Chickens in the Basement

I love to write and I love to laugh. When I write, I get to the point quick. My stories would fit on the back of a postcard. They usually make me chuckle. And you know what they say, "It's all about me!"

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Lessons Learned

Tonight, I went out in the backyard to round up all of my chicklets for bed. I was already in my pajamas. Fortunately, the leaves on the trees keep me hidden from neighbors and passersby. Shakira had already put herself inside, Flora was scratching around under the henhouse, and Ruby was sitting on her pile of eggs she stole from the other girls. Cora Bell and Skippy were in the yard and happy to followed me around. Cora waited for me to find Japanese beetles on my peach trees. Skippy just didn't want to be left out, so he traipsed along. The beetles really didn't appeal to him.

With a handful of bugs, I squatted down and let Cora dine. Skippy flitted around about a foot from me practicing his cock-a-doodle-doos. Like any proud mother, I reached out to stroke his back. Bad move on my part! Without skipping a beat in his noise, he performed a titty twister on my hand, leaving behind a nice blood blister, and ran, still making noise.

Apparently, Skippy wants me to look and listen but not touch. I think I'll put on a bra and real clothes before I go out tomorrow night. If his aim gets better, I could be lying in the yard in pain for hours before one of the boys think to come look for me!

Friday, June 26, 2009

License to Scare Your Mother

My heart beat is quick, my breathing is shallow, my head is throbbing, and my ears are ringing. I am leaning to the left permanently in an effort to keep my ass out of the ditch. What's the problem? It isn't really a problem. It's my body's reaction to my oldest boy getting his driver's permit! Just where did those last fifteen years go?

Yesterday, we spent two hours at the DMV. Don't bother to schedule an appointment. There is no speedy way through the quagmire. Fortunately, we realized we needed a birth certificate and a social security number prior to our arrival at the DMV and rushed through the bank's safe deposit box to remove all of the items needed (plus a few extras since we didn't have time to study!)

Will passed his driving test with flying colors. He only missed one question. This was much better than his mother did the first time she took a driving test. She was sent home humiliated and without her picture on a plastic card! No longer do new drivers have to take a driving test. This comes when you get your license. While waiting for Will's number to come up, I asked if he wanted to drive home. When he said yes, I thought I would throw up! He changed his mind when we got to the parking lot at lunch time and the traffic was rocking. I drove until we were a few miles from home and pulled over and made him drive. He did fine. He is very cautious and travels a little below the speed limit (unlike his lead-footed mother).

Today, we had videos to return to Blockbuster. Will wanted to spend some time behind the wheel. Since the roads we travel to get there aren't too crowded and have minimal stoplights, he got to chauffeur his mother.

Our road is the narrowest. A few times, I thought we were destined for the ditch. But Will managed to keep the wheels on the road with little space to spare. A slow-moving truck with flashers blinking nearly made me swallow my tongue. Why are lane changes so scary? The car is meant to stay to left of the white line on the right side of the road. We need to work on this one as Will feels safer straddling that line! I'm afraid he parks like his mother...very close to the white line on one side and lots of space on the other. Practice will make this better! I felt the need to offer a steady commentary on what was coming up, where to turn, how to park, etc. After listening respectfully for a while, Will looked at m and said, "Mama, I already know that stuff."

Overall, he did a great job. I was the one with the problem. My internal speedometer was speeding up and slamming on breaks and trying not to cry. Will asked what kind of driver I was when I was learning. The last time my dad smacked me, I was driving down a highway and passed very closely to a guy on a bike. I was probably close enough to the biker to cause his body to leave skid marks in his underwear, but, as I told my Dad, "I didn't hit him!" I'm lucky that the biker wasn't fast enough to catch me and all I got was a smack. I'm sorry Dad!

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Just Ducky!

Yesterday, I picked Will up from a friend's house. On the way back home, just before crossing the bridge over Falls Lake, we saw something moving across the street in front of us. I thought it was a big old swamp turtle and started to slow down. As we got closer, I realized it was a Mama Duck and about 8 babies. We stopped until they safely crossed and disappeared into the tall grass. Happy swimming!

Doggy Does Dishes

A couple of months ago, I threw a hissy fit over the lack of help I was getting from my family with dishes. Everyone would eat dinner, usually accompanied with complaints about what I had fixed, then get up and walk away from the table, leaving behind dirty dishes, piles of napkins and spilled milk. I can’t remember when this started or why I let it happen, but NO MORE!

