Thursday, December 20, 2012

Merry End of the World Christmas.

So, the world is supposed to end tomorrow.  In a few hours in fact.  And because of that I'm watching the History channel right now to learn a little bit about how I might survive- because I'm a procrastinator and all.  I've got about an hour and a half.  They're saying that a pandemic is what is coming- an Ebola-Pox virus (of course, the Russians created it).  There is also the potential for a gigantic meteor to hit, possibly some zombies?  I'm learning about the right style of bunker to buy.  Definitely round and sealable.  They can be buried up to 42 feet under ground.  I'm seeing many prototypes; many people have t.v.'s and microwaves in their bunkers with cooshy couches.  Because there is definitely going to be electricity when a meteor hits us or a nuclear bomb goes off.  I'm learning that I'm not as ready as I think and that I think I need a GUN!  To shoot all of you as you try to make your Ebola-Pox way up to my "haven" up here to steal my Christmas caramels and sand tarts (my families famous crispy Christmas cookie).  You might also try to steal the mountainous mound of pork and chicken I have in the freezer.  Paul Bunyan is probably going to finish off the four or five pints of Ben and Jerry's so if that's any deterrent..

oooh- I just found out that the government is prepping itself for the end of time!  They're spending billions on cement bunkers!  What's a few more billions to add to the trillions of debt?  Just (in case) the world ends.

After a catastrophic collapse happens they say there is 72 hours until everyone goes ANIMAL- primal.  Over 250 million Americans live in cities, so if an American city goes ANIMAL there will be no water, food, electricity.  So, pack your back packs and GET OUT of the city.  Find drinking water.  The race for resources is come on over!  It's a party!!  BYOB.  Just as long as you don't have Ebola-Pox. 

Here's what we've got on the mountain after the year of pork is gone: we've got a red squirrel in the attic, plenty of mice in the shop, a cat that would stir fry up nice and a very muscular dog.  I guess we should fatten her up.  We've got a rooster too.  He's livin' like a king on food scraps; we're gettin him nice and big.  Oh, and the ten alpacas.  We could smoke those suckers.  Add a little curry, maybe some Caribbean rub.  Oooh- that reminds me I should stock up on some rum.  I should learn how to make that shit.  Oh no, now I have to watch Moonshiners.  They did just tell me that I can live 40 days without food; I'm not sure how long I could go without liquor, but hopefully I won't have to find that out. 

Well, I'm not too worried.  You think I should be?  They're trying to scare me (and you).  I realize this.  I'm glad you're not watching it.  I think I'll go climb into bed and start a new book and not do the dishes or fold the laundry- because they'll be no reason, right?  And if I wake up in the morning with more snow on the ground than I have now then I'll know that the world did not, in fact, end.   It feels like we might be headed towards the end, what with climate change making our winter 2 months instead of 5, and young adults murdering classrooms of children.  The world does seem like its...

oooh-  prisoners escaping?  This IS getting scary.  Looters?  No gas?  Fashion a radio from an abandoned car?  WHY?  Communicate with other people?  Really?  This is crazy.  Oh, there are preppers ready with their ham radios to communicate with you.  They have ham radios that run on generators; oh, but wait...there's NO GAS! 

Okay, I have an hour and ten minutes more to go.  I'll let you know the most vital things to do when your city goes ANIMAL; I just have to wait till this commercial ends.

So here goes: 
Get a rally point in the mountains (PARTY AT MY HOUSE..unless you're sick)!
Stay calm (DRINK RUM)!
Find water (WE GOT IT)!
Make shelter (WE CAN DO THAT)!

Phew.  I'm glad I live on a mountain.  Well, I think I'll go get a bag of chips and a beer from the keg in the basement and watch this shit go down. 

Well, we've got a bunker too.  But I'm not sharing my microwave popcorn.  Just sayin'.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

I have some cheese from my head for you.

Pig Pig didn't die on the first shot.  I didn't want to tell you that.  It's a sad thing and this is the season for happy happy things.  But there you go.  I said it.  And now we're eating him.  Because that's the way things go.  And he tastes really really good.  I have some head cheese here for you.  I've been holding on to it for your visit.  I'm also making some homemade mustard to spread on the homemade rye bread which will hold the head cheese while I serve it to you when you come.  Just give me a days notice.  

Well, since it's the time of year to say our thanks- I thank you Pig Pig.  You have been a nice addition to our breakfast and lunch and dinner table.  We've been frying you and baking you and grilling you and I even rendered down your back fat to make lard.

