Thursday, December 9, 2010

I've got the spirit this year!

When we came back to the suburbs from our lovely Thanksgiving weekend in the country, it was to find that some kind soul had raked our yard rather thoroughly and even taken the leaves away.  I was immediately filled with gratitude and the Christmas Spirit!  I didn't expect to feel even a little bit Christmasy this year.  We are having terrible financial times, my nephew has discovered the horrible truth about who puts out all of those presents Christmas Eve (Hey, I still believe, Santa!), and my parents won't be joining us at Christmas for the first time since the niece and nephew were born.

Still, somehow, this year I have that old feeling back in a way I haven't for many years. I can't afford to buy presents this year so I'm having to make them.  I thought this would make me feel bad, but it doesn't.  I've got the car radios set to Christmas music and I'm going to bake a bunch of cookies tonight for the guys who work in the shop at my job.  I know who does the real work around here.

I'm going to can some spiced apples and give them away as presents.  Maybe I'll can some homemade cranberry sauce, too.  I'm going to sew some potholders and make catnip mice from old baby socks and I think everything is going to be ok this year.

When I think of what I have to be grateful for, the list is so long.  My cousin Beth is coming home from the hospital tomorrow.  She had a brain hemorrhage three months ago and her recovery is a testament to her amazing will and strength.  She and my 79 year old uncle will be taking care of each other for a while.  I think this is beautiful.  My marriage to Brenda remains strong in spite of our hard times, and I know we are together forever.  My best friend is finally taking steps to make his life better, and I am so grateful to watch him as he pulls his head out and pulls himself together.  My sister is facing difficult times with the end of her marriage, but she is handling it all with the grace and courage she displays always.  It is inspiring to watch those around me make progress with themselves, and helps me want to do the same.   

I've decided to somehow find some time to do some charity work.  I haven't done any volunteering in years and it's overdue.  There is a pet soup kitchen that started locally called Daffy's Pet Soup Kitchen.  The founder, Daffy, has recently passed away.  I'm planning to go to his funeral on Sunday and volunteer some time to their cause.  I know first-hand how tough it can be to find money to feed your pets and buy their medications during tough times. In the spirit of Christmas, I'm finding my own ways of making things a little better.

Happy Holidays!

Monday, November 29, 2010

Thanksgiving Weekend at the Country House

What a great getaway we had for Thanksgiving at our country house!

I was so excited to be there I couldn't sleep the first night and stayed up listening to all of the different sounds.  I heard peeper frogs (In late November?)!  There was a very garrulous hoot owl; something large crashing through the woods next to me that must have been a large dogs as I heard tags jingling; a squirrel bitching up a storm; a rodent chewing in the attic (must deal with that!); roosters doing a little competitive crowing at 3:30; light rain, wind through the trees; my ancient Corning coffeepot percolating; dogs barking; and coyotes wailing.  I only heard two cars all night!  What a blessing that night was.  

Thursday we had dinner at Brenda's cousin's house.  The food was just so good and the company was, too.  I love the way folks in the country fix lots of veggie dishes for every meal. I made cranberry/ginger jelly and put it in a beautiful footed dish that we inherited along with the house.  I also made apple cheddar scones but I must have measured wrong as the dough was just a sticky mess.  I did what I could to save them and they turned out more like interesting drop biscuits.  Not a total loss after all. After dinner more friends and family stopped by and we all went outside to their beautifully built firepit.  We sat in chairs in a big semicircle and made S'mores. It was a lovely time and I hope Brenda's cousin enjoys their great-aunt's footed dish.

Yesterday I sat on the front porch for a long time looking out at the fields and dreaming of my plans for that place.  I need to learn so much, especially about pasture management, fencing, livestock management, and growing food on a larger scale.  I was planning a small barn, rearranging furniture in my head, just planning in general when I noticed a small hawk flying low over the field in front of me.  I have lived the last 20 years in the suburbs but grew up in the country and I was amazed to see this hawk doing low-flying hunting.  He went back and forth over the field, almost like he was working a grid, flying just barely over the top of the grass.  I was happy when he finally pounced.  I hope he got one of the mice I had spent all weekend fighting and cleaning up after. 

