Tractor day!


Published February 17, 2009

So, David the tractor guy finally came on Sunday. 

Big excitement around here. 

And you know, he was a nice a guy as you’ll ever meet. 

He brought a very big truck with a small tractor on the back, and all sorts of attachments that I don’t know the names for -- the disc thing, and the digging thing, and the spiky part.

He showed up, said hello, and was at work five minutes later.

And he really knew what he was doing.

He should -- turns out he’s a sharecropper who farms 1,000 acres west of Austin.

You’ve gotta love Craig’s List -- how else could I have a real farmer out here, tilling my yard, in exchange for food?

And the coolest part was when his wife showed up -- all four of their young sons and three puppies!

My boys were in heaven. A Sunday spent with four boys, a bucket of action figures, three puppies, and fresh dirt and a tractor? Does life get any better?

David and his wife were really nice people. I can’t imagine that what they do is easy. He grows cotton and corn for feed, and they raise beef with no hormones or antibiotics. At some point, I’m going to buy a side of beef from them and put it in my freezer -- mostly to be able to say, “Yeah, I’ve got a side of beef and an organic garden” and I’ll sound like I really know what I’m doing.

I asked David what they did for water, and how they irrigate the cotton -- he’s starting to plant it his week.

His answer? “What do we do for water? We wait for rain, and when there isn’t any, we get on our knees.”

Apparently, prayer is an important part of farming.

They don’t even own the land they farm -- they work it, and give the owners 25 percent of the profit.

Anyway, the tilling is done. Quickly and efficiently, and it looks good. On Thursday, Dirty Dylan comes with a helper and he’s going to turn this freshly tilled dirt into garden beds.

I’ve put a call out for help on the homeschooler’s list. I’m hoping we’ll have a lot of strong backs show up.




 The boys apparently think a pink, fuzzy blanket will protect them from the tractor noise...

The official "before" photo. Perhaps it will be a lush, green sanctuary for deer.


A flat-out rotten day

Published May 9, 2010

Before you read this, I want you to imagine a little experiment. 

For those of you who have given birth, you already know this -- feel free to skip this part.  

For men and those few friends of mine who are women without children, imagine this: Take a nice, long, soft strip of fabric. Tie it around your waist. Then tuck a 14-pound bowling ball into the front of the fabric, as if you were pregnant. Sit down. Get back up.

Sit down again. Get back up.

Then kneel down. Try to get back up. It’s impossible without something to hold onto. The center of gravity is all wrong. You can’t get from a kneeling or squatting position with a heavy weight at the front of your body.

So. Here’s the story:

We’ve had a long couple of weeks and the boys have been cooped up in the house with a grumpy, tired mother. My pelvis has separated, not completely, but enough that both halves don’t work well together. I am not, shall we say, graceful. I would use words like flop, heave, hoist and flail when describing my movements.

Not pretty.

So I decided to cheer the boys up by letting them pick out some chicks. I was going to get three- or four-month-old hens, so we could have eggs sooner and they’d eat more bugs, but day-old chicks are $4 each, and laying hens are $10-12. Not a huge difference, but when you’re buying a dozen, it matters, and all children love chicks. Great big old pooping and pecking hens, not so much.


So I heaved my way to the car, shooing my old mean cat, George, out from under the van as we got in, and sat for a minute and made a list of errands we had to run, er, waddle, since we were out of the house anyway.


Then I noticed a bunch of cars stopped on the street in front of my house.


They were stopped because mean old George, who's 18, was lying in the street, half-dead. We had just shooed him out from under my van less than five minutes before, so either he got hit by a car in those five minutes and we didn't notice, or he had a heart attack or a stroke right there.


So I ran out to get him and got a blanket from the back of my van and scooped him up, and there was no blood, but it was obvious he was dying -- his mouth was open and he was gasping, and one pupil was bigger than the other. I was sick over it, and started waving the cars to go around me. He was so obviously in pain and miserable that I knew I had to get him to the vet as soon as I could -- I knew he was dying but thought maybe it was something like a seizure that could be fixed.


One of the girls who works in my back kitchen had seen the commotion and came out to help, and I told the boys to get in the van.


Then I handed George to Stacey, the girl who works in the kitchen, and I tried to get up. I was on my hands and knees, and got into a kneeling position. Nothing. Put one leg up, foot on the ground, and heaved. Nope. Got into a squat position. I could squat. I could crawl. I could kneel. Couldn’t stand up.


So I'm standing in the middle of the fucking road with this lady holding my half-dead cat, and I can't get off the ground to take him to the vet.

I felt like one of those poor upside-down turtles that you just know is going to get hit by a car by the time you pull over and rescue him.

Hello.... I need to take my cat to the vet. He’s dying. Legs, stand up please. Now!


We gave the cat to Sawyer, and Stacy tried to pull me up. She weighs 30 pounds. I almost pulled her on top of me.

And it wasn’t a weight thing, anyway. The center of gravity was all wrong, my pelvis was just not cooperating, and I couldn't get the right balance to get up.

So I finally had to crawl off to the side of the road while Stacey went to get a chair for me. I was able to use the chair for leverage to get off the damned ground.


Took George to the vet, where he died within five minutes. The vet thinks he was hit by a car. I don't know -- doesn't really matter at this point.


This was my "single girl" cat. I got him when I was 27 and single and determined that I was going to live alone and be on my own and travel the world, just George and me.


He lived with me in a 300-sq-ft apartment in Galveston and I was crazy about him. I used to come home from my job at the newspaper at 4 a.m. and he'd be there, waiting for me, with a dead lizard in his mouth as a gift. Sometimes it would just be the bottom half of a lizard. Lizard pants, my best friend and I would laugh. He brought lizard pants in homage.


He kept me company in my first garden, and kept the boogeyman away in the first place I lived and slept alone. He ate bugs from the first roses I ever planted. He slept on my bed, among piles of books. I’ve never been so comfortable or cozy.


I’d never had a pet of my own. I never wanted one. I’d raised my three sisters, did auntie/nanny help for my aunt with her three kids, and now for the first time had no one but me to worry about or take care of. 


I got George from the shelter at three years old, where they called him “YaYa.” I came home on my break from work to make sure he was all right. I gave him baths, God help me. I really did. He was all I had.

I named him George because of George McGovern, of course, but also because of the line in the old cartoon, “I’m going to love him and squeeze him and hold him and call him George and never let him go.”


He never forgave me for getting married, and hated me for having kids.

About five years later, when I was in the hospital, pregnant with Sawyer, they put me on an awful drug called magnesium sulfite. It made me loopy and crazy, and all I could think of was that I wanted George to hold and snuggle with me. I begged Mark to go get him and sneak him into the hospital. To Mark’s credit, he didn’t do it.


Lately, I knew he was old. For a cat to live 18 years is a long time, and his bright orange thick fur was looking mangy, and he was getting even more crotchety and mean, and in the last two years he never left a 20-foot circle near my driveway. He just sat and kept watch. Wouldn't come in the house because the kids he hated were here.

But I had him longer than I've had Mark!


And now he's gone.




That's it.


I'm tired and grumpy and I hurt like hell. I’m embarrassed at being caught like a turtle in the middle of the road.


And I miss my cat.


And I wish I could go outside and scoop him up and have him snuggle on my bed to make me feel better.

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