Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A fleeting memory.....

Did you ever have a moment that just sparked a memory from long ago? A few minutes ago walking across campus with the sun shining through the trees and a frisky little breeze, I was reminded of time long, long ago. The same kind of day but I must have been only 5 or 6 years old. We lived in a farmhouse on top of a hill in a very rural part of Pennsylvania. There were cornfields all around and even in this part of June, the wind would bend the short little stalks as it blew through. All at once today, I was hit with the memory of sitting in our tire swing which hung from a huge oak tree in our backyard at the top of the hill. From this point, I could see all of the old farms: the Kinears, the Baughmans. This was back when farming was still a sustainable field and the sound of farm equipment was heard every day. This memory brought me back to a moment of leaning far, far back on the swing and rocking back and forth. No sounds. Well, there probably were birds and cars but I can only remember the breeze. I also have a memory of a feeling too. For that instant today when I was hit with this memory, I felt utterly happy and safe, without a worry in the world. Even as I write this, I knew my mom was in the house--probably in the kitchen. My dad was at work. And I was in the backyard swinging on our tire swing and feeling loved.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Watching and waiting

In lieu of some photos of our hatching eggs which turned out foggy and blurry, I thought I would post some other beautiful photos.
The due date for the hatching of our chicks was thought to be tomorrow.......however, this morning when I checked, we heard peeping and 3 of the eggs had little chips out of them. This is our first foray into the world of chick growing! And we all are very excited!

We also have 6 silkie eggs that are due on June 30. I just had a report from my daughter that when she was checking on them, she cheeped and then one of the eggs started jiggling.

How exciting!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


I feel like I am young. Well, except for the fact that my back hurts today from sleeping in an awkward position. It is HARD to comfortably accomodate 2 chihuahuas and a labrador retriever on a sofa! But usually I think of myself as younger than most people. It is like my mental clock stopped about 15 years ago.
So I think of myself as a young grandma. And it irks me that when I introduce my grandson that no one, not one person, has remarked that 'oh, you can't possibly this child's grandmother, oh no, you must be his mother or, even, his sister!'. Nope, no one expresses anything and seemingly everyone readily accepts that yes, I am old enough to be his grandmother. Which is fine. I'm not complaining. I'm more than happy - ecstatic - to be this boy's grandma!
But then thinking about it, I guess I do look my age. I deserve to look my age. I've had 27 years of parenting so far and my youngest is only 10. I've had 25 years of being married to various somebodies. I've run semi-regularly for 18 years. I've done a lot of stuff. I guess I could wear some makeup to cover up some of the marks of time that sit on my face. But without a doubt, I would rub my eyes or something would make me laugh so hard I would cry and then the makeup would smear.
Sheesh - I've been searching for classmates on Facebook. And looking at some of the pictures, boy - have they gotten old! Some of my old classmates are barely recognizable! At least they will be able to recognize me - I haven't changed at all!

Monday, June 15, 2009

Last Drive-in Movie (I hope not)

Saturday night four of my children, my grandson, and I went to the movies. To the drive-in movies. To us, this is a common way to watch the big screen. We certainly have plenty of cinemas around but we are very lucky in that we also have access to several drive-in movie theatres. But even though these movies aren't a rarity for us, it still is a very special occasion to sit (or lie) in the back of the Explorer and watch a movie bigger than life. Outside. Everything about the experience is amazing! From getting to the drive-in early for a good spot and the subsequent anticipation of nightfall for the start of the movie to the eerily exciting walk in the dark to the 50's restrooms. We arrived there early and set up the chairs, blankets, and pillows while the kids made friends of kids from other families and played ball and ran and laughed and screamed until everyone was gathered up to await the opening previews. It is a requirement to buy movie food. Standing in line just the way that moviegoers from 50 years ago did and (I swear) the same Coca Cola signs, the same popcorn poppers - such things can't help but give one a twinge of nostalgia.

Our family has decided to forego television and had the satellite turned off a while back so watching Night at the Museum 2 had added appeal for us because we haven't really watched anything at all lately. Despite the huge turnout of families to watch this movie, there was nearly no noise at all. It was like something magical happened the minute night fell and the movie started. All these families, these kids and moms and dads and some dogs, all huddled close in the chill of the night breeze. What a wonderful way for summer to begin!

Friday, June 12, 2009

Best Friends

I've often thought during my nearly 30 years as an adult that I had no friends. No one close. No one for whom I could make soups for when they were sick. No one to laugh about the silly little nonsensical things about which friends laugh. No one who knows my history and whose history I know. And on days during which I'm hovering dangerously close to depression, the notion of being friendless is nearly overwhelming.

