Thursday, October 27, 2011

Quite Simply: I Forgot

This week I have been rather melancholy. It is the time of year, I think. I have two times that I am most blue: October and March. These are times when I feel that life is just empty -- vacuous -- and I don't want to talk to anyone or to even, really, leave the house. I Just Want To Be Alone, as Greta Garbo said.

And then, this happened:

John William Waterhouse
Virgin with Roses

It has been quite a few years since I taught British Literature. I won't go into why, but it was, in short, an effort to create a more collegial atmosphere with a co-worker. It didn't work, and he didn't like teaching it either. So, I was asked if I wanted it back. Heck, yeah! I thought. This was my passion in undergraduate and graduate school. In fact, the day of the World Trade Center attacks, I was to meet with folks that afternoon to sell my little farm so that I could go to the University of York to complete my PhD (piled higher and deeper) in Medieval Literature and History. The Airman and I were going; I wasn't married, so it seemed like such a fine idea.

But, as we know, that didn't happen. The buyers were stock brokers; they ran as fast as they could to their bomb shelter, bought gold and bottled water, and dropped off the face of the real estate world. Ultimately, it all worked out; I have to believe that my life is how it is to be. The farm didn't sell; I met the Mister; married; and, all this time later, here I am, writing you!

This is a long way around to this: in preparing my lecture today, I remembered how I loved John William Waterhouse and the Pre-Raphaelites as well as the Cavalier poets. And, how I adored John Milton. And William Blake. And all the Romantics.... And, well there you go. I thought of that and then how I missed graduate school where a group of us would sit up all night (me with tea; them with beer) and talk literature and ideas and such.... how we would drive up on the Blue Ridge Parkway and watch the stars and talk about things that wouldn't make a hill of beans in most people's worlds, but was all ours --- at least right then. In short, I realized that I have lost much of my joy.

This hangs in my entry way:

The Lady of Shalot
John William Waterhouse
This is from Alfred, Lord Tennyson's poem of the same name:

Lying, robed in snowy white
That loosely flew to left and right --
The leaves upon her falling light --
Thro' the noises of the night,
She floated down to Camelot:
And as the boat-head wound along
The willowy hills and fields among,
They heard her singing her last song,
The Lady of Shalott.

Which lead me to think of these lines from Ulysses:

Tho' much is taken, much abides; and tho'
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,--
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

All this is the long way round to what I realized. Yes, time is fleeting (thanks Cavalier poets for that sweet reminder), but every day brings me closer to what I hope will be my reward. The things of this world are passing; most don't count for much of anything. This room of books in which I sit right now writing this, will turn to dust. The things I have worked and saved and spent so much on in my life will be nothing more than a memory for someone else. Perhaps I will be fortunate and someone will love my pretties as I love other's that I have collected in junk, thrift, and antique stores. However, the biggest thing, the greatest fingerprint I have, is that on other's lives and of living a useful life. Maybe, just maybe, one person will be better for knowing me. And, maybe, just maybe, they will touch just one person. Who knows?

In the meantime, I may still be blue, but it will pass. The sun will shine again. I will be happy again. And peace will find a nice little niche Right There in my heart.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Number Two...

They say it comes in threes....

A 20-year-old over worked and very appreciated washer can rust out the bottom of its tub, leaving one with a very brown, icky mess on the floor.... and a lot of water... And it does it all without a bit of warning. Do you know how much water is in a washer? Sigh.

Result?? A very clean bathroom floor and a new best friend, Mr. F.L. Washer (Front Load). Let's hope we "make friends" soon. Right now, he makes me nervous. I think we need a better pet name for him, myself.

Gee... I can't wait to see what number three is.....

Monday, October 24, 2011


Never, never, never, ever, evah, put a peeled hardboiled egg in the microwave to heat it and then, once it is heated, stick a fork in it.

Did you know an exploding egg can cover 250 square feet?? And still leave a gob in the bowl?

Don't ask.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Women Unite! We Need A Little Revolution!

