Getting a Peace of My Mind

Over the last few years, one of the big differences I noticed between myself and my kids was the way we worked. And by work I mean inviting and finding success with brain function, not our skill level with bow and arrow, or our ability to use a circular saw.

Those rougher, physical arts I still claim top spot in, but our intake and processing of information is apples to oranges. Or maybe even apples to orangutans. Not even remotely close.

Somewhere along the way from infancy to young adulthood, their gray matter grew partitions and looks somewhat like the inside of a fifty story office building with each floor holding hundreds of worker bee cubicles. They all function independently separate and together. Those little parts work for the giant godhead of global function. It is a hive of ongoing mental stimulation.

My brain is more like a gelatinous fish egg sack someone hauls over the side and onto the floor of a boat. It’s filled with potential, and it’s interesting enough to have folks peer at it with wonder, but no one really wants to go near it.

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My attention cannot be divided from the one project I assign it. One brain, no partitions, solitary job. Biologically, that’s as far as it goes. I’ve attempted multitasking before, but without the necessary hardware—the partitions—it’s like trying to build a concrete foundation with black strap molasses and prop it up with toothpicks.

Brain wandering is a specialty of mine, but I’ve spent years developing that talent because it’s a necessary skill in writing fiction. And if you’ve read or watched any version of The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, you’ll have the barebones structure of how I go about my business. Multiple times a day, I see a waving hand before my face, or hear the repeated snapping of impatient fingers trying to get my attention.

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Thus, I’ve found that sharing the same air space with either one of my progeny while attempting to accomplish anything cerebral is wasted effort. Well, let me rephrase that. They can work just fine. I cannot organize enough thought energy to remember how one is supposed to write sentences, or calculate figures, or blink. I am annoyingly DISTRACTED.

I am sidetracked by their music—which usually has a tempo that calls out a challenge to my heartbeat. Sadly, this pace is one that most physicians would use after they’ve placed you on a treadmill for a stress test and are trying to ascertain the uppermost level of strain they can place upon your blood pumping internal organ before you pass out and break your nose on the handlebars.

My attention is diverted by the pinging of all their technological devices, the vibrating of their phones, the trips to the fridge, the video chatting with their friends, and the clinking of ice in their glasses.

Hell, there are even times when I lose focus because I heard someone swallow. And although I can bark at them to turn down their music or shut off their phones, I can’t ask them to stop any involuntary muscle movement. Well, I can, and I have, but I don’t think they’re really trying.

So I’ve decided to do something about it. I’m going all Jedi on my bodhi. Well, maybe it’s more like going rodeo on my consciousness. I’m learning how to reclaim it and reel it in when it starts leaking out my ears.

And I’m doing this by practicing a little bit of simple meditation every day.

I discovered a few good apps and narrowed it down to two that I found would work with my temperament and schedule. I started with an iTunes search that churned up an oceanic pot full of them, but then I cut out all the ones that didn’t require a credit card or ask that you rise at three a.m. for optimal results. Free and do it when you please fit my criteria.

A prerequisite for finding success when you’re first starting off on the meditation merry go round is a QUIET PLACE. This obviously means a place where neither of my kids has a physical presence. I go to my bedroom, and shut the door. But in my house, a closed door is like a magnet for knocking hands.

“Mom? What are you doing?”

“Go away.”

“When’s dinner?”

“Go away.”

“There’s no water coming out of the faucets.”

Three a.m. is looking more attractive every minute.

Even if I’m alone in the house, I’m not alone in the house. My fur-faced affiliates see me on the floor as part invitation, part challenge.

There is a lap, and I belong in it.

There is a lap, a ball belongs in it.

The minute I close my eyes and “focus on my breath,” I become uncomfortably aware of the fact that two others are focusing on my face. I can feel their breath on my face as they stare at it and mentally converse with one another, asking why I’m attempting to sleep sitting up. Then I hear the beginnings of a beleaguering brawl: a grand event ending in a fierce game of “If you do that again I will make hashtags on your eyeballs.” After tossing them both out the bedroom and closing the door, they become lab partners and endeavor to regain access. But their engineering feats lack imagination, skill, and opposable thumbs. Their efforts would bring about the same amount of praise as hiring an architect to build you a house out of triply ply toilet paper.

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Nothing these two do makes sense.

