Country life: July 2006 Archives

It just wasn't the same without Hank

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A couple of weeks ago I had my Big Fat Southern Family Reunion. I think we're losing our touch, because not only was there no beer, Hank Williams, or the few family members stumbling around the buffet in a state of perpetual semi-sobriety, there was no drama. NO DRAMA. I drove two hours for NOTHING.

The fire-starters in the family boycotted the gathering, except for my very tall aunt, who strolled up the sidewalk to watch the event from across the street on a neighbor's front porch. I did what any rational full-blood Scaggs would do, which was to take photos of her:


I seeeeee you.

The above, and one of my favorite aunts telling me how she kept a collection of baseball bats in the trunks of each of her cars for when she meets our crazy Cousin Meth, kept it interesting. To imagine my aunt angry is to imagine the reaction of an opossum which you've unsuccessfully tried to fricassee. Opossum's eyes glow like the devil, as do my aunt's.

So the younger cousins played,

a great uncle showed me how just a flick of his wrist gets his pin-up to shake it,

Audrey looked cute,

and Nana let Liam have more sweets than he was allowed.


[more family reunion shots.]

#1 sign that you've done lost it

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Race a cart stuffed with a screaming toddler and overflowing foodstuffs alongside a five-year-old with a death wish because he WON'T STOP RUNNING IN FRONT OF THE CARS to a minivan that looks exactly like your minivan EXACTLY LIKE IT, and repeatedly cram your key in the lock because the remote unlocker thingy isn't working and it's raining and the kids! They're still screaming! Then you find yourself yelling obscenities in your head because your van, YOU MUST'VE BROKE IT, and at that moment a middle-aged blond woman and her two daughters come strolling up to your van and are all "Um, what are you doing with OUR van?" And you're all, "No, I think this is my van," and then you look down and notice the "I miss my ex-husband, but my aim is improving" bumper sticker and realize that this isn't your van and that you're in Jefferson County. And then you want to die.

I've been without electric from 3p.m. yesterday to noon today. Ewan slept with his butt on my head. I am tired.

An evening in the basement

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Last night a storm blew in with a frightening strength; tearing off part of the roof at the airport; toppling railway cars, semis, massive trees; and leaving much of the city without electricity - possibly the most massive blackout in St. Louis's history. Chris was leaving the studio when the storm caught him; he and the others hunkered down inside the building. He called and told me to take the boys and head to the basement.

Because I am psychotically paranoid with regards to storms, I already had my Storm Kit! ready. The Storm Kit! includes a flashlight, first aid kit, batteries, important papers, bottled water, portable radio, blankets, diapers, wipes, Liam's spare inhaler, and extra clothes for the boys. I quickly tied Ewan's little shoes and stepped outside on the porch to check the sky. It was a dark, heather gray. The trees were alive and waved frantically to and fro; the wind billowed through the woods with strength enough to shoot leaves and other debris into the air. It looked as though there was a party happening behind the clouds. Thick stalks of lightening flashed. I turned and darted back into the house.

I've been through one tornado as a child and enough bad storms that I can tell when one's coming before hearing it on the news - just by noticing how certain trees can detect the increased humidity and will turn their leaves towards the sky to soak up the maximum amount of water. One year a tree blew over and crushed our vegetable garden; I ran out into the rain and wrestled the tree off because nature was going have to FIGHT ME before it took my tomato plants. I'm not shell shocked though; I sometimes lose my crap during bad storms. Especially since we live in a sort of tornado alley, where every year a tornado tears through the country no more than a couple miles from our house.

We huddled in the corner of the basement for an hour and watched sticks fly up to hit the windows and sliding door. IT SUCKED. The lightening was so intense it looked like a strobe light. The thunder would sound and the earth shuddered in response. The house shook. Ewan being Ewan, tried to cram various objects into his mouth and repeatedly ran by the windows because what fun was it to be stuck in the basement if he couldn't at least GIVE ME A HEART ATTACK. Liam sat with his knees tucked under his chin, his hands over his ears. I told them stories, sang them songs, Liam kept his hands clamped over his ears. Because I am the world's biggest sci-fi dork, I found my box of Star Wars collectibles (goodbye, rare Mace Windu with specially-colored lightsaber) and tore them open to hand to Liam. He immediately forgot all about the storm raging outside and began reenacting "Revenge of the Sith."

The tornado warnings finally expired and the trees stopped waving. The thunder grew faint. I gathered the boys and trekked upstairs. Somehow, we missed the worst of it, especially considering how bad the storm hit elsewhere. I gave a silent thanks and put the Storm Kit! away for another time.

In a couple days a camera crew will arrive to follow me around St. Louis as I show off a few cool places in the city for a new show called "We Live Here" which will air on the Fine Living network. Out of all the reality shows that have contacted me in the past several months, this was one of two not bent on human exploitation. I'm excited about doing it because I get to show off my city - and St. Louis rocks! If you don't think so you obviously live in a city that lacks such awesome sustenance as toasted ravioli, or crab rangoon. Anybody - any Chinese person, for that matter - outside of St. Louis is all "WHAT ON EARTH IS CRAB RANGOON?"

It is heaven, my friend. Total pureed-crab-goodness-in-some-weird-fried-pastry-shell-thing heaven.

Because of our close proximity to the Ozarks, we tend to deep fry everything before putting it into our mouths.

