Precious, dwindling time in the chicken workshop.

I've had little time to hole up in the studio this week, as I've been visiting various corporate possibilities, spewing words out of my word hole, sick of hearing the sound of my voice. Amazingly, I'm being called back for second, third, fourth, etc, interviews. Which is a job, all by itself. I come home from these exercises more knackered than at the end of any conventional workday. I have three days until I have to go in to Quintessential Seattle Company No. 1 for my fourth visit. Oh, just give me the fucking job, already.

Fallow Fall.
We've been having a very dry blue Fall here and its really throwing me off my game. It's not just that I feel I need to be out in all that blueness, which I do, but there are a lot of things that need to be done indoors, too (psssssssssssssthint: like painting!) and I stress about the need to do both and time is all tick tick tick and sometimes it just makes me spin my wheels. I do my best work when the weather outside is frightful.
I finished a lap quilt (well, actually two: the first one was ugly but functional but as soon as I saw it on my couch, I knew I'd never use it precisely because it was ugly). So, this new one is 50s barkcloth - a design attributed to Dali - with velvet, backed with fleece. I'm happy with it: it's a beautiful thing and very comforting. I just like a little sensuality in my comfort, is all. Like extra butter on the mashed potatoes.
I finally switched out my Spring quilt to my Fall one, even though our nights haven't been all that cold. This is fine with me, since Ester is going through her third fucking molt of the year. Apparently, the feather ratio readjustment makes her lose her equilibrium and she sways around like a drunk. I think it makes it hard to steer. Sometimes they'll all be running behind me and then they make a turn but Ester just keeps on going in the original direction. It's only slightly less distressing to watch for having seen it once before and then I thought she was dying. Even another chicken owner exclaimed "That chicken is sick!", but no, that's just Ester molting. Again.
I have a busy week with interviews. A necessary evil. At least I'm refreshed enough (not really) to dunk myself in some new fresh hell. I think now I understand on some new level the importance of work. At the end of the day, you've probably changed nothing, except how someone consumes something, but it is something about the hive, brushing up against it, even if it's just to have a bit of road rage getting there and back - its all an exchange of energy and you alway, ALWAYS, (and its always so easy to forget) wield the power to influence the positive and negative factors of that singular, everyday experience. So, wish me luck. Because I give one shitty interview.
Sun shining and big-ass pile of compost mocking
After three thousand trips to Home Depot to get bags of mulch, garden soil and compost, I finally broke down and had a yard of compost delivered to my driveway. The next day, a little ahead of schedule, monsoon season kicked in and now it's a big smelly mountain of mud. And now the sun is shining and if I listen carefully, I can hear that mound crooning to me softly to get off my expanding ass and get it distributed. The problem is, around this time, I completely lose my gardening boner, so I'll just have to shame myself into it at some point. This morning I've been busy making orange-cinnamon-nut rolls and that's pretty much the extent of my accomplishments. The quilt I started is muttering in the next room and a big painting of Beulah I started is whispering taunts, but I might just crack open Jonathan Franzen's new tome and go outside and read with the chickens.
Getting back in the saddle again

This has proven to be a difficult saddle to climb back into. In some ways it mirrors my real-life attempts at getting on to that thing on a horse's back. Pretty unsuccessful. I was always better at bare backing.....

It's been an odd couple of months. My last day of employment was June 30th and then six foggy weeks of waiting for Lulu's condition to deteriorate. Her final days were filled with her favorite (pricey) chew bones and on my part, guilt, dread and tenderness. When she did begin to fail, it was quick and awful. The house was quiet and strange for a few days. The cats slept in places they'd never before favored. Then they started playing and now every morning there is much kitty galloping that never happened with Lulu around to police activities. And it was about two weeks after she was gone that I came home from running errands and had a stark feeling of peace and relief that I wasn't to be greeted with slobber and hair and unremitting need.

I love dogs, but Lulu was the lesson that I need to love them from afar. I've never connected with dogs the way I have with cats (and chickens). You have this idea of yourself as how you want to be, and then, often, there is the disparate picture of what you actually are. I have wanted and gotten many things in my life and so many of them have been things I only thought I wanted. Through all this, though, I did right by Lulu and gave her the best life I knew how. I do miss her and her gentle ghost occasionally wafts into the room and she is part and parcel of my life and what I am. She was a good dog, but then, they all are.

It turns out that losing my job abruptly took all wind out of my sails. Additionally, it was summer, which is never a creatively productive time. But I have to tell you, I have done fucking diddly squat in two months. Now that the rains have begun, I hope to be able to focus and it's not like I've done nothing (for instance, I've read like a motherfucker). I have finished a painting and am working on two more and I've begun a quilt. And I gardened - a lot. Big projects that involved digging and schlepping and ultimately got me to shed some pounds and get some muscle tone back.

Now that I put it all on paper, as it were, I can see I've not been that idle. But it has been odd. As much as I do NOT want to join the work force again, I know I have to and would rather do so before my little cushion runs out. I realize that my day job is part of my creative process - it gives me something to push up against and apparently that's necessary. Hm. Who knew.

Old sister summer keeps rolling along

Lulu turned a corner several days ago. I opened the studio in the morning and her diaper sat on the bed, where she'd successfully discarded it in the night and upon examination, her poor yoni which has been like it's own little Eli Roth movie, had finally stopped bleeding. Her demeanor has shifted as well, probably due in no small part to no longer having to sport a fucking diaper. So, she's scheduled for surgery next Thursday. I would have liked to have had the time leading up to it to be with her, but I've been called back to the evil salt mine to finish up my last week, so I'll be sitting in my chair, doing what I've been doing for the last 7 years (fuck all), which will no doubt make the final spring of freedom more resounding.

