Monday, July 27, 2009

I'm scared because it scares me

It it so unlike to me wake up in the middle of the night to pee. I never do, I have a bladder made of stone. Of all the nights to wake up it had to be that one, in that place. I had been awake for an hour fighting off the urge, trying desperately to convince sleep to come back to me. We were camping. No big deal really, to need to pee in the middle of the night when camping, except when it's pouring rain and thundering and lightning like a son of a bitch.

I am petrified of thunder. Scared to tears. Not lightning. I like watching lightning and would sit by the window to catch a flash if it weren't for what came after. So that night I fought the urge. The storm was directly over head and the thunder shook my soul. The ground rocked with each overlapping boom. A contest to see which could be louder. We were in a tiny little tent, with no 2x4's or insulation to muffle the noise. But that tent was my only refuge and I was not giving it up easily to crawl out into the most frightening scene I could imagine for myself. Eventually, it had to be done, I had to go out into the night with thunder everywhere. I ventured no further than arms length then flew back into the tent a shaking, screaming, crying mess. My rational brain thrown far into the woods, not to be found until the sun rose and the storm passed. I never slept another wink.

The memory would be no big deal if it was from our family trip to Toronto when I was seven, or to Keji at 10. This little gem however, was from our family trip to Fundy National Park a few years ago, when I was the mom and my kids slept in the tent next to me, soundly all night.

Fears and phobias have no place in rational thinking. I understand that it's more reasonable to fear the lightning, as it can actually hurt me. Thunder can't hurt me, it's just noise. Someone who knows about these things would tell me I have ceraunophobia, a fear of thunder, not lightning. To be afraid of both would be at least somewhat rational. It makes no sense, it just is. I'm scared of thunder because it scares the shit out of me. It has been since I was little.

It makes me wonder if my boys will outgrow theirs, if it's a real fear, or just a boy thing or what. They are afraid of the toilet. Not sitting on it, or standing in front of it, just flushing it. They will press the handle and run out of the room, for fear if they don't escape quickly enough, they'll be sucked into the swirling vortex. An odd fear I guess, but one none the less. They aren't afraid of monsters, the dark or even thunder. Just flushing the toilet.

I hope this is something they'll outgrow, because I know there is no convincing them with the logic that they cannot physically fit into the toilet and therefore there is nothing to fear. Fear has nothing to do with logic. This has been made boldly clear to me. But as an adult, especially with children, the toilet and all it's wonderful cracks and crevasses is something they are going to have to get up close and personal with. I don't think it will go very far in convincing a 2 year old to pee when dad doesn't dare flush.

I'm sure it's no big deal, but if it were I'm not sure what I would do. When reminded or asked they'll do it. Maybe they're just lazy or forgetful. At least I don't need to worry about catching them surfing with G.I. Joe in there. But until they outgrow it, if it's yellow, it's going to mellow.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

A country of our own

There is a certain amount of pride that comes from being able to provide for a family. The roof over our head doesn't leak, the kids look dapper on the first day of school, the car in the driveway doesn't have any lights flashing on the dash. We work and there it is, something to show for it. Green lawn, dog, cat, two kids. Put up a picket fence and send in our family picture to Readers Digest to congratulate us on being a home grown Canadian family.

But really, we are just leaches, a family completely reliant on our government to keep us alive. If we made ourselves a flag and declared ourselves a country, we'd be a third world country. Importing everything with no currency. I don't much like how that sits in the pit of my belly so I decided to change it.

Martin has got to be the most useful guy in the whole wide world. I have an idea, tell Martin, go to work, come home and there it is, a tilled bed for a garden. Wake up late on Saturday and why look at that, the raccoons must have made rows while I was sleeping. He is a perpetual motion machine that man. I love him for it or we'd likely be sitting on an empty lot where the house should be.

The garden gets planted and I'm as excited as can be. Probably more than a bunch of seeds in dirt warrants, but hey, this is cool. A grocery store on my lawn! As a kid I helped my mom plant the garden every year. Punishment for the stupid stuff kids get in trouble for, was to weed it. I've learned that as an 8 year old, I really didn't absorb much information back then. I'm flying by the seat of my pants, hoping stuff grows. Lucky for us, stuff is growing! Good stuff. Peas.

I heard a man speak, who knows about soils and growing crops and such things, and he said that we can't take things from the ground without earning it. Meaning we have to give something back first. Otherwise the empire on which we sit and dream to feed our family with, will wither and die like the Roman Empire. So off I go to find something to give back to these fertile soils. Just so happens, we are also growing our meat too, and they produce and abundance of fertilizer every hour of everyday. They just don't package and deliver it in handy bags. If I could get a cow to do that I'd be rich. So now the garden is coated in manure, the cows are grazing and everything is growing. Soon we will hoist our flag and declare ourselves a country.