But there are days like today. When I ask a friend, a colleague about her family visiting from Brazil because I know them. We had lunch together last summer. Her mom thought of me when reading a Non Sequitur and she knows that I love goats and dogs. We may not know each other yet from back then but who says that back then has to start in high school? Maybe our back then will start last summer or two years ago when we met?

Another friend brought me a coffee and a pastry the morning after I learned that I didn't get the job I wanted. And yet another called me at home to be sure I was alright. And still another invited me out for coffee and to let me know in her way of just being there, that she was there for me.

I don't have friends? Not true. So not true. I may not have friends from back in my high school days but slowly my friends and I are building a history together.

"Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, What! You too? I thought I was the only one." C.S. Lewis

Thursday, June 11, 2009

A holler and a bark out to the Farmer's Wife

If you want some interesting reading--that kind that makes you think--check out this blog:

I've been reading The Farmer's Wife for a while now and it is one of those blogs that I visit nearly every day.


she has chihuahuas!!!

Extended animal family

I am known for regularly boring colleagues with stories about my animals, my children, my husband (not so much), and my extended family of animals. But there are so many stories to tell! And so many animal personalities! For instance, the first picture is of my parents' cat Pumpkin aka big momma aka big catty (according to my niece and nephew and those of us who easily forget names). Pumpkin is about four years old. My mom isn't really a cat person but my dad loves all animals: cats, dogs, horses, chickens, you name it! And my dad wanted--in the worst way--a pet to sit and sleep on his lap. So he got Pumpkin from one of my brother's litters. From day one, that cat has been the most antisocial, aloof creature I have ever seen. Pumpkin has always been treated well. The best treats, toys, everything! But Pumpkin refuses to act catlike. She will tolerate my dad petting her for a moment or two. She will accompany my mom to the bathroom every morning. But then Pumpkin disappears. Occasionally she will sleep under the coffee table and if only my mom and dad are home, she may just jump up on the dinner table to watch the birds. But (horror of all horrors) if there are visitors such as me!, Pumpkin hides under the sofa and refuses to come out until I've gone to bed and before I wake up in the morning.
And this is Boots or Bootsy or little catty. Boots is the total opposite of Pumpkin and is the most loving cat ever. My dad found Boots as a scrawny, starving kitten under the porch of his office. When he brought her home 2 years ago, we never thought she's make it. But Boots has flourished! She has the most beautiful coat, the loudest purr, the kindest disposition. And she sashays around the house like a queen - a very kind queen. Boots likes to go outside and sit on the porch and then come in for a quick nibble and go back out. And Boots loves my dad.
Now this is Zoom. My niece and nephew's new pup. Zoom is a cross between a pug and a beagle and probably a few other things. Zoom will be joining of family of two laborador retrievers and 2 rabbits. Since Zoom has only been a member of the family since Saturday, there aren't any stories about him yet. But no doubt there will be.

There are other family animals such as my brother's airdale. As with my little farm, there is always something going on.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The secret is out

I am not a sneaky person. I don't usually intentially hide things from others - especially my husband. With the exception: vacation.
My husband likes to stay at home. He does not like to travel. He grew up in a financially poor family and thinks that vacations are out of our means. He does not like for the kids and me to travel.
I like to stay at home too - but I also love the ocean and camping. And so do the kids. They love pitching a tent on the beach and cooking over an open fire. I pay for the campsites the winter before and begin saving change so that money doesn't come out of the house budget. We don't spend alot of money on frivolous things but I really think that the every other year vacation - tenting and hiking on the beach is a very positive experience for the kids and me.
This year in preparation for our trip, we are learning to read a compass and map as well as how to use a compass without a map. These are important skills that we know all too well after being lost in the woods when our GPS lost signal. We've been learning about plants and herbs. We tell stories about the area where we camp - there are lots of legends about that area.
This drives my husband nuts. He can think of a million reasons not to go. But really, it is not expensive and saving money throughout the year really helps.
Now this year, there is a fly in the ointment. I need to find someone to feed and water and care for the animals. Technically my husband could do this (and probably will end up doing it). But I think that he thinks that is leverage for us not to go.
And maybe it is. And maybe I'm wrong. But the kids are not going to be young forever and are not always going to want to spend a week in a tent with their mom.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Update on Bucky

I was happy to learn that Bucky -- that rotten goat who drove me to the brink of insanity -- is very happy at his new farm. Reports have it that Bucky allows the girl who adopted him to lead him around by a leash on a collar. Apparently, Bucky has turned a new leaf and now is a kind, docile little creature who loves to be babied! Now I never thought that Bucky was a bad goat, he just had goaty habits that I didn't have time for. So I am very happy that he has found his niche in life and that he has found someone who loves him for what he is. After all, that's all any of us can ask for.

Monday, June 8, 2009


The picture is of my ring and not my fat fingers! This ring was given to me by my mom: it was made by my great-great grandmother for my greataunts from a pair of cameo earrings she had.

