Saturday, March 5, 2011
Things I've Learned in Virginia
1. If the wheelbarrow starts going down the hill really fast and you’re losing control, just drop it and hold on. You’ll skid a couple of feet and then stop. If it’s a really steep hill and you’re heading for something you’d prefer not to crash into—a tree, the pond, the manure pile—just drop it, hold on, and sit. That should do it. (Spray & Wash is not necessarily going to take all the orange out of the seat of your pants.)
2. Do not park a full wheelbarrow laterally on a path that zigzags down a hill because it will fall over the minute you take your hand off the handle to scratch your nose and all your hard work will go tumbling down to the bottom and you will say F-it and leave it there. Park straight, facing down.
3. All these years I’ve been eating rutabagas, not turnips. I’m still traumatized over that. My whole life my mother said they were turnips. When I confronted her about this deception, she acted all nonchalant, like it was no big deal. “Yeah? So? They’re really rutabagas. We just call them turnips.” She didn’t care one iota when I told her how embarrassed I was when I bragged to Pearl about my delicious family recipe for mashed turnips and she informed me, “Why Debi, them aren’t turnips at all. You’re getting your root vegetables all mixed up, bless your heart.”
4. When someone says “Bless your heart,” that means you’re a moron.
5. The mayor is not actually a crazy person who runs amok, crashing through fences all over town, trampling people’s lawns and gardens like a madman. The mayor is a mare, Wesley Bell’s sorrel broodmare who thinks the grass is greener on the other side of the fence and can’t be kept contained because the minute the electric fence goes out, she knows it.
6. Electric fences go out on a regular basis in Virginia. Or in the country, of which Virginia is mostly, agriculture being our number one industry. Of course some mortgage lenders (Fairway Independent Mortgage Corporation) refuse to make loans on homes in agricultural areas even though we gave them all that money to do so--check out my story Bad News--in effect discriminating against country folks. But that is neither here nor there. The point is, the electric goes out in Virginia regularly and most people have generators. Some have them hardwired into their houses, it happens so often. We’ve been lucky; it’s only happened to us a couple of times and not for long so I’ve never had the chance to pull the generator out. And Kurt would have to be home if I did need it because I have no idea what to do. But I have it just in case. It’s next to the power washer, which we also don’t use.
7. In addition to generators, people in Virginia also have scanners. They listen to the calls that come in to the fire house or first aid in the beginning of winter when everyone is firing up their woodstoves for the first time and they didn’t get them cleaned first. Or when someone calls the ambulance for Brandy Hinkle because she took too many prescription drugs again, all those popular ones you see on TV, because she has nothing better to do than invent aches and pains because she’s bored out of her mind since she refuses to work or go to school and she got married when she was eighteen-years-old to someone else who refuses to work or go to school. It’s a vicious cycle over there and the only excitement is when the ambulance comes. As far as the cops, you rarely hear anything on the scanner about them. At least in these parts. Well, other than the occasional shooting. Because everyone has guns around here. Pearl keeps a portable scanner right in her breast pocket like a pack of cigarettes just so she can stay on top of things. If there’s anything I need to know, she calls me.
8. Bobcats mating sound suspiciously like women being murdered. That’s when I called the cops.
9. Tall grass is hay.
10. Baptist churches have white people.
11. Handy things. Like how to give shots, clean sheaths, stack hay, bake pies, and grow vegetables, all things I used to pay someone else to do in New Jersey. But I still can’t put new string in the weed-whacker. And I don’t know how to start that generator.
12. Just because there are old farmhouses all over the place doesn’t mean I am going to find anything good at garage sales. This is the hardest place for garage saling with the exception of Oklahoma. The people will not part with their old stuff or they have incredible patience and will sit around till the cows come home waiting for the right person to come along who will overpay for a jadeite sugar bowl because they’ve been looking for that exact piece for ten years. Either way, you will find Fisher Price toys, NASCAR collectibles, VCRs that don’t work, baskets, old shoes, brass fixtures and stained Tupperware at garage sales but no Roseville unless you want to pay an arm and a leg.
13. Testicles on dogs are the norm. When I first moved down here and started seeing all the testicles, it was so weird to me I might as well have been seeing dogs with antennas coming out of their heads. Some people actually think they’re going to make money breeding dogs, but the real reason is they just want to get some puppies because they’re cute. But they don’t think they’re cute enough to warrant a trip down to the local dog pound to save one, and certainly not cute enough to stop adding to the mess. Thousands and thousands of dogs get put to sleep in Virginia every year and even more cats.
14. They sell liver-and-onions at the local restaurant down here. It’s a buffet-style place called Chitwood’s Home Cooking and the last time I was in there, the whole pan was scarfed up faster than the one that contained the marshmallow salad. I couldn’t believe my eyes. People actually choose liver-and-onions? I thought liver-and-onions was something mean old aunts gave to kids in the 1950s and the kids spit it out when no one was looking. I thought liver-and-onions went out of style with kerchiefs and aprons.
15. Speaking of meat, people claim they hunt deer for the meat. To put food on the table. Trying to be open-minded, I tasted it. It tasted like crap. They say that’s because it wasn’t prepared right. It has to be cooked just right. Anything that has to be cooked just right to be edible is crap. And if it’s so good, why doesn’t Walmart sell it? Why isn’t it flying off the shelves down there? Why isn’t it in a stainless steel pan next to the liver-and-onions down at Chitwood’s? Because it’s crap.
16. Bulls are the boy cows who can mate. Steers are boy cows who are castrated like what should be happening to all the dogs around here. Heifers are the girl cows. I’m still not sure what that thingy is that’s hanging from their bellies. Is it a penis or is it something to do with the bellybutton? And you can’t go by the horns. Both boys and girls—sometimes they have them, sometimes they don’t. Hence, I can’t tell a boy cow from a girl cow.