Day: August 22, 2011

My $400 Chickens

For about three years my wife has wanted chickens. She has been reading chicken books, visiting chickens, thinking about chickens and talking about someday having chickens.

We have enough property for chickens, but I haven’t wanted them for one reason: I don’t want chickens. Sure I would like some fresh eggs but I can get eggs at the store. My hope was that my wife would eventually decide that she didn’t really want chickens but that didn’t happen.

One day in May I came home to find a little chicken coop sitting near the garage. It was the kind of coop you put baby chickens in until they get old enough for life outside. When I saw the coop I knew the battle was over. I said to my son, who was in the car with me at the time, “This isn’t good.”

The coop was a “gift” from Joyce and Danielle. It was a nice gift, but it was the kind of gift that has an expectation attached to it, like when I bought my mom a doughnut maker for her birthday. “Here’s a doughnut maker. Now I want hot doughnuts for breakfast.”

I am certain that there was some conspiring going on behind my back, but when it gets right down to it my wife knew I wouldn’t throw a tantrum and burn the coop. I might consider burning the coop but I knew there would be daily burnings of my stuff purchased without group consensus.

So three baby chicks were purchased and set up in the guest bedroom with a red light to keep them warm. The portable dog kennel was used as their first lodging, but it wasn’t long before they figured out how to escape from the kennel. After about a week of escapes and recaptures the dog kennel began looking like a high security penitentiary. Cardboard walls and tape covered most of the dog kennel and the birds finally gave up on sneaking out and instead began pecking away at the cardboard like they were digging out of Alcatraz with spoons.

The chicks grew and soon could be moved to the garage and placed in their coop. I was the only family member still not interested in the three parasites. The birds were fed special food, given a great deal of care and watched over like a member of the family. In the back of my head I hoped they would die. Now it sounds cruel to wish that a family pet would die, but I knew what was coming next: building an outdoor coop.

I am not a carpenter. I am not a mechanic, my car windows have not been able to roll down for two years. If something needs to be fixed I can probably get about 80% of it done, the final 20% seems to give me the problem. In 8th grade my shop teacher held up my project so the whole class could get a good laugh, so this problem with building things is not new to me.

I needed a simple plan, a square plan, a plan that would be difficult to mess up. I talked to my wife about how large the coop needed to be and then set to work. I dug holes, put in posts and made an almost square area for the chickens. We bought chicken wire, more wood, more chicken wire and put on a door. When it was all done it cost $400. $400 will get you a lot of eggs.

A dozen eggs might cost $3 in the store. So 400 divided by 3 = 133.333333. Now if all three chickens lay one egg a day I will get a dozen eggs every four days. The rest of the math problem is not important because this morning those $400 chickens were making noise at dawn and woke me up.

Easter in Palestine

The boys searched the scorched ground
For bits of a new martyr.
Fresh scraps mixed with ancient dirt
Shrouding their task.
Shouting to friends,
Gathering to examine their found treasures.

Easter this year was cold.
The northern wind blew sand and rain.
The children were not deterred.
They hunted the dunes finding bright plastic eggs.
Returning with red faces and runny noses
They declared their bounty.

Abroad Thoughts From Home

Tonight it was a breeze that passed over the dining room table pushing some loose papers onto the floor. Maybe the dampness of the evening air triggered it, but suddenly I was transported to Paris a few years ago. I had traveled to Paris alone in 2007 to continue working on my novel. The breeze in this one moment in Sequim, WA somehow made a connection to a moment on an evening in Paris. How these moments connect are still a mystery to me. Could it be a combination of temperature, humidity, and the smell of lavender? Maybe, but the nostalgic feeling for Paris took hold of me and sent me into a brief depressive moment. I will not be seeing Paris any time soon.

Maybe it is because school starts in a week. It could be that I was burning the potatoes I was cooking at the moment when the breeze interrupted, but either way, the breeze came in through the window, blew some papers off the table and in the time it took them to drift to the floor, I was in Paris sitting on a green bench on the southeast side of the Champs de Mars looking up at the Eiffel tower. It had been a long day in Paris. I walked from Montmartre to my hotel on the Rue Cler. I stopped near the opera house for lunch and then strolled along the Seine. The sun had not come out much during my stay, it was late August, and the overcast skies did not break for my long walk.

Then after I had a relaxing dinner at Cafe du Marche, I walked over to my favorite Patisserie and picked up two tarts, a strawberry one that made my tongue happy and a chocolate one that made my stomach unhappy because it was already full.

I tried sitting on the grass of the Champs de Mars but it was damp, so I went to a nearby bench and sat there until the sparkling lights came on the tower. The breeze blew in off the Seine, tingling the leaves above me and I sat there perfectly contented, all of my responsibilities were thousands of miles away and I had a few days left in Paris before I had to return to the real world.

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