Friday, April 29, 2011

that’s Princess Tomboy to you buster


I was standing in the middle of a swamp, well not a swamp worse than that it was the mucky edge of the Jordan River.  Kids scattered among the reeds collecting a miscellany of snail shells & rocks.  “…I mean really, what would you do if you were trying to woo me?” I mutter to one of my best male friends while complaining about an old boyfriend’s attempts to charm me with his net worth.  He laughs takes a step through the mud towards me to hand something possibly dead & no doubt very dirty, “I’d buy you a six pack.” Good answer; oh & thanks for the beer the other night ;) But believe it or not, it hurts my feelings. 

Maybe not my actually present day feelings but the old feelings of the little girl who wanted to be Hawk Eye yet believed one day she would grow up to be a Real Girl.  Surely not this fake girl hauling ass down a muddy mountain ravine with two dogs in hot pursuit when I was supposed to be bra shopping.  I think my fairy godmother got held up or there was a mix up somewhere ‘cause I am almost 40 for hell sakes.  If I was going to magically transform it would have happened by now, right?

Okay, so I will never be a fairy princess.  Not shocking to you; devastating to me.  What now?  I suppose I suck it up along with my a few of my other female failings: If I won the lottery I would still just want a Subaru Outback so I could drive really fast in the desert.  If I could pick any vacation, it would be camping.  If I had to pick between the chores of shopping or shoveling out the chicken coop, I would choose to shovel shit!           

Charming, who won’t one of me around?  Yeah see that’s the thing about being a girl like me.  We are around but where do we belong? 

I may look like a girl every now & again but I can assure you I am not one of them.  I wish I were.  Don’t get me wrong I have girl friends I can accompany to the powder room if need arises. I even came by some of them honestly.  I don’t know how they view me; whether or not they feel the divide, but I sure do.  My mom tells a little fun about me as a kid believing I could only use the ladies room (symbol woman in a triangle dress) because my mom wore the dress to get us in.  I feel that way a lot about my girl friends, they sort have to vouch for me in matters of girlness.  Trust me there is a whole culture & language I don’t speak or understand.  But we do have common ground, miles of it; children, food, & of course men.

And what about these men?  Well I’m not one of them either & that I can prove.  For starters, past the obvious need to bra shop, most men actually frighten me.  Not in a baseball bat & pepper spray carrying sort of a way, more in a very healthy respect as to their amazing strengths & potential damning weaknesses.    

The other day one of my guy friends was talking about being able to tie a tie for someone else.  “But no one would expect you to tie a tie on yourself so you could stand in front of them to tie it.” He says to me.  I tell him, “You don’t understand I love men but they scare me.  I wouldn’t want them to stand over me like that I would rather be behind them.”  And I suppose the look on his face could have been anything but I read "So stop wrestling with them".  Well yeah, but what would be the fun in that?

It is all further proof that I don’t really ‘belong’ in the boys club any more than I do in the girls.  Mucking the waters further is the glaring need for safe handling rules for 'this girl who walks with the boys'.  I expect them to open doors & beers, & kill spiders for me.  It was once said: she is the kind of girl who asks you to hold the door open so she can take you to the parking lot & kick the shit out of you. Okay that is simply not true, I am way too smart to wrestle on asphalt.  
But when we are messing around like that whether it is hiking, biking, running, soccer, or just sitting on the sofa I expect them to be gentler with me than I am with them.  No matter how annoying I become.  And in a crowd if I step behind one of them because something has spooked me I expect them to handle it. Yes, even if the circumstance only calls for them to make fun of my skittishness.           

This doesn’t really clear things up however it helps me to appreciate the humor in my blended existence.  Moments like me on the way to tea with the ladies trying so hard to act my appropriate gender but getting busted jumping the garden bed in my girl dress before I even have a chance to prove I could be lady like when required.  Lol.  Damn she’s sort of hopeless…

And there is yesterday…I take a running leap barreling pass a male hiker on the trail.  He makes eye contact, a sheepish smile across his face at the sight of me muddy, scratched to hell, two dogs at my heels, & my shit eating grin.  I hear him laugh.  As I recklessly take a turn in the trail still holding full throttle I see out of the corner of my eye he has stopped to watch me.  Head turning?  Fuck yeah I am!  Not really, unfortunate for this little Hoyden the only thing head truing about me *sigh* is the mixed up wonder of Princess Tomboy.  Sure that guy is not rushing out to buy me flowers but I suspect given the chance he’d a bought me a beer.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

playing soccer with chickens & other bad ideas

Cats are a good idea unless their loyalties are elsewhere.

Accepting rogue hens into your flock is a good idea unless they are really great at flying & your garden fence isn’t all that high. 

Free ranging chickens is good idea unless you like playing soccer in the yard.

