Friday, June 25, 2010

Epic farm girl 'fail'...

I have never been more shocked and embarrassed.


I took the as yet unnamed kitten to the vet for a check and shots.
And upon signing in and setting up a chart, I tell them that he's male.

And then they check... uhm.... no... we think this is a girl cat.

"What???" I say... I have lived on a farm all of my life!
That is a boy cat!

No... no... not at all!

To my defense, the vet, herself, had to get a bright light and a magnifying glass before she committed to the statement , " I believe that this one is likely female!"

It is a wee little cat and very, very fluffy (don't laugh, it's my only excuse!)

Thank goodness she's not been named Pablo...

I am still in a state of shock.  The 'man in love with cat', who found out by text message, because he wasn't answering frantic phone calls, made an extremely naughty response!

Pretty much, the kitten stole the show at the vets office.  Calm and loosely perched on my shoulder, she never dug those claws in or got tense, though she was the only kitten in a room full of barking dogs and the office staff thought she was the most adorable thing they'd seen in a while.  She walked around their desks and counters like she belonged there!

This is a small town vets office... and I knew a number of people there, and they knew me...

it's gonna be a long time before I live this one down!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Unexpected series of events

Sometimes, life just happens...

instead of being proactive, you end up being reactive...

Frankly, I'd rather be proactive, but have discovered that real life, well lived, means that sometimes (often) you simply are not in control.

The day before the wedding here, the unexpected happened.

Nick killed one of the barn cats.

While festivities were in full swing, he placed the dead cat on the porch.

No...No... this does not work...this does not work at all! The living room and dining room were full of young women making bouquets, and laughing and getting prepared for the wedding and there, on the porch, was a dead cat.

I rather frantically called "Dad in charge of dead cats" and he did come and faithfully discharge his duties.
An hour later, the dead cat was, again, right there on the front porch !!!
This time, "Dad in charge of dead cats who return" was both appalled and instructed to be DONE with the cat.

Now about that time, I went to the bathroom.  Our sole bathroom was an afterthought.  It is located off the kitchen at the back of the house.  It was once a pantry.  In the 1940's, when indoor plumbing became the thing to do here, the pantry was converted to a modern bathroom.  You had to go outdoors on the porch to access the bathroom.   Somehow, I'm not really sure that qualifies as indoor plumbing.  I will hasten to explain that the 'back porch' was later enclosed and when we began renovations was fully incorporated into the house. (So, we no longer go outside to use the 'inside' toilet!)

Anyway, back to the wedding festivities and the now very nervous parents of the bride, who do NOT want dead cat reappearances to mar the lovely events.

(I'm sure you can understand how we were feeling at this point!)

As I am partaking of all the various refreshments of body and spirit that one can in the bathroom, I hear this quite faint and very week 'meow'... NO... no... it simply cannot be. Surely not today?!

But of course... you see, timing at our house is always rather certain to be unpredictable and capricious... so naturally, indeed, I DID hear a small, pitiful meow.  (and I had happened to check to determine that the dead cat was female)...  So, very discretely, I slip out the back door, leaving the merriment in full tilt, and pry open the door to under the house.  Bless my heart, if there weren't kittens... not very far under the house,,, a pretty little nest of cold and hungry, dirty kittens.

So, you already know that most of the wedding party ladies were either medical professionals or science people... and what happened next was... well,,, about what you'd expect here... I whip up some cat formula (yes, indeed, there is such a thing!) and find the baby cat bottles and what ensued was a round of bottlefeeding pitiful kittens combined with merry bouquet making....  really, one would not expect there not to be complications of some sort here... right?  The bride, who was raised here, and obviously loves us, or she wouldn't keep coming back, was not at all surprised, nor was she put off by the tiny little week old kitties who joined the party.  It really helps to have a bride who can roll with things,,, small, fluffy, needy things...

Cutting to the chase, two of the kitties did not survive.  One of the kitties did survive and has quite taken over.
Mr. "dad in charge of declaring 'we do not need a house cat'" is smitten.... absolutely gone round the bend, I tell you.  He calls home from work to check on "HIS" kitten!

For a small kitten, he had quite the appetite.