And then Paul Bunyan made donuts with the lard and fried them in your rendered down fat.

 And we all said "Thank you".

And then we ate one and we all said "Thank you" again.

And then the kids put Nutella on you and brown sugar and a maple glaze and we bowed down in honor of you.

And then Bee got a hold of one of your bones and puked it up at 4 a.m. on our bedroom floor.
Thank you Pig Pig.

No, in all seriousness, the "thank yous" are running rampant all over the internet, especially on Facebook where people are writing what they're thankful for EVERY day from now until, what? I don't know.  They're thankful for coffee, chocolate, etc. etc.  No one ever says that they're thankful for flush toilets or the fact that they can fly through the air while sitting in a padded seat while still able to breath.  But whatever. 

So we hosted our 27th annual friends thanksgiving this year, which is always fun.  We had some 20 hot bodies rolling around and I was sure grateful it was a nice day because the football was thrown and the kids played outside for most of the day.  I think Timmy was the only one who cried.  I stuffed a bird and served flat beer and everyone else brought a side dish and a pie.  E brought a bird too, which was juicier and much better than mine.  Turns out even though my special Convection Roast option on my oven cooks a 20 lb. bird in three hours, it dries the shit out of it.  So we're going low and slow in two years when I host again. 

I put up a branch in a bucket and told people to write what they're thankful for on a piece of paper and then I told them to hang them up.  We got lots of cute responses from the kids:

"My mom and dad."
"My dog and cat."

Timmy wrote, "I'm thankful for water, shelter, food, oxygen, and family," which was much nicer than what his sister wrote which was, "EVERYTHING except: my brothers, germs, bad food, bad people, football, bad music, school, baseball, mosquitoes, flies, wasps, and boogers." 

And from the adults:

"The support of fabulous friends, family, and a ever optimistic wife."
"Healthy family and friends, abundance, amazing love all around."
"For snow, friends, family, and pumpkin pie."
"My red-headed children, grey haired husband, cat and dog."
"Snow and Dogs."

And from me, a little cheese from my head:

Thank you love of my life for the time and support I need to heal myself and for making Pig Pig donuts. 

Monday, November 12, 2012

The Ghost of Peter

Paul Bunyan started ripping apart our bathroom.  I'm not super excited about the mess or the thought that I'm fairly certain the project will take the good part of a year or five but we've started.  I've lived with plywood floors now for eight years and haven't gotten a splinter so what's a few more months?  I'll be excited to paint over the ghastly florescent green paint I've had to weather all these years and I'm definitely pumped to get rid of these tiles I've had to endure too.

Now Peter Hart, I've been told, was a gay man.  I'm sure in 91' when he built his house he probably thought these tiles were cool.  I don't know, maybe he got them on sale, but I'm thinking he definitely most likely really liked them.  So, of course, I'm all nostalgic about taking down what might be the last thing left of Peter in this house.  It's a very tragic thing for him, I'm sure, to watch us pull apart everything that he created or designed or loved dearly about his house.  I'm crazy, I know, but it's just how I think.

So as Paul Bunyan is pulling off drywall and the tiles Peter picked out I'm feeling a little forlorn.  And then Paul Bunyan has to take down the old fan and cut a space in the ceiling for the new one.  And I'm not sure what transpired in that attic, he won't give over the details, but there on my plywood floors, when I went up to check progress, was a dead bat.  WHAT!?  OUR RESIDENT BAT!?!?  Who comes back every year, OR doesn't even leave but sleeps the winter away in our cozy attic?  YOU KILLED OUR BAT?  I was very mad, sad, upset to say the least.  BECAUSE WHAT IF THIS BAT IS PETER!!  Seriously?  What if Paul Bunyan killed the ghost of Peter?  I can't get over it.  The whole night I sulked and pouted while he justified that he thought he was going to get bit and ruined for good by rabies while the bat was flying over his head in the very small space in the attic.  YOU KILLED OUR RESIDENT BAT!!  I would yell.  Don't you know that there are no bats left in this world, which is why there are more mosquitoes, which is why there is EEE killing people and horses and probably a few cats?

I was very upset.

 And then he threw Peter's tub over the balcony.  And that was the end of the discussion.

A few days later I gave Paul Bunyan the gruesome task of killing off two of our old hens and the young rooster who fought for his life in the nastiest cock fight any house sitter could ever witness.  Now before you go and get all upset about us just knocking off our hens I have to let you know that they stopped laying as they were nearing their fourth year, and well, He was just getting a free ride.  I put up a post on Craig's List to see if anyone wanted to come and get them for their stock pot.  One interested guy turned into a no show and that meant that it was time for them to go.  We didn't want to spend time, money, energy to keep them alive over the winter.  They've had a good life and the two hens should have felt very proud about surviving a fox and a puppy who definitely would have killed them if the electric fence wasn't between them. 

