Monday, December 24, 2012

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

People Who Need People

Anyone who knows me will tell you I’m just not a people person. Oh, I like to say that when applying for a job, or in attempting to explain why I love facilitating writing workshops, but the truth is I really don’t like people very much. That is easily recognizable, I think, by my demeanor when I’m in a crowd of folks, which is usually silence. I despise small talk. I’m not very good at it and I don’t even try. This probably accounts for why I have a very tiny circle of friends, all of whom know this about me and accept it, whether they like it or not. I just don’t have much of a personality. Oh, when I was young, I tried by outside help to acquire a personality, and if I have a few drinks even now, I can be downright amenable. But, straight, singular me is not the one people generally think is going to be the life of the party. I’d much rather spend hours of my life in the pages of a book, toiling in a garden, creating things with my hands, or watching classic black and white movies with a plate of brownies for company. It’s the god’s honest truth.

I’ve been back to the Chicagoland area from Georgia over a month now. I’ve gone to one social event, - Neighborhood Writing Alliances's "Open Gate" Release Reading to see those people who know who I am. I meant to get to another - "Photo Requests from Solitary" - and I really tried, but when the time came around, the thought of mingling, networking, and schmoozing just made me ill. So, I didn’t go. Instead, I helped my 7-year-old grandson with his homework and cooked dinner. Here’s the thing though, I could’ve went and I would’ve been known and welcomed. This is just one of the things I’ve learned about myself in the last year: I need people when I need people.

I miss my chickens and Foghorn crowing at dawn. I miss the mountain mist hanging low in the trees reminding me so of an English moor out of a Bronte novel. I miss the rushing, white water Toccoa River. I miss towering mountains, lush woods, and the “silence” of nature surrounding me. Although there is beauty in Kenosha, primarily the eyes, the arms, and the boundless energy of my grandsons, as well as the exasperating lifestyles of my adult children, I dream of a way to have it all. 

Because I need them, and I need those few folks on earth who truly know Donna. I need to be able to say, “Come look at what I built, baked, cooked, come look I what I did,” and to have them share my joy, my hard work, my frustrations, my dreams. And, I need to celebrate or suffer theirs - on my terms, with those who accept and cherish my terms, knowing that I accept and cherish theirs when I’m able, and we’re all perfectly fine with that.

So, yeah, I’m not a people person but I am a person who needs people, and so, I am one of the luckiest people in the world. 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

What I Do Best

The strawberry and peach preserves, and the applesauce I made earlier in the year didn’t taste quite so good until I shared it with my grandsons, and watched them lick their fingers and hear the “mmmm’s.” 

The homemade cinnamon rolls I made for the eighteen year old when he visited Georgia weren’t near as yummy as when son, daughter, and four other grandsons delighted in icing smeared faces. 

The large fire pit dug in the backyard beside a towering stack of firewood remained when I left because a backyard fire isn’t near as much fun as when you share it with four boys who have smores dripping from their fingertips. 

A gun-toting, gun-teaching Nana can do the same in Wisconsin as in Georgia. It's better to have the students close, though. 

And, hearing football stats relayed over telephone wire cannot compare to the heart-flipping joy of seeing the touchdown, the tackle, or the hugs after the game. 

I do many things, and I’ve realized I still have the ability to do much more. But, what I do best is be Nana. I’ve also learned that it’s what I love to do most. 

Even the animals are happier, it seems.

Friday, August 24, 2012

A New Adventure

A New Adventure – Not Failure

Turning the page and riding off to regroup for the next great Kiser adventure.

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checkered by failure... than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.
Theodore Roosevelt

And I did win some glorious personal triumphs in the last year as well as learning new things about myself. I traversed unknown highways alone, stayed with strangers, and met wonderful people. I relocated my entire life’s belongings across mountainous roads in the dead of night. I built a chicken coop and raised baby chicks to lay delicious eggs. Tilled and toiled and became physically strong again. And, I found that this particular mountain is not for me. I learned that I can accept that and move on without distress.

I realized that my grandchildren are an immense part of my life and without them there is a large hole in my heart. It may have been different if I’d lived a distance away all along, but having been involved in their lives from the beginning, I sorely miss the football games and the school programs and exposing them to cultural activities. I still want to show them a simpler, more sustainable way of living, and I will somewhere in the future. I’ve a lot of years left.

