Thursday, April 22, 2010

Our Garden: Part 3--Planting Day!

Our seeds from Victory Seeds finally arrived. Side note: although they were shipped in the time frame promised, the shipping was E X T R A O R D I N A R I L Y slow. It look 9 days for the seeds to get here from the time they sent me an email that said the seeds were shipped to the time they arrived at our house. Not sure if that has to do with the company or the USPS but thought it was worth mentioning.

The one thing that was really great about Victory Seeds is the packaging. All of the pertinent info you need for planting and sowing is right on the envelope! Excellent! That way we knew which ones needed to be put into an indoor seed box and what ones could be directly sown into the garden.

Speaking of that we had done all the prep work, it was finally time to actually get out to our garden! The plants that had already been sown inside (beans from Meijer and broccoli from Farmers Market) were ready to plant, along with the seeds that didn't need to be sprouted indoors first (carrots & onions).

We went out to our lovely little garden and started to rake up the soil to get it loosened up again and ready to plant. And look! I'm working!

After we did some measuring and discussing we decided to do some square foot plots for our first two rows. Note: we did not actually read up too much on square foot gardening, but looked over a few websites and made some mental notes and did a sort of modified approach for our garden.

Our first square foot is where we planted our broccoli seedlings. They were pretty robust so we felt more confident getting them in. We measured out their spacing and dug to the appropriate depth and plopped them in their holes. Since the tiller-man had advised us not to mix the Miracle Grow in the plot we instead lined holes with it and then covered them up with Miracle grow. Our hopes is that it would stimulate the little plants into growing into big strong full-grown vegetables!

After planting the broccoli at an appropriate depth we stood back to take a good look at our little babies! Yay for broccoli! Let's hope it grows!

After the broccoli we planted our beans that had begun to sprout. Then we took our carrot and onion seeds and sowed them directly into the soil as instructed on the package. It made me nervous not to have even a seedling to plant, but hopefully they work out! Carrots have to be planted really close so they are pictured below in the dark brown square. Onion seeds are really funny looking! They look like tiny pieces of mica or charcoal. They are shown below in the double row that is next to the carrot patch. The back row has the carrot patch, green beans, and then broccoli on the end.

After finishing up outside we came back inside and finished the job of sowing our many varieties of peppers and tomatoes. I realized I didn't document the sowing process for the beans so I decided to capture it when we did the big mama-jama.

First you take your indoor seeder, we used a Jiffy brand starter, and follow the directions. Ours said to put 1/8 cup of water per pellet to expand them. After carefully measuring a few we decided that would take forever and flooded the tray with water. Worked beautifully!

After the pellets were fully expanded we needed to open up the pods so that we could insert the seeds into the peat moss and soil. When Ange had done the last one she had discovered that even her little fingers made a mess of the pellets and that toothpicks made handy little tools! So we then made little openings in each pod for our seeds.

After mapping out which seeds would go in we dropped in the seeds (generally 2-3 per pellet), covered them back up (just mashing our fingers on top of the pellet) and stashed them out of direct sunlight. The fridge was the only place big enough and out of the way enough of sunlight, dogs and clumsy people to not get knocked over. Excuse the dust!

Now all that is left is maintenance and reaping the rewards! We'll keep you updated!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Love = Taco Dip

The love Ange and I have can be summed up in two words: taco dip. I'm sure you're thinking WTF? (or maybe something nicer, but in my world WTF? is always the question).

Confession: Ange and I LOVE some taco dip. Some people call it 7 layer dip, some people have other wacko names for it, but we just call it a plain ol' taco dip. We love it so much we eat it often. As a meal. By itself. We do not think this is weird.

I'm sure some people will think it is weird because one day when I was out running around with my sister I mentioned needing to buy some things for our taco dip dinner. My dear sister looked at me with her famous snarled lip and was like WHAT? And I explained what taco dip was and that we were having it for dinner. Then followed Leslie's famous eyeballs rolling around in her head and the ever present "You guys are weird" statement.

So first and foremost I must say, the fact that Ange and I both agree that taco dip is a meal in and of itself proves we are perfect for each other for several reasons:

1. We are creative. Taco dip may not seem like a meal, but it totally is! Ingredients: beans (we usually mix refried pinto and refried black), sour cream, taco seasoning, onions, peppers, and cheese. And some chips to dip with! Beans = protein, sour cream & cheese = dairy, onions & peppers =veggies, and chips = grains. Perfect!

2. We are fairly simple people. This recipe is no frills. It take about 10 minutes to make. The longest part is chopping up onions and peppers. We're just simple, no frills people. We don't need to be fancy schmancy.