Well, this next part of the tale comes from Paul Bunyan.  "Supposedly" he twisted that roosters head enough times to kill the loud bugger.  He left it on the compost heap to bury.  It didn't move.  He assumed it was dead.  Then he went to get the two remaining hens.  He did his job and when he returned to get the rooster to bury he was GONE.  Paul Bunyan searched the woods and surrounding area and couldn't find him anywhere.  And when I came home later that day the rooster was pecking his way around the chicken yard acting as if no one twisted his neck four times in order to do him in.

It's Peter, I told Paul.  He walked away from me.

Well, it's an unfortunate thing that Pig Pig must go this week.  I was worried that after having to put down and cut up and eat his brother, I might become too attached to him.  But I haven't.  I mean he's cute and all,

 but, seriously, this butt is going to taste really good.

I'm just hoping for Paul Bunyan's sake that the ghost of Peter doesn't try to stay alive in Pig Pig.  Because that would just be really really freaky.

I'm sorry I've left this place to tarnish like an old silver earring in your jewelry box.  I'll be back now and then to polish it up.  But don't throw it away. 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Do we have it all?

My friend Susie recently pointed me in the direction of a writing contest on the topic of whether or not we have it all.  The deadline was Oct. 1st.  Some 16 days ago.  I'm a little late.  But I've been thinking about the topic often.  At first I started to make a list of all the things that parents do have:

first smile
giggle giggles
blowing bubbles in the bath
sleep training
finger grasping
lost blankies
favorite stuffy
laundry laundry laundry
pooping on the potty
soccer practice in the rain
nightmare in the dark
waddle waddle diaper walk
first bike
feed the dog your dinner
not funny
time out
for mommy too
brush your teeth
try this peach
polka dotted footed pajamas
diaper rash
rats nest morning hair
did you just say "no" to me?
tickle bug
better yet...zerbert
nappie time
Ring Around the Rosie
tumble class
finger paints
toe nail polish- on the floor!
1st tooth
favorite book
sweet sweet dreams
milk breath
sweaty fever head
the best hugs in the world
Whose bed is this?
That's okay, I'll share because you are mine.

I could go on and on but I don't know, this came instead:

All my jeans used to have holes in the knees.  That's when I was changing two sets of ammonia smelling cloth diapers every two hours.  Kneeling at the baby in front of me on the floor, kneeling at the toilet spraying poopy diapers, kneeling at the washing machine loading them in.  I should have bought more Carhart's with the reinforced knees.  Shortly after this I wanted to put a hole in my head because my 3 year old daughter started to say "no" to me.  A defiant stubborn absolute NO.  I spanked her once because I didn't know what else to do and then I cried.  Lately I feel like I have holes in my elbows as I arm wrestle them to pick up their dirty socks, put away their clothes, take the recycling down the the basement.  But then there are the holes in the ground we dig together to plant the crops in the Spring.   And there are the holes in the blankies that they curl up next to me on the couch to watch me mend.  And there are the holes in the socks that I have to throw in the trash- just one more symbol of their growth.  Like the holes in their mouths from missing teeth and the holes in their understanding of how the world works.  But we'll try to change that.  Me and him.  Mom and Dad.  We'll teach them to turn the pancakes when there are holes in them and how to mend a hole in a sweater, a wall, or even a heart.  They'll find out where the holes in their arguments are, what it feels like to have money burning a hole in their pocket, and maybe even the joy of getting a hole in one.  They'll make wishes on the whole of the moon and follow a road or two with many potholes, learning as they go.  I'm  hoping they meet beautiful people who complete them and who they can start on a whole new path together with.  I'm trying not to think about the hole in my heart that I'll have when they leave this nest or how I'll fill that hole, or mend it, or accept it.  But we'll build a bridge across that river when we get there.   I guess what I'm saying is that we can't have it all- ever.  Not with all these holes.  It's just that there are too many places to fill.  We can't have it all.  What we must do is seek the joy in filling in these empty spaces.  And then keep looking out for where the next small cave might be.

Thanks Susie!  I didn't get it in on time.  But you made me think and that's one way of filling in the holes in my brain!

