Tuesday, 21 October 2014

My Mother's Hands

I have my mother's hands.  She had small hands; far too tiny and delicate for the hard work of caring for a home and raising six children. As a child, I thought they were beautiful and admit I was a little bit vain when I grew up and found I had inherited that feature from her. I remember my daughter calling to ask how much salt Grandma and I put in our pastry.  I told her to use the amount that fit in the indentation of her cupped palm.  She said that was not a good enough measurement for her because, "You and Grandma have impossibly small hands!".

There was no vanity today, though, as I looked at my hands.  The nails were ragged, chipping polish on uneven lengths and cuticles in need of a manicure.  Worst of all were the raised veins and dark patches on skin that was lined and wrinkled.  Age showed on my hands and no cosmetician was going to be able to change that.

Just as I was grieving the loss of pretty hands, I remembered sitting with my mother when she was about my age and her looking at the hand that held her ever present coffee mug.  She sighed and said she was sorry that they had become old lady hands.

I remembered how shocked I was. They were still beautiful hands to me. These tiny hands had rubbed my back when I was sick and cracked the shells off hard boiled eggs to make my favourite sandwiches. They had picked enough miniature wild strawberries to make jam for her family for a year and extra to give to her parents.

They had polished our white baby boots and my dad's shoes every single night.  She said it made her feel good to see the polished shoes all lined up ready for the next day.

They peeled so many potatoes, year in and year out, that the blade of her paring knife was worn thin and half the width it had been when she bought it.

They were helping hands to friends and family in need.  They were loving hands that painted old bedroom furniture and kitchen cupboards to make a pretty home for her family.  They taught Girl Guides how to tie knots and wrap food in foil to cook over an open fire. They turned the pages of books as she read them to her children.  They drove the car for miles in the middle of the night, while I held my screaming baby, to get her to sleep.

I remember them darning socks and sewing perfect, little stitches with a needle and thread.  While all her kids had new winter coats, she took an ancient coat of her own and cut it down to a more practical car coat length.  She didn't have a sewing machine and wouldn't have known how to use one if she had it.  It was done with a needle and thread.  I remember being amazed as she fashioned a jaunty pill box hat out of the leftover fabric.

As Alzheimer's ravaged her mind, she became quite dressy.  I think she was reverting to a time when she was young and had a closet full of fashionable clothes.  She wanted her nails done each week and it became a routine for me to give Mom her manicure. Together we sorted through the colours in her makeup case to find just the right one for the week.  We are not a touchy, huggy, feely family and the manicure made it okay to hold her hand and fuss over her.  The same hands that had held me as an infant and made me feel connected and safe were letting me connect with her again and make her feel safe.

No matter how much she ate, the disease was making her body evaporate in front of my eyes.  Her wedding rings had to be re sized until they were no larger than my baby finger.  Eventually, they kept falling off and getting lost and we had to put them away.

I thought of all these moments in my life and how much my mother's hands had meant to me.  I was ashamed of myself for rejecting them when I saw them on myself.  She taught me how to use them well and they have earned their veins and wrinkles and age spots.

I will get a manicure and, while it is being done, think of those last years when Mom and I talked over our coffee as I did her nails.  I will look at my hands with pride and think how lucky I am to ...


Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Rainy Days And Mondays ...

I should finish that lyric with, "always bring me down", but it didn't bother me a bit this time. ~

With a hint of frost in the air, this rainy day was a good time to bring in the herbs and geraniums that won't survive the winter outside.

You surely didn't think Clara Jane would leave me alone to do this job! ~

A few strips of burlap nicely covers a piece of plywood on an old garden table.  The plants get potted up in whatever I have on hand.  It doesn't matter what goes in front of that chippy old door; it always looks great.  It's kind of a no brainer, seasonal decorating crutch.

Nothing is trimmed up until the plants get over the trauma of the move.  In the middle, at the back, is a teeny, tiny bay plant that I am determined to grow into a real tree.  This  is the only place in this shaded house that gets enough sunlight to get anything to flourish and I'm hoping I can pretend garden all winter.

Just in case anyone is in doubt that this is a garden, I have a sign that my sister gave me for minding her pets while she was away. ~

It's seems like a good omen that the sun has decided to shine for a bit.  The $2 thrift store fountain is bubbling merrily and some daisy shaped tea lights are waiting for the granddaughters to arrive next weekend and see them lit.  The girls always do a thorough check of the house to see whatever new, pretty things are out.

It's a rustic look, but I like it. ~

Best of all is looking at the back lit window at night and listening to the fountain.  Or, it may be more appropriate for me to call it the cat watering station.  ~

This kind of day is just fine with me.  Those of us who live in a house with a metal roof love to ...

Listen  to the music of the falling rain!

