I wore a white shirt, a very full skirt and high-heeled slides to work today. I think I looked fairly nice, and I even shaved my legs for the occasion. But that's not what I'm here to tell you about, really. I told you that so I can tell you this:
Smedley and Sparky went to Grandma's this afternoon, and I stopped there on my way home from work to pick them up. Passed my dad feeding hay on the hay stack near the house; he looked preoccupied and didn't wave.
I was in their kitchen talking to Mom and gathering up the girls when Dad came in. He had that look on his face -- you know the one? The one that you've dreaded since first you could intellectually process people's expressions? Dad's look said, "I am a man on a mission, and nobody and NOTHING will stand in my way." Crap. Get the keys. Girls, leave your shoes -- run.
"Come help me move some cows," said Dad. Double crap -- I'm too late to run.
"Laurie's in high heels -- I'll help you," said Mom.
"No no, I need all of you," said Dad. All of us meant he was planning to move either A LOT of cows, or to move some very unwilling cows. It turned out to be the latter.
This is one of the possible candidates. I'll call her Number 26. She looks like she can handle herself in an open field, non?
The way it should go:
- aerial photography
- relief maps with scale figurines positioned exactly where their real live counterparts -- that'd be US -- should stand when moving aforementioned unruly cows
- press briefing
- coffee and snack cakes and general well-wishes
The way it actually goes:
- Dad brusquely waves his arm in the general direction of The Middle East as he walks off
- we all guess what he wants
- we all guess wrong
- general unpleasantness
- some article of clothing gets ruined
- cows sense bad juju and it all goes to Hell in a handbasket
Remember the expression on the face of the cow above, because that's the expression the cow and her teenage calf were giving us during the entire, unfortunate cow-moving experience. Possible thoughts running through their cow brains include, "Just how long have you been working cattle, anyway?" and "Yeah, I can take you all."
I remember tidbits of conversation . . .
". . . I am NOT going through that fence in this skirt . . ." "HURRY UP!" ". . . either you tell us where you want us or I'm going back in the house . . ." ". . . home to change . . ." "Mama, are you mad at Grandpa?" "I am NOT walking through that water in heels!" ". . . because it scares me when you get mad at Grandpa . . ." ". . . over my dead body . . ." "I stepped in another cow pie, Mama."
Of course, the cows got the better of us several times. I'm usually the one who tries to outmaneuver the cows in such situations -- outrunning them, chasing them down. But in high-heeled slides in a puddly pasture I was somewhat ineffective at running, especially saddled with two small children who are (justifiably) afraid of cows. Cows are no threat to adults, but a beef cow will go after a child sometimes, maybe because children are roughly the size of dogs or coyotes. And maybe it's just because she can.
This whole affair had "Candid Camera" written all over it.
Ultimately, with the help of a passing motorist, we were able to herd the two ornery animals across the road into their new pasture, without further incident. Walking back to my parents' house along the road, my father bringing up the rear, his snarky attempt at humor and peace-making almost caused me to hurl my shoe at him:
"Laurie, those shoes are NOT appropriate for herding cows."
And then this:
"You should write on your blog about how you herded cows in stilettos."
"Oh, I'm way ahead of you, Dad," I said. "Believe me, by the time I'm finished with my story -- and with you -- they'll be six-inch stilettos worn with a tight cocktail dress."