I’ve learned to research better a living location, that the age of an area population matters, that a high dropout and pregnancy rate happens for a reason, and that reason cannot necessarily be excised by one person. That is probably my biggest lesson, that while one person can make a difference, that one person cannot change the world alone. It’s a long battle and one must choose their battles wisely.

So, time to regroup. Headed back to Kenosha, WI but not backward. Regain some finances and rethink the next move. Thankfully, I have that capability. Possibly, substitute teach in Kenosha or drive a school bus, possibly obtain a CDL and travel the country, returning to see the grandkids every few weeks. Save those finances to settle closer because I need them, and needing people is not necessarily a bad thing. While I love solitary living, I’ve learned it doesn’t require ripping out my heart.

Mistakes are lessons if we learn from them, and I’ve learned a lot. I will miss the beauty of Appalachia but not near as much as I miss the beauty of my grandsons. Choose those battles and relish in both victory and defeat, for then we are never truly defeated.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

This Moment

I have never felt better about the future than I do since I lost my job. I have never felt more at peace, and sure about direction. 

Informing a few of the GED students that tomorrow would be my last day was more traumatic for them that I'd thought, given I was only there a short time. 

   "That's just not fair, when we finally get someone we can relate to and doesn't talk down to us."

So, I had made an impression - good. The two girls are planning to take the test next month and are struggling with the reading and writing. One session with the girl who'd spoken had resulted in a "hero" paper that would easily pass the testing - solid writing without extraneous wording, good formatting and structure with ideas flowing and connecting. I gave her my card and told her to call me for tutoring, "We'll work something out on the payment, we'll barter." 

It is as it should be, and the remainder of my day will be spent in compiling my Georgia trip poetry chapbook for submission. I have a grant proposal to write as a volunteer; I have a few updates and a few phones calls due, but the universe is telling me to pursue the dream. Taking the laptop and the dog onto the deck in the warm summer breeze and following the astute advice. 

Anyway, the chickens have finally started laying, so all is good. 

Thursday, August 09, 2012

Another Self Emerges

Self-discovery never seems to end, especially when you’re open to the possibilities. The past two years were chock full of challenges. From putting all my “stuff” in storage to living in my daughters basement, to leaving my cherished cats and striking out on the road of unknown, to staying with total strangers in strange cities, to pulling a 6’ trailer through mountain passes at midnight, then getting lost on an old logging road at 4000’ elevation. Through it all, I learned new things about my strengths, discarded myths about my weaknesses, and grew spiritually with each discovery.

Today, another self emerged through disappointment. In the seven years I facilitated workshops for the Neighborhood Writing Alliance, I thrilled at leading folks into the realization that they had voices, that their words were important and powerful, and that people wanted to read their stories. Those years brought me to the idea that I loved teaching. What I learned today was that it isn’t teaching. I didn’t teach them how to write. I didn’t edit their pieces before publishing. In fact, many of my edits were edited. The joy was in the leading, the guidance, the conversation and dialogue that got them to the point of writing publishable work.

Three weeks of teaching GED reminded me that I am at complete odds with state rules, regulations, and requirements, all which make no sense. The process leaves students, and caring teachers, empty. It’s about meeting mandatory hours, and using books that have no correlation with needs, only scores. There’s no true rapport building with the individual, only process and procedure.

However, spending an hour with a student discussing how to learn their own process, for writing or math or reading, was exhilarating as the student asked deeper and richer questions. Discussing career goals and passions, suggesting possibilities, actually relating to the human, this is what inspires and fulfills me. So, in losing my job due to illness, I've found another self. Now, to follow this new path and carve out some type of living is a new challenge. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


I’m settling nicely into the new job. Registering students for the chance at a successful future, lesson planning, and directing a student to what will help most in preparation for the GED reading test is energizing. Waking early or returning home late doesn’t deplete the energy. Realizing and sharing my talents makes for happy days.

Of course, there are several areas that still need improvement, in my humble opinion. Settling into my country life remains a learning process. In reading Cold Antler Farm’s blog this morning, I have hope.

This weekend I will make the effort to stay in my yard beyond sunset. I will build a fire and sit beneath the stars regardless. I will make a noble attempt to work through the discomfort of humidity and sweat to tend the garden, not just piddle around in it.

Baby steps and self-appreciation for each accomplishment, these things support growth and get us to the pinnacle of goals, so more can be set. Within this, I may even rekindle the ember of writing. 

