Tuesday, June 30, 2009

But It's Enough.

I wrote my first serious poem today in several months. And that's all I have to say right now!

Monday, June 29, 2009

A Most Important Day

Phew, the weekend of company and birthday is over, and I am now the mother of a ten-year-old girl who owns two kittens.

Marcy and Bill arrived Friday midday, and we had a lovely visit with them. Gabe made steaks for dinner upon my request--Marcy had just returned from 10 days in Korea visiting Gabe's... brother... and I thought she'd want something very American comfort-food. (Plus I love steak.) The steaks he made, though, were about the best beef I have ever tasted. I swooned when I put the first bite in my mouth, and I am no Scarlett O'Hara.

My mom and Denny came for brunch Saturday morning so we had two set of 'rents, then they all left at once and the kids and I set off to get kittens. Or so I thought. Longish story pretty short: the Vashon Island Pet Protectors wanted me to agree I'd keep their one kitten indoors until he was 6 months old, which I think is ridiculous. So we left with sad birthday girl and no kitty.

David beat us home by about 15 seconds, and then we had a houseful again, with his three kids and my three kids romping around and Ty barking his fool head off. Yucky health stuff was happening with D's partner, so he was on the phone all afternoon and I was poised for his precipitous departure, but she improved and he didn't have to jet. Gabe returned and busted out a pretty badass sushi spread for all of us. I had requested sushi as a Mother's Day gift and we combined it with Noelani's birthday dinner request of same.

D's daughter Maddy stayed the night, and he and his boys caught a 10-something ferry. Sunday was Noelani's actual birthday, so I made pancakes for the four of them. Gabe had left early to try to sell "Everybody Wants Our Meat in their Mouths" t-shirts at the Gay Pride Parade. My dad and Yvonne came over around 3, and before that I braved a 4-kid, 1-adult outing to the grocery store, video store, and library. Needless to say, I needed a nap when we got home, but instead dove into the making of some intensely delicious bleu-cheese-and-dill potato salad.

Dad and Y started in on my dirty dishes as soon as they arrived. This is typical of most of my family, including some family not blood related to me, like Natasha. Is it something about me, or them, or the chemical combination of both, that induces dish-washing in anyone who comes near me?

Our neighbors from up the street randomly stopped by while we were taking a break from cooking dinner, and suddenly it felt like there were 20 more people there, although they had only brought two adults, three children, and two dogs. "Radish," what a cute name for a rat terrier! He and Ty played really well, although Ty's form of playing seems to involve serious attempts to deafen nearby creatures through the amplitude and volume of his barking.

Neighbors left, we ate burgers, parents left, and then it was just me and 4 kids again--almost seemed calm! Gabe got home later so we could jointly sit around waiting for the girls to finish watching a romantic comedy which was almost certainly too adult for them. ("The Holiday." Cameron Diaz: "Did we--you know--" Male lead: "Have sex? No, I try not to do that with women when they're passed out from drinking." Great.)

Today the kids and I went into the city to drop off Maddy. We hung out with David and his boys for awhile at Greenlake, then busted down to Southcenter to do a kitten deal in the parking lot. I had tried contacting another adoption shelter on Sunday, but just as I was about to shout "let's get in the car!" I thought I'd check their adoption regulations first, and sure enough, another doozy: They don't adopt kittens under one year of age to families with children under age seven. What the FUCK?)

But now, one hefty "rehoming fee" later, we are the proud new family of two adorable orange-and-white tabby boys. Unfortunately, Noelani is thinking of naming them after the boy characters in Twilight. The only reason she hasn't done so already is that she's concerned this might make people think she's obsessed with the book. "Do you think people will think that, Mom?" "Um, yes."

I'm steering toward names like "Fezzik and Inigo" or "Cheese and Crackers" or "Happy and Birthday," but maybe I'm over the hill now. I guess "Beavis and Butthead" are out of the question. "James and Jean-Luc" would be a bit esoteric for Noelani. How about "Trouble and Tribble." "Seven" and "Nine"? "Creamsicle" and "Sherbet"? I'm getting sleepy. Apparently I'm not going to come up with either the perfect set of names or a pithy little something with which to wrap up this post. Ah, well.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Bedtime for Bonzo

Don't know that I have ever spent an entire day cleaning my own house before. I have spent all day cleaning house, but that was when my house was also the business.

There were days that Gabe and I would roll out of bed at 6 am and work at breakneck speed, he cooking and me cleaning, until 6 pm. Then we'd each take a 2-minute shower, change, and be fresh and pretty for Gypsy service, which began at 6:30; we ran nonstop until midnight. Some people thought we profited from this. I guess in retrospect I'd say I did profit, but in terms of my character. Hard work makes you strong. Good hard work makes you good and strong! But for those who thought we charged too much and must have been making money hand over fist, I have nothing but a belly laugh and my back to show (as I'm turning it). Yeah, right.

The funny thing about today is that I'm nowhere near finished cleaning the house. I spent until 3 pm on the kitchen alone, then managed the living room and dining room and the floors in those three rooms. Now it's 11:30 and I'm considering starting in on our bedroom.

I know Marcy won't think any less of me if my entire house is not spotless, but her coming provides an excellent reason to really clean, and I've unpacked more junk in the last three days than I have in the last three weeks. I love the house looking great; I just don't usually have much reason to do it, and at heart I'm fucking lazy. Well... I don't know if I can say that any more. Maybe it's just that I usually have other things to do and I don't get to indulge myself in cleaning without a great reason. "Indulging myself in cleaning" sounds sorta pathetic, too. If this blog is supposed to be a path to self-discovery, it seems I have a ways to go.