The constant pawing at the door. The constant pawing beneath the door.  The constant pausing I must do in order to open the door, shout and close the door again.

It is a process, this finding a quiet space in order to quiet my mind. It is also apparent that I must first train my family before I can begin training me.

I’m pretty sure the only way I will find success at this point is to secure a little help by my side. So now when I sit down to meditate, I make sure I have my bow and arrow on one side, and the circular saw on the other.

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With this minor adjustment, all great minds think alike.

~Shelley

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

Related articles

Bug Off!

Three nights ago something crawled into my bed that did not belong there. It was invisible and had fangs. Well, it felt like fangs, but because they were invisible teeth, I couldn’t be sure.

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Half a dozen times I flipped back the covers, flicked on the lights and scoured the bed.

The cat gazed at me like a therapist stares at his patient—the kind of assessment that lets you know they’re actually going through the latest chapters of The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders in their head to see where you fit in.

The dog raised his head and blinked at me, continually wondering if it was time for breakfast.

“Something is biting me,” I explained to them both, “and since neither one of you are within teeth reach, it must be beneath the duvet.”

I looked at my skin: my stomach, my legs, my arms—nothing. I must have been dreaming. I squinted hard at the mattress and the sheets. Empty.

Just to be on the safe side, I rootled around in one of the bathroom cupboards and came up with some mosquito repellant. This would be like camping, I told myself.

Now smelling like I’d accidentally fallen into a vat of DEET, I crawled back into bed and flipped the light switch. But with each passing hour, my eyes flew open immediately after I felt a pinprick of pain. I leapt up and repeated the same tiresome routine until exhausted from trying to get some sleep, I gave up and got up.

It wasn’t until that afternoon that I noticed I was beginning to itch—absentmindedly at first. And then, because I was in a meeting with other people who were over the age of four and would notice one of us lifting up her shirt to scratch uncontrollably at an itch that refused to be satisfied, I had to be surreptitious. Except that it’s hard to be sly when you are desperate to rip off your clothes and tear off your skin. That takes stealth. Or a room full of blind people.

It was not a good night. After showering, I noticed that it looked like my entire torso had sprouted polka dots. I looked like an early Jackson Pollock painting—like really early—probably the time period when he was still in a highchair and figured out how to whip cranberry sauce from his spoon to splatter onto the kitchen wall—that early. Nothing artistic about it. And I highly doubt any of his artwork requested he give it a good solid scratch in a hard to reach place.

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I covered myself in outdated hydrocortisone cream and crawled wearily into bed after first checking to make sure that the clean sheets hadn’t somehow become infested with last night’s fang festival fellows. I saw nothing.

But I felt creepy crawly.

It was as if something was under my skin.

I slept with the covers off. Okay, I lied. The covers were off, but there was no sleeping. Just noticing of the constant urge to itch.

Chicken pox? Nope – I felt fine.

Poison ivy? Nuh uh – the spots were too spaced out, and not in the right places.

Fleas? Bed bugs? Chiggers? Small as those fellas are, you can still see them, and I found NOTHING.

We were back to invisible fangs.

The next day I worked, sat, walked, talked and drove about, but all I thought about was how badly I wanted to scratch. And the problem with scratching in one place is that it stirs up the histamine response to activate all the other parts of your body that up until then were somewhat silent, and encouraged them to scream, “ME TOO, ME TOO!”

Since we don’t live close to town, and I’m stubbornly stoic, I was thrilled to hear my daughter was heading out to pick up a few things and would I like her to stop at the pharmacy? Would I? Oh boy, I would.

I sent her in with a list of everything known to man and medicine that might alleviate the desire to make a crosshatch of scars over my body. She came back with soaps, and creams, ointments and oils—even the words to a magic mantra one has to chant that she purchased from the local health food store. She had come at just the right time. These bites were rising to a fevered pitch of a frenzy.

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Every hour I showered, dried off and tried something that came out of the magic pharmacy bag. Relief was subtle, but even subtle was a miracle. Looking in the mirror, I reminded myself of a Dr. Seuss character, but I’m fairly certain that I’d frighten even pint-sized fans of The Cat in the Hat if I showed up at a public beach. Swim suit season was over for me. Well, truth be told, I never held a parade for the opening day either, so it was no real loss.

