Wild berries, worms and cuss words…


Last night I went on a walk to close some gates in our home pasture and check a couple juneberry patches.

Juneberries are a special treat around here. Like wild mini-blueberries, if they show up, they show up around this time to much fan fare for those of us who know people who make pies.

Juneberries make the best pies in the world.

Probably because getting to them before the frost kills them or the birds eat them up is so rare, and the entire task of picking enough of the little purple berries sends you to the most mosquito and tick infested, hot, thorny, itchiest places in the free world, so finally making and tasting a Juneberry pie is like completing some prairie, culinary, ironman marathon.

Only better and more gratifying, because, well, pie.


Anyway, my little stroll before sunset was only mildly successful. The gates on this place were made to be shut only by Thor himself. Or the Hulk. Or some hybrid of a bear-man. By the time I grunted and groaned, used my entire body weight trying to push the two posts together to maybe, possibly, for the love of Dolly Parton, stretch the three wires tight enough to get the little wire loop over the top of the scrawny post, I was sweating, cussing, bleeding and wondering how I missed the yeti that we apparently hired to fix the gates on this place.

I called Husband on my cell phone (who was inside the house with the baby, like twenty yards away) and told him there’s no way in hell I’m ever getting that damn gate shut and that shutting the damn gates was his job from now on who the hell do you think I am what the hell is this all about who in their right mind makes gates that tight good gawd sweet mercy Martha Stewart.

And, if you’re wondering, the gate on the other side of that pasture went about the same way…

Anyway, on my way I did in fact locate a big ‘ol juneberry patch. But the best berries, of course, were hanging out about fifteen feet above my head at the very tops of the bushes. And to get to them I had to wade through thorny bushes up to my armpits. But some of those thorny bushes had raspberries growing on them, so that was a win.

I proceeded to eat every ripe red berry I could find.

Even the one with the worm on it…which I discovered after I put it in my mouth and crunched.

So that was a loss.



Yes, the raspberries, worms and all, were within my reach. The juneberries, not so much. But tonight I’m going to use my best convincing skills to see if Husband might want to come with me to back our old pickup up to that bush, stand in the box, brave the mosquitos and pick us some berries.

Because, well…pie.

Anyway, when I got home I discovered that apparently wading up to my armpits in thorny brush to pick raspberries was not only a good way to accidentally eat a worm, but, even better, it’s a great way to acquire 500 wood ticks.

I came home and picked off a good fifteen or so. Stripped down to my undies, checked myself out in the mirror, sat down on the chair and proceeded to pick off at least five more.

When I crawled into bed I wondered out loud to Husband what time of night I would wake up to a tick crawling across my face. He made a guess. I made a guess.

But we were both wrong.

At about 12:30 or so, just as I had drifted into a really nice slumber, I was indeed awoken by a tick…but it wasn’t crawling across my face. No.

It was crawling toward my butt crack.

Thank good gawd sweet mercy Martha Stewart, I cut him off at the pass…

Ugh, all I wanted to do was close some freakin’ gates…



A horrifying story


Ok, so it’s beautiful outside right now, green and warm and it’s fixing to thunderstorm the way we’ve been waiting for, and I should show you a bunch of pretty pictures of it and lament about my favorite season and all that…but it just isn’t in the cards today.


Because today I have to tell you a horrifying tale that involves my mother and a glass of wine.

Better get under your blanket, because you’re going to want to pull it over your head in a minute here.

So my family spent all day Memorial Day weekend working outside. Pops, Husband and my Father in Law were building fences, I was pressure washing everything I could pressure wash because I love shit like that, and my momma was planting flowers at her house.


Well, I don’t think I have to mention it again, but when you’re out and about in the grass on a warm spring day you’re bound to get a tick or thirty-seven.

So that’s why when we came in for lunch, we did the regular neck slap, hair scratch, take-a-look-at-my-back-do-you-see-anything check and then went on with our sandwiches and back to our business.

Well, later on that evening, after the whole house was hosed down, enough fence was repaired and mom’s flowers were in pots where they belonged, Husband and I showered up and snuggled down in our house and mom and Pops changed out of their work gear and settled in their comfy chairs to watch a movie.

