Writer’s Block & Electra

IMG_3590I am not writing. I’ve been blocked for weeks. That’s my excuse anyway because then it is within my power to overcome the block and write again. Far worse would be if it is a conspiracy of the swirling energy around me. The negative ones determined to prevent me from reaching my goal of writing a book that might save the world. A big goal? Yes. One that might have something to do with this wall I keep knocking my head against? Could be.

IMG_3589Three days ago, those negative energies had succeeded. I decided to dump the book I have been working for two years. It has, as one reader put it, everything but the kitchen sink. An off-grid memoir. An environmental eulogy. A political rant, and diatribe against our Demo-n-Captialist society. A chicken drama. Yes, this book was to have been a call to arms for an Attitude Change Time-ion (A.C.T.)

It was too hard. Hopeless. I decided to add the sink and throw in the towel. Who was I fooling, right? After all, too few people care enough. Those that do are overwhelmed. Not even the surge of Bernie could uplift spirits beaten down by the disappointment of Hope and Change. So what if our current president had prevented a global economic meltdown, passed healthcare reform, has lower gas prices and higher employment than seen in recent times. Obama is seen as a failure because that’s how Fox News will have him portrayed.

And then I read about the Bohemian club. Have you heard of it? Talk about Sickos. And those Sicko Homo satanicus-types run the world and so I decided to hell with it all. I was done. I would move on to the novel I have outlined in my mind. It has been percolating for the months and months I have been working on Darwin’s View One Breath After Midnight. How could I have ignored it for so long? Because at least in fiction I could control things.

Well. Except my subconscious and unconscious but that’s another conversation. Part of the below mentioned Varied Paths I am going to be walking this month. My point here being, maybe Eloise could save the world given if I can’t. Mother Daze has potential. All ideas do. And it is fresh and new. I could get fired up! and ready to go! and write again!

IMG_3499But this morning . . . I wasn’t settling in. I had been verging two days ago but yesterday we drove to a family memorial in Connecticut. And so my energy was disparate this morning. It takes two or three days for me to settle in again after a day away. We are going to be away a lot this next month or two. Driving the northeast for the “Varied Paths to Publication: Women of a Certain Age . . . and Attitude” tour I am participating in. And if we add on eight hours of road time/carbon footprint by going to the Common Ground Fair in Unity, Maine?

Swirling energy and there are not three days together in one place in my near future. Not for about a month or two, so starting a new book? Really?

I bethought myself. How to settle one’s energy? MEDITATION. Of course. Deep breathing. So I stepped outside my office, set my timer for five minutes—I would be breaking a record if I managed to sit still for that long—and settled down on the solid, granite step. Grounded and grounding. I closed my eyes and Om. A noise. One eye opened. A humming bird in the sunflowers. How cute is that? I couldn’t see it clearly as I didn’t have on my glasses but I was mediating. Calm focus. Rustling to my left. In the garden. Had Brownie gotten into the vegetable garden again? She has figured out a way to leap over our electric fence and scrabble about in there. I peeked. There was definitely something over there. I attempted to ignore it but we still have plant life in the form of tomatoes and eggplant and swiss chard and none of it is ready to be uprooted by a chicken’s scratching. I decided I would free said chicken and return to meditation.

IMG_3594. . . Not a chicken. I yelled for Carl.

I don’t know why. That seems to be my reaction whenever something out of my comfort zone and particularly nature-ish happens. Train of thought: Nature . . . danger . . . who got me into this . . . CARL!! COME QUICK! PORCUPINE IN THE ELECTRIC FENCE.

This brought to mind our previous experience, years ago, with groundhogs also known as woodchucks and/or little bastards. They ate our first garden when we lived on Angell Street. Our beautiful cabbages gnawed on. I hired someone to catch and relocate said L.B.s. They never caught the groundhogs. They did capture two possums on two separate occasions, and I found out that they were not rehoming them.

IMG_3596All to say, I reached for the phone to call a humane society or an Animal rescue number while Carl approached, very carefully, our resident porcupine. Carl and I by now had reached the same conclusion: Sh**.

I brought Carl wire clippers. Lowered the fencing. He clipped the fencing. The porcupine panted in terror. His struggles only got him more enmeshed, his arm more fully tangled in the fencing.

For the record: porcupines are really cute. This is a full grown one but he has a pudgy little face. Very dark brown and soft looking. And the quills don’t look so terrible though both Carl and I maintained a very, very healthy respect for the ones on his tail. Porcupines are rather hedgehog-ish that way. Cuddly looking. Bringing to mind the phrase don’t judge a book by its cover.

It was emitting an odor of fear. I was grateful it wasn’t a skunk. It breathed heavily and it was not Bhasktrika pranayama yogic breath. I wished we knew porcupine language. Instead, we spoke human as soft and reassuring as we could.