And big eyes... big 'I love you, I need you" eyes... (surrounded, no less, by a 'mask' of black on an otherwise white kitten... well, his tail is black too!,,, so sort of a before and after bit of black)

We now have the pitter-patter of tiny feet, behind us every step of the way.  The tiny feet, and their fine sharp claws have learned to climb furniture and pants legs and curtains... sigh...  The tiny teeth will occasionally nip into us as he learns how to treat his cat family which is made of human beings.

What I'm saying is we have been overtaken by a small furball!

When we sit down, he settles in our lap, or on our shoulders and sets up a purr so loud that it can be heard across the room.  He has claimed us.... we are his!

We are unsettled on a name.
My first inclinations were Pablo and Pedro...
so I've been calling him Pablo Pedro, of course,
in that time honored tradition of all mothers using two names when someone is naughty.

Mr. "I love this kitten" has unceremoniously named him Roomba, after the small, round automatic vacuums which run around the house cleaning up the floor.

You can, of course, see in this photo the round state of the little one.  This naturally has nothing at all to do with the fact that Mr. "we do not need a cat" gets up very,very early on the weekends to make scrambled eggs for himself and the cat, as he says "He's just sooooo hungry... I don't think he's getting enough to eat."

The boys are calling him Damned Cat.  (I am so ashamed!)  They enjoy a game called "pick up the kitten by the tail, with your big monkey toes."   sigh....

So, in the absence of Nick, we have been overtaken... by a small, rambunctious high spirited rascal, who is still searching for his name!

Monday, June 21, 2010


Likely this will be my final post on Nick.  About three weeks ago, on a Sunday, he was here , and then suddenly, he was gone.  Nick never left the immediate perimeter of the house.  He did not chase cars.  He did not take the morning 'walkabout' with Nana and Bailey.  He stayed faithfully, steadfastly sitting on the porch, waiting for the door to open.

He was still in recovery from malnutrition, but had so much goofy energy and good spirits... he was really the life of the party, regardless of what was going on.

Just when we had worked out most of the kinks... and gotten used to the incredible energy of a happy boxer... he was suddenly gone.

We walked the property... we searched the road and ditches.  We carried the 'girls' in hopes that they would lead us to him.  We called and called and looked high and low. 

I feel like the story of Nick both begin and ended with a stranger, which causes my heart to ache.

I feel that he was taken.  Nick was a friendly soul ... it wouldn't have taken very much to entice him into a car.

It is so quiet and still now.  I take my coffee to the porch and there is no boxer attack on my person.

There is only Nana, a big, gentle 'footstool' and sometimes Bailey, with her sideways wiggle and grin.

The loss of Nick came at a time of soul searching for me anyway... and I'm not sure yet, exactly how I feel about it.  So much time and effort... so much work and general upset... for 4 months.  I know for a fact that we 'saved' Nick's life in January... but I have to wonder why?  Why would we go through all of that, to not have him in the end?  If Nick was stolen, as I believe he was, was he taken by someone who will care for him and love him, or was he taken by someone like the person who left him here, emaciated and ill?
Was it worth it?

Life on the farm is full of comings and goings... and animals enrich our lives and protect us while we're here, just as we do for them.  Some come for a long time and are with us for years and some are only here for a short while.  It is never easy to lose one, but it's so much harder when you simply do not know where they are.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I am thankful...

First and foremost, I was thankful to sit with my husband, father of my three children this morning, on Father's Day.  We attended two worship services and a reception for our music leader.  I am grateful to be married to a man who takes his role of father seriously and devotedly and who has always been present in their lives and in their faith journey,  blessing us all with his constant and abiding love.

I am thankful to attend a church where children, from the youngest of ages are part of the worship, part of the 'service' and part of a warm and loving church family.  They have helped me and my husband to nurture and guide our children on their own faith journey with a certainty and a solidness that is at once, both priceless and irreplaceable.