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Commitment Terrors

Commitment Terrors

Today, I begin teaching evening GED classes and assisting with morning classes. 20 hours weekly. I am terrified.

I must roll out of the bed, dress, and function every Monday and Wednesday at 6am  to teach at 8am,  math, reading, and writing to adults hoping for a better future. I must schedule my Tuesdays and Thursdays to have all chores and freelance work done, with a time element for food preparation, by 2pm to face those adults at 3pm.

Since my semi-retirement, I must admit, time management eludes me. Today is Tuesday, the zucchini and cucumbers need tying up, the tomatoes need re-posting, the chicken coop needs cleaning, I have a poetry chapbook to submit, 3pm is GED registration, and I sit here writing my fears to cyber space.

Lesson planning for reading and writing, even for social studies and science will be fun. I will enjoy watching the students make progress. Unfortunately, I need a lesson plan to create a lesson plan for math. How in the world will I explain linear and quartic equations? Who will explain them to me first? I’ll not even mention my GRE math scores.

Will they sense my fear? Will they challenge the weakness?

Walked around the mountaintop with Mello
Among the simple beauty of wildflowers
And the lush growth of nature
A deep breath and a quiet hello
Birthed a moment of positive showers
Attempting to calm the minds scattered picture.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

One Woman Homestead Continues

Oh my, the pages have turned from days to weeks into over a month since I’ve posted. Been busy AND lazy on the One Woman Homestead (OWH).

The most exciting thing that’s happened on top of this mountain is the return of Mae, running like a little filly, and purring like a tomcat. When she pulled up, I didn’t know whether to kiss the mechanic or the truck. I kissed neither, but danced and whooped.

That to-do list from the May 5th posting has dwindled, but of course, there’s another. I’ll not bore you but suffice it to say, there are things still from a year ago.

                                    There Are Things
2006 (so fitting in 2012)

There are things
Zippers hanging
Buttons missing
Things unseen in clear view
Weeds overgrown on fences
That must be tended
Fences, slacked and holed
Out of sight but not forgotten
Things that must be tended
Or they will explode
Rusted, crusted pennies
Between cushions
Bury us beneath the mass
Of enormous triviality
Suffocate the tiny
Cobwebs in the corner
There are things

However, there are accomplishments. I stood behind a massive tiller, rumbling in my weak-but-strong-now hands, and turned a weed and dirt yard into a flourishing garden. Watermelon, cantaloupe, pumpkin, corn, runner beans and bush beans, peas, radishes, mustard and turnips, lettuce, tomatoes, peppers-green, yellow, and hot, cucumbers, and okra, surrounded by marigolds. The herb garden isn’t all that I’d hoped but dill, basil, Japanese basil, chamomile, oregano, rosemary, garlic, and Echinacea is all aromatic and delicious.

The chickens are huge; alas, I’ve been informed they will not lay until 9 or 10 months. So be it, the coop is complete, with flower boxes and plaque. Nesting boxes built and mounted and ready whenever the little girls are. It’s difficult to name them since most look exactly alike, however the rooster is Foghorn, the two black girls are Dottie and Dottie Brown, I have a Tiny, and a Blacktail. That leaves four look-a-likes for the grandsons to figure out.

I decided to lay pine shavings on the floor of the coop to keep down the odor and the flies because the plastic bags of water hanging on the back porch are no match for coop-poop flies. Yuck! It makes the cleaning process a lot simpler also, just rake and scatter more shavings. The chickens scratch and turn it all into marvelous fertilizer.

In between the “mans” work, I managed to go strawberry and peach picking at Mercier Orchards. DEEE-licious. As you can see, jars of strawberry and peach preserves. Strawberries in the freezer waiting for the kids, and blueberries this weekend.

Busy also with planning for the Fannin County Democrats float in the Old Timer’s Parade on June 30th, social media and grant writing for Feed Fannin, political campaigns for Fannin County Post 1 Commissioner and the 9th District, GA US Congressional seat. Hope the kids are here for the parade. Lucky that Mae’s all refreshed because she may be pulling the float.

Finances still suck, altho there is 'stuff' on the horizon, but depression kind of slithers away when surrounded by mountain laurel, honeysuckle, lots of growing life, good new friends, and hopes to see some of the old. No complaining here down here on OWH. Least none in this post. 