We were sad to head back to the 'burbs and say goodbye to our long weekend. One of little dogs refused to get into the van for the trip back.  I actually had to pick him up and put him on my lap.  Obviously, the dogs had as good a time as we did this weekend.  When we got home we found that some wonderful person had raked our whole yard and even removed the leaves!  We have no idea who did that for us but how nice! I was immediately filled with Christmas spirit and the determination to do some random act of kindness for someone else.  I hope I can make someone else's day the way the anonymous rake wielder made mine.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Ranger - Sweet but Stupid

I admit it.  I have way too many pets for my small suburban home.  My three cats (Taz, Pyewacket, and Hodge) drive me insane with their constant shenanigans and crimes.  My old and cranky small dogs (Weenie and Pip) are also spoiled and demanding and run my life.  My Boxer/Pit mix (Chewie) is a Money Pit (ok, lame pun) and a law unto her sweet self.  Did I mention she eats cats?  Lots of opportunities to sharpen my organizational skills there. Since she can't play with the cats (!) and my old dogs are just hateful and mean to her, I began to worry about Chewie.  She is young and energetic and had no one to play with.  The wife is disinclined to play with her and I'm just not strong enough.  She tries so hard, bringing her squeak toys to each of us in turn.  No one is ever willing to play.  Regardless of species, we all just snarl at her.  She tries and tries and, finally, I couldn't take it anymore.  I snapped under the guilt of watching her optimistic advances always being met with rejection and disappointment.  My solution?  Get her a dog of her own.  Damn Virginia Woolf, anyway.  Enter Ranger, a big, beautiful, deeply stupid black lab.

Ranger eats.  He's good at it.  Ranger eats more than twice as much food as Chewie does, maybe four times as much.  When he's not draining my pet food budget, he's eating other things.  Things like my Coach purse.  My cell phone. ALL of my shoes.  The corner of my priceless, irreplaceable tool chest my grandfather received upon his retirement.  Brenda's earbud.  Books.  Baskets.  Garbage.  Recycling.  Bras and panties.  He really likes bras and panties, the pervert!  Socks. Anything he can get his big, slobbery mouth on.

Brenda is very, very upset with me (and rightly so) because I did not consult her before adopting Ranger. My only defense is that Mommy couldn't take her poor Chewie's sorrow and loneliness anymore. Thank goodness he and Chewie love each other and play and play.  Problem fixed.  It's a little hard on my house with those two behemoths crashing into everything, but in the end, her happiness is worth it.

I guess.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Stuck in the Suburbs

Like many former country dwellers, I find myself living in the 'burbs.  While I must confess to enjoying the dilemma presented by 23 possible restaurants for Chinese food delivery, I am deeply out of my element here. 

We actually co-own (with some of my in-laws) country property in another state, and I have evil designs on it.  I am secretly planning huge gardens, fruit trees, blueberry bushes, etc.  I dream of the cow I will have (finally!) and donkeys. Maybe goats. Or, maybe not.  I would like to grow as much of our food as I can and indulge in endless orgies of home canning. Ah, the dreams and plans I have.  The stars are visible there at night. They don't have air quality alerts.  Most of the sounds you hear are from animals and leaves and water. Man made sounds there, like distant chainsaws, or hammers, or our windmill squeaking fall more softly on my ears than the constant noise here. 

The problem is that there are no jobs there, and I mean none.  So, for now at least, I am stuck here in the sterile suburbs, listening to basketballs on driveways, sirens, helicopters, traffic, and my neighbors two houses down who feel like they must have their arguments in their front yard instead of in private like the rest of us.

Do you live in an environment in which you don't feel at home?