Oh, gods, Noelani is still up and it really is 11:30. Ahem. Oops.

Part of This Bliss

Language is so interesting, especially "language" versus "communication."

Jezebel woke up this morning (in another good mood) and, after "guck" ("stuck," because she'd swung one leg up over the crib side and her bare foot friction against the plastic top of the rail had it pretty well stuck there) and "up," she said "oooo-oooo," her monkey imitation. This meant, "Good morning, Mother, I'd like to watch Curious George immediately."

After setting her up with said flick--I do have a lot of cleaning to do today, might as well get started while the iron is hot--I went downstairs and experienced a brief moment of utter domestic bliss. I wandered into the kitchen to start the coffee, which is one of my favorite activities of the day. There was the dog, curled up unabashedly on the couch. (We'll work on that later.) Here was last night's baby bottle in an otherwise mostly clean kitchen. Outside, Gabriel is already firing up the weed-whacker to complete his honey-do list. Mmmm.

It is just part of who I am that I had to come upstairs to write about it instead of jumping into my own list or just sitting at the kitchen table to enjoy the moment. I guess writing is part of this bliss, for me.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Unconditional Love

Even as he is peeking
from the time-out corner,
twitching at the seam on his shorts,
playing with a bug
with his toe, clearly not remorseful
over clobbering his sister
with the doll house garage;
even as I am fuming through
my lecture and debating whether
spanking would truly enforce the wrong
message; still I am picking
through the vitamins
for his favorite flavor.

Dragon Days

The uneventful days are those which most make our lives what they are, and yet they're so easily passed by and forgotten. I was thinking I had nothing much to write about because nothing much has "happened" these last couple of days. What does that mean? Nothing crazy or wild has happened. Nothing "memorable." But I want to remember the good, mellow, easy days as much or more than those that are unusual.

Like today. It wasn't lazy, cause I got a lot done, but it was mellow. Jez woke up at a quarter of eight (after Gabe and I stayed up til almost 2 watching the extended version of Return of the King), but at least she was in a spectactularly wonderful mood. She was bouncing in her crib saying "book! book!" and wanted me to read to her right away.

Rhone slept another half hour or so, although I'd expected him to sleep late. He had some kind of bad dream, or maybe gas, last night and was up screaming for nearly an hour. (Really gives meaning to the term "extended version.") We finally had to take him outside and shock him with the cold air to get him to stop screaming. It was awful.

This morning he asked for "brekskast" but then wanted "just juice." Jez has started saying "juice," too: she says "joooo." Or maybe "Jew." I don't think she's making religious statements yet, though.

Gabe made us breakfast, a hash from last night's potatoes and squash, with leftover flank steak thrown in, and fried fresh eggs. Yum! Breakfast food is divine. Especially with coffee. That's a given for me. I've actually started consciously thinking about the coffee gods lately. Like, if I'm filling the grinder and spill a bean on the floor, I pick it up right away because I don't want to offend them. Even Rhone knows how much coffee means to me. Last week we were wandering the aisles of the grocery store, and I was muttering "what else do we need?" and out of the blue he announces, "We need coffee!" The boy knows how to take care of his mama.

The kids played together really well all morning; Noelani made forts for them in Rhone's room and her room (I found blankets and towels tied in intricate systems across her closet doorway). She is such an awesome big sister, and an amazing help to me. I tried to make the most of the time by emptying some of the last boxes we have around here, you know, the ones that are just last-minute junk. Stuff we didn't know where to put then and still don't know where to put. I'm sorting it into piles: mud room, deli, shed, completly unknown.

Rhone had another big crying fit today, he got something in his eye that hurt (piece of dust or something, I couldn't see anything) and then he just wouldn't stop sobbing and yelling. The same as last night's crying: he doesn't cry tears, just yells and sobs until he coughs like crazy, then starts again. Finally stopped and fell asleep, napped for almost two hours. Generally that means he'll be a pill all evening, but he wasn't. Instead he was a dragon, a lion, a dog, and a giraffe. Pretty standard.

Gabe's mom, Marcy, and stepdad, Bill, are coming for a visit Friday. I thought they were coming for dinner, so I'd made myself a week-long cleaning list, backing it out from Friday (vacuum and mop). But today she called and said they'll be here at 10am. Oh crap. Hope tomorrow goes as smoothly as today.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Never Say Never

The concert was amazing. I had such a blast! Then I missed the last ferry home and slept in the Tortuga (which has no heat, oh by the way) with a hitchhiker in the front seat.

Words Saturday: 0

Yesterday was a wonderful Father's Day in which we all took care of our Gabey, and it was also our anniversary. My sister Rosie showed up to babysit in the evening and Gabe and I went to the city to have a few drinks and nibbles. Very nice, yummy date!

Words Sunday: 0

Today I drove down to pick up Noelani. Left house at 9:15 am, made it back here at 4:20 pm. Sheesh. We went to the zoo, but only because the ferry schedule sucks.

Seen on a minivan at the zoo:

Words Monday: 0. I'm exhausted and going to bed (it's not 9:30 yet). I'll try harder tomorrow.