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Pennies in my Baggies

It’s been a few weeks from hell on the One-Woman Homestead (OWN), and to bad Oprah, I’m sticking with OWN. It is what it is!

I’m dizzy from the circles I’ve been going round. Several weeks trying to get the tiller running only to find that it’s too small for the job. Wasted weeks when I could have borrowed one and been done with the planting by now.

I have only half of the marigolds planted. More exasperation than anything.

I have the stone walk laid except ran out of stones, so it only goes half the distance I wanted.

Gas grill is cleaned though, and ready to be used as a charcoal grill since all the burners are missing. I even stained the wood side bars. Now, just need polyurethane to actually make it look like I did something.

Morning glories are planted and doing well. This is about the only accomplishment I feel can be acknowledged.

The chickens are happy free-ranging and have doubled in size, which only means I have to hurry to build the nesting boxes so I don’t lose any eggs – ‘coz they’re just about ready to lay.

It’s a constant battle with the fling critters – flies, gnats, little green something or others. I sprayed they entire outside with lavender and citrus. But in the evening, the cats and dog are jumping constantly trying to catch whatever. So now, I have baggies of water with pennies in them hanging from the rafters of the back porch. We’ll try there first to see if it really works.

Yeah, I could use a few pennies from heaven but if the flies stay away, I’ll be happy with my pennies in baggies. 

Sunday, April 22, 2012

To-Do Updated

The to-do list has done me in.

However, remember that pile of wood in the backyard? Well, it’s moved to the fire-pit, ready for the grandboys and smores' campfires. 

I burned all scrap wood from the chicken coop and organized all remaining wood. As you can see below, the driveway area is cleared. Weed-eating is completed, and wildflowers planted.

That’s all folks.

Tomorrow, maybe I will till.

So, in six days, a list of 12 items is down to 9, which means it took me an entire week to complete three activities. At this rate, I ‘may’ be ready by next season.

  • Switch summer/winter clothes (this isn’t really urgent since I didn’t put all the summer clothes away anyway)
  • Organize crafts
  • Till for morning glories
  • Build garden boxes
  • Till for garden boxes
  • Clean gas grill
  • Lay walk
  • Plant marigolds
  • Spread Diatemaceous Earth

Reminder still: Planters under front porch

Oh, and I’ve added one that I’d forgotten:
  • Fence in chicken run
So, 9 is back up to ten. I'm sure if I really concentrated, I could make it even longer, but isn't Sunday supposed to be a day of rest?

Saturday, April 14, 2012

The "To Do" List

I'd certainly love to have a "honey-do" list. One would imagine things getting done a lot quicker, however in my past experiences, that isn't necessarily the case. Consequently, I just have the standard "to do" list. 

The past few weeks have been physically and emotionally draining, what with the finances for a new truck engine and then building the chicken coop. When I screwed my finger yesterday, I decided to give it all a rest, mostly my body and mind. Nourish my soul a bit by just sitting on this porch on top of the mountain and appreciating. Start fresh next week, which just happens to be tomorrow. 

So here it is, in no particular order:

  • switch summer/winter clothes
  • organize crafts
  • organize wood
  • weed-eat
  • till to plant morning glory plants
  • rake for wildflower bed
  • build garden boxes
  • till for garden boxes
  • clean gas grill
  • lay walk
  • plant marigolds in cement blocks
  • spread Diatenaceous Earth
*Reminder to put empty planters under front porch - no storage shed
*Reminder to use to large tupperware totes as garden boxes

I'm sure there will be more as I sit here, but that's enough to start, don't you think? Check back often to see how it's going. 

You notice how there is nothing on this to-do list about writing. Sad, isn't it?

Friday, April 13, 2012

Listen When The Universe Speaks

It’s been nine days since the last entry when I’d put all the wall supports on the coop. Nine days of hammering, stapling, screwing, measuring, sawing, and hammering some more. This morning, eight chickens and Foghorn went into their new digs. Finally.

I have to secure the chicken wire where it overlaps, and some other cosmetics – folding over sharp wire edges, cutting off screws and nails that protrude, and then, of course, build the yard. I put the little feeder in the coop because I’d not finished the feed trough. Luckily, with all the nature to scratch around in, they have little interest in the feed. Which is a good thing. 

