A Midsummer’s Night Sleep Deprived Sugar High

Now, until the break of day  Through this house each fairy stray. ~ Oberon                      A Midsummer Night’s Dream

Funny how I had almost no trouble adjusting my sleep patterns to working nights, 10 months ago.

Now, however, after a 3 week break, I’m lucky to sleep 6 hours during the day. That, I’m sure, is contributing to my jumpiness.

Have you ever noticed how simple innocuous sounds, when heard in the day time, take on a more ominous ring at night?

I’ve been working nights now since January. I’ve gotten used to the sounds of the rig: the guys shouting, the casings clanging, the horns blowing, the bells ringing and the semis rumbling.

I’m used to the sound of Brahmas lashing the living room with their tails and manic raccoons lunging at the screens. I’m used to the nightly cacophony of  the feral pigs and hungry coyotes.

I’m even used to the giant kamikaze bugs that fling themselves into the blinding halogen glow, bouncing like hail off the sides of RV.

However, I’m not used to the sounds of a wrestling match taking place in the cabinets under the island at 1 a.m. or the sudden whir in the ceiling at 2.

Every new house comes with new noises. This one came with new noises and what I suspect might be a few fairies mistaking early October for Midsummer.

As you know, October 1st was my birthday. Heidi very kindly made apple dumplings – my favorite.

She used my Mom’s recipe, which should serve 8 or 10,  but really turns out to be 6 giant dumplings.

They’re so big, they had to be cooked in two separate pans.

My birthday was 4 days ago. Heidi’s eaten one half of one. I’ve eaten 4 1/2. 😀

SO, it could be a combination of sleep deprivation and a sugar high that caused me to leap out of my seat when the pots and pans began rattling under the center island in the quiet middle of the night.

I looked. Nothing. I closed the cabinets. 5 minutes later the pans rang out again. The day before there was a half of a Dorito on the floor by the dresser.

Last night there was a half of a Dorito under the sink. We don’t eat Doritos.

We do have little bags of chips we give the guys when they head home. Checking the grab bag, yep, one little bag had one big hole. This no doubt accounts for the symphony under the sink. The solution for that (I hope) is in the JIC closet. That doesn’t explain why the ceiling began whirring.

Around 2:00 a.m., shortly after the pan noise abated, I heard a new, strange noise. I looked up and the ceiling seemed to be readying for take off – all on its own. The dome opened and the blades picked up speed.

I spent the next 10 minutes turning on and off and on and off again, every switch I could find. Nothing interfered with the lid lift.

I came to the obvious, sleep deprived, sugar induced conclusion that it was a mouse escape route and that they’d somehow bounced on a secret button.

The fan is considerably too high to reach, even on a chair. At this point the pots started banging again and I  knew I had to go to the JIC closet and take action (no, not the gun, I’m not that tired).

I opened the doors to get a flashlight to go out to the truck to get the 3-step stool, when I saw a control that I’d never noticed.

It’s big and white so I’m afraid that mostly speaks to my continual state of fatigue over the past several weeks and my highly keen observation skills.

Sure enough, it says Fan and Dome and Exhaust and Intake. I couldn’t get it out of its holder…

But I was able to push the off button on the fan and the close button on the dome.

The question of how those buttons suddenly got turned on at 2 a.m. remains a mystery. Tomorrow the mouse traps come out. Henry has  been on high alert all night. His ears are probably cramping and I’m a very tired woman, pumped and plumped with dumplings. We need our rest.

If we shadows have offended,  Think but this, and all is mended,  That you have but slumber’d here  While these visions did appear. And this weak and idle theme,  No more yielding but a dream,  Gentles, do not reprehend: If you pardon we will mend.  ~ Puck,    A Midsummer’s Night Dream

High Hopes

As Frank cheerfully sang, the key in life is often maintaining High Hopes!

~

Take today for example.

One of the challenges to frequent moves is finding a place for a haircut,  for people and for pets. I so should have gone to The Best Little Hair House in Texas while we were in Nixon, but I didn’t. Now our rig has moved north to Wharton, which is about 55 miles SW of Houston. We’re starting over, beginning with Henry VIII.

I Googled groomers. There were two. I read the reviews. There were two. Today was Henry’s day for a shave and a haircut. He had to be at Paws and Claws at 8:30, which meant, I needed to stay up past my bedtime. Seemed like a great day to get the Jeep ready to sell.