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This, the third day of purgatory, has me looking back over the last seventy-two hours and attempting to tally up the total amount of water used in boiling all sheets, clothing and any furniture I could stuff into the washing machine. Then I computed the amount of money I handed over to the pharmacist for each promised cure. And lastly, I added up how much it’s going to cost for a full torso skin graft. I’m working out a deal with a plastic surgeon tomorrow. I may have to sell a few things. Like any extra internal organs not pulling their weight.

Yeah, I know, call me crazy.

But it’s okay, the cat already does.

~Shelley

August Gotta Have a Gott 

In January, Rob and I announced that his sketches will be available toward the end of the year in the form of a 2015 calendar! And our readers would get to be the judges and voters for which doodles they’d like to see selected for each month. We’ll reveal the winners one by one, and come November, If you’ve Gotta have a GOTT, you can place your order. See the cartoons in competition and to cast your vote.

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

Related articles

Making your mark with indelible stink.

It all began with Brussels sprouts. As some adventures do.

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This one though, took an unexpected turn, a pungent hard left.

It was dinner time. I’d fed the hair-covered creatures and gleefully realized I had the house to myself for the evening. I’d been fighting a hankering for Brussels sprouts the whole week long and finally found an opportunity to indulge with abandon. One whole pounds worth if I found myself determined.

And I was.

The prepared bowlful in my lap, I surfed with the remote to find something mindless and mind-numbing to watch for an hour before heading back to work at my desk. It didn’t matter what: Modern Family, Outdated Family, All in the Family—anything that allowed somebody else to do the thinking for a few minutes. At that point, the Weather Channel would have sufficed.

The cat leapt up onto the couch and put a paw on my arm. “Sorry, sweets, you’re an obligate carnivore and tonight is ‘Veg Nite.’ I popped her down onto the floor.

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She leapt back up and re-positioned her paw, this time with newly sharpened claws getting a firm grip. “Ahem.” She glared at me.

“Hey, a little dining courtesy would be appreciated—and oh my godfathers, what is that smell?”

That cat rolled her eyes.

“Wait a second. It isn’t me. I haven’t even eaten any of these yet.” But within two seconds of saying that, there was no need to ask for further clarification. The smell was unmistakable, and it wasn’t Eau de Brussels sprouts.

I narrowed my eyes and looked at the cat. “Where is he?”

“I imagine he is stupidly attempting to run from the odor.” She began cleaning one of her mitts.

I put down my bowl and got up to search for the hound. With every step I took, no matter the direction, the pungent odor increased tenfold. I opened the kitchen door to the back porch and whistled into the blackened night. Nothing. I went to the front door and did the same. Nothing. I crossed the house to the laundry room, the room he’s been given access to with his own private entrance. I stepped outside, reeled back from the landslide of reeking air, and blew a piercing whistle.

“Right here.”

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I turned to see the dog in the corner of the porch, doing his utmost to disappear in the shadows.

“What have you done?” This was a stupid question which we both knew the answer to. My eyes were beginning to water.

“I was trying to make friends.”

“With whom?” I demanded.

“It looked like the cat.”

“But it wasn’t the cat, was it? Wasn’t even close to the cat.”

“Uh … yep.”

“Were you not given any warning?”

“It was dark.”

“Go sit in the shower. I’ll be there in a minute.”

Pepé Le Pew slunk off toward my bathroom and I ran to my computer, hoping I had whatever household ingredients necessary to create a deskunkifying poultice. And at that moment, fortune shined upon me.

It may be true that I have a teenage son who can bring me to my knees on a daily basis due to his typical teenage boy curiosities, but he has one particular saving grace which repeatedly saves his tuchus from being thrown into the giant abyss of THOU SHALT NOT COME OUT OF YOUR BEDROOM UNTIL YOU ARE TWENTY-FIVE AND RELIABLY PAYING TAXES:

He is kind.

And I don’t mean, “Hey mom, thanks for buying chocolate milk,” kind. I mean help the elderly cross the street, fold someone else’s laundry and asks how was your day every day kind of kind.

And just when I needed an act of kindness, he walked through the door.

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There are not a lot of people who will be willing jump in the shower with an animal who can make your nose turn inside out from the stench, and show uncommon compassion for what that animal is going through by ignoring their own discomfort, but this fellah is to be counted among that lot.

I owe him my thanks, and try to remember to say it in between the variety of vehement and vociferous tongue lashings he regularly receives.