I'm sharing this with A Return To Loveliness

Saturday, 4 October 2014

Dealing With Teenage Chickens

I thought I was making my life easier by getting young chickens instead of rehabilitating old lay hens. WRONG!  Why did I not think about those terrible teen years?  Shouldn't the teenage bench wrecking, paint scratching, into everything cats have clued me in to potential problems with young chickens? Apparently not!

The new girls were faster and smarter than I was.  They escaped from the quarantine coop.  Then, they escaped from the run.  I gave up gradually introducing them to the flock and let them run wild.

It was like trying to keep Bart Simpson penned up. ~

All of my chickens, young and old, are convinced the bugs are much better on the other side of the fence.  They scoot through to next door and hang out under their pine trees. ~

The neighbours did mention that they had to chase them out of the petunia beds but didn't seem too upset about it.  They thought it was cute that the chickens were trying to get into their pool area. So far, so good.

And then, the new girls started rampaging through their yard!

I blame Rukmini for it.  She's a saucy girl and doesn't listen to a word I say. She's the white gal getting ready to push Vivian and Anne away from the feeder. ~

Wherever Rukmini goes, Elizabeth follows. Isn't she the cleanest chicken you have ever seen? ~

Even though most of you voted to name the third girl Clair, I liked the idea of naming her after my friend Mel's daughter.  I never go with the popular vote, which is obvious by my voting Green Party. We only got one seat in parliament last election, so that tells you how popular they are in Canada.

So, Madeleine she is.  She's quite shy but that doesn't stop her from getting into trouble. ~

These three girls have earned me my first chicken complaint.  First, the woman next door told me they were eating the lower raspberries.  It's best to bluff your way through these things so I told her she was lucky she didn't have to bend over to pick the low ones.

The next week she told me they were flying up and eating the higher ones.  Ekes!

I do so want to be a good neighbour and told her I would keep them in chicken jail until the berries were done.  I was very good about only letting them loose when the neighbours were at work and wouldn't have a clue whether wild birds or chickens devoured the berries.  Don't judge me!  My chickens absolutely hate being penned up.

I left a peace offering on their porch with a cute chicken note. ~

Everything would have been fine if the neighbour hadn't come home from work early, while the chickens were roaming free.  She thanked me for the eggs and said I didn't have to do that.  I made a cute comment about the girls wanting to make up for their bad behaviour.

Then, the neighbour said she had some lovely berries on the bushes today and would have to get them picked.  At that moment, we both looked over at the berry patch.  "Oh my!", said the neighbour.  The damned chickens had come out from under the pines and were flying up to gobble the berries!

I didn't even bother to try and smooth it over, just called the girls home and put them in detention.

For all I know, they may have promptly invited this guy into their bedroom. ~

It's really best for all concerned to NOT know what teenagers are doing!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Keeping Up With Cat Damage

Every once in a while my darling, rescued, feral cats upset me.

I know it's hard to believe these sweeties could ever do anything wrong. ~

I accept the fact that they have been left alone more than usual since I've been working a lot the last couple of months.

They probably just got bored with peeling the paint off the walls. ~

But, I was really upset when they destroyed a bench in the main bathroom.  I loved that bench in all it's tufted, Frenchy, dusty blue glory!  Trying to salvage it was just upsetting me all the more.

So, when I found a simple bench in the Salvation Army Thrift Store for $3, I decided to get over it and move on with something new.

I had some fabric left over from the Roman shade and the incredibly ugly former upholstery was gone in a flash. A staple gun and 20 mins. was all this quick fix took. ~

It's not all curvy, Frenchy but $3 to get over some cat angst is worth it to me.

Don't even think about going near that bench Clara Jane! ~

When I get another day off work, I'll darken up the wood with some stain.  I may even paint the spot where they peeled the paint off the wall.

In the meantime, get a quick look before they do something to this one. ~

When you are into rescuing animals, it's best to develop a Zen attitude toward personal possessions.
I may have to frame this quote from Socrates:

Those who want the fewest things
are nearest to the gods.

Now that the bench is taken care of, I'd better get over to the neighbour with a dozen eggs to pacify her for what the chickens have done.  That's another whole story!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

A Problem With Flying Monkeys

It was a shocking discovery to find the Flying Monkeys from The Wizard Of Oz were hanging around my house.  Wherever they go, no good will follow!

The first fall decoration I added to my front porch was a scarecrow.  I perched her on a bail of straw and a few hours later came out to find this! ~

My poor straw lady. I felt so bad for her.  All her body parts where no longer in the right places. How well I know, from personal experience, the trauma that causes!

I knew right away who the culprits would be. Haven't we all seen what they did to the straw man? ~

Or ....... might these rascals be the culprits? ~

Maybe I don't have a flying monkey problem after all.

Straw lady thinks I have a definite chicken problem. ~

She's got herself pulled together and is keeping a good lookout over her shoulder for whatever it is that rearranges female body parts.

