Friday, July 31, 2009

Anger Rant: Please excuse me, or is that screw you? Emotions are such a pain.

Anger. Rage. Fury. Wrath. And, strangely enough, passion. Synonyms for anger, that most pure emotion that allows you to feel at once both warm and cold, lustful and selfish. It’s a pure emotion and when caught in it, the whole world makes sense. It’s simple. I’m mad therefore I am. I was an angry teenager. I won’t go into why because the memories are… well, they suck, but they led to some quality rage in my day. I don’t get made much anymore and sometimes I wonder why. The simplicity of pure fury is intoxicating. It’s easy to be mad, much harder to focus through it and deal with other people. Women aren’t supposed to be angry. It’s an ugly emotion when you’re on the receiving end of it and women are supposed to be beautiful and serene, at least that’s the stereotype I’ve always gotten. But as I get older, I’ve realized that giving in to that pure anger is essential. Animals get angry. They give in to it, bite the thing that angered them, and get on with the day. It’s okay to be angry, it’s okay to give yourself over to it and roll around in it like a heeler dog in shit. It’s healthy. If we can give ourselves over to happiness, to worry, to the break-neck pace of American life, why do we feel so incapable of experiencing anger to its fullest? I’m not qualified to go into all the reasons why. But I do know that once in awhile, anger is essential. It needs to be experienced and let go for other emotions, better or worse ones, to come in. Maybe by learning how to handle our anger, we can learn how to handle other emotions better too, let them wash over and away, indulge in them, but not live in them. I love my anger, but I don’t want to live there. I love being in love, but it’s hardly practical for the everyday. I want my lust and passion, but I also want serenity and hope. Emotions are a cornucopia of life experiences. They should be managed, yes, but not ignored or repressed, but felt, enjoyed, dealt with, and put away for another time. After all, there’s no rule that says when, where, and how one can experience emotion. That is one freedom of choice we all have.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Life Lessons from a Chicken

It’s a lovely day in Michigan today. Warm, low humidity. Beautiful. I dug potatoes this morning and left them to cure. Yesterday Dana and I repotted the herbs on the hot tub and made happy plants. I dried herbs for essential oil and tea and put up some beet greens. Very farm wifey lately. And writerly too, I got 3,500 words together this morning. Yey. Made the cows happy too with a round bale to supplement their sparse pasture. I didn’t get down to fix the top wire on the back fence, but it’s not critical so it can wait until later on today. I’ve had more energy lately which has been great. Seems like I’ve been tired for months. I went off vitamins and started meditating some and boom, I’m back to energetic and motivated. Weird. But so not complaining.

They’ve been harvesting wheat up and down the road this week, baling wheat straw. Second cutting is short, I checked the field last night. But it’s thick and beautiful looking. Too bad we didn’t get all the rain the weather forecasters predicted over the last few weeks, the grass it’d be taller.

The chickens are very into kitchen scraps lately. One grabs something choice and runs away with it, then another chicken chases him and takes it away. Yesterday one chick announced that he had something and ran off with it, a group of chickens chased him down and took it away. Then he did it again and got his snack taken away again. The chickens who just sit on the pile and eat are the smart ones. But they get so worried that someone else has something better. I guess it’s a life lesson, don’t crow about what you have or it’ll get taken away, and don’t hoard the pile or you sit and get fat and get eaten first.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Gone batty (son of a beet!)

Long weekend. Nice. I spent most of it brooding on the book. Gotta do that once in awhile or the writing seems to go the wrong direction and I’m a helluva lot longer making things right. But it’s right as I can make it on this pass and the search for a buyer continues.

Gram has been having bat problems at her house. Young or sick bats find their way downstairs from the colony that lives somewhere in her attic. Gram is terrified of bats, but has gotten better at killing them in the years since Grampa passed. One was in her bed one morning and she trapped it under the covers, beating it to death with a badminton racket. Then she swept up her sheets and stuck them in the washer. Go Gram. Not bad for 86. The last two bats she hasn’t been able to find. Maybe they found their way out or back upstairs or the little dog got them and ate them. Gram spends a lot of time in blissful ignorance about what her dog eats. I spent way too much time knowing exactly what they eat and end up with images of calf spine burned in my head. Knowing which dead animal the dogs are chewing on and having a memory of the animal alive or at least being birthed is just too much information.