Once the lengthy shower had finished—one that included more baking soda than a kindergarten room’s art cupboards full of Play-Doh—I thanked my son and turned to the dog who sat looking quite miserable, dripping on the bathroom mat.

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“And now we raid my cologne closet, to see what miracles my friends Chanel, Christian and Calvin can do with your … situation.”

I made a perfume soup and then threw in a dollop of two floral and one pine scented room sprays. It was an aroma nightmare, but slightly better than the assault we’d been experiencing pre-evening-ablutions.

The dog looked at me sourly, “This is awful.”

“Beggars can’t be choosers,” I said, wagging a finger.

“Okay, but can beggars have some Brussels sprouts if you’re not going to finish them?”

I suddenly felt really bad for the poor fellah. “You bet, buddy. Tonight of all nights, I don’t think anyone is going to notice.”

~Shelley

April Gotta Have a Gott winner

In January, Rob and I announced that his sketches will be available toward the end of the year in the form of a 2015 calendar! And our readers would get to be the judges and voters for which doodles they’d like to see selected for each month. We’ll reveal the winners one by one, and come November, If you’ve Gotta have a GOTT, you can place your order. Jump on over to see the cartoon winner for April!

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery and what we all talked about down in the pub. Plus, you can see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone.

Related articles

 

Purrrly Whites

The cat and I share very few similarities other than we both like to have food available to us 24/7, and we want everyone to leave us alone.

Today, we had another similitude.

We both had dentist appointments.

With different dentists, mind you.

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I remember when we first plucked this lionhearted kitten out of a mass of squirming furballs at the animal shelter. She was less than thrilled at being disturbed from her nap amid her breathing blanket, and upon making eye contact with me, swiftly assessed I was less than qualified wearing my new hat of ‘caretaker.’

I could see her point. I’d broken the cardinal rule we both share:

Unless I come to you, don’t come to me.

She breaks our cardinal rule far more often than I do. She brings me a dead leaf approximately the size of a mouse in exchange for one of those doodads in the treat jar on the counter. A dozen times a day. In her mind, gluttony is justification for her behavior.

Plus, rules are for schmucks.

Brushing a cat’s teeth is not a job for anyone hoping to retain either their hypothetical friendship with their cat, or the same amount of blood they possessed in their body before starting the procedure. It is an adventure one goes into with the understanding that it will be pleasant for no one and likely fairly fruitless.

Chances are it would make an entertaining YouTube video that may have better than average odds at going viral.

Three years ago, upon securing this peevish puss, my daughter also amassed a collection of references in order to aid her on her journey of surrogate motherhood. The cat was “hers”—a birthday gift long awaited and finally realized. The gift also came with a few caveats that were not so gifty.

– Feed her

– Amuse her

– And dispose of her deposits.

PS. You get to brush her teeth. Good luck. Love mom. And remember pretty is on the inside.

The scratches didn’t leave scars, thank God, but we did figure out that a glass of wine helped to make the whole job easier. We also figured out that the cat preferred bourbon, so I took over with the glass of wine. Brushing the feline’s canines was clearly a two man job. My daughter wrestled the cat into submission while I sipped my way into oblivion.

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It was a win win.

Eventually, our bicuspid brushing bash trickled down from our twice a week joint shout of “SHOWTIME!” to my daughter’s “Yeah, I’ll get around to it,” and settled firmly at the bottom of my vet’s “Now, I’m not suggesting braces—you can decide that later after you’ve had a chance to discuss it at home—but your cat would surely benefit from scraping the three pounds of tartar off her teeth.”

Well, at least she’ll only be two pounds overweight once they’ve finished the job. Bonus.

It’s often said that it’s an easy slip to let the cat out of the bag, but getting the cat INTO the bag is usually more of my problem. Some cats do not see the appeal of a bag no matter how many pieces of dried chicken strips and dead mouse toys you throw into it. But I am not one to wither and give up. Plus, I really didn’t need that second eye anyway.

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Getting my teeth cleaned is not such an anxiety-ridden affair any longer, but stopping the whole procedure to answer my cell phone can be tricky. Talking to anyone with a mouthful of foam, a suctioning tube hissing away from the side of your mouth and a tartar pick embedded in the side of your cheek can be extra tricky. Telling your dentist to back off and give you a second can be trickiest of all—especially since he’s still within reach of all the sharp, gleaming surgical instruments and is running behind by thirty minutes. One must be delicate.