3. It fits with one of our mottos, "share share that's fair." We like the communal nature of this meal. I mean, sure, we could scoop out our own portions and eat from our own plates, but that's not really our style. We like to eat from a communal plate (or baking pan as it usually is) and share an intimate dinner with each other.

Finally, this picture even more so talks about our relationship and our personalities within the relationship. Ange was eating from the right side and I was eating from the left side. I jump right in and gobble away and Ange is more steady and deliberate with the task. Ange eats in a linear and organized fashion. I scoop away chaotically and randomly.

See? Now do you understand how taco dip & our love are compatible and explanatory?

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Our Garden: Part 2--Garden Prep--Pre-Planting

**This will be the second in a series about our experience as first time vegetable gardeners. Hopefully it will inspire others, or maybe other people will stumble across it and find it helpful. Let me be clear: WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT BUILDING OR MAINTAINING A GARDEN. Hell, I've never kept anything green alive for more than like 2 weeks (besides grass or weeds and really those don't count because I've never done anything about them). Ange has kept houseplants alive but that's it. Check older posts to see the full story.**

Ok, now we had all the what do we do next? Well we had a little sense and knew that we would need to till a plot. However, we did not have THAT much sense so we thought we would do it ourselves. Now, when I was at Meijer I saw that there was a manual hand-held gadget that was labeled "tiller" and I asked Ange about it. She said no way, that would take forever. Like I know anything so I just said ok. And clearly we didn't need to purchase some fancy piece of equipment that we may only use once a year (or maybe never again if this year's garden is a total bust). We decided to check a few places and see if we could rent a tiller. After checking a few places we found out that Lowe's on 10th St. had a rental section where you could rent tillers. So we headed over to Lowe's to check it out. It was a sunny day so they had all of their equipment laid out like a garage sale. So we checked out some of the tillers they had and saw a cute little tiller that just looked perfect. We could stash it in the back of the trusty little Cobalt and be tilling away in no time. We went in to check out the rental rate and see if we could get any tips.

Boo. Apparently our little baby tiller wasn't cut out to do the job. The guys start talking about tillers and the information is flying about 30,000 feet over my head and the only part I really heard was that "it would take several hours to till the minimum of 8 inches deep we'd need for a first time garden." Say what? We have to chew up 8 inches deep by 80 square feet of dirt. Yikes. Of course I didn't want to look like el supremo idiota in front of these two dudes so I was all "Oh yeah, totally." We ask what the cost would be. For a 4 hour rental it was $47. For a 24 hour rental it would be $65. Since we had never done tilling before they recommended the 24 hour period. And since they weren't open on Sundays we'd actually get the tiller until Monday morning. But since we were supposed to use a monster tiller to till the garden that meant trusty Cobalt would not be able to haul the tiller. That meant we'd need to borrow a truck. Hmmm. We told them that we'd have to find a truck and come back.

After we left the rental building I said to Ange "Dag, I didn't know we had to dig down 8 INCHES." And Ange goes "OHMYGOD I know!" which made me feel better. I thought I was just a major dumb head so I was glad that I hadn't just missed a major thing. We then realized that this was more of an undertaking than we realized. Not only was it going to cost us $65 but it was going to take hours and hours of back-breaking labor. Ok, maybe that's a little dramatic...but it was going to be hard work. More than we bargained for anyway. Queens of Craigslist we are we decided to see if there was anyone on Craigslist offering tilling services. We buzzed home, unloaded our goods and hit the interwebs.

Of course there were people offering tilling services! What were we thinking? We called a few people and sent a few emails and waited for estimates. The first one who got back to us quoted $65. Hey! That's not too bad. That would be the same amount as renting a tiller AND we wouldn't have to actually do anything! But of course we wanted to hear some comparable estimates. The second call we got gave us an estimate for $30! Holy smokes! That's crazy talk. Our third and final person offered their services for $50 and a guarantee that he would do it as many times as needed to get it done well and to our liking. We decided to go with the middle price point and scheduled him to come in a few days.

In the meantime I had to jaunt back to Bloomington to school but Ange had some days off so she decided to tackle some other projects. Like filling in the skamillion holes that Daisy has dug in the backyard and picking up the billions of pounds of dog poop that 5 dogs will produce. On a recent trip to IKEA I found a nice size bucket that I thought would work magnificently as a poop container for our new pooper scooper.

Wahoo! What a cute little pooper scooper and bucket!

