Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Reptile Brain

At first it manifested itself as a low sultry voice in the back of my head.  It said, "I got to lay down.  I got to lay down in that sun, girl.  You got to get me out there.  On the porch.  That's right.  Ease yourself down.  That's right, forget the to do list on that long sheet of green paper.  That's right, lay on the belly.  Easy now.  Easy. That's what this is."  It drugged me, that part of my brain, that small part.  I made me drunk on it's sweet seduction.  And I obeyed.  I laid down my shovel.  I laid down my spade.  I laid down my watering can.  And I laid down.  On those warm wood planks.

And some part of my brain, some higher level organism synapse, said, "You've got work to do soldier!  You've got things to plant, acres to weed, fences to build.  Get to work!"

And this growly mistress, this snake in my mind, crooned, "Honey, you've got six months of digestion to catch up on, and aint nothing going to get digested without this heat on your arms, on your legs, all down your serpentine spine.  You got to collect this solar power for your stomach.  See, honey, how it all makes sense?"

"Excuse me."  My human logician, I'll call her Eve, interrupted, "I digest daily.  I don't have any such back log.  I... I... I'm forgetting what I meant to say.  I can't think.  I can only feel.  And all I feel right now is sun on my shoulders, on my elbows, on my ears.  All I feel right now is good.  I suppose, it wouldn't hurt to absorb some vitamin D-making sunshine for a while.  That's work enough, right?  Riiiiight....Thanks.  Thanks for tempting me."

As my shoulders peeled in the next few days, I found my neanderthal brain.  Well, first I found this hose. Just when I needed, a hose!  My herb garden is not in the path of the sprinkler hoses, so it needed an off-shoot.  And here it was, a gift at my feet, the hose!  But, alas, this hose was not already in service for a very good reason... we'd run over it a few times for not so very good reasons such as laziness and snow-cover.  So the parts of the hose that attach to other things were bent a warped.  My little inner neanderthal suggested I check the garage for a tool.  I stepped into the garage and lil' Miss Neander goes insane!  "TOOLS! TOOLS! TOOLS! THAT's just what I need!!"  She jumped up and down and rummaged through the tool box and emerged, grunting and shouting, "Vice grips! Vice grips!  Vice grips!"  And she stomped over to the hose bib and used that vice grips to screw that screwed up hose on.  Then, lil' Miss Nea jumped up and down and pant-hooted when she found that it didn't even leak....which was especially exciting because that hose is NEVER coming off.  Thrilling.

Now time to secure the male end to the sprinkler.  And that's where the real fun began.  The male end was MUCH MUCH more messed up.  And after a lot of reshaping and more grunting and screwing, I got the sprinkler attached, as it were, to the hose.  And now for my test run.

So.... the sprinkler is a side sprinkler now.  A little trickles out the top but most of it shoots out at jet propulsion speeds from the mangled marriage of a female sprinkler and a male hose.  And that's how it's going to stay, a completely messed up relationship for life.

Tools?  Tools?  I need to evolve a little more before I get to use those again.

Monday, April 26, 2010

The indomitable hopeful seed

In spring,  I don't go inside.  I garden.  And then, one day, at the end of May, I stagger into the house, collapse on the floor and have a good look around me.  It's not pretty.  Everyone is naked because no one but me can apparently run the washing machine.  The floor is piled in over-due library books, dirt and the clothes is clings to, homework, crafts, game pieces and chips.  And then... well... then it is time to turn my burnt back on the sun and care for the interior designs.

This year, I began this process a little early.  And it's ongoing.  But now, I have company coming over pretty much every day this week, so I must clean.  That's why I've taken the time from gardening to blog.

My obsession with gardening and planting is like a gold fish... it seems to grow to the size of my pond.  And five acres is a pretty big pond.  And I have also discovered my one compulsion, my vice.  I was once told I'd never amount to anything because I lack vices.  Well, TA-DA!  Here it is, my achilles heal, that soft spot that could bring down this dragon:  compulsive plant buying!  This started to take hold at our house in Pullman.  Once a week, while other women shaved their legs, got their nails professionally painted (instead of just conveniently chewing them off), or otherwise "pampered" themselves, I spent my personal budget on one plant a week. 