I’d decided to do nothing more strenuous today than make a pot of coffee, or open the deck chair. But, as so often happens, we (or I) fail to acknowledge our limits. I knew I was tired. I knew I was sore. Still, I wanted to complete my chores, particularly the feeder. After all, it only needed two sides attached. I should’ve heeded the first sign when the screw gun battery died, but no, have to be in control of everything. Charged up the battery and back at it.

I thought I learned long ago that whenever you force the issue, nothing goes right. Obviously not. All the screws went in crooked and had to be backed out. Wood splintered. But still, on I went when I should’ve stopped. Well, I’ve stopped now that I screwed my finger. Sliced a nice chunk right off the side.

Again, I had to be hit over the head to listen to the universe. Heed those signs when she speaks. She knows far better than us.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Chicken Coop Building Update

It may not look any different to some viewers, and when I detail what I've done, it may not sound like a lot. However, done here on the One Woman Homestead, it was a bit. Two more days, tops, by myself, and Foghorn, Dottie I and Dottie II, and the other girls will finally have their home.

Today, I measured, cut, and installed all supports for the sides, as well as installed one complete side. Four hours with 15 minute breaks on the hour, because, well, I'm 55 and just settling into my new found, labor intensive, health conscious life. I'd say, that's pretty damn good. 

Here's what it looked like before today - for comparison. Can you see the difference?? Please!

What else did I do all day? I bit of work, and a bit of writing: Early Morning Moments - AROS

By the end of 2012, I will be in good shape in more ways than one.

Tuesday, April 03, 2012

One Woman Farm Time Management

Down here on _____________ isn't really a farm but it's my small start-up homestead, and believe me, it needs time management far more than a corporate conference room. Especially when there's a creative process to think about also. 

Early mornings, back in the day, were for feeding animals, gathering eggs, tending the fields, repair chores, and doing any cooking/baking necessary for the day. Most often, those chores were designated women's and men's. Today, there's no such designation, especially if there's only one -woman. 

Early mornings are also prime creating time. Perfect to sit on the deck with a cup of hot java, listening to birdsong, watching the sun blink its way into the new day, smelling the fresh dew - all makes for crystalline poetry, imaginative fiction, and essays of plans and dreams. 

By the time nature's creativity has been devoured, breakfast, which has really become brunch, is over and cleaned, and the animals tended to, the heat of Grandfather Sun is high. Cooking, baking, and chores become misery. If reversed, as was yesterday, the exertion leaves little for the creative process. 

So it my dilemma. 

The breeze has cooled yet the Thunder gods are roaring. Maybe, it's time to pull out the old day timer and plot this homesteading process. There must be a way for a one woman farm. 

Another Day Has Begun

Another day has begun here on ______ . What’s your name suggestion for the homestead? Keep in mind that next year it will be in a different location within the North Georgia Mountains. I’d love to call it dk’s Green Acres, but that’s too easy.

Last year in March, I wrote 2011 Rambling Decisions. Unbeknownst at the time, the third scenario of moving to the mountains would be the decision. Here I am and the days roll on, getting busier and hotter, with more disasters and greater blessings daily.

Mae, the big 350, V8 (named after Mae West: “You only liveonce, but if you do it right, once is enough”) I bought for my journey from Chicago to here, sits on the gravel drive with a blown rod thanks to a mechanic with a shiny traveling shop but little knowledge. He replaced my leaking radiator with one fit for a Tonka truck. Thankfully, I found the excellent mechanic I’d met in June 2011 on that Pictureless on a Brakeless Day. He will tow Mae thirty miles, replace the engine with a used GM Goodwrench that has 33K miles, replace the radiator with one designed for a V8, and replace all the fluids for $1150, which makes his labor charge about $250. Huge blessing.

Out of ten hens and one rooster (Foghorn), I’ve only lost one. She’s in the freezer awaiting garden planting time where she will return to the earth and fertilize my veggies. Thanks to new friends, the chicken coop is just about done. It’s taken three weeks, but you can’t complain about free labor and even financial donations to the cause. The remainder belongs to me – sides, chicken wire, door, and fenced yard. I can do that. Probably though, not all on one day since the weather resembles mid-August instead of the first week of April. I cut the ½ acre lawn yesterday afternoon and reclined with a beer the rest of the day.