Friday, June 19, 2009

"Nothing Rhymes with Woman"*

I'm going with Todd to see Carbon Leaf at the Showbox tonight. I think this is the only band he and I have ever seen together, despite the fact that he is a live music freak and sees more live shows in a month than I see movies in a year. He's always inviting me, and I have a drawer full of rain checks. But Carbon Leaf has a special spot in my heart--he and I saw them together years and years ago. So, we're going again, at last. I'm handing over the kids to Gabe in the city, so we have to leave for the ferry in about 40 minutes. Guess I should get ready.

1,178 words today.

*this is the title of their new album, which I haven't even heard yet.

Thursday, June 18, 2009


OK. I'm back. Goddamn book isn't going to write itself.

Wrote a thousand words yesterday, a thousand words today. That's my daily goal. Help me keep it up!

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

I've Been Meaning to Vacuum the Stairs...

(Marcy, if you're reading this before I talk to you, brace yourself.)

Last spring when we were at Beacon and That Bitch was calling every regulatory agency to tattle on us, our housekeeper Lori decided to cast a spell to protect CC House. (Hmm, I wonder whether she should remove that now?) Although some of us were skeptical, we were all ready to try anything to protect our CC from any more liquor agents or other mayhem. Lori gathered us all in the dining room and said a few pretty simple words. We toasted (that's my kind of spell!) and that was it.

Fifteen minutes later the glass light cover over the back door fell off and exploded into approximately 19,000,000 pieces.

Now, what the hell. No one was going through the doorway; no major slamming of doors or equipment had recently taken place; and there were no tremors on the Richter scale. The randomness of the event spooked all of us. Maybe Lori's witchcraft just had us worked up, but it felt creepy. Like something was pissed off.

This evening I had my kids (the little ones) in the bath and was on the phone with Gabe, reading him the ferry schedule, when there was an unholy crashing and shattering sound in the house. The big, gorgeous Culinary Communion stained glass window (made for us by Gabe's mom, Marcy) had chosen that moment to slip off the hooks by which it's been hanging in our stairwell window for three or four weeks and fall--no, plummet splinteringly--down the stairs. The black metal frame is twisted, the glass is broken out all over, and it's pretty screwed up. Marcy drove that window up from California with no mishap; the lives of over 1000 bubble-wrap bubbles were sacrificed to protect it in the move from Beacon, which involved no casualty; and now this.

I take everything as a sign, and I'm sure I'd be awful to be around if only I had any idea WHAT each thing were a sign FOR. As it is, I usually just mutter, "That felt awfully significant," and move on with my life. Which, now that I've spent the last 45 minutes vacuuming, I guess I will. But: Weird.

In other news, and aside from the major weirdness recorded above, today was much better. What makes one day so significantly better than the next? Dunno. Maybe Jez was in a better mood; maybe I was. Maybe it's that the Flonase seems to be working on my allergies (thank you cousin Jeff!) and I can actually breathe. Maybe it was just my turn for a lousy day yesterday; I've had a great string of good ones. Who knows. I'm just grateful for today--and for yesterday, too, for comparison's sake.

P.S. Chickens are still pissed off about their new digs. Ty is getting moderatly better with them. Rhone fell down the driveway today and got road rash; cried about 90 seconds; then this evening cried for 10 minutes because "my owies are still on." "Do they hurt?" "No, but they're still on!!"

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


Maybe the title of this blog is telling. It clearly does not say "farm mom." Gods, the kids can get on my nerves. Mostly Jez, unfortunately. She's in this rut, following me around saying "up, up, up," arms outstretched, refusing to allow me to do anything.

No, I don't have a job. Yes, I could spend the whole day just holding her, playing, tickling, reading books, and otherwise being a completely dedicated mother. But my house is already falling to shit as it is. What would happen when I used up all the dirty dishes making lunch? (And it's hard to spread peanut butter with a thirty pound child on your hip.) When I used up all the clean clothes? When we started stepping in dog doo because I didn't pick it up? When the chickens died because some cute toddler moved their pellets into their water, where said pellets absorbed all of said water? I can't just be a full-time Fun Mom. I have stuff to do, and it drives me crazy that she won't let me do it.

There's no solution for this, no fixing. Some things just have to be said. Not all days are perfect. Some are crammed with mommy stress, the kind that doesn't go away even with no sirens and no traffic.

But at the end of my day today, Gabe came in the door like a young yellow sun, and the kids were both drawn smiling into his gravity. I love it when he is vibrant and full of ideas and vigor. He's so excited to open the deli, and is chock full of thoughts and enthusiasm about a space he viewed today. I was able to calm down in the cool quiet while the kids romped all over him. Now they are finally in bed and I can wind down, get ready to start another day. Farm mom.

Staying Honest

I thought about it a little more after going to bed last night, and I guess the chicken house improvement project didn't take four hours yesterday--it was more like three. That's ok because I spent another 90 minutes on it this morning. I realized that I'd put the nests up too high and basically had to undo everything I'd done and do it again... smarter and better, this time. (There was only a little blood when I got frustrated trying to rip a nail out.) So, live and learn.

I'm hungry. We have lots of leftovers, including delicious pork, black beans, and rice from the bbq Sunday. Or I could make myself a fried-egg sandwich with sharp cheddar and mustard on Columbia bread. But the leftover chicken stew is still in the fridge. I said it wouldn't go uneaten. No one would know if it did. Except me.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Chickening Out

Why do home improvement projects always take at least 4 times the amount of time you've planned?