You will put your dishes in the dishwasher after you eat. Clear your plate into the trash can (I have to be VERY specific!) Don’t pile anything in the sink. Don’t leave glasses with dried milk in the bottom sitting on the counter. If you spill, wipe it up with a damp wash cloth. If it is milk, rinse the cloth out. Easy, right?

They complied half-assedly with grumbles and groans. In an effort to return things to the old way of life, ie. I am their slave, they put dishes in the washer backwards, lay glasses on their sides, put a small plate where a big pot should go. Determined to make things work out my way, I would make them come back and figure out a better way of loading the dishwasher…MY WAY!

Progress!! For a couple of weeks, they were doing a good job. I didn’t even have to remind them to take their plates with them when they left the table.

This morning, all of that came crashing to a halt when I caught Riley Dog standing on the open door to the dish washer. Not just his front paws, all four feet! (Of course, he wouldn't repeat this pose when I got the camera out!) When I called his name, he turned around with half a cheeseburger in his mouth, torn between the thrill of the find and being caught doing it. Back to square one!

If I wasn’t sure they would just crawl into the bed and sleep on it, I would start putting their half eaten burgers and pop tart wrappers in their beds. Knowing I would have to wash their sheets and re-make their beds is a good deterrent for me!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Another One Bites the Dust

When I went to bed last night, Baby Groucho was sitting on his towel with his head tucked under his wing sleeping peacefully. Yes, he was breathing. I checked! This morning, he was on his back with his feet in the air...nothing peaceful about it!

My track record on wild birds is not good. An injured bird I found this Spring died while I ran to Wally World to get him a cage (the same cage Baby Groucho kicked the bucket in last night). I don't know why I can't just leave them outside when I find them and let nature take its course, but I know that is a definite death sentence for a small or injured animal.

When my favorite rooster, Fred, was drug into the woods by a fox (we think), we found him still alive but badly injured. I brought him home in a box and let him sleep in the bathtub for the night. I hoped he would be upright and happy the next morning. This did not happen. I had called Susie, my business partner at the time, to tell her about the tragedy. I was upset and she was very sweet. The next day, she confessed that she was telling her daughter Jenny about the drama and got the silly giggles over should she ask tomorrow if Fred's dead? Yep, him, too!

Of course, you know about Skippy. I rescued him from the hen house and he's a perverted, psychotic rooster.

The biggest bird-find we ever had was when a cockatiel flew up in the yard during a walk in the woods with friends. The poor fellow had damage to one eye and a toe that didn't look quite right. He must have been starving to fly up amidst all of this chaos, but he did. Neighbors Terri and Dave nursed him back to health then gave him to us because they have a maccaw and a cockatoo, neither of whom would be too friendly to a smaller, less aggressive, bite-sized bird.

Since he had a doingy feather on top of his head, he was named Alfie (short for Alfalfa from Little Rascals). This bird had mental health issues, too. It tried to peck his own head off. The only way we could stop him from doing this was to attach one of those collars like a dog wears to keep it from licking injuries. The avian doctor cut this out of x-ray film and fastened it around Alfie's neck. He wore it until his wounds healed. You know how stupid these things look on a dog? On a bird, it looks like Chinese torture...but really funny. Shortly after the collar came off, Alfie was perching on my sweatered shoulder. He flew off, but forgot to let go with one of his toes. It got caught in the weave of my sweater and yanked his leg out of the socket. For the rest of his life, he stood on his perch in a half plie position...left foot forward, right foot turned to the side. He was around for about 3 years. Sad to say, but I was a little relieved when he went to bird heaven!

So, if I am in charge of raising birds, they die. Or they live a life of psychosis, then they die. Skippy, watch your back!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Baby Groucho

When did the word "SUCKER" get tattooed onto my forhead? Why didn't I feel it? Didn't it hurt? Shouldn't I have noticed it was there when I looked in the mirror? And why are my glasses whop-sided? (Ignore those ugly eyebrows!)

I guess the name is appropriate. See the next photo! This little guy fell out of a nest in my neighbor's yard. I couldn't just leave him there. The photo isn't very good, but you can see the eyebrows. I don't know what kind of bird he is, but Groucho Marx is his father!

He has a small injury on one wing, so it may take a little longer for him to learn to fly. He is a very chatty fellow. Tony doesn't know he's here yet, but when I asked Rick to take a close up photo of my face so I could tattoo SUCKER on it, he immediately asked, "What have you done? Is that a chicken I hear?"

No chicken! Just another cute baby that crossed my path!