Heidi and I unloaded it, including moving the immensely heavy, ever so practical, rock tumbler that I bought one  month before leaving Oregon. With the heavy lifting done, Heidi hopped in the pickup and set off to get Henry VIII spiffed up.

I was left to guard the gate and clean the caliche covered Jeep interior. I wiped down the leather, sprayed down the floor mats and myself, dug under the seats for dimes and sunglasses and stray straws. Because I work nights, I had yet to meet the owner (who arrives in a chauffeured limousine) or the ranchers. Until this morning.

Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.

It was already 91 degrees with about the same amount of humidity by 9:00 a.m. I was soaked to my toes and blinded with sweat, glasses slipping and steamed over when the bell rang and Bubba pulled up. Bubba  is clearly a VERY popular Texas name since we’ve now been on 3 Bubba ranches and one Bobbo ranch (slight variation). It wasn’t my pinnacle moment as a professional. I couldn’t see, my Life is Good t-shirt had darkened two shades in multiple places and I couldn’t get my half cloth/half rubber gloves off because my hands were so sweaty. I gave my cheeriest hello, which was greeted by Where’s Heidi?!

About 15 minutes later, I was carrying the soaking wet floor mats to the service wagon to dry, admiring the waffle pattern they’d left on my jeans when the bell rang again. This time is was Clay, the assistant ranch manager who’d been on vacation for a week. Where’s Iris?! (she was our sub)

Oops, there goes another rubber tree plant.

Hesitant to explain that she was the sub and I was ‘real’ gate guard, I just said, Heidi went to town, which not only didn’t answer his question, but made no sense to him at all. Thankfully, Miss H didn’t pay a visit today, although she may have gotten a couple of phone calls. (She’s the chauffeured land baron for this 1,150 acre ranch)

When Heidi returned, I happily resigned my post for a shower and some sleep. I had strange dreams of the wild hogs and tanning beds. I don’t see any correlation either, I’m just sharing. As soon as I got up, Heidi headed into town to wash the Jeep, pick up a few groceries and retrieve Henry.

It was a little cloudy when she left, which I’ve learned, in Texas, means nothing.

Or at least in meant nothing for the past 9 months.

Today it meant something.

30 minutes later, the sky turned brown and a significant portion of the road came hurtling at the RV.

So did the lights and the wooden table and random Styrofoam cups and grocery bags. I felt slightly like  Dorothy as I stood at the window and watched things fly by.

Of course, this occurred at the same time the guys were changing shifts and the mud trucks were rolling in. I checked folks in and out with my eyes mostly closed, when I could get the door open, which for a few moments, was quite impossible.

It’s now 3:45 a.m. and I’m still trying to get the sand out of my eyes and ears, but the door opens fine.

In the meantime, Heidi called from Wharton to say the tornado sirens were going off, the police had closed the road, she and Henry had taken shelter in the car wash and were watching trash bags and beer cans fly through the air.

H & H made it home about an hour later, just before dark and just before the rain pelted for about 4 minutes.

Henry found the entire day to be a bit much, but he and I both have high hopes for tomorrow!

Bad Moon Rising

Bad Moon Rising

I see the bad moon arising.
I see trouble on the way.
I see earthquakes and lightnin’.
I see bad times today.

Don’t go around tonight,
Well, it’s bound to take your life,
There’s a bad moon on the rise.

~Creedence Clearwater Revival

Do you remember this CCR classic? I was 13 when Bad Moon Rising hit the charts in 1969. If you follow Fork, you know that I really love the moon (Good Night Moon, I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me etc…).

As a gate guard, working the night shift, the moon is my friend. Or so I thought.

To establish the setting, after 7 days in Smiley, my alien giant botanical plants continue to flourish. The temperature had finally dropped from 106 to a ‘cool’ 91 just after midnight. In this particular part of Texas it’s really humid, unlike up in the panhandle. The Lantern 17 guys who just moved down from there are really struggling with the humidity.

The moon is full and beautiful right now. The coyotes seem to engage in nightly ritual of approach avoidance behavior. The barking and howling comes near and then stops. A little while later, faintly in the distance, it picks back up. Stops. And then resumes, very near again.

