Sunday, August 29, 2010

Of Mice and Men and Men with Chickens

So, I walk into the local hardware store and I say to Norm,  'I need D-Con and a roaster.'  Then add,  'They are completely unrelated items.'  He breathes a small sigh of relief and escorts me to the mouse-killing department. Actually, I'm hoping I won't have to poison them, but they will see that all too familiar yellow packaging (it must be ingrained in the national mouse psyche by now) and retreat to the great outdoors. I know all about "creatures great and small," but I spent a year sharing a house with a pesky little critter who crossed boundaries time and again, much to my consternation. I was living in Santa Fe at the time, on the edge of an arroyo, where coyotes serenaded me night after night, shirking their duties as they sang. I made allowances. Many nights, while reading, I would have the sensation of being watched, only to look up and see the mouse sitting on his haunches, tiny paws held in grateful pose, saluting me before heading back outside, under the door from whence he came. It was almost a nightly ritual. He looked exactly like Remy, the Disney movie rat, who knew how to whip up a mean ratatouille, thus the movie's name.

Anyway, Norm and I get into a brief discussion of bags vs boxes. I decide on boxes, and we head up front to find a roasting pan. I select one based on the size of the large pasture chicken I bought at yesterday's Farmer's Market. Large chicken, small turkey, same, same. I bitch about the price for a second or two, long enough for Norm to remind me, "But just think about all the good times you'll have."  'Yeah,' I agree, 'The fun never ends.'  Then we do the money exchanging thing and I head out the door.

I love shopping locally. I like spending money at a business that has existed on the same corner longer than I've been on Planet Earth and I like talking with someone I've known since elementary school, someone with a down-home sense of humor, not unlike my own.

Next stop, the local used bookstore, where I peruse the shelves for about half an hour and come up with three, a nice mix of approaches that seem disparate, but yet, somehow, dovetail. My choices: Country Matters, by Michael Korda, who has a witty style I've long admired, where he writes about owning country property. The first chapter is titled, "He Don't Know Shit About Septics,"  but it was Chapter Eleven that captured my attention,  "Where Every Prospect Pleases and Only Man is Vile." I think it's going to be a fun read. The other two are of an only slightly more spiritual nature, Hugh Prather's, Notes on Love and Courage, and, Hua Hu Ching, The Unknown Teachings of Lao Tzu.

From there I go to the liquor establishment in a small town just down the road, about five minutes away, to purchase a bit of liquid refreshment, a jug of sangria. I'm particularly fond of this store because it's also where I pick up my farm eggs.  I discovered this additional grace when I went there earlier this summer, saw the sign at the counter and inquired about them. Back into the cooler he went, and out he came with a dozen eggs, very organic, in pretty pastel colors, soft blue and green and pink, along with the usual brown. Different chickens lay different colored eggs. Did you know that?  I discovered it when my friend, JB, raised a few of them, Araucanas, along with some crazy looking hens who look like they're wearing fright wigs. White-crested Black Polish. Seriously. Here's one of them. She looks like Cher, heading for the Oscars:

 Or this poor dear, who seems to be having a bad hair day:

Anyway, among those pretty pastel eggs, there was an extra large, and I do mean extra large, brown and white spotted egg. It looked like an appaloosa horse might have laid it. If horses laid eggs.

I have no idea what laid it. It could have been a pterodactyl. Tasted good, though. Next time I'm at the general store, perhaps I'll inquire as to what bolts of cloth they might have in back.

Today was the perfect day to stay present to each moment, find joy in simple pleasures and be grateful for good neighbors. We spent some time together this morning, over coffee in their kitchen, talking about community, about all the small decisions we make in our day-to-day lives that add up to a healthier way of life. They loaned two books to me that I was intrigued by: Your Money or Your Life: Transforming Your Relationship With Money and Achieving Financial Independence, and, Slowing Down to the Speed of Life: How to Create a More Peaceful, Simpler Life from the Inside Out.

Tonight, with windows wide open to the night air, as the leaves lift, then settle, with each wave of a late summer breeze, one of my favorite writers tells me all I want or need to know, in this moment:

Jim Harrison

On waking after the accident
I was presented with the "whole picture" 
as they say, magnificently detailed,
a child's diorama of what life appears to be:
staring at the picture I become drowsy
with relief when I noticed a yellow
dot of light in the lower right-hand corner.
I unhooked the machines and tubes and crawled
to the picture, with an eyeball to the dot
of light which turned out to be a miniature
tunnel at the end of which I could see
mountains and stars whirling and tumbling,
sheets of emotions, vertical rivers, upside
down lakes, herds of unknown mammals, birds 
shedding feathers and regrowing them instantly,
snakes with feathered heads eating their own
shed skins, fish swimming straight up,
the bottom of Isaiah's robe, live whales
on dry ground, lions drinking from a golden
bowl of milk, the rush of night,
and somewhere in this the murmur of gods --
a tree-rubbing-tree music, a sweet howl
of water and rock-grating-rock, fire
hissing from fissures, the moon settled
comfortably on the ground, beginning to roll. 

