Finally got my pantry back again today. Elihu finally gave his belated birthday gifts to Uncle Andrew, Mom and Martha today, plus he Skyped with his sister in England and played some string bass for her as a birthday offering too. Those were all good, winning things. But I suppose the biggest win of all was that of the New England Patriots over the Seattle Seahawks at the 49th Super Bowl.

My kid’s never watched football before tonight, and the whole culture of sports in general has always been something of a mystery to him. (As an achromat, visually tracking a ball is nearly impossible in real life.) He’s wanted to learn more about football in particular these days, as it’s often a topic of conversation among the kids at school. How perfect that we joined the game at the end of the first half, in time to witness two very cool plays – plus of course the half-time spectacle (the Katy Perry medley to which he knew all the words… I mean come on mom, everyone sings this stuff in school…) A winning end to a pretty good day. More adventures (and much more snow too, I hear) to follow…

IMG_0404Playing bass for sister Brigitta, who lives in England. It’s her 12th birthday.

IMG_0410There she is!

IMG_0418I dash across the road to get neighbor Zac’s help with some cleats I need for my new pantry shelves. Between Zac and his dad Phil they’ve got every type of saw one could ever need. Or so it seems to me. I’m sure Zac could point out the deficiency in their collection if pressed…

IMG_0426Hmm, let’s see, there’s ripping, mitering, planing, chopping, jigging (is that a word?) and then plain sawing. I think. Might all of it be correctly called ‘sawing’? Who knows? All I know is that one better watch the fingers. !!

IMG_0431See what I mean?

IMG_0455Back home, lil man picks up the camera and does a little editorializing on my home improvements.

IMG_0457Why did I wait til my 50th to buy myself a nice drill? Friends, don’t wait. If you don’t have an 18 volt cordless drill (preferably with a light at the end, unlike my old-fashioned model) then go out and get one. Today.

IMG_0460He catches me measuring twice, drilling once.

IMG_0463A few minutes later! Hoo-ray!! Thanks to pregnant Stephanie for lending me her handy husband to make these cleats for us – and they’re made from trees harvested from their property too. ! Last night we ate locally grown venison, today we’re using locally grown wood to hold up our shelves. Virtually living off the land, we are. !!

IMG_0466And a few minutes even later! Woo hoo! Been without a pantry for going on three months. Ahh. Life really is about the simple things.

IMG_0472And speaking of simple things, we’re off to the farm now, where Elihu plays for Martha her very favorite song, Simple Gifts, on his new alto recorder. (Her birthday is in July, so this gift is either very late or very early.)

Elihu plays Simple Gifts for Martha.

IMG_0494Elihu presents grandma with a pastel of a landscape. I mistook it for recycling afterwards and folded it – after weeks of delicate handling. I could weep. Thankfully, Elihu and grandma were upbeat about pressing it flat again under some glass. Argh.)

IMG_0514Elihu gives Uncle Andrew a high quality, entry-level rc helicopter with money he’s been saving. He’s been wanting to see his very depressed uncle happy for ages and put a lot of thought into the perfect gift. (Andrew’s birthday was on New Year’s Eve.) I myself can’t remember the last time I saw my brother smile. Success!

IMG_0516Seems a bit unfair that the ladies here seated are tipping back their bourbons in the presence of a not-so-dry alcoholic who’s trying his best to maintain. Ah well. Such is the ever-present dysfunction and denial of my family.

IMG_0481I’ve known this kitchen since I was tiny. It’s more cluttered, yes, but it’s still just as familiar. It still really does feel in my heart like the true epicenter of my life. Always has – no matter where I’ve lived or traveled, this kitchen ultimately feels like true center. Where everything begins and then one day returns.

IMG_0596I was ready for bed after our visit to the farm, but the game was too compelling.

IMG_0566Gotta turn off the kitchen lights – even after adjusting the tv’s brightness levels, it’s still too much light. He takes it in stride, but I’m always mildly saddened by the light-sensitive state in which Elihu lives. Wish it were easier for him.

