Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Joy--At A Hen's Pace

We had a marvelous time on the family farm. (Thanks for all the nice comments on the farm story while I was gone, BTW!! Glad so many of you enjoyed it.)

It was wonderful to see my parents, grandmother, aunt, brothers, their wives and my five nieces--if only for a quick visit. It was too quick, especially with Professor Brother and his family from Kansas, with whom we only overlapped for one long afternoon. I only got to spend a few hours with my 96-year-old grandmother, and I would love to have spent more time with my parents and aunt, sitting down and talking--it was a whirlwind of meals and activity most of the time!

(Doesn't sound like a hen's pace, I guess. But it was a string of small pleasures, one after another--hen-like, in that way.)

On the first day, we went to the local county fair, one of the nicest little slices of Americana in the Midwest, I'm willing to bet. It's a huge 4-H fair, which means lots of kids exhibit animals there. They've built more animal barns since my days exhibiting horses and rabbits; my dad and brother both had their day in the 4-H dairy show ring, as well. I ran into several of my former classmates, whose kids were showing pigs and goats that day. It brought back so many great memories--other than the new barns, that fair has changed so little!--and what a joy it was to watch my kids making new ones.

The next day at church, the baby sister of one of my former classmates (now a vivacious young mom herself) gave a slide presentation on the youth group's mission trip to rebuild homes in West Virginia. She enthusiastically shared how the kids learned to roof and paint and work hard together, even learning to ask by the end of the week, "What else needs to be done?" And I was full of joy that my kids had to sit there and listen to someone else saying it! :)

That afternoon Pilot Brother--married to my blogging sis-in-law--showed me around the barn, pointing out all the work he's been doing on it. And it is remarkable--new windows, new sills to prevent the kind of water damage that caused all the windows to rot out, other rotten boards and beams replaced, hinges and doors fixed. My dad has been busy too, on the hot tin roof, replacing and caulking rivets. They're hoping to get the whole thing repainted soon, too. So much work! But what a joy to see that much-needed maintenance, protecting that barn full of memories for generations to come.

Sunday night we played horseshoes (my first time ever), Grandpa gave rides on the Toro Twister and taught the older kids how to drive, and once, while the kids were all gone on the Toro, I took advantage of the tire swing, hanging empty for the first time since our arrival--and what kinesthetic memories that brought back. If you added up how many hours my brothers and I spent on the tire swing in the summers, when we were growing up, I bet the answer could be given in days, possibly weeks. There is nothing more delightful!

Monday morning Papa Rooster and I went out for coffee with Summer and Pilot Brother, and that was another joy. (We can't wait for them to come visit us in September!) Then it was home for sloppy joe sandwiches--my blessed mother cooks for an army whenever we come to visit--and one last photo session (a family tradition, it seems) before we pulled out. On the way home, Papa Rooster told me that, looking through a camera lens most of the weekend, he had seen beauty on the farm like he had never noticed before, though he had always loved it. Another joy--that we share that appreciation.

Yesterday my three oldest kids and I experienced the joy of serving by helping out a family in our church in dire need of some assistance with yardwork. Before we went, I reminded them of the farming era gone by, in which children's labor was necessary, and families helped each other all the time, raising barns, bringing in the harvest, shucking corn, killing pigs...and what a self-centered generation theirs is by comparison; how this kind of service was as good for them as it was for the friends we were serving. (Who had helped us move in and unpack, incidentally!) We had a good time weeding and trimming hedges--that wasn't so bad, the kids said--and we were rewarded by picking our fill of raspberries for a snack, with enough to bring home for cobbler last night.

After that, we went to the resale shop, where B13 found a T-shirt he liked, and Blondechick several tops. I found a lovely clear glass salad bowl ($3) and a large clear glass mixing bowl ($2) that will give me joy for years to come, I think. I love splurging at the resale shop!

Then we were off to spend some serious money at Petco. Whenever the subject of pets have come up, for the past year I kept saying, "after we move." Well, at the fair, B9 fell in love with a rabbit. Could he please, please, please have a rabbit?? Well, I'll think about it...but maybe you should start with a hamster. Oh, yes, please, a hamster! Oh, yes, me too! said B13. Oh, mom, you said I could get a Betta (fish) after we moved! Blondechick reminded me. Oh, mom, please, mom!

So we picked out two female hamsters and two Bettas at Petco, plus food and bedding and an exercise ball for the hamsters. And an extra cage, after they told us that two females might not get along later on in the same cage. (Don't you want to pick out males? I urged...too late.)

Who else got a Betta? Me. Another joy. When I had just three preschoolers and wanted an extremely low maintenance pet for them, I bought us a Betta. Bettas are friendly fish, but Aladdin was extremely personable. His successors, Ravenclaw and Gryffindor, weren't nearly as much fun, but they are beautiful, if nothing else, and so just for the serenity value, I bought me a beautiful blue--turquoise/purplish--one. And christened him Aladdin 2. I have hopes.

Finally, this morning I met one of my frequent commentors, "stephseef" or Stephanie. She is a priest's wife as well--they serve at an Episcopal church in nearby Racine. She is expecting their fourth child and is so bubbly and vivacious, it was another joy to get to know her a little bit! We barely scratched the surface, it seems--we have much in common and much we could learn from one another, I am sure.

So now it's time to enjoy a Fuji Apple Chicken salad for lunch, since I'm still here at Panera--(mmmm, more joy)--and head home to start planning for another trip, sure to be a joy as well!--a camping trip this weekend with some other families from church.

The only dark cloud on my horizon is meeting Blondechick's current crush, a brave fellow who understands she's not allowed to date, but is eager to come hang out at our house tonight along with another couple of her friends from summer school. Just kidding about the dark cloud--we are always delighted to meet her friends--but nonetheless, it will be interesting to see how this goes...!


Islandsparrow said...

We have killed every fish that we adopted - cats, dogs and cattle have done well here - but not fish.

We had a dating rule of 16 and kept to it pretty well. It's an interesting time to be sure!

Have fun on your camping trip!

Amy said...

Sounds like a FANTASTIC time! But the first time for horseshoes? Jeanne, you surprised met! :o)

amy (in Roscoe)