Saturday, May 03, 2008

We Are Inside, The Landlord is Outside

Twice a year GaryBob, a name composed of 2 different landlord names, likes to pull up weeds, trim trees, spray insecticides and knock stuff around. I come to dread this day, as he has pulled out my flowers, shattered my potting table, broken my vases and garden pots. He is not a mean person. He is not cruel. He is reckless in a dorky kind of get the job done kind of way. Already today, the blackberries have succumbed to his method.

I cannot go on hating him and cursing the whole tenant/landlord relationship. All of the anguish and suffering is locked up in my head, because I don't have the confidence and daring to confront him and to say out loud all of the ways he infuriates me. I feel angry and hurt by what he does, sad about how it makes me feel and really frustrated that I have not addressed him on each occasion of his offenses.

This morning I had a learning moment, an epiphany of self realization and enlightenment: I rarely, if ever, speak up on my own behalf. Haha... it does not escape my notice that I am still not addressing the individuals that I am actually mad at. I never want to hurt someone's feelings, appear petty or insensitive. I never want to create conflict or make waves. But I am realizing that the net result of sparing other people pain or conflict is that I endure it all for myself. I subject myself to sadness, aggravations, anger and a black hole of a knot in the pit of my stomach. This is no favor to me, and it is no favor to the one I presume to spare. What I don't release is bottled inside and festering. GaryBob and a few other unsuspecting folks have me so furious and disgusted, so darn mad and hurt, and as they go along their merry way, I am left with the belly ache, and a powerful dislike, disrespect and stink-eye for them.

There is a point at which I am not a victim, but a bitter martyr, disingenuous, and depleted of self-worth and dignity. I think of the people I am mad at and I realize that there was a beginning when what they did upset me, but as long as I cannot address the issue there will not be an end. They are free to repeat the offense and I am free to replay it in my head over and over again, so that I victimize myself. Aggh... enlightenment can be so hard on the eyes! I don't like seeing this in myself, let alone saying it out loud.

Hmmmm... now what?

Geoff re-injured his knee, the right one, the one with the torn meniscus. This is so sad. He really should get a break from exercise related injuries. He wants to be out there playing, getting healthy, staying healthy. I feel so bad for him. He can hardly walk.

If you should happen to come to our place and we invite you to dinner, sit carefully. I don't know what we've done to deserve it, but our sturdy, rustic, heavy duty solid wood chairs are crap. We started with 8 and I think we are down to 5. They just get loose, come undone, fall apart. One chair cut my leg and Max's with an exposed screw. This morning another chair popped a railing and left an exposed screw that punctured William's back. I want to burn them.

So, gee. I seem to have a list of aggravations and frustrations. Eh. It's good to purge now, then in a year when we are living in our own home and savoring the beauty of the day and our fine lives, we can look back and rejoice over how far we've come. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

Maria is driving her car. Her baby and her driving hat are in place and she is turning corners, seatbelt fastened. Did you notice her haircut? Oh, these dear rites of passage. She cried after I committed the first snip and she sobbed, "I not want a haircut!" It's not up for debate. The deed is done, and we all think she looks pretty with her healthy, fresh do.

Her steering wheel is very big. She purses her lips and makes a motoring hum. When I sit behind her she fastens my seatbelt too.

The house needs cleaning, and we are expecting Hans and Gretchen for dinner. Obviously, Geoff cannot help, and I am too cranky and moody to feel motivated, yet. I suppose when the work outside is done, I will breath easier. GaryBob just finished washing the whole yard with a "mild oil to kill black stuff." And I said nothing, because having an epiphany and doing something about it are not the same thing.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Like a Day in May

I may be posting only to distract myself from the fact that today is chick day. Out east, at the feed store I like, they are receiving a new shipment of chicks. I have spent the entire week in a mental-spiritual debate over whether or not I should bring home 2 chicks. My heart aches. My head is worn. I keep hoping for a sign that it's reasonable to take charge of my destiny, to move forward with my hopes, to nurture my flights of fancy. I keep hoping a home will reveal itself to us, so that we can know that after 5 years of false starts and dashed dreams, we will finally have a game plan, a destiny. I think it is the very worst part of being an adult that we are compelled to do what is appropriate, responsible and rational. So, without a sign, without urging and enthusiastic support and encouragement, I hang my head and accept that it is not my chick day.