You will have to take my word about the cuteness level. Though I had my camera in hand, I didn’t take photos because I thought it would be irresponsible to be taking photos while Carl tried to free the porcupine. Instead of photos, I got a blanket and placed it between Carl’s bare arm and the porcupine’s tail. I found a useless pair of garden clippers. And shooed the chickens—who were all excited! by the excitement! and raced in our direction! to see what was going on!—back into the coop. Where Little Big Man raced about and then out. All the others were in but he was out and so I was chasing him while Carl continued to wrestle with the fencing.

And the porcupine struggled, his left arm entirely wrapped up in the fencing material. If we had been able to hold onto him for a half hour and gently untangle him . . . which was clearly not going to happen.

IMG_3598IMG_0723That was the morning’s dither. The fence is down and fairly well wrecked. Electra, the porcupine, is exhausted and hiding under our deck, his/her left arm tightly wrapped in fencing. I worry if s/he will be okay as I begin to pack up my office. Because my writing day is over. It is time for other projects and more travels. Instead of debating which book to focus on, I contemplate priorities, and how close I was to a porcupine and what photos I might have taken if only I had opted for photography instead of  moral support and an apprenticeship in toreador-ism with a green wool blanket. Next time, will I opt for the camera, only to capture Carl attacked by a rabid skunk?

The only other news from Darwin’s View is that Little Big Man is testing his vocal chords. Both Carl and I heard a stranger noise earlier this morning. Ironically, we thought it was an anonymous porcupine. I looked out to the coop, thinking perhaps a hawk had once again landed on the bench in the run. There was Little Big Man, stretching his neck, lifting his head. Ra-row-a-doodle.

IMG_3602Big Red’s crow is boisterous relatively. Big Red is still three times Little Big Man’s size. And Little Big Man is beautiful, reminiscent of Cornelius two summers ago . . .

Two summers? Is it already so long ago? I was supposed to have finished my book by now. Instead?

Electra. Chickens and hawks. Gardens and forests. Travels. Sunrise to sunset, life happens. Just like that.


Daytime Television Damnation

IMG_0234Far be it from me to judge anyone who decides to dress up like a chicken and go on national television, there to jump up and down and scream along with an entire audience of other people doing the same. I’m a chicken lover. I should be thrilled by this expression of chicken worship. But I suspect these folks also eat chicken wings during sports events and thereby support the torture of chickens in factory farms; and believe that choosing door number one, two or three is more important than voting. Thus, I judge, and avoid daytime television.

But this past week, Continue reading Daytime Television Damnation

Chicken Blog? I do protest!

Do you see the difference between our two “girls”?

Truth be told, some of my friends consider this a chicken blog. That’s humbling.

Actually, it is humiliating but I’m trying to be positive here. Time and again, I have attempted not to write about chickens but, if you don’t know by now, chickens are my form of denial. And maybe a little bit my muse but look deeper and you will see the lies I tell myself.

P1040560Big Red? He is my excuse for having moved up here, against all logic, in the middle of winter. And for staying. IMG_2610_2The hens? Their fresh eggs are a justification for the insanity of saying that we are staying here for a Rhode Island Red cock, for which the euphemism is rooster, a rooster named Big Red.


And fresh eggs. Some of them obscenely large. We are here with our chickens for their fresh eggs. Happy eggs. Necessary to my peace of mind. A fact validated by the movie we saw on Friday night. Pricele$$. Put on by the NHRebellion Continue reading Chicken Blog? I do protest!

76 Trombones is all very well but . . ..

Time and again, I try to drag this blog away from the chickens. I even went so far as to rename it the Stone Age Redux Blog to no effect. (Carl has just pointed out that chickens, would, in fact, go under the Stone Age Redux title, given they are dinosaurs. Excellent point.)

IMG_0418Every week or five, the chickens edge their way into the writing process and here we are again. Be it a Broody hen’s guile, or her chicks transmogrification from pullets to cockerels, or the flock’s morning serenade that I now call Chicken Lamaze, the chickens dominate. And now again. I thought, two days ago, that I would write about the Goshawk and the Kestrel that were flying above us, circling and being amazing. And how, not two minutes later, we looked over to the coop (of course, the coop) to see one of our resident porcupines hanging out at the entrance, with a very quiet Big Red and the hens eyeing him from a distance.  But no. Now it’s time to fly our dirty laundry. Continue reading 76 Trombones is all very well but . . ..

Images of Darwin’s View and a Few Thoughts to Go with Them

Some photos of Darwin’s View for your viewing. It’s looking spectacular up here. I thought I’d share.

These are “before” shots.
Before as in 2012.
The first chicken coop at Darwin’s View, what became the Hay Chalet.





Speaking of sharing, I (re) discovered this week that Carl and I have different sharing capacity levels. Or is it definitions? He says “Come one, come all, whenever!” I say, “Right. But call first.”

