we discovered he is apparently 22. Anyway, he wrote his number on his hand and held it up to Ashley's face, while still drinking from his pitcher; I mean, that takes talent. He even messed up writing it once and had to scribble it out and write it on his palm again. What a winner.
-There was a guy with a mullet. A real mullet. It brought a tear to my eye (because it was painful to look at).
-Adam bought us all a shot called a Russian Roulette. It was pretty intense. The bartender brought out the shots, a metal bowl with lemons and sugar inside, and a lighter and then lit the lemon bowl on fire. Apparently the next step is to swirl the bowl of lemons until the fire goes out. Luckily, new friend Adam was in charge of the lemon bowl and thus dropped flaming balls of lemony sugar all over the table.

After much excitement, we headed back to Grammy and Papa's where we thankfully morphed back into retirement. In the morning, we quilted, ate a butter braid pastry, and classified birds. I'm too old to act 23.

Squirrel hunting.

All good things must come to an end, thus the end of the school year was inevitable. After a year filled with college applications and excited smiles, I came home to find Papa looking out the window at the backyard. After I set my belongings down in my room, Papa called to me:
Papa: Did you see my squirrel out there?
Julie: Is he eating all the bird food?
Papa: Come look. He's dead. I shot him.

And it was. So, if you had any fear that the squirrel hunting days were over, take a deep sigh of relief. Papa shot the squirrel and laid its dead carcass right next to the bird feeder, hoping, but failing, to scare the other squirrels away. Within thirty seconds of watching the dead squirrel body lying pathetically in the grass, another squirrel came up and started eating bird seed off of the grass right next to it. I told Papa his theory didn't work and he better dispose of the animal remains before we all get some weird squirrel flu. I mean, we could have been the beginning of the next flu pandemic!  Right when the swine flu started spreading, Grammy got sick and we obviously thought the worst. Luckily, she had the flu, but not of the swine variety.  Her doctor, however, told her she wasn't allowed to cook to keep it from spreading to the rest of us, so instead, she just hovered in the kitchen and watched Papa and me. I could tell that not being able to help was killing her and on Soup and Sandwich Night I caught her stirring our soup, so Papa and I scolded her and sent her out of the kitchen. Anyway, all of our preventative actions didn't help because I got the flu the next week. And I thought my life was over. I'm really bad at being sickly because I don't get sick very often, so I just laid on the bathroom floor clutching my stomach and waiting for my imminent death. Papa would just tell me: "I'm healthy. You have to have strength. Strength." Then he would look at me and flex his muscles. Luckily, my death didn't come and after a few days of life in a cold sweat, I recovered.

Okay, back to the squirrels: In order to assure the best shot at his unsuspecting victims, Papa took the screen out of the window by the dinner table and propped the gun within reach. This way, he can sit at the table with the window cracked and is ready to kill the minute he sees that bushy tail swish. The worst is when he spies a squirrel, but is not within reach of his weapon. The other day we were making dinner and there were three extremely skinny squirrels out by the bird feeder so I told Papa:
Julie: I see some of your squirrel friends out there.
Papa: Too bad I don't have my gun. Boy, look how skinny they are!
Grammy: You know, Papa used to eat squirrel for dinner.
Papa: Yeah; squirrel gravy and squirrel soup. Imagine having that skinny squirrel slapped across your plate.

I tried not to imagine it, but the image of a grilled squirrel-kabob forced itself through my mental barriers and to the front of my mind.  And I thought ham was bad.

Anyway, for some reason, we dislike the grey squirrels more than the red squirrels. It has something to do with the fact that the red ones apparently come from the woods, but I can't figure out the difference. I mean, both colors of squirrel:
1) Eat the bird food. Grammy says both colors are greedy and just make messes.
2) Dig up Grammy's flower beds. A few weeks ago, the weather was finally steady enough (meaning the chance of a freak frost had diminished to 50%) to plant flowers on the front and back porches. After finishing all the flower beds on the back porch, Grammy headed to the front porch to plant, at which time, a squirrel promptly came by and dug up all the flowers in the back.  Later that night, we were sitting on the back porch when, all of a sudden, Grammy yells: "I'm going to KILL THEM!" We looked over and there were holes and disheveled flowers scattered throughout Grammy's meticulously planted flower beds. Thus, we devised a screen and brick covering to prevent further destruction.

Even though Grammy says she hates the squirrels, I think she secretly likes them. Sometimes she saves food for them and scatters it in the field behind the house. She also has a nail on a tree that she can stick a dried cob of corn on for them.

We also have a chipmunk that lives on the back porch underneath one of the flower beds, but you won't see any dead chipmunks littering our backyard. We like chipmunks.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Grammy's Guide to Backyard Birds.

Now that the weather has started warming up, Grammy, Papa and I spend a lot of time sitting at the table and watching birds out of the big window facing the backyard. We even had to change my dinnertime seating assignment so that I didn't have to have my back to the window. In preparation for spring, Grammy gathered her bird books, identification guides and binoculars for easy classification and admiration of our backyard wildlife. So, for your viewing pleasure, let me introduce you to...

