Imagine that I’m sitting at my kitchen table, looking out the open window. I am taking in the pastoral view of 18 sheep and goats munching on what’s left of the ivy. I can hear their soft bleating and the bells that a few of them have around their necks. The livestock will be in our yard until they are done with the ivy – probably another day or so.
These ruminants have provided much lively conversation fodder over the past week, but they have also provided some surprising moments of activity.
We went to a barbecue on Saturday night and got home around ten. I was in the bedroom changing my clothes when I heard Rick call out “Maryann, we have a problem!” I came into the kitchen to see a little white goat on our back deck! As we opened the door, the little gal went back down the steps and started munching on some ivy that was in front of the electric fence that was supposed to keep them contained and away from the azaleas (which apparently makes them sick – who knew there was something that goats can’t eat!). Fortunately, this goat is not scared of people, and I was able to put a leash around her neck and coax her back onto the deck where I could keep her captive until the owners came to unceremoniously drop her back over the fence and fix the place where she got through. Crisis averted!
On Sunday afternoon, Rick and I were sitting on the patio looking at the almost cleared strip of back yard and talking about what we were going to do with the space now that the ivy is gone. I was pointing to the far corner of the yard when I noticed the back end of a goat (the same white one we had encountered the night before) disappearing through a hole in the wooden fence that separates our yard from our next door neighbor’s yard. Well, heck! One of the fence slats had rotted and the goats had pushed it away, anticipating more delicious foliage on the other side!
I ran over to the neighbor’s yard (they weren’t home at the time) and began what I can only describe as goat-herding, or maybe a goat rodeo, which consisted of my pushing an unwilling goat through the small space and then trying to keep that one from coming back through while trying to grab another goat to push it through. Our back yard neighbors, who will get the goats once we’re through with them, came over to help encourage the more skittish ones to get close enough to me for me to push them through. All the while, the largest goat, whose name is Spike, kept coming back through the hole. Spike is actually a very friendly goat, so he was easy to catch again, but he’s so big it was hard to push him back in the other direction, especially when there was so much for him to munch on in the neighbor’s yard. The grass (or bush) is always greener on the other side indeed!
Rick was on the phone with the owners – giving them a play-by-play – and fortunately they didn’t have to come back to the house to help. Thank God for Brad and Heather, who came to our rescue with brute strength, patience and a drill to fix the fence post!
When I got up this morning, I took a careful count and found all of the animals accounted for. Who knew we’d have such excitement on a fine Sunday afternoon in suburbia?
Sunday, September 18, 2011
In honor of Hannah’s birthday today, I thought I’d list the top ten songs that remind me of her and why.
1. “Mustang Sally” – The Commitments Soundtrack. I got the soundtrack from the movie The Commitments when I was pregnant with Hannah and listened to it all the time in the car. After Hannah was born, she was a bit fussy for a while (translate to “she screamed for 12 hours a day for 11 ½ weeks”). One of the tricks to get her to stop crying was to play Mustang Sally, which is the first song on the disk. At the first note she’d stop crying, and she’d usually be asleep by the middle of the song. I didn’t use this trick more than once a day though – I didn’t want her to catch on!
2. “St. Judy’s Comet” – written by Paul Simon for his son, but this version is from Kenny Loggins’ wonderful lullaby disk, Return to Pooh Corner. Hannah probably doesn’t really remember this song, but I played the disk every night when I rocked her before putting her to bed and this is my favorite song on the disk. Even if she was asleep, I’d keep snuggling her until this song was over.
3. “Sweet Baby James” – James Taylor – specifically the version that’s on the live disk. When she was around 3, we listened to that disk in the car all the time, and “Sweet Baby James” is the first song. That summer we took Hannah to see James Taylor in concert at Merriweather Post Pavilion near Baltimore. She expected that the concert would be exactly like the disk – everything in the same order, and when JT didn’t sing “Sweet Baby James” she was not happy. Thank God he sang it as an encore – I was about to crash the stage and let him know that he HAD to play it or my baby would be heartbroken!
4. “Whale of a Tale” from the Disney Collection. There’s a verse in this song that goes:
“Then there was Harpoon Hannah
Had a look that spelled out danger
My heart quivered when she whispered,
"I'm there, stranger"
Bought her trinkets
That sailors can't afford
(Sailors can't afford)
And when I spent my last red cent
She tossed me overboard! “
Rick and Hannah used to listen to this all the time. She loved that the song was about her and that she tossed the poor sailor overboard!
