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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Too Early for the Dog Days!

It's twelve minutes after midnight and it's still 80 degrees outside. I don't even like 80 degrees for a HIGH temperature.


And the gargantuan green June Beetles are hatching again, so I can't go outside right now without hearing the drone of a 747 and without protective head and face gear, lest I get bonked by a kamikaze flying insect.

I need a one way ticket to Siberia.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

The Dust Still Hasn't Settled

I'm starting to lose track of the weeks already as summer break flies by, despite this just being the first real day of honest-to-goodness Summer!

A couple weeks ago, after we got through the whole chicken massacre and moving my business and the dust just began to settle, it got stirred up again. Literally. I was out mowing the back acreage (in some impressive diagonal lines, I might add), when Dear Daughter came running out to me yelling something that I couldn't hear over the drone of the mower. I stopped, shut down the blade, and idled slowly as she spoke loudly into my ear, "Mommy! Daddy put his foot through the ceiling AGAIN, and it's a BIG MESS!" She looked excited and almost pleased to be telling on him. I knew Husband was going into the attic to fix the motor in the roof fan. It crossed my mind that he has put his foot through the ceiling once before in this house, when he was stringing cable through the attic. That hole was near the garage in the laundry room, where it wasn't that noticeable--which was good because Husband never quite got the patched area of the textured ceiling to match the rest.

When I finished mowing and came into the house to assess the damage, it was bad. Worse than I imagined. I entered the house through the garage, and I saw dust. Lots of it. And hunks of drywall. And insulation strewn about. Husband was on a ladder cutting at the ceiling, apparently attempting to make the jagged three foot hole more straight so he could patch it easier.

The hole, mind you, was right in the middle of the room, between the living room and kitchen, in about the most obvious place possible. And did I mention this hole was about three feet across? This wasn't going to be pretty. Meanwhile, it was the hottest day of the year, the air conditioner was chugging,...and I was looking up into the rafters through the big hole that was sucking the cool air out.

"Why don't we just install an attic fan, like we wanted to do before?" I asked, trying to be helpful. "Isn't that hole about the right size anyway? And isn't that about the right spot for a fan?"

Husband stopped in mid-air. He thought it made sense, too. He stopped and did a little research before deciding that this was entirely do-able, and then did a quick about face and took a trip to the local big-name hardware store to buy a whole-house attic fan. And then another trip as soon as he got home because he needed some different wood trim pieces to frame it. And then he spent the entire weekend installing it.

On the bright side, at least he's good at fixing things. A (male) friend of ours told me that Dear Husband did this subconsciously--to fulfill his manly desire to fix things. So I decided that if fixing stuff makes him feel manly, I need to stop withholding that "honey do" list. Husband thinks that if fixing stuff is the standard by which his manliness is measured, his testosterone is enough to launch him to the moon right now.

And it's a good thing, because that woodshed/chicken coop he's working on is slow business--especially when he has to stop to spend days on repairing holes in the ceiling.

If I could figure out how, I'd post the video of the whole ceiling thing that six-year-old Dear Daughter took with the camera Dear Husband picked out for her for Christmas last year. She likes to be right in the middle of the action with her video camera.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The Fanfare Begins

Summer arrived around here with great fanfare and hustle bustle, and I've gotten swallowed up by it all. As Dear Daughter was wrapping up her first grade year and her homeschool co-op came to a close, there was much upheaval on the home front that really had nothing to do with the school year coming to a close--it just all happened at the same time. The summary of it is that I had to uproot and move my private counseling practice. The move itself was actually the easy part. It began with finding a lease in my budget--which isn't all that easy considering I have a very small budget and do not borrow money to subsidize my business. I also set clear boundaries which, in effect, limits my income potential from said business. My kids come first, I don't use daycare, I love to be at home with them, and I homeschool. That would seem to make owning my own private counseling practice impossible. It's not. I just have to be creative, multi-tasking, diligent, organized, committed, deliberate, and as my pastor would say, "intense with my time." Dear Husband thinks I especially have that last part well covered. I once told him that I longed to be bored, even just for a short while. He informed me that it is not possible for me to be bored. When I considered this, I realized he is right; after all, I have a mental list of stuff I would love to do if I ever got bored, thus making "bored" a non-existent anomaly for me.

