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A Chicken in Every Plot

Published September 10, 2012 by Ms. Nine

By mazaletel (Flickr: the ladies) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

During Labor Day weekend, my husband decided to build a chicken tractor.  What is a chicken tractor and why did he want to build one? Simple answer – someone at work talked him into it.

“It’s a mobile home for chickens,” he explained, “a coop and a run on wheels.  The chickens will perform magic by changing a patch of ground into fertile garden space within a few weeks.  We’ll move it so the chickens will make lots of garden plots.  By spring, the plots will be ready for planting,” he told me. “What do you think?”

“Go chickens!” I said. “Let’s do it.”

“Great.  I’ll take some time off work.  We can build it this week.”

The fact that we didn’t know a cluck about raising chickens didn’t deter our enthusiasm.  How hard could it be to build for chickens?  After all, we’ve been building from scratch for years.

We researched building plans, inventoried our own stock of scrap materials, and foraged in hardware stores for materials we needed.  Within a few days, we were ready to start building.

When my husband and I build together, my job is “the holder and go-fer”.  This means I hold off the distractions (kids, phone calls, and visitors) and get necessities (food, beverages, and music to maintain the work rhythm).  Occasionally, I’d hold a board in place for my husband to nail, but usually someone else does the heavy lifting (a daughter’s unwitting boyfriend trying to make a favorable impression).

Sadly, after years of observing my husband, none of his skills has transferred to me.  I can’t even swing a hammer.  Unfortunately,  all other conscripts have flown away leaving me holding the screws and everything else.  My poor husband has no idea how limited I am regarding basic carpentry skills.

“Hand me the square. It’s on my workbench.”

His workbench is not my domain. It is littered with tools, boxes of screws, deely-bop-its, and buckets of nails –  a Home Depot garage sale on clearance.  I needed a hint. “What color is it?”

“Yellow.”

Ah, that’s better. It’s easy to spot yellow in a grey area.

He placed the square on a piece of wood to mark a line.  His pencil broke.  He cussed.  “Get me a pencil. No. Get me a pen.”

What were my chances of finding a pen on his workbench?   I scrambled into the house to retrieve a box of pens on my desk.

The pens didn’t write on the damp wood.  He cussed again.  “I can’t figure out the angle for these rafters. Get me the angle guide.”

I handed him a metal object shaped like a triangle. “No, not that,” he said.  Eggs-asperated by my lack of  nomenclature knowledge, he huffed, “I should have said the ‘adjustable’ angle guide.”

By now my husband thinks I’m a wing nut.  His instructions become more explicit.

“Go get me a half-inch socket. Tool case. Third drawer. Round objects – calipers on the side.”

During the next few days, I handed him screws, nails, boards, held up things, plugged in power tools, and picked up things he dropped.  I cheered when pieces fit together and cussed when they didn’t.  I cracked chicken jokes and made him laugh.

More than a few days later, we managed to build the basic frame.  Our next step is making it mobile.  I have a feeling we’ll nail this thing hens down.

Okay, no more fowl jokes.

For now, we’re thinking of names. Yes, we’re going to name our coop.  Any suggestions?

By VanTucky (Own work) [CC-BY-1.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/1.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Kindling and Pinky Blood for 3WW

Published July 25, 2012 by Ms. Nine

3WW: hazard, cut, endangered

All you need to chop kindling is scrap wood, a hatchet, and a hard surface.  I have done it many times without endangering anyone.  Except once…

“Mom, m…m…ake a fire,” Thelma said through chattering teeth.

The stove, with its burned out coals, was as useless as an empty whisky bottle.

“Yeah, it’s freakin’ cold!” Sandy said, her breath forming icy clouds that hung over her head like speech balloons in a bad cartoon.

Freakin’?  I ignored her remark with a staccato of orders. “Marie, get some kindling. Sandy, feed the dog. Thelma, open the Spaghetti Os.”

They scattered like mercury beads in a broken thermometer.  I was about to take off my coat when I heard Marie yell, “Mom! The kindling box is empty!”  This was an informative yell, not a panic yell.  Mothers know the difference.

“I’ll chop some!”

“No! I wanna do it!”

“No, Mom! Let me!”

Unfortunately, the hatchet in any one of their hands could become a weapon of opportunity, a hazard; they’d threatened to kill each other once too often.

“Thanks, kids. But I’d better do it. It’s too cold out,” I said, going out the door.

The first pieces cut in four short whacks.  Just a few more…and… I saw blood dripping on the ground. At first, I was confused. Where was the blood coming from? I looked up at the sky. Was it raining blood? Is the wood bleeding? My God! It’s me. My blood. My pinky!

“Mom! What happened?” Sandy asked, watching me run to the sink.

“Just a cut,” I said.

“Let me see.” She bobbed her head around my body as I tried to hide my stumpy and bloody pinky.

She performed a quick medical assessment. “Don’t worry, Mom. We’ll fix it. We’ll sew that piece right back on. Where is it?”

“I don’t know,” I said. “It must be outside.”

By now, the rest of the children were hovering. “Go and find it for me,” I said, shooing them away like flies on rotten meat.

Sandy returned with the ax, the tip of my finger still clinging to the blade. “Just stick it back on and hold it,” she instructed. “I’ll get some tape.”

“Tape? That’s not gonna work.  Mom, let me sew it.  I’ll get the needle and thread,” said Marie.