So, summer moves on. It's been hot but not ridiculous. Ester is molting, again, but even though she looks awful, this molt doesn't seem to be wringing everything out of her, as past ones have. I tell her she's beautiful and she totally buys it. Women. I watched Night of the Hunter last night. It had been about 10 years since I watched it last and it still holds up as one completely over the top yet still expertly reined in movies ever made. If you've never seen it: c'mon!

Another day, more adult diapers
Lulu is actually doing much better today, so I am thoroughly bemused. And vets, like their human-treating counterparts, as usual fail spectacularly when most needed. But for now, we're here, together.
Ain't no why, so don't ask.
This morning found me far less sanguine about the whole situation as I opened up Lulu's door (she sleeps in my studio, on her own twin bed, after several years of sleeping with the canine equivalent of a snory, stinky old man finally got to me) and she bounded out, freed of her adult diaper and bleeding dark and steady. I stopped to brush my teeth before wrestling another diaper onto her and off we went, to the vet, where we spent the next two hours in a small room which looked as if a massacre had occurred after we left. So, it's cancer, and it's galloping. We left loaded down with things to rehydrate her and clear the infection she now has and a bunch of other shit and on Thursday, rather than surgery, they're going to take x-rays to gauge it's progress and it's very likely, it seems to me, that all those things I've said I'd do when she was gone - like throw out the stinky dog chair - will probably happen sooner rather than later. Again, it's sort of a blessing that I have this time off and extra resources, but why these things always seem to pile on - well, there is no why. So don't ask.
What is the what
The end of my second week as a woman of no means. And that's just disingenuous, because I have many means, just no steady income any more. But I do have a very nice (in my very humble world) little bit of padding coming down the pike, shortly, more than I'm accustomed to in my by-the-seat-of-you's usual mode of travel. My first week was a heat wave and a back that went out after sort of telegraphing it's intentions to me the previous week. I lay outside on my dolled up chaise lounge, with the chickens more often than not gathered round, preening and sometimes (okay, only Butters) napping. They all now hit the hay at 8. They've had it. Fed up with sunny freedom, thank you very fucking much. So, a couple of weeks, assessing and then I just decided a few days in, fuck it, it's summer. Try to have some fucking fun. What a brilliant opportunity, there for the figuring-out-of and me, all here and ready to do so. But today sort of steered me away from just idyllic hedonism to something a little starker:
Lulu's tumor. I notice it walking her. Some pinkness, I go in for a closer look: her vulva is swollen. The next day I called the vet and the soonest was Saturday, four days away. Lulu isn't favoring it but it's clearly all wrong. At the vet they take a biopsy and she bleeds and won't stop and they finally glue her up, and we set a surgery date (now, with the severance, I'll have some money and it's text book My Life (that usual cancelling out of extra money + new crisis.) And I'm okay with it. I'm going to be around for her, I don't have some stupid worthless piece of shit job to go to and pretend to do crap, and pretend to give a shit about it, while she's here home bleeding alone, so I feel in a strange state of grace. Today, I purchased my first (oh, but probably not the last, old woman) pack of adult diapers and have spent the day making Lulu suffer through variable successes at making them stay on and to keep her from getting blood everywhere and from licking herself dry. More vet consultation and biopsy results and we'll see how she's doing. It's okay to go, Kid, and your time at this address wasn't that crappy, was it? I think, as usual, I have underestimated the size of the vacancy to come. But there is still the summer ahead of us and our problems are few. I hope I see it through with Lulu, with her sewn up lady bits. We'd have that in common.
After the Dance
On Saturday, I held the third Waggle Dance. I discovered, belatedly, that all the prep I had done for the thing, the bulk of it garden-oriented, had made me too tired for the actual event. Oh, old age, you crack me up! I sang alright, but my hostess banter was a lame stain that ran down my shirt and puddled around my feet. Apologies, audience. But a lot of the labor went to things that will be done for the next one, in August (like my Rube Goldberg-ish lighting system and the velvet curtains and the gardens are DONE, I tell you). The rest of the summer (sidebar: today being the first day of said season, it's worth noting it's gray with a promise of rain and this morning I had the heat on in the house) will be spent swanning from chaise lounge to hammock to Adirondack chair and back, drinking cool beverages, reading and hanging with the flock. Special thanks to my guests who performed and I look forward to the next installment. For which I will be rested up.
An Indoor/Outdoor Weekend

One for each day. On Saturday, I woke up to a blue sky that has been making itself scarce of late. I quickly did all the indoor chores and then I was outside in the yard(s) for about 7 hours. I nearly put out an eye! Who says gardening isn't for thrill seekers? That night, after a very uninspired white-bean-spaghetti-pinenut-parmeson-cheese dish (eh), I spent some time rehearsing my songs for The Waggle Dance and managed to finally put down lyrics for the Artie Shaw number I'm singing over. It's been 10 years since I put pen to paper, lyrically, and that moment when the right words fit to the right place, well, it's pretty satisfying. After I was truly read to blob out for the night, I watched the last episode of Season Two of True Blood.

Dear HBO:

Fuck you.

I waited a full year to watch the second season of True Blood on DVD. I even went out and bought the sub-literate blocks of pulp it is based on - all of them - while waiting for you to get around to releasing Season 2. Was it worth the wait? Hell no.

That is all.

That said, I'll wait a week and watch it all again.

On Sunday, it rained all day and I parked it at the easle and applied embroidery floss to my newest Ester painting. I was very ill-tempered by the end of 6+ hours of work after I saw how little I'd accomplished. But a day in the garden and then a day in the studio is actually the perfect weekend. So, um, thanks, Universe!

