Monthly Archiv: February, 2014

Late Breaking Valentine

Dear Husband,

I may have mentioned it before, but at times, you are intolerable. Nevertheless, sometimes doing laundry after the kids have gone to bed, (while you’re out restarting someone’s IV, or getting a load of wood) the reality of how happy I am hits me and I have to stop matching socks because I can’t see them anymore.

This most recent revelation of love entitles you to ten open cupboard doors, five lights left on, and 3 dirty coffee mugs in the wrong sink, with no mention from me in this life or the next. I continue to strive towards the goal of unlimited offers. Until then, I guess go ahead and triple the numbers – kind of a consolation prize that I’m not there yet.

Love,

Wife

 

Happy Valentines Day

(image courtesy of morguefile.com)

(image courtesy of morguefile.com)

The offices of County Road 21 (located just off the kitchen, in the middle room with wood stove, large window, and piano) are closed for Valentines Day. Celebrations began yesterday with a card from boy two expressing love for me and my cooking. A lovely button heart from girl two followed. Gifts of walking grandma’s visiting dog followed. I got up in the night for a drink and found chocolates and a candle on the table along with a card from my husband and kids. Reservations at 6:00 tonight at a restaurant with a lovely Dickens’ theme, called Gad’s Hill. I shoveled two feet of snow off in an almost completed circle on the pond yesterday for a Valentine’s surprise, so hopefully we’ll be skating today.

The prayer I am offering for anyone reading is this:

May you have a day with tiny gifts of love. Before the day is out, may you glimpse for a moment your own incredible worth and value. May the reality that you are beloved change you so slightly that you do not think to run from it, and so drastically that you are never the same. Amen and Amen.

Dear God

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Lovely snow with recovering chicken slayer in the distance. 4 years and counting since a lapse. Proof that there’s hope for everybody, I think. :) 

Dear God,

Apparently, this is a letter writing week. I’m sorry you came after the chickens. My mother used to make me write grateful lists when I was grumpy. Here are my top three reasons for gratitude at the moment.

Sunday afternoons that involve Suduko: Is anything more relaxing than Suduko? A perfect square, and all the numbers have a place in a line where they belong. After I fill in all the numbers, it’s over. The numbers sit in their order and even if the house were to catch fire, the task would remain concluded. Unlike the rest of my life, once I’m finished, nothing can change and suddenly make me unfinished. For this, I am deeply grateful.

Irons and ironing boards: Why anyone would buy permanent press clothing, I have no idea. The dog barks, the kids fight, the husband searches for his keys/wallet/phone/papers/bag (pick one), but when my iron moves, the wrinkles go away. Boy one has no clean underwear. Girl two has spilled her cereal. La. Ti. Da. Wrinkles are disappearing before my eyes. Tra la with a lovely trill. Ten year old shirts they may be, but they perk right up with a little steam and pressure. Me and my iron, we know where every stain on every piece of clothing is, but nobody else does once we’re done running that crease down the pant legs. With my iron, I am invincible. Invaders, marauders, no matter. A steaming, red hot implement is in my hand. I defy the demon of interruption.

Snow: Not that it matters, but from where I sit (blue chair with the duct tape over the arms the kids keep picking at despite numerous reminders and consequences rational and otherwise) throwing something white and sparkly over top of everything for a few months every year was one of your best ideas.

So thank you for suduko, irons, and snow. I look forward to thanking you for eggs from my chickens as soon as it becomes appropriate.

With humility and gratitude when possible, and, “Just as I Am,” the rest of the time,

Yours truly

Letter to Girls of the Feather

county road 21 pictures plus 055Dear Girls of Feather,

Remember when you were laying fifteen eggs a day? We had eggs every day for breakfast and sometimes for dinner. We gave eggs to anyone who walked through the door. The most common search item on my google was “recipes with lots of eggs.”

What’s going on ladies? We solved the rat problem ages ago. December 22 is the shortest day of the year. News Flash: the light is back. It has been back. Where are the eggs?

You know what I am hungry for? That’s right, EGGS.  Not egg, eggS, see the S?  One egg a day, two eggs a day? Unacceptable. Thanks to your breed, you aren’t worth eating. (I tried one of your sisterhood a few years ago when the dog got a hold of you. Not much more meat than a squirrel and a lot more bones.) If things don’t change soon, you won’t be worth feeding either.

I’ve shovelled your outside pen in case you didn’t like the snow. I’ve laid down hay, in case your three pointed toes were cold. I’ve brought out treats to keep you out there in the LIGHT. I’m dreaming of other interventions. Most people leave lights on in the winter to keep their chickens laying. I’ve never loved the idea. If you girls needs a month or so off every year, I don’t begrudge you. But by February 12, I’m beyond overhead lights, girls. I’m fantasizing about putting you in little holders to squeeze your middles and setting every one of you up with the biggest flashlights I can find pointed right at your eyes, and I’ll put your heads in vices so your head stays still.

About those middles. See when the dog got your Aunt Hilda that day, I did a little investigating. Turns out you girls run regular little factories inside. There was Hilda’s egg for that day, preceded by Hilda’s egg for the next day (shell still soft), preceded by Hilda’s egg for the day after that (covered in just a casing). Heck, Hilda’s eggs for the next two weeks were there, in various sizes and shapes of readiness.