Grammy's Guide to Backyard Birds
Birds We Like:
1) American Goldfinch: Grammy says this is actually just a yellow sparrow. This bird is classified by its small size and yellow color. It has black wings and a black stripe on its head and eats small seeds like thistle. Our bird guide states that they: "Specialize in eating fruits and seeds of plants in sunflower family." We have a finch feeder, which is a long bag filled with thistle, that hangs on the back porch. It has a picture of a finch on it; probably so they know it's for them.
2) Purple Finch: We don't get very many of these, but they are a dark reddish-brown color and are bigger than the Goldfinch. That's all we know about them.
3) Oriole: This was an exciting year for orioles in our backyard. A lady from church told Grammy that if she puts grape jelly in the backyard, she'll get orioles because that is their favorite thing to eat. We've never gotten orioles before. In fact, my dad, who is a forester, had never even seen one before coming to Owensville one weekend. Needless to say, they do eat grape jelly. And a lot of it, might I add. Grammy also bought a special oriole feeder and special oriole food, but they won't eat out of it. Papa says it's because we spoil them with the grape jelly. They do eat from the hummingbird feeders, though, and one day when Papa was watching it try to eat from the small holes made for hummingbirds, he looked at me, laughed and said: "They sure are dumb, aren't they?" Anyway, orioles truly are the prettiest birds I've ever seen. We have two types: the Baltimore Oriole and the Orchard Oriole. Baltimore Orioles are bright orange with black heads and black wings. And when I say bright, I mean it. Think of the brightest orange crayon that Crayola makes and multiply it by two and you have the brightness of these birds. Well, the males at least. Female animals always have to be uglier. My friend, Abby, said it's just because boys have to try and dazzle us before we choose one. The Orchard Orioles are more of a darker orange. Think the Crayola crayon called Burnt Sienna.
4) Northern Cardinal: Characterized by their red color and tufted heads, these birds are one of our favorites. I like the female cardinals better than the male cardinals (the typical all-red color) because they are cuter. They are a pretty brown color with a subtle red tint and they don't have that black patch over their eyes. Grammy loves cardinals and whenever she sees one, she runs to the window and says: "There's my little cardinal! Oh look at him! He's so polite!" Manners are important in our judgement of birds and cardinals are the most polite. If one bird is eating from the bird feeder, they will wait for it to finish before they fly up. And if there is another bird waiting, they will scoot over so they can share the feeder.
5) Martin: Honestly, I've never seen a martin, but Grammy tells me they exist. Apparently they eat eggshells to build up calcium for their eggs, so Grammy always takes her old eggshells out into the yard for them. We also have martin houses, so I guess they do exist somewhere.
6) Ruby-throated Hummingbird: I never realized how loud these birds are. They sound like over-sized killer bees and drink nectar, or sugar-water in our case. Our bird guide says they're shy, but it definitely lies. Our hummingbirds are not afraid of humans or lawn mowers or other animals. In fact, sometimes they get so close I think they might hit me. The other weekend my brother Andy came to visit and was sitting on the back porch swing when two hummingbirds swooped right toward him and buzzed around him for a second before flying off to their feeders for hydration. Hummingbirds are also very loving and attached to each other (at least Grammy and I think they are). The other day, two hummingbirds were flying by the window and one of them ran into it, forcefully I might add. Grammy and I jumped up from the table and watched it go and perch on the top of the porch. The whole time it was sitting there, its friend was buzzing around it making sure it was going to survive. It was so cute. When it finally recuperated, they both flew off together toward the setting sun.
7) House Wren: These birds are small and brown and live in the special wren houses that Grammy puts in the backyard. And, yes, that is their natural habitat. Sometimes swallows build nests in their houses, which means we have to go and pull out the swallow nests so the wrens can move in, taking us back to my least favorite backyard activity.
8) Tufted Titmouse: Small, gray birds with little tufts on their heads that make them look like they're wearing Robin Hood hats. These are my favorite birds because they're really small and they bounce around when they are on the ground. I like animals that hop. I also like it because it has this cute little white face and its description in the bird guide says its song is "hauntingly pretty." What wonderful descriptive language! I wish we had the Plain Titmouse in our area, too because the bird guide says: "Can be saucy when accustomed to people." Any bird described as "saucy" is a bird I would like to be around.
9) Mourning Dove: I used to think these birds represented peace and happiness. That was when I thought they were called Morning Doves, as in: "Look at this beautiful morning! The sun is shining, the birds are singing, and all the people of the world are holding hands in harmony!" Not the case. They are actually called Mourning Doves, as in: "Let me mourn the condition of the world we live in. The rainforest is being destroyed, children are dying of malnutrition and diseases every day and war and fighting are leading us to self-destruction." Isn't it funny how the spelling of a word can completely change the meaning? Hopefully our doves still know where to find that olive leaf. I think they do.
10) White-breasted Nuthatch: These birds are also some of my favorites. They have blue backs, white breasts (obviously), and either a black head (males) or a black stripe across their necks (females). The best part about them is their ability to defy gravity and walk headfirst down tree trunks and branches. It is so incredible! It looks like they should be plummeting to the ground, but instead they just scamper around without a care. If Spiderman had a favorite bird, which I'm sure he does, I'm confident it would be this one.
11) Red-winged Blackbirds: These birds look like regular blackbirds, but they have a big red spot at the top of their wings that kind of flashes when they fly. Even though they're "possibly the most abundant land bird in the United States," I still really like them. Grammy likes them, too, because sometimes they chase away our least favorite birds.
12) Indigo Bunting: This is Papa's favorite bird. It is small and bright blue and, if possible, gets even brighter in the sun; it almost looks like it shimmers! Whenever we see one of these, we call to Papa: "Papa! Here comes one of your Indigo Buntings!" and Papa comes over to the window to watch it.
13) American Robin: I don't know why, but I don't really like robins. I think it's because they are always carrying some dead insect in their mouths, but Grammy likes them so they get to be in the "Birds we like" category. There is also this robin that always chirps mean things at me when I try to weed the flower bed on the side of the house. She must have a nest over there, but still, there is no need for all that racket! Grammy thinks they're nice, caring birds, though because they protect their young and are always searching for food to feed them with.
14) Red-bellied Woodpecker: These woodpeckers are striped black and white and have a tan belly, not a red belly. I don't know where they got their name, but I didn't name them! The males have a red top of their head and the females have red on the back of their head, making them look like they have a receding hairline. I don't really have much to say about these except they do what all woodpeckers do. They peck holes in wooden things.
15) Eastern Bluebird: This is another of Grammy's favorite bird, but we don't see them very often. They are blue with brown bellies and like to eat fruit. Sometimes after we take a swallow nest out of the bird houses, we put apples around the bottom of it to entice bluebirds to live there. I don't know if it is working because I don't like to open the bird houses to check what's living in there. One time, Grammy went to check one and a bird flew out at her head. I don't really like it when animals fly at my head, unless it is a chinchilla. I think that is the one animal that I would like flying into my face because they are so cute and fluffy! One time my sister and I had to pet-sit for a family with a chinchilla and we would just go and sit in its room and let it jump around on the furniture and roll around in volcano dust. I had no idea that volcano dust even existed, but it does and chinchillas like to spin around in it. It was life changing.

Birds We Don't Like:
1) Common Grackle: The most despised of our backyard birds, these vicious killers are black with beady little eyes, a long tail and a long, pointed beak. Our bird guide describes them like this: "Thrives in cities, suburbs. Extremely aggressive toward smaller birds; steals eggs, eats nestlings, decapitates adults." DECAPITATES!? Every time I see one, all I can do is imagine him flying toward a bird and slicing its head off with its beak. And, unfortunately, we have a lot in our backyard. Sometimes Grammy and I sit at the table and watch for them to come so we can bang on the windows and scare them away. Being the evil birds they are, however, they are no longer scared of our banging so now we have to get up and run outside to scare them away. One day they were eating all the suet put out for the robins, so Grammy started muttering: " I'll just poison them! I'll find some arsenic and put it on that suet." Other things we want to happen to them include: be eaten by a hawk, hit them with a BB gun, and let a snake get them. Now, we're not vicious people, but if you mess with our birds, you better watch your back. Grammy says: "This is supposed to be a safe haven for birds, not some place for GRACKLES!"
2) Blue Jays: These are large, blue birds who tend to bully the other, smaller birds away from the bird feeders. They tend to scare the cardinals away on a regular basis, which is not the way to get on Grammy's good side. They also can't open seeds on their own, so they fill up their throats with tons of seeds and then go to a hard surface to break them all open. So, they're greedy and scare cute birds away: two points that are not in their favor.
3) Hawks: Unless they're eating snakes or grackles.

Birds We Don't Really Care About:
1) Barn Swallow: These birds come over from the barn on the farm behind our house. We don't really care about them unless they make nests in the wren houses. When they fly, they tend to fly upwards and then swoop down again. They are black with brown bellies and kind of look like bats when they flap their wings.
2) Sparrow: Basically, just a brown bird. They are kind of cute because they have such little beaks, but not cute enough to be in our "Birds we like" category.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I have come to the conclusion that if I lived in Harry Potter world, I would unfortunately be in Slytherin. Even though every online Harry Potter quiz I've taken says I'm supposed to be in Gryffindor (maybe it tells everyone that because that is the house everyone wants to be in), the evidence points in favor of Slytherin for these two reasons:

First reason: I've been driving for 8 years now which, I think, has given me ample time to see a plethora of road kill. However, in all this time, I have never seen a dead snake on the road. Sure, I've seen squirrels, deer, bunnies, raccoons, birds, foxes, and armadillos, but never a snake. On a side note, when did armadillos start existing in mid-Missouri? Thanks for nothing, Global Warming. Along with the other terrible side effects that our planet's rising temperature has caused, armadillos have moved to Missouri and it TOTALLY grosses me out. I don't know why, but every time I see a dead armadillo, I get really creeped out and a chill runs down my spine (I've never seen a live one, but I bet it would happen then, too). Armadillos scare me, and this is why:
1) They look so mean! I tend to be scared of things with armor-like bodies. You know, things like dinosaurs, dragons, armadillos and roly-poly's. Yes, roly-polys. Don't judge me. When I was little, someone told me that there are two types of roly-poly and one type is highly poisonous and the only way to tell the difference is to see if it is somewhat flat. Now, I don't know if that is true, but in my head it is. Come to think of it, I'm pretty sure it was my older brother, Andy, who told me that and he also told me that if I ever blew a bubble and could see the reflection of a blue piano in it, I would die immediately, so every time I would blow bubbles, I would look in each of them to make sure they didn't have a picture of a piano in them. Maybe I should have used a little more discretion when taking advice from Andy. I swear, my tendency to trust will be my downfall. Maybe I should have been more like Grammy when she was little. She said that her brother, Carl, used to tease her all the time and she would just let it all build up inside her until one day she would snap. One time Carl was teasing her while she was doing her homework so she turned around and stabbed him in the shoulder with a pencil. She got in lots of trouble for that one. She also said that Carl had this globe in his room that she used to hit him with; "I would just pick it up and whop him with it so it always had this huge dent in one side."
2) When I see a dead armadillo on the side of the road, I can practically feel the diseases coming from it. Maybe it stems from the fact that they look scary, but I think armadillos have more diseases than other roadkill. The germs and deadly virus' practically seep out of each fold in their armor. It's the truth. Everyone knows that cute animals don't carry diseases. They're too fluffy.
3) Someone told me they hiss. Imagine walking along the road and turning to see a hissing armadillo running toward you. Yeah, I know. I'm going to have nightmares, too.