Drove Noelani back to Olympia this morning for the last time this school year, and then hung out for quite awhile. I had promised the kids the Hands-On Children's Museum, but the ferry schedule either allowed us only 30 minutes there or LOTS of time. I chose the latter. When they were tired of the museum we hit Egan's drive-in and then ate burgers in the park. Big group of clique-ish Stepford Wife moms there, all ignoring their children while they gossiped; none would meet my eyes. Who say's America's not a community?!?!

Pet store (prices are outrageous; Ty will not touch World's Largest Rawhide Bone) then ferry home. Kids delighted to get out of the car and into the sandbox, so I thought I'd do a little much-needed work on the chicken house.

The chickens have been very unhappy lately--I imagine the dead ones most, or least, of all. When the raccoon first launched his 3 am assualt on the henhouse, about two or three weeks ago, he managed to scare one of the neurotically stupid Danish Buttercups off the perch, where she was actually perfectly safe from him. He then terrorized her around the coop--mind you, she's still inside and safe; he's outside--and was reaching in through the chicken wire at her by the time we made it outside. He had feathers on his mouth, there were feathers everywhere, and the chicken was a limp puddle of feathers. We thought she was dead, but apparently she was actually just waiting to die.

Why the hell, we wondered, did the chicken not run into the actual chicken house, where she would be perfectly safe? I guess the only answer to this is that chickens are FUCKING STUPID.

After this happened again, my mom suggested we take down the hens' outdoor perch so that they'd have to go inside the house to perch for the night. Gabe did this, moving the perch inside so they could use it, but they hated it. Only one of the six birds would get up on the perch; the rest stood on top of nesting boxes all night.

Lately we've had to keep them in their coop more than usual, because of our new family member... you know, the one we got to protect the chickens? I haven't successfully taught Ty not to chase the chickens yet, and I am afraid he's going to run or scare them to death (I'm not worried about his killing them--I think he just chases them because they run). So I try to either keep him inside our house, or them inside theirs.

Anyway, they cluck around so unhappily in their yard, with no perch out there, and they seem so pissy about the perch situation inside (yes I know this is anthropomorphizing, I can't help it), I decided to do something. I put up a big shelf inside the chicken house to put some of their nesting boxes on, because I've heard they prefer to nest up high, and currently all the boxes are on the floor of the house. Then I put up two new perches and took down the old one. I built one new small walkway for access to the nests, but I need a bigger one too, and didn't get to that today, because the whole project wound up taking about FOUR FUCKING HOURS and it was then getting dark.

Yes, four hours. Including breaks to deal with the children, of course, everything from Jez falling off the play structure ("jungle gym"--how could I forget this word??) to Rhone saying proudly "Mom! I pooped on the ground!" (He whipped off his pants today and peed in the middle of the park, too. Sheesh. Hey, maybe that's why those moms wouldn't talk to me.)

By the end, Jez was "helping" me with the nails and screws in the chicken house, and Rhone was watching a movie. I can't believe I let my one-year-old play with power tools on a manure-covered floor; that's how desperate I was to finally finish the project.

When the chickens went in there this evening there was a cacophany of clucks and disgruntled bawks and a lot of flapping and flopping and falling down sounds. Great. I hope they appreciate my hard work.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Potty Humor

We discussed Jezebel's burgeoning vocabulary tonight at dinner. Trying to get up onto her stool, she distinctly said, "Ay guck." As any moron knows, this means, "I'm stuck."

"That was a sentence," I gushed.

"She's been getting more and more words every day," Gabe agreed.

"She said another two-word sentence the other day, too," I said. "She said, 'Mom: Poop.' And that one had a colon."

Less-than-Preferred Ways to Find Out What Color Eggs a Chicken Lays

Seriously, this is why I haven't started a blog before now. I miss a day, then there's so much to write that I put it off, then there's three days worth of exciting stuff I can hardly skip, so I put it off... pretty soon I have another addition to my collection of gorgeous, hand-bound journals in which the first four pages are crammed with writing and the rest is blank.

It's the feeling of obligation. I don't need something else to be obligated by. There are enough duties. But I start writing in the hopes that the collection will show something of myself and my life, will paint a picture (for older me, usually; in this case it's weirdly different). How can I paint a half-assed picture, leaving out important stuff? How can I not?

The blog is vastly different from journaling. It's pretty, formatted all slick, and I get to add pictures. Links and shit even, if I were to want to. But who knows who's reading it? Parents, friends, strangers... Do bloggers gloss over the dirt in their lives? Maybe most people's lives aren't as dirty as mine. Ha ha. Writing for an unknown public audience--or perhaps not exactly for, but in a situation where said audience is perfectly able to read--makes one self-edit in a way that journal pages certainly don't. I'm not talking about shit or fuck here, I'm talking dirt, like fights with the hubby (no, not lately) or bad-parent moments. Stuff from the heart. Do I want to just vomit it all up here on this screen for anyone to see?

Not sure about that yet.

In the meantime, I would like to go on with the garden-variety news about our lives here on the fram. Fram cause it's not exactly a farm, right? Perhaps that's too precious.

To recap, then, quickly, so I can get on with my life!

