Monday, May 18, 2009

The Gift

Have you seen this book? THE GIFT OF A YEAR. It's lovely. It's a book club selection of an on- line women's business group I belong to. I never would have thought of this on my own. The Gift of a Year... to me... Oh My Goodness, just like you, I have so many things to do for so many other people each and every day, how could I possibly give myself a year?

Um, but wait... how could I not? Whose life is this? And how much time are we talkin' here? Every waking moment of every single day devoted entirely to me. (All me -- all the time?Frankly I am not that interesting. By the middle of the second day after a very long nap I would be bored smack out of my mind.)

But all me in small doses... I think I like that. According to the book everybody's gift to themselves is as individual as they are. One woman gives herself a year to redecorate her house. Another one admits she's sick to pieces of where she lives, where she works and who she's involved with and that this year she plans to remedy all of that. One woman simply wants a year of naps and catching up on reading -- essentially to slow the crazy-making pace she's been on.

And me? What do I want from a year?

I want to take care of myself. It isn't just about dieting, getting skinny or looking good in cute clothes, although that would be great. But what I want, down to the core, is to energize my body in ways that will result in my body energizing me.

I've hired a trainer, I've restocked my pantry and my fridge. I work out. I plan my meals. I think about what I'm doing. Wine, yes. Buttered popcorn, no. I need every brain cell and every muscle I've got left. I'm not interested in getting older and grayer and slower. What I want to do is get older and busier and to go go go in ways I could not when I was younger, child-encumbered, work-buried.

Did it ever occur to you to give yourself the gift of a year? What would you give you? Foreign language? Foreign travel, belly dancing classes? A great yard? I might give myself some of that too -- but I am thinking, first things first -- who knows what getting in shape might lead to. And by way of a small me, this could be the start of something big.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Just for Giggles

You know it's a good day when it starts with a bucket on your head...

And if life doesn't hand you enough obstacles, make your own.

I'm just sayin'... it's a choice... cry over spilled milk or party like it's 1993.

So, Yo Dude, rock on

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Grace Loses Her Hens

I haven't any photos for this one -- only that link to our local paper -- The Cincinnati Enquirer -- which ran a story regarding Grace Harpen being forced by her township to get rid of her three backyard hens.

Please check it out -- this is so unfair, and frankly just plain crazy. People can keep potbelly pigs, pythons and dangerous dogs... but a hen is a nusance! I am outraged. It isn't that Grace lives in the center of Manhattan -- she lives in an ordinary neighborhood of ordinary houses. There are no sidewalks. The neighborhood is neither grand nor pitiful. And yet the township considers hens to be "livestock" (though not pot belly pigs) and there is an ordinace against livestock.

I am not sure how, but I'd oh-so-much like to help change this ordinace -- whether at the township level or at the state level. If anyone has any ideas, please share. I'm not yet ready to organize a letter-writing campaigne, but at some point I may beg for letter-writers.

Please read Grace's story. I've known her since we were 12 -- she's my oldest friend in the whole world and the the most inoffensive person I've ever met.

Thank you so much Blog Neighbors -- if you have any ideas, spill them.

I was at the pet store, see...

I am tickled and delighted to announce the newest member of our family -- Little Miss No Name!!

The acquisition of this dear little baby girl is entirely a blog phenomenon... Some weeks back I was showing off my new and improved dining room, with the pretty plaid drapes and the inspired china rack designed by me... where tucked in the back corner was an old fashioned bird cage, a decorative thing, an after-thought really. But someone (Dori) asked if anyone lived there.

Live there? A bird? Me, a bird keeper? I am planning to get chickens (the rule is I can not get chickens till after I get the blessed front porch restored... if it were up to me I'd have the hens, a hen house, a hen run and phooey on the porch, so i have to put in place rules designed to keep me in line.) But I'd never really thought about a bird. Not the way I'd once thought about a kitten. When I got my first indoor cat some thirty years ago I was 6,000 miles from home, pregnant and if I didn't get something in my arms to mother soon I liketa died! I desperately wanted that kitten. I sought her out, carried her home, named her Gillian and she was my right-hand man, er, cat, for 18 years. But a bird? I'd never really thought about... not till someone (Dori) merely queried if someone lived in that bird cage.

My Boyfriend wondered the same thing... was I ever going to get a bird for that cage? Silly Boyfriend doesn't know the difference between someone wanting a bird and someone wanting a bird cage. He understood the former... but the latter blew his little male mind.