The peas are ready now. Delicious snap peas, the ones you eat the whole pod. Making nachos? Need an onion? Wait just a minute because they are ready when you are. I think it must be my gentle love and care that makes them so good, because they are the best peas and onions I have ever tasted in my life. The tomatoes are coming along and even the peppers have bloomed. People tell me they can be finicky, so we shall see if they produce any fruit. Then the nachos will be even better. Tomatoes, onions, peppers, I smell salsa! I guess I'll have to learn how to make that too. The carrots are tiny, but I've never been one for patience so I pulled one. Once again, the best darn carrot ever. The horse likes them best. Well, he gets the tops. Soon we'll have broccoli, lettuce, beans, potatoes and corn. Add the bull to the harvest and we have a freezer full for the winter. Guess I'll be learning how to prepare veggies for freezing this fall.

I mentioned that we're growing our meat too. Well that would be just beef so far. So far. Give me time. He and his mother are grazing in the pasture keeping my not so sane horse from going completely over the edge. (He has issues) The pair are from my mom's farm, an organic beef farm. The cow is going to return home this winter and the bull will feed the starving families of, well ours and that of our friend. But a noble act indeed, so we will treat him with respect and make sure he wants for nothing, living out his days chewing his cud and swatting flies with his tail. His name is Fuzz Butt and he is royalty.

Come join us this fall for a corn boil (with the left over corn the raccoons don't take) and some BBQ steak. Our little self sufficient country does not require passports and welcomes foreigners of all sorts. We haven't decided on a name yet, but Farm of the Rising Sun or Raven Hill Farm have been tossed around.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

My Boys

I thought I wanted a girl. I already had a baby boy, so a girl seemed fair, to me. A little redheaded mini me to do mom stuff with. Reiley was hoping for a brother. It's all he wanted in the world. I'm happy I was able to oblige. I can't imagine our house any other way.

I'm not sure if it's a rite of passage in a boys life, but they each seem to learn it somewhere, how to test their strength. You don't see girls do it. (unless they have brothers) But the game of uncle, mercy fights and wrestling moves seem to be ingrained in a boys DNA. An instinct to be acted on.

Someone should let Owen know he's in for a long ride before he can beat his brother.

Monday, July 13, 2009

the cat with many names

It all started back in July of 1999. Well actually it started May 26, 1999 the day he was born. But July was when I found him and brought him home. His markings won me over. The perfect Sylvester cat, white muzzle with black nose, white paws with black pads on his feet. Back then he had a tail and was full of spunk. His name: Hobbes. Hobbies: Climbing trees, eating food and being defiant and independent in ways only cats know how.

Some things have changed in ten years, and some things have not. He is still independent and food still ranks highest on his priority list. He is no longer defiant, but a rather cool kind of guy who allows us to pat him and make him comfortable. Since he has lost his tail, he no longer climbs trees which brings me to the next chapter in his life.

Hobbes was born in Windsor and we spent our fist summer here. I find it funny that we're back, as he'll likely die here too. But since Windsor he's lived mostly in Truro, and has moved more than most furniture. As an outdoor cat, he thrived, but our move into town proved to be too much. One day he came home, dragging what used to be a tail behind him. Some would say how unfortunate, but really he's lucky he lived at all. Like most cat injuries we can never be sure what exactly happened, but we guessed he was run over by a car.

Vet bill #1 at 1 yr old: $500 give or take. His tail was amputated and he was left with a stump. Which brings me to his first nickname: Stumps, which morphed into Stumpedo. We love our little amputee.

Needless to say, while living in town he had to stay indoors. Hobbes, aka Stumps, hated living indoors. Hated. He tried to escape every chance he could and became a depressed boy. Not to mention we got a hell on earth dog that tormented him to no end. Living indoors does not bode well for the health of a cat that is accustomed to the exercise and freedom of the outdoor. He got sick. Urinary tract crystals, common in male cats, formed and blocked the path. If anyone has had a bladder infection, they likely can relate, but I think that this would hurt even more. Razor blades would have been a treat I think. He howled in pain.

Vet bill #2 at 2 yrs old: $900 to surgically remove the crystals and clear his tract. Also begin the $20/bag cat food to prevent any future build up. He did have some close calls before we finally moved from town and I can recall at least one other frantic visit to the vet with fear he'd have to be put down. So we'll tally the blocked pisser to $1000.