Anyway, back to Slytherin. In the past two weeks, I have run over two snakes and I'm scarred for life. The problem with hitting snakes is that there is no way to avoid them because believe me, I totally would have if I could. They pretty much span the width of my car which means straddling them is out of the question. So, if you've never hit a snake with your car, this is what happens: You're driving along, minding your own business, when in the distance you can see something long on the road. Hoping it is just a stick, you keep going and realize it is a snake. Being the safe driver you are, you start screaming and take your feet off the pedals, hoping your car will magically lift off the ground because if it doesn't, you'll surely hit the snake and it will definitely fly up into your open window to latch onto your neck and cause instant death. But, as gravity will have it, your car doesn't lift up and you hear it thump under your tires. In your rear-view window, you can see it writhing all over the road behind you. Afterward, you might feel like vomiting, and that is completely normal.
When I told Grammy that I ran over some snakes and how traumatizing it was, she said: "Well, good! You did the world a favor!" Then we continued to talk about how snakes are Satan in animal form. She kept telling me: "Anything that slithers around like that can't be good."

Second reason: The other day, Grammy and I were cleaning out birdhouses in the backyard because there were sparrows living in them and Grammy wanted bluebirds to live in them. This is my least favorite activity at Grammy's so far because it is DISGUSTING. Bird nests are really gross and filled with random assortments of feathers, yard debris and salmonella. Anyway, on our way back to the house, we were walking through the yard and I saw a snake lying there with his head sticking up, so naturally I screamed, then Grammy screamed and after a few seconds of jumping up and down, we ran to the picnic table to seek higher ground. I was just going to leave it there and run inside, but Grammy said we're not leaving it because it was facing the house and we didn't want it to come and get us, so we started grabbing gardening tools and throwing them at the snake, in hopes of making it slither away toward the field behind our house, but it wouldn't move. When we ran out of tools to throw, Grammy went and found lots of bricks so we stood on the benches of the picnic table and threw them at it, but even when I hit it, all it did was bounce into the air and then become completely still again. And not a dead kind of still. More of an "attack-mode" kind of still. Around this time, the two boys working at the farm behind our yard saw us (or maybe they heard us yelling death threats and were worried about our lives/sanity). Either way, they came over and Grammy ran up to them and asked them how they feel about snakes. Luckily, they felt fine with snakes and came over and stomped on it with their protective footwear. Turns out it was a copperhead. Awesome. Good thing Grammy and I didn't try to be too brave or we might be lying in a hospital bed somewhere. They picked it up by its tail and started carrying it off to throw into a field, but right at that moment, Grammy came running from the house carrying a shovel and yelling: "Come back here! I want that thing dead! We don't want it coming back to get us!" They beheaded it.

Anyway, my snake encounters have led me to believe the sorting hat would have placed me in Slytherin. Actually, maybe they mean that I would have been that valiant fighter that seeks truth and justice in a world filled with evil, slithering deceit. I'm not supposed to be in Slytherin! I'm Harry Potter! And Grammy is Captain Planet! And when our powers combine...

Friday, May 8, 2009

Tennis Pro.

My little brother is a tennis pro. A few weeks ago he was even on the television as the Student Athlete of the Week. Yeah, it's kind of a big deal; he got to be King of Athletes for an entire week, putting him one step closer to world domination. Anyway, today was his final home tennis game (or maybe it's called a match? or a scrimmage? I don't know. I think I'll call it a scrimmage) so, I left work early and headed to Jeff City with Grammy and Papa. On our way up, we had two main conversations:
1) My driving/the upkeep of my car. Papa recently gave me a list of directions telling me how to start my car, since it likes to leave me stranded places. He instructed me to: Turn key once. Turn car off. Turn key just so battery starts, and do that three times. Turn car off. Turn car on.
He also told me I need to keep my gas above half a tank, which is hard for me because I drive so much and, unlike Papa, I don't like to go to the gas station every other day.
Along with that, we discussed my speed, how closely I follow cars, and "safe roads," which are roads with two lanes in each direction. I think Papa lives in constant fear that I'm going to pass someone on those two-lane highways. I try to keep him on the edge of his seat. Sometimes, I'll speed up like I'm going to pass someone just to see if he'll start to whistle. He does.

2) The weather. Today was especially treacherous when it comes to weather. On my way to work this morning, it got increasingly darker throughout my drive until the sky was almost black. Luckily, the heavens didn't open up until I got inside, but when they did, they opened with half-dollar sized hail and 70 mph winds. This also came with a side of flash flooding and tornado warnings. I even had to take an alternate route home from school today because the roads were covered with water!

Once we got to the tennis scrimmage, we grabbed our folding chairs and went and sat by Mom and Dad. For some reason, whenever I go to watch my brothers play sports, the moment I sit down, I instantly and unexplainably become thirsty. And by thirsty, I mean walking in the desert for days parched. I don't know why. It used to happen when I went to Andy's track and cross country meets, too. It's a phenomenon that will most likely remain one of those unsolved mysteries my children will talk about for generations to come. Anyway, once I sat down to watch Logan play, my throat obviously started drying out and I could hear my taste buds start begging for liquid. So, since I didn't have anything to drink, of course, I started asking around for some gum or perhaps a mint. I went down the line and finally got to Papa and remembered that he has a pocket full of butterscotch disks, so he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a butterscotch disk and a melted piece of chocolate, that, as you guessed, was smeared all over his hand upon exiting his pocket. He just sat there and stared at the piece of dripping bridge mix for a while, said: "Well, I wonder where that came from" and then popped it in his mouth. Another thing about tennis scrimmages is that you're not allowed to talk, or if you do, you must do so in a voice no louder than a whisper. In fact, it would be best if you could learn to read lips. Thus, Papa eating melted chocolate from his pocket is an event that should occur somewhere people are not so intent on silence because my whole family began to laugh. And if you've ever been around Brunners, you know that would throw off any tennis player. We're loud. And I mean loud as in when we were little and would go to the grocery store with Mom, she would give us all part of the shopping list and we would scatter to collect our assigned foods and the way we would find her again would be to listen for her to laugh. And then, it gets better, Grammy and Mom have the same laugh and, thanks to genes, I, too, have inherited that laugh. At least we're happy.
Anyway, Logan won both his singles matches (I think that's the word) and his doubles match. He even broke a string on his racket, to which Mom replied: "He's just so strong!" Papa kept telling us: "Boy, he's got quite an arm! He really hits that ball, doesn't he?!"

Then we went and ate Chinese food. Then we came back home and ate a seven layer chocolate cake that one of my students gave me last night when I gave a presentation about the Missouri College Advising Corps to the MU Extension Council of Crawford County. The meeting was at the Country Kitchen in Cuba and some of my students were working, so one of them sent me this HUGE slice of chocolate cake, complete with brownie crumbles and drizzled chocolate syrup. Needless to say, its taken us a while to eat. I don't like chocolate, but it looks so good that I keep trying it in hopes that I'll magically like chocolate. You know, like how people get older and magically like vegetables or magically become lactose intolerant? Yeah, I was hoping that would happen. It didn't. I still don't like chocolate. Unless it comes in the form of Grammy's special chocolate sheet cake. Anyway, Papa is glad my student gave me a huge chocolate cake. Maybe he could put that in his pocket for later, too.

Perch Girl.

My bedroom, along with being adjacent to the TV in the living room and staying exceptionally organized (thanks to Grammy), is my mom's old room. It is also in a prime location to hear the phone in the kitchen ringing and to hear when anyone goes to the basement. In the beginning of the year, I slept on the mattress that was already on the bed. I would, however, equate the comfort level of that mattress to the comfort level of sleeping on a concrete slab, so I immediately began devising my super secret plan to get a new mattress. Why did it have to be super secret, you ask? Because, in my experience with my grandparents, I've discovered that if there is a problem with something they will just go out and buy a new something to replace it, so in order to prevent them from going out and purchasing a new mattress, the plan had to stay super secret. Like with my car. The other day, my car stopped starting again (I love it when it does this. It just fills my soul with joy and happiness.) Of course, when Papa tried to start it, it started immediately, but he still decided he needed to take it to Neil the Mechanic, who cleaned out the engine again. Papa told me that it was almost as dirty as last time I cleaned it. It wasn't in the Top 10 Dirtiest Engines this time, but it was close. Probably a 12 or 13. Oh well. At least it starts for now. Luckily, my car isn't very high-tech so it has less parts that could possibly fail. I used to have an automatic starter, well I guess I still do, but I had to take the starter off my keychain because the button would get unknowingly pressed while in my purse and I would walk out and my car would be running. Grammy had a problem like that the other week. She was trying to lock the little car and pulled on the handle and the car alarm started going off. I could hear it from the basement so I ran upstairs to help her turn it off, but we couldn't find the key. I ran to ask Papa where the key was because he drove the car last and I figured he had it in his pocket, but he said the key was on the table by the door. I told him it wasn't there, but he said I didn't look hard enough because it's there.
Anyway, after waking up the entire neighborhood, the alarm finally went off. Just then, Papa walked to the front door and said:
Papa: How did you stop it?
Grammy: It just stopped.
Papa: Well, the key's right here on the table!
Julie: You just put that there!
Papa:I told you it was here the whole time.
Julie: He just put that there, Grammy.