Now I must digress for a moment. Ange and I have very different personalities when it comes to housework and household projects. I am the thinker and the planner, but also the laziest of all lazies. I will think through something and try and meticulously plan things so that I know they will work out well. But then I get tired of all that thinkin' and then it might just take me a century to follow through with the rest of the project. Ange on the other hand is the complete 180 opposite. She rarely thinks more than 5 seconds ahead but she totally kicks butt when it comes to getting stuff done. So when I bought the bucket I imagined that it would be a great place to put a GARBAGE BAG in it and not have to hold open a garbage bag twisting in the wind and risk smearing yourself with poop while struggling with a floppy bag and a giant poop scooper. Well we had the pooper scooper and bucket for a couple weeks and for some reason the poop just stayed on the ground. Well in Ange's excitement about the garden tilling she went all gung-ho poop scooping. Without a garbage bag in the bucket, leaving poop smears all over the bucket. And left it sitting in the yard, uncovered. And then it rained, a lot. So then we had a bucket full of poop slush. Yummo. But at least the poop was out of the yard, right?

Poop Sludge

Ange also marked off the garden area with some spray paint (with slight adjustments made for some concrete slab we never noticed in the yard before) before Mr. Tillerman came to till. We had decided to use the north-east corner of our yard because it got the most sun and was farthest away from the rest of the yard and we could keep our poopy dogs away.


After all that work Ange was antsy to get the garden started so she decided to also plant our green bean seeds in the mini-seed starter. Basically the seed starter is one bad ass little incubator. You run water over the little pods, they puff up, you make a little nook for the seeds, put the seeds in, cover them up, put the cover on and that's when the magic happens! It takes very little time before you see some progress. A lot of seeds need to be started inside before transplanting them to the outdoor garden.

Finally it was tilling time! Mr. Tillerman came over and tilled us a garden! We thought we'd till the garden and mix in the manure and Miracle-Gro in with the dirt. Mr. Tillerman recommended that we not mix in the Miracle-Gro and instead put that on topically. Since we don't know anything and he has tilled many-a-garden and professed to being a pretty good gardener we decided to follow his advice. And presto! We now had a garden plot! Ange built a fence around it and then it was safe from the dogs who would like to play right in it and probably poop all over it. Bad dogs.

The plot with ever present dogs.

Also we read in our "research" that we should do a pH test to test our soil. Apparently if it was out of whack we would need to do something about it. THANKFULLY our soil is in the pH normal range which works great for most veggies.

Ooooh, a pH testing kit!

The next weekend at the Farmers Market we saw that one of the vendors was selling some seedlings. They had some broccoli plants for only $1.25! He also said they could be planted ASAP as broccoli withstands some pretty cold temps so we didn't have to worry about morning frost. Sweet!

Now we just needed to wait for our seeds from Victory Seeds to arrive!

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Our Garden: Part 1--Garden Prep--Shopping & Mapping

**This will be the first in a series about our experience as first time vegetable gardeners. Hopefully it will inspire others, or maybe other people will stumble across it and find it helpful. Let me be clear: WE KNOW NOTHING ABOUT BUILDING OR MAINTAINING A GARDEN. Hell, I've never kept anything green alive for more than like 2 weeks (besides grass or weeds and really those don't count because I've never done anything about them). Ange has kept houseplants alive but that's it.**

As you will recall, last year Ange and I got really into reading and learning about farmers markets and organic foods and like like. Last year we batted around the idea of starting a garden, but it was too late in the year to start one. We kept saying "Maybe next year." We even bought a book, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Edible Gardening. And sat on the shelf for several months.

Spring started springing and the market started to look more promising so we decided that maybe we should revisit the garden idea. Actually I was pushing hard for it, but Ange was not so sure. After discussing it the truth came out: she didn't think I could do it, or at least hang with it. I'm so sure! I mean, I know I haven't been Miss One-with-Nature all my life and yes I don't like bugs or being dirty for no reason, but I've come a long way! I still hate bugs, but I can always use bug spray. I don't mind getting dirty if there is a purpose (veggies!) and I'm not just wallowing in mud like a barnyard animal or something. So I promised that YES I was really invested in this and YES I was aware there was dirt and probably bugs involved, but I really wanted to do it! Team AL (Ange & Linds) can accomplish anything together! So thoroughly convinced (or maybe half-way convinced) we ordered some heirloom seeds from Victory Seeds (carrots, 3 varieties of peppers, 2 varieties of onions, 2 varieties of tomatoes & 2 varieties of squash). So you might have a few questions...

Why Heirloom Seeds?