IMG_0561Holy crap! This game is getting intense!!

IMG_0583The Patriots are down by four and I don’t think they can possibly win any longer, but lil man still does.

IMG_0595I was wrong – things turned! It’s pretty much a done deal here, but nonetheless, here we go…

IMG_0608New England Patriots win Super Bowl XLIV!

IMG_0597One happy dance for a winning day well-ended, and then it’s off to bed…


Post Script: Another win: Snow day! Letting the lil man sleep in, and gonna get into bed with a book within minutes… Score!


Breaking Ground

It started quietly. I’d heard some large machinery moving about down the driveway, and then silence. I waited. Then I took a walk to see for myself. It was an eery sight. A small piece of earth moving equipment had been deposited in the empty field. It had begun. I tried to savor the light of the open field, tried to memorize everything about the space as it still was, tried to get over my sadness. I would never be ready for this. I reminded myself that there was once a barn in this field, and that too was gone. That there were once cattle grazing here, and they were also long gone, and that before the cattle fields there was nothing here but forest; even the stone walls that run through the woods were not ancient, as they seemed from 2014’s perspective, but at a mere two hundred years old, they were relatively new installations. I tried to convince myself not to lament the change so deeply; this land had been undergoing constant change over the past two centuries. And before the area had been settled by Europeans (and subsequently that development mourned by local Native Americans), very little had changed so dramatically in millions of years. But it didn’t stop me from grieving the loss of another hard-won field though. Yeah, change is part of life, but I can still miss what was. Thankfully it’s not quite here yet, and I can still enjoy the spot of green at the end of my long driveway. From where I stand today, it’s still unimaginable to me that in that space will soon stand the silhouette of a two-story house. As I’ve said before, I’m not good with change.

Martha turned 88 on Thursday, and I think it was probably the first such birthday in all her life that it was not sweltering. The Conants and the Spiaks joined Martha at The Farm in her kitchen, the only room in which she has ever entertained, and we enjoyed a fine summer supper of hamburgers and hot dogs, mom’s potato salad (one of my top ten favorite foods on the planet – it’s understated and so damn good) and some cold cocktails. Jesse and Sam, the young girls close to Elihu’s age were there representing the next generation. I showed them the markings on the closet door where I’d been measured when I was their age, they in turn showed me around the winery that their father was building on the property. We visited the resident horses and I told the story of the enormous barn that burned down, on this very day (some birthday present!) when I was their age, years ago. How it took out one of the great Maple trees, how it changed the place forever. Martha recounted to us that the first thing she did after ringing the dinner bell and calling husband Frank in from the fields was to move the harpsichord out of the house to prevent it from burning, should the house catch fire. (She and Frank were musicians-turned-farmers and gave me a great experience of animal husbandry and old-time farm life as a child. Martha also taught me how to read music and later gave me a few very practical tips on accompanying that I still use today.). This place, simply called by all of us “The Farm”, has been my heart’s epicenter since I was a tiny child. Even now, as Martha hangs on, doing barely more than living from day to day (she suffered a stroke thirty years ago and can only move the right side of her body), knowing that she’s still here gives me a feeling of anchor. Of place, of center. In spite of many trips to the hospital and nursing home after small heart-related episodes, Martha always manages to come home. This time, though, she seems slower, a bit more tired. No less spirited, no less intimidating than she’s ever been (no one still dares to counter her on any thing), she still strikes me as a bit closer to the end. At least I can kinda see it now. I guess I’m just getting ready, because aside from the death of my mother, this will be the biggest change I can imagine.

I’m still puttering away, trying to beat the clock and restore order to my home. I’ve sunk a good hundred hours of hard labor into this place over the past couple of weeks, and am making milestones that have even gone beyond my initial to-do list. After living here almost six years, I have only just yesterday unpacked the last of the boxes from the move from Chicago. Can you believe that? And that last box will remain packed, I’m afraid, as I simply have not the use nor the space for my fine wedding stemware. A few more paining projects (garage doors, cellar wall) remain, and there’s Elihu’s room to do a deep-cleaning and inventory of (that’ll be a bigger job than I think now) but I can begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, which is a great relief.

