Thursday, April 29, 2010

7 Sorta Quick Takes

Anna will receive her First Holy Communion on Mother's Day, but her first Confession is this Saturday, so we've been concentrating hard in our studies to be ready. And, though I'm a cradle Catholic, and have prepared seven children before Anna, there's nothing that reinvigorates my own fervor more purely than teaching little ones about the faith. Now, I love teaching history and literature and phonics and reading, but I have to say that Catechism is my favorite subject. I know, I know. Makes me sound like a terrible Pollyanna, but I love that Religion gets to the root of every other subject -- and it provides key yakking time with the children.( I love nothing better than a little subltle lecturing over coffee and schoolbooks in the morning...) But when the season of "Firsts" rolls around, Catechism is especially fun. For one thing, it's always a perk to hang out with my seven-year-olds. And if their enthusiasm doesn't spark my own fervor, nothing will. Their little minds and hearts are so fertile.

Figuratively and literally.

My favorite image to imprint on our First Communicants is the the notion that they must tend the beautiful garden of their souls for Christ to walk in when they receive Him in the Holy Eucharist. It's especially easy this time of year, when we're sowing our own vegetable garden to make these connections, to associate with the weeding as Confession, and then the raking and hoeing and tending as our firm ammendment and constant work not to sin again, and then the planting of new seeds as our good works. I love to paint this picture in the little one's minds, and it helps me with the weeding and pruning and planting in my own garden, too. Jesus, does truly make all things new.

Of less importance, but still very significant: Dan's making some headway in building his own business with a colleague, but to segway, he's landed a consulting job that will carry us for two months -- one that's mercifully close to home -- and hopefully, the ball will get rolling in either his own business or with more consulting gigs. God is good. Thank-you, God.

And now a little bit about bad companions -- and an analogy of how it's best to steer our children away from them.

This is a chicken story.

It goes like this: We had ten or so good laying hens when we started out, well behaved ladies, who stayed in the hen yard and minded their own business; they laid about an egg a day each, clucked and squawked and murmered like chickens do, and got just excited enough when the gatherers showed up to make things interesting. Then, a neighbor who wanted to thin out her flock a little, offered us a rooster and a couple of her hens. We knew going in that these birds were raised without a proper coop or hen yard, living like happy bohemians in a hollowed out VW bus in our friend's backyard. We knew they were mixed breeds and a little wild. But, I thought, "What the hey. They're free. More eggs would be good. And: a chicken's a chicken."

But, ahem... No, we have found out the hard way that this is not true. All chickens are not alike. It seems that there really are good-mannered chickens and bad-mannered chickens. Whether this is a nature or nurture thing, I do not know, but one thing I now know: all the best habits of good-mannered chickens can be completely ruined by a small handful of bad-mannered chickens in no time flat.

Here's the ruination: Not all, but a significant number of our good girls have taken to joining our newly-adopted, renegade, bad-mannered chickens in their daily escapes and raids throughout the property. And, while free-ranging is not necessarily a bad thing for the chickens if they gets their tail feathers back in the hen house by nightfall when the foxes and coyotes roam -- it is true, nevertheless, that chickens are a very bad thing for a newly-sown garden.

In spite of all the rainy days lately here in Colorado, we were making pretty good headway on our spring work... until the chickens found the garden. Every pea that I sowed two-and-a-half weeks ago has been pecked up and eaten. My spinach bed has been turned into a lumpy crater-filled disaster area, and my perennial beds have been vandalized, just short of having grafiti sprayed on my tulips. And, so far, no solutions have worked. We've clipped wings, plugged up holes, screamed and hollared... Nothing has deterred the hooligans yet. I'm going to try red pepper flakes and put up some more netting. But if that doesn't work, we may have to rid ourselves of some chickens. Baked or fried.

Can't do that with your kids if they mix with bad company, though. It's best to just avoid the problem to begin with.

(No, really. You can't. Sorry)

Oh, and on the subject of weather, dear folks in the northeast, I know you can join us here in Colorado identifying with this Mark Twain quote:

"In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours."

In the last couple of weeks here at our house, we've had several twenty-four hour periods where we've swung from extreme to extreme: lightning, thunder, rain, sleet, hail, snow, terrific wind, tornados -- and then the day will end with a beautiful jello setting in the west.

Just out of curiosity, I pulled up Time Magazine's Most Influential List, and I'm a little embarasssed to admit it, but I have to tell you, out of the list of influential leaders, I could only really identify four names, and of the four of them, I would only trust one of them to carry a cup of coffee across my kitchen. That would be Sarah. Glenn would raid the cookie jar. Bless his heart.

Of the list of Influential "Heroes" there was not one I would feel safe in a foxhole with and not one I would trust to to teach a child the alphabet. And, seriously, I can sorta see how Bill Clinton's name got on there, but Ben Stiller? Am I missing something?