With five acres to fill, I'm trying really hard to get down to one plant a week.  I squint my way through the front of every grocery store, through the racks of ooky booky baby plants.  I squeeze through them, trying to ignore their siren songs.  I don't seem to care what the establishment: the quaint nursery or the gas station.  At Home Depot this morning, I experienced uncomfortable heart palpitations as I drove by the gardening section.  I can barely take care of the one's I've got, and the pain denying myself new pleasures was immense, almost unbearable. 

I may now be able to speak about my Pullman house.  When we purchased it, lo these seven years ago, NOTHING was alive in the yard.  Not even the weeds.  But... over the years, I added 100's of edible plants onto that little postage stamp yard.  A strawberry patch, a raspberry patch, an herb garden, grape vines over the entry trellis Huck made, fruit trees, other fruiting shrubs, and four raised beds.  From a wasteland to lush Eden in five years.  It was paradise. 

About a year ago, I figured that since I had this much bigger, nicer house and yard I'd be able to drive by the old place during a quick trip through Pullman and see how the trees were coming.  And so I did. 

And.  

I'm not sure I can even talk about it still. 

I first noticed the tall fence around the back, which was sad, because we'd had a deal with the neighbor who didn't use his back yard and we'd fenced both yards together so our kids couldn't get out and we had enough room to actually play in it.  But the new owners put up a huge privacy fence.  And they'd painted the picket fence we'd put up white... which was way too cliche for me, but it looked okay.  And then....almost as an after thought I noticed the yard. 

EVERY SINGLE THING I HAD PLANTED WAS TORN OUT! 

All the raised beds, the strawberries, the raspberries, the fruit trees, the herbs, the roses, the irises, even the mugo pines.  And what was in it's place?  Dirt.  And I hope they eat lots of it.  Enjoy the hell out of that dirt.  I regret ever selling that beautiful shimmering treasure of a yard to those assholes.  And the person who bid just $1000 less had even sent a letter about how much she loved the yard.  I would've taken 1000 less, with glee, had I known. 

My first thought, of course, was to kill them.  Especially when I realize that they probably had not found nor even appreciated that spot in the back yard where the wind comes through like a kiss, no matter the weather.  I could stand in that spot, close my eyes, and moan rapturously about the way that air would touch my arms, my neck, my cheek.  God, I loved that breeze.  And it was just that one spot.  And here they come, barging in, a bunch of filthy, degenerate marauders, slaughtering every thing beautiful in this world.  And for what?  For why were these imbeciles given the gift of life? 

My sister was with me, and when I cried out at that pit of hell that had replaced my paradise, she said, as she is overflowing with compassion for everyone in this world except me, "I don't see what the big deal is.  You sold it.  It's not yours anymore."  And she rolled her lovely cow-like eyes at me. 

As if we plant trees for them to be uprooted by gray-matter-less monsters. 
As if we have babies to send them to war. 
As if we conquer our inner demons so that others may slay us. 
As if we rise from our warm beds in the morning for death's purpose. 
As if Rosa Parks wouldn't care if blacks had to return to the back of the bus after she died. 
As if the suffragettes relinquished their desires for women to vote once they themselves passed on.
If we sow seeds that we may not necessarily ourselves reap, we want some one, anyone, to reap them. 
We do not plant ANYTHING so that it will be killed before it's lived a meaningful life, before it's fulfilled its potential.   