Papa just chuckled.

Now, if either of them ever informed me of their decisions to buy replacements, I could possibly eliminate the super secret aspect of my mattress mission because it would give me the chance to tell them not to buy a new mattress.
That is not the case. They are both bad about doing things without telling anyone. Like that time the ambulance came to our house because Grammy was having a lot of pain in her left arm and I slept right through it and I didn't even find out the ambulance was there until the next afternoon when Mom told me. The morning after the ambulance, they just came into my room really early and told me they are going to Jeff City to the hospital and then they left. They left me, the youngest and most able driver, sitting on the edge of my bed sleepy-eyed and confused and just drove to Jeff City.
Or those times that I just walk outside to go somewhere and my car is gone. And by gone I mean it is in the shop for 3 weeks.
Or that day Papa went and bought a new TV.
Or that time Papa went to lunch in Bland for lunch and then went to WalMart and there was a fire in the backyard and Grammy couldn't find him.

Anyway, my life was narrowed down to:
-The decision to become a hunchback because of my constant back pain and be forced to flee America to find refuge in some forgotten castle, haunting the local village and baking scones to ease the pain of my frightening appearance. I'd be the modern-day Frankenstein and I'd have to resort to murder and other evil deeds when the society flees from me in fear, making me an outcast to civilization.
-Or, the decision to somehow find another mattress without alerting Grammy or Papa to my plan.

I chose the second decision. So, I called my mom, and after vowing her to secrecy, told her my predicament. She understood why this needed to be an undercover operation and on the weekend of the turkey supper, they snuck a futon mattress into the car. While Grammy and Papa were occupied somewhere else, my family and my friends Abby and AJ snuck the futon on top of the mattress. Grammy noticed right away, so I just told her that it's all better now and she just laughed. Papa never noticed because he told me: "I try not to go near that room."
Now, Grammy calls it my Perch because it makes my bed really tall, like I'm the princess from The Princess and the Pea. Except I'm Perch Girl. Like in that episode of the Nickelodeon show Hey Arnold! where there is that boy who would never leave his door stoop and everyone called him Stoop Boy and they would yell: "Hey Stoop Boy! Get off your stoop! Why don't you ever leave your stoop, Stoop Boy? Are you scared??? Stoop Boy! Stoop Boy!"

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Funeral Duty

A few weeks ago, an event of epic proportions struck the quiet lives of the residents in our small town. For the first time in Owensville history, the board outside the funeral home was completely filled, and still there were more funerals that wouldn't even fit. In fact, there were five funerals in one weekend. We* concluded that we have never seen anything like it.

*We=The Church Ladies and me as we tried to figure out if we could make post-funeral dinner for all of them. We ended up only doing one dinner. And it's a darn good thing, because I'm pretty sure I would have been the last Church Lady standing by the end of the day.

Since moving to Owensville, I have been welcomed as one of "The Church Ladies." You know, the ones that always cook the meals, volunteer for things (like belles), take care of the church garden, and make the applebutter? That's me. Maybe it's because they like my company or maybe it's because I'm young and I do what I'm told, like wash dishes and go around to ask people if they need drink refills. Who knows? Anyway, one of our Church Lady duties is post-funeral dinner duty, which means, if you didn't catch it, that we make a meal to serve the funeral guests when they return from the cemetery. I usually miss participating in this job duty since most funerals are during the day and I have a job, but the Infamous Weekend of Five Funerals is a different story.
When Grammy, Mom and I arrived that weekend, we first attended a funeral. We sat right by the organ and the back door, because when it was over, we had to hustle over to the church to start getting things ready for the meal. Then, my job duties went a little like this:

Julie's Church-Lady-Post-Funeral-Dinner Job Duties:
1) Get more turkey, bread and cheese. Right when we arrived, a crisis was upon us. There were more people at the funeral than we were expecting. So, after laboring over numbers and estimated serving sizes, we decided that we needed more, so Grammy, Mom and I were sent on Operation Get More Food. First, however, we called ahead to the deli/bakery/liquor store to tell them what we needed, and since I'm the Church Lady that doesn't need bifocals, I read what the shopping list said to one of the other Church Ladies who dictated it over the phone. Then, while I was utilizing my bifocal-less vision, Mom and Grammy left me and went to the store without me. Luckily, and since nothing is really that far in Owensville, the deli/bakery/liquor store is less than a block away, so I just walked up there and met them. Now, if you were doubting our confidence in this establishment, doubt no more. When we walked in the door they had everything we needed ready for us and all we had to do was pay for it. They must have known we were in a bind! Anyway, I ran back to the church, bags in hand, and arrived just in time for the Church Ladies to start arranging it all on plates. Crisis averted.
2) Make Sure the Pies and Other Homemade Desserts are Fully Stocked Duty.
3) Don't Add Any More Plates to the Line Without Telling Someone Because That is How They Count How Many People Came Duty.
4) Dishes Duty. Need I say more? Honestly, I like doing dishes, so this doesn't bother me at all. Plus, post-funeral dinners seem to stress the Church Ladies out so I feel it is best that I just stick with the sink.

It was eventful, that's for sure.

Whenever there are funerals in town Grammy, Papa and I talk about death a lot. That is one very different part of living with Grammy and Papa as opposed to living with my sorority sisters. Whenever I go visit my friends, we talk about what we want to do with the rest of our lives and we go to weddings and baby showers, but when I come back to Owensville, Grammy, Papa and I talk about who just moved to the nursing home or who just got a hip replacement and we go to funerals. The contrast kind of gives me whiplash. Anyway, while talking about death at dinner with Grammy and Papa, Grammy told us that when she dies she wants to be cremated so we can have her funeral whenever is convenient for us and we don't have to worry about all this quick planning because she wants us to have a big party. We asked Papa what he wanted when he dies and he just looked at Grammy and said:
Papa: I'll decide when you're gone.
Grammy: Maybe I'll just fool you all and outlive you!
Papa: I don't think so.

He's so optimistic. It must run in his family. Grammy was telling us about Papa's sister Betty and how Betty goes to Las Vegas every year and always wins big so that she can pay for her trip the next year. Aunt Betty says you just have to go in there knowing you're going to win and you will. Apparently it's all in your head. I guess Papa just tells himself that he's going to live for 10 more years, so he will. I guess I'm just going to have to think of something wonderful to convince myself I'll do!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Blood Pressure.

We seem to talk about health issues a lot in our little house on N. 4th Street because:
1) I'm going to study public health next year.
2) Almost everyone we know has some sort of health problem.
3) We want to stay healthy. I mean, Papa still has to make it through his 8 more years of healthy living!
4) Grammy is a dietician, I got my undergrad degree in nutritional sciences and Papa sometimes pretends he's a doctor. That's when we call him Dr. Green.
The other night I walked into the kitchen and Grammy was taking her blood pressure. Apparently, she went to the doctor the day before and her blood pressure was something like 160/80, and since she's never had high blood pressure, she came home and decided to monitor it herself. She sat down and adjusted the cuff and her blood pressure came out to be 109/73. I told her she must have been having a very stressful day. She thinks the doctor should have double checked it. I tested my blood pressure, even though I hate getting my blood pressure checked. When I was little, I always wanted to try the blood pressure machine at the grocery store, but I guess my mom said I wasn't allowed to play with it, so one time I did it while she wasn't looking and it squeezed my arm so tightly I thought that God was punishing me for disobeying my mom. From that day forward, I vowed never to stick my arm in the grocery store blood pressure machine. Even if I look at one, I get this nervous feeling in my stomach and images of the machine squeezing my arm from my body run through my head. Anyway, I mustered up all my strength and checked my blood pressure and it came out 101/61, which is pretty low. Grammy just looked at me and said:
Grammy: I'm just surprised we're not dead!
Julie: We might have low blood pressure, but we're still kickin'!
Grammy: That's right! They're not going to drag us away yet!
Then Grammy the Dietician started interrogating me on reasons my blood pressure might be so low. We decided that maybe my blood pressure is so low because I have low iron. And my iron is low because I don't really like red meat. And I don't really like red meat because I don't like chewing on fat particles. Anyway, Grammy told me that I should take some of her pills, and after confirming that they are not prescription drugs ("WalMart Special!" she told me), I consented to take some of her vitamin B complex with folic acid. I should have figured that they weren't prescription drugs because her and Papa have this habit of quitting prescription medicines they don't think are necessary.