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The Bradley Curse

The first I heard of The Bradley Curse was when my husband took on a boat my dad used to own. I've heard that a boat is a pit in the water in which you throw money. That was more than an accurate description of this boat. And being rather mechanically minded, Tony was completely frustrated when the boat refused to be healed!

Today, I heard my second reference to the Bradley Curse...the female version. My cousin Marcus finally got married. This gave my other cousin, Michelle, and I time to catch up. I think we wound up discussing The Curse by way of "what sports do your kids play?" Somehow, this lead to confessions of not wearing shorts anymore because they tend to hike up between my fat thighs, so weather I'm coming or going, my shorts are doing an inverted V. Capris are good because your knee fat keeps them from hiking up in the crotch!

We are the ultimate Pears! Above the waist, we look normal. Below the waist...Whoa, Mama!! Baby Got Back and I Like Big Butts were written for us! We can track The Bradley Curse through several generations, including our current young ones. Fortunately, when we were younger, we were much smaller pears. But to my nieces and girl-cousins-twice-removed, my ass is your future!

I even confessed...if I could have liposuction on any part of my body, I would have my inner thighs sucked out. Wouldn't it be wonderful to walk in pantyhose without worry of starting a friction fire. Corduroys just aren't an option. Way too loud!

Congrats Marcus and Monica! I hope you have boys!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Animal Husbandry

You might be a redneck if you have to have the "I am not your bitch" talk with your rooster. Let me explain...

When Skippy was hatched, The Girls weren't interested in adding another chick to their brood (I assume they also knew he was going to be another boy!) I found him lying on his back, feet in the air, struggling to stand on the floor of the hen house. I scooped him up, brought him in and turned him into a house chicken. My brother was mortified and Tony called him "a factory reject"!

My first clue that Skippy was a boy was when he wrestled my husband's fleece lined bedroom shoe into submission on the bathroom floor, and had his way with it. He continued to grow, learned to cock-a-doodle-doo and returned to the hen house with the moody Old Ladies. Apparently, they told him to shut the hell up because he immediately ceased making any rooster-ly noises.

The Girls wouldn't look at, play with, snuggle near or eat with Skippy. No way were they going to consider having sex with this awkward young house rooster!

What's a boy to do? Well, that rock is sort of cute! And, it doesn't peck when he approaches. And since it balances on top of another rock, when Skippy climbs on, the motion of the ocean must be just right. Skippy throws all of his feathers forward and rocks the rock's world.

Since The Girls wouldn't play with him, I became Skippy's only playmate. He'd hang out with me in the garden, eating worms, making fertilizer and aerating the lawn. When I planted a lemon verbena in a pink tire planter, Skippy fell in love! Forget those cold, heartless rocks! Every few minutes, Skippy would mount the planter and show his appreciation. So much for using the lemon balm leaves in fruit salad or as an iced tea garnish.

When I would go inside to fix dinner, Skippy would come into the garage, climb up the steps and cock-a-doodle at the door until his playmate returned.

As things go in nature, spring came, the hens got broody, and Skippy was the only fellow in the yard. It made me nauseous to watch his clumsy attempts at mating. A time or two, he tap-danced his way up to one of The Girls only to be facing the wrong direction. When he finally got it right, The Girls could have pulled off Jane Fonda looking at her watch during the throes of passion. No bells or whistles for these Old Girls. He started hiding in the bushes near The Girls to cock-a-doodle. When they didn't peck his head, he came out in the open to crow.

Once his confidence built with The Girls, he began approaching me with his side stepping, get-ready-here-I-come dance. After a swift sandal to his right wing, I scooped him onto my hip. We sat on the porch and had our talk. I am not your bitch!

Now, I find it hard to bend over and pull weeds from my garden without looking over my shoulder for my frisky rooster. Should he grab me by the back of my neck and mount, we will be having chicken for dinner.

I think Tony said it best...There's a reason why The Girls tried to kill him when he was a baby. Good thing I love him!

Baby Deer Karma

This morning, I left the house with my list of things to do:

1. Take Will to school.
2. Pick up some yogurt and alarm clock from Wally World.
3. Take garbage to the dump.
4. Return books to the library.

I got off to a good start. We caught the light and got Will to school on time. On to the next chore. But, as I zipped down Falls of the Neuse Road, I saw a bag fly out of the back of my truck. One of the trash cans had tipped over. Of course, it was the only bag that hadn't been tied. I turned onto a side road so I could walk back and pick up my trash. (Littering is a huge pet peeve of mine!)