I'm ashamed to say I recognize more of the names on the Artists List than the other lists, but am struggling to understand how the Time staff is defining the word "influential" here, as in the other lists. Conan O'Brien and Valery Gergiev are on the same list? James Cameron and Neil Patrick Harris?

And the Influential Thinkers List? Yikes. That's all I've got to say. As I read their biographies, I had to admit some were impressive individuals, but thinkers?


For the record:

In our house,

the most influential leader has been Daddy who single-handedly directed the outdoor trim and fence painting being accomplished by the Keystone Kop Kids, and actually made a success of the job. While writing code and business plans for three different start-up companies, doing the Church books, and maintaining a high-maintenance wife. Who loves him very much.

My personal most influential hero on earth is my Aunt Billie who, while fighting a rare form of cancer at 78 years of age, is the ultimate example of southern charm, beauty, and optimism, tied up in a package of resolute strength, determination, and faith. (While my heroes of all time comprise a list too lengthy to print here, but you'll find a good representation in my sidebar contents list under: Saints.)

The most influential artist? As spring unfolds here in Colorado, it's unquestionably the Author and Illustrator of all that is beautiful, our Creator. How could I list anyone else? All the rest are imitations, at best. He really wins top billing in all these lists, anyway.

But, oh, hey... I really should mention fledgling artist, Gabriel, who is teaching us around here the neat little trick of signing our names on pictures and paintings by hiding the letters throughout: a G in an ear, an A in a shirt collar, a B under a nose, an E in another ear... Everyone wants to do this now. That's real creative influence.

For most influential thinker in our house, it would have to be William whose constantly turning brain-cogs keep us all on our toes. Here's hoping the group of us can corral that mental energy into Aquinas-like machinations and away from the plotting of Rocky-and-Bullinkle type dramas.


As a last note, I'm having a dickens of a time with pictures on Blogger these days, and, though it pains me to post anything -- especially this lengthy -- without visual eye-candy (Alas!), I have no choice. I don't have time to figure out what the problem is. I think it just may be Blogger. Is anyone else having picture problems?

Jennifer at Conversion Diaries is the go-to girl for more Quick Takes (and other just plain good stuff!). Run over!


Soutenus said...

My son and I giggled and giggled at your chicken story. -- So sorry about your garden!!!! We JUST finished planting ours and our heart goes out to you!

Anyway - back to the giggling.
My son's eyebrows shot up at the words . . . "baked or fried."
For a moment I feared the worst - that he might turn "city slicker" on me and say something like, "How awful!"

I am happy to tell you that those eye brows shot up, he paused for a moment and then howled with laughter.
We vote . . . . "fried" with mashed potatoes and peas.

Let us know what happens!

Sara said...

Oh, yes, picture problems. Grrrr. Mine will only allow me to us pictures from the web, or my blog, not my computer. What's up with that?

Laura said...

I love that your daughter is having her 1st communion on Mother's Day. She will always remember the day. (Mine was on Christmas!)
New Blogger drove me nuts. If you are using that, maybe you should switch back to old blogger for a while.
Worked for me.

Michele said...

gratz to Anna on her first confession and first Holy Communion!

suzy said...

"In the spring I have counted one hundred and thirty-six different kinds of weather inside of four and twenty hours."

Yes that sounds like the kind of weather we've been having round here lately!
When we go out we take sunhats and umbrellas. You just never know!

Martha said...

Some thoughts on your chicken experience -- one of my good friends is a chicken farmer in a rural county near Chicago --
1. Chickens establish a pecking order early so that is why you could not introduce new chickens
2. For information and encouragement on raising chickens check out the Polyface Farm in Swope, VA website. Their farmer, Joel Salatin has written several books on grass fed chickens
3. The farmer does have to keep the chickens safe during the night as there are predators (red hawks and coyotes in this area)
4. In Salatin's method the chickens are moved to new grass and spend the night in a "portable house" that Salatin calls an eggmobile. It works super well for my friend and her eggs are delicious
5. Chickens really are interesting and busy birds! I do enjoy going out to her farm
Hope these comments have helped.

MightyMom said...

can I mail you a guinea hen??!!!


can you teach me how to catch the damn thing?? I think I can figure out how to pluck it.

this stoooopid hen is obviously being "owned" by one of my neighbors, but is left loose in our nieghborhood. we are SOOOO TIRED of having big bird shit on our front porch!!

we've tried vinegar, coffee grinds and anything else we can think of but the stupid bird keeps coming back. WHAT WILL WORK??!!!

Mary Bennett said...

We never had trouble with chickens, or with introducing a second flock to the hen house (they were all younger though). Our problem was with an Aracana Rooster who bullied the other roosters and our family. He tried to bully our dog, who was chasing the hens toward the woods and away from our plantings, but our dog proved tougher. He still bullied us though, what a misearble bird. We never lost one chicken to free ranging, but we did loose our guinea hens that refused to roost with the chickens.