The end

Dear Metro,

You, dear dog,  are a casualty of recent events, an uprising, a high stakes hostile take-over.  You are being held hostage in a house full of tail pulling, horsey riding, collar dragging, sticky-handed children, screaming children, that tortured you to madness.  Teased you with crackers dropped and retrieved from your not-so-quick grasp, cheese sticks and chicken weanies bouncing to the floor and whisked away again and smells on faces, smeared on cheeks and arms, tummies and clothes.  These kids are always eating.  Everything has driven you nuts.  You stand and look at me, resentful and pissed off-then pee on the furniture, you ask for outs all night long, multiple times, standing and staring restless and searching for that old lazy life.  The dog’s life you knew, counted on and settled into until the kid take-over.  It’s gone Metro.  And today, so are you.  I am really sorry dear old dog.But we can’t do this anymore.

love, your family

Today you and I saw a man walking an old beagle like Metro.  I said, maybe that guys would want Metro. You said, in response, I miss Roxie.  (the horse that we gave away a few months ago)  You want all to stay the same, too.  Long for it.  Don’t we all want our story to read the same each time we open the book.  We want to write the new parts ourselves.  You want all of us to live at Grandma’s and Grandpa’s, Roxie back in her stall, Mozie still alive and Metro here to be the designated bad dog (to give yourself some reprieve maybe?) and the baby chicks staying babies forever.  Change is inevitable.   Loss, too.  You said in the car this morning.  I never want to die. I will brush my teeth and eat good food and make my heart keep pumping blood all my life.  You, my dear, will live to be old as trees.  Good, you say.  But not the kind that fall in storms, right?  Right, of course.

Back to Metro.  After a night of four ups and downs, not including Grandpa’s turn.  Its time.  SPCA this week.  I hope someone will take you in, dear doggie.  I can’t do it anymore.  I asked and asked and tried drugs.  Now I am finished, so tired I can barely see.  And mommy only has Liza for 2 hours, so I have to nap.  I cannot sustain you and all of the rest of us anymore.  Good-bye.  Maybe Friday we will have a good bye ceremony for Metro.  I wish it was to take him to a home where he could be a dog, a prince, a sleeping on a pad settled and content old fellow.  Leaving anxieties here.  Healthy, eats only 3/4 coup of low fat dog kibble a day and is the most non-aggressive animal I have ever known.Be kind to him, he is so loyal.  Sad week for us.  I gotta keep helping kids with this.  Ideas? Help us, and Georgia….


The new chicken coop sits empty for another month or so until these little fuzzy peepers grow their feathers. We have four of them.  You and I drove to Watsonville (local stores had none, little piggy) and watched the “layers” in a variety of colors peck around. Name it what it does rather than what it is, I guess.  Like functional drinks. Functional animals. Layers, fryers…You looked for the cutest, I watched for healthy eyes, energy level and condition of the vent.  I also hoped to discover what breed they were as I watched.  Excuse me I asked again…”Layers” the counter lady scolded.  Then helped out by adding, “Mixed layers”.  Hmm.  Forget finding a Buff Orpington, Silver Laced Wyandotte or Americauna.  Grandma, they’re mixed!  That’s good, right.  You are so optimistic, buddy. We avoided the dead one and the chicks that were pecking at it and the one sleeping on it, too.  And chose our favorites, all hunched down, peeping and kicking and put them in a box and drove them home. The supplies were ready; clip light, chick meal, waterer and food dispenser.  They scrape, poop and flick it all over, I know things; so I thought I was ready.  You were instantly  besotted. Grandpa had given you instructions to tame his chickie for him.  You took that job very seriously.  You called the little brownish one Grandpa, the black one Nancy and the little one I hoped was a blue layer, Liza.  But that one stretched its neck and it had no feathers between its head and body!  None-a skin-neck.  Someone’s breeding preference, I guess. Called a Hamburg?  A skin-necked hamburg? Ugh.

