Monday, November 02, 2009

The one with the armadillo picture

Yes, I have finally responded to your incessant* demands to "Post something, you cunt!"

So, here is "something."

Now that we are at the folks' Nest, our temporary home 'til we go on to Northern Ireland, I have access to a whole treasure trove of family photos. While most of them are pictures of someone's thumb (it's how people on my mom's side of the family took pictures; most families know who's taking the pic by who's not in the shot, we know by whose thumb it is), there are a few that did turn out all right.

So, as threatened promised, here is the infamous Armadillo Picture:





That would be me, age 5 (or 6; I can't remember and my mom's asleep right now; that would also make it the summer of either 1975 or 1976), on a trip back to Eastern Oklahoma to visit my mom's Okie relatives. I'm in what was my favorite nightgown (you can't see it, but it had little pictures of angels all over it) in the back of my uncle's pick-up truck after having been out with them the previous night to go shooting armadillos. My mother didn't approve, which is why I'm in my nightgown; Dad snuck me out after Mom had put me to bed 'cause I had begged him. Sometimes it pays off being Daddy's Little Girl.

My mom was born in California in 1948, her parents were part of the great Okie migration in the 1930's, following the Dust Bowl, but they still had relatives that stayed in Oklahoma and stuck it out.

Yes, those are dead armadillos. If you're not familiar with armadillos (proper Spanish pronunciation: Ar-ma-DEE-yohs, local yokel pronunciation: Armuh-DILL-ers) , they are primarily known in Oklahoma and Texas as a crop pest and road kill. They breed like crazy, have no natural predators any longer, and so if you have a farm/ranch (as my relatives do) you have to eradicate them on a semi-weekly basis. This mainly involves a gun, as it's useless to put out traps for them, and even if they would take poisoned bait, my uncle wouldn't have put it out, as the local birds of prey will eat freshly dead things, and then there'd be less hawks to catch mice in the fields. Armadillos mainly like to root around under the fields, looking for grubs and such, and in the meantime destroying the root system of whatever's planted. They are mainly nocturnal, so about every other week my uncle and cousins would spend the night out shootin' armuhdillers.

The Wikipedia article does mention that they jump when startled (which makes for interesting shooting, or so I've been told), but the article fails to mention that they also will do a back flip when shot. Good times. They also roll up into a ball when threatened, so as to protect themselves.

Here you can see some pictures of what it looks like when an armadillo rolls up into a ball. The text states "Once the animal is rolled up, there's no flesh left for predators to bite!" Notice that the text does not mention anything about shotguns. If you're wondering what happens to them after they've shot them, they pick out the shot, put them on a spit and roast them and then the pigs get them. Oh yeah, crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. The pigs eat everything but the shell.

While in Oklahoma, I was also served rattlesnake for lunch (tastes like chicken, but textured like swordfish or shark), and given the snake's rattle as a toy to play with, after they had dried it for a couple of days. We kids were told to only use the stairs to go up and down the farmhouse porch, not to just jump off, because the rattlesnakes that lived under the porch were used to people using the steps, but "get ornery" if you jump off the porch. And the last thing anyone wants, I am sure, is ornery rattlesnakes. When I asked my Aint (that's Oklahoman for "aunt") why they didn't shoot the rattlesnakes under the porch, she replied "Oh honey, they ain't hurtin' nuthin', and they keep the mice from comin' in the house." Rattlesnakes in the outhouse were fair game for target practice, however, as no one enjoys a snake up the backside in Oklahoma, apparently.

While already an accomplished horseback rider at age 6, that trip back to Oklahoma also learned me how to round up cows, milk them, learn how to use an outhouse (with Sears Roebuck catalog pages as toilet paper, no less!), get used to bath water from a pond and drinking water from a well, and find out that everything east of the Rockies is a lot buggier than Southern California.

More pics to follow over time, as the Spouse Sparrow digs through the boxes and scans them, assuming our scanner co-operates.


Sparrow



* I lied; people have actually been pleading with me for years to stop posting.

49 comments:

Rosie said...

for reasons now entirely unclear to me, my siblings and i used to shout "bark! bark, armadillo!" to one another as an incitement to riot when we were kids.

there are not photos.

Rosie said...

no photos, even.

laughykate said...

Outstanding. I have learnt so much from this post cause we don't have armuh-DILL-ers down here. And - double bonus - now I know what rattlesnake tastes like!

ellie said...

Jesus! Armadillos are that big? I thought they were rat sized. I too have learned from this post.

