Oct 13, 2011

New religion?

What's wrong with this picture?

Here's a hint. It should look like this:

Today is Thursday. Garbage and recycling cans should be sitting out at our front curb, awaiting their weekly (or in our case, every-other-weekly) pickup by dear old Bend Garbage and Recycling Company. It has been thus for lo, these many years. Maybe 20. Before that, the pickup was on Friday. That change of day wasn't too painful. But recently we got The Letter that rocked our world, telling us our neighborhood pickup day was changing to ........... Monday.

What?! That can't be! It's just ....... WRONG.

Many decades ago, my sweetheart and I, in our youthful arrogance and ignorance, did not appreciate, much less notice, the finer points of garbage. In fact, when we moved into our current house, in 1978, we had never had garbage pickup from our home. Our first homes together -- cheap rentals and rural boondocks property during our college years -- required us to take our trash to the landfill personally, which we did once a month or so. (Recycling was still years in the future.)

Once we moved to Bend, even living in the city limits, we continued the DIY thing. It was only by accident that we stumbled on a whole new world. The guy we bought this house from was so disorganized and slow that he forgot to have garbage service cancelled once he moved out. Thus we awoke one morning, soon after moving in, to find a large garbage truck parked in front of our house, and a nice man hiking back to his truck from our side yard, where he had spotted our garbage cans -- which we had coincidentally installed in the same location as the previous owner had his -- and emptied them into his truck. Wow. How cool was that?

It happened again the following week, and by then we realized we had better set things straight. Upon calling the garbage company to cancel the pickup, it occurred to us that instead we could simply CHANGE THE SERVICE OVER TO OUR NAMES and we could join the rest of the suburban world in weekly garbage pickup. We felt so modern. So grownup.

But that was only the beginning of Garbage Awareness in our lives. Now that we were participants in the weekly event , we began to notice various unique behaviors of our neighbors, related to garbage. Some, like us, tended to wait until the last minute, and be hauling everything out to the can and sprinting to the curb, as the garbage trucks came down the block at 6:00 am. Others, however, set their cans out the night before. Extreme garbageists -- for we began to see this weekly activity as some kind of arcane ritual, with rules and techniques all its own -- set the cans out WHILE IT WAS STILL DAYLIGHT, the day before pickup. This seemed extreme -- or obsessive -- or both. And we began to think more deeply about the whole thing.

We observed that the extreme garbageists tended to be 'older' though of course when this all started, we were only in our 20's, and almost everyone was older than we were. We even laughed at these people, most of them male, for their fanatical zeal. My own dear father was a rather severe example of the old guy garbage zealot, especially after Mom died. He had to restrain himself from snatching newspapers out of our hands while we were still reading them, so we could put them in the recycling. He was once observed standing under a small deciduous tree in his yard on a lovely clear autumnal day, frowning and shaking his fist at the tree because it hadn't yet released all its dying leaves so he could get them raked up and taken away. Why can't they all fall at once, he grumbled.

I suppose it was inevitable that, in the end, and probably because we too were getting older, we began to see the greater beauty in garbage service, in fact, as a sort of religion for everyman. It was simple and clear. Like other religions, it includes a worthy priesthood (the garbage truck drivers), rituals (weekly pickup, make sure your cans are accessible at the curb), seasonal liturgical calendar (pickup one day later in the week at Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's), and even a pilgrimage site (the local landfill) for those desiring that extra feeling of holiness and 'proof'.

In return, it demands only that weekly homage and offering up of the cans, and a small monthly monetary contribution to the head office. We began to see that weekly pickup as a kind of sacrament, much like confession and communion, all rolled into one. Think about it. There are so many terrible things happening in the world: hunger, war, pollution, greed ......... there is a lot to worry about. But most of those things are beyond our small, personal ability to change. By worrying about the garbage instead, there is weekly, inspirational clearing of the slate, as that stuff heads off to the landfill. All the petty worries of the week can be focused and expressed in a few short hours. The larger questions: 'what if the drivers miss our house? 'what if it's really recycling this week and not yard debris?' or, worst of all, 'what if we forget to put out the cans in time?!' are all answered irrefutably by noon of Garbage Day. And so our weekly schedule could be joyfully arranged around that immutable Thursday morning service.

Then came The Letter. No cushioning of the blow with hints about New Revelations From Garbage Elders Portend Changes in Worldwide Trash Dispersal .... just the stark wording stating the end of garbage life as we had known it: 'in order to consolidate routes and save expenses, your garbage and recycling pickup day has been changed to ................. Monday.

Monday!? That's impossible. We'll have to change our whole weekly schedule. They can't do that -- can they? IReading this alarming missive at home, I texted the sweetheart, at work, in a panic.

Garbage pickup changed to MONDAYS. Stop.
Can they do that?! Stop.
Completely discombobulated by this news. Stop.
Considering moving to a neighborhood with proper pickup day. Stop.
Awaiting further instructions.

Am too upset to answer. THIS Monday?!

Maybe we should look for a new religion?
But we have until the 10th to comes to grips with the situation.
If you're not super busy you could call & ask how I'm doing......