I have been without a computer for two days at home and I'm a little stunned by what a large sink hole that seems to have left. I now watch tv, write, and listen to music via this metal box and when it's snatched away, well, then what? Weather-wise, it refuses to do anything but rain (which is pretty much what it did last year at this time, then we had the longest driest hottest summer since life began, so I hope that's not going to be a repeat, too), so I'm house-bound after work. The book I'm reading is only bed/bathroom fodder, and I can't even practice singing, as all the cuts are ON LINE. I had the computer fixed by one of our IT guys at work yesterday, brought it home, and it promptly went into some weird loop of log-on pages and never did allow me to get in. So, back it came and I guess I'll schlep my work laptop home tonight if they can't fix the problem today. Frankly, I'm far more comfortable with less technology rather than more, in most cases, but shit, a tool is a tool.
Dinsdale is feeling better, but still a little under the weather, which he conveyed to me by means of a puddle of piss and a couple of turds in his favorite spot in the kitchen. Poor little guy. I yelled at him, but my heart wasn't in it.
*A term - loosely coined from Bebop Deluxe - I use when I experience some kind of a cluster fuck, usually technical.
Wet and shitty morning
With sniper-like precision, Dinsdale, Monsieur Hair, has necessitated a trip to the vet when I am stone broke. A restful drive of 30 minutes of piteous mewing and cat panting and drivers in Seattle who always seem to be flummoxed by rain and Mommy wants a Valium. Dropped him off and they called me a bit later: it's not dire - a swollen anal sac, ew - but it involves a bunch of shit that involves money. Oh well. If anything really awful happened to Mr. Hands, I would be bereft, so I am thankful that it was just this, and thankful that I don't have an anal sac which could require draining at some point in my future.
Also, I sent my next Waggle Dance invitations out and immediately my core 'family' bailed. I will take this as the Bigger Picture showing me that I don't need a reliable warm cushion of love and acceptance, that it's time to graduate to cooler and perhaps higher climes. I decided when I initally conceived of the idea of a Salon/Workshop, that if it was just me, then I would just sing for me. The practice I'm putting in is really reaping results and I'm starting to get a little itchy for good sound systems, good lighting and beyond the lights, a sea of flint and potential sparkage.
One thing is not like the others.
Since I'm a fragile little old lady, demure and retiring in my ways, and living alone and helpless (yeah, just try it), I finally figured it was time to step up the home front security and installed a motion sensor. By 'installed' I mean 'set on the ground'. It scared the bejesus out of the chickens when they heard it and frankly, it's so fucking obnoxious, I'm hard pressed to use it even with the irritant factors on both side of me. But probably after more hijinx either from Girlyman and Pegger on one side and the Alzheimer's Hospice on the other (which is ramping up for some summer fun with the inhabitants crawling out of their windows and setting off fire alarms), and after I've heard the ice cream/crack dealer truck's rendition of Turkey-in-the-Straw for the nine zillionith time, I'll probably just turn it on some night. And enjoy.
Loathe Thy Neighbor
I just had 11 glorious days away from the Paycheck Generator. Usually when taking time off, I set forth grand goals which I then feel shitty about for not having achieved. This time, I just had one task and it was one that took up the bulk of the time, but mission accomplished. This will be my fourth summer in this house and the front yard has been an area that I have not embraced and have sort of let go to shit. The previous inhabitants had a completely different vocabulary of plantings than I do and this year I just decided, fuck it, and if it offended me, I plucked it out. In the process, my wonky back, weakened by my hulking over the keyboard all day, got better, I got some sun and when I went to bed at night, I felt - righteously - tired. Next door, GirlyMan and The Pegger, whose every utterance is delivered with the conviction and projection of The Word, had me seething for the first couple of days, but since I buy earplugs in bulk, they're not scarce around my house and they did the trick. Last year, between them, the insidious ice cream truck and the guy over at the Alzheimer's hospice with Buckets 'O Phlegm, I was often driven in to the house. But no mores, I tells ya! No. Mores.
The weather was perfect most days and the chickens spent all day rototilling and over this last weekend, their freakish moratorium on laying ended with Ester, who produced a dark (they're always darker when they had a bit of a hiatus) brown egg, while Beulah stood a foot away and screamed at her the entire time. Beulah's eggs are still falling out of her, shell-less, so she has reason to be bitter, I suppose. But with just one of them laying again, it's a huge relief. It really doesn't take a lot to make it all right in my world.
As The Chicken Turns.
It's been a crazy fortnight or so in my universe. Actually, a good week of it was just decompression. On Saturday, April 24, I held my first 'official' Waggle Dance, my musical salon/workshop (when I told a person at work I had started a salon in my home they said I didn't know you did hair.....). While attendance was basically just family, it was a wonderful evening full of sweetness, acceptance and overall fabulousness. The next day there was a real slackening in the tightness inside me that has been there for so long I'd forgotten it's not natural. So, there will be Waggle Dances every two months and I've already begun researching new numbers to perform.
The chicken sisters continue to worry. The only egg action is the occasional egg-less one that falls out of Beulah (and is promptly dispatched by Beulah and Esters, with Butters looking on wistfully). I've got oyster shells available to them all the time now, not just occasionally. On Sunday, I opened their coop and Butters didn't want to come out. She just stood there, with her tail drooping. Not good. I took her up to the porch, away from the other two, who can be no fun to be around if you're a chicken who's feeling crappy (I would assume). I thought this was it and all the other plans for the day were dashed and I spent it with my pretty girl who is barely a year old and dying far too soon. I held her on my lap on the back porch for an hour or so, crying great buckets of snot and freezing my ass off. I moved her to the house, where I propped my feet up on my desk with her in my lap and attempted to read and then just finally took her to bed with me. I put her on a towel and petted the curve of the back of her head. She would doze off and I would doze off and wake up to find her just silently regarding me. We spent about 4-5 hours there and she finally started getting restless and I took her out on the back deck and she crapped a phosphorescent green crap and suddenly was her old self.
So: I will endeavor to remember that chickens, just like me, just like kitteh-brothers or the sister-dog, have days where you just don't feel up to snuff. It does not mean THE END IS NIGH!!!!!! So, I'm happy to say Butters seems completely her old self, limping is gone, just overall good. They are still not laying one damn egg, but I reckon they'll get around to it when they bloody well please.
Last night they all came in the house and when I called Butters, she came right to me and wanted in my lap. This is a first. I guess since we've shared a bed, we're now officially BFFs.
The $168 Chicken
So, vet day arrives. I put Butters in the cat carrier and drive. I have to say, chickens are a lot easier to ferry back and forth than say, cats. They generally hunker down and don't utter a peep. After the requisite wrong turns that seem inherent for any new location (for me), I arrive at the Exotic Animal Vet. The receptionist was the kind I love, especially when I'm somewhere for the first time. I'm here for a 2:30, with Butters, I say and she just looks at me. So, I go sit down. There's a lone guy in the tiny waiting room, with a small parrot on his shoulder. I'm sure he's looking at my chicken and thinking 'fffttt'. The receptionist rouses herself from her singular catatonia and gives me a clipboard with some crap to fill out, asking for spouses and family members and anyone else they can hound for the bill. After a fairly uneventful vet exam I go back out to the waiting room to wait for the results of the fecal float (which conjures up images of root beer and chicken shit). Some hipster dude comes in with a laundry sack containing some mystery animal. A mountainous man comes in to retrieve his Amazon parrot and I overhear (hard not to) the bill being discussed: around $900. Finally, the doctor comes out and says the crap tested positive for coccidiosis, which is no big, but it's better not to have it. So, antibiotics for Butters (translated: they don't have a clue why she's limping), stuff to put in their water and $168 poorer, I left, blinking. Oh well. I've decided that what I don't know about chickens, I'm going to learn so that I don't feel so mystified every time something goes wrong with them. But in the end, I have a new catch phrase. When someone posits an unanswerable question, I will now say: Well, that's the $168 chicken, now isn't it?
More flack with the flock
Apparently, after last weekend's fretting about Ester and Beulah, respectively, Butters was feeling neglected, so she decided to develop a limp. This has happened with Ester before, but it cleared up in a day. Butter's been gimping around for 2, so today I made my first appointment with the only (so far....) vet in Seattle who sees chickens. So, hopefully, they will know their stuff and I will have a resource for future issues. As is, I feel like I've been in an intensive animal husbandry class but forgot to study. Or something.
No thing is 'just' anything
From the beginning, Ester's appearance in my life was clearly significant. I am of the school of There Are No Accidents. She was as meant for me at that moment as I was for her. I have no doubt that I saved her life and in ways that still remain too elusive to articulate, she has been saving mine in our nearly two years together, or perhaps trying to.
When a drunk stops drinking, that's not the end of it. To really step over that threshold to something sane and even sacred, you have to acknowledge you're not the end all, be all. As Tyler Durden said: You are not a beautiful and unique snowflake. You're the same decaying organic matter as everything else. So in that vein, I am Ester and Ester is me. There is no distinction. NO THING IS JUST ANYTHING. Ester is not just a chicken anymore than I'm just a human. This I have come to understand and since Ester is the messenger, I choose to regard her as a higher power to myself. Yes, I know she's a chicken. But she's not just a chicken. In seeing this and understanding this, I have for the first time experienced the sacred, the spiritual, the something outside of myself and out of all ourselves yet contained in every one of us. Ester is God.
Gone fishin' but now I'm back.