Hand raising a lone chick is good idea unless it refuses to be a chicken and spends all her time trying to get back into the house so you name her Porch Chicken. 

Having a Porch Chicken is a good idea unless you have a dog named Kilo who thinks she is his chicken & actually lets her into the house. 

Having a turkey is good idea unless you name it.

Having a Thistle digging party is a good idea unless your friends are on to you.

Sewing a dozen sock monkeys to sell at the farmers’ market is a good idea unless youngest daughter can’t live without them.

Teaching your 7 yr old to sew is a good idea unless she doesn't have the same fear of stepping on misplaced needles as you do.

It is a good idea to get a closer look at the hawk in the yard unless you are one of the rabbits.

Mud boots are a good idea on a farm unless you leave them somewhere where a chicken will use them as an outhouse.

Work gloves are also a good idea on a farm unless since you have them someone expects you to use them.

Reaching under a hen’s butt to get an egg is a good idea unless it’s Big Red- she bites!

Chasing chickens back to the coop is a good idea unless you value your sanity and intelligence.  

Ducks are a good idea unless the only 'pond' you have is a pink plastic baby swimming pool.

Geese are never a good idea....that is a long story :)

Thursday, April 14, 2011

sheep: a gateway animal to stupidity

It started with this little dog.  He is a Maremma sheepdog named Gypsy.  He lived with us until his need to be in the place he truly belonged over rode our need to have him belong mostly to our place…

But before he left us for pastures of sheep to boss around Beach liked to ride him.  So my friend says, “Mutton busting.”  And it’s a joke for awhile like the dogs getting to swim in the community pool before they close it down for the summer a joke that turns & becomes something.

Meanwhile back on the ranch, in home school, this becomes Beach’s favorite piece of ancient art.  It must be a sign that she is meant to ride sheep.  Then we get our big break Utah Heritage State Park is actually letting it happen. 

So we go & sign her up for the Youth Rodeo with a lot of really normal looking families; families like us who love their children.  We tie the age category bandannas around their necks & pin numbers to their back.  This must be the magical incantation that turns us from logic folks into mob cheering parents.  Much like Stage Mom’s only more diverse.

The youngest kids go first.  Each one in succession either backs out before they hit the gate or gets trampled in the mud.  This does not dissuade the parents, we keep lining up the kids.  Most of the kids, hurt or not are now crying and the parents remain the driving force coaxing them down the fence line to the waiting Rodeo Clown and Sheepzilla. 

I however am a really good mom so when Beach’s number was called I did the very same.  I led Beach who was not crying but was trembling to the starting gate.  She climbed the fence letting the officials help her on the sheep.  Then she suddenly dismounted & fled crying back over the gates.
She was sobbing over her failure for about 10 minutes as 2 more kids provided their bodies as a dance floor for the sheep to tap dance on. 

She tried again.  She climbed the fence, mounted the sheep, took instruction from the Clown, then raised her head and said, “The thing is I really don’t want to get stepped on by a sheep and I think the only way to NOT get stepped on is to NOT ride it.”

Well yeah.  You might look at it like that…

Colby snatched her up as she dismounted for the last time.  She was still crying but we were laughing at how stupid sheep can be.  Did you know they will follow each other off cliffs?            

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

excuse me officer could you hand me my shirt?

If your neighbor who has six kids, no job, is on food assistance, yet has an unending supply of disposable money lying around she might not be in the PTA.  Or she might, but she has a side job with the government. 

Well not exactly with them but if you think about the War on Drugs is a huge employer in the USA. It might even give old mighty Walmart, aka the Devil’s play ground, a run for its money. 

Also when you neighbor's place ‘gets’ a home invasion robber & you are told the well armed thugs had the wrong house, spending a few months worrying about why they had not double check the address before kicking in the door might be pointless angst. 

The other thing to note about said drug dealing neighbor she might actually become one of your best friends.  Wow.  That’s really strange because I’m sure I think most street drugs are bad.  It's all pretty black & white & green to me. Bad guys are bad guys.  Unless they cook really great Mexican food, braid your kid’s hair, save your dog from being hit by a speeding car, and sit in your back yard with you all summer sipping lemon aid and watching the kids play in the grass. 

Slowly over the warm months she began to admit to me what her boyfriend was doing over there on the other side of the fence.  Hum. Now what? You like her, no not just like her you care about her.  You love her children.  For hell sakes, you are practically raising the youngest two as if they were your own. The middle two listen to you when they won't listen to anyone else.  It's a giant mess.  Instead of a nice little Movie of the Week it's a pink Valentine's day cards with a real bleeding heart glued to it by a paste-waster. 

She wanted out.  She wanted a good & normal life for all of them BUT... 

