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New Dreams, Old Nazis

As I’ve written here before, when the going gets tough, I dream about Nazis. This week, on the heels of what amounted to a full scale meltdown of political and societal norms here in the US, I dreamed that the Village-People-inspired mob had left the US capitol and was now coming for me and my kids. We just so happened to be in a Seattle bookstore (do with that what you will) and while I found a spot to lie down and hide, my kids hand to stand, their feet showing.

“Don’t worry,” my youngest said, as she hovered over me. “We won’t tell the angry mob that you’re a Nazi.”

“She’s not a Nazi, one of my older kids said to her. “She’s just foreign-born.”

And there you have it. In this dream, there are not only Nazis, but apparently I am one of them. In this dream, the Nazi is me.

I know that the shit hit the fan in Washington earlier in the week, but other than that, I have lost all track of time. All I know is that I haven’t gone anywhere in a really long time, and every time I look, I have acquired another houseplant. I felt like a superhero this week when I discovered a dinner I had never before made (it involved a crock pot and a can of chick peas, and for that, I’d like to thank the Academy). The other high point was of the week (or month) when I realized that with the right amount of bedding, I could nap right on the floor of my home office. **Note: M is in my old home office. I am in what used to be the guest room, but we are not having any guests ever again – or at least it feels that way. We got rid of the bed in there (again, no guests = no bed) and put in a desk (there are desks everywhere I look in this house, but still not as many desks as houseplants). Then I realized that with no bed, I would have have to improvise my midday catnap. I can’t very well, throw on an eye-mask and go to bed in the middle of the day with people around. What would they think? Besides, my bedroom is now Grand Central (pre-Covid. I’d love it to be the current Grand Central, but we can’t have everything, can we?) and M likes to talk work calls full volume from the attached room.

Hence, blankets, pillows, and a hardwood floor. Needs must, people.

Speaking of Seattle, I’m currently at the Birkenstocks and socks stage of house-fashion and I think I may have ordered a housecoat this week because I cannot stand the sight of myself in my many-zippered mom coat for another moment. I like to wear it about the house, and at any given moment I can find an egg in the pocket. My friend H has the same coat and just last week she pulled out a stick of deodorant. I’m sure a housecoat made of faux sheep will be much more flattering.

In good news, the chickens are laying eggs and even though they are crapping their brains out at an alarming rate, they are pretty low-maintenance. I am waiting for them to enter my dreams, which is how I’ll know they’re here to stay. I guess they have to wait until the Nazis leave. Good luck to them.

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The Winter of Broken Eggs and Other Things

Last week I found a cracked egg on my doorstep. Turns out the chickens had escaped early one morning (probably because we forgot to close the door to the run) and felt the urge drop an egg on my stone steps. (Of course my first thought was that I’d waited so long for these bloody eggs to arrive and they had gone and wasted one.) I thought that was the end of it, but we had a snowstorm this week and I was forced to shuffle back and forth between the house and the coop checking on my precious hens.

When the snow fell, I could not convince them to come out of their coop, so I shoveled out all the snow, and a hefty amount of frozen chicken crap (#winning) and eventually they came down. The clever girls managed to pop out a couple of eggs for us which I put in my coat pocket. When I moved on to shoveling the rest of the yard (#stillwinning), I shoved my phone in pocket to keep it safe… on top of the eggs.

Enter cracked eggs and yolky phone.

The next day I gathered some eggs, put them in my coat pocket and in the short amount of time it took me to get from the coop the the house, I’d forgotten all about them. I leaned up against something, or carried something, or who the hell knows what I did, but … enter cracked eggs and yolky phone.

And then, like manna from heaven, we got a gift basket from some cousins in New Orleans (I am apparently cooler than I look) packed in a delightful wire basket and presto!

I am now in possession of an actual egg basket and my mom-coat is saved from daily washings. Now I’m really #winning!!!

I realize all this egg talk makes me a dull girl, but I can’t say I have much else going on. I dreamed this week that we went to Australia and was actually happy out it, which says a lot because I really don’t love flying. We’re feeling so cooped up (get it?) that I’m officially good and ready to spend a few days on a plane to visit a country that people tell me looks a lot like …California.