It turns out that the vet was calling to let me know a few quick things:

Firstly, the cat voiced an immediate complaint about her new lodgings and was not the warm fuzzy wuzzy widdle kitten you said she was upon dropping her off. A note has been made in her chart. And if you’re aware of anyone with even the minimum amount of experience and training, would you please pass on the word that the office is now short and in need of a kennel technician and receptionist.

Secondly, one must pay extra for anesthesia when the staff must employ the tranquilizer gun.

Thirdly, no more sugar for the cat—no matter how much she gazes longingly at the supersized bag of Sour Patch Kids.

Finally, why don’t we give her a few more hours before you come by to pick her up? Just to be safe.

Why so long? Surely her meds have started to wear off by now, I say.

At the moment we’re just waiting for her to stop hissing and spitting at everybody.

What? I thought you said she’d received anesthesia.

Well, to be honest, we’re not entirely sure that it ever kicked in.

Did you have to remove any teeth?

‘Have to’ is a relative term. We voted and decided that in all likelihood, any tooth that we originally had our eye on is bound to come out sooner or later of its own accord.

So the cat is back home, more pissed off than ever, partly because we’re back to the old tiny teeth brushing routine, and partly because I ran out of her favorite brand of bourbon. But after nearly choking on the bill presented by the vet, I announced she was just going to have to get used to generic.

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Here kitty kitty …

“SHOWTIME!”

~Shelley

**Gotta Have a Gott**

Last week, Rob and I announced that his sketches will be available toward the end of the year in the form of a 2015 calendar! And our readers would get to be the judges and voters for which doodles they’d like to see selected for each month. We’ll reveal the winners one by one, and come November, If you’ve Gotta have a GOTT, you can place your order. Click here to see the cartoons in competition and to cast your vote.

Don’t forget to check out what we’re cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott‘s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.

Related articles

O Brother, where art thou brain?

Toot & Puddle I spend a lot of time looking outside the windows. The views are truly spectacular: mountains, trees, silos, cows, woodland creatures, fairies and llamas.

Okay, I took it too far. Everyone knows we don’t have llamas, we’ve got sheep.

Funny enough, the windows I’m most drawn to are the ones that look over the sheep pasture. I’m so curious to know what keeps those mammoth woollies busy all day long. Occasionally, I’ll try to sneak up on them, to catch them by surprise. They never seem surprised. They’ve got the Art of Zen down pat. They even blink in slow motion, although it might be the arctic temperatures that are slowing down that bodily function.

Stamp owned by Swollib

They’re brothers, even though they look nothing alike. But heck, I’ve got three siblings and none of us resemble one another. However, there was a high turnover rate of postmen on our lonely stretch of road while I grew up.

Our sheep, Toot and Puddle—named after two fairy tale pigs—refuse to be farther than a three hoof stride from one another. They wander the meadow, chew grass, get caught up in the search for better tasting grass, raise their heads and snap back together in some strangely choreographed rubber band dance.

At times, I see them both with heads high, still as statues, staring in the same direction. I crack the window and listen. Wile E. Coyote? Bumbling bear? Livestock snatching Scotsman? I am regularly left with no answer and they simply both return to the heads bowed position. Perhaps it’s sheep yoga. The stretching of tired neck muscles.

And that brings me to their favorite pastime. Ramming. Talk about needing beefy necks. Or would that be lamby necks?

Whatever the terminology, it remains unfathomable to my brain that they continue to sustain this brutal level of continuous impact, a collision so violent I’m left hearing birds tweeting carousel-style. But as is customary, they both seem to agree that the best thing they can do after a good head bashing is … repeat the experience.

Ad nauseam.

Ram speed ahead!The sound alone is volatile enough to crush the tiny bones of my inner ear. It is a thudded clunk, a muffled wallop, a thwack that only the crunch of bone jarring against bone can create. But to them, it is akin to the tinkling tones of the ice cream truck coming up the street, for it sends them leaping into the air with glee, bouncing with legs like springs.

I’m guessing the only thing saving their brains— what little they do possess—from spilling out of their ears, is the giant cloud of wool they are encased in. I suppose it’s a little like taking two large cement blocks, wrapping them in pillows and forcing them to merge at breakneck velocity. Or magic. It’s the only other explanation.