Is it human nature to want more? I live in a big, safe home, but I want my own house, my own walls and pipes. I have healthy children and I am married to my 1 true love. But, wouldn't it be just a bit sweeter if we could have a garden and hens?

The children's homeschool supervisor, a wonderful woman, brought oranges, tangerines and avocados to share. Max and Maria were more than happy to relieve Franya of her surplus fruit. And I had to exercise all of my adult discipline to not ask for one of the extra chicks they have in their coop. Franya was happy to describe how cute their chicks are and how easy they are to raise and keep. Mercy. I was ready to blurt: "Yes! I know. Let me help you. We'll take 2 chicks, since you find yourselves with 6 more than expected. We'll be happy to lend a hand." Good grief... I had no idea I had such power of restraint. I hate to test it like this.

We are in such ideal May weather. No grey foggy mornings. No debilitating heat like we had last week. This is grilling weather. Picnic weather. Sit outside and rip seams weather... Am I the only semi-experienced quilter that uses a seam ripper almost as much as a sewing machine? This is the kind of weather that makes me think of summer camping and crossing creeks in bare feet.

Even Joe is happy to loll on the patch of lawn in the backyard, nibble tiny spring flowers. He knows these are idyllic days, happy days of May and leisure.

Max tried to teach Maria about the pips in the tangerines. He demonstrated eating a piece, feeling around with teeth and tongue for the small "hard bit," and then spitting it out. Maria was engrossed and delighted, but nonetheless she swallowed all of her pips.

Next to our tomato plant, in the barrel, the carrot seeds have sprouted. The dark soil looks so rich with its new carpet of green,and now comes the hard part of thinning the seedlings. At least Joe is happy to receive the freshest baby sprouts, otherwise it would feel so tragic pulling them up. Is ambient light sufficient for tomatoes to fruit? I don't think so. I'll have to recruit Alex again and move the barrel a bit north and west, where there may be a bit more light.

After our picnic lunch, Max and Maria picked up their swords and played at battle. I love the sheer confidence and energy Maria is unleashing. There were no injuries, no acrimony, only the joy of play.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Chickenblog Counts Down

Thank you again for voting in the photography contest. It was real close. I'm such a loser. It was fun and a nice opportunity to discover new blogs and photographers. I have to say, Dallas easily remains one of my favorite photographers and you should visit her blog for regular views of her observations of nature.

"Count down?" you ask.
Yes, I am counting days and such.

3 days until the feed store by the boy's testing site receives a new shipment of chicks. Cute, harmless, life affirming, gratifying, fun and therapeutic chicks. Baby hens. Chooks. Sigh.

8 posts until my eleventy-eleventh post to Chickenblog. Thought: Wouldn't bringing home 2 chicks be an awesome way to celebrate 1,111 posts?

24 days until Chickenblog celebrates its 6 year blogiversary! Gee it seems like just yesterday we were celebrating the 5 year blogiversary. That was when Tarie and Janece were drawing winners, but before Calamity Kim brought my blog out of obscurity. Now a whole year has rolled by and some things are much the same and some things are very, very changed. I do have a lot more friends in the blogosphere, many of whom you find over there in the blogroll.

I used to make hencakes all the time and post their cuteness every now and then. Every hencake is an original, ladled out with artful flair and loving care. All hencakes and other chicken references can be found in the archives under the Chicas label. Labels is a rather recent feature of the blog that Geoff added for me. The labels are a very helpful device for organizing 1,103 different posts.

My most recent Chickenblog improvement is a feeder thingy. Uh. Yeah, well I haven't actually fully grasped the concept, but I changed some settings in my blog that will enable savvy bloggers to add me to their feed. Is that right? Well, no, not me. I will not be in anyone's feed. Chickenblog is available to be added to... How did Katie put it? Here's what she told me: "Anyhow, publishing a blog feed allows people to use an aggregated reader to view any updates to blogs they subscribe to. This is great because I don't have to visit 100+ blogs a day to see if they were updated!" Thank you Katie! You are a very good person to know.