This is a brief missive as I have spent the last twenty minutes wrassling myself into my winter tights. How many times have you bought hose or tights that are listed as "Size D: Women 5'9" between 180-220 pounds" only to find that they won't stretch over your 5'5" size 14 body? How many times have you gotten your hose on only to discover you need One More Potty Break, but you try to ignore it because you don't think the bathroom stall has enough wiggle room for you to fight those things back up, albeit halfway what the first battle covered? How many times have you gotten your hose or tights settled and then taken a step or two and learned they were crooked? And then you had to make the decision: Do I flop on the bed to try to fight them back on straight or just learn to sway a little so they aren't so blasted miserable?

Is this you, friend?

Then, join me in a tight and panty hose revolution! It is time, ladies, that we unite and demand, yeah, even scream, that the men who design these medieval torture devises must squeeze themselves into something that starts out the size of my wallet. It is time, women, that we send these nasty little guys back to their Makers! Females everywhere, it is time that the manufacturers get it right! All women are not six feet tall and weigh twelve pounds and have no thighs! That is what makes us beautiful -- our thighs, our hips, our little round bellies that will never be flat after that last baby that weight nine pounds!

We demand that manufacturers acknowledge our bumps and imperfections by making tights and hose that are STRETCHY and will accommodate the least of our sisters as well as the greatest of them.

We demand that the colour be what is on the package. What is the difference between "nude" and "natural" anyhow?

We demand that there be an OBVIOUS front and back to our panty portion of the hose. Nothing is worse than getting the behind before and not having time to fix the problem and then walk around all day with the back end slipping down, down, down.

We demand that hose be manufactured without the twist factor! This speaks for itself...

We demand that the toes be grafted and not sewn with a thick seam that either renders our toe tips numb or requires a larger pair of shoes!

We demand that packaging indicate the TRUE size of the nylon and not the speculated one!

Sisters, join me! This is a fight worthy of our time and efforts! This has been too long in coming! Now is the time! Now is the time to end panty hose tyranny! Now is the time for us to declare our independence from the random whimsey of those who seek to enslave us to a five ounce garment! Pick up your hose and let's occupy Hanes, Worthington, and L'eggs! Let's demand our rights! Who's with me??

Give me a sec, won't you? Seems I have my hose on crooked... carry on, people...

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Random Thursday

It is October, right? We are predicted snow today. Gotta love the mountains...

The Airman's birthday was a few weeks ago. Guess who he sent flowers and a thank you note? If you ever doubt your parenting skills, this will make you certain you did okay ... or he did okay in spite of you!

Capri has still not learned that the fence is not the place to stick one's head. Since she is a mini-Alpine, she can still, at six months, get her head right into the fence. And she stays there until someone rescues her. The sweet thing about this is that Hollie, the cow, stands guard over her so the other goats can't bang on her. Hollie will stay until someone shows up to cut Capri out. She is also the only one Hollie will share her grain with at dinner time.

Last year I set my goal to double my farm income. I have and then some. Next year, I plan to do the same. For now, though, I have earned enough to pay my taxes, insurance, and now am working on one extra house payment. It is excited and all I can think about is how to make this place more productive. I need a clone, I think.

We are currently cleaning all the goat stalls using our backhoe. This debris is going on our gardens so we can try the no-till method next year. I am really excited to see how this goes. I think I will still grow potatoes the usual way, but the other things, I think, I will try no-till. Let's see what happens.

I am learning Japanese. The Airman has now started integrating Japanese words into his conversation. I just hope I don't say something really crude...

We have open house at the college tomorrow. This guy is coming. Have you seen his video? It makes me laugh out loud! Enjoy and have a great week! I promise to come for a visit soon!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

What did you do today?

Have you ever had that asked of you after spending an entire day home, working like a crazy woman with your hair on fire?

Honestly. If I get asked that One More Time in my life, there will be a need for that bail account I keep.