Good Idea/Bad Idea Time
Good Idea: After we took our blood pressures, Grammy told me this big story about how her doctor put her on a beta blocker after she had her stent put in a few years ago and it made her really tired. One day when she was at rehab, she told one of the physical therapists that she was always worn out, so they took her blood pressure and it was something like 90/60, and it was because of the beta blocker. ("I was practically dead!") So Grammy told her doctor and quit taking it. Good Idea. Now, she just takes lots of vitamins and supplements.
Bad Idea: Last year, Papa went to the doctor and they told him that he needed to take thyroid medicine. After a few days, Dr. Green took matters into his own hands and decided that he was healthy and didn't need them. Bad Idea. Recently he has been really tired and has been sleeping a lot more so Grammy has been telling him he needs to go to the doctor. A few days ago he finally went to the doctor and they told him he's been so tired because he hasn't been taking his thyroid medicine. Thus, they prescribed him the thyroid medicine again. We'll see how long it lasts this time. Maybe when my brother, Andy, finishes medical school and becomes a doctor, Papa will actually listen and do what he's supposed to do. Here's hoping!

Grammy is good at keeping me informed about health and education issues. In the mornings, I usually sit down at the table for breakfast to find sections of the newspaper spread out across my placemat, with little stars by the articles that Grammy thinks I would like. Then, from time to time, we'll sit and discuss them. The other night, we went through two months of Readers' Digests and discussed all the articles in the Health sections.

Interesting Readers' Digest Health Stories:
-Apparently there is a new study out that links having lights on while sleeping to breast and prostate cancer. Some group took digital pictures of the earth at night and the areas that had the most light at night were the areas with the most cases of breast and prostate cancer. Their reasoning was that light decreases the production of melatonin, which triggers your body to sleep. I question, however, the fact that areas with more light are probably big cities, which have more people and, thus, a higher number of people with breast and prostate cancer. I guess I'll just have to hit up to read the actual article. It's like I'm back in college already! But, we both decided that we are going to sleep in complete darkness from now on. We'll call it Operation Nightlights-No-More.
-The use of Teflon pans causes low fertility in women. Grammy also read something that said they cause cancer, but she also told me we're not going to stop using them unless they're scratched because they are so nice to cook with. Rebels!
-One article we read said that omega-3's will make you happier, so Grammy said: "There's my good old fish oil! Those omega-3's will perk me right up!" She's a vitamin popper.
-We also discussed a study we had read a while ago stating that more sleep=more weight loss:
Grammy: I also saw that another trick for weight loss is getting enough sleep!
Julie: Oh yeah! It said 8 hours!
Grammy: We should be so skinny you could see right through us!
Julie: Too bad we like to bake.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Dinner Conversation 4: Eat to live or live to eat?

Like I've said before, Papa always makes me taste things. Even though I'm 23 years old and have tasted everything that he forces me to try. Whenever I tell him that I've tried something before, he always says: "Well, have you tried this one? Did you try it today? You might like it this time." I usually don't. Sure, I did like Granny's pickles, but I still don't like, among others: pork, cooked carrots, orange marmalade, or meatloaf. So far, we've had meatloaf three times during my stay in Owensville, and I ate it each time. Not because I like it, but because that is what was for dinner and I was hungry. Papa confuses these: hunger vs. liking. On our second meatloaf night, I finished my small portion and Papa said:
Papa: How do you like that meatloaf?
Julie: It was ok.
Papa: Do you want seconds?
Julie: I didn't like it that much.
Papa: But you ate it all.
Julie: That's because I was hungry. Not because I like it.

There's something about mushed up meat mixed with oatmeal and onions that just turns me off. Actually, it's the texture that gets my gag-reflex going. Whenever I talk about the texture of foods, Papa always says: "Oh the texture. I know what you mean. Terrible, terrible. I hope your food isn't touching either. That would be terrible. Terrible, terrible." I don't care. Mock me if you will. I'm a texture eater and there's nothing anyone can do about it. No matter how many times I try it, I will never really like:
-Especially wiggly things, i.e. Jello or fatty meats.
-Most meat textures, i.e. pretty much anything but chicken, turkey or fish.
-Cooked orange vegetables, i.e. sweet potatoes and carrots.
-Tapioca, rice pudding and regular pudding. Though I can handle regular pudding if it has something else mixed in, like Oreo cookies or graham crackers.
-Particularly mushy/soggy things, i.e. bread pudding and meatloaf.

I have found, however, that with a sufficient amount of ketchup (my favorite condiment), meatloaf is tolerable. Who am I kidding? Ketchup makes anything better. When I was in college, I used to base my meals around what I could eat with ketchup, which is another reason I used to eat grilled cheese for every meal. When I told Papa that I used to eat grilled cheese and steamed broccoli for every meal, he told me I must "eat to live." But, there he is wrong. I like grilled cheese and broccoli and if I had any other choice for dinner, I'd probably pick it anyway.

Meatloaf night is one of those nights where I tell Papa that I'm "eating to live," not "living to eat." Kind of like when Grammy makes him oatmeal for breakfast.

Toward the end of our meal each night, the topic of whether we eat to live or live to eat always comes up. Papa always says that he "eats to live," because he's old and only young people and skinny people are allowed to "live to eat." However, Papa's life seems to contradict his statement. Papa is a quite the planner and the moment we get up from the breakfast table he is already planning the next meal. I think dinner is probably the first thing he thinks about when he wakes up and the last thing he thinks about before he goes to bed. Whenever Grammy and I bake or when we have a particularly tasty dinner, Grammy always asks Papa: "Well, are you eating to live right now?" He just laughs. Grammy says that she does both, but Papa says you're not allowed to do both, you have to pick one. Thus, Grammy and I decided we must "live to eat" because people who bake don't "eat to live." Grammy said we'll know when she starts "eating to live" because she's just going to come home and eat a can of tuna for dinner.

On Easter, we had a brunch with friends at my parents' house and we made tons of Yukon Gold cinnamon rolls (aka the greatest cinnamon roll I've ever had. Think potato bread in a roll form filled with lots of butter, cinnamon and brown sugar. Unhealthy? Yes, but totally worth the calories), orange rolls, egg casseroles and a honey-glazed ham. Since I tend to like anything that is covered in honey-glaze, Dad found me a "fat-free" piece of ham to try. Yes, I admit, it was okay as long as I didn't look at it, because I can find fat on any piece of meat. When Grammy and Papa showed up, one of the first things Papa asked me was if I tried the ham yet. Luckily, I could say that I had. Though I might have said that anyway because he didn't believe me until Dad came in and vouched for me. Papa loved the ham. And everything else, especially the potato cinnamon rolls. He kept asking me: "You made these?! You're going to make some more sometime, aren't you?" He's just lucky I "live to eat."

I think the closest we get to "eating to live" is our Wednesday night soup and sandwich meal. However, I just found out another reason we have Soup and Sandwich night every Wednesday: it is because Papa goes to Bland for lunch every Wednesday for the chicken and dumpling special and he's not very hungry when dinner time comes around. Therefore, our reasons for having Soup and Sandwich night on Wednesday nights stand as thus:
1) Because Papa needs more free time.
2) So Papa doesn't have to make a big meal by himself while Grammy and I are at Belles.
3) Because I love grilled cheese.
4) Because Papa goes to Bland and eats the chicken and dumpling special for lunch, even though he says it isn't very good and Grammy won't go because the dumplings are too mushy.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Danger Boy.

Papa either loves living on the verge of annihilation or he just doesn't realize that things are potentially life-threatening. Tonight we had brats, boiled potatoes and corn for dinner. While I was checking on everything before dinner, Papa stood behind me, like always, watching me check all of the food and commenting on its preparedness. All of a sudden he reached around me and said: "I think the brats are done. I'm turning them off." and proceeded to turn the knob on the gas grill from low all the way past high and to off, sending flames shooting out and around the pan. The fire got within centimeters of my body and I thought for sure I was going to have to stop, drop and roll. But I didn't. I yelled to Grammy: "Grammy! Papa almost burned me!" Papa just chuckled and said: "It only would have singed you. Haven't you ever singed yourself?" No. I have not ever singed myself, but it sounds like Papa does it all the time. He told me all it would do is burn some of the hair off. Isn't that a relief? I've decided I'm going to start calling him Danger Boy. When we were little, Logan, Andy and I used to call Rachel Danger Girl, and we made up a little song that we would sing to infuriate her. It goes like this:
Danger Girl is her name,
Hurting people is her game,
Danger Girl, Danger Girl, Danger Girl!
She hit Logan with a rake
He started to cry (but it was fake)
Danger Girl, Danger Girl, Danger Girl!

