Duct and Covered!


I am pretty sure that almost everyone has at one time or other been faced with a challenge that only duct tape would meet. I am one of those people. Things that stick to things are good. In fact, at one time I even used contact paper instead of wallpaper to brighten my kitchen–I am just that kind of decorator.

I love duct tape. It’s easy and it works. I am convinced that duct tape and bailing wire would solve the world’s difficulties in no time. Years ago, I lived in a grand little place about five miles away from the mountain community of Wrightwood in California. The little town of Pinon Hills was small–population 500–and I always thought of my house, with its stone fireplace and tiny rooms, as my hobbit house.

My daughter and I took care of six ducks and a goose, a golden retriever dog, my daughter’s horse Spirit, and basic repairs. When you live in the middle of nowhere, you better be a creative “fixer.” I had left my reporter/producer job in Los Angeles and moved to the high desert because I thought it was better for my daughter and me. We basically had to start over. It was fun–most of the time. I was working at a deli in Wrightwood on the weekends and sanding wings on a Burt Rutan composite airplane during the week. I carefully managed our finances and looked for DIY opportunities at every turn. Gathering wood wherever possible was one of the activities I focused on. Winter got cold at 4,000 feet. Whenever I had the chance to get free wood, I took it. I know this has nothing to do with duct tape yet, but it will.

A friend of mine knew I needed wood and said if I worked with him and his friend limbing and rounding a giant fallen fir tree, I could keep my share of the wood. A great opportunity that was about the most tough work I had ever done. And, it probably would have been infinitely easier if my friend and his friend had not been drinking. Whatever work we were doing was instantly doubled as some of the rounds rolled back down into the canyon below. I couldn’t waste the wood, so I went down and towed each of the fallen rounds up the hill. To say I was exhausted would be an understatement.

I finally got back home and was basically catatonic on the couch. My daughter asked, “Mom, are you dead?” and scrambled to get me some warm bowls of soup. Then she broke the news that our air conditioner was teetering off its platform on the backside of the house. It was summer. It was warm in that desert. And something had to be done. The folks who rented to us were out of town, and I was out of ideas. But, just as I had run out of ideas, there it was–a gigantic roll of duct tape. So, I went outside and duct taped every inch of that thing to the platform. That was years ago. It never budged while I lived there, and I am quite sure that it never will.

When my former neighbor, and future husband returned from his fire-fighting work, his eyes bulged out at what I had done. I don’t think he ever got over it. He is one of those perfectionist kind of guys. His garage is categorized and organized and utterly devoid of character. I thought my duct tape solution was genius, of course. To this day, he never lets me fix anything without his guidance. It might be because my next duct tape fixit job was the pipe under the sink–it was leaking, and then it wasn’t. Some people are so particular.

If it’s funny–Send it in! Seeking Humor books….”Adventures with Ragweed” contest.

Seeking Humor Books

Some things are funny no matter when they happen. And I am grateful for that. Some times they are funny after the fact. And I am grateful for that, too. It is much better to look back on your four-wheel drive Tahoe sinking into Eagle Creek in Arizona in the winter (which means we swam away from it) and then find it funny looking back, than not. That’s what I think.

One great thing about a book filled with humor is that when you are feeling low, you can pick that book up again and again, and feel better. So that’s what we want to to encourage from you folks. A book of fun drawings would be terrific too!

I can guarantee you there is plenty out there to make us frown. So that’s why we, at  “Adventures with Ragweed,”  are searching for the next terrific humor writer, or really a writer that inspires us to chuckle, giggle and especially laugh out loud. That’s why I read authors like Mark Twain, James Thurber, Dave Barry, Janet Evanovich, and books like “Winnie the Pooh.”

My Ragweed character was not always funny to my parents or my friends, who were in dragged into some ridiculous caper “she” had planned. But Ragweed was and is pretty funny to me and lots of readers too.

It is no accident that my husband gave me the nickname of Ragweed years ago…and that nickname was based on what he saw as accidents and as I saw as “fixit adventures.” Like the time the air conditioner seemed to be falling off the outside of our windows sill, and my husband (who didn’t have time to repair things right away) came home to find the darn thing still duck-taped to the sill. I imagine it is still there in that house–I mean have you ever tried to remove duct tape? I don’t remember exactly, but it might have been one of the real estate selling points.

So…to any of you out there who have something humorous to share–please do it. The book does not have to be a zillion pages. It just has to make us laugh.  In the meantime, I am ready James Thurber’s “The night the Bed Fell”…it will carry me through until I get your book.

Contest rules and regs are at ragweedadventures.com…then go to the contest link to http://ragweedadventures.com/contests/seeking-humor-books/

And, apparently, I will also dealing dealing with the hilarious fact that my email carrier is somehow stripping graphics that I send out to requesters. I am sure that will be funny to me some day in the distant future…And I am working on my next book, “Ragweed Explores the West,” which is due to come out as soon as I can extricate myself from the various adventures I am currently engaged in.

“Adventures with Ragweed” Summer Garden Contest Winners Announced!

Cheryl Heser of Forsyth , Montana wins “Adventures with Ragweed ” Garden Contest!

We had a lot of very nice entries, but Cheryl’s really stood out as she carefully plotted her idea, AND included the costs. She chose a copy of “Adventures with Ragweed” and a packet of seeds as her first prize. Congratulations Cheryl!

Cheryl Heser’s idea: “Start with a fairly good-sized buffalo berry bush (love gumbo, love eastern Montana, are very colorful and quick growing) just left of center. Surround the tree with blanket flowers (gaillardia) and Montana blue flax from seed (both indigenous, fine with gumbo as long as they have some planting soil to start in). To the right  front of the tree add a wrought iron flat sculpted buffalo with a colorful glued-on small horse blanket in colors to complement the red buffalo berries, blue flax, and gold and brown blanket flowers  The buffalo and blanket complement the buffalo berry bush and blanket flowers theme.

Cost? $20 buffalo berry bush, unless you get a rancher to dig you up one. (They are not hard to transplant).  $4-$5 for a packet of seeds for flax and gaillardia. $15-$20 for a modest-sized flat wrought iron buffalo, and a usable piece of a worn out woven horse blanket should be free.”

Bob Peterman of Wibaux, Montana won a special first place humor award for his idea (and you can see why):

“I would maker this suggestion to try as a solution for your gardening problem. Build a narrow chute or pen that is just the right size for the milk cow. Position it so that her rear end is directly over the desired spot. Then take the cow there morning and evening to take care of the milking chore but feed and water her there and leave her tied for two hours each time. by the time the cow dries up you will be able to grow something there or it will be sterile and you can move to another spot and start over if your cow gets bred back and starts milking again.” Bob has not mentioned his choice for his prize yet. He might be out milking his cow…

Now, I just need to get a milk cow…

Honorable mention and a packet of seed goes to Tracey Kelley of Michigan and Liza Vladyaka of Maine. Thank you to everybody for your entries!Garden contest winners imagery