On a less gross note, I learned to can this weekend. Kind of. We’ll see. Gram wanted beets to can this year so we planted three rows and she used maybe a third of them, enough to make seven quarts or so, and said she was done. So I’ve got beets out my… ears. I’m not a big fan, but figured I’d pickle them and make relish and how bad could they be? The brine smelled pretty good and it was a good experience canning the first time only having to do a hot water bath to seal the lids. My dad’s ex-girlfriend blew up a canner once and I’ve been kind of leery about the whole process ever since. Of course, she’s eating the wallpaper paste, the wallpaper paste does not eat me fucking loony, so maybe I’m worrying for nothing. All together, about February, we’ll probably be really into all the food I’ve put up and will put up.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

I always treated writing as a profession, never as a hobby. If you don't believe in yourself, no one else will (Laurell K. Hamilton).

Took the big red bull to the stockyards at Battle Creek today. Dad had to work Tuesday, so an extra few miles on the truck. Damn bull spun the entire way down. He loaded and unloaded fine, a perfect gentleman, but he must’ve known it was his first and only trip to town. I’d never been to the Battle Creek stockyards before. They’re nice. Dad said they burned many years ago and the rebuild is why they’re more modern than Lake Odessa or Marian. I’d like to say I’m sad and will miss the bull, but to tell the truth, bulls and finished steers are usually such assholes by the time it comes to sell them, that it’s almost a relief to see the ass end of them. I mean I’m not glad they’re going to die, but it makes it a little easier.

Wow, so anything else after that seems a little flippant. I guess I’m flippant.

We switched the chickens to a new feed today, which they seem to like. Of course, they pick shit in the manure pile so they’re not picky. I keep meaning to get pics to put up but never seem to make the time. They’re pretty fun having around though. They go to bed at 9:40 every night, but as the days get shorter, the time slowly moves up. We’re at 9:36 or :37 now. Goofy fucking chickens. Of course, that I know this and am amused by it, it doesn’t say much for me.

Monday, July 20, 2009

I sleep with my bio teacher (me)

It’s been an odd July. Hot one day, sweatshirt weather the next. Day, hell, morning vs. earlier morning. It was hotter doing morning chores than it is now in the afternoon. Oh well. It rained so the garden and herbs got a drink. It was a busy weekend, very social with Jenny and my aunt and uncle here. Gram seemed pretty tired. I didn’t get much writing done. I aim for 500 words a day, but missed most days out of the weekend, then made 3600 last night. So there, I guess. Nature of the beast. Words while they run and hay while the sun shines, I guess. We got an RFID tag in the big bull over the weekend so he’s ready to go to the stockyards tomorrow, so long as Dad and I can get our shit together and take him. Cash flow really interferes with this whole farming thing.

Today was a research day. I spent a lot of time reading about badgers. Not riveting reading, I’ll give it that, especially since I took dutifully detailed notes from my library book, but the author was so into badgers it was hard not to get a little involved. I’ve always been interested in shape-shifters and it seems like a good idea when writing about them to have a clear idea about how the animal acts. It’s an animal side, after all, not a person in a skunk suit. I’ve read about cougars and wolves before, and werewolves are fairly common choice when writing about shape-shifters. But badgers have their own illustrious history stretching back to the Pleistocene in its primitive form. Even if I never use this information, it’s still fascinating. And I didn’t even have to go to bio for it.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Are you being served?

Sorry. Obscure British television reference.

I’m watching “Taken” tonight, trying for ideas for the part of my book that has to do with trafficking. I’ve realized that the places need to move around more, that it wouldn’t be as centralized as I have it. I guess I don’t think like a trafficker because coming up with ideas and options for this new part is challenging if not downright hard. Of course the stabbing headache that comes and goes periodically isn’t helping much. Damn head is starting to piss me off.