This possibility has occurred to me, as I dug in my new kitchen herb garden, as I fenced in Huck's new orchard, as I pondered the perfect places for our nut trees.  Some one, some one perhaps not even born yet, might some day own this land, might some day ruthlessly ransack every careful thing I've placed.  But still,  I plant.  Still, my grocery cart has a border of random four inch pots and their foliage.  Still, I water, I weed, I grow these things that some one, some day, might slaughter.  This is my compulsion.  This is my vice. This is my insanity.  This is the way my hope manifests.  And hope, we know, is an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers. (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

Saturday, April 17, 2010

So... she was pregnant after all!

As you may have previously read, we had no idea if our cow was pregnant or not.  We'd had her 9 months and cows gestate nine and a half months.  She seemed fat, but that's a cow for you.  And then on Thursday... she started pacing around the field, not eating, mooing.  Coyote came home from Montessori around 3:45 which is the same time the bus drops Blue off.  And Huck, realizing he was going to have a late night at work, dropped by to get something to eat and see us all for a few minutes.  We were contemplating Hendrika's strange state when suddenly we see these hooves and head emerging from her dairy-air.  I'll spare you the photo!  And then she lays down and has this calf!  This adorable little red thing!  Within 15 minutes it was walking... and nursing within 30 minutes.  Sukey, the big sister, did a fancy little dance.  And that was that!  I ushered Coyote to T-ball and Huck went back to work.

I thought I saw little pink teets on it, called it a girl and Coyote christened her Ginger. And then Hendrika ate the after birth, which is apparently a normal thing to do.

In the evening, Huck called to ask if Hendrika had taken her calf in to the barn.  Nope.  And he suggested that needed to happen for safety and warmth.
"Oh but their cows.  They'll just do whatever it is they do in the wild." I breezed.
"um..."  Huckleberry paused to allow me the glory of recanting all on my own.

So, I pulled out my library of cow care books and discovered that baby calves can indeed get way too cold and can be devoured by neighborhood dogs.  But I also learned the very convenient fact and a cow, if she has her druthers, will stay in the spot she gave birth for two days.  And also, don't try to lead her away from it with the calf because she will kill you.  No.  Seriously.  She'll kill you.

Frightened, we slunk into the field and tried to coax her in, quietly, and without being killed.  And then, the coyotes came, close, loud, hungry.  And we got a little stressed out.  You know how couples under stress can sometimes be with each other.  Well, I started suggesting to Huck that he just scoop up that baby and run as fast as he could.  At that point... it made a lot of sense to me.

Finally, I shook some grain in the barn. Hendrika came running.  I slammed the corral shut.  And Huck tried to scoop up the baby.  But that thing was ninety pounds!  It was a floppy, fally, slippy transfer.  But we got them both in and shut the doors!

I was up at 5, worried.  And I found Hendrika, lethargic and cold in the barn.  Sure signs of a problem.  I was able to prod her up.  But all I have for reference are books and they don't tell you what's normal.  They just obsess about what's not normal.  I called over the local cattle guy and he said she looked ill but seemed okay. He said all his moms this year were lethargic after birth... some thing in the air, he guessed.  I didn't quite now how to take his assessment because, after all, he KILLS and EATS his pet cows.

Yoko brought her kids and husband out to see the baby yesterday.  And her husband noted a penis on our calf.  But I swear I saw her peeing out of her butt.  I thought that thing in the middle was some sort of umbilical something.  So... I guess we wait until the testicles fully descend, or not.  Ginger may become Joe.  I wanted a boy to be called Chew-Vaca.  But I got voted down. 

Alls well.  Bouncy calf.  Happy mom.  Jealous and confused sibling who's engaging in a lot of comfort grazing.  Ahhh the cycle of life.  And now we really need a new fence.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Honk! if you love sun bonnets

Last we spoke, I was listening to our house go clanking in the wind.  In this very office! Right behind me! Our wind speedometer was clocking 48 mph.  And that sound seemed a likely fit to such velocity.  I spotted siding skipping across our field.  "Poor Shmuck," I generously thought, "The siding, my friend, is blowing in the wind... Ah... glad it's not me."  But wait, what had that crackling clanging sound behind be been all morning?  I wrapped myself in coat-age and sure 'nuff, lo and behold, I was the poor schmuck.  Huck was home in minutes screwing it all back on.  It now looks... um.... interesting.