But then we went to the pet shop to get water conditioner for the pond... and as long as the parakeets are right there, we could at least look... Oh my heavens. That is always my swan song... just a peek.

So now I have this dear wee bird who has no name. I have a little list going... but I'm really kind of stuck. Wee Birdy needs a name -- so would you be so kind as to make suggestions and help me name this little nameless bird?

(Isn't this better than a dead fish story? Yes, a live bird trumps dead fish every time.)

Monday, May 4, 2009

Here Fishy, Fishy, Fishy

Of course it had to come to this -- spring cleaning of the pond. Personally I am a little ho-hum about real spring cleaning. Frankly I don't have a week to dismantle my house. sort through all the linens, repair tattered edges, discard everything that's beyond repair, beat rugs, scrub ceilings -- good grief, does anybody do any of this any more? In my own house I give everything a good vaccum, spray all the corners with Renuzit and call it a day.

But the one thing that could not be neglected, ignored, overlooked or dispensed with was the pond. After a long winter of battling leaves and algae and other icky stuff, my fishies were much in need of fresh and clean digs. Despite their protests to the contrary I am only guessing that they do not really love that dirty water. I certainly could not stand to look at it another minute.

Not to be too hasty, before I could empty out and clean the pond, what I needed to do first was move the fishies to temporary quarters. Let's see, with all the new babies there are roughly 30 fish in all... these storage tubs filled with their own familiar brackish water would fill the bill.

And then to catch the fishies... you'd be surprised how unwilling these fishies were to be caught. Despite the sludge and mess in their home, despite the promise of better things to come, they were really very happy where they, thank you very much.

Just to catch fishies and empty the pond ended up being an all-day event.

Here I've taped the pump hose to the garden hose so's the water could be drained down the driveway and not flood my yard -- it's a good thing.

By the time the fishies were caught and the water was drained the sun was setting oh-so-low in the sky. Boy were my muscles aching. Catching fish is brutal, bending, swishing, missing, bending swishing, catching, carry to the holding tank, back to bending. And a couple of these guys held out till the very bitter end.

The plan for the next day, Sunday, was to remove the liner, scrub it of all traces of algae, replace it into the pond, shore up in sagging spots, fill it again and return all thirty or so fishies to the fresh clean home. The Boyfriend had agreed to help and there is nothing more fun than working with him -- he makes great suggestions and he makes me laugh -- how good a day is that?

Imagine the horror the next morning when I went outside in my jammies to check onmy fishies to find some 7 fishies, including my very biggest fantail, lying dead on the pavement around the temporary tank. OMG, had they leapt to their doom. Was the trauma too much? Had they hoped to leap back home? I hadn't thought to screen it in any way. I was worried about oxygen getting in, not fishies leaping out.

Oh, but wait! The big fantail blinked. Was that a blink? Was it possible she was still alive? I picked her up and slipped her back into the tank. Holy Smokes and blesssed be -- she was still alive.

The rest of the day was a worry and a concern. I was too upset to even think about taking more photos. The Boyfriend helped me remove the liner. We dragged it out to my driveway, scrubbed off all the algae, without slipping on our fannies even once. The low sagging spots around the back perimeter of the pond edging were shored up and the liner was replaced. Whilst the hose pumped fresh water into the pond I made us a nice lunch and we watched Bullwinkle. How nice a day is that.

To replace the fishies from the holding tank back into the big clean pond I needed to dechlorinate with water conditioner and I needed to float the fishies in plastic bags, so the temperature change would gradually acclimate and the fishies would suffer less trauma. So little by little I caught the fishies in the holding tank and shifted them into big plastic bags to float in the fresh pond.

Imagine my surprise when I got to the last of the fishies and hadn't yet transferred my two very biggest -- a very large bronze fish and a very large calico. How does one loose 7 inch fish?

And then the whole picture of my fishies that morning having leapt to their doom came clearer. They'd been invaded... something snatched them. A cat or a raccoon had gone fishing and hit the jackpot.

I am trying to not be too devastated... but I feel I failed to protect them. I hadn't guessed there might be danger. What I am grateful for is that whatever marrauder snatched up the bigger fish and laid waste to the half dozen others didn't entirely knock over the hold tank and kill them all.

There are now 26 fishies, all the more wary and wiser for it, swimming in the fresh clean pond.

Whew! The ugly part is done!