Chasing Pheasants

It was my first day out pheasant hunting this year, so when two roosters disappeared into 6 foot tall mostly dead nettles the dogs and I had to follow. Partially becuase we were out pheasant hunting and partially because this was pheasant hunting in southern Wisconsin and the general rule seems to be if you aren’t slogging through mud or stuck in some sort of ridiculous cover, you’re not really pheasant hunting.

Different day, different area, same idea.

Despite the fact that dead nettles scratch more than burn and were well above my head, I managed to drop the first bird that went up in a beautiful head-over-tail somersault. Trip and I both marked its fall and we were off, up a slight incline where we popped out of the tangle of nettles at the edge of a canal. Only to realize that the bird had clearly dropped on the far side.

We were pheasant hunting in southern Wisconsin after all, where all public hunting land seems to involve the word, “Marsh ” and this place was no exception, a large chunk of public land with a network of man-made canals and natural ponds and waterways connected by a lot of soggy ground and cattails.

However, Trip was on it. He jumped down the edge of the bank and landed on what seemed to be a dryish spit of mud extending into the water. It was not dryish. It was, apparently, quite soggy and the mud came half way up his back as I yelled encouragements, willing him to keep moving since if he got stuck and I had to join him in the mud, I wasn’t sure either one of us was going to make it out. Trip wallowed and slimed his way to the edge of the mud, quickly swam across to the other side and encountered a tall, steep bank.

That old dog of mine jumped on his hindlegs and scrabbled with his front paws, whined and jumped some more while I yelled more encouragements from the other shore till he made it up and over the edge and disappeared into the cover on the other side.

Moments later he was back, rooster in his mouth. He ran to the edge of the bank, looking across at me like the beautiful, wonderful dog he is. Then he spit out the bird, gave me his best doggy smile and swam back over to me.

All the encouragements and re-direction could not get him, Goose, or my friend, both of whom had showed up in the middle of the fun, to re-cross the mud.

Fortunately, there was another way to the other side. A quick car ride and a rather long hike later (during which I only filled one boot up with water) Trip pointed my dead bird which was, conveniently, right where he left it.

After the limit.

Chasing pheasants in southern Wisconsin isn’t always very glamorous. But there is always a story.

Home for the Summer

I’ve gone home for the summer.

Not home for a visit or home to live solo in my parents’ basement or even home while we are between houses.

No, I have gone home for the summer with John at my side trailing a whirlwind of kids, dogs, cats, chickens, ducks, pigeons, geese, finches, Louie the dove and that one damn turkey I can’t seem to get rid of.

We have arrived at the farmhouse that’s been in the family since 1913, filled it to the gills with boxes, noise and chaos that this old place may have never seen the like of. The plants are spilling out the doors. The kids are running wild down the hill and up the next to my childhood home to see their grandparents. The grandparents are doing an admiral job of continuing to smile as we carve out spaces for ourselves in amongst their things and upset anything like order that used to be here.

We will spend the summer helping around the farm, swimming in the lake and waving as my parents go spend some time on much needed vacations.

A solo breakfast before the chaos wakes up.

Then we will pack our chaos back into boxes and trailers and go back home to our little house with my favorite woodstove just in time for the kids to go back to school.

And maybe, if this hairbrained scheme of mine works out well, we’ll do it all again next year.

Checking In

Today I am tired.

Some days are like this.

A tired that goes so far beyond the normal wish for an extra hour of sleep or another cup of tea that I don’t know what I can relate it to.

And I am too tired to try.

Suffice it to say that a brain out of energy is a different tired.

It’s a – I tried to walk the dogs but found myself lying in the sun in the orchard on a 20 degree day- tired.

It’s the kind of tired I hope you don’t know.

But if you do.

I hope your feathered and furred friends check in on you, like mine did.

Not A Hoarder

Have you ever noticed how nobody lets you say you stink at something anymore?

Is it midwest nice? Has the ugly and pervasive habit some people have of saying they are bad at something just to hear others tell them that they aren’t seeped into our souls so we think it’s expected of us? Have we swung to such a stupidly positive culture that we can’t admit our faults anymore?

For instance. I am a bad housekeeper. However if I say this I am immediately met with claims that my house is in fact nice, tidy and clean. Since I can count the times I’ve washed the floor in this house on both legs and don’t believe in dusting these claims are ridiculous, uneducated and clearly false. My housekeeping has maxed out on the level of “not a hoarder”. And I am for better or worse totally fine with that.

Neither am I one of those who will claim to be poor at something just so that I can be praised. I’m not a huge fan of telling people my faults. I’d rather run with the idea that I can do anything, but of course I can’t, or in terms of house cleaning, won’t. So if I humble myself to admitting that I’m terrible at something don’t try to talk me out of it. That’s terrible for my ego and John still has to live with me.

In an effort to once and for all say, “I am a terrible housekeeper” without trying to be talked out of it I give you Exhibit A:

This tenacious little plant grew in my sink strainer under a large pile of clean dishes. Yes, I was home the whole time. (No, John was not, which is certainly a factor in its appearance.) Yes, it does have a root that goes down just as far as it is stretching up for light and yes I did transplant it into my greenhouse next to the other tomatoes. And yes, I can tell you, after raising many tomatoes from seed, a tomato plant doesn’t grow that fast overnight!