Btw, your son is the spitting image of you.

Fat Sparrow said...

Rosie -- It makes about as much sense as "Two For Flinching," so why not?

Laughykate -- We don't get them here in California either; they can't make it across the deserts. Cactus tastes similar to green beans, in case you happened to be wondering about that. You serve it as a side dish with the rattlesnake. And baked beans and cornbread too, of course.

Ellie -- I remember them as pretty good sized, but bear in mind that I weigh about 35 lbs. in that photo (I was a pretty small and sickly child) and as you can see I am not taking up much room in the back of the pickup, which was a full sized truck. But they are definitely bigger than a rat, except for the rat that Laughykate has up on her blog!

It's funny, when the Nestling Sparrow was in utero the ultrasound technician was blown away by how much the Nestling looked like the Spouse. And when the Nestling was about one, a little old lady looked at the Nestling and then at the Spouse, and told the Spouse "You couldn't deny that was your child even if you wanted to!" But now that the Nestling's growing, he's taking after me and my dad. We found pics of my dad about age 7, and we now know where the Nestling gets his hair from. We now know how he'll lose it, too, poor thing!

Grump said...

Thanks for the nature lesson and potted history of Okie migration. I look forward to more photos of wild west adventures. Or am I on the wrong side of the Rockies. Again.
Woof x

Fat Sparrow said...

Grump -- I'm in a slightly tamer part of the West now, since we moved out of the ghetto, that is.

The Spouse Sparrow has been digging through the boxes of photos and scanning, so who knows what will turn up next? During that car trip from Southern California to Oklahoma we also stopped at Carlsbad Caverns, so I'm hoping some pics of that turn up. We were going to stop at the Grand Canyon, but we broke down in Arizona for 2 days and so we couldn't fit the Grand Canyon into the schedule.

K8 the Gr8 said...

A deadly snake's rattle as a plaything?!? And here was I thinking I was cool because my mum used to give me bottles of valium to play with! That's hardcore.

Fat Sparrow said...

K8 -- Oh, rattlesnakes are rarely "deadly." And they did cut it off and dry it before they gave it to me.

Did your mom really give you bottles of Valium to play with? My other relatives gave me those little bottles of airline liquor when I was a kid. My mother was not amused. She only found out after I smelled like booze; I didn't know what they were and had thought they were perfume and had been dabbing it on accordingly.

Jay Ferris said...

Ah yes, I have fond memories of rattlesnake roundups as a boy in Texas... armadillos too. Did they also do that thing in Oklahoma where they'd prop up road-killed 'dillos with a beer and put sunglasses on them? Good times.

Fat Sparrow said...

Jay -- Beer? Son, this here's a dry county, as we are a God-fearin' people. You ain't from around these parts, are ya?

All my drunkard Okie relatives went to California during the dustbowl era. And then they proceeded to drink themselves to death.

Ooooh, have you ever seen those tarantula migrations? During that same trip back, when we were in Texas I saw the road moving as we were driving along, and at first I thought it was just heat waves but no, it was covered in tarantulas, all running along the road! It was sooo gruesome hearing them squish under the tires. When we stopped, I made my dad lift me out of the Blazer and carry me a ways off so I didn't have to be near them, ugh.

Prenderghast said...

This is what they want! Gothic memoirs of the South. Great stuff.

Do you have any photos of you sucking snake venom from a close friend's butt? I'll pay good money.

It doesn't have to be a friend, actually.

Fat Sparrow said...

Oh yes, Gothic memoirs of the South are very popular, but have been done to death, even to the point of adding vampires. Repeatedly.

So I'm just going for Gothic memoirs of the Midwest. It's a lot less crowded in this market, the Midwest being what it is and all.

As for the photo, give me your credit card number and I'll see what I can do.

FirstNations said...

Armadillos carry leprosy. I have always wanted an armadillo handbag. I have never wanted leprosy, though.

That has to be one of the top three coolest childhood photographs EVER TAKEN OF ANYONE. Thats almost a fricken' album cover.

Fat Sparrow said...

Armadillos look pretty warty in general. Out of all the animals I hear of hicks shtupping, I have never heard of anyone trying to slide one in to an armadillo. And you'd think they'd be nice and tight, too, wouldn't you?

That photo's not bad as a conversation piece, is it? I never noticed that about the album cover, but you're right, space for lettering and everything, without even photoshopping it.

conortje said...

dead armadillos and pigtails - no wonder your blog comes with a warning ;-)

Manuel said...

ha! that's so weird it's fantastic....

