Friday, April 11, 2008

Everything is Broken

All my tools are broken. I can’t get anything done on the farm if I don’t have the proper tools. Kurt is out there right now trying to fix the riding lawn mower. He said the battery is as dead as a doorknob. He said we left the key on last winter and it drained it dry, plus the thing has been jinxed from the get-go. I don’t know about that. Maybe he doesn’t realize all the mowing I did in that other place we lived which was 53 acres of jungle on steroids. But I’d have to say, even though this could be jinxing things, that I got my money’s worth out of that riding lawnmower.

In addition to the dead battery, it has a flat.

The dually wheelbarrow, the big mama, also has a flat. This is a problem concerning the weeds. They fill up a wheelbarrow fast, especially those beachy-looking things the previous owner planted everywhere. They go great with the pool but you have to get rid of the straw-like stalks before the new growth comes in and they’re bulky. They take up a lot of space in the wheelbarrow causing me to make many trips down to the gully to dump them on the manure pile. It’s not the trips down that’s the problem. It’s the trips back up. I try to do big steps so I don’t have to take as many. Sometimes I have to stop and rest before I get to the barnyard.

Before I knew the dually had a flat, I filled it with chickweed that was running amok around the house, threatening to crawl right up the foundation and rip the shutters off the hinges and possibly cover us all so that before long we’d be living in a vine-covered cottage. That’s what we’d call it. A chickweed-covered cottage doesn’t sound so pretty.

I got it all filled up and then started to go but I was huffing and puffing halfway across the yard. That’s when I realized the tire had a flat. Kurt was at work and the bike pump is mysteriously missing so I had to call him up and have him walk me through filling it up with the air compressor. This involved finding an extension cord that was long enough to reach an outlet. Air compressors are heavy. You don’t want to move one unless you have to.

The extension cord was buried under towing chains which were wrapped around the wheels of the generator, which last time I heard, also had a flat. I lifted the generator, even heavier than the air compressor, untangled the chain and pulled it out. Then I pulled out the extension cord. With plug in hand, I climbed over the Christmas tree stand, a milk crate filled with assorted tools, and boxes of things we bought but never opened like weather stripping and flood lights. I knocked over a box of nails, crushed the hose to the swimming pool by stepping on it and wedged my foot in between a toolbox and the metal shelves because it was the only place to stand. But I made it to the outlet. However, the cord wouldn’t reach. No matter how much I tried, stretching and tugging, it was an inch too short.

The whole time Kurt was talking me through it. I had the phone on my ear. He said slowly, like I am three, “”

It worked. I got the cord untangled and plugged in. It stretched across the garage at eye level, a big loop you now have to crawl under, while simultaneously crawling over things, if you want to get to the other side. It appears, to the uneducated eye, that the garage needs a good cleaning. But Kurt knows where everything is so don’t touch it.

Now Kurt had to tell me how to hook up the hose to the actual machine. “See the nipple on the end?” he said. Let’s just skip over the next part because he thinks he’s funny.

I pulled the sleeve back on one of the round brass things that was sticking out of the air compressor and pushed the hose onto it. When I let go, it popped off and hissed like a wild snake. A big gust of air hit me in the face. I screamed. I tried again but it kept popping off. I cried, “It doesn’t fit!” After a number of attempts, we realized a piece of rubber around the end of the hose needed to be pushed back to expose the nipple fully. Finally, I got it on and I pumped up that wheelbarrow like no tomorrow. In fact, I got scared. “It’s not going to blow up is it Kurt?”

This is what we’re dealing with.

So the riding lawn mower is broke, the dually wheelbarrow keeps getting a flat, I couldn’t get the push lawnmower started or the weed-whacker. The farm truck won’t start otherwise I would have pulled it up to the beachy things and just thrown them all in there. Kurt’s not happy he’s got to fix all these things but I told him, I’ll do the work, you just get it going for me, that’s all you have to do. I don’t mind doing it if I have the tools to do the job but I can’t be climbing over generators and nearly hanging myself up on cords every time I get the urge to pull a few weeds.

Later, when I went out there, Kurt and Kelly had the garage all straightened up. I think he realized it was in his best interests to let me get to things now that I know my way around an air compressor.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

The Artist in the Family

The new look of this blog was created by my daughter Jamie Ferraioli, aka Green Girl, who stuck to her dreams and is an artist now. It’s so good to have an artist in the family!

Now if only Kelly would become a car mechanic or a vet, we’d be all set….

Please check Jamie out at: or

Saturday, April 5, 2008


Even though I wrote that big long post about deciding to become a writer, I was still grappling with it. Then I started getting signs. These signs have been in the form of other writers inspiring me. I’ve often been inspired by other writers but this time it’s been right in a row. Bam, bam, bam! Here is what I stumbled across just in the last week or two:

There was an article in this month’s The Writer about Michael Perry who writes essays about the country life like I do. Right off the bat I got excited because I learned he’s had a ton of colorful jobs just like I have—forklift operator, nurse, cowboy—just to name a few. Although he’s afraid of horses. Still…

We have a lot in common. The more I read, the more I exclaimed, “That’s me!” But I was most excited when I read that he only took one college creative-writing class and is self-taught. Just like me.

I’m not saying I’m anywhere near as good as he is. I’m still learning, trying to catch up because I’ve quit a hundred times to become a telephone operator, nurse’s aid, cowgirl and all those other jobs I’ve had. But if he can do it, I can do it. That was number one.

Then in Parade magazine I read about Frank McCourt. I’m Irish too. But that has nothing to do with it. A little voice in his head said, “Don’t settle for less. Find what you love and do it.” But he became a teacher because the voice also said, “Yeah, but that won’t buy bread.” Sounds just like me. He trudged along doing his second choice until he couldn’t do it anymore. I don’t know whether he couldn’t stand it anymore or he just couldn’t do it anymore. But he retired after 30 years of teaching, went home and wrote Angela’s Ashes. It was a bestseller. McCourt was 66.

In The Roanoke Times I read about a local guy who’s originally from New Jersey like me. His name is Scott Loring Sanders. He was the family breadwinner. And yet he quit his job to go to school and become a writer. I can’t imagine what his wife thought. Divorce? I don’t even have that kind of pressure on me. I’m not the family breadwinner and yet I’m hesitating. Sanders has more confidence in his little finger than I have in my whole body.

His first novel, The Hanging Woods, just came out and a second one is due out next year. His number one rule is: Stay disciplined. Meaning, don’t stop.

This may sound corny but I feel like God is sending me signs. So I’m going to keep going.