How much of our work is "unseen"? Laundry, grocery shopping, paying bills, dusting (okay, you can see that one), meal planning, answering the phone, cleaning the refrigerator, picking up cat hair, dog hair, goat poop (from your shoes, of course  -- okay -- you can see that, too) and the hundred little things we do every day that are not always "seeable." Just once, I'd like a film crew to follow me around all day to document the million and two things I do that Can't Be Seen... like not smacking the student who emails me with :

hey! do we have a test?

Of course, you can see the problem here. No salutation. No signature. No class number. Oh, and no idea what class this student is in. Believe it or not, I do get emails from students about Biology. Let me make it clear here that I only took one Biology course and that was under duress. It was "required" and I waited until my senior year in college, last semester, to take it. I passed with a B and no fingernails from all the nibbling while in class...

Or they could document the fact that I totally controlled myself when I reached in the car today to lift the gallon of milk that had fallen on my coat AND LEAKED. I don't even drink milk, but the Mister asked me to pick up his favorite brand at a store on my way home. So, I did. Now, I have a corduroy coat in the wash... which lead me to ....

....that whole unfortunate thing that happened when I realized that the laundry I Started Yesterday was STILL In the Washer. It smelled a little, well, you know. So, another load through the wash; more time waiting; more money on electric; more money on soap. And, I felt really stupid for doing that. Of course, it meant the coat had company, so I consoled myself with that...

I think next time someone asks me: "What did you do today?" I am going to respond: "Didn't go to jail."

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Important Lesson Learned

Never never never never ever enter a lot with two breeding bucks who are nearly overcome with their passion for does in the next paddock. It will not go well for you. Trust me on this one.

After being nearly beaten to death by my darling Louie, whom I bottle fed, for crying out loud, I have learned that if I have been with the does and then enter his lot, he will think I am a doe. Yeppers. He wanted to date. I didn't. He didn't believe me that No meant NO! Other than several nasty nasty bruises (it made me reconsider disbudding my goats briefly...), a twisted wrist and shoulder, I am fine. I was so upset I sat in the milking parlor and cried like a silly girl. Honestly, it was traumatizing...

Now, to be honest, I have never ever had this kind of problem with a buck before -- even Louie. He has always been sweet, loving, easy to manage, and a pure joy --- even if he does pee on his face and smell awful. But, apparently, several weeks of does in heat has just broken him down into a quivering mess. I am sure it doesn't help that the gals are standing against the fence making doe eyes (I never understood this expression until I had goats) and shaking their tails at them. Hussies!

The Mister and I had planned a new paddock for just the bucks back last fall and a friend's son came and started, but never finished, it. Guess who worked on fencing today??

In the meantime, the Mister has custody of the bucks and I am staying well away from Louie. I came perilously close to shooting him last night, once I escaped. And, I love him too much to do that. So, it is best we take a break from each other. At least until he is moved and the does aren't tormenting him quite so much.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

A Royal Path

Over at Homestead Blessings there is a quote from a little book entitled "The Royal Path to Life."  This is the quote on the importance of home:

Our very nature demands home. It is the first essential element of our social being. This cannot be complete without home relations. There would be no proper equilibrium of life and character without the home influence. The heart bereaved and disappointed, naturally turns for refuge to home life. No spot is so attractive to the wary one: it is the heart's moral oasis. There is a mother's watchful love and a father's sustaining influence. There is a husband's protection and a wife's tender sympathy. There is a circle of loving brothers and sisters happy in each other's love. Oh what is life without these!

Isn't that a lovely quote?

So, anyhow, this one quote resulted in my ordering the book, an 1880 edition, which is just wonderful! There are short sections on all aspects of the character, from the importance of honor to an admonishment to avoid being a "grumbler and fretter!" Let me tell you, that last one really talked to me! The past few weeks, the Mister has been home with yet another shoulder injury (he seems to be gravitationally challenged) and it has been hard to keep a good demeanor with the lack of time to do those things I need to do. It seems that nothing gets done as I want it and it is tough to have an unwilling patient.

When I read the section on "grumbling and fretting" I saw myself in a light that made me blush. One of the key quotes was this:

The grumbler and fretter find that all of life is about them. It is not about the other person, which they seem to direct their attention to, but rather it is how that person effects them.