I apologize for my half-assed posting. I just haven't felt it lately. When my blog is boring me, I can only imagine the reaction of those few who read it (or probably don't anymore, since I've been away from the table for so long).

I've been sort of mulling over what exactly I want this effort to be about. And I think Saturday's events sort of pointed my pointy head in the right direction. All in all, it was a terrible weekend, all chicken-centric. Saturday, Ester, who has stopped laying and begun leaving poops around that looked like they had egg yolk in them, just sat around with her feathers fluffed, sleeping periodically. 'Full of sleep' is what another chicken friend calls it, when they are about to die. So, there was a lot of sobbing and almost a purchase of a bottle of wine in there. She didn't die and I didn't drink. By the beginning of the evening, she seemed her old self: then I realized all the time I'd spent agonizing over her, Beulah had her own potential life threatening situation going on. She spent most of the day Saturday and all day Sunday on the nest. She routinely has issues with her laying and I keep hoping she'll go through the chicken change or something, and just stop. But of course, the fear is them being egg-bound, whereby the egg can break inside them and the shell cut up their insides. Saturday, I'm online scrutinizing pictures of chicken shit (for the record, this egg-in-crap seems to be an anomaly) and Sunday, I'm looking for things to do if your chicken is egg bound. One, is to lube up a finger - sigh - and stick it up their vent and see if you can direct the egg to where it's supposed to be. So, I got out the Vaseline (I would've used Slippery Stuff, but didn't want her to get the wrong idea) and it took me a little while to figure out where was what and I was reminded of my early forays into girl sex (upshoot: not for me) where I didn't know where the hell anything was, it was just all a warm sea of mush. Well, pretty similiar with chickens. More than warm: hot. I couldn't feel any egg, Beulah sat curious and still for the whole procedure - occasionally making a soft bra-rooo? noise. Much hand washing later, I decided to put her in a warm bath, as that's another recommendation, as it's supposed to relax them. So, we did that, in the kitchen sink, for about 10 minutes and then Beulah started to get antsy to get out. Then I did some blow drying and towel drying and she was quite a good sport about it all and in the bathwater I found a rubbery egg shell. She'd passed one of these the week before. I've fed them oyster shells for calcium but everything seems a bit off. Even Butters, who used to be relied upon for one a day, is now laying 2-3 eggs a week. Aside from that weirdness, and Ester's sleepy Saturday, they seem fine.

