Tag Archives: trailer

What About Your Chicken?

Harrybadface asked a question that requires an official answer, so here goes…

Bob and I used to have five chickens, as you know.  Then, about two weeks before moving day, those chickens got attacked by a forest creature.  Probably an ermine, since we’ve seen them on the property, and since it was able to sneak both ways through our wire fence.

Two chickens were killed in the attack, and I should point out that these were not food kills, but thrill kills, which are more popular in the animal kingdom than you might like to think.  Essentially, this ermine killed our chickens for kicks, then sauntered away.  Now he’s out getting pet in some oil painting.

But wait, there’s more: Over the course of the next days, two of the remaining chickens, despite being otherwise unharmed, died of fear-related causes. We’re guessing that they found the memory of the attack too much to bear.  And this is something that happens to chickens, or so I’m told.  They literally scare themselves to death.

Unless of course they’re too stupid to realize that they should be scared.

The lone surviving chicken, it would seem, is just that stupid.  When we opened the door one morning to find that her last remaining coopmate had expired during the night, she paid even that no mind–just stepped over her dead friend like a doormat and greeted Bob at the threshold, her neck moving in inquiring spasms.  “Whatcha got?”

* * *

I think Bob began to hate this chicken at that moment, and if it were up to him, she would still be in solitary confinement out of town, no joke.  Add to that the fact that all our prospective chicken inheritors withdrew their offers right after the attack, perhaps fearing they were getting damaged goods, or worrying the survivor had done it all herself.

Luckily, our neighbors’ daughter was able to find a new home for the bird with her ex, a guy who has a bunch of chickens already.  She even helped relocate the bird personally.  The only flaw in the plan, as I saw it, was that this ex of hers also had a rooster.  Bob and I never kept one ourselves, partly because they never shut up, and partly because we’ve seen the clawmarks on the backs of popular hens–another dark facet of the chicken lifestyle that The Left works hard to cover up.

But this time, it would seem that the proverbial claw is on the other chicken butt.  When the new girl arrived, all the other hens in the pen took it the wrong way, and got real jealous of her.  Fighting jealous.

They have been kicking the shit out of that poor rooster ever since.

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Chaosium

The theory goes like this: By agreeing to spend your days in Lonesome Valley, where rough weather is the norm, you should at least be free of unpredictable rough weather.

But like that other theory about gay couples having enormous amounts of disposable income, this one has not proven true for us.  And so it was that a thaw-born windstorm inaugurated our December, downing power lines outside of town on the first of the month.  We read by Coleman lantern that evening, until the power came back on and woke us up early the next morning, then turned off again and made us worried it wouldn’t come back on, then came back for good at the permanent cost of our trust.

I should have taken that night as a sign that stability would not be the order of the day this December.  Even work is crazy for us: As I mentioned before, Bob’s a church organist, and thereby a cog in The Christmas Machine.  He can’t celebrate the season because he’s too busy making it happen, and if you think the holidays are crazy from your side of the footlights, you should see it from the wings.  As for me, I’m in the midst of a bid for Medical Care Certification at The Practice, and when I tell you that the application is roughly the length of my novel, you should know that I am not using hyperbole.  In a Bizzaro-Dickens moment, I actually had to ask my Boss to let me work on holiday weekends, just to be sure I’d have enough time to finish the thing.

And then there’s The Big Move.

* * *

Well, it’s not so big really.  We’re not moving to The City, after all.  But we are moving to a city.  In fact, we are moving to Coleberry Lake, the original “Silent Hill” lookalike that won Bob and I over so long ago.

Bob has gotten a gig as property-keeper for his church.  The gig involves copious amounts of snow shoveling, a fair amount of gardening, and a free apartment with free heat.  And did I mention that its (free) water does not need to be coerced out of a well every day with a garden hose?

I can’t explain what a good thing this is for us.  Less driving for me, less gasoline for us, no more storage space in Delburgh.  The amount of money we’ll save adds up–the equivalent to getting a $300-a-month raise.  (Which is a $600 raise in Lonesome Valley Dollars.)

Even better, we are going to be living behind an old church, on its property, in one of the creepiest little towns on earth.

I’m a lizardman invasion away from living a Lovecraft story, and I’m so jazzed.

* * *

This is, of course, going to create more confusion, as Bob’s caretaking gig begins on the very first of January.  And it’s not as if he’s no longer organist!  But there’s a certain elegance to cramming all the crazy into 2010, so that 2011 will feel like closing one box, and opening another.

The only thing we haven’t done is tell our neighbors.  We have to find the right moment.

