Monthly Archives: November 2010

The November of My Discontent

     A few weeks ago, we had snow. Not alot of snow, just three inches or so and  it was cold and damp and while beautiful it marked the start of winter, or so I thought. Since then, there hasnt been much in the way of wintery, blustery, bitter cold or snow. In fact, the opposite is true. The sun has been beautiful; not quite warm, but it makes it comfortable to be outside. There is something special about the way the sun comes down this time of year. It is different from spring or summer and it feels like the light comes down gently and lays across the land. Its angular and soft at the same time and being out in light like that makes me feel good.

     This is where the pretty part of the story changes direction. You see, just after that lovely snow, during those sweet fall days, something went terribly wrong in the area of my hips and lower back. So instead of being able to be outside getting things done, checking off chores from my list, visiting friends and neighbors and wandering the hills on the ATV, I was lucky to be able to get to the bathroom and back.
     So, before this becomes a rant on my disappointment, frustration, and unending suffering, I will mention that tomorrow is Thanksgiving. The third Thursday of every November is Thanksgiving, but as I look back at the majority of the month I find myself conflicted about the whole “thankful” thing. I know that truly, in my heart of hearts, that I have much to be thankful for. I really do, but watching my life go by while I am confined to a chair makes me cranky and whiney. I think that it would do the same to anyone, especially after years of illness, but I digress…
     As I say, tomorrow is turkey day, and we will be joining friends for a wonderful meal and communion. This evening, Candace and I prepared cranberry relish, rutabega and apple pie. We enjoy being in the kitchen together. We are a well oiled machine, able to each work on our own project while helping each other as needed. We both enjoy cooking, and the anticipation of sharing food with friends makes it all the better. Then, two days after Thanksgiving, we celebrate once again with friends, and both gatherings have something in common. We will be celebrating with our Godchildren. First Candaces, then mine, though we each claim the others as well. It only makes sense, being that Candace and I are joined at the hip, each of our Godchildren will know us both, and that is a good thing. Something to be thankful for, I guess it could be said.
     Then, in spite of the fact that we, like so many others, have felt the pinch of the economic distress that the whole world is wrapped in, we were able to obtain adjacent property increasing our small farm significantly. I wont mention the house that comes with the property, yet there it sits, in a state of sad disrepair, but full of potential. I find myslef thinking about it, planning the repairs that I hope to be able to do to make it livable and useable. You see, I said “hope”. I can still look forward, still dream. More to put in the pile of things to mark as “”thankful”.

     So the more I think about it all, the more I can see that even with all the pain, all the medication, and all the waiting to feel better, that I am so much better off than so many. I dont need to list all the reasons why. That I can see it for myself is enough. What is important is that everyone, in their own way, be able to see the good things, no matter how small. As long as we are alive, there is always a reason to be thankful for it because we have one more day to learn, to  love, to be, and sometimes, “being” is the best we can do. This I know, I spent alot of time not having any choice but to sit still. But as I do, I can still see the sun casting shadows through the trees out my window. That window keeps me from the cold and damp in winter, and lets the warm breeze rush through in the summer. I have one place to be where my old and broken body can find comfort, and for this I am thankful too. So yeah, I feel disheartened at having to watch life go by, but I do get to watch. My discontent, well, I come by it honestly. It has been a long and practiced relationship. And I am thankful for every minute of it.


Chores and Guts Dont Mix

I slept good last night,  in sections, not like most people sleep, but it was a good combination for me, leaving me feeling like going out into the world and tinkering with projects. Oh, I have so many. WE have so many. The good thing about it is that most projects are fun to me. I guess most people would find the task of digging up and moving large rocks to be… tedious… or ridiculous…. but I love it for a number of reasons. That is what I had planned to do. Go down to the path and dig up a few of the large rocks that block the passage of the ATV and cart down to the garden spot. With the rocks in place, the cart ends up on its side, contents spilled and Candace with her hair standing on end and the air turning blue from the colorful language she is using as she climbs down from Olivia, the ATV. ( Yes, we name our machinery. We dream of having a horse. Till then, we have a workhorse named Olivia)

So I start getting ready to go out. I tell Chutney to get ready, and she dances and dashes around my feet. I go into the bathroom, open the top drawer to get the hairbrush, and that’s when I notice that the second drawer, Candace’s drawer, is in a state of disrepair.That is to say, the side is falling off. All her meds and goods are spilling out, and the drawer is hanging out. I am disturbed by this so I find a small box to empty the drawers contents into. I am mortified at what I find at the bottom of the drawer, but I will leave it to your imagination and have a chat with Candace later. Anyway, I finish dressing, put on my shoes, put on Chutneys necklace (her collar, but she prefers to call it a necklace) fill my pockets with phone, hard candies to keep my mouth moist, leash, keys for Olivia and shed, and out I go with the drawer under one arm. Chutney beats me down the steps.

