Saturday, June 29, 2002

Waiting For Eggs

Still no eggs, but I suspect the hens will be laying any day now. And there will likely be some crowing soon too. Sunshine is several inches taller than the hens, and he is producing emerald green tail feathers. They are iridescent. He postures grandly and displays a roughed up collar when riled, but his 'cock-a doodle-doo' is still nonexistent. Rosie is the smallest and meekest hen. She usually keeps up with the others, but she is the most likely to get lost, or left behind. When any one of the hens becomes separated she cries mournfully, in little sobs that sound duck-like. Luna is all fluff and old fashioned femininity. Her behind recalls ruffled panties or petticoats made of down. Gracie has retained all the poise, beauty and loveliness that inspired her name. She has a small circle of feathers on either side of her face, that are especially pronounced. She is all colors, and patterns, and smooth as silk.

They love to cruise around the yard in search of delectable tidbits, shade and sandy spots for their dust baths. They frequently sit outside the door, as though they expect to be let in at any moment. When we open the door to go out, they step aside, reluctantly, and cluck to themselves indignantly. Diego, the kitten, paces by the window. He seems to be counting the chickens, and he might let them in to the house if he could. Or perhaps it is only that he wants out as much as they want in. They pass the window, cock their heads sideways and peer inside curiously. They see carpeting, a sofa, toys, shoes and chairs; so much to explore, so much that might be really useful to a chicken, if only they could get in. Alas, they have small heads, and even smaller brains, and all they can do is take the occasional peck at the window. But outside there are pincher bugs, and worms, flower buds and mustard greens, even a grasshopper or two. The chickens invariably return to scratching and pecking and rolling in the dust under the shade of the holly tree. And when the sun has barely slipped over the hill, they return to their own house. They 'bok, bok, bok,' and shift and shuffle, until they have each found a comfy place for the night.

Thursday, June 27, 2002

Support From the Scientific Community

Behavioralists in Wisconsin Draw Scientific, Highly Rational Conclusions From Raw Data and Other Ethnographic Evidence Gathered at Site of Pool Dig and Landscaping

Highly educated, and unbiased scientists, have meticulously and objectively sifted through the facts included and detailed in my accounts of life with contractors. They theorize that what we have here is a "study in human behavior," and more specifically, "alpha maleness and group dynamics." These brilliant thinkers recognize a classic pattern: "...males vying for attention from alpha female," and thereby seeking "affirmation of their maleness," while,"making sure other males are subordinate..." The critical, and most profound, finding of this scientific study, lies in their conclusion: "Only the Blogging woman has the ability to shoulder this unending need for affirmation..."

I am that woman! Science has made it all so clear! Maybe a little too clear. I'd better watch where I peddle my cupcakes. I'm a little creeped out by the idea of so much testosterone running all willy nilly around here, after all we have heavy machinery, open trenches and rebar sticking out of the ground. Someone's liable to get hurt. Human behavior is tricky stuff, and now that I have been advised by actual behavioralists, I am going to handle things more delicately, more conservatively. For one thing I am cutting way back on their popsicles, and I am also going to reemphasize that we do have 'indoor plumbing' available for their use.

All participants in this study of human behavior are exempt from taking "The Pool Quiz" and will be awarded the highly sought after "Lifetime Pool Pass" and "Lounge Chair Privileges." Others seeking praise and prizes need only to comment favorably, and in writing, to

Landscapers vs. Pool Builders

They're out there. There are two men, a backhoe and a tape measure scurrying around the pool. These two are from Mission Pools and they've come to add their trenches to the mix. They are disgruntled. They have to dig around the drain pipes and boulders. The drain pipes went in too soon, according to the pool crew. But the boulders they are complaining about were placed by the pool excavators, so I wish they'd stop pointing them out to me; I didn't plant them there. I did promise Carter, the pool planner, that landscaping equipment, and our behemoth playset would be out of the way, and the landscapers assured me that everything would be ready. I believed them.


At 6:30 a.m. I was alone dragging boxes of pvc drainage out of the way, and staring blankly at a wooden structure that 4 grown men struggle to shift. It is still standing where it should not, and I am in here, hiding, and thinking mean thoughts about the landscapers. And of course, I had to listen to yet another man tell me he could do the digging that the other guys could not, and then, in a refreshingly straightforward statement the pool trenchers said "We don't get along with landscapers."

Anyone reading "Chicken Blog" and hoping to come use the pool, please note: you must prove your allegiance, and sympathy by reading all the gorey details of this project. Don't skip the boring parts, the politics or the technical stuff, because there will be a test. On opening day, when we all anticipate slipping into the soothing water, you'll be asked to review the rules (no diving, dunking or running etc...) and then you'll take a two part quiz including multiple choice and oral sections. Sample questions might include; Who does 'not like landscapers?' How much did The Boulder weigh? When repairing a septic line how wide should the gap be between the abs pipe and the neoprene coupler? When you can answer these, and other simple questions, I will know in my heart that you were with me in my darkest hours. And thank you for your support.

Wednesday, June 26, 2002

I Do It All

I am the forewoman. I troubleshoot, coordinate and placate. I am the middle woman, the peace maker, the bringer of cold beverages and fresh baked bribes. I write checks, read contracts, negotiate deals and run missions of mercy to Home Depot, Papa John's, and Major Market. I decide where boulders should go, and how high walls should be. I roast and serve turkey hot dogs for 3 kids, and six guys operating a cement pump. I sniff for septic leaks, change diapers, change light bulbs, and change minds. I keep a ready supply of popsicles, bandages, water, and bright ideas. Excuse me for a moment...either all this power has gone to my head, or I spent too much time out under the sun!

Monday, June 24, 2002

Name That Ride

Our tractor is dirty, really dirty. Some people didn't appreciate the necessity of owning a tractor. And, yes, in the beginning even I had to be persuaded that we could be living fuller, more effective lives with a tractor. Last night I turned my compost pile with one scrape, scoop, flip, drop. Geoff built up a sturdy, compacted and ample dirt ramp, suitable for bicycles and remote controlled cars. Even our friend Henry added a sizable scoop to the job. The Chica Roja rumbles along like a perky hen. She may only peck away, but she gets the job done and looks good doing it. A common misconception is that the tractor is slow; not true. If I asked you to dig a 3 cubic yard hole and handed you a shovel, you would soon see that Chica Roja's 22 horsepower engine and her 2 thousand pounds of breakout force beat hand digging any day. Most places in our yard can't be dug, but must be beaten mercilessly with a pick axe, soaked overnight and attacked anew the next day, just to remove the first layer. Chica Roja, gently guided, diligently works her claw in to the ground, scoops and scrapes and in very little time makes a hole. We were wise to welcome her in to the fold with a party in her honor.

Does anyone else name their vehicles? Actually, I know some that do and I would love to hear of more. Our family car is "the Big Blue Whale," for obvious reasons. Last year, on a cross country trip with my in laws (my husband flew, but that's another story!) we Christened the motorhome "The Green Goose," because it's green, geese migrate and because we laughed at ourselves saying "there go the gringos in the Green Goose." There is also the fact about geese mating for life...maybe I am heading in to too much info here. The Chica Roja is a bilingual play with words. 'Chica' is Spanish for girl, and abbreviated English for chicken. Roja is red. So she is 'the little girl red hen; Chica Roja! Our '64 Mercury Comet went by many names including: "La Bamba," "The Bomb," and "The Vomit."