Adding howling and humidity to the heat makes caliche clogging a little less appealing than I may have made it sound, although it is more practical, logistically, than Pole Dancing or Zumba. When the temperature dropped again to a cool 88 degrees around 1:30, I decided to get my clogging in early.

The last of the guys were back on site from their pilgrimage to the small WalMart and H.E.B.  in Gonzales. The coyotes were doing their distant howl so the timing seemed right.

I stepped outside and headed toward the gate. One at a time, these giant alien plant forms began to bend over and then rise back up. At first I thought I was just imagining it as I stood, transfixed, staring in the moonlight. Then they began to bend in pairs. Disappearing and suddenly springing up as the next set bowed.

It would have been a little less disconcerting if the motion had been one of retreat. But just like in a horror flick, whatever it was, seemed to be on a course that would end with me. At that point, having emotions that ran stronger than my curiosity, I began walking backwards toward the RV. I’ve seen Little Shop of Horrors. I know to never turn your back on animated plants.

When I backed into the little wooden table and Harvey, the not invisible Pooka, rattled to the ground, the plants froze in place. I left Harvey to keep his lateral sentinel watch, slipped (literally) into the RV, locked the door and explained to Henry that the door would remain locked until dawn so there would be no drinking from the water bowl on full moon nights between the hours of midnight and 6:00 a.m.

~

10 O’Clock and All’s Well!

I haven’t been completely successful in tracking down the origin of 10 o’clock and all’s well! In medieval towns, night watchmen guarded against invasion, thieves, and fire. Town criers made their alarm or all’s well announcements on the hour. I’m uncertain what happened if a fire should start, at say, 10:20.

During the Civil War, the prison camp guards, North and South, were required throughout the night, to call out their post and the hour:

“Thus,” recalled one prisoner, “at ten o’clock the cry would begin ‘Post number one — ten o’clock and all’s well.’ ‘Post number two — ten o’clock and all’s well …

In  rural southern Texas, we don’t have any town criers and I’m the only guard within hollering distance. We have some rural roosters, but they’re pretty quiet until the early morning hours. Still, at 10 o’clock all is well.

11 o’clock, now that’s a different story.

Almost nightly, between 11 and 12 o’clock, some persistent banshee incantation must subconsciously enter my hitherto alert brain and lull it into inactivity.

If I’m typing, my dyslexia manifests itself in five out of ten words.

If I’m knitting I drop stitches. By the time I’m alert enough to know I’ve dropped them, it’s usually many rows, some times many days later. At which point, I resort to taking a piece of yarn and tying the hole together in the back.  I’m a persistently unambitious knitter of long rows and squares.

If I’m watching TV, my finger stays permanently indented on the fast forward arrow until I’ve skipped, not only the commercial, but the next 9 episodes of Cold Case.

If I’m reading, my eyes slowly meet in the middle, lose focus and flutter shut.

The feeling of sleepiness when you are not in bed, and can’t get there, is the meanest feeling in the world.  ~Edgar Watson Howe

I wouldn’t say it’s the meanest feeling, but with the bobbing of my heavy head, the startlingly loud ringing of the bell races my heart as I leap to my feet! It’s akin to a mild panic attack.

This doze zone seems to last for about an hour or sometimes two. I’m almost always quite wide awake at 6 am when it’s time for me to go to bed.

It’s a cruel season that makes you get ready for bed while it’s light out.  ~Bill Watterson

What is this strange malady? I get up around 2pm. At 11, I think it’s time to go back to bed. It’s crazy. It’s dark of course and quiet (now that our wild pig snaring men have left for Louisiana) but still, with my schedule, it’s early. When I used to get up at 6 in the morning, I wasn’t particularly tired at 11.

I think I may know what the problem is. 11 o’clock is my afternoon.

Since I get up at 2, 11 is like 1 or 2 in the afternoon for a regular person.

You know how it is when you get that mid-afternoon haze at work and nobody’s made fresh coffee? You need some even though it’s too hot for coffee anyway, and you drink the dredges because you can’t write a complete sentence without it.

Sleep is a symptom of caffeine deprivation.  ~Author Unknown

The only thing that seems to keep me awake is too much coffee and food. I don’t often fall asleep while eating. The problem is this method requires constant input which has led to every pair of my jeans straining to contain me. So now I’m on a diet. That means I’m now hungry and sleepy.

