Monday, June 27, 2011

Honeysuckle tricked us

I know you people. You only check back here to see if I've posted something about Honeysuckle. Do you want to hear about good literature or gardening or how you should pray without ceasing? No. You want to hear about a bunny. So okay. You should know she isn't so great and we are currently deeply disappointed in her. We thought perhaps, maybe, after all, despite rejecting five handsome bucks, she was going to throw a litter. Perhaps, we thought, there was a secret love affair no one witnessed. Back home she was amazingly weird, possibly even matronly - refusing to use her litter box, dragging ribbons (one we'd accidentally left on the porch) into it,  stuffing it with rags. When she was in the kitchen for her little visits she grabbed dish towels, cloths, a throw rug about three times her size and dragged them into the little half-bath, pushed them behind the toilet trying to make a nest. She seemed desperate. She was going to have babies and needed to be ready. We gently kneaded her belly, certain we could even feel them wiggling around. Her ten little breasties perked up. WE WERE SO CERTAIN, we changed our life and cancelled invitations just to be around at exactly 31 days and a few days beyond. (Rabbit gestation takes a month. Females rabbits are reflexive ovulators, which means ovulating only begins after mating. About ten to be exact. They can have anywhere from 4 to 12 babies. Now you understand the "they breed like rabbits" saying. Exactly.)

We waited days beyond any possibility. Hoping. But, no. What a disappointment.
[Oh, that urh, urh, urh sound is the sink drain gurgling, not someone chuckling.]

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Honeysuckle gets a foot massage

It's time for Honeysuckle to get another shearing. Her wool has grown out again and with the warmer weather she is panting and hot much of the time. She loves to be petted and sometimes we're too dang lazy to bend down and stroke her, so we just use a foot. There's a link between petting an animal and lowering your blood pressure and I don't think it matters what appendage you use. Another small pleasure in life. When we stop, she nuzzles under it telling you, you're such an idiot, don't stop now!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Toad Hall reflections

The ladders are down. The painters have wrapped. I liked them – hard-working experts. It’s quiet around here this week, no more Talk Radio blasting outside. Our pockets are lighter but Toad Hall looks almost like a lady.

I was partial to Sherwin Williams but Denny, the Painter, prefered Hirschfields.

When we saw Bunny Cake (trim) and Spiced Carrot (accent) Honeysuckle voted with her teeth. For the main body (someone channeled Norwegian Settlers who couldn’t leave their fjords behind) Ocean Melody and Bowman Blue. I was a little crazy while choosing colors. And then I figured it out, partly. I want our home to reflect a bit of God’s beauty. Just a bit. But the stress of representing GOD was too much. I needed to get off and be okay for it to reveal my own interpretation of what’s beautiful. (Again, sorry, Denis doesn’t count as much here since he’s partially colorblind.) So this is what we got.

Our house was built in 1916 – it is an “American Gothic Four-square” ordered from Sears and Roebuck. This was what “prefab” was like back then. Huh! Sears also instituted another totally unprecedented option: you could buy a new home on the installment plan. Customers picked the floor plan and all its parts were shipped by rail car to your town in a sort of giant DIY kit. We like the five-panel doors, the oak floors, and wide oak trim everywhere. Our four bedroom house has a grounded feel you get to love, like it could withstand centuries of tornados, hail, trees falling and kids shooting pellet guns at the walls and windows.

All of which has happened since Toad Hall became our home in1981 – it’s a place where we’ve been rooted and loved. (Okay. Ya. We’ve fought a little, too.) It’s been where Ransom Fellowship was conceived and grown. We’ve kept out the possums and squirrels. We’ve patched the walls. We’ve launched our children and hosted tons of friends and strangers. Sometimes I wonder how long we’ll be here. Like maybe the time and money spent maintaining its bones and hair will be for someone else to enjoy. Denis says, “My next move? Assisted care.” I already get assisted care. Without Anita’s work in the yard, it’d be all nettles and crap-grass. But I know what he means. And that’s just the thing, we don’t know. And maybe I’m just feeling sentimental because we passed our 43rd wedding anniversary.

…so the roof is next. In July a new one is coming. And that’s how it is to steward and keep what God has given.

And btw, who gets to tag paint colors? I could do that. Pasty Flesh. Golden Gangrene. Ashes to Ashes.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Honeysuckle listens

...while Denis reads aloud excerpts from Travels in Siberia by Ian Frazier. (Where she probably wishes she was since it's close to shearing time again.)

     "At another stream crossing we paused again so the boy could get out. By now I had been rather shaken by the road’s apparent dangerousness and I used the stop to pen a farewell note to my family, just in case. I was scribbling in my notebook by the front-seat overhead light (darkness had fallen), and I didn’t notice ethe boy get back in. After a few minutes, Sergei said, gently, ('Sandy, oni zhdut...') (They’re waiting…) I looked up and saw all the Eveny patiently gazing at me. In Russia, writing is so revered that no one had had the nerve to interrupt me in what might have been an act of literary creation."