It’s not that I don’t like visitors. Continue reading Images of Darwin’s View and a Few Thoughts to Go with Them

Pasty Butts, the Stone Age Redux Blog & Feng Shui

I have decided to take it personally. Wouldn’t you? I very specifically said PULLETS ONLY. FEMALES. Right? AUTO SEXED FEMALES. Not a complicated request. To the question, what if not enough AUTO SEXED FEMALES are hatched? I said, I would take SEX-LINKED FEMALES.

Lower left chick is the definitive boy.

The chicks arrived. I opened the box, and gently removed them into the temporary brooder. I noted to Carl that three of the chicks looked alike, and one not. In fact, that one looked remarkably like Cordelia did two years ago when s/he hatched, whom later we dubbed Cornelius. . ..

Continue reading Pasty Butts, the Stone Age Redux Blog & Feng Shui

Publishing and Mother Hens

It’s humbling. I have to admit it. That I allowed myself to put a hen’s natural determination to be a mother over my own ethical concerns and moral waffling. Of course, I made feeble attempts to break her. I took away the eggs on which she sat. I opened the door so that the breeze might cool her ardor. But I didn’t have it in me to put her in a cage in the car and drive about on bumpy roads, nor to balance said cage on sawhorses so she would have nowhere to rest comfortably. Nor to stick her into a bucket of cold water. All those means to an end seemed brutish and traumatizing . . . to me if not the hen. Instead, I ordered four auto-sexed chicks and shoved a few wooden eggs under her, who looked startled, then nestled down more fulsomely to her duties. And I? I went to New York City to attend the IPPY Awards Ceremony.

IMG_2905I am an IPPY winner! I have silver seals! (Stickers, not marine animals.) And Bittersweet Manor looks quite spiffy with its new accoutrement.IMG_2900

While in the Big City, I also attended BEA (Book Expo America). Continue reading Publishing and Mother Hens

The Places a Broody Hen Takes Me; or Living Ones Values

IMG_2665I started this post almost two weeks ago. Panda, our mother hen, had gone broody. Again. I’m a sucker for a broody hen. Or at least this one. She’s one of the original six chicks we adopted four springs ago and this will be the third year I have gone through the debate of whether to let her have her stubborn way. Usually she waits until late July, just before we leave for an annual family reunion, and so I have not been around to think through the consequences of my decision. But almost a month ago, I heard the unmistakeable guttural kruk! of a mother hen, distinct in its relentless, anxious (to me) call: ATTENTION CHICKS!

Panda with her cheeps last
Panda with her cheeps last year.

Listen to me! Stay near me for safety or the other hens will peck you. Good food here. This is how to scratch. Did I not tell you to stay near? You deserved that peck. This is how to drink water. Here’s a delightful blade of grass. Get over here. You aren’t listening. Good food here. Now scratch. A tiny stone just for you to swallow for your gizzard. Etc..

I looked to the coop and sure enough there was Panda fluffing and stalking about, creating a DO NOT CROSS ME zone around her that rebuffed any sign of amorousness from Big Red, and kept the other hens—particularly her daughters Beatrice, from her first year’s clutch, and Brownie, Clownie and Downie from her second—in their places, too: away. Adding to the kerfuffle Continue reading The Places a Broody Hen Takes Me; or Living Ones Values

Bittersweet Manor’s First Anniversary and an Award!

ImageJust back from the happy, morning task of cleaning the chickens’ poop deck, I am here to announce that Bittersweet Manor is one year old! In celebration, and most conveniently, on May 27th, my novel will be awarded a Silver medal, an IPPY Award for Contemporary Fiction, from Independent Book Publishers. I ask: What could be a better birthday present?

Now, a few people have commented, “too bad you Continue reading Bittersweet Manor’s First Anniversary and an Award!

Biodynamics: My Introduction

Ping! With a Redhead in the background

It’s humbling. I am at the bottom of yet another steep learning curve . . . not (as suggested in my last post) of Ayn Rand’s philosophy—I haven’t had time to stop by a book store to check out her works—but that of Biodynamic planting. BD.
IMG_2612This is the time of year I attempt to join that illustrious community called “real gardeners”. I have pulled out my seeding paraphernalia and contemplated my what-some-day-might-pass-as-a-garden with a tickle in the belly. A hope for warmth to follow winter’s cold. Anticipation of that peaceful and amazing process called growing one’s own seedlings: placing a seed into soil and having it grow big and strong, not straggly, eventually to produce a vegetable, fruit, leaf or root. Typically, on an arbitrarily chosen day and time, I don my gardening gloves and proceed to stick seeds into the soil. I begin calmly and in organized fashion. Time passes. I don’t have enough wood sticks to mark what has gone where. Confusion sets in. The gloves come off. I am only half way through the seed packets and Continue reading Biodynamics: My Introduction