During all this, I'm reading Mary Karr's memoior, Lit, about being a drunk. She ends up finding God, then becoming Catholic, no less, so we part there. But to not be a dry drunk, you do have to identify a higher power and then supplicate.
This is where Ester comes in.
More tomorrow.
One cat's craps is another chicken's crack.
Occasionally Dinsdale gets the squirts and as he's a long haired cat, it's a situation you want to stop, immediately. One thing that works is baby food: a day or so on that, and things solidify. Both cats find it delicious but the chickens just go insane. The stuff smells worse than regular cat food (I often wish I could convert the cats to vegan, but I can already see the movie: they would hound me relentlessly until I caved and flung a can of grisly substance at them), but the jars are great for mixing and storing paint.
The weather has been typically Spring in Seattle: bipolar. And it's effects are somewhat manic/depressive as well. Sunshine = the car practially starts itself and drives instinctively to the nearest nursery. Clouds and rain = hunker inside and paint. A day that combines all three makes me feel like Sybil. The green and the green and the green.......
Happy Birthday, sort of, to me
In a dream last night, someone asked me how long it had been since I stopped drinking and I really couldn't tell them. In the morning, I realized that I really had no count of days, which has been pretty standard in Sobriety Attempts 1,2 and 3. So I checked, and it was 6 months on Monday. In so many ways, this trip has been far different from the others. For one, for the first couple-three months, it was really Mrs.-Crazy-Toad's-Wild-Ride-Which-You-Will-Immediately-Be-On-As-Well-As-Soon-As-You-Make-Contact-With-Her. No fun for anybody. In the half year of ruminating on this and many other things, it occurs to me that the hungry, hungry drunky hippo inside sort of lurched out as soon as the drink stopped and flailed around in a bad temper and then finally stomped off. Then things got a little more managable, but I was still Old Faithful, a fountain of rage, seemingly bottomless, until suddenly I was not. And there have been times in the last several weeks that I have experienced moments of profound happiness. This is a boat I'm not going to rock.
On Saturday, a friend from out of town - also an alcoholic, but still practicing because you know, he's in control - ahem - called and was so drunk I couldn't wait to put the phone down. I feel no proclivity to prescribe or even counsel: when someone is in their 60s, they and they alone are in charge of the rest of their lives. Which doesn't mean it doesn't sadden me terribly - it does, because he's such a marvelous creature and a joy to be around: sober. Which hasn't been for a while now.
Anyway, this morning, listening to NPR and now the sabre-rattling (more like rattle rattling) of the Repubicunts, I've decided I'm going to get ready to music from now on. I just don't like where it takes me - hissssssssssss: anger - and I'm happy Barry pulled it through, but the subsequent douchbaggery I can miss. So - that's my reward for 6 months of being on this fragile wagon.
That Infernal Vernal Equinox
The first day of Spring was spectacular. In the mid-sixties, with a little haze over an otherwise completely blue sky, lots and lots of chicken time (Ester and Butters will now come onto my lap with encouragement - Beulah is having NONE of it, no-thank-you-very-much,-but-I'd-still-very much-like-some-cheese). Of course, with nice days out come the power tools and the mowers and weed whackers, but that didn't even bother me. A friend came over and we just sat and jawed. I was telling him what a pain in the ass my little black cat Sammy was (make no mistake, I love him dearly, but he can be one of the most annoying creatures I've ever been around). Sammy is all about the butt-hole and the mouth - his, rather. He spends long, luxurious spells alternately licking and flehming. Which makes his oral tendencies - he has to mouth everything, all the time and his standard greeting (if you let him get close enough) is to shove his mouth in yours - all the more unpalatable. As I was telling my friend this, as if to demonstrate, Sammy got up on the coffee table and mouthed the lip of my near-beer bottle - See!? I tell my friend: Just like That! - and I go to remove him and he did this sort of paralytic spazz-out and ended up knocking over my very hard to find Red Wing chartreuse bowl and I watched in slow-mo as it fell to the carpet and broke into 3 big pieces and a bunch of shards, which Sammy immediately made a move to start mouthing. Ouch. I'm not that wedded to my things, but this one hurt a bit. Still, a wonderful day.
Daylight Savings You Kill Me
I have an overly keen sense of time. For example, if I have a function and everyone is supposed to come at seven, I will generally be a dervish for the day coming right up to the 7:00 hour, and then I am ready, and waiting. I don't consider this an asset - more like a hindrance, because rarely is anyone else on my clock. That's one of the reason daylight savings time throws me so off kilter. I think we should always have the Monday's after DST off, so Monday I stayed at home and readjusted my internal directives.
The girls are happy with their extra time out. The cats are getting itchy and now Dinsdale is poised like a ninja every time I open the door. Fortunately, he's such a lard ass, he's relatively easy to catch when he does manage to Papillion his way out. I discovered that CBS's web site has most of Star Trek online. This has made me very happy. I would have bought the series long ago but it's so inexplicably expensive. These shows ran non-stop on tv for so long, I think they're in my DNA. Ridiculously comforting, they're mostly just wonderfully comedic. The episode above, where Spock woos the Romulan leader so they can abscond with the Cloaking Device: she gets up to change into something 'more womanly', and leaves the room in her tunic that hits her ass and that's pretty much all she's wearing, and comes back in a full length gown. Above is a little Vulcan foreplay.
It's the little things, people.
So much for Spring
It's rainy and windy and cold and while I have to shift gears from la-la-la-it's Spwingtibe! I'm also a little relieved, as I produce very little - last year, nuttin' - painting when the weather is nice. I'll be happy if it's crappy all March and April - well, maybe a few weekend respites in there for chicken-hanging-outing. Right now I'm working on a piece of Ester. It's an image I'm determined to get right, so I've decided to paint 3 more when this one is done (chances are, when this one is done, I'll go: oh, hell, that's good enough). But the current one is called Ester Spring and I want to do the rest of the seasons. We'll see.
Listening to NPR this morning, the lead in was something to do with a discovery about chickens in Scotland. I'm always of two minds when I hear anything about chickens: one the one hand, it can be some lovely benign story, or it can be some kind of horror. This one wasn't. They found that chickens in Edinburgh were exibiting male and female characteristics, right down the middle. These abberations, which appear in nature, are called gynandromorphs (not hermaphrodites, as I'd thought). First, I thought of this:

Then this:

But he/she looks like this. Wattle long on one side, hen-sized on the other. The story is here: it also includes a slide show of gynandromorphs.

Dusk with chickens
It's now light enough that I can let the girls out for a half hour or so when I come home, to stretch their legs and eat any bugs which may have escaped their notice in their morning time. Last night I went outside to put them back in for the night, and it was still very light outside and Ester and Butters were still putzing around. I sat in one of the adirondak chairs and hung with them until Butters, last girl out, finally made her way back to her house. A lovely evening.
Near death-by-chicken
I used to watch The Simpsons with something approaching religulousness. But when I moved in to this house 4 years ago, my reception of Fox was like watching tv in a snow globe and eventually I just weaned myself off the station entirely. But last night I fired up the computer, which has only had an internet connection for a little over a month now (I'm gradually sort of bringing myself online, it would seem) and watched the latest episode, and to those who say that the Simpsons has outrun it usefulness and isn't funny anymore, I say Oh fuck off. The sense of the humor is consistent, the figures almost archetypal in their familiarity and the five or six good laughs I get are worth investing 30 minutes. Last night Lisa was tasked to explore her family tree and she tries desperately to find someone in her lineage who isn't a complete loser and ends up finding out she's part Black. The title of the episode is The Color Yellow. Just the opening credits were enough to make it worthwhile. My Sunday nights are complete, once more. Thank you, Jebus.
Although it is 20 days before it's official, Spring continues all around. The plum trees are beginning to show some foliage, which means when they flesh out, I will no longer be visible to the guy in the house next door, who I've caught staring in at me several times. Ew.
It was a low key weekend. On Saturday, I decided to make a homemade chocolate cake, from Bittman's How to Cook Everything book and I was unimpressed with the results, especially since I accidentally omitted the baking power, so they were little flat, baby shit brown Frisbees that I couldn't even feed to the chickens (apparently, they're not supposed to have chocolate, much like dogs).
And on Sunday something happened which I've seen previews again and again in my mind: as I was coming down the steps with some leftovers for the girls, Butters made a dart right under my foot and I did a weird mid-air maneuver and missed her, but lost my footing in the process and fell down the remaining steps, landing with a combination thud and smack on the flagstones. My first thought was to make sure I hadn't landed on one of them. I hadn't, thank God, and my next thought was, okay, what did I break. Turns out nothing, but today I'm hobbling around like an old woman who lures children into her candy house and eats them. So, look out, kiddies.
Still more Spring in Winter
And it's really throwing me off my game. I'm not exactly complaining - I had four days off in a row and all were sunny and dry, the highs near 60. I HAD slated the time to hole up in my studio and get some serious chicken painting done. I did hole up for one day, ignoring the brighty bright bright outside, but I made pillows, struck by a sudden need to replace squished, soggy or dog hair infested pillows. And for the remainder of my time off I dinked around outside. Yesterday I'm sure I provided fodder for ridicule from neighbors as I dragged out my adirondak chairs and big red umbrella. I even went to the nursery and was put out by their diminutive selection until remembering: oh, it's fucking February. All in all, I had a lot of chicken time, which is very therapeutic. And during the nights I worked on songs for upcoming shows. They are beginning to fall in something of a pattern: 3's, to be exact. I love it when you get out of your own way and let the Creative just do it's thang.