It’s a delicate situation, since we’re sure that Bev and Helena, the chain-smoking sisters with whom we share our bi-weekly game night, will assume we’ll never visit again once we move.  And that’s just not true.

First off, Bev and Helena’s family has just about adopted us.  We’ve been to Helena’s kid’s houses for Thanksgiving and Christmas, we’ve been given rides by them when The Je was clunking out on us.  The amount of friendship and support these people have given Bob and I is not the kind of thing you forget.  I feel as though we’re related to them now–by deed if not by blood.

And even if all that weren’t true, I just spent six months teaching Bev and Helena how to play Mahjong.  Would I give up on the thrill of introducing them to Yakitori tiles, and teaching them the meaning of the term, “Flip Your Chicken”?

That’s not how I roll.

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Spy In The House of Ice

The first hint of Bob’s betrayal came when he put off insulating the trailer not one, not two, but three months.  This despite my numerous attempts to raise the issue in conversation, and at least three passive-aggressive emails.

I’ll admit that this delay may not seem like much to get worked up about.  Especially to folks in relatively warmer climates, where the winter temperatures only set in around December.  But Lonesome Valley often gets snow in September, and has been known to go subzero in October.   Add to that the fact that Bob and I live in a three-season trailer (which may as well be a two-season trailer in Lonesome Valley), and you can see why waiting past Halloween to insulate is like flipping Mother Nature the bird.

So naturally when the temperature plummeted last week, our pipes froze, and we were back to bathing out of buckets in a matter of hours.  Still I heard no talk of insulating–instead, Bob wanted to figure out a way to make our bucket-baths more efficient.  Use a garbage can as a cistern, fill it every morning, etc.  We initiated microwaveable meals as an alternative to cooking, to save us having to do dishes.  And when I kept bringing-up the idea of my taking a day off work to help him handle the insulation, Bob kept brushing it away.  Too busy, he said.

Then, three days into the buckets, our thermostat broke.  We fiddled with the slider, we tapped the device–either it wouldn’t keep the furnace on, or it wouldn’t shut the furnace off once it was on, so we decided to turn it off for the night and use a space heater in the living room.

Only later that night, at around three in the morning, I heard Bob get up, walk into the living room, and mess with it.  I assumed he was turning it up, but I woke up to a freezing trailer.  That’s when I realized he had turned it down.

“Why did you turn the heat down last night?” I asked him.

“I didn’t even get up last night.”

“You did,” I insisted.  “I heard you do it.”

“I don’t remember,” he said.

Then he smiled.

* * *

During this time of year, the war with the elements is a constant one in Lonesome Valley, and the cold takes no prisoners.  Pipes burst, thermostats break.  All that hovering trouble results in a real feeling of Us vs. Winter among the locals, and our recent incidents at the trailer were beginning to suggest that Bob had defected to the other team.  But to be fair, there are a number of other explanations for his seeming attempts to further the cause of frost.

One of them is that Bob really is very busy, with holiday concerts, and an endless amount of music to learn for advent.  He’s also taking a pill for insomnia, which he’s had since he quit smoking, and this particular pill has been known to make people do weird things in their sleep.  Like cut their bangs off, or cook themselves breakfast.  Now, we can add self-refrigeration to that list.

Which brings me to the evidence for the other side, for all you conspiracy theorists, and fans of more shall we say esoteric explanations for Bob’s behavior.  Earlier this month, he changed his Facebook profile pic to this:

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Rodentia

There’s pretty much no way to avoid mice in Lonesome Valley, especially when you live in something as sneak-able as a trailer.

Around September, when the weather starts to get chilly, they make a beeline for our kitchen, eating whatever crumbs and sauce splotches have not yet been cleaned up.  Then they poop like mad, and run…or at least plan to.

Little do they know, we have these creepy little seesaw-coffin-traps waiting for them.  Elegant contraptions.  When properly set, their opening rakes invitingly toward the food, like a staircase in a Busby Berkeley musical—and when the mouse tapdances up, this tips the balance of the trap, rolling the door shut.

The next morning, you take the trap for a walk to the edge of the nearby forest and send the mouse out with a gentle fling.  Though sometimes I prefer to drop them off in Coleberry Lake, just in case they, you know, find their way back to the trailer.  (Hey, it could happen.)

These mice, I should be clear, are still alive.  That’s right–despite the “rodent relocation” aspect, these are non-lethal mousetraps.  Trouble is the winter, once it comes, renders the traps significantly less so.