Papa also drives without a seat belt (until Grammy and I yell at him), bikes without a helmet, climbs the ladder to the attic and lowers things alone using his hand-made pulley system, and eats a lot of butter. Danger, danger. He also slurps his drinks, which I would think would make a person very burpy. Maybe, however, that has some unknown health benefit that protects him from his dangerous lifestyle. As long as I can remember, Papa has slurped his drinks. I honestly don't know how he does it, because he does it constantly and with any type of drink. He brings the glass to his lips, tilts it just enough so that the drink barely touches his mouth and slurps. I tried it one day and I could not do it. I did manage to suck soy milk down my windpipe and into my lungs, though. Papa, I'm impressed. It truly is a skill.
The other night, I came into the kitchen after a little nap to help Papa with dinner. He had everything prepared and was taking the bread out of the toaster. With a metal knife. While the toaster was still plugged in. I told him he was going to electrocute himself and he told me he would be very careful. My mom has always emphasized the dangers in putting metal into a toaster; she must have learned that after she left home because she obviously didn't learn it from Papa. We even used to have these special bamboo tongs that were designated as the toaster tongs so that no one was tempted to stick a fork or something in there. Maybe I'll have to put a note on the toaster that says: Don't use a metal utensil to get bread out of the toaster or you'll electrocute yourself.
Speaking of notes, Grammy and I have started watching the Pride and Prejudice mini-series. I got it for Christmas a couple of years ago and it is 8 hours of classical British melodrama that leaves you wishing you could wear long, cotton dresses and fall in love with a tall, mysterious man who makes a whole $10,000 a year. Well, welcome to the real world, Elizabeth Bennett. Papa's favorite character is Mr. Darcy, played by Colin Firth. Every time he is not in the scene, Papa asks Grammy and me: "Where's that guy I like? The one from the beginning?" He always refers to him as the one from the beginning because he has slept through the entire middle. He tells us that the British accents are too hard to understand so he just goes to sleep. I asked Papa if he liked Mr. Darcy because he has a lot of money and Papa said: "Yes." I knew it. Anyway, I went to turn the DVD player on and on the back of the remote there is now a little note that lists the steps to turning on the DVD player and starting a movie. There is also one on the VCR remote that, along with explaining how to use the machine, documents the exact steps required in recording a program from TV. It is good that he can find a way to remember how to operate his electronics. That way, he can keep recording movies for me. His movie recording started one night when I was watching Princess Diaries on the dining room TV. He walked in and said:
Papa: What are you doing?
Julie: Nothing, watching a movie. Princess Diaries. Why?
Papa: I think you should turn your movie off and come watch the movie I recorded.
Julie: You think it's going to be better than the one I'm watching?
Papa: Oh, I think so.
It was My Fair Lady and it is pretty good. Though the heroine is annoying. So, Grammy and I watch our weekly shows and Papa makes sure we don't miss any great Turner Classic Movies. Other than movies, Papa just watches the stock market and the news, which aren't worthy of a VHS recording. Grammy's shows, on the other hand, might be worth a recording if we ever missed them, but we don't. Every Sunday night, Grammy watches Masterpiece Classics on PBS. You've got to love a good mini-series. Grammy and I aren't sure which book they are acting out now, because we missed the beginning and they haven't said the name again, but it is about this family who was really poor, but somehow got tons of money. Because of this, the dad, son and daughter-in-law decide they need to become snobby and act wealthier, but the girl, aka the heroine, wants to stay kind and loving. It's pretty intense. The villan is this scary gypsy guy with a pointy beard who looks like he kills people for fun. It was very good casting.
I always watch my shows at rehab. Actually, I had to find shows to watch because, it turns out, I hate running. I think it's boring, but if I have something to watch, I don't focus on how much I hate every second I'm on that stupid treadmill. On Monday night I watch Chuck which is probably my favorite show. It is about this computer nerd who is forced to become a secret CIA agent because he accidently "downloads" this thing called The Intersect into his brain that gives him the ability to find bad-guys and see all the crimes they've committed. Grammy calls it "that secret spy show." On Tuesday, Grammy and I watch "that awful loser show," aka The Biggest Loser. We didn't used to like this one because they kept kicking people off the show, and we decided that they shouldn't do that. Especially when they call them "losers." But now, the show is better because they stopped kicking people off (for now) and all the people have lost a lot of weight and look so much happier. Wednesday nights, we watch Scrubs, aka "that doctor show" and Thursday nights we watch The Office and 30 Rock. Grammy remembers the name of The Office. I don't know why. I guess it's the most famous. We don't usually go to rehab on Fridays. Good thing, too, because we don't have a show that night. It is so funny to watch Grammy watch TV because she has a TV face that she makes. Sometimes when I'm running, I'll just look over at her and laugh. Mom has the same face: Both of them open their mouths a little, furrow their eyebrows and get a very concerned look on their faces. It almost looks like they've never seen figures moving on a television before. Or like the television is the most appalling thing they've ever seen. When Grammy has her TV face on, you have to yell her name to get her attention because she is so into whatever is playing. Mom isn't very good at watching TV anyway, so if you think she's watching TV and are going to attempt to get her attention, chances are she's in another room doing something completely different. I don't know if she's ever sat through an entire non-educational movie or TV show. Give her a documentary, on the other hand, and she's hooked for hours. She also used to make us do SAT flashcards on road trips and play this terrible game called The Ungame where you share your feelings with each other, if that helps explain her TV habits a little better. Papa's TV face is usually him napping.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Thursday night.

In the contest for "Busiest Night of the Week," Thursday night comes in at a close second, behind Wednesday night (belles night), of course.  And it is only second because we're only busy two Thursdays each month, though if we entered our Thursday Night Activities into the Gasconade County Fair, I think we would definitely get blue ribbons.  When we were little, we used to go visit Grammy and Papa every summer and they would take us to the Gasconade County Fair.  Grammy was always in charge of the quilt judging, so we all had to go help her set up all the quilts.  Even though we didn't live in Gasconade County, we always baked cookies or a cake or drew a picture to enter into the fair.  If you win, you got a ribbon and money! Papa always enters his vegetables from the garden and sometimes some canned goods. He's a good gardener. The other day I came home and he told me: "I planted you your favorite foods in the garden out there. Broccoli and potatoes." Then he said that I can be the weeder, but I told him that Rachel is better at that, so she can have that job. 
There are also lots of carnival rides at the fair, but I stopped riding them when Logan, Rachel, and I were on a particularly spinning ride and this kid threw up right in front of us and then just kept riding rides. We refer to him as Barf Boy.  My favorite part of the fair, however, is the bunny show!  One time my friend Abby came down to go to the fair and Grammy bought us a bunny. It was black and white and we named it Rosco. But it died. Another year, she bought me a floppy eared bunny and I named him Opie, but he also died. Actually, I've had 4 bunnies and they all died tragic deaths:
1) Babs. I got Babs when I was in elementary school. She was really small and looked like a Siamese bunny. All was great, until one day, she turned evil. And by evil, I mean that whenever I tried to pick her up, she would hiss at me and attack my hands.  Mom taught middle school at the time, so she took Babs to her classroom in hopes that being around people would make her nicer. It didn't. Anyway, she got a parasite and died.
2) Clover. Rachel and I both got bunnies one Easter. Clover was black and white and was so soft it felt like you were touching air.  One summer we went on vacation and when I came home, my brother, Andy, ran to a spot in the yard and told me not to look and just go inside. Obviously I looked, and Clover had been attacked by a dog. I'm scarred for life.
3) Rosco. Like I said, we got Rosco at the fair, and the thing about fair bunnies is they are pure-bred, which means they have lots of genetic diseases. One day, about three months after I got her, I walked down to see Rosco and she was just dead.
4) Opie. Once again, another fair bunny. I was holding Opie one day, when he all of a sudden went paralyzed. It was very tragic. Then he died.
Needless to say, I haven't had a bunny since.