When we returned home from a camping trip & the house sitters told us about the raid on the house next door, we can’t say that it a surprise or that it was sad; she was breaking the law, endangering her children, endangering other people's children, & all the other bad stuff. 

If your neighbor is a drug dealer don’t lend her your best muffin pans unless you can part with them for 20-life Federal Time.  Don’t garden topless on the morning the pack of DEA agents silently creep through the back field to remove the phone tap.  Possibly consider a new name for your dog Kilo.  And try not to miss her too much, even if the way she says certain words makes you laugh so hard you might pee your pants just thinking about it.  

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

walking on thin ice, where boys will be men

There is a side to Colby many don’t get to see and it isn’t his backside.  Stick around this house long enough you will see that part of him, probably others too.  The side I’m thinking about is the man on the edge of a frozen pond holding a sled in one hand, in the other a small child.  It’s winter and it’s New Hampshire.  Despite his best efforts to convince me things can freeze solid and trees explode from doing so, I will not join him on the ice.  He moves out across the small pond stomping his boot every few feet for my benefit. 

Even with our child in his arms I will tell you the relationship is new.  He obviously still thinks logic can persuade me to walk on water, not this desert rat you crazy hippie.
The two kids we have with us are young, dressed like little marshmallow puffs with boots.  I watch them play on the ice for about 45 minutes gliding, falling, & getting back up.  Frosty butts & frozen toes.  We strip them down, wrap them in blankets, and tuck them into the warm car where they both fall asleep.

This is before we bought a farm.  Before mornings started with wandering poultry in the kitchen because the dog let them in the back door & nights ended with the turkeys falling off the roof in wind storms.  Before bumper crops of lettuce, fields of thistle, and tumbling fences.  Before a lot of things.   

“I want you to see something.”  He said offering out his hand.  The big rough hand of the man I love.  I take it.  He lovingly puts his hat on my head & leads me back to the ponds edge.  “I want you to see the view from the middle.”
“Yeah that’s not happening.” I laugh.
“Will you ever be able to believe in anything?” He asks the girl who burns her finger every morning sticking it in the coffee while pouring from the pot to make sure it is actually hot. The sadness in his voice is for me, the anger is not.
“No, is that a problem?”
He laughs kissing me and takes off running across the ice, the landscape of his New England childhood.  From far away he is just a boy sliding on the ice in winter. 

“Did you know the Great Salt Lake is so salty, you just float in it?”  I yell out to him.
“I’ve heard that, but I’ve never tried it.” He calls back returning to shore. “When I’m in water I sink like a stone.  I would love to float! Let's go when we get back.”  That is the side right there.  A man who says he sinks but believes he will float even though he never has before.       

Sometimes that is the part of him I would like to send to live with the chickens or trade for something less perplexing like a goat.  But mostly that is the part that makes us work.  After all it is his belief in the improvable which allows him to believe in me.  We all know just how ridiculous of an idea that is, I mean come on exploding trees? I'll believe it when I see it...   

Monday, April 11, 2011

& other childhood myths

“Mom, do think that if I could catch one of those hamsters at great grandma Bent’s could I keep it?"
“Yeah sure.” *pause* “Wait what did you just ask me?”
“If I could catch one of those hamsters at great grandma Bent’s could I keep it?”
“What makes you think she has hamsters?”
“Hello, because she lives in New Hamster.”

“Mom is that the guys the cops were looking for?”
“I think so, but crime shows can be tricky let’s wait and see.”
“I don’t have to.  I know he is the ‘Crimer’ look at the way he buttons his shirt.”

“I put a tube down to where the rat is buried so if he wants to we can talk.”
“Could he talk before he died?”
“Mom, don’t be crazy rats can’t talk unless they die right, you know Kosher-style.”

“What do you mean we have to pay taxes?!?! I thought that it was what the Mayor was for, it’s his ideas he should pay for it.  That’s what you teach me!”

“I want to teach Geronimo to do tricks only fish don’t tend to live as long as they are stupid, so I worry he will die before we get anywhere.  Besides he can’t point his toes.”

Home School Notes:

1.  Starting the 6th book in the Harry Potter series
2.  Studying China; the question 'why is it that when you think about China it is all peaceful & nice then when you think about China it is all about war?'
3.  Times tables, here we come!
4.  Transitioning to full independent reading novels
5.  Art-Art-Art
6.  Gymnastics & Rock climbing
7.  The Big Bang t=0 using A Really Short History Of Nearly Everything, by Bill Bryson.
8.  Word games & lots of them- hang man, boggle, cross words, etc.
9.  America expansion & the rail road (building a foundation for reading Dragonwings & look at that, it brings us back to China)
10.  The wonders of water 

mountains i climb & the cliffs i fall off

I sort of think I am invincible in a funny kid like manner, funny unless you are my hiking or running partner I suppose.  You know those kids who tie a towel around their necks and jump out of trees?

