Friday, August 1, 2014

Semi-Charmed Slice of Life

August 1st.  Only one light, short-lived rain in the last few weeks.  It hasn’t been hot; actually it’s been deliciously cool
and I think we only turned the air conditioning on once in July.  Hot enough to enjoy swimming during the day, if we make it to the river down the road or fill up the big stock tank for the kids (our creek has dried to a trickle), but cool enough at night to want a jacket if you’re going to be out.  But the dryness is beginning to show.  I walked up to the hill to the shut-ins this afternoon and the grass and wildflowers crunched under my feet.  Crispy, brown.  The sun beat down on me, on the ground, on everything, crossing that fine line between deliciously warm and frighteningly intense.  Yep, August ground.  Can’t complain, that line is usually crossed in June.

I have a troublesome young goat who has been jumping out of the goat yard.  She’s not the sweet kid she was and not the sweet momma and milk provider she will one day be.  Rebellious teenage goat.  I’ve tried the tricks I’ve learned over my seven years of goat-ownership, but she still gets out.  We’re trying to sell her, but no one is interested at the moment.  It’s not just that she’s troublesome; I realized I just don’t need a third goat to milk.  We get just the right amount for our family and a  bit besides to sell; perfect.  She’ll make someone a great milker next year, but in the meantime I have to tie her out in the yard.  The corkscrew tether that I use won’t go in the ground; ground’s too hard, too dry.  I tie her to trees and she gets herself completely tangled, with only inches of slack, within two hours.  She knocks over her water bucket so we have to refill it when we untangle her.  I like my goats, but this is too much.  There are other things I’d rather be doing with my time.  (I only advertise the “good milk goat” part.  You understand.)

The few vegetables I have growing in my garden this year, the beans and cucumbers, the tomatoes, peppers and tomatoes, are all heavily mulched so, combined with decent rainfall through spring and early summer, they haven’t needed me to water them up until now.  Today I soaked everything well.  It’s pleasant to be out in the late morning sunshine, before the heat sets in, playing in the water, relaxing while performing the very simple job of tending plants.  Water, pull a few weeds, cut off the “suckers” on the tomatoes (prune), look for hornworms to feed to the chickens.

This morning was even better because my oldest child, Farra, joined me.  She generally doesn’t like to be out in the heat because she’s allergic to it (took us two years to figure out why she was breaking out in hives), so the fact that she was following me around in the dreaded sunshine, just to visit with me, was sweet indeed.  We had a wonderful chat.  Unlike my rebellious teenage goat, Farra is a pleasure.  So far our relationship flies in the face of the many people who looked at my sweet wee ones and said, “Just wait until they’re teenagers,” taking some obscene delight in the idea that all the fun I seemed to be having parenting would turn to misery as my children balked and fought their way to adulthood and freedom.  Not counting chicks here, just sayin’ so far, so good.

We talked about the fun company we’d had over the evening before and about writing.  At nearly fifteen, Farra is coming into her own; her own interests, her own hobbies, her own desires, her own ideas.  I’m interested, but do not pry.  I’m pleased when she shares with me and try to respect her privacy.  She spent the month of July involved with an online writer’s group, encouraging and being encouraged by other young people writing stories, poems and screenplays.  She noticed that only three or four of the dozen people in her group actively engaged, that the encouragement was limited and there was little constructive criticism. I couldn’t help but smile as she told me how she is observing and learning to communicate and connect with people, to encourage and help people.  Thinking carefully about the stories that she read, she was able to offer insight, explain what she thought the author and story’s strong points were, offer the smallest bits of advice, and encourage the author to take it to the next level.  It sounds like she was very kind and sincere, thoughtful.

This girl is bloody amazing.  I am beyond privileged to be a part of her life.

I spent a couple hours this afternoon chatting online with a dear friend while sitting out on the porch with humming birds humming angrily above my head, fighting each other for a turn at the nearby feeder.  My friend and I told stories, practiced our wit, and encouraged and inspired each other as writers and human beings.  It floors me that it’s possible to connect so completely, though oceans may separate us.  What a marvel.  What a joy.

Probably because I watered the garden this morning, late this afternoon the sky darkened with clouds.  Thunder rumbled to the northwest.  Murphy, our old Pyrenees dog, trembled and wagged his tail pathetically, begging to be let onto the deck and away from danger.  Determined sunlight broke through the clouds and illuminated portions of the yard as the first raindrops began to fall.  I didn’t spot a rainbow, but it was worth looking.  I stood on the deck and watched the rain fall heavier, pounding on the metal roof above my head, the wetness darkening the green of the yard and garden and forest.  There’s little more I love than a gentle summer storm after weeks of dryness.  

The children helped me open the windows of the house, closed all day to keep the previous night’s coolness in.  We listened to the rain as we rolled out pizza dough and cut up the basketful of heirloom tomatoes we’d brought in from the garden.  We took our time making our Friday night pizza.  When you’re handling garden fresh produce, surrounded by your children, enjoying the sound and smell of a summer rain, you take your time.  This is one of those moments.  Justin helped Atira peel and crush the garlic, mixing it with a little olive oil and spreading it on the crust.  Royal and Little helped me spread out the sliced tomatoes and sprinkle them with chopped basil and oregano, salt, pepper and cheese.  Into the oven for fourteen minutes then topped with a little parmesan; hands down the absolute best pizza ever.  

The fresh tomato bit is seasonal, the pizza is on Fridays, but the semi-charmed life is pretty much an every day occurrence.  If you ever, for any odd reason, find yourself in or near Fredericktown, Missouri we’d love to share a slice of life with you, whoever you are.


  1. Thank you for letting us readers experience a bit of your peaceful day. I'm glad Hemant Mehta wrote about you. I don't know how easy it is to make these things happen, but could you add a "follow" option to this blog? Maybe one to your Facebook page, too (that part is easy, I know)? I'd like to read some more of what you have to say.

    1. You're quite welcome! And thank you for mentioning the following options. Note that I've added to the sidebar about a gazillion ways to follow me. I may have gotten carried away. =D I do love those widget things.


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