For the last two weeks, my boy has been away from home.  He attended Summer Leadership Institute, sponsored by Milliken and Wofford College and Palmetto Boys State which is sponsored by American Legion.  He has had 14 days of constant steady movement, up early, programming till all hours and repeating the following day.  There was much to be done and much to be learned and many new friends to be made.  When I picked him up yesterday, there was a very tired boy.  Hungry and exhausted, he still had miles to go before he slept.  To the movies with a friend, to the church to put together a newly ordered set of drums and home to bed.  Up early this morning, to play the drums at the contemporary service, which meant packing up and moving his personal drums to church (no small feat).  In the midst of setting up for the service, a friend needed him to substitute and serve in his place as crucifer in the traditional service at 11 am.  (Actually, he got a text DURING the service... the kids are required to find their own replacement if they can, for any reason, not serve.)  They are very good about covering for each other in times of need. (No small lesson, there.)
He plodded on... obviously exhausted, but never failing in his musical performance or his service to his church.

It never ceases to make me pause in true and sincere gratitude, to see my children, clad in the white robe, lift the cross into place, high above their head, posture straight and strong and process.  Today, the processional hymn was "Lift High the Cross"... and as I turned to watch the procession, again, that deeply devout feeling of gratitude to God for the gift of this son of mine, who tall and straight and clad in flip flops and a worship robe, approached and addressed the altar as he has so many times.  It does not get old.  It reminds me to continue to pray for the boy and his walk of faith, to pray that as he further grows to manhood that his faith will hold him in safety and guide him along the path that God has planned for his life.

An hour ago, I went into his room and found him asleep.
Peaceful and sweet, he's no longer a little boy.
His seventeenth birthday passed last week, while he was away.
All around him, in great piles, lay the laundry and the miscellany of  a week of camp.
Down the stairs and through the house, you can certainly tell that's he's home.
This makes me smile... and pause and be so thankful.
I am truly, truly blessed.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Landscaping run amok....

There certainly have been things going on since the wedding... lots and lots of things that have required my body and my mind, and some things that have required deep thoughtfulness on my part before the part of me inside that yearns to share it through writing is able to do so.

One of the things that has not been happening too much is mowing the grass... we have grass, not so much a lawn, but lots and lots of grass. It has rained, the Chief Grass Mower Man has been working and the time that he would normally have allotted to the task has been taken up by more things than make sense to tell you about.

First, there is a couple of moments of 'back story' that you need to know.

I grew up here, amidst the aunts... the amazingly wonderful but very old aunts, in their 8th and 9th decades of life, it had to be a bit of a disappointment that the Powers that Be did not drop off a male child to do the manly tasks.  But, alas, Powers are not always thinking along those lines and you get a girl child... a girl child, that simply by being told that it was a 'man task' would necessarily set out to prove that a girl child could do the deed.  So, from the age of about 9 until I married a man (I tell you, the ladies were jumping for joy at the prospect of a man about the place~!) I mowed the grass... and I did this task with a relic of an old, old red push mower and an even older, but sturdy riding mower.  I learned to change the oil and service the mowers because I could read, ahem... (reading comes in good for many things!) and I grew to enjoy the near constant task of mowing acres of grass. As I got older, I enjoyed 'sunning' (in retrospect, not so smart!) in a bikini while I mowed.    Then, I married that wonderful man... and my mowing tasks were relieved by his manly self and I tended toward the task of parenting and breastfeeding and such.

Thing two that you should know is that shortly before my father in law grew ill with multiple myeloma, he purchased a CubCadet mower.  It was a superb man-toy... superb, I tell you!

Fast forward to tonight... I needed some physical activity.  I went to ride the bike and the seat was soaked and the tires were flat and there was no tire pump to be found anywhere.  I tend to explode bike tires with the use of the tank of air, so on my way by, I noticed the mower... and the tall, tall, tall grass....

Aha... a physical outlet.  I had, last weekend, a momentary tutorial on the big machine given by the Chief Grass Mower Man.  He rather bemusedly watched me lay waste to the field between our house and the neighbors. It was interesting and rather very fun, in a sort of heart stopping, lurching kind of way.

And there sat the mower...  now the Chief Grass Mower Man is in another state... and there is all that grass....

I bet you can guess what happened next!

OK, all you manly sorts, STOP giggling... right this instant! 

It was awesome!  After spending far too long inching the powerful machine from under the lean to shed by the barn (this has to be a trick, or a plan,,, to park it in as inaccessible a place as can be had on 100 acres) I engaged the blades and rather enjoyed the first few passes.  Now if you do know what a zero turning radius mower does, then you will understand without explanation, but for those who do not, or who have never had the thrill seeking joy of riding one, then let me explain.