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

GRR 2012

It's peaking right now.  I'm not sure who decides when it's peak foliage around here.  I'm not sure how he decides when it's peak foliage around here and where he sits to look at his watch to decide or how he doesn't know that maybe tomorrow might be the real peak, but I'm deciding right now that it's peak.  I wish you were sitting where I'm sitting and could see the blood orange color of the mini-mountain I call my own.  I wish you could.  I can't even capture it on film.  It doesn't do the blood orange justice.  I tried.  I wish I could photoshop the picture for you.  Brighten it up to match the real deal.  I wish I could.  I have stories stacking up- funny ones that I wanted to use a few photoshopping elements to enhance them.  But I can't cuz'  I'm in desperate need of Photoshop help.  Can you do it?  I'll organize your junk drawer for you.  I will.

Well, here are some SOC shots that could use a lot of editing help but then again so do I.  Two weekends ago my wombats and I forged the persistent rain and camped at this amazing spot for one short 19 hour period.  It takes a canoe, or two, or three to get there.  It's a short canoe ride, but a canoe ride none-the-less, with lots of ice-filled coolers and leaky blow up mattresses and Lafuma chairs:

for very important reclining and relaxing.  Being with my wombats is like going for a run in the rain, taking a hot shower, and reclining in bed to read a good book- with no kids around to interrupt.

Being with my wombats is like having a husband who knows you'll want hard boiled eggs for breakfast and cooks them for you ahead of time.  

Hanging with my wombats is like having all the laundry in the house washed and folded and put away.  It's like sun drying your sheets on the line and having your husband (same as the one above) make the bed for you to climb into at your leisure.

Hanging with my wombats is like having someone cook and clean up for you.  Often.

Being with my wombats is like sitting down at a table with my closest friends and fresh margaritas, salt on the rim, and a bowl of fresh made guacamole and home-made chips.  

 Chillaxin' with my wombats is like eating a whole bowl of this for breakfast, lunch, or dinner:

In a pot
     1/2 cup veg oil
     1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
     1/3 cup sugar
     1/2 tsp salt
     1/4 tsp pepper
bring to a quick boil to blend and dissolve sugar.  Take off heat to start to cool
In a bowl
   1 can black beans (predrained and rinsed)
   1 can pinto beans (predrained and rinsed)
   1 cup frozen corn
   pour marinade on top mix gently
add to bowl
  1 can diced green clilies
  1 medium chopped onion
  2 stalks celery chopped
  1 each red yellow green pepper chopped
Mix gently and put in fridge overnight
devour the next day and don't regret it for one bit.

Circling up around a fire with my wombats is like laughing so hard you piss your pants or at least have stomach muscle pain the next day.

 Being with the wombats is like hunkering down in front of the fire on a snowy day.

We've come a long way since 2005.  And yet in some ways we haven't.   We still love floating around the still dark waters of the reservoir shooting the shit, commiserating about our husbands, children, situation; celebrating our husbands, children, situation.  Maybe we drink too much.

We often eat too much.  We wonder if Cath will make it across the pond.  We read smutty magazines.  We privately celebrate our literal and figurative nakedness.  We sit around the fire; we retell stories and play the same old games.  We soak up and toast each other's ways.  We sometimes skinny dip in the cold morning fog and giggle at our sagging breasts.  And then we paddle that short way back to the parking lot and go our separate ways.

It never seems long enough.  Ever.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Slawta Day 2012

Paul Bunyan and I have been taking turns growing muscle.  Yeah, yeah, yeah he's been growing his for over a year now.  But we've been working together to grow their muskulls:

The chickens are going to "meat" their maker. Get it?

He made the chicken tractor.  I'd feed them in the morning; he'd feed them in the evening.  He'd buy a bag of feed.  I'd buy a bag of feed.  I'd water them.  He'd water them.  The kids would help us move the "tractor" across the pasture every other day for 8 weeks.  He said, "should we feed them more," and then I said, "I don't know.  Do you think we should feed them more?" because all they ever wanted to do was EAT.  Forty animals with wings.  Crazy.

Yesterday we (this being a relative term) slawtad them.  Now, me being a professional homesteader and all, I knew that I had more important things to do than spend a whole day processing these chickens by my SELF (with, of course, Paul Bunyan's help).  So we hired a professional team- husband and wife- to do the dirty work.  They are, let's say, the World Weight Champions of chicken processing.  They have all they need in a horse trailer that they drive around the back roads of Vermont processing over 20,000 chickens a year. 