The Studio is cruising along now too, with our second complete week of art camp behind us, and a great number of ideas for the future being born. There’s big change here too; the place seems to be taking on its own forward trajectory as new uses for the room come to mind, leaving the memory of fine Baroque concerts on July afternoons far behind, and breaking my heart in tiny ways as the new course becomes more clear… I am only now coming to terms with the idea that this is a place undergoing a real transformation, and in order to do this well I’ll need to invest myself fully in the new direction. I won’t sabotage my progress in the name of nostalgia, but like the field at the end of my driveway, I will grieve its loss.

My garden projects have reached a nice point of completion, I finally figured out the coop door opener (which has been broken for almost 2 years now), I’ve finally rid my house of every last unused item – books to boots – and I can now say I know where everything is. Ha! How many people can say that of the contents of their home? My office, however, is altogether another situation, and it waits for my attention soon. I need to check in with the Waldorf School too; if they haven’t found a replacement candidate for my post, I may have to get back to the piano soon. That is not a detour I relish. I’ve hit a nice forward stride, and hope to continue with added momentum.

Oh, and today is the second anniversary of my divorce. It took over four years to accomplish, and I didn’t even learn I’d been legally divorced until many months later. My ex has been married to his new wife for over a year now too. Strange as it may seem, it’s only just about now that I’m truly feeling I live here, and that this is my life – and that I really am a single person in the world. Being totally honest, I do miss the man I once lived with, but I also know he’s no longer the person he was, so I can’t lament not being with him now. He’s different. Guess I am too. In going thru old photographs this past week I found myself still very wistful about the old days, and I still missed aspects of those lives very much, but I’ve come to the point where I can’t imagine my life without this chapter. I’ve been resisting this new time of my life just about the whole time I’ve been living it because I missed things that I felt were taken from me without my consent. I moved because I had to, not because I wanted to. And I still think of those places as my home, but now, finally, in my heart this place has joined them. Having the time in which to properly inventory the place, rid myself of old baggage and apply some tender loving care has helped elevate it to the status of a sacred place in my life.

Things are changing in so many ways here at the Hillhouse. For the past six years here it’s seemed that life, for the most part, has moved at a steady pace, and change has come in manageable doses; now it seems that the tide is coming in all at once and things are beginning to change in rapid and dramatic ways. Not to say that the change won’t be manageable, because in the end I believe it’ll all be fine. In the words of Martha Carver, “Things always work out“. I’m learning to accept that life requires change, growth requires entropy. Nothing is static. And in order to have wonderful new experiences, we must first break new ground.

IMG_9191The very first cut.

IMG_9187The neighbor boys are excited to see the machines working so close to home. I can’t help but dread the whole in my driveway filling up with the profile of a two-story house.

IMG_9170Here are the plans…

IMG_9214Ryan and Brandon enjoy being outdoors with all that’s going on…

IMG_9180They spotted a snake which I just managed to get – hence the fuzzy pic – and then it wriggled away. All muscle, they are. And stinky too! I’d caught tons of em as a girl and had forgotten that stinky ooze they poop out when frightened. Ich.

IMG_9218I’m breaking ground too. Putting in my final garden bed next to the house.

IMG_9219I’m not ever strong enough to drill a screw without first pounding out a little pilot hole. What a wimp. Takes more time this way too. Oh well.

IMG_9223After some painting and pounding, I’ve got my relatively cheap, DIY garden edging in. (Painted 2x4s with shims nailed perpendicular to em to act as stakes to hold them upright. A couple of L brackets to keep corners square.)

IMG_9232My requisite tools. Heard of Saratoga water? Bottled right here in town.

IMG_9243I’ve brought an end-of-week surprise for the kids at art camp…

IMG_9246It’s Bald Mountain! A couple of years ago I brought a rooster in for the drawing class. These clay students wanted to see him even though he wouldn’t be modeling for them.