Holy moly, folks, does that shoe fit or what?

So, if you are a grumbler, stop looking at and blaming others for your own deficiencies and faults and begin by tending your own shortcomings. You will find that others will no longer avoid your company and that you will be a happier and more content person.

I hadn't really considered myself a grumbler, but when I read these section, I could see how I am as well as how this fault could slip in through the back door, so to speak. So, I consider myself told!

Have you read anything lately that inspires you to think about life differently?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

First Day Musings -- A Letter

If you think eating locally isn't important, you obviously haven't met our sweet and fascinating friends Ron and Ann. Should we miss a market, we are met the next week by a very unhappy Ron. I have to admit, I love it for many reasons! Mostly, though, it is because Ron and Ann make us feel like we matter and that our gals matter. Deeply. And so, an open letter to ...

Dear My Friend Ron,

You make me laugh! I am so glad you and your special Ann find our eggs so good that you are mad with me when I miss the market. It makes me feel like you really like me. Or the girls. Either is fine with me!

I promise, cross my heart, to never miss another market for this season. And, I promise, that you will be able to get your fresh eggs during the winter when nothing else is locally fresh and we have to either eat what we have preserved or things that taste like rubber, or worse, nothing, from other places.

As we have relearned this past week after buying the freshly slaughtered hen, eating locally is so much better. The hen we bought from our fellow vendor, just like the trout we bought a few weeks ago that were caught just five hours before we grilled them, was the most tender, most flakey, and nearly sensual, no, it was deeply sensual, experience of eating we have had in a long time. I cannot eat our hens. It gives me the willies. But, to roast a hen that we had not raised, but was freshly slaughtered, raised on pasture, and weighed, dressed out, nearly five pounds, was almost a spiritual experience. We only had hen and a sweet potato the first night. It was all we needed as she was enough in herself, actually. But, I felt rather guilty to not provide at least some semilance of a vegetable on the plate.

And so, I understand the dismay over store bought eggs. We had a customer tell us yesterday that he feeds his Jack Russell some of our eggs each morning. Just A  Bite, he stressed, because, as much as he loves her, he loves our eggs more and doesn't want to share them. He confessed that he had to buy some store eggs, too, and that even his darling puppy wouldn't eat them. She knew the difference!

I only have one request, please, Ron. Would you please use all your powers of persausion (and they run quite deep) to have Ann make just one more of the walnut chocolate pies? I dreamed of them last night.

See you next week! Promise!

Your friends,

Matty and the Mister

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Bad vs. Good

Mean Girl Hen hatched two diddles yesterday -- one yellow and one black and yellow. From their little combs, I think they are both hens. Anyhow, MGH, who is one mean gal on the nest, is a terrible Mum. She didn't worry with the little ones, taking them out into the bad weather (wind and sprinkles) and then digging holes and kicking the diddles in and then out of them! The poor little guys would go flying this way and that, head over tea cups, crying and fussing all the way.

The Mister and I watched for a few minutes and then made the decision: they were coming inside. I was their Mum now. We scooped them up; the yellow one was nearly gone from the cold and abuse. I tucked them into my shirt next to my body while I finished feeding the goats while the Mister rounded up the feeder, water, and light and carried them to the kitchen.

I located a small box and in they went. The little black one ran around, tested the water, pecked at the feed, while peeping Quite Loudly all the way. The little yellow one stood and rocked. I picked her up, blew warm air from my mouth on her until she quit shaking and then put her back the box. She rocked some more. I think now that she was consoling herself.

Soon, she jumped on the edge of the watering dish and had a little sip. And another. And another. The black one joined her, chortling all the time, as if she were encouraging her sister to drink up and live. As I had no chick feed, I crumbled up whole wheat biscuits and cornmeal for them. They ate Every Bite and asked for more. At 5:30 this morning, they were both scurrying around the box, gathering bits of food, and singing, as only chicks do, at the top of their lungs.

Lesson? One doesn't have to give birth to be a good mum or, I could argue, I am one Darn Good Hen...