Now, considering the fact that we had ONLY 40 birds and not 100 or 200 or more (maybe someday), we had to drive to them.  But we didn't have to pay the transportation fee and at $3 dollars a bird, we felt it was worth it.  They also processed all of them in ONE hour.  Yes, I said ONE hour.  How bout' them apples?  They've been doing this now for 15 (or more years).  I wish I could remember.  All the stories that spun out of these two amazing people had to do with years- 25 year old horse, 16 year old son of said horse, 8 year old son of said horse, 8 year old dog, 7 year old dog, 35 year old house, 20 year old marriage, this many grandchildren this many years old, this many children this many years old, this is how old I was when I left Vietnam, this is how heavy that bear was that I shot, this is how many days the geese were gone for, this is how heavy that turkey was that I couldn't lift, this is how many chickens we slaughtered yesterday in this many hours, this is how many turkeys we have, how many ducks we have, how many...  The whole day was a series of stories set in numbers.   My mind went in circles as Ralph and his wife Cindy danced in that trailer like it was a hoedown at the community barn.  They threw chickens and parts in a pattern that looked like a traveling marionette troupe, all the while telling Paul and I stories of their lives that were written on their sleeves. 

Cindy would ask for three more chickens "please".  And Paul would grab three more out of the back of the pickup with a tool Ralph gave him that hooked a leg quicker than you can say, "chicken leg hooker".   That's what Paul was- a chicken leg hooker. 

And then Paul would hand one over and turn it upside down and Ralph or Cindy would take the three and shoot their heads first into the cones where they would quickly slit the throats.  The chickens would dance around a little, it being a hoedown and all, and then settle into their demise.  Then Ralph would grab em' and put em' in the HOT water to scald the suckers.

 He'd then toss em' into the cotton candy machine and turn on the switch.  This sounded eerily similar to turning on your dryer with your cat in it.   Not that I would know what that sounded like. 

 He would cut the feet off and throw em' two by two to Cindy who would take the entrails out and cut the livers and necks out for ME to keep for stock and pate.  I had to dig them out of a nasty bucket at the end of the hour and put them into a bag but that's the only time I had to get my hands dirty all day.   I know, I'm such a fair weather homesteader.

Paul Bunyan had to get a little dirtier- he packed the carcasses on ice into the buckets we brought and then helped me drain and bag em' when we got back to the ranch.  Overall, however, it was a fairly easy process.  I'm excited to have a freezer full of meat for the year that we "grew" ourselves.  Proud to be saving a few bucks.  Honored to have had a chance to meet Cindy and Ralph.  Blessed to have a friend and partner help me get back to our roots and SUPER excited for pate.  I'll pass on the recipe if I live(r) through it. 

I'm so funny, I can't get over it.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I Am Host To A Wily Beast

Today is the last day of summer.  We ate the remainder of it at the fair last night- mostly cotton candy and popcorn with a few maple creamees on the side.  We might jump some cliffs today but the clouds of school are hanging pretty low.  And something called sock-her starts tonight.   The boys are buying cleats...again.  It happens way too often around here.

We've had a pretty eventful couple of weeks.  It all started when these guys turned 8.

The goggles, I'd like to report, have not been chewed by Bee (yet).

The reading lamps, I'd like to report as well, have not been used (yet).  Cripes all mighty making these boys read is like pulling out their toe nails one by one.

Well, they got some pretty sweet swag- boots and camelbacks and....

the worst looking chocolate cake I've ever made.   Well, for some reason EIGHT comes with the right to put your hands in your pants when you're sitting on the couch watching a movie with your mother.  It also gives you the right to look at your muscles more often and to start smelling your body odor.  I know, who knew, right?

Two days after that my husband turned 40.  FORTY.  Now, he already plays with his dingaling and looks at his muscles and smells his own body odor, but all that doesn't matter because in case you haven't noticed he's HOT. 

And so with the help of Dirty Steve, I was able to plan a weekend in Bristol, RI with the majority of the Mothership, one of whom (the dingaling on the far left) came all the way from L.A. to touch Paul Bunyan's muscles.  They sure do love to do that.  And Jarhead, although he drove from Lake George, is from Aspen, CO and Timmy James Hender Fender, although he drove from Newport, RI, is from Lake Forest, IL.  And Stinky Jon drove down the next day from N.H.

We ate a few of these, dipped in a little bit of that, with a bunch of that on the side and we slurped it down with a few of those.  

 Definitely just what Paul Bunyan wanted- a weekend with his favorite friends, in one of his favorite places, eating his favorite things and being....

young at heart.

