Sunday, June 26, 2011

Up For A Chat?

I'm not saying that it's been far too long since I've been over in this corner of the world, I'm just saying that when I entered my username and password to sign in to my very own blog? I botched the password. It's been a long, long time.

I've missed it.

I've missed it all: the reading my farmer/foodie/hippie friend blogs (friends I've never met, mind you, but who I think I might actually love. Not in any way you need to worry about, honey. You get all the love and affection that should be directed toward a husband, every last bit, trust me.) No, just love in the sense that it feels good to peek in and see how things are going, to find out a favorite pet or grandchild came through surgery OK, to feel a twist in my stomach when I read that someone's beloved critter passed away, to gaze with bitterness and covetousness upon others' gardens when mine is struggling, straining, working to live.... OK, maybe I don't miss that part.

I've missed all of you, too. It's been a bit of a gaping hole, to tell you the truth. It's good to be looking at this silly screen again, outdated Easter art, and all.

I've been without a computer for quite some time - my laptop didn't take kindly to my dropping it, the picky thing. And, around the same time I dropped the Dell, we had a death around here that made it feel a lot less like our familiar old farm. Then Adam moved out and took his computer with him. And then I got a job. And, Karlie played softball, and I volunteered to help with the concession stands. Which means I didn't get home before 8 p.m. three or four nights a week, for something on the order of 68 years, by my count. To say the least, things have been a little off kilter.

(We still don't have a computer, but Adam's home for the weekend, which means he's nowhere near home because he's out with friends, so he agreed to let me borrow his computer.)

So here I am.

And there's so much to tell you, I don't even know where to start.

So, let me start with the hardest thing.

Miss Gertie won't be knocking on my door anymore. She hasn't banged against that hardwood door in more than a month. Oh, I miss that silly, grumpy, wonderful old goat.

I woke up Mother's Day and realized after 40 minutes of laying there with my eyes closed that there was not a soul in this house that was even beginning to stir, so any hope of breakfast in bed was fading fast. I decided to get outside and wander the farm during the quiet. I went down to the chicken yard that is presently home to the otherwise wandering dogs and Gertie. It was one of those awful moments where it takes you awhile to take it all in. I talked to the three dogs who were eager to greet me, then said, out loud, "Hey guys, where's Gert?" and I hadn't gotten her name out before I looked to my left and saw her lying there, obviously dead.

We don't know what happened. There were no visible indicators as to why she died. She was just laying there, still, and so darn quiet.

We don't know anything about Gertie's past: she was a rescue critter that came to us through a friend of my sister's, so we never knew how old she was, whether she'd been a healthy little goat, whether she'd come from a good line of old goats. She'd certainly seemed fine the day before Mother's Day. There was no warning.

It was a shocking and sad start to Mother's Day, darn it. I miss that silly old goat. No more rearing up at the dogs, dodging her way past us into the kitchen; shelling out Triscuits, scratching between horns, regretting walking behind her when she was feeling a little bloated. All that's gone now. Mike pointed out there were lots of little goats being born down the road from us and I could "get another Gertie." He meant it right, of course. But, I don't think you get two Gerties in life. I don't know that I'm a goat person, per se. Gertie just waltzed into our lives and we made a place for her, and she was part of it all. I wasn't looking for a goat for the farm, I just welcomed Miss Gertie. Will we ever have another goat? I don't know. I really just don't know. Right now, it feels like the wrong question to ask, so I'm just going to leave it be for awhile.

So, that was the sad part.

But there have been lots of good parts since last we spoke. For instance, we have lots of new feathered friends on the farm. We have some chickens who are getting pretty close to full grown who are frankly a little skittish. Right now, the kiddos are in charge of feeding and watering them, but soon we'll be moving the dogs out of the chicken yard and moving the chickens in there, and then they'll be my chickens. I'll take over feeding and watering and spending time in the yard with them, making sure they know who I am. It's right that the kids are taking care of them right now for a few reasons, but I can't wait to make them mine. Don't ask me to explain it further, that's all I have for right now. I can say that I'm eager to sit with them awhile so I can figure out their names. These chickens will have names and will live long enough to learn them, by golly.

We also have a batch of younger chicks who are currently on the front porch, and who we've taken to letting out to peck and scratch and wallow in the dirt. These 8 chicks are loving and tame, and not very skittish (unless I use the power washer a little too close to their brooder, that is.)

Why, you ask, would I be using the power washer near their brooder? Well, to blast away the goose poop, of course. Because I'm learning that geese like to poop about as much as turkeys and ducks do, and by golly, that's a lot. And, they like to poop while standing at the front door looking in at us. Even so, these geese are awesome. As is their pal, Doris the Duck. (So named for her pillbox hat, which of course evokes Doris Day. It evokes Jackie O, too, but somehow Jackie the Duck didn't have the same ring to it.) The photos will be coming. These guys and gals are beautiful. (I don't actually know their sexes, I've just made some assumptions that I will verify or disprove as soon as I get a new computer.)