I’ve only been at this for 6 months: working nights, not dieting. I’ve only been at that today. Some night are certainly better than others. Maybe I just need a little more time to adapt.  How about you other night owls who work, or have worked nights? Do you have any tips?

The fog has cleared for now. 1 o’clock and all’s well, again!

I’m not asleep… but that doesn’t mean I’m awake.  ~Author Unknown


The Red Eyed Devil

I had an encounter tonight with a new Texas nemesis: The Red Eye Devil.

I kept seeing these giant antennae, sticking out above the stop sign. I boldly went out to take pictures. Wow, that truly was one big grasshopper!

I Googled it.  Some call it a Texas Giant Grasshopper but most call it THE RED EYED DEVIL! The Neobarrettia Spinosa is actually a katydid. Sounds so innocuous doesn’t it, katydid?

Behavior: Omnivorous katydid that will rear up in a formidable display if disturbed.

No doubt. I know most things on the other side of the RV door want to bite or sting or charge or eat me, but I didn’t know I needed to be wary of grasshoppers, too. Here’s just one of many accounts I found on-line. Most were from in or near Gonzales county (where we are). This one is just a county away:

I live in Cistern, TX. (Fayette county) which is also just down the road from  Gonzales counties. I also have three of these (Texas giant grasshoppers/Katydids) in three different jars. I started out with one in one jar and then caught 2 more. I put these 2 together in another jar. One proceeded to attack the other one and almost bit its abdomen in half. I promptly separated them but the third is not doing so well. Also when I caught the first one it latched on to my calloused farm boy thumb. She sank her jaws in deep and actually drew blood.

Vampire grasshoppers – no kidding!

Anyway, the light that illuminated the RED EYED DEVIL, also attracted a huge array of everything is bigger in Texas bugs. The June Bugs don’t know it’s July and swarmed around the glow. One hitched a ride to my backside, unbeknownst to me, and came right on inside the RV with me.. I instantly heard him buzzing and bouncing off the walls. Then I heard a THUD but I couldn’t see him.

I did feel him however, as he began flying around inside my t-shirt. I don’t know quite how this happened?

I’m substituting another picture of my RED EYED DEVIL,  rather than pictures of this actual event.

I don’t like bugs in general.

I don’t wear them gracefully.

I was working. I had the door shut and the shades down. Still, I didn’t feel like it was really right to rip off my shirt. That doesn’t mean I didn’t do it.

I’d barely recovered when a semi came rumbling up to the stop sign.

It said K/C Livestock on the side? Looks like a mud truck to me but with the size of the Katydids here, he could be picking up just about anything!

And about that June bug. It was big, but it could have been worse. I might have had to take off my skin, too, if this Texas-sized beetle bug had started flying around in my shirt!

If you decide to take a trip to Gonzales county, my advice would be to refrain from catching the RED EYED DEVILS to put in jars,  and to keep your shirt tucked in…

Taking the Pause Out of Menopause

Take the pause out of menopause and what do you get – Men O’!

I know this is true because it happened to me just last week. It was as if Neville had slipped on Harry’s Invisibility cloak and waved his wand at me. I went into the second-hand grocery store as a very hot, menopausal 54-year-old woman, and came out an adolescent male.

I’m confessing, but I’m not proud.

I blame it on a touch of hot flashing heat stroke.

As I’ve mentioned, our little Super S isn’t exactly a health food store with limp lettuce and apples that are already half way to sauce. Still, I’m not sure that excuses my purchases.

I came home with:

A 3 pack of BRAWNY paper towels – because they were on sale and I like the little  tear-off  sections

2 Hungry Man hamburgers – it was the only microwavable American entree except for the Lean Cuisines, which were $4 each, making them .50 a bite

A half-gallon of half-the-fat vanilla ice – because I was hot

2 cases of diet soda –  to make floats so I wouldn’t eat too much ice cream

2 mini bowls of Kraft Mac and Cheese – because I like mac & cheese and they’re microwavable

I didn’t even remember the bananas, which I think,  is what I went to the used grocery store for in the first place.

That’s another thing, I only think I know what I went to the store for…

In my defense, it was around 103 degrees, not counting the heat index. So it felt like 108 to non-menopausal, hot flashing women, which would not include the woman spraying herself in the face with her grandson’s squirt gun or the one who kept bobbing her head in and out of  the frozen potato compartment. I knew instantly we were kindred spirits.