I'm a bit nervous because of the old "the camera adds ten pounds" theory. Um, could like the camera be so kind as to possibly add five of those pounds to my butt and divide the rest between my boobs? THAT WOULD ROCK, THANKS. The Twins shrank a bit after Ewan's birth and things just ain't the same. More on that later.

In a couple days a camera crew will arrive to follow me around St. Louis as I show off a few cool places in the city for a new show called "We Live Here" which will air on the Fine Living network. Out of all the reality shows that have contacted me in the past several months, this was one of two not bent on human exploitation. I'm excited about doing it because I get to show off my city - and St. Louis rocks! If you don't think so you obviously live in a city that lacks such awesome sustenance as toasted ravioli, or crab rangoon. Anybody - any Chinese person, for that matter - outside of St. Louis is all "WHAT ON EARTH IS CRAB RANGOON?"

It is heaven, my friend. Total pureed-crab-goodness-in-some-weird-fried-pastry-shell-thing heaven.

Because of our close proximity to the Ozarks, we tend to deep fry everything before putting it into our mouths.

I'm a bit nervous because of the old "the camera adds ten pounds" theory. Um, could like the camera be so kind as to possibly add five of those pounds to my butt and divide the rest between my boobs? THAT WOULD ROCK, THANKS. The Twins shrank a bit after Ewan's birth and things just ain't the same. More on that later.

Carrying on an old family tradition

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A lot is happening this weekend, one I can tell you about tomorrow when I know more details, the other being that it's time once again for my kuntry family reunion, y'all! The one located in the armpit of the Ozarks. Really though, it's beautiful country out there, so long as you overlook a few lilly-white rednecks and my Aunt Paula's hair lip. This weekend we'll drive a couple hours south to spend the afternoon with extended family in a town which reveres a semi-stray, three-legged dog named Tripod as its mascot.

I am betting that the potluck buffet will include at least several buckets of fried chicken, which is the FOOD OF GODS. The whole thing is organized by one of my great aunts, a sweet but bossy woman who is the apparent strong arm of the family. Chris used to harbor a paralyzing fear of my family reunions, only because my family drama is legendary. It's like Dallas, but without the oil or money. Or ten-gallon hats. Now he sees it as entertainment. Everyone is always on their best behavior at the reunions because my family has one unspoken rule that they only follow when gathered together: Don't fight with your own. If you do choose to fight with your own, everyone takes it upon themselves to get involved because there isn't anything that anyone likes better than a good fight. Should you be an outsider and pick a fight with my family while in their Ozark stomping grounds, the entire town gets all hillbilly - mostly because my family is the biggest family in the town, about 80% of the 368 census.

It reminds me of an evening which took place years ago, related to me by my mother: My mother, my step-dad, and various aunts and uncles went to a saloon - again, no pubs or bars, taverns and saloons only - and after a few brews some stranger may or may not have made a pass at my mother's sister while my mother used the loo; when she returned she saw her sisters, brothers, and in-laws throwing chairs and fighting while Nazareth's "Hair of the Dog" blared on the jukebox.

(My step-dad would be so proud of the Hank Jr. reference.)

How to: blowed up

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Yesterday we taught the boys about the great American pastime of BLOWING STUFF UP. Liam has always been a little timid around fireworks, Ewan, however, screeched with an unimaginable glee and tore off with a caveman-like wonder towards whatever direction he saw fire. Chris and I were SO PROUD. In my youth, I was known as the Queen of Bottle Rocket Warfare and Chris used to fashion makeshift bombs from different parts of firecrackers. We take pyro seriously in this family.

Step One
Spend a small fortune on consumer explosives. Acceptable choices include any package with a snarling black cat on it or anything labeled "Desert Dominator." That worth celebrating should be done so with fire:

Not content with the simple Firecracker, we got the Demolition Cracker.

Step Two
Allow your five-year-old child to participate (and light a fuse with the help of his older cousin, both of whom were TOTALLY SUPERVISED). Giggle as he charges away from the lit fuse like all hellfire is after him:

Step Three
Take photos of your exploding dollars. The only way you could make it better is by eliminating the middleman and actually setting your money on fire:



Click for more Fourth shots.

Don't try this at home

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Alternate title: And the Rockets Red Glare! Tadpoles Bursting in Air!

When I was younger a cousin of mine, who later grew up to play Dungeons and Dragons while listening to the "Black Album," showed me how to jam a lit bottlerocket into the mouth of a tadpole. If the tadpole was small, the bottlerocket would shoot up a bit before exploding and taking a piece of the tadpole's head with it. If it was a big, fat tadpole, the bottlerocket barely jumped, resulting in 3rd degree tadpole burns. Where I lived, there wasn't a kid who hadn't ever tried this unbelievably cruel method of infantile frog torture. Yes, it was mean and awful, and yes, it was sadistically appealing to the wicked immaturity of a developing child which is why kids did it in the first place. But we never wore fur!

One night last week the neighbor kids were shooting bottlerockets off from their driveway at a quarter-to-ten last night and it sounded like shrieking, screaming terrorists were coming through the roof, which woke the boys. I walked to the top of my drive and shouted for them to knock it off, it was late and not July 4th yet.
It reminded me of the tadpole story and caused me to smile as I thought about how many bottlerockets I'd have to cram down the throat of one neighbor kid in order to lift him off the ground.

Disclaimer: I never myself jammed a firecracker in a tadpole's mouth. I heart tadpoles. I HEART the neighbor kids. I would never make them eat firecrackers. Do not try this at home.

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