Now, next time you hear me say I stink at cleaning the house you can sympathize, you can tell me about your own plants you accidently grew, you can tell me it doesn’t bother you but please, for the love of sprouting tomatoes, don’t try to argue that I have a clean house!

Red sky in the Morning…

I woke with a start to a room bathed in red light and the sky on fire. Certain for just a second that the apocalypse was here, brought on by yet another foolish time change.

In the next moment I realized that it was nothing more than a red sky of warning for any inland sailors foolish enough to go sailing during today’s brewing late winter storm.

But I still hate time changes…

Happy 14th Ivy

Ivy turned 14 today!

She chose to spend her birthday skiing with a group of families where she is the oldest girl by far but Ivy loves skiing with her five year old buddy.

Then we had a family birthday party with Grandma, Grandpa, one Great Uncle and Great Granny. The festivities ended in a card game where she happily crushed her grandpa’s game and gracefully lost to her dad.

Ivy chatted with everyone from 2 to 96 today and while she has a special birthday treat planned with a friend in the future, John and I couldn’t help but glow with pride at the way our young lady handled herself today.

Happy Birthday Ivy!

Nightmare Meditation

Perhaps you remeber my futile foray into guided meditation? Well, I didn’t give up completely. Instead I decided to try (in that same afternoon brain rest time) just concentrating on my breathing while listening to my favorite non-music.

Apologies to the creators Macaroni Union, I’m sure this song made in a collaboration with sound therapists has got musical depth and integrity that are astounding. However I, having little of either, find it to be a soothing collection of noise that my brain can’t anticipate a pattern from. Making “Weightless” the perfect thing to use to block out background noise when trying to give myself some brain rest or outright fall asleep. This makes sense because it was scientifically created and then proven to be the world’s most relaxing song.

So back to my “meditation time”. I block out the light, turn on music found to lower listener’s anxiety by 65% and focus on my breathing until I either fall asleep, get bored but feel well rested enough to get up or actually achieve something like successful meditation as I fall asleep into a dream where my relaxed mind has let a demon crawl through the song into my realm and it’s now sucking the life from my body and it’s imperative that I “snap out of it” or die.

Meditation continues to not be my thing but I do recommend the music. Give it a try sometime and let me know what you think. I’m fairly confident it doesn’t always come with life sucking demons.

Too Tired

In my quest not to overdo it since the concussion I say no to things a lot, even by pandemic standards. It’s important I not get too tried and I do my best to meter out my energy carefully. But it’s hard to explain to anyone exactly what happens when I get too tired making invitations awkward to turn down.

Yesterday I got too tired but not pass out over dinner and go to bed early tired. It was a different kind of tired.

Last night I managed to flush an egg down the toilet. This is a bad idea. Plungers were required. I laughed about it.

I also licked my phone. This is a bad idea for obvious reasons that get more obvious mid-pandemic. I laughed until I cried wondering what I had just done.

Then I laughed hysterically about everything the rest of the night.

When I tried to put the girls to bed they looked at me and made up public service announcements about why you should avoid concussions and delivered them in poor Scottish accents while I howled and tears poured down my face.

I was too tired.

This morning I have rested and eggs went in proper places and I’ve brushed my teeth three times thinking about the phone tongue incident. I still have no idea how to describe what happens in my head when I get too tired nor do I know what kind of too tired will hit me next.

Even when I’m not tired it makes it tricky to respond to those invitations. “Sorry, I can’t come to your bonfire. I may flush an egg down the toilet.” Is probably the worst way to get someone to believe that you have a legitimate reason not to attend but, “Sorry, I’m too tired.” doesn’t quite catch the gist of the situation.

Fortunately my friends are understanding and I help insure life around here is never boring!

First Day of Virtual School

As I write this I can confirm that we have officially survived the first day of virtual school. I am happy to report that things went smoothly and even our sometimes temperamental internet behaved. All in all, I would say it was better than we feared.

Of course before the day started, we had to take the traditional first day of school photos even if it wasn’t a traditional school day. While other mothers manage to post smiling faces with cute signs delineating grade on their children’s first day, I feel that our girls’ pictures often tell a broader story. Here is my interpretation of this morning’s quick photo shoot…

Clara: School at home means I don’t really have to pay attention- or wear pants!

Jane: New things are terrible, also I can’t find my pants.

Ivy: Seriously? Just pull up your pants like this, it’s almost time for me to log on.

Clara: I don’t want to do this so I’m not wearing pants, also I’m still in my pjs under this sweatshirt so pppbbbbttt.

Jane: I can’t do new terrible things without my pants.

Ivy: If I smile like this can I go log on now?

Clara: Fooled you I have shorts on!

Jane: I can’t smile because new things are terrible, also I still don’t have my favorite pants.

Ivy: *through gritted teeth * I’ve been smiling forever can I go now?

Clara: Just kidding. I don’t have pants!

Jane: I can’t believe this is really happening without my pants.

Ivy: I’m done.

I may never have a picture of them all smiling at the same time but I’ll not be short of memories looking back at photos like these!