Anyway, back to our Thursday nights.
The first Thursday of the month: The first Thursday of the month is community dinner at church. Basically, one group at church (Belles, Dorcas, Odds and Evens, church council etc) cooks dinner for anyone in the community that wants to come.  Usually we have spaghetti, salad, and homemade pies and cakes, aka the best part.  When Grammy's group, Dorcas, did the dinner, they made chicken and dumplings and it was a HIT. They even ran out of food. It is still a topic of excitement amongst the church ladies.  Dorcas was very proud of themselves, even though their name makes me laugh every time I hear it. Sure, Dorcas was a great Christian woman who was raised from the dead by Peter, but every time I hear that name, I remember how my siblings and I used to call each other "dorcas" when we were fighting.  Basically, we led a pretty sheltered childhood. When I told Mom how weird our childhood was, she just said: "I thought all families were going to museums, watching PBS, and practicing SAT flashcards on road trips!" She was wrong. There were also lots of words we weren't allowed to say; a few were:
-Butt (we had to say "bottom")
-Pee (we had to say "tinkle")
-Idiot (one time Rachel called Logan an idiot and Mom sent her to her room)
-Shut up (we had to say "be quiet")
-Hate (Dad always said: "Hate is a very strong word.")
Luckily, Mom never caught the fact that we used "dorcas" as a derogatory statement.

The second Thursday of the month: On the second Thursday of the month, Papa has Lion's club.  Since he eats dinner at the meeting, he usually just comes into the kitchen and watches Grammy and I cook, commenting on how he would do things.  The other night we had frozen pizza for dinner, so Papa stood in the kitchen and told us how he usually puts extra cheese and toppings on the pizza. We also forgot to set a timer, so Papa paced around the kitchen telling us how we won't know when it will be done if we didn't set a timer.  Luckily, the pizza cooked even though we forgot to time it. On Lion's night, while Grammy and I are eating, Papa stands in the kitchen and tastes everything we made. He always comments on how we did. He liked the pizza last week so he started yelling from the kitchen: "Julie, how do you like this pizza? It's pretty good, isn't it? It's the kind Grammy and I always buy." Before dinner, I was also making muffins for a brunch with some friends the next day and Papa came over and said:
Papa: Are you leaving with those?
Julie: Yup, I'm going far, far away.
Papa: How far?
Julie: I'll make you some, too.
Papa: Well, there are only two of you for dinner tonight, so you can sit in my seat. That way you can look at the flowers.
Julie: Thanks, Papa! I'm honored.
At the dinner table, Grammy sits on one side, facing the window, Papa sits at the head, and I sit with my back to the window. Grammy always tells me we need to re-arrange our seating so I can watch the birds, too. She probably just wants me to help her scare away the greedy black birds. Black birds are easier to scare away than squirrels. Grammy and Papa used to have a lot of squirrels in their backyard, so they got all these squirrel-guard things to keep the squirrels from eating the birdseed, but they didn't work. So, Papa climbed up into the attic and found my uncles' old BB guns. He would sit quietly in the backyard, his BB gun loaded, waiting for his unsuspecting victim. He would sometimes get my little brother and my dad to come down to shoot squirrels with him (keep in mind no one in my family has ever shot anything.) Papa only wanted to scare them away, but one day he shot one and killed it, so he put away his guns for good.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Separation theories.

Grammy has special ways of doing things. I already touched on her various potions, magical elixirs and tendency to hex the opposing basketball team, but just wait, there's more! First, I would like to take you on a tour of the kitchen. Every cabinet and drawer is lined with this spongy liner that must have a purpose. Maybe it airs things out, since it has lots of little holes in it? Maybe it makes things stay in the cabinet? Though, I'm not sure how they could fall out. Maybe it just makes people feel more organized? I'm not sure. The spongy liner doesn't stop with lining drawers, however. Inside every cabinet, each bowl, plate and pot is accompanied by its own piece of spongy liner so that everything is organized, for example, in this pattern: big bowl--liner--medium bowl--liner--small bowl.
Nothing touches. Actually, things not touching is kind of a trend in Grammy's kitchen. When you do dishes by hand, there is a special sink-mat that sits in the bottom of the sink so things don't touch the bottom of the sink. The knives have a wooden rack in one of the drawers that keeps them separated into their own little slots. If there is a utensil that was purchased in some sort of plastic container, Grammy washes out the container and uses it to store said utensil (taking us back to Grammy's desire to reuse disposable items). The lids to the pots also have a special rack, that stands them upright so you don't have to stack them on top of each other. Good thing, too, because living with Grammy has taught me that metal on metal is not okay.

Now, we'll head to the bathroom, and more specifically the shower. For one, Grammy uses Kirk's Castile Soap and nothing else to wash her hair. She said that when she was in her twenties, her hair stylist said to never use anything but that, and she hasn't since. She also has a little gray bottle of vinegar that she squirts on her hair after she washes it to get rid of any soap scum that might be left. Vinegar: saving lives since 3000 BC.

Now for the best shower product: Grammy has this little red, rubber scrubby that she uses to scrub her hair and she straight up swears by it. She says it scrubs your scalp and makes your hair fuller, it gets the soap distributed, it helps rinse your hair and it serves as brushing. When we were little, I remember Grammy sending all of us hair scrubbies for many holidays. Since we lived in Colorado, we would get holiday packages from her and we would open it up to find hair scrubbies galore. The other day Papa was telling us how his hair is getting thinner. All Grammy said was: "Well, are you using that scrubby I put in your shower? If you were using it, your hair would be thicker!" He said he doesn't use it. Maybe Grammy should write him a note so he remembers to use it.

I think Papa lives on notes. There is a little box in the kitchen with Papa's note paper in it so that he can write things down and leave them on the counter for later. One weekend, I was going to St. Louis and then to Columbia so Papa told me: "Write that down on a note so I know where you are." He also made me write him a list of all my favorite yogurt flavors and I'm surprised he hasn't had me write him a list of my favorite breads yet. Every Wednesday morning, I go to the kitchen to make my lunch and there is a little note that says: "Clean Lion's" to remind him to clean the Lion's Club, since Bingo night is Tuesday night. He doesn't need notes for everything, though. During a basketball game, there was a McDonald's commercial that showed a guy eating this huge burger and Papa said: "Well, look at that big burger! It looks like a number 5." See, he doesn't need a note to remember the McDonald's menu. Grammy just looked at him and said: "You would know."

Monday, April 6, 2009

The Easter Bunny.

Just when I thought my life couldn’t get any more ridiculous, this is what happens:
The other night, Grammy was talking to Mom on the phone when she yelled: “Julie, your mom wants to talk to you! It’s something about bunnies.” So, my curiosity aroused, I come over and find out that “something about bunnies” translates into:
My mom is helping to organize an Easter egg hunt for disabled children at the Governors’ Mansion and she needs two people to dress up like Easter bunnies. She said, there are two full-body costumes that we wear, and since they have limited visibility, we have to have people guide us around the Mansion yard. She makes it sound so tempting, doesn’t she? Anyway, she somehow managed to guilt me into agreement. Mom is very good at guilting her children into doing things. Growing up, Mom never really yelled at us for anything very often. Instead, she would talk to us and make us feel bad about things, so that eventually, we would feel so guilty and terrible about ourselves, we would go to her crying with our apologies. We refer to it as The Guilt Factor. It used to make me feel so bad about whatever I did that I would cry for hours and then write her little apology notes and place them on her pillow because I was so ashamed I couldn’t talk to her face-to-face. People used to tell us how our mom was the nicest person and she never got mad or yelled at us. One time when Rachel was about four, one of Mom’s friends told her this and Rachel just looked at her and said: “My mom is quietly mean.” Despite what people believe, however, she does yell sometimes. I remember that whenever she would yell at us, the interaction usually went a little something like this:
Problem: Leaving stuff all around the house (this was the most common problem at our house. We used to have a Nickel Jar and whenever Mom had to pick up things we left around the house, she would hide them and we had to pay a nickel to get them back. Thus, unless it was really important, I would just let her keep the things I left around. That is until I found her hiding place and then I just snuck it all back.)
Andy/Julie/Rachel/Logan: Gosh, fine Mom! Stop yelling at me! Why are you so mad?!
I don’t know why she always said this, because she was obviously already mad. Sometimes when we told her to stop yelling, she would ask us: “OH, DO YOU WANT TO HEAR YELLING?!?!??!” Which also confused me, because she was definitely already yelling and if there was any possibility that she wasn’t yelling already, then I absolutely never wanted to hear what yelling actually sounded like. Maybe I’ll understand this logic when I have children of my own. Or maybe I’ll just use The Guilt Factor on them so that my words can eat away at them from the inside.
Anyway, Mom then asked me if I had any tall friends to be the boy bunny and my friend AJ agreed. With enthusiasm, I must add. Actually, you have no idea how excited he was to do this. He even asked off work for it, and he NEVER asks off work. Mom also asked Grammy and Papa if they would like to volunteer; Grammy agreed, but Papa said: “I think I’m going to be feeling sickly on Saturday.”
So, Saturday afternoon, AJ and I arrived at the Mansion and found Mom, who then went around and introduced us to everyone there, who, in turn, thanked us heartily. Basically, since we were dressing up, it meant that none of them had to and for that they are eternally grateful.
Then, the moment we had all been waiting for. The excitement grew as we walked toward the entrance to the Mansion that would lead us to Mom’s office and the costumes that would become our identities for the next four hours. When we saw the large, white heads sitting on various chairs in Mom’s office, all we could do was laugh. My bunny head was pretty cute and it had a little pink bow on its ear, but AJ’s costume was scary. The head was really big and round and it looked kind of depressed.
The hunt started at 1pm, so when it was about 12:35 and Grammy still hadn’t showed up, Mom called her and she and Papa were sitting in Schulte’s (the grocery store) eating donuts. When they finally showed up, only Grammy came in and I asked her where Papa was. Apparently he had some very important things to do.
Mom walked AJ and I out to meet the parade of children and as we walked closer, one little girl started screaming: “Oh my gosh! Oh my gosh! You’re the real Easter bunnies! This is the greatest day! I love you! Oh my gosh!” It was adorable. I’m just glad the children thought we were great and not terrifying. Honestly, only a few children were scared of me, which was very surprising, because if I were them, I would have been scared of me. After we walked in and the Governor and First Lady gave a little speech, AJ and I had to grab hands, raise our arms in the air and drop them to signal the beginning of the egg hunt.
So, picture this: AJ and I are standing in bunny suits on the front lawn of the Governors' Mansion, right smack dab in the middle of all the Easter eggs. When we put our hands down, hundreds of children started running toward us, our limited visibility making it impossible to move out of the way to a safer location, so I just started looking frantically around for AJ or someone who could take us somewhere. I turn my large, fluffy head to see my mom taking AJ to the photo booth. At this point, I'm just standing there while children run in and out of my tunnel vision, so I just kneeled on the grass started talking to children. Luckily, a talking life-size bunny wasn't scary to them. And luckily I used to work at a preschool.