But it is quite the show. And I think it’s my squeals of protest and elevated anguish that ratchets up their fun factor. They’re showing off. By having a pillow fight with their heads.

The other thing I find unendingly fascinating is that one of them refuses to talk anymore. Now, lest you think I’ve been joining the ramming riot, I’m not suggesting these yahoos can string a sentence together and quote Shakespeare. They hate the bard. Especially Leonardo’s version of Romeo and Juliet when we showed it on Movie Nite last week.

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No, what I mean is that Toot used to be vocal, and being the bigger brute of the two, we thought he’d be raucous and unruly, an intemperate bulldozer.

But as we’ve come to realize, size isn’t everything.

He ended up sounding like Mike Tyson with a case of croup. Raspy, high-pitched attempts to communicate generated uncontrollable laughter from the crowds we sold tickets to. And herein may lie our mistake. We may have overscheduled him with shows.

I thought he possessed more confidence, but I’m guessing he took much of our mirth to heart. I feel terrible. So I’ve decided to start a rehabilitation fund with the proceeds. Of course, we first had to pay for the overhead, because bleachers and popcorn vendors don’t just build themselves, but everything remaining thereafter went straight into his account. Mostly.

I’m determined to make it up to him. And to the folks I’m refusing a refund.

Regardless, the sheep have taught me a lot over the last couple of years and in no particular order:

–        Once hay has fallen out of the hay rack and touched the floor, it is inedible. They’re worse than me with the ten second rule.

–        Everything is a scratching post. Fences, trees, the bookcase that holds all of their favorite poetry … everything.

–        Wool is waterproof, soundproof and nearly bulletproof. And I mean nearly. It’s super close to being there.Bullet_proof_wool_200213 (800x543)

–        Sheep hold a grudge. Forget to feed them for one measly week and they stop talking to you. Won’t even get up to greet you at the paddock door.

–        There is no lamb language for, “Excuse me.” Head butting gets the message across super quick and you don’t even have to stop chewing whatever’s in your mouth to communicate this.

–        I would like pajamas made entirely out of sheep lips. Seriously, it’s like a new fabric made of jelly and velvet.Sheep_lips_200213 (800x636)

–        Sheep have no teeth in the front part of the upper jaw, which for the first year I found incredibly upsetting and thought was a result of the barnyard brawling, but apparently, this is considered normal.

–        Sheep refuse to fetch.

In closing this week, I leave you with an old bit of farmer wisdom, handed down through many a family: Live simply. Love generously. Care deeply. Speak kindly. And always drink upstream from the herd.

~Shelley

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Don’t forget to check out what was cookin’ in the Scullery (here) and what we all talked about down in the pub (here). And to see more of Robin Gott’s humor–all from the only pen carved from a human funny bone–click here.

Haggis; hairy hound, clever canine

I have been part owner of a dog for most of my life. Rare was the year I did not have daily canine company. The breeds have varied, the temperaments true to type. Some have been as thick as a brick, but luckily capable of putting on a good show.Others were intelligent, but unwilling to allow us to think we held top spot in the pecking order.

The dog who currently resides at my feet is by far the best hound I’ve ever shared a home with. I can’t claim to own him, because who can really own a friend?

And I truly do consider him a friend. He surpasses the definition on all fronts. Except I was recently forced to pause and question my interpretation after hearing someone recite a poem about a dead dog, returning to his owner with a message from the beyond.

If you’ve not come across Billy CollinsUnited States Poet Laureate, this is a fine place to get acquainted. His poem, The Revenant, is one every dog lover should read.

And consider.

And maybe commit to memory.

The Revenant 

I am the dog you put to sleep,
as you like to call the needle of oblivion,
come back to tell you this simple thing:
I never liked you–not one bit.

When I licked your face,
I thought of biting off your nose.
When I watched you toweling yourself dry,
I wanted to leap and unman you with a snap.

I resented the way you moved,
your lack of animal grace,
the way you would sit in a chair and eat,
a napkin on your lap, knife in your hand.

I would have run away,
but I was too weak, a trick you taught me
while I was learning to sit and heel,
and–greatest of insults–shake hands without a hand.

I admit the sight of the leash
would excite me
but only because it meant I was about
to smell things you had never touched.