Back to my defense. Before going inside, I filled 1 dozen 1 gallon jugs of water at the outside 35 cents a gallon, probably recycled water machine. I started down the used produce aisle in a heat induced daze.

Still…

My Mom was a Home Ec teacher and a wonderful cook. I used to be a good, if rather un-adventurous, cook.  Since it rarely cools down below 85 degrees at night, I suddenly can’t stand the thought of turning the oven on. Add to that, after working the night shift for 6 months, I’m still discombobulated and can’t seem to decide if I’m eating dinner or breakfast, or just having snacks.

About the Mac and Cheese. I used to love macaroni and cheese. I grew up on the homemade kind. I switched to Kraft years ago, but if you add some extra cheese etc… it’s not bad.

I figured the mini bowls would taste the same.

Not so much.

Here’s what you get for 220 calories. There were exactly 1 1/2 inches of mac and cheese in the tiny bowl after cooking. And, it tasted like,well, chewy Styrofoam I guess. I added milk and shredded cheddar. I now had 32o chewy cheesy Styrofoam flavored calories.

“Poets have been mysteriously silent on the subject of cheese.”  ~G.K. Chesterton

Hmm…

I don’t think my shopping privileges have been revoked entirely, but I now go to the second-hand Super S with a list in hand, just like a guy.

It’s embarrassing.

A Night in the Life

Night time is really the best time to work.  All the ideas are there to be yours because everyone else is asleep.  ~Catherine O’Hara

In this industry, half of us aren’t sleeping. Nearly every position on the rig requires someone to be working 24 hours. A round-the-clock kind of job has created some confusion for me.

Gate guards have to decide how to divide their hours. Many do what we do and split the night and day shifts. Since Heidi is an early morning person and loves to go to bed by 7:30, there was never any doubt who would work nights.

I  like it but I’m mixed up a lot. I’ve been working nights for just over 5 months and to be honest, I still haven’t quite gotten it down.

My day begins around 2 in the afternoon.

Even though I get up in the afternoon, I say Good Morning to everyone I see for the first four hours. They must be used to it because they all say good morning right back to me!

I eat breakfast around 8 in the evening which is usually consists of dinner food.

When there’s a banging on my door after midnight 3 things are true:

1. It’s creepier to have your door banged on in the middle of the night than during the day. Maybe because …

2. The one knocking is always lost or drunk, unless …

3. They’re night owls too,  just paying a neighborly visit

When Henry decides he wants to go out in the middle of the night because his special treat made him so thirsty that he drank a half a bowl of water, I have to first:

1. Look out for scary inebriated lost people

2. Make sure Festus isn’t within kicking distance

3. Look under the RV for rattlesnakes

It’s a quick trip as I keep Henry out the shadows where I can’t tell the black tarantulas from clods of dirt.

There is something haunting in the light of the moon; it has all the dispassionateness of a disembodied soul, and something of its inconceivable mystery.  ~Joseph Conrad

It sounds so much more enchanting when Conrad says it.

I used to take a lot of pictures of the new things I saw each day.

I try to take interesting pictures now, too, but they nearly always come out blurry, plus mostly all I see are trucks and tail lights.

I drink coffee to wake up (and just because I love coffee) even though it’s usually close to 90 degrees by the time I have my first sip. I don’t drink coffee to stay awake, which means I have to quit by 1 or I won’t be able to sleep in the morning.

I blog at night and always forget you’re reading this the next day so I’m writing about night even when I say today or tomorrow and I’m always either 8 hours ahead or usually 8 hours behind everyone else.

Since I begin work in the afternoon of, for example Sunday the 5th and finish in the morning on Monday the 6th, I seem to be perpetually confused about what day it is. It’s like traveling and not knowing where you are when you first wake up except I don’t know when it is… sometimes I don’t know where I am either, but I’m not sure that’s related.

I no longer have a regular relationship with night and day. I know it’s time to get up by looking at the clock, not by looking out the window to see if daylight is starting to lighten the horizon.

I’ve only seen a sunrise 4 times since December, all on the days we moved to a different location. But I’ve become very partial to the moon and watching it wax and wane.

Night is a world lit by itself.  ~Antonio Porchia.

When the trucks aren’t rumbling and all the guys are accounted for, I pick up the phone to call friend or family, only to realize they’ve probably been asleep for 4-5 hours.