Being distracted from all else to hold the chicks, you couldn’t eat, talk, listen, and were unwilling to leave the house, I had to schedule chick visits for 15 minutes every hour when the long hand is on the 2. The first two days you sit and watch the hands tick around.  Right now you are napping.  The peeping kept you awake last night, you said.  I think it was knowing there were little fuzzy chicks going untouched and two little hands restlessly longing. In a few minutes- our “ten minutes after the hour” comes and I think about you missing your chick time. You can get it next hour.  (Liza has to sit while the cage is open after nearly smashing one under her knees), dogs out and for now you can have one out at a time.  They are a few weeks old.  Just getting their tiny flight feathers. I feel protective of them, obligated to support their survival.  Sound like me? They live in an old dog kennel.  Just today reinforced with aviary wire. Liza pokes toys in the cage, climbed on it and sometimes grabbed a head.  Now she yanks the wire off as she is able trying to gain access.  She and Georgia both want to SQUEEZE them and pop them in their mouths.  What was I thinking? Well, its not a kitten.  They will go out in the coop really soon. (3 or 4 weeks in this weather)

Grandpa’s out of town, so Liza and I fight all day and evening about everything-food, diaper change, drink, touching the stove, cry-whining around the house for hours, pulling off pants, sock I just put on, slapping at you, blasting through your blocks, kicking at the dogs and throwing things; missing Gina or mommy or simply discontent (Ha! am I talking about myself?)  I am not emotionally equipped to manage your sissy sometimes. Determined to find a full-time daycare.  She needs someone to love, care for and provide her regular and supportive care routines on my behalf.  For her. A little consistent group of friends. I am afraid to be alone with her especially after a sleep deprived night like last night. She might eat me for breakfast. Metro was nuts all night. Howling, tapping his feet as he paced! (oblivious, by the way, to the chicks). Cannot figure out a solution for him.

We walked out this morning to a wild turkey in the sand box.  I saw evidence of it last week on the deck.  Liza screamed in terror and ran back to my legs for safety.  You called to it as it flew (gall-umph) to the fir tree over the lawn where it stayed for a few hours (fearful, I am sure, of sissy’s screech). It reminded me of how much I love it up here.  I have been too exhausted to walk much, find no time to even explore our place at all.  Missed the mushroom ring by the big oak, the chantrelles, the budding plum tree.  Well, I’ll go take in the apples.

Tile is done for now, kitchen gorgeous, bathrooms wonderful and the plaster wall is curing.  Have you ever seen such a thing?  Ron smeared what looks like rough outdoor stucco on the bead head wall of the bedroom one day and then troweled and re-troweled a brownish-taupe color over it until very smooth (eggshell like).  It was chocolate, dark fudge, the lightened like cream in coffee then we expect it to be taupe with variation when done.  It is colored to coordinate with Grandma Brown’s Bonny Doon quilt that she gave us last Eugene trip.

Daddy’s 30 this week.  Had a nice dinner party last night at a local restaurant.  Got messages mixed and Grammie didn’t make it.  Maybe Sunday dinner here for Grammie and Mike?  Hope she’s not annoyed with us.  We’ll see.  I just bought a bone-in organic leg of lamb. MMMM. Hope the weather warms.  We want to have an egg hunt! Last year you were in Montana for Easter. Remember the gifts I sent to all of you and your cousins?  Did your mommy make the baskets I suggested out of shopping bags?  Maybe I will this year.

Well, buddy, I am going to go take some pain reliever, lay down a minute before Liza gets home with Gina (you are with Grandpa today getting vertical grain fir for the window and door trim).  I may have to take Liza to the doctor, she keeps making raspberry sounds and has a bad goober nose for two weeks. (ears?)  No Medi-Cal, so its on a cash basis now-ugh.  Love you. gma

Ellie says, “papa and ma-ma”, very sweet.  She’s sure fond of her Grandpa!

Mama and Papa

Your sister may be asleep.  Night night she says, when she wants a bottle of chamomile tea and her blankie.  I still let her have a bottle 3 times a day.  AM nap, pm and night night.  She goes to bed so willingly.  I never want that to change. The willing part, but the bottle, I should tackle that.  I scoop her up, brown blankie in tow at 6 am and we walk past the kitchen counter, get a tiny bowl of o’s set up the night before.  I set her on the couch, feet covered and o’s on the lap and turn on sprout t.v., click on the coffee maker (ground and readied last night) and sleepily sit next to her for a few uncoffeed minutes. I try to remember to smile at her.

Metro still awakens 3 to 4 times a night even on 3x the recommended dose of Benadryl.  ugh… Time to make a donation to the animal rescue center for elder pets.  And a deposit-you, Metro! Sorry, buddy.  (I wonder if they need an ear pulling, slobber kissy, toddler-volunteer to remind the old dog why they left their homes?)