This past weekend was a weekend of memories. I spent it with my parents - and in all my life, I don't remember my dad being as happy. It was wonderful.

It was yardsale days in the little town where I grew up and where my parents still live. My brother, my sister-in-law (who is a rabid yardsale shopper), my niece and my nephew. We all went yardsaling and it was like a walk down memory lane.

First stop was the house next to my parents'. I remember the time when my brother ran his bike into the backend of the Beers' (first owners) truck and bent his bike frame. I remember when the next owner's lived there and grew the biggest and sweetest blueberries I've ever tasted. They also had a little fat chihuahua, Bruno, who walked 30 miles back home when being babysat during a family vacation. The current owners, I don't know. They keep to themselves and I haven't had the chance to meet them.

Next week went to the house across the street which was built when I was in junior high. I remember the original owners: serious motorcyclists, Black Cat, Spyder, and Kitten. And also some of the nicest people I've ever met in spite of the fact that my brother teased the boys constantly. The 2nd set of owners were a very reclusive man and a very pleasant woman and 3 daughters who were friends of my daughter. The woman died of cancer, the girls grew up, and the man moved away. The current owners who moved in late last year began fixing the place up just when the wife died unexpectantly this past Christmas. I didn't know until after, that the bakeware - the breadpans and slicer - were hers.

We hit a number of houses that had been homes of some of my friends. It seemed strange to see different people in these places that I used to know so well. I felt as if I had gone back in time when I hugged the mom of a friend I hadn't seen in 30 years. I saw people I hadn't seen in years and hid behind the disguise of aging. And it occurred to me:

All of these years I avoided reunions of any kind. I didn't particularly care for most of the people I graduated high school with and didn't keep up with those I liked. Maybe I need to rethink this and maybe the purpose of reunions aren't just to see how well some of my peers fared in life. Maybe the purpose is to simply reconnect with that part of my life. Like it or not, these people had a huge impact on how I feel, how I think, and how I react to life.

Maybe these connections to the past help us deal with the future and the unavoidable conjuring up of feelings from the past is really a way to help us understand our present.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I'm too old for this

I'm going to visit my parents for the weekend. I'm leaving directly from work. I. am. going. by. myself. After last weekend's goat drama (in front of my parents), they invited me for two days of rest and relaxation. I am so looking forward to being with them. We have big plans: their little town's yardsale is tomorrow so we'll hit that early - which means lots of walking and hot sausage sandwiches and then mom and dad are taking me to their favorite summer eating place, Woody's Hotdogs! There will be much snacking and drinking of coffee, lots of laughing and reminiscing, and just the happiness of being together.

So what is my problem????? I won't have Tipper or Max or Sebastian or Bear or any of the cats to cuddle with at night! I had planned to bring a stuffed animal with me but I forgot. So at the age of 46, I am going to STOP AT THE STORE AND BUY A STUFFED ANIMAL! This is ridiculous but I have a serious need to fall asleep with my arm around something - a kid or an animal. Usually when I visit my parents my kids are with me. And they are still at an age where cuddling with mommy at night is a treat.

Good grief, if any of my students knew that I slept with a stuffed animal . . . . .

The excitement is building.....

Plans are being made. The excitement has received nearly a fevered pitch at our house! One more week until school is out!

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Running with my friend

This is my running buddy, Sebastian. He makes me feel guilty on the days I run over lunch while at work instead of waiting until after work and running with him. He makes me appreciate a good run. After a good run, Sebastian darts around like a lunatic after I take off his lead. He guzzles down water and struts around the house in front of the other dogs as if to say, "Hey, look at me--I'm special! Mom chose me!"

And then, after the strutting and rubbing in the faces, if he is really wet like he was after our run last night, he goes into the livingroom, jumps up on the sofa, and lays like this the rest of the night!

That! is a very good run!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Summer fun.....

I wish, sometimes, that I could have a week as a 10 year old again. Carefree (at least it was for me), endless possibilities, and all the time in the world. I am so thankful that my kids are able to stay home over the summer vacation. Even though they complain sometimes of being bored, they do things on their own that their peers won't have a chance to do.

They sleep soundly knowing that I won't be waking them up early, early, early to get ready for school. They are able to wake up leasurely, eat their breakfast, and then decide what to do for the day. Hopefully they are thinking that maybe they need to do their chores first! But they do have a lot to do: build cabins and forts, make fairy houses, play with the animals, read and read some more, make things, jump on the trampoline, play in the creek.

I love coming home from work and having the torch passed to me by my husband who then heads off to work. The kids are filthy and their hair is bleached blonde. They are tired and are ready for dinner. In August, they have most likely picked some corn to eat. My youngest daughter loves the garden and willingly weeds it for me. My other two young kids get really ambitious for jobs toward the end of summer so that they have money for the fair. My garden never looks better than it does in August!