I have decided that my first order of business is fixing the drawer. I cant let it fall apart. So after gathering all the tools and glue, I clamp it back together, wipe away the excess Gorilla Glue (which is still all over my fingers and probably will be for days) and put away the tools I used. And then I put a few more things, since the shed is a work in progress, there is much to do in there to make it workable. Things to sort, hang, arrange, etc., and so I do. I fiddle, and time passes. Then I remember why I am outside, and I grab a few things that belong in the feed shed and lock up the shed. I will just put these things in the feed shed and then continue down the hill to the rocks! Yes!!

Well, when I open the door to the feed shed, the first thing I notice is that the door is, well, not attached. It is off the track. I now remember that Candace told me about this last evening. I guess I have to fix it. The second thing I notice is that the shed is packed to the door. In order to fix the door, I have to unload some stuff. So out comes the loaded wheelbarrow, boxes of hand tools, buckets, tarps, seed spreader and the grass catchers for the lawn mowers. Then after several trips to the tool shed, the door is back on and working fine. Now I have a pile of stuff in the driveway, so naturally I sweep out the feed shed and do some arranging and before I know it, its a whole new shed. Tidy and neat. So NOW I can go move some rocks.

That’s when I hear the chickens. The “girls” are gathered by the fence, watching for me to bring them some corn. **sigh**  SO I fill the feed bucket, the corn scoop and down I go to feed the chickens. I have to feed them anyway, so I might as well do it now while the sun is still high enough that I can see inside the coop. It helps to be able to see the eggs in the nest boxes.

In the meantime, Chutney is running around and ignoring me. She has decided that there is a foe (chipmunk, mouse, mole, vole) at the corner of the house behind the siding. I have had to entice her away several times so she wont chew through the side of the house to get at whatever it is that she has decided is the enemy. A lot of extra steps and frustration. She keeps ignoring me, and even snapped at me because she thought I was going to grab her trophy for my own. We had a chat about that, and she had a time out in the house alone….

The chickens are happy to see me. I throw corn away from the gate so I can get in and they cant get out. I make my way in with the buckets and set them down except for the compost bucket that is full of cucumber, apple and banana peel and an orange that I sliced up for them. I even tore up some left over corn tortillas as a special treat. They are thrilled as I pour and spread the banquet and as they find their favorites, I do a headcount. I always do. There must be girls on the nest, and I go to dump the feed and gather the eggs.

My first step into the coop stops me in my tracks. Feathers everywhere, and behind the feed can is a body. The hawk has made its way into the enclosure AGAIN. I don’t know how. Looking closer, I see the hen is Reba, Candace’s favorite girl. The hawk has neatly torn open her breast, taken her heart and gizzard and left a hole in our beautiful girl. I have had to do this too many times and I am sick of it. This is especially grim. I do another count and discover that Nora is missing as well. Nora is Noah’s hen. The hen I gave to my godson. She is gone. Not even a feather remains. Now I have to tell him and break his heart and I am angry. Vengeful. We love all our animals, but to take the favorites of my girl and my boy…. this is too much and I vow to take action.

I gather the eggs, the body, the empty food bucket and close the gate. Secure the mesh that is supposed to keep the hawks out. I feel sick and sad but seething too. I MUST find a way to make this stop. We had three dozen birds in May. Now its just over a dozen. The free meals are going to stop. I put Reba’s body in a plastic bag after looking for Nora’s remains, which must have been carried away by the hawk. The sun is getting low on the horizon and I no longer feel like moving rocks. All I can think of is the hole that used to hold the beating heart of sweet Reba, our special hen. Our most friendly and brave hen. Killed in her home by a cruel intruder. I ended up getting done a few chores, but the guts have soured the day. They don’t mix at all, and while I can remember how I felt, full of joy and anticipation at the thought of pushing a few rocks around, right now, I just don’t give a damn. Maybe tomorrow. Maybe tomorrow. Rocks tend to stay put. Maybe that’s why I like them so much. No guts to spill, no heart to break.

***As a side note, we later discovered that it was an opposum that left Reba the hen lifeless, and eagles that carried off a number of other hens that year. The eagles were undeterred by our netting that covered the chicken run, and just went right through it. It was amazing to bump into an eagle one day, as it carried out its grisly work. We no longer keep chickens.