Get this in your heads. Put some notes to self on the wall. I know what you’ve got in there. If we don’t start getting some eggs soon, those little middle holders we just talked about are going to have a squeezing button.  We’ll run you through them like a toothpaste tube if we have to. Your choice. But one way of the other, those eggs are going to come out.

Sadly, I have had to buy eggs twice in the last month, although I don’t know as what I got could properly be called an egg. I hope you will see fit to insure that this does not happen again. And I hope you have found this letter informative for your future planning.

Sincerely,

The Egg Collector’s Mother and Chief of all things Chicken

Gym class

file7261249326359Being in a gym lately has me thinking about gym class.

Gym class is the only place I can remember feeling so ashamed. I stretched myself mightily once and went to a friend’s house to work an aerobics routine for a song from the radio. My friend got sick and my grade six self had to perform the routine alone. Horrific was the agony.

Gym class was also one of the few places so many things were new.  A track to run, hurdles to leap, and a rope to the ceiling to climb hand over hand. Trampolines, parallel bars, balance beams.

I looked forward to gym class and I raised a little bit of trouble. Most of the school day, my sense of humour was restrained. At home, I carried a lot of responsibility and caused no trouble beyond the occasional smart comment. But I knew of no expectations specific to the preacher’s daughter regarding gym class. There (and anywhere there was a substitute teacher) I let loose another side. It was, I discovered, extremely relaxing to be bad.

Twenty laps, the teacher would say. I got to the gym first, so as to begin modifications.

Time for some math, I would yell out as we ran. 2 x 2 is 4, plus 6 is 10. We’re half way there everybody.

Nobody ever argued. Sit-ups and push ups liked math too.

Mandatory group showers insulted my sense of decency and public decorum.

Wrap your towel around you, splash water on your shoulders, and go to the bathroom, I told my friends. Come out again when people are leaving the showers. Works every time.

I can’t comment on the blessings incurred by my gym/substitute teachers, but being bad was good for what ailed me. A needed respite from the seriousness of life. Getting caught and extra running didn’t bother me, it made me laugh more.

At a dinner with our school choir once, three teachers got into a discussion about me. Two insisted that I was an angel. A frequent substitute teacher named Mrs. Sims weighed in more to the devil side of things.

“You must be thinking of someone else,” my defenders insisted. “She’s wonderful.”

Mrs. Sims snorted. “Call her over and ask her yourself.”

Although we never said it, Mrs. Sims and I liked each other. She was gruff, smart and not remotely intimidated by me. I enjoyed a good laugh and was staunchly opposed to completing anything smelling of busy work assigned by absent teachers. This put us on opposite sides of the law. It wasn’t personal.

“She’s not exaggerating,” I told the other two teachers.

“But you’re so good,” they said still struggling to believe.

“Sometimes I’m not,” I said.

“Told ya,” said Mrs. Sims.

 

I’m not sure where I’m going with this. Maybe just to say that I’m teaching some gym classes these days and the kids make me smile. Gyms are good places to not be perfect, to go a little crazy and to run it out of your system.

Telling Time

file3781234627947I haven’t had much use for watches in recent years. Having nothing on my wrist has been preferable to having something. I balk at the stranglehold that seconds and minutes seem to have on us. Arbitrary designations to which we’ve given the power to judge the value of people.

A little more than a year ago, my paternal grandmother died. Set aside for me was a Bulova watch, a gift given to her by my grandfather. The watch was pretty but simple, not too big, and it didn’t have a clasp to scratch at my wrist. I liked it. It sat in my top drawer declaring the wrong time for a year, while I vacillated between mild interest and pining.

I know what I want for Christmas, I said to my husband finally. Take that watch to town and see if they still make batteries to fit it. Christmas morning, I unwrapped the watch. No battery required, you wind it, the jeweler had explained. My heart leapt the way it does when something that is old moves into my life. The love affair was official now. I began to wear a watch.

My grandmother was a woman who tried very hard. People who loved her have mixed feelings about her and usually a lot of them. Some of what people admired about her was about how hard she tried. To love God, to be a good person. I don’t know if she succeeded in these worthy goals. It isn’t mine to judge. The impact of the hurt and anger that she carried has echoed loudly through the generations. I look at my wrist and consider the painful parts of legacy. Why I wonder, am I wearing her watch?

Am I ignoring the emotional swaths cut into those she loved? Does it matter, I ask myself, how much you love Jesus, if your self-imposed burden to get everyone else to love him too, and the fear that you might fail makes you cruel and unkind?

Grandma’s flaws I do not deny. Despite my generous rending of their mention, few who knew her would approve my noting them at all. But I loved her. I still do.

I am not unlike my grandmother. Sometimes I look in the mirror and think I am turning into her (sadly minus the ample bosom). The watch on my wrist is a gift of lessons. My flesh and blood, so in need of the mercy she was unable to offer, wore this watch. I will wear it, and people that I love will fail. They will fail themselves, and they will fail me too. My first reactions one through twenty will be a defense of offense. Choose mercy, my watch says.  Stop keeping tallies. Be the woman who forgets what she can and forgives the rest.

