How to Talk to Girls

Role-playing games have been very big around here. Mama and Baby is the most popular. Someone will be the Mama, Daddy, or Baby. Then they have to act the part. And it is so impressive how hard these kids can concentrate on their roles.  NPR just had a story about this, about how pretend games teach kids self control. Check it out here.

Mr. Mac, who normally leaves a trail of destruction behind him, will behave himself while playing pretend. He will lie still and wait for his bottle. He will cry, but in a pretend voice, and roll around stiffly. He gets a diaper change ( a pretend one) and is nice about it the whole time. He works hard at being the Baby.  Conversely, if he is playing the Daddy, he cooks food for his babies, gives them bottles of milk, and even pretends to read them stories. He pats his chest, proudly. I am the Daddy. He spent an entire morning being the Daddy the other day, scurrying between his two sisters, prone in laundry baskets. He was all business.  When he is Daddy, he doesn’t turn on the blender, or mess with the CD player. He has a  job.

Here’s the funny part.

We were driving Blanche home from preschool. She was wearing a pink crown that she made there.

I am a princess, she announced. She looked at her little brother.

Do you want to be my prince or my baby?  He thought about it.

Baby, he said.

They aren’t gonna  stop asking you that question, I wanted to warn him.

Goose on the Loose Part II

The morning I brought the gander to the road in the trashbin, I also loaded the wire crate into the back of the minivan, stumbling, burdened by my own helplessness. I was too fat. I was a bad person. I couldn’t handle anything. I checked to see that the kids were still watching Max and Ruby (OOBY! Mr. Mac says with delight), and went to go get the goose. After a few tries, ( too fat, see?) I caught her. Such delightful birds. Warm and soft and heavy. She laid her neck across my arm as I held her, too sad it seemed, to care what my plan was. A goose in hand is heavenly.  I didn’t questions the Romans on this one..  I imagined her taking in our yard for the last time, her home where she had lost her gander. For as far as she was incapable of understanding his death, she would not understand why I was sending her away. The bumpy ride in the crate.  Fear.

I shoved her into the crate and hesitated, my hand on the door. We would be  goose negative. No more attacking the guests, no more festivals of joy at the waterers. No more gobbling down the weeds. That cute waddle.  I paused just a little too long.

The goose made her decision, and gave the most abrupt honk. I jumped. She whacked me hard with a wing on her way out, a webbed toenail dragging the pocket on my jeans. She bounced down the driveway, flapping, honking, flapping, honking, and she didn’t stop until she was right in the thick of the chickens at the feeder. There she eyed me. There wouldn’t be any catching her again.

I looked the empty crate, the newspapers I’d smoothed so carefully. I could find a goose for her, and put it in this crate. Couldn’t I?

So off we went.  At Agway, I told my sad story and insisted that my name go on a card. In case they heard of someone with too many geese. I answered an ad craigslist for a Toulouse goose, but he was two hours away. I’d never make it back in time for the school bus. I told my  hay guy. Made sure he knew all about our sad goose, in case he knew of someone. He said he’d think on it. After I picked Blanche back up from preschool, the crate was still back there, creaking. We still needed a goose.

“Where are we going Mommy?” Blanche asked. I’d pulled off the highway one road early.

“We’re cold calling,”  I told her. We’d ridden by the house a few times this summer, and there was always a duck or something walking around. The house was a mess.

“Look,” said Blanche, envious. “They have a potty on the porch.”  There were also two washing machines out front, as well as a pile of old tires. I’ve learned a few things from living in the country, and I had a feeling about this place.

There are a lot of things I don’t know how to do. Waitress. Back up a trailer. Barrel race. But I know how to talk.  We were going to knock on the door of this disastrously messy farmhouse and talk until they sold me  a goose.   Continue reading

Goose on the Loose Part I

I had to use the snow shovel to get the gander off the road. It was a hit and run. He had been a beautiful bird, and in death, his exposed breast and windpipe were strong and healthy looking. Clean. I had to concentrate as I walked, he was so heavy on the shovel blade that his head kept wiggling and threatening to fall off onto the ground.  As I weaved toward the trash can, I could see that large breast on a roasting pan. It was not to be.  The school bus would be arriving any minute.