For your school carnival, I made 48 tiny cupcakes-organic chocolate with spring flowers and butterflies on top.  I made booth signs and direction ads and helped with a gift for the classroom gift basket. Then Grammie and I,  you and Liza went to the carnival/family day.  Where’s a nanny when you need her? Then a heavy weight perched itself on my shoulders thinking about dance, swim, music, soccer and play dates.  Grandpa and I want you to enjoy all of these things, but with us? We find these things…well, we are pretty well done with them. Can they go on a nanny list? We are never going to be your parents.  Or even try. You asked for dance lessons.  Hmm.  Any of your friends go to dance lessons?  No.  You tell me you just want to dance.  I can’t afford it now, I tell you.  And I really can’t.  The unplanned expenses have done us in.  $2500/mo. that we hadn’t expected for child care for two under five and that’s without dance, music, soccer and swim. Let’s get chicks, sell the eggs and I can get money, you suggest.  Cute.

The small coop we are building here with re-used lumber and wire is for 4 chickens.  Just the right size.  Grandpa insisted we not wait for next year because you talk about getting chicks all the time.  You draw coop designs, chicks and eggs and nests everyday on paper strewn about the house and car. So in a few weeks we will have them on the back porch in a box with a light before we transfer them all feathered up, to the coop.  Another thing for grandma to do?  Yep.

Some things drain, some feed us.

I wrote you a book and am working on illustrating it.  I think I’ll use sillouettes of photographs.  Not sure how to do that.  Here’s the text:

Last November, I moved to Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house.

Grandpa built a room for me and my sister next to the laundry porch. We have a really cool bunk bed. But my sister is only one year old and still sleeps in her crib. Someday (maybe when she’s two), she will sleep in the bottom bunk and I will move to the top one. The top bed is so high that I can see over the chicken coop and all the way to the horse pasture.

Grandma let me help her paint the new bedroom with a paint brush and roller.  I chose dark purple for the wooden panels and light purple for the walls. I count the lines between the wooden boards when I can’t get to sleep .  I’m still not sure how many lines there are.  But one time I got to 33.

Grandpa always liked to make blueberry pancakes with me on Sundays. But now we make them even on Tuesdays. I crack the eggs, add 2 tablespoons of oil, some flour and a teaspoon of baking powder and dribble milk until it’s just right.  Sissy likes to stir the batter, too. We eat blueberries while we wait for the pancakes to cool.

Grandma and I drive the tractor to the compost heap. I pull the lever back to raise the bucket and lower it into the steamy hill. Grandma presses the gas pedal to move slowly forward.  After I shove the lever to the left to scoop the load, she presses the pedal down again and we back up.  Compost helps the plants, vegetables and fruit trees grow.

After Grandpa goes to work each day he comes to get me.  We go to his shop and I get out my saw while he fiddles with his electronic radio receiver.  I am making a workbench.  It takes a lot of sawing, nailing and measuring.  I have my own saw, hammer and measuring tape.  Grandpa taught me to use them safely.

I go to the same school that I used to go to before I moved to Grandma and Grandpa’s.  I am glad, because I have friends that I like to play with.  Ellie is too little for school, but she has a nanny three days a week so Grandma can work on her projects; painting, digging holes, trimming trees and chasing gophers out of the garden beds.

Grandma says that she and the gophers are not on friendly terms. My grandma told me that she has done unspeakable things in her battle with the gophers. I don’t know what she did, but I know that she respects all living things.

Grandma and Grandpa run with us all the way down the road to the pasture. We roll in the grass and pick brightly colored belly flowers to put in jars back at the house. They tell us long listening stories; the kind not written in books, toss us warm pajamas, fresh out of the dryer, and sing all of our favorite songs. They even teach us new ones.

I have chores at Grandma and Grandpa’s- like carrying things in from the car, picking up toys, brushing my teeth and collecting the eggs.Ellie has chores, too. She fills the dog’s dishes with kibble each night and gives the chickens a scoop of mash in the morning. We all have to “pitch in” and “help around the place”, Grandpa says.

Grandma and Grandpa are like a mommy and a daddy.  Sometimes I call them grandma-ma and grandpa-pa. Sissy just says, Ma-ma and Pa-pa. If Mommy and Daddy come back, Grandpa and Grandma can be grandparents again.  But if they don’t come back, that’s okay, because we like it here with our Grandma-ma and Grandpa-pa.

Lovingly, Gma (see a copy of this little book in the handmade books on my website. Link to follow soon.)