I love to read. My entire life, I’ve gone to bed with a book and read myself to sleep. I’ve conditioned my mind to think that if it’s dark and I’m reading I should fall asleep shortly. So I do. I can only make it through 2-3 chapters before my head begins to do that bobbing thing. It doesn’t matter that night is my day. If it’s dark and quiet I can can count on having to renew my library book.

Sleeping in the daytime for me requires: extra coverings on the windows to block out the light, ear plugs and a sound machine. If you’re a gate guard, you know how loud the bell is, added to the steady truck traffic 10 feet from your head.

I still say goodnight when I go to bed, even though it’s 6 in the morning.

There’s something slightly disorienting about being on a different time-table than most people.

It’s kind of like standing on your head except it doesn’t hurt.

Or like reading Goodnight Sun instead of Goodnight Moon.

It’s morning now and time for me to go to bed. I don’t think there’s anything left to say except goodnight…

Leave the Drama to TNT

Drama is like life with the dull bits cut out. ~ Alfred Hitchcock

I’ve only had a DVR since January. A DVR for a person who works nights at a gate on an oil rig is akin to the advent of Tupperware for the 60’s housewife. It’s almost calls for a party!

It’s usually around 3 am when I shut down the computer. By this time the trucks have slowed to an occasional rumble, the tarantulas have ceased their bouncing and the calves have gotten tired of licking the lawn chair.

I have about 2 hours where I read or watch TV. With my limited Direct TV package, I still get quiet a number of channels, and most are in English. Several sell knives and diamonds for hours and hours. I find this to be remarkable, but there must be an audience because every night, if I turn the TV on at 3 am, there they are, selling more rings and cutlery.

When I choose to watch TV, I often choose drama. If you want drama, what better place to go than to TNT.

TNT KNOWS DRAMA! Each episode starts out: The Drama of: Bones, Cold Case, Criminal Minds, Law and Order continues next on TNT!

That’s exactly where I like my drama – on TNT, on TV, where I can shut it off anytime. An added plus is that, while these are real people I’m watching, they’re actors and the story is pretend.

It’s a lot like real life drama: real people, acting out. Every small thing gains traction with each retelling. The great basketball coach, Dean Smith once said: If you’re going to make every game a matter of life or death, you’re going to have a lot of problems. For one thing, you’ll be dead a lot. Point taken.

I have a propensity towards the excessive use of adjectives, superlatives, and maybe even adverbs. I can say less in more words than almost anybody. But, I’m not given to drama. I don’t get the appeal, but that’s just me. People proudly proclaim their status as a Drama Queen (or King). I find this degree of neediness a little alarming, and exhausting.  Seriously, sometimes don’t you just want to say: Cut! or That’s a Wrap! and shut down the set?

I can’t count how many times, just this week, I’ve heard (or read on FB or in emails) I’m so tired of all the drama. Drama is the new neurosis of the bored and restless.

A friend of a friend said: My day doesn’t really get started until I’ve had at least one good argument. Notice I said a friend of a friend. This may indeed be a lovely person but we don’t have friendship potential; way too much drama for me. I don’t understand the draw but there’s a lot I don’t understand, like ordering knives on TV.

I hear regularly from people who are considering leaving the corporate world and living full-time in an RV or even taking a run at gate guarding. I don’t want to be misleading.

There is drama here, too. Last night, two calves confused me for a salt lick (it was hot and I was wearing a white t-shirt, but still…) and this morning a wren decided to nest inside the RV.

That much drama, I can handle. The rest I’ll leave to TNT.