Well, I didn’t get the blog done last night. I went down to the farm to discover the fences in the back were all down and nothing was out. Let me repeat that, the fences all around the back of the property, so the cattle could have gone all the way to Lake Michigan if they wanted to, were down and nothing whatsoever was out. Well, one calf was, but he ducked back in after snatching a few mouthfuls of corn and followed the cows to the front pasture. After that, it was saying hi to my aunt and uncle who are up for the weekend, putting the chickens to bed, then going for a beer run and stopping at the neighbors to chat. Luckily, the euchre game ended when I got there. I suck at it, never have been able to understand what in the hell I’m supposed to do with anything related to euchre. So it’s a lazy day other than that. I need to get a roast in the oven for supper tonight and Dad and I need to fix fence, but we’re just taking it easy. It’s hard to visit the neighbors. We always get over-served.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Hippies and horses

Dad, his friend Jenny, and I went horseback riding in Hastings today. Now we’re well fed and chilling. I have that loose feeling in my muscles from a good stint spent on top of a horse. Nothing like it. And Sonny, my paint gelding, keeps it interesting by going along fine and then kicking out when he’s pissed off about something. He’s changed and matured so much from the mental mess he came to me in. If horses and humans can ever be soul mates, he and I have that. Maybe less mates and more a shared piece of soul. All the Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy has a line (paraphrased here) that says the souls of horses are terrible to see, for all horses share one soul and go back to the spinning miasma of it when they die. That’s so beautiful and terrible to think about. But I’ve always loved that line.

So it was a good day. Most of the chickens were out when we got back. Zip and Maxine tried to help me, “help” me, get them back in. Actually, Zip on his own might be ok with herding chickens. Maxine is too aggressive with them and gets Zip too excited. But then, Zip is too hard on cattle, far too hard on sheep or horses, so I’m not sure that teaching him that it’s ok to herd the chickens is a good idea. He’s way too tempted to snap at them when they squawk. I’m trying to get geared up to work yet tonight, but it’s already after nine and I have no idea for a scene. My brain is all plastic from riding, all swooly and peaceful. I don’t want to lose that feeling. So maybe it’s a better night to read and let the muse just groove. (See where hanging out with old hippies gets ya?)

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Cheaper than Sex

I’ve got a spider that lives outside my window. It doesn’t hurt anything, so we kind of have a live and let live policy. Another one was there earlier in the year and kept its web neater, but it must’ve died or something. Anyway, it prompted me to find out what kind of spider it was. Near as I can tell, it’s an orb-weaver. It moved its web around the window until it figured out the best place was right by my lamp, so we have a symbiotic relationship that is very new for me and a spider. Cool.

Orb-weavers are non-poisonous and non-aggressive, according to They are light brown and prefer garden areas or windows where they construct large webs, even 6 feet or more, to entrap their prey, like flies and mosquitoes. We’ve got enough of those around here. It’s actually not bad as spiders go, small and interesting to watch. As long as there’s a pane of glass between me and it.

It was a library day today. I love libraries. I call it my crack. I’m that addicted to books. They don’t even have to be good books, just the prospect of the written word, especially in university library quantities, leaves me with that childlike sense of wonder that I remember from my earliest reverence of books and libraries. Some people must feel that way about church or deity, but I have that reverence for books, like my god is books.

Yeah, I be a geek.

Oh well. It’s cheaper than coke or ex.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Farm Living

Busy week last week. I almost never have that much social shit going on. I almost missed quiet nights at home. I got one yesterday though. Of course I had a vascular headache (near as I can figure) to go with it. Uck. But I’m back at it today and looking forward to Thursday when one of my dad’s friends is flying in for a visit.

Has anyone else out there noticed that there’s not much info out there on rewriting? I mean there’s tons on writing, but what about after the first true complete book is done? Do you just hand it off to someone else? How do you evaluate what to keep and what to trash of that first complete book? What 70% or more gets axed? I’ve heard that a final manuscript is the original minus X percent. Who makes that call? The author? Sometimes that feels like the least useful person to make that call. I guess that’s where the men and the boys separate. Or a really good first reader comes in. And research. Good research. Maybe I’m just cranky and should be done for the night.

