Sunday, November 29, 2009

a stamp in time

Reiley and Dad were wrestling on the kitchen floor. A scene that plays out more and more often these days. I sit by pretending not to care, acting as official judge, but I can't hide my smile. I love having boys. Owen jumps in, or more like jumps on the heap. He's not really noticed, his 40 lbs. He lands a few punches, but really it's like watching a mouse beat up an elephant.

Dad pins Reiley in some wrestling position, leaving his butt exposed. Always cheering for the underdog, I coach Owen from the sideline. "Spank Reiley's butt Owen, spank him!" Reiley wiggles and squirms to avoid what's coming. Owen laughs then asks "What's a spanking?"

Reiley and I were watching TV, the Olympic Cheerios commercial where the boy mails an athlete a post card. Reiley admits to me "You know mom, I don't know how to do that." "What?" I ask "Mail something?" "Yeah, I can email him, but I don't know how to send paper."

I imagine 30 years ago, I be viewed as a failure as the matriarch to this family. Failing to enforce dicipline and teach life skills. Owen doesn't know what a spanking is, Reiley can't send a letter, and well, the dog has never had her nose stuffed into a puddle of pee. I'm glad times have changed, but I really should teach the boy what a stamp is.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Brotherly love

What is it about seeing our siblings hurt that tickles our funny bone so? When I retell the story I break out into full belly laughter. I can't help it. I'm giggling now as I write this.

My brother had (or has) a ganglion on his wrist. A bump the size of a golf ball filled with fluid until it's hard. To the old folks it would be better known as a bible bump. Reasoning behind the name is that to get rid of it you need to hit it as hard as you can with the biggest book in the house. In the old days that would be the bible. Mart used to have one, until he hit it has hard as he could against the leg of the desk. It's never come back since.

Being the concerned sister that I am, I thought we should get rid of this irritant, and who better to help my dear old brother than me. Owen's hard cover children's bible was the perfect tool for the job. He sat on the edge of the bed with his arm on his knee while I lined up and took a few practice swings for aim. Maybe he didn't think that I would do it. Maybe I didn't think I could really purposely hit someone as hard as I could. But what do you know, it was easy. I swung as hard as I could, and hit him as hard as I could, without hesitation. Too bad I missed the bump and hit his hand instead. That's the risk you take when you get your sister to act as a doctor I guess. In my defence he did give me permission. All I could do after was wipe away tears of laughter. My broken words of sorry, offered through my hysterics were little comfort. But it was funny as hell. I'd never before got to hit my brother that hard without getting pummeled afterwards. I probably won't get the chance again. It was a sweet victory for a little sister.

While visiting this side of the country, which only happens once per year since he lives a whole continent away, we fell into our old rhythm. It was good to have him home. To hang out again. It was even better to laugh my fool head off at his expense. There is no love like that for a brother.

Monday, November 16, 2009

a theory

I love animals. Not in the save all the kittens and puppies kind of way (but all the power to those of you who do). More in a scientific study of the species kind of way. They interest me. I like watching their interactions and place in the world. I find it amusing to catch mirror images of humans in them. To remind me that we aren't so far removed from our old animal selves. We aren't necessarily at the top of the food chain, or the intellectual chain as we so like to think.

Driving down the highway, have you ever seen tire tracks that for no apparent reason take a 90 degree turn into the ditch? Straight stretch of road, then bam, in the ditch. I've always wondering what would possess someone driving at 110 km/hr to suddenly crank the wheel to the right and head for the weeds. On my way to a friends house the other night, I came up with a theory. Raccoons.

Raccoons are interesting things. I love their dexterity, ability to learn, resourcefulness and cunning, but that is where it ends. I have no affection for these guys beyond an interest in watching their paws work like hands and watching them make easy work of opening a latch to a garbage can. There is a second between 'huh, cool, he figured it out' and chasing it away, sticks, rocks and curse words flying. Raccoons and I have a bit of a history.

While camping in Kejimkujik national park, we packed up for the night, stowed our food and things away and tucked into the tent. I've just found that sweet spot in the bed that is perfectly comfy and warm, and sleep is taking over, when a few campsites away I hear rustling. Rattle of pots and pans, the scrunching sound of plastic bags, boxes being upset. The sound progresses campsite to campsite, heading our way. Then I hear them on our picnic table. Just outside the tent. I wait. No big deal, we've put everything away. So they'll lick a spoon, who cares? I didn't care until I heard the unmistakable sound of our cooler opening. I have never jumped from bed and scurried out of a tent so quickly in all my life. I jump/fall from the zippered opening, flash light in hand. "AHhhrrrrr! Get the fuck out of my food!" Two steps out of the tent I stop and see 5 raccoons staring at me in my underwear. Stunned looks on their faces. One on the picnic table, one with his paw in the cooler, 2 more around the edge of the campsite and another not more than 3 feet from me. All frozen. They didn't move. I took a step forward, stomped my foot. So did the raccoon. What the hell?! I'm in a stand off with a raccoon. A big raccoon. Apparently they get quite fat off people food. Go figure. In a flurry of throwing rocks and more cursing I win the stand off and they retreat to the woods. I place 20 lbs of fire wood on the cooler and tell them to fuck off and go back to bed. They woke me up twice more that night, but never got past my clever barricade on the cooler. So hooray for me, I'm smarter than a coon. All they got was a loaf of bread.