IMG_9263He’s getting smooched whether he likes it or not. !

IMG_9299He lets out a loud crow in a small room.

IMG_9285Kestrel shows off her bas relief tile from the class.

IMG_9291Ceres says goodbye to campers and moms.

IMG_9332At my mom’s place, just up the driveway from The Studio, a turkey makes a visit (hummingbird at right by feeder).

IMG_9337Here he is up close. What plumage!

IMG_9311And here’s my guy Baldy on the short ride home. My house is about 1/8th of a mile past the sign, same side of the road.

IMG_9321Ah, the bee balm is out and the butterflies are back.

IMG_9351And my new chickens, now 3 months old, are right at home here. (Last year at this time I put in this pond.)

IMG_6581About a month ago Elihu, Mom, Andrew and I went to visit Martha in the hospital. She spent several weeks in a nursing home, and finally made it home again.

IMG_6587Martha’s always on. Aside from some hearing loss, she doesn’t miss a thing. No exaggeration.

IMG_7861Here’s Martha, eighty-six years ago at age two, in Deposit, New York. (Note how her haircut hasn’t changed!)

IMG_9124Here she is some sixty years ago…

IMG_9126Note the ashtray, ubiquitous in her generation.

IMG_9142Sometime in the ’70s, cigarette in hand (husband Frank to the left, he died in 2000) standing in the kitchen, which looks pretty much the same now.

IMG_9077The same place, forty years later.

IMG_8937As I’d driven in, I was greeted by a turkey vulture in the driveway.

IMG_8935Wish it were a clearer pic – but you can certainly see that wild red head. I made Elihu a turkey vulture costume for Halloween one year. What a crazy looking bird, and big, too!

IMG_9030Martha’s spot is no longer at the table, but behind the island, as it puts all she needs within reach. Also never far away is dog Masie, the sweetest black hound dog who lets no one near the house without great fanfare. Good watch dog.

IMG_9075Martha, holding court. Mike, Kelly, Mom and Andrew in attendance.

IMG_9088Another view… only difference through the years is the clutter. !!

IMG_9037Upstairs in this historic farm house it’s another story; quiet, still and spare. My mom and dad stayed in this room when we first began to spend our summers in Greenfield, before we bought the Old House (where Andrew lives now).

IMG_9040This is the adjacent room in which Andrew and I stayed; I vividly remember us both walking through this missing panel in the door and thinking it quite a fun game. The panel is still missing after four decades! I’m too anal to let something like this go unattended. Frank and Martha had a farm to run, however, and this was likely not even on the to-do list.

IMG_7868Here’s how tall I was in 1972! The very height of the door latch was decided on because it was as high as I could reach. All the kids in the area flocked to Martha and her famous kitchen, and many of us can follow our growth on the inside of this closet door.

IMG_8963American Gothic, tailgate style. Jessie and Sam are Elihu’s age – they’re in the same 4H group. Mike’s put in a vineyard in the fields we once hayed as children. Martha has given her place to this hard-working family. They’ll have a lot on their plate when that time comes.

IMG_8965Mike built this almost all himself. Next pic of this the siding will be up.

IMG_8983Impossible to count the man hours involved in planting and tending these vines

IMG_8989Fruit’s looking good now; it’s taken several years to reach this point.

IMG_8998The new barn, much of which Mike did too – the white house can be seen to its left, under the trees.

IMG_9015I learned to ride here when I was little.

IMG_9010It’s become so grown up with vegetation over the years that it’s only possible to see the whole place from the barnyard. Even then it’s almost swallowed up by greenery. I remember this as a thriving barnyard with sheep, cows and horses when I was a child, and the house, yard and gardens were much better groomed then too.

IMG_7867An old photo of the front of the house, which was built by Prince Wing in 1805 (Prince’s son’s name was Elihu).

IMG_9096After a great 88th birthday party for Martha Ward Carver, Jessie sounds me off on the shofar which her sister and I uncovered in the music room. Good thing she’s taking up trombone in the fall, I have known very few people to ever get a true sound on this thing. She can.