I put the chickens to bed and got the bull fed and watered. I’m almost afraid to walk out and look at the cows. They always want fresh pasture and while it’s keeping up so far this year, it’s hardly scrumptious anymore. The damn bull keeps rubbing his way out the gates, still pissed off his boyfriend is gone. I didn’t think cattle moped like this. Even cows get over losing their calves after a week at max. Maybe the bull just misses the cows. He can see them, but can’t get to them. Namely because he would breed his daughters and a cow we’re giving a dry year and that would be bad. But the bull is staying in the barn for now and that’s all anyone can ask for.

So I’m gonna try to get to bed early tonight and hit it hard again tomorrow. If rewriting doesn’t kill me, character profiles or the bull will.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Homesteading Again

The chickens have escaped already this morning. They flew the coop in search of grass and bugs. So long as they don’t go from Gram’s flowers, all will be good. I can’t account for their safety should they press the bounds of her flower beds.

I baked like a fool yesterday. French bread, bagels, and cookies. Then I got 1900 words so my baking theory worked. Also steamed and froze three quarts of peas and much spinach. So much spinach. It was after dark when I got out to water my hot tub garden, which is in bad need of repotting or real ground. My feet hurt from spending so much time standing in the kitchen. I’d also put together what Dad called gourmet quesadillas, adding another hour to my kitchen time. So I was pretty sick of the place by dark. But I was watering and realized that I wouldn’t want to spend my day any other way. That’s why we farm or homestead, or whatever it is we do I guess. Cash flow would be nice though. But selling the little bull helped with that.

I have plans to go out tonight, which I’m looking forward to. Barring any disasters of course. And hopefully this weekend Dad and I can wean the steer calves so the bull has someone to play with. He’s been downright sad since the little bull left. ASA is charging an obscene amount to register cattle these days and the new owners want the little bull registered. Which is completely reasonable with a purebred herd. But the Simmental Association looks to be going the same way people said the Quarter Horse Association was going, that is, charging so much to register animals and farms that no one bothers. It’s hardly worth $60 to register a $500 heifer, especially when you could put that money toward feed or fuel. Anyway, that’s my rant for the day. Don’t even get me started on the whole herd database.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Bulls and peas

The big red bull is in jail this morning. He’s been there almost since the little red bull left. I let him out in the exercise yard yesterday, but he got to pushing the fences so bad Dad had to put him back in his cell last night. All reports are the little red bull left without a problem, but Big Red is moping that his boyfriend is gone. Poor guy. But he seems content enough in the barn, so he’ll stay there until we can figure out what to do with him. The problem is that if he really wants to get out, there’s no electric fence on the place that’ll hold him. Dad said if Big Red escaped, just saddle Sonny and take Red all the way to Lake Odessa to the sale barn. There isn’t a fence to stop him from here to Grand Rapids if he gets on the river.

I shelled peas for nearly three hours last night. I shelled till I couldn’t shell no more, then shelled some more. It was a ten pound bag of peas, I swear. It was peaceful picking though, with the chickens making soft noises and fluttering around, with the wind and the sun, and the dogs pacing and wrestling around. Shelling was peaceful too in its own way, but took forever. Luckily I had The Tutors Showtime series to keep me company. I didn’t like the series at first, but I got wrapped up in the characters. Not sure how accurate the history is, probably only loosely, but it’s everything one thinks of with the Tutor dynasty, political, sexy, extravagant, and lush. I can’t remember if I already raved about Love and Other Disasters with Britney Murphy, but I’m loving that film too. Like right up there with High Fidelity and that’s one of all time top fives.

Psyching up to bake bread today and perhaps cookies, not sure yet. Maybe the baking will help me find my way into a scene today. At least I’ll have time to work while the bread rises.