Saint Peter don't you call me, cuz I can't go...
..I sold my soul to the company store. And so have you. And you. And yes, you. Actually, I'm less in a 'Oh, God, I'm a wage slave*' mode, than I am casting around looking for good songs to sing. And 16 Tons seems as current as ever, perhaps less the schlepping of coal and more just to our consumerist society.
Yesterday I made my tri-yearly trip to the feed store for feed, scratch and straw. Lugging around 50 pound bags of the shit and trying to upend them into pails is always fun, as is the dragging of the heavy, unwieldy and spiky bales of straw, leaving a long trail behind like I murdered a scarecrow and drug his body to the compost bin. At the store, they were passing out fliers advertising that in March, for purchases of $35 or more, you get 5 free chicks. Now, here's where I'm weird: I want to buy my chicks, because it's a demonstration that I value their little lives**. But this, of course, spun out into, hmmmm-ville, where in my head, I add to the flock, which results in scenes of bucolic peace and harmony. Except not so much, when you're dealing with chickens. Right now with the three of them, the order is solid and un-tested and, as such, un-enforced with any brutality. Add just one chicken to that mix and it all goes to hell. But I'm sure my brain will launch a campaign (chicks! chicks!) and I will seriously consider throwing all that accumulative knowledge out the window and bringing home two or three peeping poopers home.
* It was long ago, riding on a bus at the crack of dawn on route to a shitty temp job that I first saw the term 'wage slave', sprayed onto a parking garage wall. A blisteringly depressing snapshot.
** And yes, I'm self aware enough to recognize that I've become overly righteous where chickens are concerned. Someone has to.
Contrasted weather drama
I'm getting a little uneasy with all the epically crappy weather the rest of the States seems to be having, while here in the NW our bulbs are coming up, the sun is shining (well, not today) and I have to throw off blankets in the night. It feels like payback is coming, although they did say we would have an El Nino year. However, if that translates to a summer as hot or hotter than what we had last year, first off, crap, and second off, I'm in the process of modifying the only factor I can think to make it easier: losing weight. Remembering how last summer wiped the floor with me and put me away wet is more compelling motivation than fitting into my summer outfits (like I have any).
Distribution of energies
So, hey, yeah, I know, to my legion (3) of loyal readers I apologize for my sucky work ethic or whatever it is (discipline: say it!) that keeps me from posting daily. Or it could be just as simple as I don't have anything that wouldn't make your eyes roll back in your head and possibly encourage drooling in your extreme indifference and boredom.
On Saturday, I beat the odds and had another birthday. I also held my first (in what I hope to be an ongoing series) musical salon. It was the first time in a while that I'd sung before an audience, albeit one of (mostly) supportive friends. I find being close to my audience extremely nerve wracking: I'm happy as a pig in shit on a big stage with blinding spotlights so essentially it's just me and a sea of faceless energy. But I did get my first spotlight in the mail yesterday - via eBay and a psychotic seller - so my next salon I will be happily blinded. I will also have a PA, a small little job that has an iPod dock that is working it's way to me via UPS Ground, because I've never been a fan (nor it of me) of singing into dead air.
All this has taken me from painting a bit - I'm able to juggle several disciplines (that word again), but one always takes the driver's seat, leaving the rest to flip for shotgun. I'm still figuring out what this new musical foray will entail. I'm not interested in doing anything I've done before, but if it ends up a mashup of everything I've done before, well, jolly good.
Head in sand, not feathers
Driving home last night I found myself yelling back at the radio. Typically, I reserve my in-car yelling for my fellow car-bound travellers (and the odd pedestrian), but I was so stunned by the level of stupidity and ignorance spewing forth that I found myself fumbling for a writing implement so I could note the name of the addlepate that was speaking. He turns out to be a Republican - please catch me as I swoon in shock. Portion of the transcript below.

All Things Considered, MELISSA BLOCK, host:

This week, we're going to hear a variety of perspectives on what to do with Don't Ask Don't Tell. Today we turn to California Congressman Duncan Hunter. He is a Republican and a former U.S. Marine who served both in Afghanistan and Iraq. ...You are not in favor of a repeal of DADT. Why not?

Rep. HUNTER: No, because I think that it's bad for the cohesiveness and the unity of the military units. especially those that are in close combat, that are in close quarters in country right now. It's not the time to do it. I think it's - the military is not civilian life. And I think the folk who have been in the military that have been in these very close situations with each other, there has to be a special bond there. And I think that bond is broken if you open up the military to transgenders, to hermaphrodites, to gays and lesbians.

BLOCK: Transgenders and hermaphrodites.

HUNTER: Yeah, that's going to be part of this whole thing. It's not just gays and lesbians. It's a whole gay, lesbian, transgender, bisexual community. If you're going to let anybody in no matter what preference - what sexual preference they have that means the military is going to probably let everybody in. (emphasis mine...) It's going to be like civilian life and the I think that that would be detrimental for the military.