Um, we read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver last year and she talked a lot about the benefits of using heirloom seeds. Long story short (the book IS 384 pages): heirloom seeds keep other varieties of veggies alive, kind of like protecting endangered species of animals. Just doing our part to keep the earth healthy.

Why Victory Seeds Company?

Um, their website was easiest to use. I looked at some other ones, Heirloom Seeds, Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds, and Seed Savers Exchange. They were all fine, but less easy to navigate, order and supply info about seeds. I know, totally lame. Basically it was a spur of the moment thing and since we hadn't read our lovely book, we just wanted the bare minimum info and the easiest point, click, pay. It was the 4th site that came up in our Google search. Other than that, we know nothing about them.

Why did we choose those specific veggies?

Again, laziness was the major factor. We thought about veggies we like, looked at both the website and our little book (we actually did pull it off the shelf!) and tried to guesstimate what would grow in our backyard, and what ones didn't seem to high maintenance. I know, totally well thought out right? Anyway, for the most part, we did ok. We seemed to pick out things that will work ok (although only time will tell!). The one thing we didn't look too closely at was planting guidelines in terms of space. This will become important in a bit.

So after picking out our veggies we go to the checkout page. Apparently lots of other slackers were getting on the seed buying wagon because they were backed up and said it would be at least 8-15 days before our seeds shipped. We were ok with that. It was going to take us a while to prepare the backyard for a garden anyway.

After all that rigorous prep work we needed a break. We took about 3 days off. Hahaha. Seriously, we did. When the weekend rolled around we finally decided we should get serious about the garden. On Friday while Ange was working I decided to go to Meijer to check out some tools and such. I thought it wouldn't be too hard to pick out some stuff. Wrong as usual. I was seriously at Meijer for like almost 2 hours. And I walked out with a hoe, a long handled cultivator, a hand-held shovel, a hand-held cultivator, a seed starter and 2 pairs of gardening gloves. But I did check out dirt and other things garden-y.

The next day Ange and I mapped out our garden plan. This took longer than you think. First we actually did have to find out some info about plant spacing and planting depth, etc. This is when we realized our impulse buys were not completely spot on, but not too bad. Apparently squash need to be reallllly far apart, and since we didn't want a ginormous garden we decided to shelf those for this year. We then thought we would find a replacement when we went back to the store. After arguing about the importance and sizing of space around the garden we finally had a map:

(Click to enlarge)

We then borrowed my stepmom's truck and went on a shopping rampage. Ok, maybe not rampage, but we did spend some decent money on our goods (I plan to do a cost-analysis post later, just FYI). We ended up buying 1200 lbs of dirt (30-40lb. bags), 200 lbs of manure (5-40 lb. bags), 200 lbs. of Miracle-Gro Garden Soil for Flowers and Vegetables (5-40 lb. bags), some green bean seeds (our replacement for the squash), a small seed starter, some garden decorations, and some mulch.

The 1200 lbs of soil wasn't for the garden. It was for all the holes that Daisy the jerk has dug in the backyard:

The mulch was also not for the garden, but for Ange to beautify the front flowerbeds. We had mixed feelings about the Miracle-Gro. They are part of the evil empire of agro-business but since we have never had a garden in the backyard and our soil was questionable we decided to put aside our values for a few and roll with it.

We also bought a soil pH tester kit, a roll of plastic fence and some stakes to block of the garden from nosy ned dogs, a pooper scooper so we could keep dog poop out of the yard and off our shoes, and a bucket to scoop poop into for easy removal.

Whew that was a lot of work. You definitely need to rest after that. We actually did a little bit more, but that falls into the next post: Garden Prep--Pre-Planting. Look for it soon!

Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Great Pumpkin

(Warning: Long post, but hilariously funny if you ask me. Worth the time to read it.)

We got a truck this past weekend. Not just any truck, a nice, beater Great Pumpkin truck. I know you are jealous. But just gets better. You need to hear the story of how the Great Pumpkin came to be.

We decided to build a garden this year and fix up the backyard a bit (blog posts to follow later re: these projects). After borrowing my stepmother's truck to haul literally 1400 pounds of dirt Ange decided we needed to invest in our own truck. My stepmom has a truck, my brother-in-law has a truck, my stepdad has a truck, her dad has a truck, clearly it's an Indiana thing to have a truck and since we hate bothering people with requests to borrow their trucks we decided we needed one of our very own. And by "we" I mostly mean Ange. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm fine with the whole thing, it wasn't like she forced me into an agreement about this or anything but really it was her idea and she was dying to get a truck so I thought "meh, what the hay?" I'm sure she is going to disagree with my assessment, but trust me, this is how it happened. To further prove my point I set a limit of $750 for any truck purchases, but was looking more for a $500 purchase. She was literally ready to trade in her car and get a $3-5,000 truck. I thought it was a better idea to hold on to her car and get a crappy truck so if something went wrong we wouldn't be out a ton of money and she'd still have a car to drive. This will be an important point later.