Our loss, I thought. Sorry, Gander. And into the trash can he went.

I called Sean to give him the bad news.

You should have butchered him, he said.

Well, he’s in the trash, I snapped. The Super can only be expected to do so much.  Continue reading

The Super – a postscript

The problem with being married to the Super is that he has high expectations. This was not something I considered in the early days of our courtship. He wasn’t thinking when he married me, I’m marrying the tenant, and she is so cute and helpless.  No, he married me because I can pick up one end of the sofa and walk.  He thinks I am capable and logical. That is so not what you want in a Super.  Consider the following examples.

Uh, honey, the doorknob just came off in my hand. (He’s at work).

Well, just look at all the pieces and figure out how they fit together. (He doesn’t understand why I am calling).

Honey, there’s water in the basement. Running. Really running. ( He wonders why I haven’t shut it off, figures I don’t know where the shut off is. He is right).

Its on the. . . west side of the oil tank. Just follow the pipes.  ( I don’t bother to tell to him that it is going to be wet down there).  I can barely remember which way is west upstairs.

The dishes aren’t getting clean in the dishwasher, they’re all streaky and gray.  ( He points out that I need to buy more softener salt and carry it down to the basement).

And so it goes. This morning, north and east of here, the Super is dressed in khakis and doing something unspeakable with Excel. He is not really the Super anymore. I’m the Super. And I am not the best man for the job.

The Chickens and the Eggs

The chickens are laying again.

This makes their other endeavors seem less criminal. The cascade of white and gray poop on the porch steps, underneath their improvised roost. The egg I find every day in the kindling box on the screened porch. The feeder, perpetually empty. The water, always dry.

I’ve been going around saying that we are done with the chickens. They don’t sleep where they should, or lay where they should. They have gone rogue, roosting in the trees, camping in the horse hay. And the roosters, they don’t just crow at dawn. We’ve got one little bastard that crows all night. If I could figure out which one he was, I’d throttle him. In front of his friends. They are at large, and it isn’t worth it, not when you look at the feed bills and the poop cascade at the same time.

The co-op sells bulk local eggs. Farm raised. You could buy three dozen or however many you want. You didn’t have to buy the feed for the chickens and then haul the bag out of your car. You didn’t have to carry water every day for those eggs, sitting there brown and clean in the cooler. If the person who got the eggs perchance grabbed some poop in the morning darkness and cursed a blue streak, you won’t have any idea. You could just buy your eggs. From a farmer. No fuss, no muss.

I said this last year, around this time. And promptly took it back, awed by the volume of eggs that followed my pronouncement. It happened again. Last week, I announced we would be better off buying eggs. As if in answer, the light changed and the chickens went crazy. Eggs, everywhere. Someone has been laying them in the pony house. The kindling box is overflowing. Someone else, and this someone hasn’t thought it out as well, has been laying eggs in the hay wagon. The one with holes in the bottom. The dogs get those. I get a dozen from the nest boxes every time I go out. It is wild.

So many gray days. So few resources. Staying home with the children is confusing, damning. I am short-tempered, short-sighted, worried. I long for a paycheck, or a vacation, for some pants that fit. I long for a specialty, a career, something to put on Linked In. So many burdens on my shoulders. Again and again I collect the eggs from underneath soft feathered bodies. We are awash in them. My pockets overflowing, even though I have already brought a full basket earlier, make me giddy. I couldn’t buy this feeling from the co-op. It is ridiculous how many eggs we have. How could I have forgotten?

We keep chickens not because it is easier, but because it is more entertaining. The winter will always drag, I will always doubt myself. Spring always comes, and with it, unexpected wealth. The eggs. The eggs are everywhere. And it is wonderful.

The jars: a preview

I’ve only truly wondered about  Sean a few times.

We had been living together just a few months when I found the suitcase full of jars. My suitcase. Salsa, mostly. Washed clean and dried. Stacked in vertical columns. When I rolled the suitcase, they rattled.

When I unzipped the top and saw them all, shining and arranged, I sat back on my heels. So many. I’d never even seen him walking out here. Certainly not with an armful of jars. But he must have. Many times. Did he wait until I was at work?  Why my suitcase?

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