Pops probably had a little whiskey and Mom poured herself a glass of red wine. She leaned back at her favorite spot on the couch, grabbed the remote and her glass of wine and took a good, long, well deserved sip, pausing for a moment after the swallow to remove what she thought was a little piece of cork stuck to her tongue.

But people. It wasn’t a cork.

No it was not.

It was a tick.

My mom had a tick in her wine and it went into her mouth.


I mean, just recently Husband saw one crawling across my face and kindly mentioned it before it hit my mouth, which was disgusting enough…but not as disgusting as what happened to my mom.

She takes the cake for the most horrifying tick story on the ranch so far.

Imagine that. The woman on the ranch who goes outside the least wins the title.

Good one mom.

Good one.

The invasion.

There’s been an invasion on the homestead. It’s horrifying. It’s disgusting and it happens every spring, sneaking up on us, crawling up our legs, surprising us in the shower, torturing our dogs, waking us up in the night, sending small children screaming, strong women shrieking and grown men shivering in their works books.

Oh, I know it’s coming. I should be prepared. But I’m so excited about blue skies and sunshiny things that I forget about the inevitable creepy, crawly, disgusting, critters lurking in the tall grass where I’m busy frolicking.

I forget about it until I come home in the evening, refreshed and sunburned with just the right amount of dirt under my fingernails and I sit down on the couch, kick up my feet, take a deep breath, maybe close my eyes for a moment and then I feel it–that tingling sneaking along my sock line, moving past my leg hair.

Is it my leg hair?  Geesh, when’s the last time I shaved?

I scratch at it.

Yup. Just leg hair.

So I lean back again, grab the remote and turn on “Wheel of Fortune.”

I take a guess at the puzzle.

I nail it.

I slap my neck.

Man. I’m itchy.

Must be the fresh grass.

Must be the dried on sweat.

Must be the leg…

Arughhhh, what’s with this shit?!

What. Is. Crawling. On. Me. Oh. My. Gawd. It’s. A. Tick.

A tick.



I scream and run to the toilet, where I flush the little bastard into oblivion with a satisfaction I shouldn’t be so proud of, but I am.

Because I hate them.

I. Hate. Ticks.

And there is no photo because I am not going to glamorize them in any way, even if it’s for scientific purposes.

So here’s another photo of their habitat.

Rest assured, they are there. You just can’t see them.

Because they’re sneaky like that.

And they are also the only mortal enemy I have out here in paradise, even though I know that rationally the mountain lion sneaking in the trees is probably a bit more of a threat to me and my life.

And, oh, I hate cockle burs too.

And mosquitoes.

But not as much as I hate ticks.

Once, I had one stuck to my head when I went to get my hair done. I was just trying to be fancy. I even took a shower after my ride through the coulee. I swear I scrubbed my head good, but somehow the little bastard got by. Somehow I didn’t notice when his fangs stuck to my head and the evil insect began feasting on my precious blood.

I need that blood.

Especially that blood so close to my brain.

And so close to the poor pretty hairstylist who stopped dead in her tracks when she came upon the tiny beast embedded in my scalp.

Tick. Damn you tick. That was embarrassing.

You embarrassed me.

I hate you.

I hate how you stick in my bellybutton.

I hate how you stick in my armpit.

I hate how you get really big and disgusting, like thirty times your rightful size, and you dangle off  my lab’s ear.

I hate how you get stuck a little too close to the pug’s butt and then I have to deal with that.

I hate that I have to deal with that.

I hate that no matter how much money I spend on veterinarian recommended tick repellent it doesn’t phase you one bit.

Because we live in the woods.

And you’re my pesky neighbor. You and all thirty seven bazillion of your disgusting relatives and friends.

And you’re thirsty, apparently.

Thirsty enough to find your way to my bed at night, forcing me to unknowingly sleep-slap my own face, waking me up from a dream about Ryan Reynolds.

Tick. I hate you tick.

But you won’t ruin my summer. I will continue to yank you off of my body and the body of those I love and fling you back out into oblivion without the one and only appendage you need to successfully ruin my life.

Your head.

That’s right.

You went for mine, now I’m coming for yours.

You better watch your back, tick, because Lord knows I’m watching mine.



Your mortal enemy