I See the Moon and the Moon Sees Me

I see the moon and the moon sees me. I’m so taken by it, I can’t seem to do anything but stare.
It’s after midnight.
I’ve had a really good heart to heart via AT&T with a friend whose heart is hurting.
A truck rumbles in about every hour.
I’ve eaten a banana.
I’ve watched 1 dance on DWTS.
And I’ve been mesmerized by the moon.
I tried to take a picture but my little point and shoot just can’t capture it.
If you’re a gate guard in Texas who works the night shift, it doesn’t get much sweeter than this.
May has managed one more night of lovely open the screen door 60’s temps.
The night sounds are just the gentle chirping of crickets.
If you follow Fork, you know that makes this a rare night: no squealing pigs, no mad bulls, no crazed coons, no giant insects flinging themselves into the lights, no wild wind shaking the shutters. (The RV doesn’t actually have any shutters, but you know what I mean.) I’m between pots of coffee, so even Darth is silenced.
When I was little, I don’t remember ever thinking the moon was made of cheese, but I often tried to see the man in the moon. I must have been a literalist since I always thought he lived in a little house and if I watched long enough he might look out his window, step outside and wave back at me.
I don’t feel like howling at the moon. I don’t really know how to howl. If howling is anything like screaming, I wouldn’t be any good at it. I had the lead in 2 plays. I was Lady Macbeth in 5th grade. For some reason, it was in our Weekly Reader and we performed it, costumes and all. I even had to say that famous line that was that was pretty inappropriate for a 5th grader.
And I was the entire on-stage cast of Sorry Wrong Number in 6th grade.
In both cases I had to have a stunt double. I couldn’t scream, so I just opened my mouth and Sara screamed really loudly in the wings. She was a great screamer.
I’m wondering what you feel when you look at the moon?
As I watch the moon’s steady climb tonight, I’m carried back to the great green room and the old lady whispering hush.
And to a poignant moment in The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood when Sidda and Vivi sing:
I see the moon, and the moon sees me…
And the moon sees the one that I want to see..
So God bless the moon, and God bless me…
And God bless the one that I want to see.

Goodnight Moon and God bless…

Spinning a Yarn

I’ve spun a yarn or two here at Fork. Some nights are a little more yarny than others.

I decided  a while back, that I would knit at night. I thought it would be a good idea to do something other than eat when I watch TV.

I don’t know how to knit.

So, on a rare outing to Super WalMart, I gamely bought a 7 minute instructional CD,  a $3 skein of yarn and a pair of knitting needles.

The CD can be paused but you can’t back up or fast forward. I watched it all the way through at least 10 times before I figured out how to cast on.

Knitting, it seems, doesn’t seem come naturally to me.

If you’re not a knitter but are thinking of picking up the hobby, I’m listing a few of my hard learned lessons.

And guys, if you, too, want to learn to knit, don’t be shy. I just Googled men who knit and there are quite literally thousands of blogs and websites by and for men knitters. There are even retreats for knitting men.

These hints are gender neutral.

1 – Relax into it. I began by pulling the stitches so tightly, I had to get a pair of tweezers to pull at the yarn so I could get the needles in and out. Punching, jabbing and plucking, it took me 30 seconds or more to knit 1 stitch. We won’t even talk about purling!

2 – Beware of sticky clothing. There’s a Velcro strip on our Gate Guard vest. I  was continually getting the yarn stuck all over myself. I ended up having to pull the vest off over my head. I recommend clear duct tape. I can’t fasten my vest now, but the yarn no longer sticks to me.

3 – Stitches are like rabbits. They’ll multiply if you don’t keep your eye on them. The initial 40 that I’d cast on, propagated row by row until I had 86 across in the end!

4 – The gentle UV glow of the TV may not provide enough light (see #3)

5 – If you’re watching TV, you might want to consider something like Bones, where you’ll just miss skull scrapings, oozing organs and maggots when you look down at your project. I don’t recommend DWTS where you miss the whole point if you’re not watching.

6 – Forget the book.  Reading and knitting is an advanced skill, unless the book is really boring. I dropped stitches with every plot twist.

7 – Don’t throw your needles. Working as a gate guard at a drill site, when the bell rings, I jump up. Reckless tossing of your project can scare the dog and lead to many a dropped stitch.

8 – Watch your feet. I frequently managed to step in a loop of working yarn, dragging the entire endeavor down the steps and out the door with me. If I hadn’t been tweezer-knitting, I’m sure I would have had little heaps of knits and purls, falling off the needles, trailing across the road.

Beginner's luck...

This is a picture of my first attempt.

Yes, that is the entire skein of yarn.

The exact number of yards in a skein varies. I didn’t keep the wrapper, but I can tell you that this does indeed represent yards and yards and yards of yarn.

No, I don’t know how all that yarn got compacted into 14 inches by… well…it’s kind of hard to say. Depends on where you put the tape.

I’ve learned so much from knitting that it exceeds my 500 word limit. More philosophical knitting truths next time.

Remember: As ye sew, so shall ye rip.  ~Author Unknown