The raccoon was back Sunday while Natasha was here, boldly loping across the driveway in broad daylight, and chasing the chickens again. Right then and there Gabe jumped up and went into the city to buy a gun. He came back a couple of hours later with a .22 rifle, complete with scope, as well as a hard, locking case and 500 jacketed hollowpoints. (Holy shit!) Perhaps detecting the air of determination which permeated the area, Mr. Raccoon did not reappear that day.

Monday I was out with Todd while Jezebel got stung near the eye by a bee or wasp while traveling in the Tortuga with Gabe. Her eye swelled mostly shut and stayed that way all the next day, only very gradually returning to normal. G says she only cried a little bit. She's tough, that one; probably because of the abuse she receives at the hands of her older brother.

Tuesday, Tuesday. What happened Tuesday? This is what I'm talking about! It's only Friday and I can barely remember Tuesday. Normal, uneventful day... Oh yeah, and we got a DOG! Sheesh.

The kids and I went into town Tuesday afternoon and met up with a guy named Nate, with whom I've been emailing for a week or two, and his family. Gabe had gone into the city earlier, and he met us at the park. Nate was the "person" of Ty, the Great Dane mix we'd come to meet. He's mixed with something much smaller, because he's really very small for a Great Dane, which is to say that his head still comes up to Rhone's head and he's bigger than a lab or my mom's Golden Retriever.

Nate said that Ty liked to chase cats, but we both shrugged, not having any at the exact moment, although we want to get a couple of mousers. Nate said he didn't know how Ty would react to the chickens. We discussed a plan of introducing them gradually--leaving the chickens in their coop for a few days so he could get the smell of them.

We adopted Ty and took him home. The drive provided a great example of how far out of reality I usually live. As soon as we were all in the van (Gabe would drive the Tortuga back seperately, later), with the kids in their car seats and Ty wandering around sniffing everything, I realized that we would need some water. It was very warm, I was thirsty, I knew the kids were thirsty, and I figured the dog would be, too. I had no water and I had no cash. As I drove toward the ferry, I mentally explored the possibilities. I didn't want to leave the dog in the car and haul the kids into a grocery store, but maybe I could find a store with a vending machine outside. Oh, wait--no change, either. Shit.

As I was considering, Rhone said, "Mom, look!" and pointed at the nice, neat pile of barf the dog had just made.

I pulled into the Safeway parking lot, hoping to see a vending machine outside the store--I hoped I could scrounge some change from the car, although it was just detailed so this was highly unlikely. I cleaned up dog barf with two paper cups and a tissue. Finally, as I was putting the car in drive again, it came to me what any normal person would do in this situation: go to a drive-thru, dumbass. Sigh.

When we got home, Ty seemed to acclimate very well, sniffing around and checking out the scene. The chickens were already in their house and he didn't seem to pay it any mind. He slept downstairs, and barked like hell at Gabe when he rolled in a few hours later. Good dog!

Wednesday: For some reason, the kids were up at the fucking crack of dawn Wednesday. Maybe they were just so excited about having a dog. Meanwhile G had come down with a nasty cold and felt like hell. So I loaded kids and dog into the car and we went down to the Point Robinson beach. It was very still, with no wind, and we had the beach entirely to ourselves. Ty ran and ran, Rhone climbed trees, and Jez played with rocks. It was just lovely.

Instantly upon our return, Rhone opened the chicken coop, and Ty began to chase the chickens around and around their house. They would retreat into the brambles, where he was reluctant to chase them, but as soon as one popped out, he'd be after it. This was not good. I thought the interest might wear off after a few hours, and it seemed to.

That afternoon we were all up in the front yard. The kids were playing in the wading pool, which I situated on the dryest part of the lawn, and I was weeding in the flower garden. Gabe was sweating out his cold by planting things in the garden. We both heard the mad ruckus of chickens at the same time and flew down the hill toward the coop. Ty had been patiently allowing fireman's-helmets-ful of water to be dumped on him by Rhone and Jezebel, so we knew it must be the raccoon.

Sure enough, the damn thing was chasing one of the white chickens, Marco or Polo, across the lawn. "Ty! Get 'im!" I shrieked, not stopping. I grabbed the nearest thing of size with which to beat the raccoon--it turned out to be the plastic baseball tee, with which you'd have to hit a mosquito two or three times to cause damage--and chased after it. Ty first chased the chicken for about two or three steps, then seemed to realize that wasn't right, and turned to the raccoon. We chased him into the brambles, which I then beat ineffectually with the tee.

Gabe and I took a couple deep breaths and did the post-adrenaleine pause. Then we herded the kids back up to their pool, and he went back to the garden.

Just re-read the above three paragraphs now. The raccoon was back within 5 minutes. This time, after the post-adrenaleine pause, Gabe looked levelly at me. I knew what he was going to say.

"Why don't you take the kids back up to the front and keep them there. Ty too. I'm just going to get out the rifle and wait."

So that's what we did. Playing with the kids is one thing; playing with them while listening for shots, re-checking that they're still within arm's reach of you every 2.6 seconds, is another. Paranoia is not always a bad thing. I had coerced them into the little play tent, where I can at least see both of them in one field of vision, when we heard the first shot.

"What was that?" Rhone asked.

I took a deep breath. "That was the gun," I said. "Daddy's trying to shoot the raccoon."

"Oh. Cause he's tryin' to eat our chickens?"

"That's right." Another shot.

"OK. I'm going to go see." Rhone gets out of the tent. I embarrass myself trying to scramble out of the kid-sized opening at light speed.