~Jim Harrison, from The Theory and Practice of Rivers



  1. I wrote a letter here but it disappeared! I like
    that Jim Harrison guy. Beautiful poem. And I love that little sweet mouse. I have never seen a chicken like that. Hilariously funny! I wonder if it knows? If people laugh at it I mean. I did.
    Just a little more. (I talk too much). Thank you for telling me it is an appaloosa horse. It's like Pippi Longstocking's spotted horse.

    You live in a wonderful place with all those local attractions.

    Cheers and have a nice Sunday!

  2. I did not know that different kinds of chickens lay different kinds of eggs. Clearly blogging can be very educational! :)

    Gook luck with your mouse situation!
    xo Catherine

  3. I didn't know that different kinds of chickens lay different kinds of eggs either! What a fun post....I'm loving your adventures.

  4. Teresa: Really good writing. I like the chronicle and narrative. Not a lot of people know Jim Harrison. The two pictures of chicken and Cher are quite funny. Your sense of humor really came out in this. I like to shop locally, too. We don't have as many establishments out here in the brush. Ever use a spit on an open fire? Just kidding. In my childhood, chickens were all around our house. Back then, in a small town, it was okay to keep them. I learned a lot of chicken calls. I didn't get off the property much.

    Excellent post. Agreed, as stated and implied, "Fun never ends."

  5. Grethe: You could never write too much, my dear. I love hearing from you and feeling so connected to someone in another corner of the world. I'm so grateful for your presence in my life. It is a beautiful Sunday. Thank you.

    Catherine: What fun, to get to know someone new in my life. So glad we found each others blogs. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment. I hope you're having a good Sunday, too.

    Lynne: I'm glad to be sharing these adventures with you. Your life inspires me.

    Jack; Actually, I have not used a spit, but I have done some cooking over a campfire. Nothing tastes better than fried potatoes and onions fresh from a cast iron pan over an open fire. I didn't get off the property much, either. We are kindred spirits. Thanks for your kind words.


  6. Teresa, this is my favorite post of all you've written since I started following your blog. Love the humor! I wish we could meet somewhere for coffee.

    I have a dozen eggs from the neighbors' chickens in my fridge, and they're a rainbow. They taste completely different from styrofoam eggs.

    I had breakfast this morning at our local diner, where I read a back issue of Time magazine and chatted with the servers and the owner. I love a weekend breakfast at that place. I know these people from two years of being a regular.

  7. How about a cat for the mice. they seem to leave when they smell cats, if you don't want one just borrow a neighbors for a week or so, but be sure to store the poison when they are around. Love the unusual chickens and farm fresh eggs are in demand nowadays.

  8. Just had to tell you - Gary just came in the house and told me he fixed his air compressor which had quit running. He found a dead dried up rat inside the mechanism and a bunch of seeds, the space to get in was less than an inch, they really can get through the smallest crevices. Ugh

  9. Linda M: I, too, would love to have coffee together. someday, the meantime I am so enjoying having this opportunity to share our lives. We'd have some laughs, me thinks ! I think people have forgotten how wonderful a "real" egg tastes as opposed to even the organic ones you buy in a store. No comparison. It is nice to have a regular spot to sit and eat, read and visit. It is an important part of community, too. Thanks for the nice comments about this post.

    Ms.Starr :) Yes, they can get in through the most miniscule cracks. I swear they teleport or shapeshift. The neighbors have a cat and I think it helps. I may not have the problem the previous owner perceived I would, either. :) We shall see...

  10. What a great post. Fun to read and then mull over. Lots of truths, here. Very comfy. The chicken and cher photos are hilarious!

  11. Sounds like you have a nice, neighborly way of life. And you're eating Real Food. It's a lot of work, I'm sure, but it sounds very rewarding.

  12. Your writing is so refreshing. I love reading about your life and all the adventures you're experiencing. I would love to be able to slow down and be more connected to nature. You are very blessed.

  13. Cheryl: Thank you, so much. I'm glad you enjoyed it.

    Nancy: Yes, Real Food, as often as possible. And, I have the best neighbors.

    Gail: You're so kind. I appreciate your comments. I do feel very blessed, indeed.

  14. Love the juxtaposition of Cher with the hens. Great photos.

  15. I'm glad you brought this back p[ost to life. It deserved it.

  16. Lovely post! I, too, thought of getting a cat instead of poison or a trap. Circle of life and all that. ;)

    The chicken and Cher cracked me up! I knew the outfit before I scrolled down to see her.

    I like small local stores, too. :) Thanks for sending us newer folks back to this post. It was delicious.

    1. Rite, Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and for your thoughtful comments.