Sunday, September 25, 2005

Expect The Unexpected...

Tonight I was checking my email, J. was sitting just to one side of me on his computer as well.

N. came up to me..."Mom...?"

"Yes?" I pause and look over at her, as her tone of voice is troubled.

"I accidently bit my..." she frowns a bit and moves her lower jaw around a little. I start to reach for her face to get her to open her mouth so I can see the damaged tongue she no doubt is feeling.

"...big toe." she finishes. I stop cold, trying NOT to look at J. whom I see out of the corner of my eye is struggling not to laugh out loud.

Don't laugh, my mombrain warns me, and sound sympathetic, for chrissakes! "Oh, I'm sorry. How did that happen?"

She looks sad. "It was an accident..." she says.

"Well, next time try to keep your toes out of your mouth and that won't happen." I say, patting her on the head and shooing her away. We DO wait for her to be back in her room and playing before we giggle....

Friday, September 23, 2005

It's A Plot, I Tell Ya...

In their ongoing quest to brood and hatch a clutch of eggs, my hens have started laying away again. 'Laying away' means creating little sneaky nests anywhere BUT the lovely nest boxes that J. made especially-special for them. They do this juuuust infrequently enough so that we forget about it, until we realize that for the last few days our egg production has dropped by half.

Then it's off to play Off Season Easter Egg Hunt. Usually it's the banties that pull this stunt, who, if you ask the man that owns one; will tell you are wicked clever little snots. Favorite hidden nest spots of the past (not counting eggs laid in the house) include: an old wheelbarrow full of potting soil and large gravel that I was going to use as a planter--eggs laid DIRECTLY on the stones, in a trash can, in a long redwood planter, on top of the folding table and my personal favorite: suspended in air in the branches of the sage bush in the herb garden. That was a good one, we didn't find THAT little treasure trove for nearly two weeks. Silly us, we were looking UNDER the bush...

Usually when a hen is going to lay an egg, the entire neighborhood hears about it in advance for some 20 minutes. Loud, anxious cackling along with a desperate hunt for THE PERFECT SOMEPLACE TO LAY THIS EGG TO END ALL EGGS. She is accompianied by the rooster, who will follow her around crawling into lovely dark hidey-holes, burbling charmingly and suggestively, trying to sell her on HIS special nest. After several long minutes of this nonsense, including loud, repeated requests to be allowed in the house to lay the egg there (NO thank you, I fell for THAT one before), she finally settles on the same spot she always lays her eggs. It's when she gets quiet that she's actually laying the egg, followed by another round of explosive, joyful cackling which all the other hens take up, too. A hen will lay an average of 6 eggs a week, or an egg every other day. Say you've got 10 hens. Each one cackles for herself AND all the others for every freakin' egg. Now you know why farmers drive tractors. It's so they can get a few minutes of QUIET.

Currently we have six hens that have gone broody--that is, they've Gone Over To The Dark Side. Suddenly the sweetest, gentlest little hen morphs into Godzilla. She stays on the nest all day in a trance. She will come off the nest once or twice a day to eat, drink, and poop massively and with a grand stink. The other chickens run for the other side of the yard when a broody comes off the nest and stomps, clucking loudly and angrily, across the yard. It's chicken PMS From Beyond Hell. God help you if you stick your hand near her to roust her off the nest or, most heinous crime of all, take her eggs. Loud, chicken-y death shrieks, fluffing up and bloodletting (yours) follow quickly. Most heartbreaking of all is the nearly human shrieks from the hens that sound JUST like they are sobbing, "Nooooo!" as you remove the eggs from under them. We are heartless, murderous fiends to take their unborn and yes, we feel lower than dirt and apologize.

So lucky us, we've got SIX of these right now. Since we don't want more chicks, we have to both take their eggs each day (the other chickens gleefully find a broody hen and climb in with her to lay their eggs) AND roust them off their nests and into the safety of the coop each night. Some of the broods have formed Survivor-ish alliances and sit together in one nest. That's better, that way no matter HOW you stick your hand in there you're gonna get bit.

Little snots...

Thursday, September 15, 2005

Random Cruelty From Strangers

Interesting event at Disneyland the other day, when we took N. for a last visit before school started. Since I just had another surgery on my left ankle--number 3 of 6 needed--and am still in the Frankenstein-esq orthopeadic boot, I was in the wheelchair--extended walking still being a no-no for the present.

Firstly, no one, but no one looks out for wheelchairs at The Park. I've never had so many people run into and/or trip over me as I did that day. J. was muttering seriously about installing a sharpened cowcatcher to the front of the chair. Also, since J. was pushing the chair, N. walked beside me and held onto my hand so she wouldn't get lost. Those people that DID allow room for the chair refused to allow the child to get by. It was weird.

Then there are the parents who I swear, go to Disneyland specifically to lose, injure or kill their own offspring. Unattended kids were the worst for running into the chair and hurting themselves. One little boy of around 3 even walked beside the chair for a bit, staring at the wheel. I could see it coming, and his mother was looking the other way, oblivious. "No!" J. and I both told him as he stretched his hand out. Yup. He did it anyway, stuck his little fingers right in the spokes of the chair. By then I was SHOUTING "No!". Luckily J. knew what was going on and stopped the chair fairly quickly, but the kid still got his fingers pinched but good. Mother finally did turn around and grab him by the hand and haul him away. Incredible.

But that wasn't the worst.

I waited for J. & N. to ride Roger Rabbit, then we all went out through the standard exit, J. pushing the wheelchair. At the exit was the Goofy unit, comprised of Goofy and his handler, a girl named Shannon. No one I knew at all. Shannon spotted me, immediately pointed at my injured leg, laughed loudly and yelled, "Hey, can I kick you in the other leg and make it even?"

I was so shocked I couldn't speak, and J. just looked at her and angrily kept us going. NEVER in my life would I have expected anyone to say such a horrible thing to someone in a wheelchair, much less a stranger.

It was so cruel, so unexpected, so unprovoked that it literally took my breath away.

She, of course, had no idea why I was in that chair, or if it was temporary, or forever. To say that the last 6 years have been agonizingly painful, frustrating, stressful and depressing is an understatement. It's been a VERY long road so far and the end is still not in sight. The work they'll have to do to restore even partial use of my left ankle is complicated and has only a partial chance of success.

Shannon's bizarre comment, unfortunately for me, opened up the floodgates of all the emotions I've been trying to hold back for years, trying to look forward and hope for the best. We didn't even get out of Toontown before I was crying, and J. was trying to both comfort me, shield me from staring, curious people and explain the situation to N., who was very upset that I was crying.

We did stop at City Hall and file a complaint against Shannon, and the guy at the desk was very sympathetic.

We got out of there as quickly as possible, the day ruined. Sometimes people are just no damned good.