Favorite Easter Bunny Moments:
1. One child came up to me and started telling me how “There are two Easter bunnies here. Can you believe it!? TWO! I didn’t know there were two of you! And one of you can talk!” It was only later that I found out AJ had taken the role of Silent Bunny. He has never really been around lots of little children so when I told him that I had been talking to the kids, he just said: “What do you even talk to a four year-old about?! The only thing I could think of to say to them was ‘Happy Easter’ so I just decided not to talk.” Good thing Mom decided to leave me in the lawn and not AJ, The Silent Bunny. That would have been creepy if AJ was just standing out there by himself silently waving to children.
2. The excited little girl from the beginning of the parade ran up to me and started hugging me and saying: “I can’t believe it’s you! You’re the real Easter bunny and you’re here! This is the best! I love you, Easter bunny!!!” It was precious.
3. Another little boy came up with a handful of mushed up cookies and just stood right in front of me staring for a while until he started shoving cookie into my bunny mouth. Grammy was over by me when he did this so she came over and told him: “The bunny had a really big lunch today. She’s not very hungry. She had too much sugar for lunch!” Needless to say, I’m pretty sure there is still cookie residue on that costume.
4. It was really windy outside, so every time the wind would blow, it would whip my head in different directions. My neck is still a little sore. But, without the wind, I’m sure AJ and I would have suffocated in our bunny-shaped saunas.
5. Since we had no peripheral vision, sometimes I would be sitting there and children would be talking to me, but I had no idea where they were without making a 360 degree turn. I have more respect for horses and fish now.
6. The bunny heads smelled weird. They smelled like Halloween. I’m not sure why Halloween has such a weird smell and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, come to our house and smell the Halloween box. I think the random assortment of masks and face paint combines to create a somewhat formaldehyde-like aroma. When I was little, we had these Laurel and Hardy masks in our basement that smelled EXACTLY like the bunny head. It was surreal. For a minute, I thought I was back in our old basement wearing masks and killing spiders with pool sticks. (We used to live in Colorado so we had a lot of spiders in our basement. My best friend and I used to dress up as exterminators and smash spiders against the walls with pool sticks. Mom used to get mad at me for leaving spider guts all over the basement walls, but in my opinion, she should have been happy those spiders weren’t crawling into her mouth as she slept. You know, people unknowingly eat an average of five spiders a year. Truth.)
7. There was a professional photographer so we got to take some pretty amazing pictures together. My favorite is the one with Grammy, Mom, AJ and I because Grammy is sitting on AJ bunny’s lap. AJ and I also took some pictures where he took his bunny head off and sat on my lap and then I took my bunny head off and sat on his lap. They’re incredible and not weird/creepy at all.

In conclusion, if you ever get a chance to dress up like a beloved holiday icon, I highly recommend you take it.

Friday, April 3, 2009

A Wowwy.

Like I've said before, the months leading up to November were very political at our little house in Owensville, (and I would like to once again thank Fox News for giving one-sided information to the country's elderly population. My great-aunt still doesn't believe that President Obama has a real birth certificate.) Sure, there was the National election of a new president going on, but amidst all the excitement, the world missed the most important election of the century: the decision to a) move the Gasconade County courthouse to Owensville or b) Leave the courthouse in Hermann.
I know! How could the USA Today have missed this one!? Grammy started advocating for the courthouse to move to Owensville months and months before the election. She would take her brochures and go door-to-door telling the Owensville residents how wonderful it would be to bring the county seat to Owensville. And these are the reasons:
1) It would bolster jobs and industry in Owensville. Many factories and plants in Owensville have closed, leaving people without jobs. The local businesses are also not doing very well, so bringing the courthouse would increase their commerce.
2) Someone donated the old high school building in Owensville for use as the courthouse. If the courthouse stayed in Hermann they were going to build a new building and put huge cement walls around the old one, costing us money and making the courthouse look like a detainment center.
3) Owensville is the biggest town in the county, so it makes sense that the county seat would be there, instead of Hermann which is a small town way out in the country.

She would tell everyone she saw to "Make sure you vote for the courthouse!" I remember one time my friend, Abby, came down to visit and Grammy talked to her for forty-five minutes about why the courthouse should be moved to Owensville. In the end, however, it didn't pass. When Grammy asked people why they didn't vote to move it, they all told her it was because they didn't want a prison in Owensville. However, they obviously didn't realize that moving the courthouse doesn't mean there has to be a prison built. Thus:
-Grammy was sad the courthouse didn't pass.
-Papa was sad McCain didn't win. Although, when we were in Florida, Aunt Dotty was telling us how she doesn't trust Obama when, dost my ears deceive me? Papa was defending President Obama! I could hardly believe my ears!
Reasons Papa Defended President Obama:
1) Obama went to Harvard. Papa likes Harvard because my brother, Andy, went there. (Thanks for going to Harvard, Bro. You made Obama's first few months much easier for me.)
2) Papa does not believe the rumors about Obama not being a citizen and instead being a spy attempting to infiltrate the country to destroy all of us. Praise the Lord.
3) Papa thinks that Obama picked a very good cabinet. Papa also stuck up for Tim Geithner because he was the former head of the Federal Reserve of New York, and we know how Papa respects money. Aunt Dotty does not like Geithner because there is "something weird about him and he looks like a kid." Sure, he never makes eye contact and is socially awkward, but that's more of a personality fault, not necessarily lack of capability.
-I was sad that Missouri's Proposition A passed. (This proposition eliminated the loss limit on gambling in Missouri. It's supposed to help the Missouri public schools, but in return, it ruins the lives of compulsive gamblers and helps casinos make more profit. Great.)
Obviously the election brought sad news for all of us.

Anyway, Grammy is quite the political advocate, I tell you what. A few years ago when Missouri was voting on supporting stem cell research, Grammy was the only person in Owensville with a "Vote YES for Stem Cell Research!" bumper sticker. It was quite the scandal. Now, Grammy wants to petition to get new roads on our side of town. And understandably so! The roads are seriously falling apart. Sometimes we have to take alternate routes so that our cars don't bottom out while we cross the road. Maybe we could have a big rally with all of our neighbors and we could go march to the county seat and protest. Well, that would be a lot easier if the courthouse had been moved to Owensville, so maybe we'll just march to Town Hall. It will be just like on An American Tail where Fievel and the fat lady-mouse with a speech impediment organize a "wowwy...a warge gathewing of mice for a weason" to get wid of all those cats! Because there are no cats in America and the streets are lined with cheese.