"No, honey." I explained that he and Jez and Ty and I had to stay out of the way so Daddy didn't accidentally shoot us instead. This made Rhone very serious.

"I know my dad doesn't want to kill me," he said.

"That's right. He doesn't. So we're just going to wait up here."


Another shot, and another, and two more. Then nothing. I figured Gabe had missed and the raccoon was gone, because otherwise he'd say something. But with the way the thing had kept coming back after we'd chased it away, he might be waiting for another chance.

Five minutes later, though, Gabe whistled from the living room and motioned me in through the front door. The kids were back to their pool.

"What happened?" I asked.

"I got him," he reported grimly. He was sweaty but looked pale under his tan.

"You did! He's dead?"

Gabe had missed with the first two shots and hit the raccoon with the next four; he finally had to kill it with the butt of the rifle. (So much for hollowpoints.) But the coon had been in the process of killing one of our chickens just at the time. G led me outside to where he'd laid the body of Polo, one of the original white chickens, on the back table. He confessed that he was afraid he'd shot her, too, and looked horrified to find a bullet wound in her, but I pointed out that her neck was already broken. She'd already been dead.

We conferred quickly and decided that we wouldn't hide this from the kids. Rhone and Jez both came out back and we showed them the chicken. He looked at it with interest, obviously comparing--as I had done--the image of the dead chicken with live one. The dead chicken was very limp and stretched out very long. Her feet looked like they were made of alligator hide. She was missing some of her tufty cheek feathers on one side.

Jez walked over to the table where she lay and reached her hand up as if to pet the chicken, but didn't. "Uh-oh!" she said. "Uh-oh!"

Gabe retrieved the body of the raccoon and brought it up; the kids looked at this also. It didn't look particularly bloody, and wasn't nearly as big as it had looked in life, waddling fatly across the lawn. Its teeth looked long and ugly, as did its claws.

We had a family conference about what to do with the two dead animals. Gabe put it pretty succinctly. "Rhone, do you see this chicken? This chicken was our friend. This was Polo, and she was our friend." Rhone nodded. "But, we eat chicken. So now we need to decide what to do with Polo. She was our friend, but she's dead now. Should we eat her? Or should we put her in the garbage can?"

Rhone didn't hesitate. "We eat her." He jerked a thumb toward his chest.

"And what about the raccoon?" Gabe asked. "This raccoon was just trying to get some dinner, but for us, he was a bad guy. He killed our chicken. Should we eat him too? Or should we put him in the garbage can?"

"Garbage can," said Rhone with certainty. "He was a bad guy."

"Okay, then."

I poured some bourbon and we toasted to Polo. Then we added an L and she became pollo. I mentally worked to use the pronoun "it" from then on. Gabe disposed of the raccoon in the garbage (damn, of course, today was garbage day, I'm afraid it's going to stink by next week).

Details, if you want them; or if you are easily grossed out, skip this paragraph. (See, I'm definitely writing for an audience.) Gabe laid the chicken in a box on the counter while I boiled a huge pot of water. He dunked the whole bird into the boiling water, then took it outside to pluck. This wasn't nearly as difficult as I would've thought. The guts stank quite a bit when he removed them, but as soon as they were thrown away the smell was gone. Gabe showed me when he found five little yolks inside the bird, waiting to become eggs. They were of varying sizes, from a regular yolk size to that of a small pea. This gave us some pause, and made us raise our glasses to her again.

As it turned out, we didn't eat the chicken that night. G had been thinking of roasting it, but soon realized this was not your average twelve-week-old frying chicken: this was a tough old bird! He started a stew instead, and I went ahead with the tacos I'd been planning for dinner.

We ate the chicken tonight in lovely blanquette, with fresh English peas and carrots. It was very strange knowing the name of my dinner. I've eaten pig before that had a name--Gabe's in the habit of naming all the pigs he has slaughtered--but those were not pets. Our chickens aren't exactly pets, but they're much closer than those pigs. I paid extra attention to the awareness of the meat entering my body and being my sustenance. We didn't discuss Polo as a live chicken at dinner, but I know Gabe and I were both thinking of it. The act of eating that chicken was purposeful. As he said when we were considering the idea, "If this was a real farm, there'd be no question."

So often we cook something and then shove the leftovers into the back of the fridge and forget about them. That will not be happening with this stew. We didn't take the life of that chicken, but we were responsible for it. It will not go to waste.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

A Girl's Night Out

It's amazing what a good haircut can do for one's ego. Yesterday Gabriel kept the kids at home and I went into the city for a day of me-time. Even driving away from the house was ridiculously exhilarating. I turned on the stereo and realized, I don't have to listen to kid songs! I fired up Joshua Tree and cranked it up LOUD.

First things first: I stopped at the shoe store for a little therapy. Famous Footwear was having their buy one, get one half-off sale, so really, I just had to buy two. I didn't go crazy, though; I walked out with two much-needed new pairs of sandals for $36.

Next stop: the salon. I have the most fantastic stylist at Gene Juarez, where I started going because I was given a gift certificate by John and Jill about a thousand years ago. It had been since Christmas since I'd seen my stylist so we had a lot to catch up on! We chatted while she turned my mop of hair into a movie-star look. I love her.

I then grabbed a bite to eat and a beer and then relaxed with my book and got my idea of the perfect pedicure: one in which no one tries to talk to me and all I have to do is lift my feet up occasionally. I now have bright red toenails to gleam under the garden dirt.