Now one thing you have to know about Ange is that she tends to be both an obsessively focused person as well as a slightly impulse buyer. Once I agreed that we could get a truck she was OBSESSED with finding a truck. I'm talking stalking Craigslist like nobody's business. I don't like obsessing over anything so this behavior tends to get on my nerves after about 3 hours. I sat through 3 days of this business before I was like "Please dear God find this girl a truck!" Now Ange will probably say I was just as excited about looking at trucks but this is because I am a wonderful partner and I pretend to always share her enthusiasm but in reality I just wanted to stop talking about finding a truck and just get one so we could move on with our lives.

So on Sunday while she was working (but still stalking trucks between patients and texting me non-stop about truck related things) I had finally had enough. I saw one that looked decent and told her to call about it. I told her to call because I know that I would not ask enough good questions about the truck that she may want to know. My conversation would be "Hi, do you still have your truck that's listed and does it work and will you take less money for it?" She would want more info than that. So she called back to say it sounded like a great truck and I should go take a look at it. I swear I heard her say "Mooresville" and didn't really pay attention when she gave me the directions. I was wrong on both accounts, which I'll get in to in a moment. Now we had two issues at hand. One, since it was the weekend we couldn't waltz into the bank and withdraw $750. And like dummies we hadn't thought that far ahead so we were now stuck with the fact that the ATM will only let you take out $400 a day. Boo. Number 2, both Ange and I know that I'm not really qualified to go look at a truck by myself AND I can't drive my car and a truck at the same time so I would need someone to go with me. I decided to call my lovely brother-in-law who lives in Camby, which is conveniently close to Mooresville. I told him the situtation and he said he would take $350 out of the bank to cover the cost of the truck (I would write him a check) and he'd run on down to Mooresville with me to check it out. So I hopped in the shower and took off.

Leslie decided she'd ride along with us since it wasn't going to take much time and then her and Clint were going to go down to IUPUI so she could run an errand. She brought her GPS with her and was trying to input the address to the guy's house and was having some issues. She then looked at the directions I wrote down and said "Uh, this says (State Road) 37 not (State Road) 67." Oh oops. I always get those two confused. They run basically parallel to each other but one heads through Martinsville to Bloomington and the other one runs through Camby and Mooresville. Ruh-oh was all I had to say. She then says "Did Ange say Mooresville or Martinsville?" Um, I thought Mooresville but maybe I'm wrong. That's been known to happen. So she calls the guy who confirms that he is indeed in Martinsville. Whoops. That means our little 15 minute jaunt just turned into an at least 30 minute drive to Martinsville not to mention looking at the truck and driving back. Sorry sis & BIL!

Now Clint mentioned that he needed to stop at the bank when we left the house which I noted and then promptly forgot. He CLAIMS he told me "about 5 times," but neither my sister or I agree with that statement. I think he said it only that one time, Leslie thinks he may have said it another time, but since we're both loud mouths and talk a lot we can't really remember. Regardless, we are bumping along this winding twisting road and Clint says "We never went to the bank." Leslie and I both look at him and say "NOW you remind us?" How about when we were actually on the main road you nit-wit? That's when he claims he did, but apparently we weren't listening. So Leslie types in "Find the nearest Chase Bank" into the GPS and we turn around. After bumping along so more, I find out that Clint gets carsick really easily. Grrrrreat. Because we are in the middle of the hills of Martinsville and the road does not appear to be getting flat and straight any time soon. So I'm going back and forth between driving fast as hell so we can get the trip over with and driving slow so as not to jar Clint too much. I couldn't decide which was better, or in this case, really, worse. I don't think it really mattered, he just really wanted to up-chuck everywhere.

The GPS tells us we are only a mile from our destination (Chase Bank) but we are still in the middle of NOWHERE so we're like WTF? Then the next turn says "Peatree Road." The man's house who has the truck is 295 Peatree Road. WHAT HAPPENED TO THE BANK SIS? Ooops, looks like she thought she'd re-routed us but didn't. Great, now we can go look at the truck but will have to drive back out of the hills to go to the bank and then back into the hills to pick up the truck. This is really turning into a stellar trip. I said I'll try and convince them to take a check for the remainder, but I am doubtful that will happen.