In the meantime, I’m going nowhere. Just back and forth to the chicken coop. In other news, someone asked me if Lois – our cat – is expecting. I’m pretty sure when they spayed her they took out her uterus so I think the only thing Lois is expecting is more food. I’m nervous the two of us are gonna get fat shamed at her vet appointment next month so it’s time to trim back on the poor girl’s treats. Here she is when she doesn’t think anyone is watching, just sitting herself on a counter (naughty cat) and willing the fridge to open.

I could see how from this angle one might think Lois is expecting a brood of kittens but she’s just a girl trying to make it through the winter of our discontent without eating everything in the house. Twice.

Take a number, Lois.

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The Waiting Game

Apparently all I am getting from nine of the world’s hungriest and laziest chickens is 1-2 eggs a day. That’s it. I waited forever for an egg, and now I’m waiting for 6-7 more, and while the eggs are pretty damn delicious — or they could taste just like the eggs I buy en masse from Costco (I may never really know) — there just are not enough of them.

I’m pretty sure the chickens are ready. You know how I know this? When I approach them, they crouch in submission, because according to Google they suspect I may be rooster about to impregnate them. I AM NOT KIDDING ABOUT THIS. I want to pick up and shake the damn birds and say, “Ladies, decorum! This is all very untoward!” But I do not. Instead, I try not to think about how much each of my daily eggs has cost me and I beg them to lay some more.

After I spent an hour and a half planting tulips bulbs in the rain, even using a special tool that was supposed to shove the bulbs down deep and out of reach of predators, the chicken dug up each and every bulb and about half of my winter radishes.

I found the ladies eating the outdoor cat food today, food which is… wait for it… made of chicken. On the subject of all things untoward, I tried explaining to them how awful this was but they paid me no heed.

The only time I have gotten them to listen to me was when they ran across the street to my neighbors’ house, something they have now taken to doing almost daily. I ran after them and yelled, GET BACK TO THE HOUSE and then, one at a time, they did just that.

In full disclosure, this picture is actually from the time they escaped and my neighbors had to call them back to my house. Turns out there may or may not be coyotes on the loose in my neighborhood and if these chickens know what’s good for them they’ll stay pretty close to home…

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LAY SOMETHING ALREADY!

These chickens have one job, and it’s not to crap all over my outdoor furniture. Four months in and there have been bags and bags of chicken feed, scoops of dried worms, something called chicken grit, and even a swanky new coop.

There has also been nary an egg. Not a single one.

What there has been is chicken shit, and lots of it. It’s both runny and clumpy at the same time and it’s everywhere — on the table and chairs, on the patio, all over the grass, up and down the driveway, and consequently, tracked right through the house.

I ordered six chickens and in May, nine showed up, which is basically the story of my life. (I still have no idea how this happened. Could I be that bad at math?) I bought these chickens because of the spring egg shortage which now seems to be both a distant memory and a cautionary tale and I’ll be damned if we go into another egg shortage without these freeloading birds getting to work. I made the mistake of Googling the situation and learned that chickens may need twelve hours of daylight to lay eggs and just this past week, we passed the equinox and there won’t be twelve hours of sunlight until next Spring. WHAT?!

Panicked, I called the CHICKEN LADY HOTLINE and desperately asked about the sunlight situation and how I would know when my chickens are about to lay eggs. I worried that she’d tell me I had dud birds with lazy ovaries or whatever their bits are called. I worried she would tell me that even if there was enough sunlight, the birds had gone into premature henopause (AN ACTUAL THING) and I had no choice but to let them live out their egg-less days in my yards

Instead, she told me not to worry and to be patient (two things I at which I am so very bad). She also told me to look for a very red “comb” — that red fleshy bit on their heads. “Almost like lipstick,” she said.

I have no idea if this is red enough. But I also know that I was promised eggs. My neighbors were promised eggs and are consequently so excited about the eggs that they have been collecting eggs containers for me to fill.

Lois may even be excited but for now all we’ve got is chicken shit, and lots of it.

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And here we still are… (notes from a quarantine/curfew/the longest summer of my entire adult life.)

Obviously, we are all still where we are, which is where we have all been since early March and THAT is the most philosophical I can get about about all of this. At this point, I am pretty much expecting giant locust-dragon-babies to descend from the heavens and swoop us up, take us to a faraway planet made of horse-shit and pigeon feathers and leave us there for a while until Planet Earth sorts itself out.

Also, it was my birthday.