5. “Get Out Of Bed” – I honestly can’t remember where this song came from, but it was on some kids disk that we used to listen to a lot. When Hannah was in high school and I couldn’t get her to get up I’d sing this song to her, very loudly. Sometimes I’d even try to get her to join in on the chorus. She HATED this, but generally it would convince her to get up. If she didn’t, I’d just keep singing!
6. “The Song of the Sabu” and “I Love My Lips” – from Silly Songs with Larry on a Veggietales disk. (Okay, technically not one song, but let’s just go with it.) We used to listen to these in the car, at home – basically anywhere there was a CD player. These two were particular favorites of Hannah’s. Another one is the “Water Buffalo Song”, which was a favorite the summer my younger brother, Michael, lived with us. He recorded her making up songs – actually one long song – and it was all about a water buffalo. He presented her with a disk from the recording session as a graduation present – it’s awesome!
7. “Two Feet of Topsoil” – Brad Paisley. This is a great country song describing how low a man is after his girl left him.
“Well, there’s two feet of topsoil
A little bit of bedrock
A fossilized dinosaur
A little patch of crude oil
A thousand feet of granite underneath…
And then there’s me”
One afternoon, Hannah came home from school and told me that she used the lyrics of the song to answer a question about the layers of the earth on an earth science test. How’s that for proving music helps with school?
8. I’ll lump the songs that make Hannah dance in the car together: “Hoe Down Throw Down” by Hannah Montana, “Sexy Back” by Justin Timberlake, anything upbeat by Justin Bieber. She gets her grove on, let me tell you! It’s fun to watch!
9. “Gaucho” – Steely Dan. I have to add this one in there because Hannah HATES Steely Dan. We were on our way to Knoxville to see my brother and this song came on. Not only does she dislike Donald Fagan’s voice, she thought the words were stupid, so we blasted it. Karma does hit though – the song was stuck in my head for at least a month and would not go away.
10. “There Goes My Life” – Kenny Chesney. This is a sappy one, I know. As I was following Rick and Hannah downtown to move her into her dorm last year I had my iPod on shuffle and this song came on. I cried. “Nuff said.
So those are the top 10. Hannah – I love you more than you’ll ever know. Every year you get better and better, and I can’t wait to see what the next one will bring for you. Have a happy birthday!!!
Honerable Mentions: "Twilight" from Shawn Colvin's Cover Girl album - there's a line that says "Don't leave me alone in the twilight" and Hannah wanted to know why someone was leaving her alone in the toilet. Also " Band on the Run" - which Hannah, Sara and Rick have revsied to "Ham on a Bun."
Monday, September 12, 2011
Rick has made a wonderful dinner - perfectly grilled steak, steamed green beans and garlic mashed potatoes.
It's warm, so I get up after a couple of bites to change into shorts. As I walk down the hall...well... the baby decides she's coming tonight. A flurry of activity starts - phone calls, laundry thrown into the closet, sheets changed on the bed. Hannah finds out what's going on and she's MAD - the baby coming tonight was NOT in her plans.
Baby comes, she is cute, she is loved...
Move forward in time 15 years. Now I don't have a baby any more. And Sara doesn't even look anything like she did when she was a baby (see the pictures above). But what a magnificent young lady she is!
When Sara was a toddler she didn't know a stranger. She was gregarious, loving and even compassionate. When she was 2 1/2, she went to pre-school and would comfort the other kids who were crying when their parents left. The early summers were filled with her wandering around the pool hugging people - some she knew, some she didn't!
At 15, she's still gregarious, loving and compassionate. Her hugs are about the best ones anyone could ever experience, and she gives them freely to those she loves. She's really funny too - and very smart. My favorite thing about her (besides everything else) is her musical talent. Not only is she a talented violinist, that girl has a voice! Oh - and you remember how mad Hannah was? Well now they're best friends. I love watching them together - the two most beautiful girls in the world!
Today is bittersweet for me. I'm so proud of my girl - but every year is a year closer to her making her own way in the world. Soon she'll be able to drive. In the not too distant future she'll be off to college. I can't imagine a house without her shining presence in it, but I'm so excited to watch her grow into the awesome young woman she's turning into. She has a bright future - mark my words.
So Happy Birthday, Sara. I love you more than you'll ever know!