I pulled up to the curb, glanced over at the side walk and saw a baby deer sitting there. She was covered in white spots and had ears larger than her face! Behind her was a tree protection fence that bordered a construction site. No mama deer was in sight.

I got out of the truck and walked over to the baby. She propped up on her front elbows and hoisted her rear up. For fear that she would run into traffic, I scooped her up. She let out a couple of WAAAA sounds, then settled into my arms like she belonged there. Now what do I do?

I dialed 911 and told the operator what had happened. I wasn't sure who else to call. We climbed into the truck to wait and snuggle. What a cute baby! I tried everything I could to justify bringing her home with me. Knowing that Tony would be likely to divorce me was a good motivator to make other arrangements for the baby. We waited and waited and waited.

Forty minutes later...Since I hadn't eaten breakfast before I left home, I was getting a little hungry. I figured the baby was probably a little hungry, too. It dawned on me that Dr. Darch, our veterinarian, was just across Capital Boulevard. He might have food for the baby. We buckled up and took off. I thought she might be a little distressed by the movement of the car, but she stayed snuggled in my lap.

When we arrived at Dr. Darch's office minutes later, he was putting letters in the mailbox. I rolled down my window and asked him to come look at what I had in my lap and tell me what to do with it. He looked at me rather skeptically. Later, I realized he probably thought I was a perve and didn't have any pants on. He mustered up his courage and came over for a look.

I told him how I found the baby and that she didn't seem to have any injuries. He said he knew of a rehabilitation program that would work with her. I asked if she would be euthanized. He assured me she would not. He got a blanket and wrapped her up so she wouldn't panic and took her into his office.

A few minutes later, my cell phone rang. It was the Animal Control Agent. She was a few blocks away looking for me. I told her where the deer was so she could relieve Dr. Darch of the responsibility. She said she couldn't enter Wake Forest city limits. I offered to go back and get the deer and bring it to her. She said that would be fine. She would take the deer from me and put it back where I found it.

"Oh, no! That won't work!" I said. "It was too close to the highway and a busy intersection. She'll get run over."

"We'll take her into the woods so her mother can find her. I'm sure she's looking for her," she said.

"There's a construction site there and I'm not comfortable with that," I said.

"The only other option is to euthanize the baby," she said.

"Nope, not an option. We'll let Dr. Darch take care of the baby!"

I'm so glad I left when I did. I think I would have cried or fought with her if she tried to put the baby back or, God forbid, tried to euthanize her. I told my friend, Lisa, about the experience. She says it was divine intervention. Karma via litter! Shoot! I forgot to go back and pick up my plastic bag!

Monday, June 1, 2009

Bladder Control

Fifteen years ago, I had my first child. After that, I didn’t seem to notice any changes in my bladder. But after my second child thirteen years ago, I think I sprung a leak.

It doesn’t help that I drink gallons of liquid a day. For example, right now, it is 9:14 am. I have had two large glasses of water (to swallow my hand-full of vitamins and tablets), a can of diet coke, a tall cappuccino from Starbuck’s (same as a small cup of coffee), a bottle of water, and two sips of a 20 ounce bottle of diet coke. More will follow as the day goes on.

I never pass by a restroom, public or not, that I don’t evaluate my bladder. If there is the slightest bit of pressure, I will stop in for a visit.
The problem comes when I am in the car, sipping away. Once I turn onto the road where our house is, the pressure starts. When I pull into our driveway and debate whether or not to get the mail, it ramps up and I pass the mailbox. In the garage, I have to talk to my bladder before I open the car door. “We’re almost there. Less than 50 yards and we’ll be in the bathroom,” I tell the cramping organ. I pause at the steps to squeeze my knees together. The door to the house is opened while simultaneously unbuckling, unbuttoning and unzipping. I do the knock-kneed speed-walk to the bathroom. Just turning on the light is akin to a baby crying to a breast-feeding mother. The let-down begins, but my pants aren’t down yet! Deep breathing, pants being shoved down while maintaining the knock-kneed press and quick flop on the potty! Finally, relief! Once the panic is gone, I evaluate my clothes to see if a whole new outfit is needed or just undies.

There is something about my chicken house that brings on an immediate need for a bathroom. While my chickens dawdle around the yard on their way to their safe place, my bladder goes from zero to sixty in thirty seconds or less. I confess that, more than once, I have hidden behind the shed, dropped my pants and peed in the woods. So, if you are riding by my house in the winter time just before dark, there’s a good chance you will see a moon rising between the leafless trees.

In my next house, I will have a toilet in the garage and the henhouse!