IMG_9103Later that night, as I sat reading on the couch, I heard a strange commotion down the hill. Soon there was a glow of flashing lights through the woods, so I had to investigate. Some poor fellow had veered to miss a deer and accidentally plummeted down the incredibly steep hill towards the marsh. Here the truck is finally towed to the road level. Trees and boulders ironically saved the driver. Talk about breaking ground! May my adventures be a little less harrowing.

Sick Chick

Thumbs Up

Phooey. Thumbs Up is sick. I’ve been through this before – in fact, it was just about a year ago this time that we lost the matriarch of our flock, Molly. I know, I know… they’re just silly chickens. But of the whole forty-some odd hens we have, Thumbs Up has the most, well, distinct personality. And besides, she’s one of the few remaining (maybe the only remaining, it kinda looks it) genetic descendants of Buddha, another peer of Molly’s. Thumbs Up and Madeline are the ‘old-timers’. The ones we’d like to breed this spring to keep that line going. I realize I’m being ridiculously sentimental here. Really, it does not matter. Genetics is only one of many components to a family – or a flock, I should say. It’s not even necessary. It’s such a silly human characteristic to become overly romantic about blood lines. I guess if you’re breeding a racehorse it might be pretty significant, but come on. Why the hell am I so emotionally tied up in this? For some reason I just want to keep a lineage of chickens from our very first flock. Yes, it’s purely sentimental. But here in the real world, it really isn’t such a practical goal.

When I saw her crouched in the nesting box, her wings hanging down in a very odd manner, I knew. Then when I saw her nictitating eyelid closed as if she were sleeping although it was still afternoon (the eyelid that closes bottom to top), I knew it. Crap. Immediately I told myself she was just about as good as dead. I wasn’t so sad, really. She had a good life, I smooched her plenty, and so she was done. For a minute I thought I’d just leave her there and hope for an overnight improvement. Well. Maybe not quite a minute. No, I couldn’t let her go. I promptly got a towel, wrapped her up and brought her inside. I parked her by the heater near the piano. Oh dear. She didn’t look good at all. Her crop was bulging out and was way too firm, her tail was held at a weird angle. Crap. I hate this. And just because I’d moved her inside didn’t make her chances for living that much better. She was sick.  I just sat there and looked at her for a good long while, trying to muster my courage to take some sort of action. Finally, I gave myself a talking to…Stop whining about how much of a bummer this is, Elizabeth, and DO something!… Now!

Thankfully, I still had the veterinary supplies in the fridge from last year. And it came back to me as I looked over the stash… yeah, yeah… I remember. Ok. Found the syringes and got myself organized. Called my assistant in, then wrapped up the patient and pried open her beak. All meds were successfully administered. We sat back and watched. And, unlike her sister Molly last year, Thumbs Up began to drink. Hurray! She drank, and drank…. I’d given her some olive oil so felt good about the prospects for getting things moving through her system. Gotta keep things moving… we all know the hospital won’t release you until you… well, you know.

Last time I peeked in on her she looked better. True, last year we got Molly better too… twice. Then she finally died. Ich. I’m ready for that to happen too, but I just gotta hope this time we can beat it. We’ll keep her inside a bit longer just to make sure. I’ll run her antibiotics a good ten days for good measure. Why not? The other option is, essentially, to give up. And here at the Hillhouse, ‘giving up’ is not usually the option we choose. Certainly not now!

I’m giving two thumbs up for a healthy hen!

Post Post 3/2/13: I gave up on keeping her inside after four days as she was much improved. I do realize that this might be a mistake and so am keeping my eye on her. She was so healthy that having her confined (and keeping up with the poops) was becoming a challenge. She was proudly roosted on the highest bar last night and I have every confidence that she’s going to do fine. I’ll continue to medicate for a few more days as well…

Another Post-Post: May 11th, 2013, and Thumbs Up is going strong. She is easily the most animated, gregarious hen in our entire flock. And really, back when I made this post, I was prepared for her death. But she’s got spunk. Look for pics of her in future posts!