When you release a mouse in any other season see, you have the pleasure of watching it land on the peatmoss unharmed.  Then it has this moment of confusion, followed by an adorable “let’s get outta here” run.  Away it scurries, toward any number of adventures—steamboat piloting, theme park construction, metastasizing corporate proliferation.  You name it.

When you release a mouse in the winter, however, it scurries approximately ten feet into the snow, curls into a defensive ball, and slowly freezes to death over the course of the morning.  Then inevitably, something bigger comes along, and scarfs it like a mochi ball.

This poses a dilemma for me, and I’m open to suggestions.  Should I just get a zapper mousetrap for the winter months, so that I’m knocking the poor guys off outright, instead of giving them an evening of claustrophobic terror, followed by popsiclehood?  I feel like my unwillingness to “exterminator up” is forcing them to spend the last stretch of their lives in a Dutch horror film.

Perhaps a better man would just clean up after the mouse and have done with it—but pretty soon I’d have Studio 54 in my kitchen, minus the toilets.

Feel free to suggest a solution here.  I’m running out of ideas, and I’m open to anything that does not involve sending mice to college.  And while you’re at it, weigh in on the mystery.  As in how, if the mouse can’t get ten feet away from the trailer without freezing, it crosses the ten feet to the trailer in the first place?

If I get up early enough, I wonder if I will catch a similarly guilt-ridden resident from Coleberry Lake, empyting his mousetrap into our galley hatch…

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The Trailer 100

Bob and I had to choose 100 movies to sneak into a DVD binder for our trailerdom, partly because we wanted to save space, and partly because well, DVD binders are fricking expensive.

So here I present a list of the 100 movies we mutually decided to bring with us to this metaphoric “desert isle”. Some are obviously mine, some are obviously his, and some toe the line rather well. Some are brilliant, some are bad, others even worse—I cannot defend, merely confess.

Filmies will note for the record that Dario Argento, John Carpenter, Bob Fosse, Jim Henson, Stanley Kubrick, David Lynch and Ridley Scott are the big winners of this de-facto auteur deathmatch, with three features each. The Cohen Brothers, Chris Columbus (?!), Francis Ford Coppola, David Cronenberg and Peter Greenaway get the silver, with two each. (As for Lars Von Trier…IN YOUR FACE!) But the dearth of Terry Gilliam and the absence of PEE WEE’S BIG ADVENTURE are oversights, honest.

Here are the movies…

300, THE ABOMINABLE DR. PHIBES, ALL THAT JAZZ, AMERICAN GANGSTER, AUNTIE MAME, BARRY LYNDON, BARTON FINK, BEACHES, BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, BIG TROUBLE IN LITTLE CHINA, BLADE RUNNER (Theatrical Cut), THE BUSBY BERKELEY DISC, CABARET, CALL OF CTHULHU (2005 Silent Version), CHICAGO, CLOSER, THE COOK THE THIEF HIS WIFE AND HER LOVER, CREEPSHOW, DAMN YANKEES, THE DARK CRYSTAL, DEAD OF NIGHT, DEEP RED, DE-LOVELY, DEVIL DOLL, DON’T LOOK NOW, DRACULA (Browning), DRACULA (Coppola), DREAMGIRLS, EMMET OTTER’S JUGBAND CHRISTMAS, EXORCIST III, EYES WIDE SHUT, THE FALLS, FAUST (Svankmajer), FLASH GORDON, THE FOG (Carpenter), THE FUNHOUSE, GANGS OF NEW YORK, GLENGARRY GLEN ROSS, THE GODFATHER, GOSFORD PARK, GO TIGERS!, THE GREAT GABBO, HARRY POTTER I-V, THE INCREDIBLES, INFERNO, INLAND EMPIRE, INSTITUTE BENJAMENTA, JEEPERS CREEPERS, KRULL, KWAIDAN, LABYRINTH, THE LAST EMPEROR, LEGEND (US Version), LIZA WITH A Z, LOST HIGHWAY, LOST IN TRANSLATION, MARY POPPINS, MEET ME IN ST. LOUIS, MILLER’S CROSSING, THE MIST, MULHOLLAND DRIVE, MURDER BY DEATH, NAKED LUNCH, OPERA, ORGY OF THE DEAD, PAN’S LABYRINTH, THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA, PIPPIN, PLAN 9 FROM OUTER SPACE, PULSE (Kurosawa), THE QUEEN OF SPADES, RENT, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM, THE ROCKY HORROR PICTURE SHOW, THE ROYAL TENENBAUMS, SCARFACE, SCHOOL HOUSE ROCKS!, THE SHINING, SHOWGIRLS, SILENT HILL, SUSPIRIA, SINGIN’ IN THE RAIN, SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES, STAR!, STUART LITTLE, SUNSET BOULEVARD, THE THING (Carpenter), THE TAKING OF THE PELHAM ONE TWO THREE, THERE’S NO BUSINESS LIKE SHOW BUSINESS, TOPSY TURVY, TOURIST TRAP (Schmoeller), VICTOR VICTORIA, THE WARRIORS (Hill), THE WICKER MAN (Hardy), VIDEODROME, YOUNG FRANKENSTEIN

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Space Case

So we’re in the trailer for at least another year and I’m on-board with that.