 Four days after that we swam in a dinner of tomatoes at the Kitchen Table Bistro's annual tomato dinner.  FOURTEEN years of marriage.   That means we've earned the right to now publicly display our affection and touch each other wherever we want when we're watching a movie on the couch.  It also means that we've been married long enough to feel sad about losing Paul Bunyan's wedding band this summer at the beach but not overly concerned about replacing it right now.  He says he won't pretend NOT to be married when he's at the bars downtown dancing like a college boy but then again he has all those muscles now.

Two days after that- after being off my antibiotics for a week- the wily lyme beast reared its ugly head.  Right back where I started two plus years ago.  It was laying dormant for this whole year.  I'm trying to find hope in striped rocks on the road as I pull up Japanese Knotwood roots to pulverize into a remedy.  I'll eat octopus if I have to.  Anything to kill the beast inside me before it kills me.   I'm trying to stay hopeful and to remember that EIGHT plus FORTY plus FOURTEEN is a big number to fight for. 

Friday, August 10, 2012

Mineeeeesota- One Year Later

I know you've been waiting impatiently for the video I said I was making last year of our vacation in Minnesota.  Oh, you don't remember me saying I was going to make a video of our vacation in Minnesota last year?  Good. 

Well, it's taken me a year.  And I have to let you know that I did NOT include the sounds of me drinking like a fish, eating a lot of fish, or sucking face with Paul Bunyan- all for your sake.  I have clips of those if you're interested.

I'll have some photos up next summer of this summer's adventure.  And I know you'll wait impatiently because that's just who you are.  I get it.

Minnesota 2011 from The Homesteading Hussy on Vimeo.

Friday, August 3, 2012


 I don't know- we surprised attacked her.

We weren't supposed to show up until the next day.

 But Paul Bunyan wanted to drive all night, like, through the night.  To get there.

 And so he got a hug.

And all I got was a cold shoulder.  But I think it's because a) I had a camera, b) we surprised attacked her, c) she didn't want camp to end, and d) I stank.  But I really think it's because we a) taught her how to fly properly (as if there's a proper way) and b)she's about to be her own "young" woman AND if I was there it also meant that I would make her 1) wash her hands, 2)brush her teeth, 3)pick up her wet bathing suit, and 4)eat fruit and not candy (for breakfast).    Boo- mom's here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

The Old Stinky Bitch

Ah, where to begin.  She was a bad dog.  From the start. 

The first few years of her life she was confined to a fenced backyard.  When Paul Bunyan was at nursing school and I was teaching she was lucky enough to have a laundry room to herself and a dog door to meander in and out of as she pleased.  There were days I'd come home from work and find my iron out on the grass chewed to bits.  Sometimes it was her bed.  Sometimes my laundry.  Everyday I was expecting to see the washer or dryer parts twisted and bent from her trying to squeeze them through the dog door.  She was bored.  And maybe that's where it all began.

She and I would walk the sidewalks of our suburban neighborhoods in the early morning darkness before school.  She loved these walks; me, not so much.  I would try to take her off the leash at a nearby school- fields to romp in.  But she wold lurk away to the dark borders and find an escape, which was too dangerous for busy morning commuters who wouldn't be able to see a dark dog on dark streets.

In the afternoons Paul Bunyan would take her to Wissahickon Park and let her run free, illegally, on the many trails that run up and down the Schuylkill River.  She loved these walks and the human feces she would find there too.  We wanted her to be free.  She wanted to be freer.  On one particular walk she ran across the river and stole a gosling from a nest.  With it in her mouth, she shook her head, like a birding dog does, and then proceeded to run up and down through a group of school children who all screeched like she was a dead corpse, not the one carrying one.  Paul hid on the other side of the river, pretending she wasn't his, and called to her as inconspicuously as he could.  This was all very bad for her reputation and information that was later used to prosecute her for killing our neighbor's chickens up the road- two weeks after the twins were born, three months after we moved here. 

So, as much as we wanted her to be able to run free Sydney spent most of her life on a leash or behind a fence, the latter of which would later become electric.  Paul Bunyan and I have spent HOURS laying, relaying, digging up, trying to find, patching the places that were split by the tractor, and generally maintaining two separate electric fences at out last two houses.  These fences worked until lightning would blow out the system or her collar wouldn't/couldn't recharge.  Irregardless, she continued to "break out" and find garbage, carcasses, compost, WHATEVER she could find that was edible or semi-edible.  I generally was the one to be nervous about her gone so I can't even begin to add up the hours I've spent in the car looking for her.  She generally always made it back, usually with a tummy so full of stuff that shouldn't fit.  Which brings us to the next problem she caused us.