So it's with mixed feelings the way I developed my theory on those tire tracks. On a straight stretch of highway Mr Raccoon scuttles out onto the road, changes his mind, changes his mind again, and line dances back and forth in front of me until he finds his way under my tire. I saw him. I saw him do his little dance of indecisiveness. I could have tried to avoid him, but then I'd be doing a zig zag myself. In a car. Going fast. And I'd end up in the weeds with headache and a 90 degree skid mark in my wake. Maybe that's what people do. Try to save the cute little animal. Instead I held tight to the wheel and hoped Mr Raccoon would get his ass off the road, or at least decide under the truck would be better than under the wheel, but no. With a considerable thud he's hit. Sorry about that Mr Raccoon, I didn't wish you dead, but better your hide than mine. You should have stayed off the highway, and out of my cooler.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Master Hobbes needs a watch

Animals can tell time. Incredibly well. Back when I was working on a dairy farm, I could set my watch to the cows. Each morning at the same time, they were in the same place, doing the same thing. Perhaps most wouldn't find this as much a display of their ability to tell time, but more of their eat, sleep, chew cud lifestyle. Maybe a better example would be dogs. My childhood dog Sandy, would wait outside on the doorstep each day, at the same time, waiting for my bus. She even learned my soccer schedule.

So knowing how habitual animals are in their own way, and how well they can tell time, I feel bad when the time changes. Twice a year, Hobbes, our never misses a meal cat, gets frustrated and, well, down right mad, when we stop feeding him on time. Each night in our house, the dog and cat get fed at 7:00 pm, after we've done our supper. It's been 2 weeks since the time changed and Hobbes has not yet adjusted. Instead, he sits starring at the door to the closet which holds his food, at 5:30. (He has always preferred arriving for supper early in case the waiters choose to accommodate him.) Come 6:00, he is insistent we've made an error, that we are late. And how dare we treat him this way! Meow meow meow. It's a good thing cats cannot move things with their minds. Though I think they are still trying to master it. If so, the closet door would open and food would pour into his bowl. Until he masters it, he will sit and stare at the door and curse us up and down, voicing his displeasure. Meow meow meow for an hour. He has an amazing ability to tell us exactly how pissed off he is, just by the slant of his ears and squint of his eyes. After an hour and a half, he has few kind words for us.

Poor Hobbes, I think he'd vote to not change the time each season. Hopefully he'll adjust soon and stop giving his servants the evil eyes and cold shoulder.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Gobble Gobble with 1 horse power

There was a glitch in the sending off of the bull. He wouldn't get on the trailer. (Someone must have told him where it was going.) After a muddy morning walking the field, trying to convince him, and a small mental break down, a plan was scratched out. After a phone call (well, 3 if you count the ones to my Mom asking for guidance), one day and two nights, a corral is made. Mr. Butt has a new pick up date and hopefully (because I'm not exhaling until he's secured on that trailer) he'll be on my plate in 2 weeks.

What excites me about all this (because lets face it, this bull is old news, and wearing me down) is that we had 30, 13ft rails delivered to make this corral which we didn't need all of. So now I have the logs I need to build a movable poultry coop! I'm very excited because I love poultry but it isn't allowed on our property to roam free. They poop everywhere. Everywhere. Front steps, lawn furniture, BBQ, etc.

We didn't get any chickens or turkeys this year for 2 reasons. First we had enough on our plates and secondly because even though they can't roam free, I didn't want them stuck in one place with no fresh ground, grass, bugs to scratch and eat in. Mom made a movable coop years ago, but she has tractors and whatnot to haul the thing around. A friend even visited a farm with the same idea. But I didn't, and therefor, was stuck. Until I had an epiphany and realized I've had the horse power all along.... Bud! He loves hauling stuff around and he can pull heavy stuff. So in my design there will be a place on each corner to hook a rope that I'll then hook to the horse and off we go. Since Bud can be a finicky sort, I'll practice before I put the turkeys in, just in case he takes off. I wouldn't want roadkill in the field.

I'm all excited for spring now. I'll have turkeys again, which are so fun. They will be free range, or fit the definition having fresh grass and bugs each day. Plus our neighbour told me he'd love to buy one, so I already have a sale. Thanks giving and Christmas will be extra tasty next year.