Finished the evening by enjoying happy hour with Todd at Ivar's, then some grub at Barrio (wonderful). I need to get out more. This was really good for me.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Warning: Scatological Content

"Rhone, you're supposed to be in bed."
"But Mom, I just need to go poop."
"OK. Go ahead."
"But, I need you to help."
Sigh. "OK. Here I come."
"You sit right there, Mom."
"OK." Long pause.
"Mom, maybe there's no sense in pooping."
"There's no sense in pooping?"
"No, no, I was just thinking about maybe there's no sense in pooping."
"Rhone, are you going?"
"I'm starting to go. I'm the pooper. You're the wiper, and I'm the pooper."
"Uh, yes."
"...Yes, pooper?"
"I'm starting to go now, wiper."
"That's good, because I'm getting tired of sitting here, and you're supposed to be in bed." Pause. "Pooper."
"If you want to go poop, I could wipe you."
Choke. "No, thanks. You just be the pooper, OK?"
"OK." Pause. "Wiper?"
"Yes, pooper?"
"I don't need to go."

Saturday, June 6, 2009

Wanted: Coon Hound

Cloudy and cool this morning, but we probably deserve a little of that after so much fantastic sun. I can deal. Gabe went off to the city this morning to buy fish for bouillabaisse. He'll meet Natasha at the market and ride back with her, since she's coming for the night. A few others are coming too.

Jez cranky this morning, probably another tooth. The kids were just finishing their breakfast when I noticed something fairly large lumbering across the yard, in the back meadow near the door. I thought dog at first, but it moved oddly, and I realized it was a huge raccoon. It walked purposefully up the yard, cutting across at the fire pit and disappearing into the nettles right behind the chicken coop. Thankfully I hadn't let the chickens out yet this morning.

I was just telling Gabe about it on the phone when I saw him again--two feet from the house! Eating out from under the bird feeders, as entitled as you please. Gabe said "Go throw a rock at it!" So I did, but I took his picture first.

I threw rocks; he ran. Just out of my range. I threw more rocks. He ran into the nettles. Two minutes later he was back. I was out of rocks. I threw a roll of twine and an apple (stupid me, he stopped and sniffed at it, and came back later to eat it. I was going for baseball-sized items--oops).

On Mom's suggestion, I got the hose ready to spray him on "Power Wash" setting when he came back. (In "Bee Movie" the showerhead has a "lethal" setting, which I wished for.) But he didn't come back. Instead he moseyed around the chicken house, ate the apple, and then took off back through the meadow and into the north woods the way he'd come.

I want a dog.

Friday, June 5, 2009

King of Cheeses

No one knows why I chose to take my two younger kids out to breakfast at Denny's this morning, least of all I. (Is that correct grammar? "Least of all I"? Or should it be "least of all me"? I think "I" goes with "No one knows," but even a grammar fanatic like me [not I] doesn't know this.) Anyway, they were hellions. They should just sell you one mini pancake with whipped cream on it, for like $0.39, the kid would still just eat half of it. I guess that's not conducive to their cash flow.

Then we went to Value Village. I let the kids out of the cart to play with the toys. 'Nuff said.

Couldn't go to Costco cause they only take debit. All I have is debit, true. But I forgot the PIN. So, I'm fucked. Realized later I had a checkbook, but the "V-8" head-slam is kind of out of fashion, so me skipped it.

Once home, started on a large cleaning-up stint 'cause we had company coming this afternoon. Washed Brian's dishes--dammit, Brian!!--as well as wine glasses which have been sitting for weeks. We only wash them when we've run out. I don't care how much the previous tenant sang the praises of this Bosch dishwasher, it's not nearly as versatile as the Maytag I just left. Spiegelau doesn't fit in it any which way.

Mid-suds, I looked up suddenly and asked Gabe if he'd seen the kids lately. He hadn't. I recalled that I'd last seen them on the upper slope of the driveway. Rhone had said something about trying to get Bella to walk up the hill with him. We looked around the house and called. I could hear Rhone calling back, but not from where. I took off loping up the driveway and over the crest and sure enough, there they were, hanging out in the yard of the house "next door" (it's out of sight, up the hill, 100 yards away). Jesus.

"Rhone, you need to stay where you can see the house."


"So CPS doesn't come and get Mommy and Daddy." No. Self-censoring, ON. "Because that helps Mommy and Daddy know that you're safe."

"Oh." That sounded remarkably unconvinced.

I made PB&Js for them. Rhone asked for some of Daddy's special salt on his. "You want fleur de sel on your peanut butter sandwich?" I asked.

"No, I just want that stuff. In the plastic bag." Uh-huh. Only Gabe's kid.

Later, got Jez to nap and had Rhone watching a movie, and I worked more on the dishes. It's awfully rare to actually "finish" the dishes here, but I worked more on them. Standing at the kitchen sink I could see a deer in our meadow and a hummingbird at the kitchen window feeder. Life is good here.


Kelly Doscher came over this afternoon with her six-month-old daugher, Loralei. What a cutie. I am way too loud for babies now. Have I gotten louder or more explosive? Or were my kids used to that? We had a great visit, chatting and passing the babies back and forth all afternoon.