So we pull up to the house, which by the way was up this giant gravel driveway about half a mile and I really think we're driving to Deliverance. We'd already been cracking jokes about breaking down and all the scary movies associated with that, so it looked like our worst nightmares might come true. Super.

The man selling the truck, who sidenote is named Kim--so funny, comes out and he really looks like he belongs in ZZ Top. Big full long yellow-y beard. Ick. So Ange had already warned me he was a chatty fellow so I was trying to let Clint be all "ah shucks" with him while I checked out the truck. Oh, I also forgot to mention that in Ange's conversation with the guy she said that she was buying the truck for her 16 year old son and that her brother and sister-in-law were going to pick it up. So I guess Clint was the brother and I was the sister-in-law and Leslie was the strange person who didn't get out of the car the entire day. Really, not once. I should have said she was our mentally handicapped sister who liked to ride in cars. Anyway, I'm not sure why Ange came up with the elaborate story...forgot to ask...but I'm guessing it was a combination sympathy story (16 year old boy wants a shit-kicker to call his own) and gay panic story (Martinsville is one of the most racist redneck areas of the state so she might have thought he wouldn't be willing to negotiate with 2 lovely lesbians). So he keeps going on and on about what a great fixer upper it is for a teen boy and Clint played along nicely. So I was inside the truck checking it out and had the engine humming along for a while when I looked up and didn't see Clint or ZZ. I start looking around and realize they are standing over by a well looking down in it. WTF? Clint later told me that the guy wanted to show him that the original well from 1815 or something was still there and working. Great.

Did I also mention that in the Craigslist ad the truck looked red? Yeah, so not red. In fact, it's a sublime bright orange like a pumpkin. Or as someone else said, a construction vehicle. We may never know its sordid past, but we do know that now it is nicknamed "The Great Pumpkin." Oh yes we went there.

Anywhoodles, Clint and I decide to take it for a little spin. I proceed to kill it about 5 times in a row (it is a manual transmission) because it has the most sensitive clutch I've ever run into. Literally if you get a cramp in your big toe it will die. So ZZ is cracking up at this dumb female driver (I didn't want to break it to him that Clint can't drive a stick shift for crap) and we finally get it moving and take it for a spin. It runs well and doesn't seem to have any major issues so we decided it's well worth the $750 we negotiated (originally listed for $1,000). Then I explain the "miscommunication" about the money and wonder if he'd take a check for the $350. He said he needed to ask his "old lady" because she was "the boss" and goes inside to find her. The battleax said no so that meant a trip back to town. Grr.

On our twisty turny drive to town to find Chase my gas light comes on thus giving us more hopes of getting stranded in the middle of nowhere and being attacked by sub-humans. So we finally roll into Martinsville proper and the first stop is the gas station. As I get out of the car to pump Clint gets out because he's dying of thirst and wants to get out of the great car-sickness mobile for a bit. In the meantime apparently a lady had pulled up and her car had died and she decides we look friendly enough so can we give her a jump because she thinks it's the battery. Clint says sure because he's always willing to be Mr. Nice Guy and I said we'd have to wait til after the gas tank is filled up and go inside to get us some beverages. Leslie still has not gotten out of the car by the way.

So Clint tries unsuccessfully to jump the lady's car but nothing is happening with that business. In the meantime I have the passenger side door open and am chatting with Leslie when some redneck a-hole pulls up and blasts his horn at me to move out of the way (and I freely admit I was blocking the way to one of the pumps) and that made Clint really mad. Leslie and I just thought he was dumb but Clint wanted to beat him up or something, thanks for defending my honor bro. Then Clint is all "Is there anything else we can do to help you?" to the weird lady and her surly teenage child (who the entire time the jumping was going on was whining loudly about WHAT A PIECE OF SHIT THE CAR WAS. Pleasant child, really.) And Leslie and I are like "oh no he didn't!" Why did she have to marry such a chivalrous dude? We were ready to get the heck out of dodge since our 30 minute excursion was approaching 2 hours at this point. Luckily she said no and we were ready to get on our merry way.

Before we got in the car I asked another patron at the pump next to us where the Chase Bank was. He said "There's no Chase in Martinsville." K I L L I N G me. I was so fed up at this point I said "Screw it, I'll pay whatever ATM fees you incur, we just need to get the damn money and finish this business up." So we drive down the street and hit up some random bank and get the cash. We then turn around and drive back through the twisty roads. ZZ's wife comes out with the title, they hand over the keys, and I jump in the truck ready to head home. Leslie (who climbed over the seats to get into the driver's seat lest she actually need to get out of the car) said that she wanted to bring Clint home first (you know, so he could actually ENJOY his day off and all) and would meet me at my house so I could take her home after dropping off the truck.