But even though I will never have the chance to be 10 again, I love being able to see 10 through the eyes of my kids.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Bu-bye Bucky . . .

On Thursday, Bucky will be going to live on a new farm. A big farm with lots of room and no neighbors with yummy trees.

I'll miss him. Kind of. But life will/may be calmer now. I'm glad that my husband found a friend of his who wants mininubian goats and is really looking forward to moving Bucky to his farm.

A lesson learned. I will never again ignore advice from people way more knowledgeable than me. Fortunately my mistake has a happy ending for all involve. As I said in a previous post, it is really wrong of me to be so hateful toward Bucky for being the animal he is. Without Bucky, I wouldn't have Cookie Dough. If I hadn't had this experience, I would not have known how to build a secure fence. I would never have known what 'airplane ears' were. Without Bucky, I wouldn't have had the hands-on experience of owning a buck--which trust me, is a knowledge I never will lose!

Like so many things, farming is a series of learning experiences and the most I can hope for is that no one is hurt in the process. I treat my animals well. I love them and talk to them and am careful what I feed them. I worry that they are too fat or too thin. I worry that they are cold or hot. I'm hoping that soon I will become more confident as a farmer.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Love hurts . . . .

I do NOT love him anymore!

I'm a veteran of life: I've survived divorces, a huge family in a small house, countless mini emergencies, and yet this weekend something occurred that brought me as close to the edge as I've ever been.

Bucky got loose.

Now let me just say that Bucky was just being Bucky. There was no malicious intent on his part, no hidden agenda to drive me crazy so that he could reign supreme over the entire One Old Goat farm - none of that. But let's just say that at two separate times this weekend, I was brought to bawling uncontrollably in my backyard with a lasso in one hand and a bucket of sweetfeed in the other. I was prime entertainment for the Georges Valley neighbors. I am thankful, however, that the neighbors who were watching from their lawnmowers had very LOUD lawnmowers. It drowned out the stream of profanities coming out of my mouth.

Bucky has a taste for my neighbor's trees - those 100 feet tall, fast growing trees that are very, very leafy about now. When Bucky gets out of his pen, he bypasses all of my yummy maples and cottonwoods and heads for the neighbor's trees. Usually I just fill up a bucket with sweetfeed and he follows me back into his pen. Now we fixed his pen: it is impossible for me to get into or out of. But Bucky as found a way. I swear he has sprouted wings because I cannot see any spot where he has crawled under or over. I just don't know. So Saturday he got out. We just noticed seconds before leaving for my daughter's soccer game. And of course my husband wasn't home. And of course I had the neighbor's kids with me. And of course Bucky had great fun waiting for me to get within inches of him before darting off over the horse fence. Around and around me, all four of the kids, the dogs, and the chickens (who didn't know what the hell was going on) running through the horse pen. I think it was on lap 8 that I finally broke down in tears. At that point, everything comes to a standstill (except for Bucky who is walking slowly towards me). EVERYONE is staring at me: the kids, dogs, horses were chewing on their hay looking at me, Dolly was inches away shiffing my hair. The two boys - my son and his friend - offered ideas (which included knives and catapults) and the girls were stunned by my hysterics. So I shifted gears and we all left for the soccer game (hoping that Bucky would run away). He didn't. But my husband was able to lure Bucky into the pen.

Next day. My parents were visiting and we were having a party for the kids' birthday. My parents arrived and Bucky escaped. Again. And headed straight for the neighbor's trees. I felt myself crumbling. I found my rope and casually strolled toward Bucky as he was busily munching on leaves. He took off as the rope was poised above his head. This time I broke down after only 1 lap through the horse pen. Crying uncontrollably that I could not deal with this f*%*!g goat again. In front of my father! I've never let the f-word slip in front of my dad. Mom, yes. But not my dad.

He knew I was upset.

So my dearest daughter, mother of my grandson, great lasso-er of goats, came to the rescue and within minutes, had Bucky roped and tied in the barn. I love that girl.

So what am I going to do? For now, Bucky is on leash with plenty of access to outside and shelter, food and drink. My mother called me last night and said that my brother had offered to 'take care of' Bucky. But unless he is going to be eaten, he's not going to be killed. I've tried selling Bucky and giving him away. I've worked on his fence until my arms and legs bled. He's getting out somewhere but I don't know where.

Everyone told me not to get a goat. I didn't listen. So now I hate Bucky for him being what he is. Although now, a day later, I can't say that I really hate him. Bucky is a goat-a male goat. And he is acting like one. I guess I should love him because he is really, really, REALLY good at being a goat.

A torrid love affair

 I've written about the ducks quite a bit. It's a little like Peyton Place around here I think. A couple of months ago, the male d...