June 9 is never an easy day for me. Partly, because I will have to wait an entire year to be Queen again and mostly because I always fall victim to my own unquenchable expectations. I was not Queen for a day. I was queen for several fantastic hours, which I know is quite a good amount of time, but not when you are expecting a diamond chariot to show up and whisk you away to meet Springsteen for lunch in your brand new beach house.

I know, I know. I’m a tough customer. (Medals to M, for being a trooper. Really, it can’t be easy.)

In betters news, the pigeons, um chickens, are coming along nicely and will soon be ready for the great outdoors (in a coop, of course), which is a good thing because they stink. Right now, my nine year old works in the guest room/office which is also where the chickens live and it pretty much smells like chicken anus in there all day long. Also, this nine year old is the only girl in New York to wish for a quarantine puppy and get nine stinky chickens instead.

I meant to buy seven chickens, because you should always buy one more than you want, in case they don’t all survive the trip. This means I wanted six chickens but got nine, which makes me bad at math and is also sort of the story of my life – biting off more chickens than I can chew. (An odd thing for a vegetarian to say.)

While this feels like a lot more than any of us can chew – folks, I will be running with this metaphor until I collapse – I am hoping the communal aspect of all of this chewing, the fact that we are all entering this long, hot summer together… that unity will provide a lot more than cold comfort.

In the meantime, you can wash your hands if you want to. Put a mask on if you go outside. As it turns out, you have to do a lot less grooming with a mask on. Zits and stray facial hairs can grow with reckless abandon beneath a warm, cozy, and often sweaty face mask. You can practically turn into a spotty teenage goat and nobody will notice. (Not for nothing, guess who just Googled, “How to raise baby goats?”)

Long, hot summer, indeed….

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Two months and I’ll be damned if I’m gonna hot-wax myself to the floor. (Grooming Notes from the Great Quarantine.)

A note about the home grooming. It’s been well-over two months since anyone other than me has been involved in my upkeep. My appearance may be good enough for quarantine, but I know better. I feel like that goldfish who looks active and robust at the fair, but suddenly appears limp and grey the minute you get her  home. I may look pretty decent around the house (and let us all say a small prayer of thanks for phone and Zoom filters), but who are we kidding here? The minute I go out into mixed company, I’m gonna look like that old lady who puts on her makeup in the dark. In a moving car. With her feet. (Or that woman from the Airplane movie.)makeup on plane

I’ve been dying my hair forever, and I’ve even dyed it at home before (there was a time when M did it for me because I kept making an awful mess, dripping hair dye all over the apartment; the solution was keeping me prisoner in the bathtub until it was all over), but the addition of some highlights means that my hair is now about fourteen shades of brown, not one of which is pretty, and all of which is brassy. In a certain light, I am positively orange. I keep putting a pair of  scissors in my Amazon cart, then taking them out, because I know if they show up at the house I’m going to have no choice but to hack at the ends of my hair and none of that will turn out well.

It looks like a pubic hair went for a walk and found its way to my eyebrow. That’s all.

I may be the only person happy about the face masks because my chin is a battleground between the six stubborn zits that have set up shop there and refuse to leave and two intransigent foot-long hairs which, from the right angle, make me look like an aging billy goat. (Also, once again, can the person who keeps “borrowing” my tweezers please return them? Thank you.)

As for the neck down, the last time I got involved in any home-hot-waxing, I waxed my inner thigh to the linoleum floor. (This project also required M to cross the hall of our married student housing dorm and ask the Texan football player and his wife if we could use their microwave because we didn’t own one. To this day, I wonder if they ever figured out what I was doing.) For now, I’m leaving it all be and wearing a caftan. I’m also wearing sweats and socks and wool slippers because it’s May in NYC and it just snowed and can someone please restore order to the universe?

I’ve been gardening without gloves because my hands were already shot from all the manic hand-washing and anyway, the home manicures I’ve been doing largely involve me painting my nails minutes before I fall asleep sitting up and waking up a few hours later to find polish everywhere but my nails.

I’ve tried face masks and hair masks and I’m staring right now at a product which will force my entire foot to peel off only to reveal the foot of a baby underneath, but I don’t buy it.

None of this shit is working.

My skin is grey. My hair is orange and I just tried on a pair of jeans with a drawstring waist and I may never be going back again.

Happy Monday, people. Smile for the camera.

 

 

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