Sunday, the outside water faucet sprung a leak. I removed the knob to turn it off by the bolt. Unfortunately, the piping was all so very old, it broke off completely, spouting 3-4 gallons per minute of water into the temporary chicken yard, and the driveway. My neighbors and I tried to turn of the main line to the house, but not only was it sunk 3’ into the yard, it was surround by mud and slush. We managed to clear away enough to get to the line, but the valve broke off in our hands. There was nothing to do but shut off the well water to the whole top of the mountain. Finally, since my V8 was going nowhere, the owner came with a cap for the faucet. Yesterday, my front yard was a construction zone as the water main was replaced with new pipes, handle, and sleeve. It’s still 3’ underground, but attainable.

The moth caterpillars have hatched in the millions, figuratively. The Georgia gnats have never gone away, and while this picture may send shivers down some spines, it shows my constant battle, which at the moment, I seem to be winning. That could change. Cutting the grass loosed another million flying insects. Additional chore added to the list: making it snow in the mountains again – soon.

So given all that, the beauty, the strangeness, and the fact that this ‘spot’ is temporary, what say you to the name? Yes, it’s another day here on _______ .

Friday, March 30, 2012

That's One Dead Chick

Looks like I've lost one of the baby chicks. She was fine all day yesterday outside, fine when I brought her in last night, fine when I fed and watered this morning, but on her back with the others pecking at her when I brought them outside just now.

Her little heart is beating slow but one leg is twitching. I've looked on line and to be quite honest, I'm not going through force feeding her and putting a blanket over her, and holding/rocking her like a real baby. Call me heartless, but nature will take its course here. 

She was the runt of the litter and obviously lost the battle. Sorry and sad, but the other nine and the rooster are healthy, chirping, eating, perching, and fluttering about. If you order chicks online they tell you to be prepared for a certain percentage of loss, and even having purchased them two months old from the feed store, there is a possibility - it is part of life. 

After checking on line for disposal procedures, I found Backyard Chickens, and in their forum they confirmed my idea of burying it in the garden. I'd planned to plant my cabbages, beets, and peas next week, so I'll wrapped it in plastic, put it in the freezer, and recycle her. As it should be. 

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

First Day Outside

What I've found since I started planning this small, sustainable farm thing, is that you can talk to ten different people and get ten different answers. That recipe is for question-asking on any given topic. 

Chickens for instance, specifically, baby chicks. When we bought the babies at eight-weeks old one week ago, the employee at the feed store said, "No way. They ain't a'gonna be ready for no coop this weekend." Okay, the coop wasn't ready for them anyway, but he said I'd have to drop the temperature by five degrees a week until they were at the outside temp. They set up home in my office with a heat lamp. 

Sunday the heat lamp broke when I was switching them from the Tupperware tote to Mello's crate, and they didn't seem too upset. I left the overhead light on at night and sunshine through the closed windows during the day. I've not had the heat on for weeks now. The guy next door has his chickens hatch their own eggs and believe me, they are not in his house. Last time I went to look, they and the mama's were all shiny, plump, and very healthy. 

So, I decided that I'd take them into the sunshine and fresh air to clean the crate. Fresh water, fresh food, and they are happy little chirpers. I'm sure I'm doing it totally wrong, but hey, in all the Westerns I've watched - and I love Westerns - I've never seen chickens in the house, 'cept for maybe Green Acres. 

Of course, when my daughter was here last week she jokingly sang the first line of the Green Acres song and I finished it. 

Sunday, March 25, 2012

A Day in the Life

This weekend - March 24 and 25, 2012 - has been fulfilling, enriching, nerve-racking, and aggravating. Hence, the blog post from earlier: The Brighter Side of Life

Mello and Lola within inches of each other. Neither growling, hissing, or barking. A beginning of harmony?

The chicken coop is really close. As you can see, just need to attach the sides, make the door, hang the chicken wire, and re-locate the chicks. 

Speaking of the chicks, it is brooder cleaning day. The brooder is in the office because I don't have a basement and it's still too cold to put them outside. After a week of almost 90, it is now only 60 degrees. Neither Mello or myself can handle the chick dust, regardless of how clean. I've just placed them in Mello's kennel while I clean the brooder (and yes, that is fresh water) and as I sit here, the dust from their little pecks and scratching is almost too much. Mello just sniffs the air and coughs. The brooder should be dry in a few minutes and back they go, then a good bleach cleaning for the kennel. Although, they seem to really like the extra room and air. I may keep them in the kennel, just make a bottom border so the pine shavings aren't all over the floor. We'll see. 