You do NOT have a steering wheel.. nor do you have a clutch and brakes where your feet are.
You have these two levers, one for your right hand and one for your left hand.  Pushing forward on the levers, keeping them relative to each other, moves you forward, with great speed, I might add.  Pulling them back toward your body, disengages the blades and backs you up. Opening them out, engages the brake and allows you to leave the seat.  The big trick comes when you do not move the two levers relative to each other... for instance, you push one forward and pull one backwards... this, folks, it how you turn (or adjust for major holes, bumps or unmentionable things on the ground in front of you (more on that later)).

This mower is a LOT, a rather very lot, like a ride at the fall carnival!  Unexpected moments abound, quick and constant reactions are necessary and you can cut down lots and lots of grass and anything else that gets in your way.

This requires MUCH coordination and get ready,,, here comes a HUGE sexist statement... this thing HAD to be designed by a man.  Possibly a man, with too much time on his hands, who also has a very short attention span and lots and lots of thrill seeking, need for speed desires.  Oh, MY....

Anyway... ANYWAY... I set off to conquer the mower and the grass... and at first things went pretty well... wide open spaces... relatively even ground.  I noticed that speedy turning (is there any other kind on this mower?) produced 'skinned' places on the ground.... Oh, well.. less grass to mow next time...
I also noticed that if you throw one hand up to wave at the neighbors (whom I thought were walking for exercise, but MIGHT have been watching for entertainment sake), then that whole 'not relative to each other lever thing' kicks in and you spin in a circle opposite of the hand with which you waved.  The same EXACT thing happens if you use one hand to get hair out of your face (remember to get a bandana next time) or if you attempt to stop bushes and tree limbs from removing your head or limbs.

Does this begin to sounds like it might have been amusing to watch???

Now add to that scenario, coming through tight quarters in the back yard, low hanging limbs and tall grass, a fairly large hole (adjust quickly with one hand) and then... there it is.... a dead cat...  not a recently dead cat mind you... a fairly 'old' dead cat... ADJUST... ADJUST!!!! ADJUST!!!!!  'Phew...  a gross, gross event avoided... but alas, before I could straighten up (straighten up body, limbs and mower), there, just in front of the front wheels was a dead chicken!   arrrghhhh!!!! Adjust!~ Adjust!~  Ok, so I'll admit to being slightly shaken and it taking longer to adjust and set things to right and at JUST THAT MOMENT... oh, say it ain't so... a big, fat, dead possum...  At this precise moment, I remembered how to stop the crazed machine~!

How, you might ask, can we have that many dead animals in the back yard?  And not know it?
Through a series of misadventures the last two weeks, I was fully aware of the dead cat and the dead chicken, but thought that both had been duly and properly buried.  Well,,, they had been buried, but unearthing buried creatures was apparently a fun thing for Nick to do.  (There's a Nick story but not for today, that's one of the reason that I needed to get physical with something.)  But, truly... the big old possum,,, I was blissfully unaware of it's departure from life while traipsing about the back yard.

I really enjoyed mowing the grass.  I'll admit to being adequately distracted from my troubles AND I should be tired enough not to get up at 3 am and wander the house, as has been happening these last few nights.
And I'll admit that very often, my thoughts turned to my father in law, who I miss some days more than I can explain.  He's either very pleased and delighted, sitting there in heaven telling all his buddies that is HIS daughter in law using his mower, or he's mortified... but I'm thinking it's the former,,, surely there is no mortification in heaven.

A long time ago, I learned from my old ladies that whatever troubled you had best be dealt with by hard work, getting busy to put it out of your mind and possibly a solid afternoon of baking something.  If they taught me nothing else, they taught me that even when I didn't want to, when I wanted to sit down and throw myself  a pity party, the thing to do was to get up and put one foot in front of the other until the trouble had passed you by.

I'll say,,, it passes by you faster when you're on a CubCadet!

With deepest apologies to Chief Grass Mower Man, whom I have fussed at on numerous occasions for his having run amok over heirloom plants.  I have a new found understanding tonight, of how this might have happened. I do love you and truly appreciate the 27 years that I have not mowed the grass.