The steel siding is not one of my favorite features of this house.  Sure, you never have to paint your house again, you just have to tack it back on every month.  And I LOVE changing house colors.  If you need a new paint job, might as well try something new, eh.  Can't do that with this shit.  And THEY (those schmucks who make the crap) KNOW this it is all wrong... why the faux wood swirls?  

The silver lining on this cloud of siding is that I finally saw the house beneath the house, the true wood, and baby, they don't make wood like that any more.  Solid.  Solid.  Solid.  It was a relief.  The house is far from plumb, and I always wonder, laying in bed at night, all that empty space between me and the ground, and the floor beneath me at a 6% grade.  Am I safe?  Am I secure?  Can I go back to sleep now?  Apparently, the experts have told me, that solid does not equal plumb and the two need not co-exist.  Phew.

And, since you asked, Honk!fest was a delight.  The first day we brought the kids.  Jaws dropped, open mouthed they stared at the crazy musicians, the dancers, the acrobats, the stilt walkers.   After 30 minutes of stunned silence Blue stated, "I.  Love.  Seattle."  And we realized it had been too long since we'd last been part of such freakishness.  Spokane, Wenatchee, Pullman: they all have sun and no traffic (yeah), but very few uber-creative weirdos (boo!).

As we rolled out of the car into Fremont, Huck changed into his band jacket and other exciting accessories.  I packed a bevy of costuming as well.  Striped tights, fishnets, leopard print leggings, hot pink shirts, black lace slips and bodices, all the freakish regalia.  At the moment that we arrived, I was really feeling my brown courderoys and brown jacket, my mini-UPS uniform that I wear way too much.  Blue was so disappointed in me.  She was begging and begging for me to put onsomething, anything! more interesting.  Even just the wool coat I bought off a Soviet sailer in Red Square for five bucks in '92.  Perhaps it was the long drive that made me snap, but snap I did,  "Excuse ME, missy!  But I am me and only I get to decide what I wear.  It depends on MY feelings, NOT yours."  Guess how long it took to get THAT one thrown back in my face?

We left the kids with Grandpa for Saturday night.  I did wear my Soviet Sailor's coat and my green feathered mask.  I bailed on the other stuff.  1) too cold, 2) it was the UNIFORM!  Every single girl there was wearing striped socks over fishnets and topped with a tutu.  It made a statement, alright.  But in some circumstances, such as Honk!fest, the statement was sort of the opposite of intended, not an expression of a unique self, but an expression of conformity.  (photo of the ibone)

It was the "After Party!"  that I loved the most.  The dancing in the streets, yippee.  The music, yum!  The costumes: an over-all thumbs up.  The Stanford Wacko band, awesome.  But being picked up by Huck's friend in his retooled, post-industrial limousine: SUPER SPIFFY!  He brought us to a warehouse, a hazard factory, filled with fork lifts, power tools,  table saws, those huge metal containers of flammables, and about 500 people shoulder to shoulder, attempting to dance to yet MORE street band music. It was dangerous!  It was totally against code.  A bar.  Pizza heating on a bunson burner or it's giant equivalent.  Tattoo's in the corner.  And outside, this was the topper.  Outside: a flaming tether ball game.  Yes!  FLAMING!  While old footage from around the world projected on a shipping container behind it.  It was lovely, inspite of being a "scene".  People there to see and be seen.  I was seen.  I saw.  I was also impressed with all of the checks and balances preventing people who were incapable of driving from doing so.  They even checked ID!  It was like a very responsible dangerous party, technically illegal yet within the spirit of the laws intended for safety. 