And yet another post-post: June 24th, 2013… Thumbs Up is the single spunkiest hen of the whole flock. She and Madeline continue to outshine the others with their Houdinilike ability to thwart any efforts at containing them inside the run. Thumbs Up will snatch a sandwich out of your hand if you’re not paying attention – then eat the whole thing and come back for more. If you open the car door she’s in and ready for a ride. She likes to linger near people and is easily picked up and smooched. We lost our matriarch Molly after round two of an illness similar to what TU had in this post, but in some way, Thumbs Up’s triumphant comeback and vivacious character almost redeem the death of that first gal. Talk about happy endings!

Close To Perfect

In a veritable firestorm of no-nonsense, gitterdone action I set out to use this fine and temperate day to bring all manner of domestic projects to a close. My son has now been gone for five weeks, making this the longest period of time we have ever been apart from each other in his nine years on the planet. He comes home tomorrow, so if it aint done by tomorrow, it aint gonna get done for a while yet. So the closing bell’s coming real soon. Hustle, hustle…

For several years there have been a certain two light fixtures just laying about, in need of being properly installed on the house. I know it’s not a terribly hard job, but I couldn’t seem to summon the focus to get em up. Til today. Up went the outside back door light. Just took a few minutes, really. Not a big deal. And wouldn’t ya know? It looks simply charming. I stand back for a look and I am about as proud of my simple improvement as if I’d laid a whole roof myself. Yup, I’m proud. Looks good.  A hell of a lot better than the 1970s stock fixture which was twisted in its housing, hanging upside down by its own wires and swathed in spider webs. Yeeps. That was part of our trash house look. “Welcome! We don’t have enough motivation to change out this light, but you’ll ignore it, won’t you? We know you like us for who we are, and this skanky, cobweb-covered light fixture doesn’t change the way you feel about us, does it? We really do appreciate your just ignoring it… We know we need to get to that sometime soon, but there’s just sooo much to do around here. Who has time?”

So then I “install” the second fixture, a very modest, average sort of ceiling lamp which I’ve been meaning to get to for now, well, (could it really be??) four years. (????) Ok. Where’s the ladder. Let’s just knock this puppy out. But then wait minute, I can’t find a screw long enough. Man, looks like I’m gonna need two. And I can’t even find one. And geez, if I actually can manage to get one of these screws into the hole then into the frame to hold it in place – I have to do it all over again with another screw on the other side of the plate. Damn. I can’t find a second one long enough. So. Looks like the fixture will be held on by one very important screw. Oh, and I’m well aware it’s the wrong kind – it’s got a point on it (what is that like for wood??) but what the hell – the fixture is on the ceiling nice and tight. Yup. Wires are good, ground is good. It’s holding. New bulb in. Flip breaker, then switch. Hooray! I can do this silly sort of thing!

I’m so very happy that I go on to vacuum the whole house and then light every last candle in the screen porch for no good reason at all. Then I sit there, alone, the voices of HGTV keeping me company from the other room. My home looks good. For the first time since, well, since I was probably in third grade I actually know where ALL my stuff is. ALL of my school work, artwork, recordings, dresses, taxes, medical info, love letters, floor plans – ALL of it! And so THIS, this – it is a moment of perfection. For this moment, I know where everything is. And it’s all looking good. All of it’s in good working order. I have, for now reached a moment of completion. I have arrived.

I even find some time to sit at the piano and make music. My living room is aglow, my porch is aglow, I am playing my beloved piano and all is right with the world. Woo hoo. What a moment, thank you universe. Thank you everyone. Thank you life. Mm. Tonite it’s good.