The first bout of pancreatitis came when we were at my folk's place in upstate NY.  My brother, fortuitously, was dating a vet at the time.  Because when Sydney started climbing under trees to die a slow death from eating a fatty carcass, it was my brother's girlfriend who was able to procure some fluids on Thanksgiving day, none-the-less, in order to save her life.  There was a New Year's Eve pancreatic attack too.  And I'm sure a Christmas one, Saint Patty's Day too, probably fourth of July too.  I can't remember.  By the fourth or fifth one we just decided we couldn't afford the $1,000 vet bill and we (I'm sorry to admit) let her suffer through it or die because of it.  We learned, too, that if we poured hydrogen peroxide down her throat when she returned with a big belly she would immediately throw up what she ingested.  This was great fun, as I remember having to remove the vomit from the premises or she would EAT IT AGAIN!! Great fun.

Towards the second half of her life she started to bark.  Not at you.  Not at me.  Not at them.  At no one.  It was hard for us to figure out.  We would be standing right next to her and she would get her whole body into it and bark.  She would sometimes bark when she was underneath her favorite spot on the side porch.  She would bonk her head every time she barked and this didn't phase her.  She could do it for an hour.  This spot under the porch became "her" spot.  She marked it in a very canine way.  My mother once wrote a funny piece from Sydney's perspective on how to go about doing this:

How to Make a Dog Bed in the Dirt
By Sydney

Today I made a perfect dog bed under the picnic table down by the lake. It was so great that I thought I should write the instructions down for anyone who wants to make one.

First thing is to dig in the dirt in every direction so that there is a circle of damp moist dirt about two inches deep. If you happen to get it on everyone sitting near you don’t worry about it - they can brush it off. Once the hole is the perfect shape and depth (be aware that this might take some time), go to one side and pee in the indentation. Then use your nose to cover it up with dirt. After the pee has had a few minutes to soak into the dirt, use your nose or your paws to spread the dirt and urine mixture evenly across the circle. This will ensure that no one else will ever lie in your dirt bed other than yourself.

Finally, turn around three times inside the circle with your body and plop down into the fabulous cool ground bed. There may be a few earthworms that don’t appreciate the invasion, but just ignore them, or bark until they go away.


August 11, 2010

I have to say thank you to my parents who were always the only ones who could put up with her stinkiness and barking.  She was one of the best counter surfers I know- the stealth dog that she was.  So, Mom and Dad Sydney is grateful you "liked" her anyway even though her faults made her hard to take care of.  And Paul Bunyan and I appreciate how well you took care of her for those first two weeks of August every year when we always retreat to Minnesota.  Sydney will repay you in some way, in her own way, some day.  I promise.

Sydney was not the kind of dog who jumped up to greet you at the door or come running out if she heard a car drive up the driveway.  Her aloofness proved to be good for the two crazy puppies she "trained" in her life.  She was always generally calm and her demeanor washed over Liebe and Bee well.  She wasn't super jumpy or excited or hard to calm and for this I was grateful.  She didn't ask for too much love, and neither did she give it.  She learned to come around in the evenings, after the kids went to bed, and ask for a butt rub or a neck massage.  She liked, too, to have her ears rubbed.

I have felt some guilt over the last year having introduced a puppy, a generally gregarious puppy, during Sydney's last year.  But I think it proved to be good.  It got her up and out and excited again about bones and balls.  It was hard to watch Bee side tackle her or almost drown her in the pond but they were generally excited to see each other and I do believe it made Sydney last a little longer.  But towards the end there she started to be very confused about everything...pooping and peeing where she shouldn't.  She struggled to get up and down the stairs and would run into things that she shouldn't run into, like her water dish.  I'd like not to remember her this way- lying in the mornings in her own urine, but that's just what happens to old dogs.  I'd also like not to remember the anger I felt every time she pulled a plate or bowl off the counter, having it crash down and splinter into a million tiny pieces.  I'd like not to remember the countless times I had to pick up the garbage she spread all over the basement stairs after she managed to push over the garbage can and rip open its contents.  I'd like not to remember the miles I covered searching for her in Minnesota, Pennsylvania, New York, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.  I'd like to forget the resentment I felt when she started to wake every 3 hours in the night to go out to pee.

I'll probably remember all these things.  She was a bad dog.  But she was our bad dog.  Paul Bunyan's and my bad dog.  And through the tears two days ago that's what Paul Bunyan said, "if you've done anything Sydney, it's that you brought us closer together."  So thank you for that dear old stinky bitch. 