We have now had 2 weeks to adjust to the shocking news. After lengthy discussions, we have decided not to sell our house and move to a Thursday neighborhood. We are determined to adapt and change with the times. Religions are merely frail, fallable institutions created by man. We will do our best to rise above these mundane setbacks, and keep our eyes raised to the higher planes, despite the seeming insanity of church policy beyond our reach. Monday has always been housecleaning day. We will vacuum and sweep while the garbage trucks trundle through our streets, and continue our spiritual devotion and monthly titheing. It even makes a kind of sense, all that cleanliness happening, indoors and out, simultaneously.

The thing that may take longer to heal, though, is that feeling of emptiness on Thursday mornings, when the sound of the garbage truck is not heard in the land........

Oct 10, 2011

Chicken emergency!

Perhaps at some point I will go back and update the chicken saga of the past 6 months. For now, let me introduce Maisie, one of The Nuggets, two young pullets I bought at a poultry swap in June to fill out my newly-reduced flock.

I brought Maisie (a Dominique) and her 'cousin', Sylvia (a Dominique/Blue Orpington cross) home together,
and they have been growing and settling in with the older girls fairly well. Both have just begun laying, and we have had the usual run of tiny, weird-shaped, bumpy 'pullet eggs' that all chickens produce while their newly-matured laying mechanism sorts itself out.

Four days ago, I noticed that Maisie seemed to be standing off by herself and was unusually quiet and uninterested in food. I didn't take too much notice because I was super busy and didn't get back out to check on her until I went out to put the girls away for the night, just before dark. Hmmmm, Maisie was definitely looking droopy, and she had some kind of yellow goo coming out of her vent. I had seen it that morning, but in the early light had mistaken it for wood shavings, which lines the nestboxes and sometimes sticks to the girls' bloomers after they've been on the nest. This was definitely goo. Goo is not good.

I went inside and read my 2 chicken books, looked at a couple of online chicken forums, and concluded she was probably eggbound. Sounds bad and it is bad. Apparently when a young pullet starts laying, sometimes the startup mechanism goes awry, and an egg is formed without a shell, or too brittle a shell, and the egg breaks inside the oviduct and gets stuck. If you are thinking, 'ow! ow! ow!' you are probably on the right track. And, since the chicken uses the same passageway (cloaca, aka the vent) for eggs and manure, this means an egg blocking the way also blocks pooping. And if you can't poop, you die.

When I was gearing up to get my first chickens, I read everything I could get my hands on about raising chickens. And although I read about what to do for various ailments, accidents and diseases they could get, I blithely assumed MY chickens would never get sick or have such gross problems.

But now my Maisie girl was in a bad way and none of my local chicken contacts was available. The main chicken guy at the feed store basically said, 'well, it's a chicken, it will either live or die. I don't know of anything you can do for that.' Yeah, yeah, I know, it's a farm animal, but ......... these are my girls and I'm willing to take more time and care than your average farmer with a flock of 200 hens.

Following the advice from my favorite chicken blogger, I took Maisie out of the coop and proceeded to a) give her a sort of sitz bath in warm water and epsom salts and b) dose her with olive oil -- in hopes of both getting things moving inside by relaxing the rear end and lubricating the front end. Good thing she didn't feel on top of her game -- the olive oil was pretty challenging even with her in an unusually subdued condition. We were both wet and well oiled when I was done.

Then I brought her into the back porch greenhouse and let her dry out under a warm plant light. She seemed only slightly better by bedtime, but I could hear little 'perking' noises coming from her gut. I worried about her and dreamed about her all night long.

Next morning (yesterday) she was the same, and I was getting pretty worried. This was the third day of her travail, and eggs come along on about a 24-26 hour cycle, so there should have been at least 2 eggs coming down the pike by then. I sat down with my flower essences and did a long session for all her symptoms. I emailed my long-distance energy healing group and asked for their assistance. By mid afternoon still no change. I moved her to a larger container, and changed her water, putting epsom salts in it as per my blog expert.

Soon after that she began pooping a little, with lots of water. (Graphic content, beware). Then, after I had started to give up all hope, about 7:30 last night, I went out to check on her and hooray! She had passed TWO eggs -- one, obviously the problem egg, was broken -- no wonder it had stuck. Oweeee. The second one, coming along behind, was complete, but had only a small amount of shell around it.

She was all perked up and eating like the famished hen she was. Here she is, head up and ready to party.

Today I put her back with the flock and she is a bit embarrassed by her still-goopy bum feathers, but otherwise seems normal. She is spending a lot of time on the inside roost, preening, and hiding from the other girls. In typical chicken fashion, they seem to have forgotten she belongs to the flock and have been whomping on her as an outsider. Pecking order is supreme! Even her former best pal, Sylvia, is whomping on her. I hope things mellow out, for her sake. She is probably the lowest hen on the pecking ladder, and it wasn't the best thing that she was the one to be gone for a couple of days.

But I am so relieved that things worked out -- and am feeling slightly proud that my first bumbling, amateur attempts at chicken doctoring worked out so well.


If a blogger doesn't blog, does a tree fall in the forest?

Time marches on.

Interestingly, I set this sundial up in my garden several years ago, and it wasn't until sometime this summer that I noticed it was exactly 180 degrees off, ie upside down. North was south and south was north. Hello, Earth to Kathy.

If I had ever tried to tell time by looking at it, I would have been 12 hours off. Do you think I would have noticed? Perhaps my husband is right when he says I have no concept of time.....