Yep.  That’s me at 38. 
It is a good thing I have so many irrational fears they are like my metaphoric life jacket.  I could probably use a real helmet & a big stick but you can't have everything you want all at once.  Besides it would look weird. 

I do have something I don't want, I have a medical condition brought on by sheer irony, some higher something’s drunken sick joke.  Fire Whiskey night in heaven, 'Who on that little planet could not follow a good plan if her life depended on it?  A big Cool-Aid-Man ‘Oh-yeah’, Misty, that’s our girl.' 

My medical ID bracelet should read: suffers from occasional lapses in good judgment & will lie to your face about it.  It would be way more helpful than Hypoglycemic Type I diabetic.

Okay you’ve just passed out cold before 250 of your closest friends in a physiology class at the U of U, most of them pre-med (don’t worry, the degree is such a pain in the ass none of them will end up being doctors).  You win a label that will change your whole life so let’s set some ground rules…

Rule #1:  Eating a balanced diet does not mean holding coffee in one hand and beer in the other despite the fact they cancel each other out.
Rule #2:  Potatoes are not to be used as sleeping pills no matter how delicious they look.
Rule #3:  Use your big girl words to tell someone when you aren’t feeling well.  Turning to a friend & saying ‘I’m going to pass out’ as you drop does not count.
Rule #4:  Never stick your hand in the middle of a dog fight.  (Well yeah, it has nothing to do with diabetes but I keep doing it so I figured it should be in here.)
Rule #5:  When you think that something you are about to do might be a bad idea, do it quickly.

Let’s discuss Rule #5.  So this one day in the middle of the Utah Winter of 2010-2011, I wasn't feeling great.  So I went hiking.  Alone.  No, not alone the dogs were there and the deer, and the snow, and me.  You can see how sick I am in the pic’s I took but I kind-of knew that it was one of those ‘Once In A Life Time Days’.  You know those days- when you jump & you swear you can actually fly? 

I’m sure that the 10 days following my hike, when I was down with bilateral pneumonia, my doctor & Colby & maybe my friends who had to bring dinner and help with child care thought hiking with pneumonia had been a bad idea. 

I see it differently. 

I see the pureness of deep snow & the bend in the blue sky & me pushing through my own weakness to the top, because along time ago all I knew were my weakness at the very bottom. 

Maybe I’m just stubborn.

Maybe I’m just justifying fighting a fight for myself now I should fought back then.
But maybe I’m right this time. 
Maybe one day I will make a mistake bad enough it will cost me everything I am, but right now the mistakes I am making are what makes life worth living.

Maybe Rule #5 is simply brilliant in its idiocy.  Like the idea that if you can climb high enough you just might be able to fly.  After all swimming is not much more than drowning in style.  And falling is a great way for the directionaly challanged to fly- one direction, straight down. Hard to take a wrong turn with gravity navigating. 

Rule #6: Always try to land on your own two feet.                  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

oh rats, matters of life & death

Meet Beach future Olympic Gymnast, Veterinarian, & Supreme Court Justice.  Right now she 7 years old watching PBS kids nursing a head injury.  In a few minutes we will go to the pet store to buy a Beta Fish because the rat died.  We don’t why the rat died.  But she got the fish to replace the rat; she got the rat because her sister moved out; her sister moved out giving her the rat because the guinea pig died, we don’t why the guinea pig died; she got the guinea pig because the birds died, we know why they died!  At some point a snake died.  And we lost a scorpion, but don’t cry for that one we are sure it is safe & sound in the house somewhere.

Half of all chicks hatching will die tragically before their first birthday…that’s probably not true but let me tell you hatching baby chicks & raising them is like pulling your last coffee filter out of the trash to reuse it- a good idea before you actually try doing it.

So things die on a farm, shit happens.  Eggs don’t hatch. Cats suddenly start walking funny.  Snakes stop moving, someone poses them in a coil under a rock & says it’s molting until the kid figures it out.  Ducks get smashed in the road in the rain.  Skunks get it in the head, perhaps a drive by, after all it is a rough neighborhood.  Life and death moves on. 

I tell my kids I have no idea what will happen when something dies, other than it will smell bad.
Colby tells them something different every time, there is a God or a higher power one day, the next reincarnation, then meta-physics.  It is sort of like telling them we will be there in 15 minutes no matter how near or far away we are from the destination. It works for him because they stop bugging him about it.

Beach believes in everything and nothing all at once.  She buried the Rat with a well devised complex tomb, a tube for communication, a match box car for transport, food, and money just incase.  Rat on his way to the After Life Las Vegas in style!   

 So, it’s fish time and I tell her it will die.  She answers ‘no shit, everything dies eventually.’