We also made some familial visits and I visited one friend from seven years ago and our children were grown, be we were just the same.  And it's always nice to remember exactly why you hung out with someone way back then.  'Cuz they're awesome, that's why.  But I had to bail on other awesome friends: time ran out.  And even so we barely got back before Monday which came fast and hard and no one made it anywhere sooner than an hour late.  And Blue chose to wear to school: a prom style dress covered in a pink knitted shawl and the sun bonnet made by her great great grandmother.  Yes.  A sun bonnet.  And I said, "Honey, are you sure you want to wear that thing to school?"  And guess what she said?!  And I said, "I guess I have to understand what you're talking about."

And there were consequences, yes.  But only about half the students made fun of her.  Her trip to Seattle to the freak show seemed to uplifted her courage however, and seemed to give her confidence and hope that some day, yes, some day, she too might find her tribe.  Somewhere on this earth, she now knows, are people who wear whatever the hell they want. She is Blue and only SHE gets to decide what she wants to wear and the rest of them, can shut their stupid, ignorant mouths.  At least that's what she told me she told them.

oh, god, what have I wrought?

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Bloggity blog blog

What a trickle of posts here!  I knew March would be sparse on writing time, what with two separate conference weeks for kids, Huck leaving town, spring break, my parents visiting and all the plants showing up... but it's been far more absurd than I imagined!

I never seem to take a bite, but it's more than I can chew.  Why-oh-why did I START with a 3000 square foot garden?  And why 40 trees the first year?  Why can't I just trickle these things in?  I've got a vision and a gift certificate to Burnt Ridge Nursery burning a hole in my time.  And all these bare root plants are arriving in the middle of our delayed winter.  Sideways snow and ice and hail and all.  100 mph winds.  40 below.  And I'm crawling around in the dirt with frozen, splitting hands, shoveling out holes for 6 nuts trees, 17 shrubs, 4 other trees, 25 strawberries, 5 raspberries and I've got 25 asparagus crowns and 18 fruit trees on the way.  And the irrigation is hung up at the check out counter, so I'm hand watering.  ACK!!  In a word: Spring.  It's bounced me out so far I don't know when I'll land again.

My life has also been swallowed by that insatiable monster: Little league.  I'm not thrilled.  Those two hours after school are for free play, finding oneself, knowing what that feels like, recovering from the day, etc.  Not for moms to shovel snacks down the poor kids throats, toss them into the car, and chuck them onto some frozen tundra where a coach directs their every move.  But Blue wanted to try it this year.  And you never know when some thing is going to catch a kid's interest.  So... I signed both kids up.  They didn't post the schedule when I signed up back in January and now I see why.   It looks like the next seven to eight weeks I'll be screaming around every evening, all evening, rushing and pushing and stressing.  Some experts say that kids need to get involved in sports so they can be exercised and avoid unhealthy distractions.  And then other experts claim that kids need to have dinner with the family every night.  I'm not seeing how it's possible to do both, however.

That dinner thing, THAT is more my speed.  We read a prayer from the global, pan-religious book, "Grace." In winter we light a candle.  Then we all say something, anything, we're thankful for, dig in and recollect the days events together.  But I can't see how we can do after-school sports AND dinner together.  I don't know how other families do it, but for the next 8 weeks, I give up.  "Uncle" already, okay?! And I'm not sure I'm going to sign the kids up for these things anymore.  It's so crazy making.  And craziness can't be good.


Speaking of crazy, we're off to Seattle for HonkFest tomorrow.  Huck's playing his bone with his old troupe, the Anti-Fascist Marching Band, and I'm tagging along in my traditional capacity as tone-deaf arm-candy.  Well... I hope I'm tagging along (and Arm-Candy may be over-stating my capacity to adequately accessorize the maestro).  I might be stuck here after this morning...when  I stepped out of the shower and slipped in Coyote vomit.  I hope that clears up before we cram ourselves in the car and skid over the pass in it's fresh duvet of April snow, several feet deep.

I was going to whisper in your ear more fabulous secrets about my life in the fast lane, but a Pokemon DVD is screaming in my own ears right now and I can't think.  Go blogger, go bloggy blog!!

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