In fact, she has the same look on her face that I have on mine!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Would You Give Away Gold To Inspire Someone?

What would any of us be willing to give if we knew it would inspire others to rise above adversity or put past mistakes behind them and strive to be the best they could be?

Like all teenage horse loving riders, my daughter dreamed of making it to the National, a premier Canadian equestrian event.  Life went in a very different direction for her but she never lost her interest in the sport and was delighted to be able to attend the National at Spring Meadows, in Calgary, last weekend.

It was an unexpected and special treat to get to meet Eric Lamaze, a rider who's accomplishments and personal story have been an inspiration to her and her family. ~

Eric had risen above a childhood in a troubled home and worked his way up in a sport that is usually only accessible to those privileged enough be able to afford participating.  It's not for nothing that horses are considered the 'sport of kings'.  He made his way to the Canadian National Equestrian Team and was making a name for himself as a great competitor.  But, he made mistakes.  Serious mistakes and it seemed his career was over.  A great many people must have believed in Eric, though, and he was given a second and even a third chance to redeem himself.  He did that by going on to win Canada's first Olympic gold medal in equestrian.  He is somewhat of a poster boy for never giving up, never giving in and everyone deserving a chance to try again.

My daughter was so happy she had the opportunity to tell him that he has been an inspiration to her children, several of whom have come from similarly difficult backgrounds or have physical disabilities. She told him that his personal and athletic achievements have meant a great deal to their whole family.

He turned to leave, after they had chatted and had the photo taken, and turned back to say he had something he wanted to give her.  How wonderful to have a key chain or some kind of souvenir from Eric Lamaze on the day he had won another gold medal!

The quiet spoken, press shy man handed her the gold medal he had just won! ~

He would give up his gold to inspire some kids to become everything they dreamed of being!  He would give it up as a daily reminder that your circumstances are not what determines who you become in life.

Back home at the farm, the medal was proudly worn by a rescued horse aptly named Never Lose Hope. Just because she's not pretty, it doesn't mean Hope doesn't have the heart of a winner! ~

My daughter found that dreams do come true.  Not always when or in the way we expect, but they do come true.  You can devote your life to rescuing abused and abandoned animals.  You can spend your days caring for children that might not have had a chance in the world without you.  You can put aside your own wishes in the service of others and still come home from the National with the gold medal!

Thank you Eric Lamaze for your selfless act of kindness!  Thank you for showing us all that where we are today is not where we must stay, as long as we have the courage to point our faces in the right direction and take that first jump!

Monday, 8 September 2014

Rescue Burnout

I have had to admit I have a bad case of animal rescue burnout.  Of the three old chickens I took in last month, only Vivian is still with me.

A week ago Camryn died and Josie followed her this weekend.

I work very hard at healing these chickens and spent countless hours taming them and making them happy in their new world.  They respond so well to fresh air, nutrient rich food and, most of all, individual attention that it is truly heartwarming.

But, the down side is that I get attached to them as pets and it's wearing me out with sadness and worrying over them.  Losing Josie and Camryn leaves me with too few chickens to keep the coop warm over a Canadian winter.  I need at least four chickens in there so their body heat adds to what the heat lamp does to keep them from frostbite.  I had to make a decision quickly on what to bring into the coop, so I can get them integrated into the flock before cold weather sets in.

I'd also like to get a reasonable number of eggs for the money I spent on feeding and housing the ladies. Of the three gals I have left, only Kay lays eggs.  The other two are more in the decorative end of chicken farming.  sigh

So, today I picked up three, white leghorn pullets.  Yup, I have brand, spanking, new lay hens from a reputable breeder!  They are about 4 mths. old and have just come into laying.

They were a bit traumatized from the move, so I just snapped a quick shot of a couple of them in the quarantine coop. ~

It feels positively lazy to not have to treat any wounds, overgrown nails or lice on these gals!  All I had to do was feed them, water them and say, "Good night, girls".

Oh, and I did have to apologize to them for making their move more difficult than necessary.  I told the farmer I would help him catch them, since I'm an excellent chicken catcher.  He declined my help and brought me the three stuffed in a feed bag.  Of course, I wouldn't subject them to a car journey in that! Just as I took the third chicken out of the bag to put in my cat carrier, the first two made a break for freedom.  The farmer had to catch them all over again and I'm sure he complained aplenty about me to his wife when he got back to the house!

Queen of the coop, Kay, hardly bothered to kick up a fuss to establish herself as boss this time. As long as they don't touch her supper food, she doesn't seem to care about the youngsters being there. ~

Maybe she's just relieved that all the responsibility for supplying my breakfast won't fall on her shoulders any more.

I know I will take in more rescues in time.  For now, it feels wonderful to have nothing but happiness in the coop!

ps - One of these girls will be named Rukmini and one will be Elizabeth to fulfill friend requests. Any ideas on a name for the third girl?