Monday, July 6, 2009

A very late happy Fourth of July to all

The chickens are taking over my life. That’s my only excuse for such laxity around here.

Hope everyone had a great fourth. We did. We worked. Dad constructed a chicken pen and I drove to Toledo from Gram. I got a free breakfast out of the deal so it’s hardly all bad. I highly recommend the Fowlerville Farms restaurant in, you guessed it, Fowlerville, by the way. I’m not much of a large breakfast person, I prefer small meals throughout the day, but their eggs, sausage, hash browns, and country toast were excellent. It actually tasted like food and was filling, both of which are good points where food is concerned. Toast was great. Homemade maybe, but I’m not sure. Can’t speak to the coffee. Gram and I stopped in late and what she got must have been on the burner awhile. I’m sure before 11:30 in the morning it’s great. The service was quick and pleasant and two breakfasts only cost $15, leaving neither of us needing to eat again for awhile. This was Sunday though so it was good to go home and drink though, let’s not get stupid. It’s a long drive and a holiday weekend after all.

2T, my little red bull, found a new home over the weekend. YEY! The new owners are very pleased with him and I’m glad he found a place in the world. He’s the first bull I’ve sold, even before I moved down here, so it’s made me feel really good about what Dad and I are doing with the cow herd. Kind of an affirmation that someone else out there wants our genetics. Very cool.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Them chickens' jackin' my style

Okay, first off, my post got lost somehow, disconnect between blogger and laptop, last Thursday and I never got back around to posting again since I worked with Dad painting on Saturday and, well, I'm lazy lately. So here's the old post.

Lost my fucking post. Grumble grumble. The one time I don’t save it somewhere else. Okay, I’m cooling down. Not. It’s too hot to calm down. My chickens are panting and I’m still crabby from sweating out my brain cells last night in Lansing. Ran the gauntlet to Toledo today with Gram so she could go visit the family there. My cousin’s getting married in North Carolina so everyone but Dad and I are off to the Outer Banks.

I read The Spanish Pearl by Catherine Friend over the weekend. Really good read. I had this whole thing about how the characters are interesting and can sustain themselves through more books, unlike most romance novels where the characters lose it after they ahem lose it. But of course I don’t remember what I said. That’s why I wrote it down. Stupid computer. Stupider technology.

And today:
Okay, so missed last week due to I’m not sure what. But it’s raining today and I have no ideas for a scene. Good time to catch up. Been making 500-2500 words a day for the pirate novel. It’s bad when you’re 40,000 words in and still aren’t sure what’s going on or what’s going to happen. Oh well.

Dana and I made soap today. Yup, lye and lard soap. It smells a little funny, but it’s setting up and hopefully the second batch turns out smelling like roses…err… rosemary and spearmint. It was a fun project, even if it did take forever to stir and stir and, well, you get the idea.

The chickens, the baby barred rocks, have an outdoor exercise yard now. Actually, it is the yard since they fly over their pen and just go wherever they want to. Chaos. Fucking chaos. But they aren’t eating three coffee cans of feed twice a day anymore so whatever the little shits…er, tykes, gotta do. Let’s just say much beer gets drunk waiting for the chickens to go in at night and catching the ones that decide they want to sleep rough.

It’s rained the last couple days so the garden and my hot tub herb garden (which Dad says is the best use our hot tub has ever been put to) have both exploded. The spindly little piece of dog shit tomatoes are dense as any purchased plant and up past my waist. It was definitely a worthwhile experiment.

Molly, my grandma’s Jack Russell/mini Aussie, has been staying with us while Gram’s away. Let’s just say the old lady’s dog doesn’t understand why the heeler’s keep trying to play with her. Of course, if my heelers did manage to get her to play, she’s probably be the fetched object rather than the fetcher. Chaos.

So that brings us about up to date. If anyone reading is interested in homemade soaps, drop me a line. Or beef for that matter. Or chicken. We're getting a product list together, including seasonal availability, and plan to be ready to take orders in the near future. Anyone interested, or who has questions, please leave a comment and I'll get back with you. Thanks.