Xul said...

When I was a kid I always thought it would be cool to have a taxidermied armadillo like Judge Harry in Night Court. The closest I ever got was a dead horseshoe crab that I smuggled home from the beach. My mom was thoroughly unimpressed when the coat closet started reeking a few days later and she found what was secreted in there! LOL

The land crabs down here used to do that migratory thing out of the mangroves. The crunching as you drove over them was sooo disgusting.

BTW, did you ever try that "noodlin'" deal when you were down in OK?

Fat Sparrow said...

Conortje -- It's shocking stuff, all right. I'm still waiting for the hate mail from PETA, the lazy cunts.

Manuel -- Pretty much the story of my life.

Xul -- Oh god, I forgot all about that stuffed armadillo! Flashing back now... And ugh, did you ever get the smell out?

I have read about the things that crawl out of mangroves, and all I can say is that I am surprised that more horror/natural disaster books/movies are not done about Florida. Although I do suspect this is because you are the only literate person in Florida, or the Disney corporate machine has had the rest of them killed. So be careful.

And "noodlin" deal? I was 6, for fuck's sake, what kind of kinky pervert do you think I am?!

Xul said...

did you ever get the smell out?

Just left the closet door open and it eventually aired out.

...what kind of kinky pervert do you think I am?!

The kind with Okie relatives. Go on, just admit you like stickin' yer hand down some big ol' slimey catfish maw!

Conan Drumm said...

Admit it, you went out at night huntin' Armuhdillers with yer bare teef and the blood was wiped from yer face by yer kin when they found you next mornin!

Fat Sparrow said...

Xul -- What happens in Oklahoma, stays in Oklahoma. Until they breed with their first cousins for several generations and move to California, that is.

Conan -- Don't be silly, I'm far more civilized than that. I used a .22.

mago said...

Schöne Weihnachten Fat Sparrow.

Fat Sparrow said...

Merry Christmas to you, too! And a belated Happy Festivus!

mago said...

Thank you Fat Sparrow. I had to look up "Festivus" - Seinfeld was aired here only shortly, too intellectual for Europe - and for some years now I have no tv. Is the festivus over at yours? As I learned it's over when the hauseholdhead is pinned down.
And btw did Kramer return to his bagel-job?

mago said...

Better?

FirstNations said...

I hope you did well in the 'Feats of Strength' and kept your pole shiny!!

new years, beeyotch: have a good one. yo.

Fat Sparrow said...

Mago -- I had a good laugh at the "too intellectual for Europe" bit. I do hope you're not trying to suggest that we are more intellectual? Festivus was good; the Spouse did indeed pin me down in a feat of strength and gave me his pole, that was after we had aired our grievances, of course.

You know, I don't know about Kramer; I've a terrible memory for anything that's TV/movies/etc. It just doesn't stick for some reason, unlike things in print. Must be yet another of my brain glitches.

FN -- I did not do too bad, and the Spouse's pole is shiny. A Happy New Year to you, too!

Momentary Madness said...

You remind me of …. Eh,,,,,, things like that are not worthy of interest; the show must go on, and I do my best - with the severe mental handicap that weights me down – to keep the show on the road;-)

mago said...

Any other armadillers on the horizon?

Fat Sparrow said...

MM -- Ditto.

Mago -- My mind has been a pit of roadkill and anxiety. I'm currently dicking my life away on Facebook; maybe one of these days I'll get up a proper post.

grimsaburger said...

Isn't it nice to have photos of oneself as a youth with dead critters?
http://grimsaburger.wordpress.com/2008/03/12/reminiscence-wednesday-exercise-in-humility/
What possesses a parent to take pictures of your children with carcasses of varmints? Is this the fate that awaits me? Do I have to buy a gun just to shoot something so I can take pictures of the baby with its remains? No one mentioned this in the baby books.

Fat Sparrow said...

Grimsaburger -- Sadly enough, if I remember correctly I was well stoked to have my picture taken. And I do believe I could write a book about the things that they don't mention in baby books. Those things should come with warning labels.

I loved your post! "Look ma, what I done cotched fer dinner!" is what future generations will be thinking about these photos of ours.

We had 2 black Labs that tunneled their way under our large concrete patio slab, and my dad had fits about it, almost undermined the foundation of not only the patio but the house, too.

The benefits of being raised with Nature as a child are endless, aren't they? We alone are able to talk unsuspecting city children into poking large, dead, bloated animals with a sharp stick, while we stand far, far back.

mago said...