“Let me see what it needs first,” I told them.  But they had already scattered to search for medical supplies.  My hands shook as I took the tip off the blade.  Phew! I’m okay, I told myself. It’s just a little slice. It slipped from my fingers and swirled down the drain.

“Here.  I found some tape. Should we sew it first? I can do it. Thelma, hold the tape. Give me the needle and ….Mom? What happened?”

“It’s gone. Washed down the drain.”

Sandy’s shoulders dropped.  Marie and Thelma started crying.  I removed the blood-soaked rag and peeked at my pinky.  It was half an inch shorter.  I collapsed.

My husband came home to crying children, a cold house, and a bloody kitchen.   After absorbing the shocking tableau, he bandaged my finger properly and made dinner.  Without a word, he went outside and chopped a three-year supply of kindling.

The ax is still hidden away.  So is that tender slice of ego that slid down the drain with the tip of my pinky…

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Addicted

Published July 19, 2012 by Ms. Nine

 

Blogger Addiction

I wonder if I’ll ever just write a post and forget about it.  Will I ever stop looking at the numbers? Will my heart stop skipping beats whenever the comment tag flashes? This blogging thing had infiltrated my brain wirelessly, silently, invisibly.  Deadly.  I spend more time writing my blog and watching my stats than I do writing my wip.  Bad.

And don’t mention the reader aspect.  I love to read other writers’ blogs!  I have books, real books, which are gathering dust on my nightstand, but the fascinating work of on-line writers is too compelling.  So I thought… What if I stopped for a week?  What if I tore myself away from the internet?  Would I wither away and die? Would I collapse?  Would I fall into a crevasse?  I can’t imagine the unthinkable.  How would I navigate the new world of writing?

I took the test and I’m 74% addicted.  It’s time to take action! So I tell myself to get faster at writing.  Multitask.  For today, my laptop is open for me to work on my wip and my desktop is open to my stat page.  I’m going to chart my progress.

Thanks for stopping by!

Don’t read this.  It’s too scary.  Addiction or Conviction?

Sky King and One Lovely Blog

Published July 17, 2012 by Ms. Nine

I was just nominated for the One Lovely Blog award.  I never know what to think when this happens.  This time, I’ll play by the rules.  The rules are to:

1) thank the blogger who nominated you with a link to the site.

2) write seven things about yourself that other bloggers don’t know

3) nominate fifteen other deserving blogs

Thanks to i.arxiv for the nomination!  Check it out for insightful and eclectic writing.

Seven trivial, random, and undisclosed things about me:

  1. Four years ago the US Army Corp of Engineers searched my property for Unexploded Ordinances (UXO) from WWII.  But they missed one.  I found it in my garden this spring.  So, tell me, what were they really after?
  2. I’m a conspiracy theorist.
  3. My husband and I make salsa with our own tomatoes.  We name each batch because it takes more time to make salsa than it does to make children (and we gave them names).  It’s only fair.
  4. I think Vesuvius is a lovely name for anything hot.
  5. I’m writing a novel about an evil rabbit and MK-ULTRA.
  6. I drink scotch.
  7. I wonder if Sky King became a victim of his own crop dusting.  What do you think?

And the nominees are: (Could somebody please tell me how to link better)

http://cahusted.wordpress.com

http://alwaysthewritetime.wordpress.com

http://ldalford.wordpress.com

http://helpfromcyranette.wordpress.com

http://grumpytyke.com/

http://perlesink.wordpress.com

http://theboywithahat.wordpress.com

http://susanwritesprecise.com/

http://veganchopnchat.com/

http://ashleyjillian.com

http://robincoyle.wordpress.com/

http://presentsofmind.wordpress.com

http://loiselsden.wordpress.com

http://jannatwrites.wordpress.com

Thank-you all for your lovely contributions to the clouds.

Published July 13, 2012 by Ms. Nine

I once scolded myself for using a plot generator and never thought about sharing the guilt. But after reading this post by Maggie Cammiss, I thought, hey, why not?
Try it for hoots.

Maggie Cammiss

Finding myself with ten minutes to spare and faced with a blank page the other day, I started plotting. The outline of the new novel and its overarching narrative has been established, but the story needs a subplot to allow me to explore the characters’ personalities more deeply and examine their motivations.

I idly searched ‘plot ideas’ on Google and was rewarded with a plethora of plot generator sites. Blimey. A better way to waste my precious few moment of writing time I have yet to find. It’s fascinating; a bit like watching an accident on television: you want to stop, but you can’t look away.

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Summer Shorts

Published July 2, 2012 by Ms. Nine

Like these summer shorts, less is more.

Here’s the first of my summer shorts.

That Woman

She put her salad fork down.  “I want a dog for my birthday,” she announced to her old man, her husband of thirty years.

“A dog? But you don’t even like dogs,” he grumbled, mouth full, steak juice dripping from his chin.

“Not a big one, a toy, a house dog to keep me company and sit in my lap at night.”

So he bought her a dog, a designer mixed breed, small and cute.  He snapped a photo of her holding the peppered fur ball as he sang the birthday song.

Later when she viewed the photo, a shadow from a clouded memory crossed her brow.   “I’m that woman,” she said, “the one I said I would never be.”  Her tone did not betray the lament that boomeranged back to her from the past.

She was pushing a stroller in the park, her attention fixed on an old lady sitting alone on a bench.  No, not quite alone, she was tethered to a Yorkshire Terrier which was sharing her ice cream cone.  Gross!  When I’m old, I won’t need a dog for that.  I’ll be feeding ice cream to my grandbabies instead.  I’ll never be that woman.

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