Among all the good and semi-good, I found the bird-feeder on the ground this morning. The twine used to hang it was cut, nice clean cut. Why anyone would do that, I don't know, but I have my suspicions. People. Soon though, maybe within the year, away, away from those snarky mammals. 

Another little tidbit: Mello and my shoe. He doesn't chew but obviously, likes it as a pillow. 

The Bright Side of Life

With $.50 in the bank and very little work, a sensitive, allergy-prone dog that needs neutering, cat food dwindling, Internet cable bill due, rent due, a toy-truck-radiator in my big 350 causing that 350 to be replaced at $900, situated atop an isolated Appalachian Mountains, this is what has been dancing round my brain all morning:

Because, my chicken coop is almost done, have 10 healthy chicks and when cocky rooster, picking up a free washer and dryer tomorrow, jobs coming my way, friends to lend a helping hand and bright smiles, kids who love, grandkids who are gorgeous, shining sun, glowing moon, waving trees and blooming flowers atop this isolated Appalachian Mountain. 

So yeah, I try to "always look on the bright side of life." 

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Waiting On The Dogwood

Waiting on the Dogwoods

It’s been almost a month to the day that I’ve raved about something. It’s been even longer that I’ve truly written. Writing continue to evade me but the urges, the twinges, the inspirations are getting stronger and coming more often. I was all set up and kind of eager to get started on the front porch when I was interrupted for an hour or so chat with a neighbor. All the more reason to get deeper into the wilderness.

All in all, today was a scrumptious day.
Two weeks ago, Mello dog jumped and landed the wrong way, breaking a tiny bone in his leg. He was sedated and put in a splint. Last week, he was sedated again and the splint changed because he chewed the bottom. Last night, he removed the splint completely. Vet said he’s healing well and didn’t need to be re-splinted and off we went. Both happy as larks.

Spring garden fever has sprung. I’ve controlled myself and not put anything in the ground, but I couldn’t resist filling my pots. A cheery Bleeding Heart in one pot, and two Peonies, one red, one white, both with buds ready to burst. The ants are ravenous around both Peony pots. The daffodils continue to spread warmth and brightness every day, while the gladioli bloomed and died.

I’m still however, waiting on the Dogwood. Once those white and pink buds pop though, my yard will be bursting with color, above and below. Who could not be inspired with that? We’ll see. 

Friday, February 17, 2012

Confidential Interview

Eight months ago—on the road with the wind in my hair, seeing new places, meeting new people, making new memories, building a new life—everything fell perfectly into place. The first few months were exciting with possibilities and plans. Imagine my dismay when in the fourth month, I found Donna lurking about, waiting patiently in the shadows. In my mountain retirement where I was to finish that novel and finally compile that poetry manuscript, there she was, distracting as ever, eating brownies and watching westerns.

There were reasons, she said. The less expensive location proved expensive to establish. The serene mountain was in the middle of the North Georgia ‘hood’, which shouldn’t be a problem for a metro Chicago girl, however mountain hoods are quite a different scene, as my dear Donna was quick to point out. The mountain wilderness has its own set of rules.

The like-minded and supportive people I’d originally met were 15-20 miles away, and those close whom I chose to trust were untrustworthy. Winters' early gray months saw panic attacks, and doubts. As usually happens, time moves along and with that passage the realization that things are never, ever the way they seem. Those who betrayed have severe issues of their own. The ‘hood,’ as is often the case, is home to some good people. As the dreariness lifted, daylight lengthened, and the Donnas have conspired again to live the dream.
I’ve made bagels, gorgeous, dense loaves of white bread, a delicious loaf of herbed artisan bread, and just yesterday, two golden loaves of honey oat bread. Three quarts of applesauce, and three pints of apple jelly from the peelings and cores. 

Since I made the decision to stay at this location for a year to get all finances balanced, I began to dig the herb garden, and ordered seed catalogs. The daylilies and tulips are popping, and my Mello dog takes me on exhilarating daily mountain walks where we’ve met even more good people in the hood.  

And, I write!

Confidential Interview

Almost an illusion,
those tiny blue flutters
         in the brown grass.

After the lift of morning fog
           amber criss-crosses the earth
to dry the nights weeping.

Cats crouch and shimmy behind the window,
yet visions of the glorious hunt 
soon blur,
ransacked by the reality 
of domestication.

So begins the day’s confidential interview with its customers.

Will you trade, sell, discard these copious charms for empty promises?