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Rules for Deep-watering

It hasn’t rained for awhile. A hot wind has blown in temps up to 100. Early morning quiet. Painters gone for the weekend - done tramping through flower beds and packing the soil for the moment. Foot traffic past the house low so solitude can be had while giving a long watering to plants.

Almost everyday I walk around the house to see what’s blooming, who’s thriving, who’s dying. I think I’m onto what’s happening. But not really. It’s a shallow engagement. I only note the ones that yell the loudest, like the poppy. No wonder it’s called Pop-py. We have one oriental Pop-py. Last year she gave one brilliant orange blossom. They don’t last long, you know. This year she went nuts and put out nine. You can’t help noticing or loving them for this brief 24 hour effort.

     When you deep water you can’t drag or swing the hose behind you like a wrecking ball. You need to remember that if you pull it around the corner in a big hurry, you choke and break the peonies and ferns. So slow down and draw it carefully.

     Deep-watering can’t be hurried – it takes time. You need a gentle stream that slowly fills the dry empty spaces in the soil. You need to be the big fairy godmother waving the water wand back and forth. Slow magic.

     When you deep-water you may as well quit thinking about the 2011 Quicken Bill-pay program you mistakenly ordered for Windows when what you need is the Mac version. Put out of your head the emails arriving to your inbox. Even insistent ones can wait. Rather when you deep water, you should hit a pause button. And look. Look. You’ll be surprised. What you find will somehow water you, too.

     I wouldn’t have noticed the following if I hadn’t slowly deep-watered on Saturday:

     1.  A tiny bird’s nest, perhaps a song sparrow’s, on the ground underneath the arbor vitae. Finely woven with Honeysuckle wool, grass, and small strips of blue plastic. Some unfortunate violence had torn it from its branch. Too bad.

      2.  A very feminine iris. I guess all irises are pretty girly. This one had the softest, ruffleiest white petals with edges dipped in lavender. She was one of a bunch of perennial transplants Anita found for free on Craig’s list in late April. We didn’t think it would bloom this year.

     3.  A Milbert’s Tortiseshell butterfly drifted past. I’d never seen one up close before. We’re planting for butterflies and hoping more come.

     4.  I noticed that the scarlet runner beans had come up but were ragged and missing large chunks of leaf. Something has been eating the crap out of them. I’m guessing slugs. We need to help them. The beans, not the slugs.

      5.  And finally, there, hiding in a Lady’s Mantle I saw a little marijuana plant. I think I know the origin. At least, I know how it got to our yard. When a friend moved away she gave us Lady’s Mantle from her garden and that’s where we found the first one last year down at the other end of the house by Mole’s End. Now this one, this year has the same companion. I’m not thinking our friend had anything intentional to do with this since her medical career would give her plenty of opportunity for, well, anyway. We’ll just keep it until she visits us in July and we have a chance to spin it for our amusement.

     6.  When you’re done watering. Rewind the hose so your mates don’t cuss you out.

I left the yard refreshed and a little more in love.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Have your cake and show your rabbit, too.

Not a usual Memorial Day celebration. But, hey. Anita made a Bunnycake last week and we were glad to eat it. We showed it to Honeysuckle who said she’d eat our sandals if we ate her likeness. But, hey, she's already done that. It was a carrot cake, after all. Honeysuckle? She was not impressed. Nor, apparently, was she impressed with the buck she cohabited with for five days. There could be more of her. We’ve been waiting like midwives and grandmothers, checking her every few hours for days now, even thinking we felt  babies in her rounded tummy. Probably large intestine with little balls of digested apple branches. We don't think this is going to happen.

If you need Bunnycake, it turns out Better Crocker has one for you. Just go here.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Unspoken Truths

Christopher Hitchens was on a recent 60 Minutes episode and it was fascinating to hear this man who is deeply flawed, but so eloquent and, could one call him arrogant? talk about his fight against vocal chord cancer which has metastasized. He’s a man who has loved his voice in both speaking and writing and he’s used it, or sometimes misused it very effectively. I heard, but can’t confirm that he called Mother Theresa that ugly little dwarf from Belgium. Really? He’s said plenty of nasty things about others and against Christianity, but he does it with such eloquence you have to admire him and laugh, even while you disagree.
I’ve wondered whether the experience of so much loss and suffering at this end of his life will soften or change him. What could be better than this crusty soul coming to Christ? I pray he does.

In a recent article that appeared in Vanity Fair he begins it with an excerpt from T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock.”

I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold
   My coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

He concludes with a truth that seems as Christian as it is human – that we are meant to live and die in the company of friends – that our relationships to one another in some sort of community increases wisdom and eases the loneliness, especially when we are suffering a fatal illness.

“My chief consolation in this year of living dyingly has been the presence of friends. I can’t eat or drink for pleasure anymore, so when they offer to come it’s only for the blessed chance to talk. Some of these comrades can easily fill a hall with paying customers avid to hear them: they are talkers with whom it’s a privilege just to keep up. Now at least I can do the listening for free.”