Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vengeance is Mine, Sayeth Evil Roo

Evil Roo has started parking his evil little body just to the right of the screen door and waiting for me to exit my safe harbor. He is smart enough to stay to the right, where he is protected by the opening door. He carefully calculates the odds of attacking me as I walk away from him, the sneak attack from behind being his favorite tactic. I have started staring him down until he begins his Cool Hand Luke stroll off the porch. It irritates me to no end that this little bully thinks he can boss me around. He leaves poop all over the porch, and so do his wives. Today, when he reached the steps, I hooked my toe under his rear and launched him toward the grass. I need to act like the dominant predator here - show him who rules this farm.

He squawked and beat his wings and fluffed his neck, then strutted around as if he had meant to go flying off those steps. I confidently walked on by, turning my back on him, demonstrating the greatest disdain for him as my enemy. He would not dare mess with me again.

Less than a minute later, while I was standing on the far side of my truck, with the door open, rummaging around for the fuel filter replacement for my lawn tractor, that evil little genius calmly walked under the truck and blindly attacked my legs! He actually drew blood. I took several photos of my bleeding leg, but if I were to post them, it would only make people pity me and laugh instead of garnering sympathy. It just looks like a scratch in the photos.

I have bonged him with the feed pan several times this week, slapped him out of the air with my hand. I genuinely do not want to hurt him because I grudgingly admire him. He has machismo. My species have put to death billions of his brothers before him. He is carrying an entire species' vengeance toward the human race but I am tired of being his only target.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Why I Love Where I Live, Even Though It Is In a Van Down By the River...

The Breakfast Club

Part of the Breakfast Club staring me down from the front door. The worst of this is that Evil Roo gets right up against the screen to peer in at me and crow impatiently. Though he is a tiny chicken, he has a full sized crowing voice. He thinks "Goddamn it, Roo!" means "Please repeat that."

The Nosy Neighbor

This little doe gets closer to my window each time she visits. I am certain she can see me in the window sitting at the computer. I got this photo by placing the camera right against the window pane. She runs away only when Duke finally hears her and barks. (His productivity has fallen way off these days!)

Cowboy Tracks

Horse tracks in the road - evidence of real cowboys, moving genuine cattle with authentic cow ponies. Sometimes I have to sit in "traffic" while the herds are moved between pastures. My kind of traffic jam, for certain.

My Cathedral

The evening benediction...

Sad Turn of Events at the Farm

The scene of the crime.... feathers and egg shells.

This has not been a good spring for my little hens. One by one they have been killed. Three of the little white hens had hidden their nests and were setting on them. I did look for them, but I was not willing to wade around in the waist deep weeds after dark, or before dark, to find them. I was hoping I could simply catch them in the morning when they came in to eat. Easier said than done!

Two were cruelly murdered as they patiently sat on their eggs in the dark. The eggs and the body of at least one of them were brought to this space in the driveway for a leisurely meal away from the weeds. Duke is getting too old to keep the critters away all night. He has commenced his well-earned retirement asleep on the big pillow on the back porch. I only found one body, and it was one of the Weird Sisters, her head gone and her fat little body half eaten.

The forth hen, Baby Sister, was attacked and blinded but survived. I had to take her to Dr. J to have her put down. The remainder of my flock is so traumatized that all of them are trying to roost either on the front porch or the back porch now. Some of them I can catch and throw into the coop, but Evil Roo and a Weird Sister are too crafty for me to catch, even after dark.

I am going to miss those little hens.

On a happier note, Tenzing Norgay has decided that Junior is a suitable husband. He is even allowed to perch with her at night in her secret boudoir. She preferred Evil Roo as a companion when he was young, but even he was never allowed to perch with her on the back porch! Notice in this photo that Junior has placed his body between the door and Tenzing. Though he does the stupid Cochin rooster dance after the manner of his mother's breed, he has the courtly manners of his father, the Evil Roo.

Burning Prairie

My valley full of smoke and fire this spring.

Scorched fence posts.

The grass is emerald green now, but it is golden in the setting sun.

The green grass of home.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Two New Peeps

My little chicken flock is dwindling. I am down to nine chickens out of eleven and maybe even fewer this morning since I have not been out to count beaks yet. Not sure what is going on. So far it has been the little white hens. Maybe a hawk because they are disappearing in the day.

I still have Baby Sister and Tenzing but Peeperton is missing. She was the little chick who had dried into half of the egg shell when she hatched, and had to be soaked in warm water then washed with soap because she smelled like a rotten egg. She was always smaller than the others and just so darned cute, even when she was grown. I am kind of sad about that.

The good news is that it gave me an excuse to buy two more peeps at the farm store this spring. I have no idea what breeds of bantams they are. One I named Bella after the main character in the Twilight books, the girl who loves the vampire but strings along Jacob Black, the beautiful Indian boy shape-shifter. I named her Bella because she has done nothing but peep and complain. I did not have a name yet for the other chick, which proved prophetic. I came home from work to find it had died when it had somehow got stuck behind the water jug. Very sad.

