Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Blue Moon

The summer's off to a roaring start as we juggle from kitchen to shoe rack to pool.  Damp towels curled up like heavy roadkill on the bathmat keep me absolutely insane.  The kids and I are pink and waterlogged before dinner.  It's been hot dogs a lot for dinner.  The days take on a choppy rhythm of ease, rush, ease, rush, then BLAMMO - exhaustion.  Seven pm comes before any of us have had dessert.

I would tuck in the children tonight but I don't want to even a little.  Me and my room temperature Blue Moon will not peel ourselves from this temporary hide and please have mercy on my soul don't seek.  The TVs on in the living room pushing out ocean spray and intermittent beeps from a captain's ship where, I'm sure, there is no television.

I've grown to detest TV.  It is loud box of noise which scrambles things in my mind that reach for each other then drop hold at their fingertips.  Less of a dying and more of a never met.

There is this story I want to write about the most darling broken kitten I found off a parkway on Father's Day and I will.   But stories are hiding behind eaves of frustrated bricks, stacking themselves tightly around something I can't name:  fatigue, angst, disappointment, fear, PMS?  I don't know but my skull feels dark with black cooking grease, the kind that pops off the pan and right into the crease of your garbage can.

I'm hearing thumps and echoes in the tub that is the kitten climbing and slipping with her legs outstretched like it's the Rebel Yell.  The only sound better is her purring.  A kitten's purr makes up for everything.  One slow blink of their almond eyes and all is forgiven.

It's been months since I've gone to bed willingly.  Like I'm fending off the moon with a desire to lay thoughts down on a table in singular file with all edges aligned.  Until the morning comes to scatter them to oblivion.

The kitten is quiet now.  She would tuck herself in if I never closed her kennel for her.  But I will do my rounds:  straighten covers, check doors, brush chlorinated hair from sweaty temples.  Then I'll return to this quiet room and stale Blue Moon to see about those stories.

Friday, June 13, 2014

This is 40

As evidenced by my sentimentality over preschool graduation, I am a poor transitioner.  Hell, I've been misty over my friend's kids graduating things this week on FB.  Rachel, your daugther is so beautiful and tall!  Chris, your son's teacher looked so proud.  It's totally ok to cry, Brandi but know there's so much more cool stuff coming.  And so on.  I like things to stay the same.  Or at least where I can find them.

This is making my upcoming birthday a little bit of an Everest.  I'm turning 40.  As in I had to click the clicker thing on the elliptical machine *five times up* to get to my current age.  I know I'm still technically 39 but I'm trying out 40.  It's weird.  Uncomfortable.  Too big.  Airy even.  Like I'm standing at the bottom of The Grand Canyon blindfolded trying to find my way up and out.  It's scary down here all by myself.

But aha!  I take off my blindfold and see that I"m not alone at all.  There are some crazy cool cats down here with me.  The 40+ crowd has me intrigued and lately I've been paying more attention to the good that can come from it than the bad.

The Good in 40

  1. You value kindness over tenacity.  While determination is still a good thing, by the time you hit 40 you see none of the success means a thing without heart.  Where this is heart and success?  There is always a domino effect.  Good way leads on to good way.  The results magnify beautifully for generations to come. 
  2. You cut to the chase.  Small talk is nonexistent.  Once you've established you like someone, they pretty much know at what age you lost your virginity after your third conversation.  (Not telling but I'm locking up my daughter until she's 24.)
  3. Skirts and drippy silver earrings are fancy.  Nobody expects you to wear anything clingy or even somewhat revealing.  Not even your significant other.  Doesn't mean you can't rock some cleavage every now and then but long maxi skirts aren't just for fortune-tellers anymore. 
  4.  You see the light.  You might not always behave like you see the light but you have it locked in your scope most of the time.  That yellow Gatorade your 5yo just spilled all over the garage?  It's juice on concrete.  Grab the hose, no bigs.  Those new half moon eye-wrinkles you see in the mirror now when you smile?  They make you look like your father, it's all good.  
  5. You prioritize joy.  Snapping pictures makes you happy?  You strap that Nikon on your shoulder like you're Jane Goodall collecting data from the forest.  Writing fills you up?  You sit your butt down every chance you get to tap out your thoughts and watch them show you how you feel.  There might not be more than today to experience joy.  At 40, you get how important this is.
  6. You push away fear.  By now I've come to understand that worry is a beast but fear is a bully.  Once you've established a working relationship with fear, you're fluid.  If you shut down and let it overpower you, you're letting fear have its way with you.  And its way is usually keeping you from new experiences.  When we first moved here, I was really afraid of driving across the 30-some mile causeway bridge.  I white knuckled it the first time, noticed pelicans the second time, and played "I Spy" with my kids by the third.  There are fun things across that bridge - uptown, downtown, excellent music, delicious food... I'm not about to let fear keep me from the original Cafe du Monde.   
  7. You never go a day without feeding your soul.  Chocolate and snuggling dogs is mine.  What's yours?
  8. You have the kind of confidence you dreamed of in high school.  I call myself an introvert.  That's only a half-truth.  The other half is that I'm also an extrovert.  I don't let that one out so much because everyone needs a secret up their sleeve when there's an awkward pause in conversation.  Being 40 is like one tall gin & tonic.  I have lost my inhibitions.  While I'm not swinging from chandeliers and spilling red wine down your blouse, I'm also not shrinking into a corner wishing I had the audacity to speak.  40's gift to you is audacity.  And it's so much fun.
  9. You adore your friends.  I have about five text windows going all day long from friends scattered about the country.  Learning where they're running, driving, going out for Date Night, or cooking for dinner brings me inner peace and sisterly calm.  My friends keep me grounded and allow me to be my cursory, ballsy, irreverent, sappy self.  
  10. You do your thing without apologies:

  11. You need your family.  It's been over a year since I've seen my mom, dad, and brothers.  I feel them missing.  I'm beginning to fade away a little without them.  I get to see them this summer, however, so will hopefully spend time slowing down the clock a little while that's happening.  
  12. You know when you've said enough.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Chicken Sitter

My friend has six chickens and six chicks.  While she was away on vacation, she needed someone to collect eggs and make sure her livestock never became, as she put it "deadstock."  

I can so handle that, I texted her.  

Sucker, she texted back.  And with that we had an agreement. 

I thought I would rock this.  I mean, how hard can babysitting chickens actually be?  (Babysitting is inaccurate because chickens are quite self-sufficient as long as you make sure their food isn't clogged and they never figure out their eggs double as dinner on a half shell.)  Well, probably not terribly hard unless you're me.  Me who finds a way to complicate dropping outgoing mail in her own mailbox. (I always forget and drive it to a blue box somewhere near a Starbucks.)  Add to that, being a freak about everything I'm in charge of to the point Sadie can't choose a different spot in the house to hang out in or I check her lymph nodes, and we are standing in a chicken coop wearing flip-flops.  That had seen torrential rain for four days.  Oh yes, I did.

Once I mastered the art of bringing a pair of auxiliary "chicken sh*t" shoes with me, things got better.  I even remembered my camera one afternoon:

Aren't they kind of precious?  And strangely beautiful?  The black one and I have a thing.  She caaaaawwwks low when I show up and side-eyes me from the ledge.  With four heavy struts, she meets me at the door like a Labrador anxious to go pee.  They all kind of waggle their girlie bums -a parade of puffy greatness ready to march around their stomping ground for yard treasures until dusk.  

And then you know what happens at dusk?  You'll never believe it.  They tuck themselves in for the night.  No lie.  My friend told me they'd roost themselves and go into a trance like a pack of twenty-somethings at a Phish concert.  She did not exaggerate.  The first night I came back to the yard and couldn't see any of them pecking around the grass, my heart lurched into my flip-flops as I knew for sure coyotes\alligators\snakes\Duck Dynasty got them.  Along with the sound of my panic attack,  I could hear some soft cooing.  Purring really.  I tiptoed toward the coop not sure what kind of CSI scene I was about to stomach but to my delight each chicken had roosted themselves into cozy hovercrafts up high like cats with beaks.  It was freaking precious.

As unforgettable as roosting is, the best part isn't even witnessing the circadian rhythm of chickens.  No, the best part is washing the eggs those hens gave way to every other day.  If you're wondering why you wash them, imagine what was on the bottom of my flip-flops that first night.  Yep, that stuff gets on the eggs too.  It's nature.  You just warm wash and dishsoap nature off and scramble those bad boys up with cheese to enjoy the fluffiest breakfast burrito you've ever had in your life.  THE. Best  I'll never buy anything except fresh eggs again.  Warm and dirty, right from the chicken's.....nest.  

I'd say the chicken sitting went off without a hitch until the night we pulled up to tuck them in and Grayson whispers, "!"  

Sure as he'd said it, there it sat.  Ears high and tail out straight.  Crap.  He either just ate all our feathered friends or is in the mood for fresh children flesh tonight.  "Keeyah, Keeyah!" I yell to the fox in case it speaks fake Mandarin.  It does not and instead settles down in a comfy circle of its own bushy tail to watch us for a spell.  "Ok kids, you stay here,"  I say to a saucer-eyed Grayson and an asleep Abigail.  "I'm going to RUN to the coop before the fox and SLAM the door behind me, OK?"  

"Mommy?  There's another one."

Sh*t.  Not sure I can outrun two foxes.  I have been working out but pretty sure my cardio is still sub jackal fast.

"Oh no, it can't walk, can it?  It's dragging its back legs.  Crap.  Damn.  Hell.  Don't repeat those words, Grayson, ok?  Sh*t.  Not that one either.  What do we do."

"Mommy, call someone," my son offers since his mother clearly needs suggestions.  "We have to save it."  

Great.  We do, don't we?  We have to save the lame fox that is dragging itself around by the front legs, don't we?  The fox that probably got hit by a car while it was hunting the chickens that I've grown quite fond of.  We still have to save it, don't we?

And believe me, we tried.  I made several phonecalls, spoke to a few people and even one lady willing to rehab it after I captured it in my fox kennel and transported it four hours away to a town I wasn't even sure was in Louisiana.  

Then we lost fox visual.  Sometimes, nature's really a B.  We went back in the morning and could not see the foxes anywhere.  My hope is that the tech I spoke with actually did show up or the hurt fox and his stoic guardian experienced a miracle and now live happily ever after in Snow White's palace.  What.  It's what I told the kids.  We're from the suburbs.  

Signing off for now.  

Until dusk, 

Farmer Sue's less rugged and more liberal sister