You do not want to believe this,
but I have no reason to lie.
I hated the car, the rubber toys,
disliked your friends and, worse, your relatives.

The jingling of my tags drove me mad.
You always scratched me in the wrong place.
All I ever wanted from you
was food and fresh water in my metal bowls.

While you slept, I watched you breathe
as the moon rose in the sky.
It took all my strength
not to raise my head and howl.

Now I am free of the collar,
the yellow raincoat, monogrammed sweater,
the absurdity of your lawn,
and that is all you need to know about this place

except what you already supposed
and are glad it did not happen sooner–
that everyone here can read and write,
the dogs in poetry, the cats and the others in prose.

******

I am now forced to second guess my every move, his every thought, and the motivation behind his actions. I would have been happier being blissfully ignorant.

Maybe.

Maybe I still have a chance to make it all up to him.

Maybe I’ll write him some poetry.

~Shelley

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Sheep; The long and short of shearing.

His Secretary

Well, it’s near the end of April. And you all know what that means: Administrative Professional’s Day. It used to be called Secretary’s Day.

I’ll tell you what else happens during April. Sheep shearing. It used to be called Make Your Farm Animals Hate You Day, but that was a lot to fit into the little calendar squares, so it was changed.

Now guess what else has changed? The way my sheep look at me.

Peter, our Welshman sheep shearer, gave me fair warning. But I didn’t listen to him. I was too busy snapping over 300 photos of what was happening to Toot & Puddle, our wide-eyed woolly lambs.

It took Peter 3 minutes and 29 seconds to undress each shaggy form, an eternity in sheep shearing standards, but these fellahs were the first two of his season. He normally whips them out a mutton a minute.

It wasn’t until I scanned through all the uploaded photos on my computer that I realized what really took place, what Peter attempted to communicate.

To our sheep, I was provider of food, water, shelter and a good nightly noggin scratch. The perfect shepherdess. After Peter had them spread, splayed and speechless, trust left their eyes as the fleece fell away. They stumbled back to the meadow, not recognizing each other nor understanding why I stood three feet away and did nothing but document the entire assault.

Peter said I’d likely never catch them again, that they have a memory like an elephant, and I think we all have seen how well most elephants remember our birthdays.

I’ve never seen sheep suffer from depression before, and for two weeks following what I’m betting they’re now considering the attack, I have been subtly shunned from their little flock. Hearing sheep sigh can kill you, just a little bit each day.

If you have never witnessed a shearing, I encourage you to pack a picnic and send out feelers to find out where you might be able to watch such an event. As displeased as my two little fellows were over the sordid ordeal, I think it was more than amazing and expect the pair of them will come to their senses in a few short weeks when the temperatures soar and the shade is nothing more than a variance in ground color.

Seeing a sheep get placed into what farmers refer to as the chair hold will make small children fall into fits of giggles and most adults sympathize with what it must feel like to have four stomachs and all of them stuffed right after a Thanksgiving dinner. It’s just … unnatural.

As soon as Peter had one of the guys in position, it was easy to see the animal register a few things in double quick time.

Not only was he unnerved and unprotected, but he also found out he was … unendowed. He looked at his barn mate and belched out a collection of sounds that I translated to, “I knew something didn’t feel right down there.”

He then turned to me with a look that said, “I’m assuming this was another one of your ideas?”

They must have thought I was hiding behind the camera, refusing to make eye contact or take ownership of what they clearly believed needed nothing short of an apology in triplicate, if not recompense.

After the Barber of Shearville left, I spent the next couple of weeks keeping tabs on the woebegone woolies. They either stood, with heads bent, barely touching each other’s foreheads, or sleeping their sorrows away in the barn.

Maybe it was their bulk that gave them bounce and vitality, their commanding identity. It appears I have stripped them of their Superman suits and revealed a couple of Clark Kents.  They are not impressed and want their capes back.

It’s a good thing their clumsy hooves cannot manage Peter’s shaving gear, for given the opportunity and shifty glint in their eyes, I’d not be surprised if they’d attempt to wrestle me into a chair hold and give me the exact hairstyle of who they really see me as …

LEX LUTHOR

Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series

Luthor in Superman: The Animated Series (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t forget to check out what’s cookin’ in the Scullery this week (here) and what we’re all talkin’ about down in the pub (here).