So you'll feel like you know them when you meet them, I'll tell you now: the grey goose is Bruno, Alvin is the big white fella, and as I mentioned, the duck is Doris.

I'm big into naming these critters these days. I think it's because I'm really hoping we can keep all these animals alive to see next summer, and somehow, if they all have names, they'll be permanent fixtures - indispensable characters in the story we're unfolding here. Maybe if we pile all this guilt on them about being important to us, not just nameless little feathered things, the universe will see fit to let them keep us a little longer. (I'm not just putting my faith in the universe for critter longevity - we've also made strides with our coyote/dog-proofing, that I hope will pay off.)

OK, so photos of fowl are forthcoming.

Other news: Tanner's doing fantastic. He looks healthy and strong. He feels good. Except for some silly white blood cell action, his labs are great and his kidneys are doing their job. We couldn't be happier or more grateful. It's a beautiful thing.

Adam is enjoying his pool boy job, and is preparing to head to South Africa at the end of August. He's going in for immunizations next week, we just received his FBI clearance in the mail, and I just picked up a letter of good conduct from our local police department (these are a few of the things South Africa requires before letting young foreign men come hang out in their country for a couple of years.) We're excited at the prospect of all that he's going to experience during this big adventure. What an amazing opportunity for a 19-year-old kid.

The girls are doing great: Miss Macy went to a week-long dance clinic and loved it - she'll be starting dance in the fall. She just returned from her first girls' camp - it was relocated and cut short because of the wildfires raging in the area where our beautiful regular girls' camp is located, but she still had a wonderful time. More on that later. This summer, Macy's learned the joy of earning cold hard cash through babysitting, and is getting goofier and more beautiful every day. Karlie Q is holding her own this summer. She just finished her first season of softball and her coaches were impressed with her focus and budding skills. It was wonderful to watch her out there doing something new and working hard at it. She's off to volleyball camp on Monday and basketball camp after that. I'm ignoring the fact that she looks more like a teenager than any 10-year-old has any business doing. I'm just choosing to avoid it. Nobody need feel compelled to tell me otherwise.

My sweet sister beat her cancer. She's coming back to us after a long, exhausting process of diagnosis, surgery, treatment, and the beginnings - very beginnings - of recovery. She's been amazing through what has been a really lousy couple of years, and she's shown fortitude that she may not realize was shining through, even when she was drooping in a big chair for weeks and weeks. She's quit shedding radiation, so we can all hug her freely now. There was no end to the GlowWorm and radiation jokes - I'm not sure we've exhausted them yet. The doctors think they have the cancer licked and don't think any more treatment is on the horizon. We are so, so grateful. She's been through so much and I'm glad she's getting to the other side of it all. I just hope she will begin to feel like herself soon. She's missed herself, and so have we. I can't express what it means that she had such a fightable form of cancer and we didn't have to live in that netherworld of fear and uncertainty. Now, I just want her to feel good. Slow and easy.

Did I mention I'm working? I am. Just part time, as a -- you'll love this -- reporter. I'm not kidding. I am actually writing for a living again for our little, hometown newspaper. I'm having so much fun. These are such neat, neat people who are running a paper with the thinking that if a child decides to pick up an issue, they won't be harmed or upset by what they read there. It's idealistic to be sure, and I am pleased as punch. Let the big state newspaper tackle all the "if it bleeds, it leads" stuff. We'll stick with community newspapering, thank you very much. It's been an adjustment to not be keyed up all the time, intent and hyper-alert and always worried about the message, like I was during my umpty-ump years as a PR person. Until I stumbled back into the working world and began attending meetings again, I didn't realize how much time I spent analyzing every situation, worried about the outcome, really wanting to help people better get their message across. In my early forays back in the professional realm, I found myself wanting to script the participants, to whisper in someone's ear how they could make a more powerful argument, or slip a note to someone to coach them on their approach to a tricky conversation. Oh, the bliss, when it dawned on me during a particularly contentious meeting: I don't have to fix this situation, I just have to report on it. I just have to tell what happens, not shape what happens. If you haven't been there, this might all be a big yawner. If you've ever been there, you'll know how delicious this awakening was.

It struck me the other day, though, that I may have left it a bit too long getting back into an office environment. My moment of realization came while talking to my editor and another reporter: I noticed that my editor was craning her neck a little bit to look down past my knees. Wondering what she was looking at, I glanced down and saw what she saw: without skipping a beat in our conversation, I had pulled out a bottle of foot powder from my bag and was shaking it right into my shoes. Yep, right there in the front of a real live office, in front of real live witnesses, I was taking care to avoid foot odor.

I'm going to try harder, swear.

Hopefully, I'll have a new computer soon. I miss being here.  Regardless, I'll be back soon.

Hope all is well at your end.

Love from the farm,