So, I had to buy another one. This latest chick is very quiet. In fact, I was afraid it was sick because it is so silent. I was listening to a Rita Coolidge CD on the way home from the farm store, and it only peeped whenever Rita Coolidge was singing in Cherokee. So, naturally that one is named Cherokee.

The chicken drama continues!

Pictures to follow.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Mothers Day

My mother died the Saturday following 9-11. She had been suffering terribly with emphysema for many years. The emphysema and the steroids had reduced her to being housebound and capable only of the merest of physical efforts. The horrific images of the Towers falling in New York City, I believe, signaled to her that the tremendous effort of will living required from her was no longer worth it with such evil loosed in the world.

My stepfather called to say she was in the hospital again, so my son and I went to visit her. Though we had just been there for her birthday and I was broke, we made the 220 mile trip anyway. Thanks to my stepfather's care, Mom was able to stay comfortably at home and live as normally as possible under the circumstances. At rather infrequent intervals she would be hospitalized for a day or two, and that had always greatly helped her. We all expected it to be the same with this hospital stay.

Normally Mom and I talked and gossiped and worried about the rest of the family, but that last day was different. I felt a great quiet within my spirit, a calm and unbreakable centering. I should have known but at the time it was merely an unusual internal state I observed about myself - another tiny mystery in a lifetime of mysteries.

I was alone with Mom for a while that morning. I felt as if I wanted to only listen to her and not speak - totally out of character for me! When she would doze, I was content to simply sit quietly in her room, my normally noisy mind strangely calm and silent. When my son and stepfather came to get me for lunch, the four of us chatted and joked a little. When we left, Mom was fine and expecting to see us in about an hour. However, left alone in the hospital room, Mom fell, hitting her head a tremendous blow.

Returning after lunch, the hospital staff caught my unsuspecting son and me at the door to warn that she had fallen, and to let us know that she was actually dying. There were only a few moments left to hold Mom's hand as she struggled with those last final breaths.

As she slipped from that ruined body, an unmistakable truth came into my being. "Of course my mother still exists!" The tremendous joy in her freed spirit was palpable in that sunny hospital room. I knew beyond a doubt that she was marveling at how easy it had been after all. It was her final gift to me.

Mom and I had a complicated relationship. We did not know how to be best friends, how to just simply enjoy one another. We each did our best by the other and now that is how it stands. No more chances to do differently, at least in this lifetime. I hope it was good enough for her. It was for me.

Mom was not happy when I bought a Harley. She was not happy when I rode it. She was not happy when she found out I had a tattoo. When I stopped at two and did not cover myself with Navy and Harley art the way my brother did, I am guessing that made her happy. She was not happy when I dropped out of college to hang with a coven of long-haired anarchists. She was right about them, of course. They were all worthless. She was not happy when I was pregnant at eighteen and divorced at 22. She was not happy when I brought home that New Jersey Italian guy. He charmed her as he did all women but she could see through him. There was not much I had ever done in my life she was happy about - except the most important thing.

I had missed a fairly important family event in order to make sure my son got to a big game, and to be there to cheer him on. My stepfather made it a point to criticize me later in front of my mother. But my mother firmly defended me. She said I had been right where I should have been, and pointed to my son.

My mother's entire adult life had been dedicated to her family and her home. That was what she did the best. She was a homemaker. She was a mother. And that is what came out of my heart, unbidden, unrehearsed, as she lay dying. "You were a good mother! You were a good mother!" Those were my words of farewell to her. I hope she heard them and knew, as I know, that all the other stuff never mattered between us. She taught me what was most important. Best of all, she knew that I recognized her most important lesson and took it to heart.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

June Bug Bombardment

Every spring something happens that makes me laugh, right out loud, even though I am home alone. It is June bug season - which happens now.

When the sun goes down and the darkness falls in my little valley, the light pouring from the windows of my humble little home attract the June bugs. They are large, cumbersome, hard shelled beetles that fly, but not very gracefully. Attracted to the light, they smash into the side of the house with audible thumps. Sometimes there are so many of them thumping into the side of the house that it sounds like hail. There are peak moments when so many of them are crashing clumsily into the siding that I turn off the lights. This noisy bombardment is what makes me laugh. It is the assault of the June Bug Brigade.

I have never noticed piles of them lying dead below the windows in the morning, so it must not kill them, but they hit so hard I do not know how they survive.

For some reason, I have always liked June bugs. They remind me of some innate happiness from my childhood. Maybe it was that they coincided with playing outdoors in the long summer evenings.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Unfortunate Circumstances

Sometimes unfortunate things happen when I simply have a difficult time reconciling such reality with my own personal idea of what is good and right.

People can lose their jobs, careers in which they invested most of their adult lives, due to an error in judgment that ultimately harmed no one, nor put anyone's health at risk, nor any life in danger. Yet, some who have been guilty of far graver offenses, actions that were illegal, dangerous, and in fact did put lives at risk, continue to have their jobs.

Good people who were one day valued for their expertise, hard work and loyalty, are the next day considered trespassers and threats. It is a terrible blow and the damage goes deep.