Thursday, July 19, 2012

I'm Not Sure I Can Fix All This

I was awoken this morning at 5:30 a.m. by a one eyed rooster with a crooked crow.  He was on the losing end of a cock fight- one we missed while we broke rules at Half Moon State Park.  I'm not sure how injured he is but Paul Bunyan says they both must go, although I'm not sure I can be the one to slit their throats.

I was awoken this morning by the warning call of an alpaca.  She was on the losing end of a territory fight.  Pig keeps getting out of his pen to make friends with the alpacas.  He is, of course, a herd animal and is lonely because his brother died last week of complications with a hernia.  He is now cut up in four pieces in my freezer, fur still attached to bones in spots because I didn't know where and how to cut.  And we owe a neighbor three hours of pork for the time spent showing us how to slaughter a pig.  There isn't enough meat there for repayment.

The water pump down at the alpaca tent got fried by a lightning strike for the second time in a month.  It is not insured.  There is no water for the animals.  The heat lamp we have to keep our 40 roaster chicks warm keeps burning bulbs.  They're in the cold dark.  The basement was full of water for reasons we can't determine- causing the mold to grow on hockey equipment laying in wait for September. 

On Wednesday night I met the father of the ten year old boy who died two weeks ago after he got pinned under his riding mower.  He gave my children free smoothies down at the Lake House Grill on Lake Bomoseen because Max wanted to have a smoothie bar at their new tiki bar on the water.  It was his idea to have sand at the bar.  My kids hung out there all night.  Left their shoes at the door.  He kept apologizing to me for crying and I just wanted to hug him.  And now when I'm supposed to hold my ten year old closer to me I have to put her on a plane tomorrow a.m. for Minnesota- all by herself.

And then when I return home from sending my daughter away, Paul Bunyan and I have to say good-bye to a fixture that has been a part of our lives for over 13 years.  We have to dig a hole and lay our friend Sydney in it.  And then we have to fix the roosters, fix the pig, fix the pump, fix the chicks, fix the mold, and hold each other tight.

Friday, July 6, 2012

The Shooby Dooby Doo Swims, Rides, and Runs

She went over the hill to theater camp. 
They went into the valley for soccer.
Me?  To the garden.
Pee break.
Pea break.

Two significant things happened during this time.  Bee chewed my beautiful lovely gorgeous camera lens.  We also have no more water bottles.  She has destroyed them all.  The bitch.  So when the second significant thing happened I could only use my peediddly little point and shoot and thus explains the not-so-clear photos of the very special significant second thing that happened:

 Paul Bunyan did his first very real very first triathlon. 

I can't tell you how daunting it was for him- a shooby dooby doo competing against some of the best triathletes in the area.  Lots of professional looking bikes, helmets, sneakers, uni-suits, logos, etc.  He had no idea what he was doing.

However, HE WAS THE 6TH ONE OUT OF THE WATER!!   In the sea of yellow caps I couldn't tell which one he was in the water and so when he came out I almost shit my pants.

Now here is where things went a little haywire.  Where did that phrase come from??  Anyway, Paul didn't have his shoes already attached to his pedals and if you're anyone who is anyone in the triathlon world, this is what you do.

So, as he was "transitioning" for his bike ride all the "professional" riders who SUCK at swimming were passing him because they've got the switcheroo down pat.  Where does that phrase come from?  Jessum crow.  And where does THAT phrase come from???

He sat there and put his socks on and tied his shoes and put his shirt on and buckled his helmet and all the while 19 (!!) riders whipped past him with their aerodynamic bike helmets and their shoes already in their pedals and their bikes with the drinks that have the straws coming up to their mouths all took off in front of him.

And then his chain fell off.  And then his laces got stuck in the pedal.  And he had to get off his bike twice to fix these issues.

And he almost bonked at the beginning of the run because he put some Goo in his mouth and he'd never had Goo in his mouth because he's (you know) a shooby dooby doo triathlete and he almost puked.

But he finished!  Under an hour and a half.  Half way through the pack.  Right after the "professionals"- the first of the shoooby doooby doos.

I have never been so proud of Paul.  Honestly, I can't wait for the right shoes and the right bike and the right helmet and the right transition and the right day because this shoooby dooby dooo is going to knock the socks off those professionals next time.  Oh, that's right...they don't wear socks- it takes too much time to put them on.  farkin' a.  Okay then, he's going to knock the one piece suits off of them!!

And now next week we return to:
She is in the bay for art camp.
They are over the hill for adventure camp.
Me?  I'm in the garden.
Pee break.
Pea break.