Friday, May 20, 2011

Roosters can be a real Cogburn

Memories. Some are good, some not so good. Most of us focus on the good ones. I know I do. As in the song now playing, Somewhere Over The Rainbow, some memories bring you back to that tender time in your life where memories are really all mixed up – The good ones, the bad ones, and how you choose to remember them.

I love stories like Babe or Charlotte’s Web. I can identify with those who champion the little pig, or any runt. When I was a little girl, we had a small farm. Nothing big, you understand. Just for our personal sustenance. Two particular instances stand out in my memory . . . besides growing our own veggies, we had a flock of chickens with the necessary nasty rooster and a pig that rivaled Wilbur.

I love chickens. If you have ever had chickens you can understand the story of Henny Penny and the sky is falling. They actually do run around at times as if the sky is literally is falling on them. Now as for that nasty rooster. Hmmm. What shall I say about him? Well, have you ever seen the movie True Grit with John Wayne? His name was Rooster Cogburn. I am assuming he was nicknamed that because he was not always in good humor, could be quite surly and meant business. While I loved the hens and biddies, I always disliked gathering eggs because that Cogburn of a Rooster would try to flog me. As I recall he was a bantie rooster of unknown origin. Wellsir, even at my tender age I knew his origin was really from somewhere south of Heaven. He was a devil to be certain. He would keep one eye on the ground, pretending to be foraging, the other on me, lulling me into a safe place in my mind, all the while timing his attack.
Most of you know that I am the middle child. The one that has always been put upon. The one who was always responsible. The one who was told, Go gather the eggs; it is a gal’s job. The one who always, and I mean always, got the flogging end of that nameless rooster. My dear Daddy always said, Gal, don’t let that rooster get the best of you. Grab his neck and sling him across the pen. I reckon he thought that getting that devil under control was like a rite of passage into what? Heckfire, shoot! I tried, I really did.

My solice during this particular period was taking care of Red, our pig. My Daddy always told me to never name livestock. But I couldn’t help but name that pig Red. He was a creamy color piglet and as he grew, he developed big red splotches like giant freckles, eventually becoming soft red.

I loved that piglet. I fed him, well actually back then we called it slopping, and I would rub his belly with a stick. When I would go out back, Red would come running. Once in the proximity of me, he would then roll over and wait for the belly scratching to commence. I would rub his soft ears and tell him all my woes with the rooster. Red, always the good listener would snort in agreement. I knew a gal in algebra who, when she laughed, sounded just like Red’s snort. Wonder where is she today and if she still snorts?

Oops, back to that rooster. One day, as I was first feeding the chicks so that I could gather their eggs, that rooster was doing his foraging as mentioned earlier. I was a much wiser little girl by then. I knew I needed to be fleet of foot and quick with the gathering.
When I was almost out of the gate, thinking I was safe, here came that rooster. He pummeled me on my legs like a bowling ball. I dropped the eggs and tried to cover my face and hair. Daddy happened to be out back and witnessed that episode. He calmly went in the house, gathered his shotgun and came outside. He let the air out of that rooster. That is one reason why my Daddy has always been my Hero. He picked the carcass up and disposed of it. Like I said, my hero. Daddy, always the stoic said,
“That rooster outlived his usefulness. I can get another not so mean.” However, after all these years and many other chickens, I have never found one that was anything but, well . . . rooster-ish!

Daddy was not the only one to observe my last shellacking of that fowl bird. So did Red.
My pig did more than snort. He screamed. Have you ever heard a pig scream? I was Red’s friend and number one belly scratcher. He really didn’t care what I smelled like after wallowing in all that chicken mess. He loved me even more I liked to think.

We had Red for almost two years. He grew so large that he almost outgrew his own pen.
When you lived on a farm, you realize that livestock is often sold or traded. I came home from school and my Granny told me that Red was gone, so I didn’t need to slop him.
I cried for my friend. A few nights later, we had pork chops for dinner. Daddy and I couldn’t eat once we discovered that our meal was Red. Mom was the only one who enjoyed her dinner that night. I realized that was why you should never name your livestock.

I really don’t know how I got started on this essay, or really how to end it. But like I said, some memories are good, some are bad and some just meld together, like those halcyon summer days, gathering eggs, fighting that ornery rooster and making friends with a pig. I recently saw an ad on Craig’s List for a small pot bellied pig. Free to a good home. Likes his belly rubbed. Aw, Red. I can’t convince Luscious that I need a pig. Maybe one day.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

I can't keep a secret . . .

Shhhhhhhhhhhhh! I don't often share my deepest, darkest secrets. But I have to whisper this one to you. Come closer . . . . a little bit closer . . . .

I am a slow quilter. A plodding piecer of blocks. A slow sorter of scraps. I am however an excellent ripper of seams. My seam ripper has a name. It is Jack. I can sew the most wonderful one quarter inch seam, only to have it not line up correctly, so Jack to the rescue.

It goes without saying then, that I am not a speed demon. I blame myself, really. First of all, I wanted to blame the internet because when I see all the prolific quilters online with their completed projects day after day, totes, mug rugs, quilts of all sizes and types, I wonder how they do it? Do they set aside an hour or two, a day or a month? I use a minute timer and keep myself on task by giving myself a set amount of time to help me accomplish the dailies of my day. When do they clean or cook? How do they manage the laundry and kid's soccer games? I hang my head down and ask myself, WHAT IS WRONG WITH ME? Then I go to my sewing area and strive to keep myself motivated to not feel a bit blue. Blue? I think I have a whole bin of assorted blues . . .

I also have adult A.D.D. Of course I do. I walk into my sewing studio, armed with block patterns in hand and begin to pull out the fabrics that I want to use. Why is it that I have all this fabric but when it comes to putting a few together I hate all the fabric I have. And then while I am picking through, I get nostalgic about some silly 5 inch charm that I can't find the perfect mate for. I can spend hours doing this. Then I dig through the mountain of fabrics I have pulled out to find the patterns I came downstairs with originally. It should also be shared that after all this time I am exhausted, and forgotten just what I was intending to do to begin with. There is really no hope.

I find it difficult to stay on task. I work better with a task ahead of me. But I do get sidetracked. Sigh. I make a master list each month of which block goes to whom in the various swaps I am in. And the process starts all over again.

I am living proof that not all Blondes are pin heads. I raised three children into well fed neurotic, although not quite thumb sucking, adults. I worked three jobs for more years than I can remember to keep them well fed, a roof over their heads and gently used second hand clothes to wear. Except I always purchased new underwear for them. See, there I go again. Dang! See how my mind works? It wanders down a path, chasing each thought until it reaches a wall and says Whoa! You really didn't need to know about their new underwear. Is that why I am so affectionately known as Blondie?

There is really no hope. I have given up since I know my brain while not exactly mushy, gets overwhelmed by so much sensory overload. Well, folksies, it is time to once again go down to my sewing studio and start picking up the fabric pieces again. I have two patterns to contemplate. I think I remember that bin of blues, but, then I think this pattern requires a gutsy, vibrant translation. It's a good thing I have learned to master the minute timer.