One more count down: Only 2 days left for the boys to be tied to desks, filling in little bubbles with number 2 pencils. The state testing should wrap up by end of mañana. Wouldn't bringing home 2 fluffy little chicks be the most wonderful way to celebrate the end of grueling test taking?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Country Roads, and a Dragon + Shameless Self Promotion and Begging*

With some economic news to fuel our hopes, we have been venturing out across the county, looking for that ideal place, at an ideal price. And we have found ourselves in some remote spots, and in places with beautiful and unexpected views. We've even seen some of the "ugly climb" in the form of beautifully priced houses.

We have not found our house. Not yet. Yesterday, after 3 hours of looking and driving in one area, I decided on something I never thought I would choose: Gated... Ugh. I am so ashamed. I think gated communities are pretentious and isolating. Maybe they work for some, but I have never seen myself feeling comfortable in a gated neighborhood. Never say never?

Geoff and I have stumbled upon a development with astonishing views and huge lots, pretty homes that are large and inviting... sigh, and the best part is that some are in foreclosure and some are priced to sell and the rest are lovingly maintained, so the neighborhood feels welcoming and nice. Even the name suggest everything I would like: "____Ranch." Ranch, as in freedom and wide open spaces, and barns, stables, chicken coops, tractors and windmills. Not.

I spent 3 days daydreaming about one particular house, but could not get over that gate, until I realized that I can't let a gate stop me from something that is really nice in every other respect. So, I convinced myself of the benefits of living there, like slower traffic and peace of mind when the children ride their bikes. Naturally by this point I was deeply attached and excited and full of big hopes. It was more than enough to get me to the next step and I called the association to ask about a few things. That's when the red flags started dropping from the big blue sky. In their Ranch no one can make home changes without committee approval. In their Ranch no one can have livestock! No horses, cows, goats, donkeys, sheep or chickens! A monthly fee is paid for the privilege of letting other people to tell you how to live in your own home. Feh

I never should have stopped at that feed store yesterday. Yes, I needed rabbit food and some parakeet seeds, but I should have just picked those up from the market. I should not have gone into the back corner of the store where Maria and I could hear the distinct peeping and chirping. I shouldn't have peeked into the cages where it said "Banty Chicks." And Maria and I should not have pet the tiny, tiny chicks with the loveliest plumage I have ever seen, the tiniest chicks that would sit in Maria's hand like a cotton ball of downy fluff. No pictures. I had to drag myself away. On Friday they are expecting a shipment of Araucanas. My favorite. Geoff should take my keys on Friday.

William took this picture of his brother sketching. The boys are taking their state tests this week. Standardized, fill in the bubble tests. I guess I sympathize, because when we got home I didn't ask them to do any more school work. Max begged for 30 minutes of PS3 time and I gave in. Alex was happy to play for 30 minutes too, and then he immersed himself in sketching dragons and making electro-magnets. Coming soon: A post featuring the things Alex has made and revived from thrift shop junk. You can probably understand why we are looking for a home with room for a workshop!

Thank you everyone that took the time to vote. Time is up and the votes are being counted.
* OKay. Here comes the shameless self-promotion and begging!
Vote For Me! Vote For Me! Won't you please vote for me and my wonderful octopus photograph? And after you vote, please, please ask your friends and family to vote. What?! I would vote for you. Hmmm. I wonder if this is enough. Should I send out emails? Get on the phone? I wonder which is more humiliating, begging or not getting a response to shameless self-promoting. I'll get back to you on this.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Me, Playing

Max and I are passing an octopus to a fellow tide pool enthusiast. Careful to keep our hands wet, and to return her to her rocky shelter in the pool, we marveled at the experience of holding this slippery and strong creature. She changed her colors and patterns as she moved over new surfaces.

Out of curiosity, I followed a link in "Sallad Says..." to a photography contest at "Are We There Yet Mom." The contest has no theme, although the prize inspired me to find a photograph that is a close-up. I think the octopus and hands make an interesting example of close-up photography. It was a bit of a balancing act, as I am helping Max and taking the picture! I like the cooperation and patience between the three people, and their interest and concern for the octopus. I remember our hushed voices and exhilarated emotions. The tide was exceptionally low that day and all up and down the beach people were exclaiming at the many discoveries. We were strangers sharing wonder. I took a lot of favorite pictures that day in January.

There is still time to enter April's contest, and I hope you have a chance to go see the other entries. It's fun and inspiring to see people's best shots. There are so many things in the world to exhilarates us, to fill us with wonder.