Part of it’s just me being grateful to have something in my life stay the same. But an even bigger part of it is the fact that trailer living kinda fascinates.

Avant-gardie Robert Wilson once said that if you take a baroque candelabra and put it on a baroque table that’s one thing, but if you take a baroque candelabra and put it on a giant rock that’s something else–and maybe it’s easier to see the candelabra when it’s on the rock.

In a trailer, the elusive concept of “home” gets the boulder treatment, and it’s a trick that’s yet to wear out its welcome with me.

A trailer makes you see, understand and appreciate the building blocks of a modern home.  It exposes how much of a chair is chair, and how much of it is sheer razmatazz–in part because trailer chairs have so little razmatazz to go round.  The same goes for the trailer shower, the trailer bed, the table, and oh how it goes for the toilet.

In a trailer, you drill down to the purely functional aspect of any given object or concept, and you appreciate any move away from that function as luxurybecause that’s just what it is.

You also have little space in a trailer, and I love that too.  Specifically, I love the way it challenges you to get realistic about necessities.  The way the reduced space encourages its creative use and re-use.  And the way having less stuff makes you appreciate, and actually use, the stuff you have–instead of piling it under more stuff.  I’ve replayed favorite video games multiple times, read books I always meant to read, re-read others, and played with my chopper chums puppets more than I care to admit.

Of course, my attraction to trailer living is not all borne of minimalism.  The fact is, I secretly think Bob and I can’t conceive of a way to live with more space.  Maybe it comes from too much time spent in The City, and our sense of scale atrophying after all those years in apartments.  All I know is, even when we had our biggest one of those, that Victorian gorgosity with its multiple rooms and deck, we spent most of our time huddled on one end.  It’s like we can’t live in more space than we can hold in our heads at one time.

Which makes me wonder about our next “home”.  Alternatives have been floated, as we idly discuss the future: A slightly scaled-up Amish schmabin.  A miniaturized A-frame.  Or else an actual house, the kind grown-ups live in.  The first two seem plausible and livable to me.

It’s the third I have trouble picturing.

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Oh, Industry!

One thing I love about Bob is how his high tolerance for weirdness gradually seeps into you.

Alas for him, sometimes this can mutate a person into someone who is even more tolerant of weirdness than he is.

Case and point, our recent cooler conversation:

As you know, when our fridge went kaput, Bob and I started using a beer cooler in its place.  With weather like this, we merely needed to put the thing outside our trailer.

But you might not know that my friends at The Practice quickly came up with a great idea for rejiggering this rejigger: Instead of merely leaving the cooler out in the cold (amateurs!) they suggested that I line it with the freezie-blocks packing our office’s endless vaccine shipments.  (This is just the sort of thing the people of Lonesome Valley would suggest–they have a talent for making it work, no matter how improvisational “it” may be.)

As expected, the “freezie block” method worked like a charm, making it possible for Bob and I to store anything we liked during the winter.  But now that the cold is on the wane, it’s getting harder to keep the freezie blocks chilled.

So I mentioned this to my work friends, and one of them just shrugged and suggested keeping two sets of freezie blocks.  One would be left in the fridge at work, and another set would be left at the trailer.  I could rotate them, and thereby ensure that our “cooler” continues to live up to its name.

Seized by the sheer two-tin-cans-and-a-stringdom of this idea, I offered it to Bob as a brilliant solution to the electricity drain of an actual fridge.  “Just think of it!” I said.  “We don’t need a fridge at all!  We can just keep rotating freezie blocks all summer long!”

I thought that Bob would love this idea.  We are, after all, the men who were only recently taking “showers” by scooping well-water out of an Ace Hardware bucket with a used tub of Country Crock.

But he just shook his head.  “At this point, I think I’d rather get a fridge…”

I was reminded of the moment in Tim Burton’s “Batman” when the thugs render the caped crusader briefly unconscious, and discover that he’s just a dude covered in body armor.

“He’s human after all,” they say.

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