We twisted our way out of the hills and were zipping up 37. At this point, most of the headaches were over, or so I thought, so I was actually starting to have fun with 'ol Pumpkin. I got it up to 70 a few times to test it out and all was going well. Leslie and Clint were a few cars ahead but she was hanging back just in case. We pulled up to a light just around Greenwood and when the light turned green I started to take off.

Then the car died.

Hmm, methinks, maybe I let my foot up off the very sensitive clutch. Try to start it again. Nothing. Hmm...lots of cars behind me are getting antsy. I try again. Dead. Again. Dead. Panic starts to set in. The engine isn't making much noise. It's trying but not much. Shit. Shit. Shit. I call Leslie so she can turn around. Shoot Ange a quick text. Cars start going around me. Now I'm worried because I'm sitting in the middle of the highway and I'm afraid someone isn't going to be paying attention and will cream me. I'm frantically looking for the hazard lights, but alas since I've owned this car for about 20 minutes I have no idea where they are! Shit, shit shit! Finally found the hazards but I'm not positive they are working. The light turns red again, which is good because at least people will see that. All of sudden I see some cherries and berries flashing behind me. Super, now the cops are here. They come mosy-ing up to the truck. I open the door.

Mean Police Man #1: You having some trouble?
Me: (Thinking "No, I randomly like to stop in the middle of a busy highway") Um, yeah, I just bought this truck and it died at the light and it won't restart.
MPM1: You realize you don't have a plate right?
Me: (Thinking "No shit Sherlock") Yes, I just bought it.
Mean Police Man #2: Well let's get it out of the middle of the road. We'll push, you steer.
Me: Ok

(We push the truck to the side of the road) Finally Clint and Leslie pull up and Clint jumps out of the car. We pop the hood and he starts tinkering around as I try and start the truck and chat with the police.

MPM2: So you don't have a plate?
Me: No, I just bought this truck like 20 minutes ago.
MPM2: Well, you do know that's illegal?
Me: (Thinking Clearly I didn't think it was a great idea to be driving around without a plate, but didn't imagine it would die in the middle of the road and I would be getting questioned by police) Well I just bought it and just wanted to get it home.
MPM2: Do you have any paperwork?
Me: Yes, I have the title. (Hand over title)
MPM2: (Looks at the title) You haven't signed it.

Now I must interject at this point to let you know something else. It's been RAINING ALL DAY. Yeah, all that mess above? In the rain. So when the lady handed me the title I didn't want to be standing in the rain filling it out. Also, Leslie and Clint were quick to take off so I didn't want to delay them more than the 3 hours of their time they'd already given up. So NO I hadn't signed the title. I was planning on doing it when I got home and not realizing I was going to be broke down in the middle of the road.

Me: Uh, no. It was raining so I just grabbed it and threw it in the car.
MPM2: (Big Sigh) Well basically what we have here is an "open title situation." Someone has signed it over, but you haven't signed it so technically I don't know if you really own this truck.
Me: (REALLY wanting to scream "DO YOU REALLY THINK I'D STEAL THIS BRIGHT ORANGE PIECE OF SHIT TRUCK???") (But instead I just stare at him)
MPM2: Do you have your license?
Me: (Finally a question I can answer in the affirmative) Yes. (Hand over the license)
MPM2: We're going to run this. Just hold on.

In the meantime, another cop car pulls up. He comes over and we go through the same routine. Ange is texting me but I'm ignoring her. I don't want to piss off the cops more. Apparently she texts Leslie to ask if I'm getting hauled off to jail. She says she doesn't know, since she still, yes you guessed it, hasn't gotten out of the car. Ange proceeds to think my sister is useless.

Cop #3 goes back to talk to the other 2. He comes back with my license and title. The other 2 take off. Thank God.

Cop #3: Ok, here is your license. Please fill out the title right now so we can just move along with this part.
Me: Absolutely (Start filling it out)
C3: Do you have a preferred tow truck company or would you just like to get one here as soon as possible?
Me: (Thinking A. Why would I have a preferred tow truck company? Like I break down regularly? and B. Let's just play nice and do whatever is going to get me the hell out of dodge.) Oh, whatever can get me out of here fastest would be great!
C3: I'll call the company we usually use and they'll get here fast. Just sit tight out of the rain.
Me: Do you think my brother-in-law needs to stay or can I ride with the driver?
C3: (Calls over the radio) They said you can ride along.