Gabe made a most fantastic dinner of fresh pasta (with the dough Brian left after his interview food, thanks, BOC) and a bright arugula salad with large slivers of parm. He asked Rhone during dinner "what was the name of this cheese?" and Rhone replied, "The king's cheese." I had no idea what he was talking about until Gabe explained he'd translated Reggiano.

Terrill said he's coming over later tonight. I think we're going to watch a movie while we wait for him to get here. We've been talking about watching "From Dusk til Dawn" and finally got it on Netflix. Likely T will show up right at the juicy part (literally) and scare the living shit out of us. 'Nother reason why we need a dog.

Thursday, June 4, 2009


OK, I put Rhone to bed at 8. He has come downstairs four or five times for various reasons ("I need another hug," "I need another kiss"). Just now he came downstairs to tell me that his bed is having a hard time with him. That's when we noticed that he's been getting into the office supplies on my mom's desk, which is right there in the room.

Do you know how hard it is to keep a straight face when looking at your offspring and saying "Son, white-out is not mascara" ?

I tried scrubbing at it with a wet washcloth, and I tried olive oil, but it won't come off. Won't even budge. Thank the gods we don't have a family portrait scheduled any time soon!

Wind Picking Up

The kids and I are at my mom's tonight, because it's Thursday. Thursdays I have Noelani, and I pick her up from school, hang out at my mom's for the night, and then take her back Friday. Every other Friday I hang around, then pick her up after school again and take her home for the weekend.

Screamingly hot today, in the 90s. That's rare enough for the PNW, and even more rare for early June. I love it. I think I'm one of the few.

But now the wind has picked up and a little cloud cover has come through. I'm thinking maybe thunderstorm. It's so hot upstairs in the little room where the small kids and I sleep, but hopefully this breeze will help.

On the way down here today, Jez spilled some water on herself. She spent the next half hour screaming at me with furious tears. "Det! Det! Det!" That means "wet." At least she wasn't cold, too. By the time we got out of the car she had already mostly dried. But she hadn't forgiven me. She's a grudge-holder, that one.

Dogging Craigslist

I've been combing craigslist for weeks, looking for a dog.

I didn't want a dog at first. I love dogs, but I have enough on my plate caring for the kiddos, and now the garden and yard, plus chickens and cats... I thought adding a dog would be too much. However, Gabriel started talking me into it, and after a couple of experiences where people came to the door without my having heard them come down the driveway, I started to agree.

Then the racooon incident happened. I think I'll save that for a separate post, but basically, I became immediately convinced that a large dog to chase raccoons away from the chicken house would be a huge blessing. So I've been haunting craigslist. There are hundreds of posts every day in the pet section. From corn snakes to stick bugs, you can find what you're looking for!

Except a big dog. I want a dog, not a puppy--I maintain that I do not have time to train a puppy--and I want a big breed. Gabe wants short hair and prefers male dogs. Needed a dog good with kids and that won't chase the chickens. This pretty much rules out labs, because unless they've been raised with chickens, they do like to chase things that run.

I've answered ads for Great Danes and Mastiffs, I've even answered within hours of the ads being posted, only to find that the dogs are already snapped up. I just found a Great Dane last night, but it's in Prosser. Do I really want to drive all the way to BFE Eastern Washington to pick up a dog? Uhhh... But then this morning there's a Great Dane mix posted, and it turns out I've already emailed with the guy about this dog, a few weeks ago. The dog sounds perfect: raised on a farm, great with kids, mellow. I'm going to talk to the guy this afternoon, we'll see how it goes.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Bathrobe Farming

Jez woke up at 7:30 this morning and snuggled with me for a few minutes. When she got impatient, we went down to say hi to Brian, who stayed with us last night. He had a job interview yesterday at a new restaurant and is cooking a meal for the owners today. Did most of the prep last night, was stirring panna cotta when I came down.

Made coffee, turned on music; Brian ran to the store for more peas. Glancing up from the stereo, I saw the black and white dog we spotted here a week or two ago. Gabe had managed to catch a look at her collar; tag says Molly. She was sniffing at a few beer bottles we left on the patio table. I opened the sliding door, but she ran off and didn't come back to whistles.

God, the morning was stunning. Only 8:30 and very warm. The air smelled wonderful. I wandered around with my coffee mug, amazed at where we've wound up. Jezebel came outside and I took her down to open up the chickenhouse. We got scratch out to throw for the hens before we let them out, but they were off like a shot to check out the leavings underneath the bird feeders, instead. Not even interested in scratch! No eggs. There was only one yesterday, I wonder whether they're pissed about their new roost situation. I need to get in there and make some adjustments.

Meanwhile Jezebel was thoughtfully soaking their pellets in their water can, so I unhooked that to haul it up the hill. Started the hose running in the -- oh shit, I think it's still running. One sec.

Phew. Thank the gods we're on a well, otherwise our water bill would be out of this world. The wading pool is more than full, thank you very much.

As I was scrubbing out the chickens' water can with a green scratchy, a truck pulled around the corner of the driveway and a guy in a red t-shirt walked down the hill. I pretended that I wasn't standing there in a black terry robe over my satin nightgown, and just said hi. He was from the hardware store, come to pick up the backhoe Gabe had rented.

"Well, you guys have a nice little secluded place down here," he said. "I've lived on the Island my whole life and I didn't even know this street was here." I agreed with him, marveling again that we wound up here, and asked Jezebel how she'd like to grow up her whole life on the Island. She said "uh-huh."