There is no need to be anxious. We have to take it as it comes.

Fat Sparrow said...

Mago -- Thank you. You always make me feel better and more peaceful.

That's when I'm not eavesdropping on the conversations between you and MJ, of course. Then I just feel dirty, ha.

mago said...

But its all game of innocence!
You and Scarlet ... of course I am referring to Scarlet Blue leaving in a huff from Kabuki Zero's.

Fat Sparrow said...

That's what the widow said to the bishop! :::waggles eyebrows knowingly:::

sassysundry said...

My sister once sent me a postcard with nothing more than the following:

"We saw four dead armadillos in the road."

mago said...

DDOOOah WIGGLe WHAM DIDDY Whammm!


okay, its Mueller Thurgau

Fat Sparrow said...

Sassy -- See, and that's the kind of thing that gets saved for future generations, and some descendant will be going through boxes of letters and photos and think "What the fuck?"

Mago -- And a lot of it, I take it?

mago said...

I'm a natural born singer ...

Pearl said...

Both interesting and amusing. :-)

Pearl

mago said...

Are you still with us?

Fat Sparrow said...

Pearl -- That's by fr the politest way I've ever heard someone say, "Dear God, WTF?!" Thanks!

Mago -- Yes, sorry, the home life has just been extremely hellish. My dad is insane, but doesn't realize he's insane. It's a lot like the movie "12 Monkeys," but with absolutely spotless scenery and decorated by Laura Ashley. Some days it's hard for me to form a coherent thought.

mago said...

Coherent thought? Say, is Fata Sparrow related to Fata Morgana? That are the important questions to be discussed here!
If I remember it right your father had some strokes. That may explain one or an other behavioral peculiarity. Old people often do not drink enough water, two liters a day is seen as normal, and this afflicts the brain's activity. Also lack of movement or sporting activity is bad for the head too. The brain has the ability to recover a lot, but it must be used, kind like a muscle: Books instead of tv, carrots replace hamburger, walking instead of driving. But I know, alles fromme Wünsche, wishful thinking. An end may be in sight?

Fat Sparrow said...

Mago -- I believe Fata Morgana has more control over her fate than Fata Sparrow does.

No, it's me that's had a series of small strokes, while I was pregnant with the Nestling Sparrow. They went undiagnosed then. Dad is Bi-Polar Type I (back in the day they used to call it Manic Depressive) and also the doctors can't figure out if he has Parkinson's or dementia or what. He takes enough pills to fell a horse, and sees 6 different doctors. He also sees a psychiatrist (even though there's nothing wrong with him, of course, according to him) and he's also a diabetic that doesn't control his diabetes. He's on disability, while my mom works, and he gets on like a spoiled brat. He lectures me about not exercising while sitting on the couch eating ice cream and watching TV and forgetting to take his insulin.

And end may be in sight, the Spouse has been fondling his Enfield every time he thinks of my dad.

mago said...

Ahh, Royal Enfield, problem solver ...
Sorry, I did not know that you had to suffer from this. I hope you can go onwards without difficulties. My neighbour, a man younger than me and not yet forty, suffered from some strokes. He is fully recovering now. Of course he has to use blood thinning meds. A common thing here is marcomar, my father had to use it after a heart attac.
anyway.
Your father seemingly needs authority installed: Sent MJ over! In full earnest - with all the money for six doctores, wouldn't it be better to scrap it together and have one nurse who ensures that he takes his damn insulin? And the other crap, and the water, and a damn carrot? Just an idea.

I hope you are well, despite selling your baby to Valenine's.

Fat Sparrow said...

I'll live, the strokes were what they call TIA's, they just gave me an extra helping of stupid. My mom has to take blood thinners but I can't even take fish oil pills, I bleed like crazy, so no blood thinners for me.

God, where do I start on explaining my dad? Well, the government pays for the doctors, as he's officially disabled, but he's only 63 and so they're not going to have a nurse look after him til he's in a nursing home. And I doubt that will happen; his dad went at 70 as did his dad, and so my dad is making it a self-fulfilling prophecy. He knows what he should be doing, he just won't do it. He doesn't care. And it's really too much hassle to make him. My mom gets some relief by going to work, as he drives her nuts. He does nothing, she does everything. She's enabled him and pampered and cosseted him through almost 41 years of marriage now, and it's not going to change.

mago said...

So I am sure you know exactly what you do not want to have.