Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Life In The Slow Lane

Lace Cap Hydrangea.
Voodoo Lily
Close-up of the stem.

Okay. I guess I've finally learned my lesson.
I think that my favorite hen, Shalayla, is gone. I haven't found any feathers but she's not around. Owen and I were on the front porch this afternoon and I saw Elvis standing in the corner of the front yard. Something about the way he was standing- as still as a statue- gave me a little frisson of fear. The other three hens were standing back in the bamboo, hidden, and I told myself, "Aw, nah. She's fine. She's on the nest." I'd just seen her a few hours earlier on the front porch.
But she wasn't on the nest and I haven't seen her since and it's getting on towards sunset and she's not with the other sister-wives and usually, by this time of night they're all together, getting their last bits of bugs and sips of water and letting Elvis have his good-night sex with them before they go to roost.
Mr. Moon told me not to let them out of the coop. And yet, I did.
Lord- how many times have I saved that hen's life? Our old rooster Sam couldn't get enough of her and he pecked an honest-to-god hole in her head and practically skinned her back when he fucked her and I treated her with a salve made of golden seal and antibiotic ointment and we killed Sam and ate him because he was mean and we couldn't tolerate that.
Oh Shaylala.

Life in the 'hood. What you gonna do? Keep those sweet hens and Elvis shut up, no matter how much they want out, no matter how much I love watching them scratch around the yard.

Besides that, it's been a good day. Owen kept me running, kept me busy.

Do you remember when Roseanne was Roseanne Barr and first started her career? Not unless you're of a certain age, but she did this bit where she talked about her husband coming home from work, looking around the house and saying, "What in hell do you DO all day?" and she said, "You get home and these kids are still alive, I've done my job."
I have to tell you, that line gave me a lot of comfort in the years when I had kids at home from the ages of thirteen-down-to-newborn. Four of them.
And with Owen, that's my job too. Keeping him alive. And every day he's learning things and doing things that are making that harder and harder.

Just today he learned to open the gate in the fence. He's been trying to figure this out for some time now and today, he did. He walked right through it and looked at me and raised his hands in the air in victory and jubilation and I just went, "Aw, Jeez."
I turned my back for one second when he was in the house and he was halfway up the stairs.
He handed me a knife that you could use to gut a pig. I don't even know how he got it.
And when I was fixing his lunch in the kitchen, which is about five feet away from the dining room, I said, "Go on in and get in your high chair."
He went in the dining room and slammed the door and I put his food on his plate and took it into the dining room and he wasn't there. The door into the Panther Room was shut. The dining room is not a big room, y'all. I wondered if he'd been transported, perhaps even Raptured.
"Owen, where ARE you?" I didn't panic but I was mystified and I know how fast he can get in trouble so yes, I was a bit worried. Finally I opened up the closet door, and there he was, giggling at having figured out how to add another dimension to Peek-A-Boo.
Again- Aw, Jeez.

And then this- we were in the garden and were picking green beans. He had one in each hand. "Two!" he announced.
Do you know how profound that is? He knows the concept of two. More than one. Two. We do count things around here. Mostly eggs. Now beans.
That boy.
He put on my red cowboy boots and was walking around with them on. They come up to his hips so he's all straight-legged and he's falling over and getting up and taking pigeon steps and he's laughing and I'm laughing so hard that I had to sit on the floor. We laughed and laughed.

That's all one day. One day. And I had him yesterday so it's not like it's been a month.

And so it goes. Hawks get hens and boys learn new things. We went for a walk today and there was a train stopped behind the post office. We wheeled over and checked it out. Two giant engines and Owen was entranced. Finally the engineer (or the guy who sits next to him), slid his window open and waved at us. We waved back and watched him drink his coke, watched him check his notebook. Finally, the airbrakes let off and the engines revved and the whistle blew and slowly, slowly, the train moved away, the heartbeat rhythm chug, chug, chug and we were entranced. We saw puppies on our walk. "More and more" as Owen said. Lots of puppies. More than two.

It's been a good day except that Shalayla is gone. I weeded cucumbers, I found one ready to eat. The tomatoes are really coming in. The yard-long beans are at least nine inches long. I killed two yellow flies. Smack. Done. I'm going to eat curried vegetables again tonight.
Mr. Moon may be home tomorrow. He's flying out of Las Vegas late tonight and I miss him so. Whether he needs to stay at his sister's and finish up some painting there will determine his arrival here. I've almost forgotten what it's like to have a husband.
Yeah. Probably not.
I still know how to ride a bicycle and it's been quite some time. Longer than a week.

It's been a good week in Lloyd. Except...

I'm a bad chicken-mama, wanting to give them freedom and offering them death on the wing instead.

Well. I kept that boy alive.

I've done my job. For today at least, I've done my job.


  1. I still have animals I think of--the ones who went missing. I'll always think of them. Not often maybe, but with a pang. Here's to Rhombus, and Opal, and Misabel, and Hunka Munka and Buck(not all of these lived with me). Here's to Shalayla.

