two days after oliver's birthday, i packed the kids up in the car and drove and drove and drove to the far south side of arlington. i pulled into the dirt parking lot of gnismer farms and waited two minutes until the large lexus of my sister pulled in after us carrying my sister and all two of her offspring.
we were lucky in that the weather had decided to put clouds over the fiery ball of sun, while delaying in putting any water down on us. that would be going too far.
we meandered over to the large farmer who distributes berry boxes and bits of picking wisdom. we were arriving right behind another group that was at the end of their lecture when i heard a word which figured prominently into my ears: SNAKES.
you might or might not know this about me, but i have not a single friendly feeling toward snakes, except that i don't particularly enjoy having them killed simply for being snakes. that is the extent of the goodwill i am able to muster up for them.
we moved up to our rightful place at the front of the line and i mention the S word to the large farmer and i exhibited great, great fear to him. he told me they go around putting snakes in the vines ON PURPOSE because they (the farmers) are not allowed to kill mockingbirds, legally, but snakes are. because snakes are apparently immune from the law. perhaps because what police officer in his or her right mind would want to touch a snake for long enough to cuff it and put it into their back seat? and good luck getting one to pay a fine.
so he tells us about how dandy the snakes are and how they won't bother me, a point which i'm totally not buying, considering i'm heavily bothered by snakes. i don't even like seeing them on the television set. i confirm whether i should freeze or fly away should one decide to poke its head out and we go on our merry, terrified way.
after awhile of picking, i kind of forget the snakes. and then, every once in awhile, as i'm reaching into a low bush, i think of them again. i was pleased to see we were amongst the thornless vines, considering my primary picking companion was a fresh four years old. just like with the strawberries the year before, oliver did a stellar job of picking only the ripe berries. which reminds me, the large farmer indicated they might have to shut down the farm because customers ate all their profits out in the strawberry fields, which is a big, old asshole thing to do. so, if you're ever at a U-pick farm, for god's sakes don't eat until you pay.
back to snake row... we pick and pick and pick and it's so hard to stop because you always see another berry. fortunately, i did not have two near-adult children picking with me who don't have to obey when you tell them to stop picking, because my sister wound up with something like 14 gallons of blackberries.
i also visited the WE-pick wagon and grabbed the produce rhyme of onions and tomatoes and fingerling potatoes. i got out of there for $20. the berries were a little sour and seedy, but it's worth it to support an awesome little farm and to return to your berry-picking childhood for a few minutes.
wow. judging by my last three posts, you'd think violet lives in that shirt. i just discovered it in the too-big-clothing drawer the other day and i guess i must be making up for lost time.
after that, we trailed along to the parks mall in arlington so that my niece could go to victoria's secret to purchase some disturbingly sexy underpants to replace the ones that their dog mysteriously ate. and then we were off for our first summertime visit to my sister's house to let oliver work off his unyielding energy in their backyard. he put ashleigh and dylan through a work out. there was a sprinkler here and there, though he would have nothing to do with getting in its spray. my sister had purchased an inflatable pool for her nephew's summertime energy depletion and oliver had dylan helping him move it (empty) to and fro and upside down around the yard. i sat with my sister and violet on the chaise lounges in the grass and ate watermelon, the rind of which their tiny, underwear-eating dog consumed in total. violet had a couple of bites and said she'd like to have some more.
then we did the decent thing and put a couple of inches in the pool so oliver could flop around like a crazy person while people blew bubbles at him.
at some point, my sister left to take dylan to the doctor and this was how i discovered that he was riddled with ringworm. i have been praying for the intertwining month that it would not be passed on to my two-child, four-cat household. because it would never ever leave with all that territory to infect and re-infect.
this was also the day where i had a bad mommy moment. i was in the house alone with violet for a bit, a-snacking on my blackberry harvest while violet scooted around on the floor after the underwear-eating dog having a big time. i guess i'm used to the cats just getting up and leaving when they've had enough baby playtime. after snapping some choice baby and dog photos, i decided to dash around the corner to inspect for any unborn blackberry babies wedged between my teeth and, needless to say, this is when the bad mommy moment occurred. i heard violet start screaming and realized my snafu. she had been playing with maggie's, the underwear-eating dog's, collar tags when she, maggie, had one of her schizophrenic fits and bit the meaty part of violet's hand where the thumb joins the rest of its handy brethren. it left this odd, little, oval ring of teethmarks. violet was not pleased and i looked like a giant dumb ass as everyone rushed in from the back yard to ask what had happened.
that second one's around the time i decided, "okay. i'll just go and leave the two of you alone now."