We all disliked living in town and finally moved out to the woods. It was beautiful and we were all happy once again. Stumps was outside sleuthing, hunting and doing all things cat. Until one day, well not just any day, the day after The Hurricane Juan, when there was no power for miles, he started howling in agony again. We couldn't figure out why until we found it. A tick. A big swollen, had been there sucking blood for a long time tick. Hidden in his whiskers this tick was making Hobbes very sick.

Vet bill #3 (or 4 or 5 if you count the other close encounters) at 4 yrs old: $300 for an emergency call out to a vet with no power to remove said tick, treat infection and fever. The exam happened by the light coming from a window and a flashlight. Apparently vets are more expensive when they have to work in such conditions.

In 2004 we bought our first home in the country and we all lived content in our new surroundings. The cat was outside and even climbing trees again. Though he needed help to get down. I earlier mentioned his love of food and though he is a naturally large cat he often tipped the scale over 17 lbs. So naturally he gained (no pun intended) his new name of Fatso. He never missed a meal and snacked on rabbits and such in between. During the next 4 years I don't recall any vet visits, but I'm probably forgetting one somewhere.
On the eve of 2008, we sold our first home and moved to Windsor. We had temporary living quarters in a small house in town while ours was being built. We were worried that Fatso's confinement while there would land him back at the vet, but I guess with age comes laziness and he pulled through like a trooper. We've been in our new house for a year now, and it's tucked away in the country with acres and acres of good hunting. Hobbes, aka Stumps, aka Fatso loves it. Then last Friday night he crawls in unusually late howling again. His stump is swollen. What on earth we thought. No crystals, no ticks. A fight? Trampled by cows? We fed him pain killers and got a good look to find a puncture wound. Puss oozing everywhere, not pleasant in the slightest inkling of any possible way. Then the skin fell off. Yup, goes from ordinary gross to horror flick gruesome. All the hair and skin were licked off the tail leaving only the bony stump showing and his full moon.

Vet bill #5 (or is it 6?) at 10 yrs old: $350 for surgery to repair and stitch skin on tail and heal infection. So now, Hobbes, aka Stumps, aka Stumpedos, aka Fatso, aka Chunks, aka Blobbers, has a few new names. Satellite Cat (due to the hilarious and sad cone he has to wear) Antenna Butt (due to the tubes stitched in to drain the infection), Stitch for obvious reasons and Gnarls because he just looks gnarly with a shaved ass end, stitches over old scars and hoses coming out of two sides. Poor guy. He is on the mend and back to himself, meowing for food and sleeping on anyone who has the brown blanket on their lap.

So the tally on Mr Cat: $2,150 with most of it on his ass end. It's a good thing he's cute. He'll likely live well into his teens. At least we hope.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

The Spitfire Arms

Her voice was strong and dirty and reminded me of Pat Benetar. From her first word, a smile was lit on my face that couldn't be removed. Each note from the guitar carried through the old bench seats lining the walls until it tickled my butt. The band JF Lovely was truly enjoying themselves, and so were we.

The guitar was a stratocaster, like Jimmi Hendrix liked to play, and the drool from Martin, a man who appreciates such things was noticeable. 'Fuck it' the guitarist said with a smile to another near by. 'If I'm going to die, it will be with one of those next to me' The man clearly loved to play, and he was awesome. The Pat Benetar voice came from a lady not much older than me, who was pregnant the last time we were there. She's a bartender at the pub, who apparently knows everyone. Her personality fit perfectly with her Friday night fun.

The two front doors were open, carrying in the breeze, and sharing the music with the patio and town outside. Under the music, clinking plates and glasses and pockets of conversation could be heard. The waitresses were magically moving through the crowd to and from the kitchen seamlessly. From our table, conversation came easy over an empty plate once holding nachos heavy with toppings and two cold beer. We chatted and watched as people gathered. You never knew who you'd see walking in off the street. A couple well over 60, a mother celebrating her birthday with an infant and toddler in tow and everyone in between. The place was packed with the mish mash of people that makes up a small town. All were welcome to this watering hole, and most accepted the invitation.

We stayed for the first set, then had to return to our kids. But our evening couldn't have been better, our night out to celebrate our seventh anniversary. Sitting most content at the Spitfire we knew we had found our home.


We live in a small town. Friends tell us they do all the time. In the Maritimes, every place is a small town, even the cities, when compared. But in a town with a population of 3500 people and one town pub, the true definition becomes so clear. The whole evening could have been plucked from a movie or novel. Everyone is familiar, not necessarily because we've met, but by the kinship shared by living here. The crowd was not a group of strangers but a gathering of friends and neighbours. It warmed my soul to be part of such a thing.