Bonding

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image courtesy of rochjose from morguefile.com

Boy one and girl one are really bonded to Misty, I say to my husband thinking no one is listening. Everybody does their part, but for boy two and girl two, it’s not the same.

What does bonding mean? asks girl two (who is on a self imposed vocabulary investigation of staggering proportions these days).

Well, I say trying to think, if you’re bonded to something it means it’s something that’s really important to you.  Everybody likes Misty, but to boy one, Misty is one of the things in a circle of things most important to him in the world. You like Misty, but not in the same way.

Ok, says Girl two. She sits thinking with eyes fixed while the rest of eat, then turns to her sister, serious.

I think I’m bonded to macaroni and cheese, she says.

An Interchange of About Twenty Minutes

file0001439703432The Scene:

I am driving. Girl two occasionally claps, or adds, “go, go, go,” but for the purposes of the story she is mostly a bystander. Boy two is in the far back of the caravan, girl one is in the seat ahead of him.

The Dialogue:

Boy two:  Ok, do you see the little stick guys on the side?

Girl one: Yeah

Boy two: Ok, I want you to click on them. Now see the thing that says music and click on it. Now set it for Star Wars theme.

Girl one: You’re going too fast. Just a minute. Ahhh! This stupid thing. Ok, ok, now I’ve got it.

 

 

Boy two:  Alright. So go back out to where the stick guys were. Go over right to the side. See the one guy there?

Girl one: Click on him?

Boy two: Yeah, Click on him. Now, go to settings and look for the Phil file. I think it’s called something like Phil file 3552. For some reason they didn’t do any numbers one to ten or something, I don’t know. It’s crazy. Are you there yet?

Girl one:  They’re going crazy. They’re everywhere. Oh my gosh, everyone’s running around like crazy people.

Boy two: Chase that guy on the right. Once you get him, you’ll see what happens. Right there. Now! See it. Now quick, grab that stick on the ground.

……

Time elapses. I drive.

……

Girl one: That was awesome.

Boy two: Yeah, let’s put it away now.

Girl one: Yeah, first I just have to save it. What should I call it?

Boy two: Call it, “Phil 542. . .”

Girl one: Just a minute, it’s not working. This things takes forever to save. There it goes. . .

Girl two: When is it going to be my turn?

Girl one: Next time. We’re putting it away now.

Pertinent fact:

1. For the entire conversation, girl one was holding a rectangular 2×3 inch mirror in her hand.

 

Seriously, where are the scientists when the really good stuff is happening?

Concessions

My favorite but not the top vote getter

My favorite (I’m crazy about trees and wind) but not the top vote getter

 

I am not a picture person. I don’t naturally reach for a picture or ask to see pictures of other people’s children. Most of all, I am uncomfortable with pictures of myself. I have grown up enough not to hide when people take pictures of a group. (Maturity aided by hurt feelings of more than one event where I spent time wondering why no one included me in any of the pictures only to realize that someone had been me.) Despite growth, I have been reluctant to post a picture and my minor forays into electronic communication never include a tidy little avatar, real or sketched.

Read the words, I want to yell. Who cares about a picture? Wouldn’t it be more interesting to only know my voice? Pick whatever height, weight, skin, hair, face that pleases your imagination. I’ve told you I’m a woman, are imaginations so challenged of late that the rest fails to be adequately filled in as it suits?

Sometimes I like to see the picture of an author at the back of the book, sometimes I think it ruins it and I would have rather kept them exactly as I had them in my mind. Apparently, my views are not widely shared. A picture is not requested but required to even submit some other writing that I’ve done. Sigh. Procrastinate. Wonder if failed imaginations will rejoice if I have myself photographed in my lucky writing shirt, a blue plaid flannel? Somehow I know this is a bad idea.

I beg my friend to meet me at a nature sanctuary near her house with a camera. At least outside I don’t have to figure out what to wear. We spend exactly 5 minutes at the photo shoot. Me with navy coat and red hood showing, Me with just navy coat, Me with just sweatshirt. Despite cold fingers, my friend graciously offers to shoot more. I pretend to look around for another location for 3 more minutes and then pronounce the shoot finished. I can’t take any more of the pressure. Enough bending out where it feels a little dizzy. Time to get back down on the ground.

But which picture to pick? Requests for advice from six friends yielded almost as many responses. Luckily, many told me their second choice so I could at least manage a quorum. Final decision narrowed it to three. I’m sending one for my submission, using one for social media, and using the other for the About Me page.

This picture taking business has me thinking of my mother.  She would have known exactly what she wanted for a picture and been content doing it for ages. She has no doubt come  to peace with the fact that I never will. But she’s probably happy that I at least gave it a shot.

All of a perfect Saturday

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Another good day for a ski

 

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Sheep want to know if its time for dinner yet

 

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Cow, Anabelle surveying her kingdom, an icicle sucker waiting to ride, the rider, the leader, and the star of the show

 

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Close up of Misty, the star

 

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End of the day . . . light is fading but not the delight at perfect sledding conditions