Oh sweet Baby Jebus, give me strength. I know these people think these things (although 'think' would seem to indicate some degree of contemplation went into the process, but methinks not so much...), but when you actually hear them, it still gives one considerable pause. My theory: this rampant ignorance, this insistence of labelling with words like 'choice' and 'preference', is their subterranean envy of what they envision as this big old melting pot of sticky fun that others are having that they would dearly love to participate in, if they weren't ruled by fear. Just a theory, mind you. But I think the Confederacy of Dunces has a new president.
Spring in January
Generally on weekends, my MO is to hole up. It's really the only time I have to paint: this really never works on weekdays and this point was illustrated with stunning savagery when I disregarded my own credo and decided to work on a painting of Ester. I'd been working on it for over a month and in less than a half hour, I had ruined it. I had a spectacular meltdown that had the dog and cats muttering amongst themselves for days. But Saturday was unseasonably nice and I found myself at the back garden with the girls, laying in the hammock and enjoying the restorative benefits. Which I was in particular need of, since earlier that day my toilet overflowed like a bit player in a horror movie and I was still skeeved out. Although, better to clean up my own than someone else's.
I also brought out my new camera, which has not been dazzling me much with interior shots, but I can see now the difference it makes outdoors, with a truly superior zoom. I look forward to this summer. Last summer I took over 10,000 pictures and I think I gave my little Canon Elf a cramp.
I watched Ladies and Gentlemen, Leonard Cohen, a 1965 documentary when he was still primarily a poet and writer (and almost a stand up comedian). He was a good looking guy, very similar to Dustin Hoffman, if you go for that dark/big nosed thing (which apparently I do) and his pronounced philtrum puts him firmly in My Type Ville. At 31, he was amazingly together, seemingly already having conquered things it's only just occurred to me to seek out. The movie inspired me to load up my cart in Amazon and order away. But I'll always remember when watching the British series, The Young Ones, which premiered when I was still living in London, Neal lamenting morosely that no one ever listened to him. "I might as well be a Leonard Cohen record."
Nothing says nothing like nothing from nothing.
Which is actually from National Lampoon's 1974 Dessert issue, which I recall as The Starvation Issue, and has to rank up there as the most egregiously offensive (and therefore, most memorable) of all their issues. As spoken by the Nilsbury Noboy. But it sort of sums up me of late: in terms of stuff to say, I got nuttin'. I suppose it's the usual after-holiday anti-climax, not that my holidays were a swirl of activity or anything, but still.
Practice, put to practice
Yesterday was weird. The CEO of the company I work for resigned, so that flavored the day with alternating tastes of trepidation and celebration, then when I went to get a portion of the ass load of prescriptions I get on a monthly basis, I was informed that I was no longer covered. Turns out our cracker-fucking-jack HR person who is supposed to keep one in the loop about these sort of matters dropped my particular ball. So, I started shorting out about that until I took a big breath, an even bigger toke and just reasoned that it was pointless to stress about it until the next day, when I could get to the bottom of it. And then, listening to the news on NRP, the emergency broadcast signal suddenly came on. Not the drill, but the actual signal. Just let it be quick and relatively painless was my one thought on the subject. I'm finding that I'm increasingly able to pause and assess and move on in things that tend to get this Excitable Girl excitable, and I have to tell you, this is a new and welcome turn of events.
The Morning Papers
Familiar to the legions of people who read or, like me, partially read, The Artist's Way. The concept of the morning papers is what finally got me journaling every day (it's been 15 years now) and when I began this blog, I started to slack a little on the morning part and with the New Year still being all fresh-baby-butt-new and all, I am getting back on that particular pony. For my own purposes, my morning writing is first and foremost to capture my dreams. I agree with conventional opinion that listening to someones dreams is about as welcome as the details of their sex life, so unless they're just spectacularly weird, I put them down on paper, go: hmm, and move on. On some mornings - like this morning, for instance - the Goat Rodeo that I wake up to will sometimes override that fragile dream program and when I am unable to get it on paper, it nibbles away at my under carriage all day. The critters were especially demanding and annoying this morning and this either added to or caused my sour mood that appears to be going nowhere anytime soon. Grumble, piss and moan.
The Dance of They Who Have Feathers.
Lulu looks on scornfully. Poor Ester is out of shot - her new feathers are coming in and still in their pin casings: once they're out, that will involve a good couple of weeks of constant preening to get the casings off. But she's keeping to herself, and I'm pulling her aside and giving her extra helpings of cheese, which is a form of chicken crack, and also a boost of protein, which her poor little body needs right now. Beulah has already gone through her molt and was only marginally compromised by it. We'll see how the Butts fares.
Night of the KITTEHS.

Little rat bastards. I noticed when I came home from work that Heir Hairmeister seemed a little subdued: ate his grisly substance and then parked it on my bed until I got in, then he got out and proceeded to yowl, scratch, dig and otherwise annoy the fuck out of me all night, aided by his little butt-sniffer-in-crime, Sammy. Earlier in the evening I tried to meditate, which had me in the bedroom, on the floor, with the door closed while all three of the clowns tried to lure me back out with sniffing snorgling digging mewling and slipping a key under the door in case I was locked in. Well, except for that last bit.

Today, I feel the benefits of vacation falling down around my ankles like Tippi Hedren's nightgown in Marnie (rent it) (best line: Marnie, you're achin' mah leg). So, tonight I will endeavor to sit for a solid 20 minutes - again - perhaps this time with earplugs to muffle the snuffling on the other side of the door. Because somethings got to give. And when that sentence crystallizes in your brain pan, the thing that's usually got to give is you.

A New Year and no resolutions.

One of my yearly rituals at this time is to read back to my journal entry the year before. And, at the turn of 2009, every resolution I cited could just be cut and pasted into 2010, with the exception of 'quitting drinking' which I actually did manage to do last year. But everything else is the same, and it's sort of how I feel about my recent sobriety. If you asked when I quit drinking, I'd have to really think about it, and then I don't know a date, just an occasion (the Autumnal Equinox). Whereas in other forays onto the wagon, I could tell you down to the second, practically. I think I saddle myself, and shoot myself in the foot (to sort of mix my metaphors while keeping it in a old Wild West-y sort of theme) at the same time by making goals and marking victories. So, even though the resolutions I penned for myself last year are still desirable and, God knows, healthy, if I get there, I get there. Not the destination, but the blah-da-de-blah-blah path: you know.

All in all, I had many days away from the salt mine. It takes a good week, but then my natural circadian rhythms emerge and I think that's really when you can start changing anything. Work = artifice, from the time I'm so rudely pulled from my warm bed full of warm cats, to the crappy chair I sit in all day, staring at the computer that is probably slowly blinding me, and so on. I was actually able to start meditating, one of those resolutions from last year, and I hopefully can continue. I'm presently reading We're All Doing Time (alternating with After The Flood - Yin and Yang, baby!) and it's one of the few books I've read that charts a path for beginning a sitting practice that is actually practicable.

The holidays were nice. On Christmas Eve, I trundled a good friend into the hay conveyor, aka, car, and we drove up to Bellingham for the day. It had been a while since being there and it was a balm to my soul. We drove back the next day, in perfect weather and little traffic and I made and ate rugelah for dinner - yes, I'm ten - and made cat nip toys for the boys and just hung with my kids. I listened to A Christmas Carol read by Jonathan Winters and in some ways, it was the best Christmas I'd had in a while.

Ester is molting again, and again, it looks like it's killing her. And brings me full circle to when I began to conceptualize this blog. Her rejuvenation costs dearly, but it is also a natural (although, from my vantage point, overly harsh) process. And this, I think, is what Ester's Feathers is really all about: change, the cost of it, but the knowledge that at the end of the day, you're only doing what you're supposed to be doing. Speedy molt, little girl. Or should I say, girl(s).