So I let Clint and Leslie go and I update Ange on what's going on. Finally after about 10 minutes a tow truck pulls up. He already is towing another car behind the truck so he moves the other car up to the flat bed and hooks the Great Pumpkin up to the tow behind. We take off and thankfully that's the last of the police interaction for the day.

So now I need to take a moment to talk about the tow truck driver who showed up. First, he's a huge dude. Huge like 400 lbs. I climbed into the cab and I see the entire front seat is littered with 20 oz. bottles of Sprite and bags of Cheetos. Great, I'm hanging out with Britney Spears. He also has a carton of cigarettes on the seat. I'm so judging him. He hops in the truck and starts talking to me and literally he has shit for teeth. Like someone took a crap in his mouth and formed little tooths out of poop. So gross. He lights up a cigarette and I think "Great, on top of it all I'm also going to get lung cancer."

Now get this. Tow truck man tells me that he's really not supposed to leave Greenwood, especially since he has another car on the truck. W T F ? So he's called his buddy and he's going to meet us at the Big O Tire parking lot. You've got to be kidding me. So TTM#1 starts chatting my face off about trucks and Craigslist and a whole bunch of other mess I really don't give a shit about. But I'm trying to be pleasant since he did come and tow me out of the road. He also tells me that driving without a plate and an unsigned title is basically a dumb shit move. Thanks, I hadn't realized that. He said Johnnie O (apparently Copper #3) is usually a bad ass and impounds cars in my particular situation, but since it was raining and he got off at 5:30 (it was 5 at this point) he probably didn't want to mess with me. Well thank God for that.

He continues to chain smoke and talk and talk and talk until Tow Truck Man #2 shows up. They switch the truck to the other tow truck and I walk over to the other truck. TTM#2 tells me the tow is going to be $95 and is that okay? Um, it's already hooked up and really, what other choice do I have? But here's the kicker, that price is cash only. Since I just spent $750 on this P.O.S. truck I don't have cash. So that's another $9.95 fee. Killlll me. We get the payment taken care of and then we're off. Oh, and guess what? TTM#2 is also a chain smoker. Seriously.

Luckily, TTM#2 is not a chatty Cathy and we ride mostly in silence. As I'm sitting there I notice his hands are strangely clean looking and feminine. It then hits me that his hands are also small and they remind me of the recent Burger King commercials where the guys with the freakishly small hands won't eat the new dollar menu burger because it's so big it will make their hands look even smaller. This mildly amuses me.

We finally pull in, he unloads the truck and I go in and wait for Leslie. She gets there and I take her home. In the meantime, Ange gets home from work and wants to check out the car. I forgot I had left the keys in the ignition. She calls me up.

Ange: Um, you left the keys in the truck.
Me: Oops, sorry.
Ange: I thought I'd see what it sounded like when you tried to start it.
Me: Ok
Ange: It started right up.
Me: WHAT????
Ange: Yeah, it's totally working now.
Me: Dude! Clint and I tried to start it like 80 skamillion times!
Ange: Maybe there was just a loose wire and the tow just jiggled it back into place.
Me: Kill me for the 80th time today.

So yeah, not sure what happened but Great Pumpkin works now. Who knows? We still need to get it looked at so it doesn't randomly break down again, but at least we know it's not trashed. The funny thing about it all is that I wasn't really all that upset over the situation. I mean, it was mostly annoying and exasperating but really, it was a $750 truck. We know lots of people who can fix cars. Whatever.

Now to finish up the story, my piece de resistance is this:

Later that night Ange is looking at the title and she says "Uhhh, you put the title in your name! You should have put it in my name!" REALLY??? REALLY??? Through all of this mess and while signing the title IN FRONT OF THE POLICEMAN I should have forged it into YOUR NAME? Seriously, I love that crazy girl. She just kills me all the time.

Oh, and this:

Ta-da! The Great Pumpkin!

Friday, April 2, 2010

My new favorite dumb email from a student

I received this email today:
From: Lame Student []
Sent: Friday, April 02, 2010 12:07 AM
To: Briggs, Lindsay
Subject: Dear Instructor

Dear Lindsay,

There is a girl in the class who knew about Kubrics book "A Clockwork Orange" and I thought it might make an interesting essay because of all the alludes to sex/ sexual violence. I was going to get the book from her and she gave me her email but I was stupid enough to forget it. Do you know her email? Her name is Megan, she has pink hair.


I mean REALLY? You expect me to just figure it out. Ok, well I could figure it out because there is only one girl with pink hair in our class, but he could have just as easily looked at the roster and figured out who it was. Students are so helpless and ridiculous I can barely stand it.