As I was saying, the physical move was the easy part. It's the notification of such a move to all the health insurances I provide for that makes changes like this a nightmare. It shouldn't be that difficult. But that has become my theme over the past several years when it comes to working with health insurance companies: "It shouldn't be that difficult!" I'll leave it at that.

So...move is done, dust is settling on that front.

However, in the midst of this upheaval, I managed to leave the dog unsupervised outdoors long enough for him to massacre our entire flock of six two-month-old chicks which we had raised from day-old hatchlings. I was dragging clothes baskets and clothes pins back in from the clothes line, had two kids and two dogs (or so I thought) on my heels as I re-entered the house, and my phone rang. Remember that part before about multi-tasking? Well, when it's a business call, I often have to take it--regardless of whether I have laundry baskets, kids, and dogs in tow.

In the process of all this, Cooper got left behind. Outside. Out of eye sight. I didn't realize it for another 40 minutes. It was 90 degrees outside. The windows were shut, the a/c was on. I was distracted by a phone call and oblivious to the outside world. When I finally opened the front door to look for him, there he sat on the front step. With a dead chicken beside him.

As the realization sunk in, I panicked. I screamed at the dog. I ran outside and discovered he had gotten into their pen and killed them all (or so I thought--until I found one lone survivor who escaped into the garage and was huddling behind the table saw). It was morbid and disgusting, and I felt sick as I cleaned up the carcasses of five dead chickens. I was sure the other one fled while wounded and then laid down to die somewhere on our five acres. I figured I'd find it out on the mower in a few days. If I had had a gun, it would have taken a lot of self-control not to take the dog out back and shoot him in the head. I was so mad. I couldn't even look at the dog without spitting at him for three days. But it gets worse....

The next day I put the lone survivor out in the yard in the rabbit cage to graze. Husband hasn't finished building the coop yet, so they live in the garage at night in this rabbit cage for now. I placed the cage where I could see it from the front windows in the house. It was out of reach from Cooper's dog leash on the zip line Dear Husband put up for them. Baby could reach them, which I intended to remedy by shortening her leash, but hadn't gotten to yet. She never pays any attention to the chickens, so it wasn't a big concern. Cooper's had been shortened that morning already.

Unfortunately, I forgot that there were two different length dog leashes on the zip line. In a rush to get ready for work, I assigned Daughter the chore of putting the dogs on the zip line to go potty before I left. She arbitrarily put Cooper on Baby's leash. That meant he could reach the chicken cage. It would take me ten minutes to pull myself together for work. However, only five minutes into the process, Daughter came screaming into my bedroom, "Mommy Mommy Mommy! You are going to be sooooo mad! I'm afraid to tell you, but Cooper is playing tug-o-war with the chicken's head!"


I ran to the door and found the last living chicken with his talons curled around the edge of his water bowl, hanging on for dear life. His shoulders were pressed against the inside of the cage, and his head.... Well, there wasn't one. Not on his body anyway. It was lying on the outside of the cage where Cooper had apparently dropped it after ripping it off its body. I quickly surmised that the chicken had poked his head out of the cage to graze on the grass outside of the bars (is the grass ever REALLY greener?). Apparently this is all it took for Cooper (on Baby's leash) to grab it and rip it off its head.

If I thought I was mad the day before, I was beyond livid now. I'm pretty sure I drop-kicked the dog across the front acreage, but it's all a blur now as the rage apparently dulled my memory. I had to leave for work, so I left the bloody mess sitting right there for Husband to clean up. I'd had my fill of dead chickens from the day before.

I still don't know if Dear Daughter was most traumatized by watching the dog rip the head off the chicken, or hearing me scream at the dog and insist for the next two days that he was going on Craigslist to find a new home.

That evening, Husband began building a chicken cage that could compete with Fort Knox. Well, actually not at all close. Nonetheless, he was attempting to build something that would defy the cocky dog (no pun intended--these were hens and not roosters).

We started with a new batch of day old hatchlings, which are now old enough to go out to the yard during the day their fortified chicken cage that Cooper cannot penetrate. And he is getting his furry butt kicked if he so much as looks at them.

This wraps up the drama for the first week of summer. Next time I'll tell you about the drama for the third week of summer.