  2. Mary you have how many hens now? Isn't it amazing when some critter realizes an easy meal? They just don't give up. Ours are still locked up tight.

    Little Owen is just at that age...my son use to hide in our big redwood tree near the barn. Yes, my Love taught him to climb trees...early..well he thought that was funny hiding from me. I heard him giggling in the tree and couldn't believe how high he had gotten. Then he use to hide behind the barn and be as quiet as could be. Oh yes little boys I learned move quick.

    Hold on for the ride with your little buckaroo!

  3. I am sorry about your loss of Shalayla. Predators are surely in great numbers around here. I don't think that hens would survive long at all.

  4. I am going to be getting 4 chickens as my fiancé and I just bought a house. My biggest worry is hawks ans raccoons. I heard about niteguard. Have you heard anything about it? I am curious if it works. I guess it only works at night though.

  5. I'll light a candle for poor Shalayla and hope that her passing was quick.

    Here in MN we've had such an explosion in bald eagles that they've been coming further and further from the river to hunt. I've heard of them snatching small dogs and cats. Scary!

    Wow that boy is counting!! Maybe you two need to start counting all the gray hairs he gives you.

  6. I'm sorry to hear about Shalayla and hope her end, if it was indeed an end, was quick.

    As for Owen -- he's a genius. Counting already? Well, he does have the best teacher (teachers, because I know his mama is a hell of a one, too!).

  7. Um......you lost me after the voodoo stem. How the hell do you grow such interesting stuff????

    Oh yeah.

    You are Mary Moon.

    You grow all sorts of interesting stuff. Including Owen.

  8. Sigh. It's sad to lose a hen, alright.

    Owen is a more wondrous wonder by the day :)

  9. I'm VERY sorry about Shalayla. I don't think it's fair to keep them penned up either. It's the chance you take to give them freedom.

    I love you.

  10. X-Ray Iris- I feel like a failure. It wasn't her fault she died.

    Ellen- Three. Three hens. That is all. Damn.
    Why do little people love to hide? Girls do it too. Do they get enjoyment out of the panic in our voices? Yes. They do.

    Syd- Exactly.

    Birdie- I don't know anything about niteguard. My chickens are tucked up at night, which is not where my problem lies.

    Mel- No kidding.

    Elizabeth- Well, we're only up to "two." But- hey- it's a profound beginning.

    Omgrrrl- As long as I keep watering, things keep growing. Amazing.

    Jo- In such different ways.

    Ms. Bastard-Beloved- It makes me so sad. Thanks for the love. Sending mine to you.

  11. Sorry about Shalayla.
    Happy about the O-boy. Such great details of your day together almost made me feel I'd had a day with my own Grand Boy. That O is as smart as a whip and isn't it fun to be there to see them figure it out?!
    Hugs from Here. N2

  12. Oh Mary that's so sad about Shalayla.

    I love the Roseanne Barr line (I remember her before she was just Roseanne). You're amazing with Owen. Your attention span is better than mine! I love you xx

    PS. Thanks for the comments about the cape. It's hot here for a change but it'll be cold in no time. I'll keep it, it's mad enough to warrant keeping!

  13. N2- It's amazing to watch him figure things out. I love this time with him.

    Christina- Glad you're keeping the cape, darling.

  14. Oh shit. I missed this post. Poor Shalayla. But you know what? Those chickens would beg you to go out if they could. Scratching in your yard is heaven for them. Maybe it's time to hatch a few eggs and increase the population?
    Owen is counting! Amazing. Hope you get a picture to share of him wearing your boots. This is the age at which my children fascinated me endlessly. They were such sponges. He'll be naming off the plants in your yard like a botanist by three, I'm sure of it.
    It's the greatest gift for both of you that you have each other to learn from and laugh with and love so much. I miss my little babies. Next rainy day I'm pulling out some videotapes, because we never fail to be amazed at how much they've both changed and yet been the same little people all along.
    My son was a clinger, my daughter a runner. I'm still amazed she didn't get broken or smushed in those scary three or four years of mayhem. I still have those hotel room door latches on the basement and front doors so she couldn't fall or escape. Aw, the good ole days. Enjoy them, keep soaking them in while he's little. :)

  15. Mel- I would gladly let those chickens raise some babies but they won't sit on the eggs! Some are broody, mine are not. Chickens are not unlike children who are each, yes, so very different.

  16. you know,
    I've been thinking...
    this hard engaged in real life loving.
    it is a giving up, a sacrifice.

    as beautiful and wonderful and better than anything and more than we could have imagine and better than we could have done ourselves... it is a giving.

    you give and give and there is a cost.

    it is worth it . of course. I know.
    I cannot do any different, I have been giving and loving these past days and nights and I would never do anything different. but there is a cost.

    I love that you give and live for others. It is who you are.

    thank you for being such a kindred spirit. a soulmate of earth.
    of giving it up for.


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