Then I blow out the candles and leave my darkened porch so I can go and have another quick, satisfied peek at the back hall light before I turn in for the night.. I flick the switch and POOF. The bulb explodes. Well, ok. That’s ok. But then I try the wall switch, and notice that nothing’s coming on. Not even the lights at the bottom of the cellar stairs. That means something shorted out the circuit. Bless the breaker, it did its job and flipped over, shutting down my obviously sketchy installation job. Poopie is all I think. Elihu’s coming home tomorrow and I’d wanted everything perfect. I’d wanted things working as they should, looking top of the line clean and polished. Now this. Poopie. All I can say really. Kinda disappointing, but whatever. Aint nothin but a thing.

Earlier today I’d worked several hours at a friends house, the final stages of a cleaning process that’s dragged out for years, really. But today, this was it. The sky was wide and clear, bright blue with huge, sailing clouds… impressive, inspirational. It was on my mind as I bagged up dust and broken things, my eyes on the prize of a clean home. My spirit was filled with the feeling of the day and just working itself was a joy. I was able to be in my task, to enjoy my day, to enjoy being in the middle of a process not yet completed.

I remembered that feeling again. Which helped to remind me tonite when the wall switch went blooey, that it’s still ok. I’m still in the middle of the process of fixing it. And it’s not a big deal. Elihu won’t care. Even if we have to use flashlights to go downstairs for a while  – that’s fine too. Whatever disappointment I might feel from this small hiccup in my day will only remain thus if I choose to let it be. So I turn my attention elsewhere. Today has been a wonderful, wind-swept, sunshiney, big-cloud-moving sort of day. A real beaut of an end-of-summer day. I so enjoyed living in it. I didn’t quite complete my list, but who cares. Instead, I was treated to a surprise visit by neighbor Zac and his teeny daughter Annabelle, I saw both of my parents, and my goose let me smooch him.

And of course, my son comes home tomorrow. Which makes everything just perfect.

Sweat Equity

After waiting and waiting for some magical sum of money to find me in order to do some much-needed tasks around our homestead – and realizing that it simply wasn’t going to appear from nowhere, I set out, full of purpose and ambition to git her done with what I had or could glean from the land. As it were.

What seemed an incredibly daunting project came slowly to fruition as I plodded forward, one task at a time. Get the kid in the car. Get to Home Depot. Get fence posts (they cost what I made in lessons this week – so far, so good.) Get home (after feeding pigeons and taking an rc helicopter break – oh, and then lunch…) and finally set to work. The goal? Create a larger run for my expanding flock. One that will finally keep the goose and the roosters contained so that I don’t have to personally escort my piano students into the house for their own safety. A run that will keep my hens happy and healthy and prevent me from accidentally stepping in piles of poop every time I step out of my kitchen door. A much needed improvement. I’m not sure what I was thinking when I had a variety of handymen and fence guys over to give me bids. The highest was $3,800! Can you imagine? Sheesh. Guess I thought I’d present the project to my good old mom for underwriting. Couldn’t bring myself to. Glad I didn’t.

Yesterday was a long, hard day. But after a good eight hours of hard labor, I now have an expanded run, complete with gate and even flower boxes under the coop windows. Lovely and functional and a source of great DIY pride. I must credit my generous neighbors for donating the chicken wire, which relieved me of a good $200 purchase. As I’d loaded up the second-hand roll of wire into my car, I still didn’t believe I would transform it into anything useful. I truly doubted my abilities to deal with the mess of wire with any success. But aha! I have! Invigorated with what I accomplished, I have also now begun other little fixes. The door that won’t close. Done. The nesting boxes that are coming apart. Done. And after having used my chop saw once again I can feel my blood boiling with the possibilities of added improvements…

I was utterly exhausted last night, yet ironically find it hard to sleep in this morning for all the things I’ve yet to do. My goal is to simply “de-sketchify” my place. Make sure it’s in basic working order. And in the back of my mind one goal looms, still cloudy and unattainable as yet: to make my place easy to watch over should Elihu and I go out of town. We really hope to – and have for these past three years, but it has been our feathery charges which have blocked our escape. If I can make it easy to feed and water them, to get them in at night, then I can hire someone to do so. I need the girls to stay put for this to work! I am fueled by the vision of everything in perfect working order. There is no going back to bed for me.