Everyone needs a refuge.
Maybe it's a place, or a person, or at the bottom of a cup of tea or an iTunes playlist.
Mine is this hill, right near home, under this particular tree with a prayer. And also this particular shoulder, which I've been leaning on heavily this week.
Do you have one?
I'd offer to lend you mine if you needed them, but everyone's shelter-from-the-world is different. (And I'm afraid that shoulder is all mine. The prayer and the tree, they're yours if you need them.)
I hope you have solace in handy form.
Chocolate counts, too, right?
Some days just start out dreadful.
We lost four chooks last night to a fox. Four. Although at least it wasn't all of them, like my friend Darren, who's experience last week was pretty dire.
Adam and I are all no-nonsense and practical and we don't get emotional about farm animals. 'Cept as much as we know this in our heads, we feel sad in our little hearts. Poor defenseless chookies. And I think when you lose animals to a predator, you just want to know you did everything you could to keep them safe; and maybe we didn't. He got in, somehow.
So tonight, the remaining eight are shut up in their nesting room, which is the safest we can make them. And still I'm nervous. What if he gets in there?
And so am thinking about other bits of the day instead. (No point worrying about something you can't control.)
Today was a very wet day.
Good for a middle of the day movie (The Lion King) complete with popcorn.
Good for hanging out inside, talking to the dogs outside.
Lovely on a muffin with tuna and dill and mayonnaise. Tastes just like a delicious enormous chicken egg. Nothing strong or terribly rich, just delicious.
And a good day to celebrate a special birthday! No, my Dad is not turning ten. I didn't actually have seventy-three candles. Awesome work, Dad.
And one more up: up in the air right now, winging her way to Australia, a very very special and much-missed sister, coming to visit.
Now THAT makes it a very good day. In your eye, Mr Fox.
I missed a call a couple of weeks ago from a friend. I was in Sydney, my phone was on silent, I was very busy sleeping in.
She sent a text later in the day saying the lamb had found a home, no worries.
As quick as I could I went back and listened to her voicemail.
Early that morning a ewe had had twins. And had rejected one of them. Seriously rejected him. Was head-butting him into the ground, trying to get rid of him. Full on, hey?
And so a rescue mission ensued: who could take on a newborn lamb? Someone with space. And time. A weeny lamb is a lot like a newborn in terms of feeding.
A friend down the road here, Vanessa, took him in.
And we got to meet him last week.
The photos aren't great, I got my camera out and discovered a flat battery. These were all taken on my iPhone.
And I was not a good enough photographer to capture his wiggly waggly tail. That was the cutest thing I've ever seen.
A black lamb! I expected a white lamb, don't know why, Vanessa's other sheep are all different colours, she has a gorgeous mixed flock!
He was just about the cutest thing ever.
And that I have a fox problem.
Well, turns out I really love my neighbour's chooks too.
I heard a dreadful squawking today at about ten in the morning. It was raining, I'd just let our chooks out, Adam and the kids were all out.
I went rushing out, and there was a fox, dragging off my favourite neighbourhood Casanova, that gorgeous guy below.
I yelled, of course, then ran and grabbed an axe from the garage. And also a mattock, nearest thing to hand. I charged after the fox, who dragged Casanova under a bush. I almost reached them and the fox let go and ran off. He turned around and had a look at me and I tried to look dangerous, he ran off anyway.
I went back to the bush and I could see poor Casanova moving slightly. There were feathers (his) everywhere, he'd put up a very good fight. I knew I was going to have to bang him on the head to put him out of his misery, and just as I was gathering up my courage, he stood up. And walked away. He didn't look so hot, so after I got over the shock of seeing him undead, I followed him and tried to encourage him back into his coop with some scraps but he just wanted to hang out quietly on his own and think about his lucky escape.
I ushered all our chooks back into their run (with an axe in one hand and a mattock in the other) and all my neighbour's chooks back into theirs (no one was home over there.)
Casanova stayed under cover all day and retired early to the coop.
I hope he's OK.
And for the first time in my life I wished like crazy I'd had a gun and a license.
In other news: everyone under this roof slept through the night last night. All night.
Any more sleep and that fox had better watch it, I'll be greased lightning with an axe and a mattock. Grrr.
I didn't know him, I don't know the family, I don't personally know any Hasidic Jews, but the death of that eight year old in New York last week really rattled me.
It wasn't just because he was a kid, although that's always dreadful. He's also not the first kid that's been killed walking home. It was just the whole circumstance. The practice run they'd done to make sure he knew the way. The compromise: he was limited to seven blocks, his parents were meeting him at a pre-arranged intersection. The terrible bad luck of it all, the one man he asked for directions once he got lost took him home and killed him.
It made me think: so much for free-range kids.
I've talked about free-range parenting before. I really like it. I've always wished I was prepared to give my kids more freedom. I wrote that previous post while we were still in Sydney and I have to say, rural life engenders more confidence, for better or for worse. We're less inclined to helicopter, I feel like even though there's dams and roads and potentially feral cattle that the risks of mad people seem less. Which I'm sure is not actually statistically true.
And then, poor Leiby. What a horrible thing. Was he put in danger? Should they have waited till he was nine?
You know what? It's bullshit. Please excuse my language. It's a horrible thing but it's newsworthy. And so we hear of it. How many kids died last week from, I don't know, choking?
My friend Vanessa and I, many years ago, had a day at work when we watched a workmate receive the news that their best friend's kid had just choked to death on a chewable vitamin C tablet. Neither of us had kids. We were shocked to pieces. And it was so awful for the family and their close friends that I was amazed it didn't make the news.
But it doesn't. They don't make TV shows out of things like that.
And while I don't know anyone personally who has been murdered, I do know families, two in fact, who have lost toddlers in back yard swimming pools. How are those odds?
It's so easy to want to hold our kids close. It seems like the best and most loving thing to do. Except of course it isn't, and we don't hold the deck of cards which says where the madman will fall. Maybe I'll never get a backyard pool installed but I will let a kid walk home sometime.
I have no doubt when the time comes and they drive off in my car with P plates on it that I'll be gripped with worry.
But we have to try and trust, and live, and let them do stuff. Let ourselves do stuff. Let them create their own excellent stories totally unedited by us.
And hope, our whole lives, to remain un-newsworthy.
2. Made with proper oats, not whatever those 'quick oats' are, and cooked on the stove.
3. With milk and a sprinkle of brown sugar, how my Mum used to make it.
4. With my girls, as the boys in the family screw up their noses and tuck into fruit salad. Weirdos.
Hello from the trenches, cannot report flawless success to date with the whole sleeping through thingo, all three children up last night for various reasons. Fabulous. Hoping for better luck tonight. Or I may move out. Just kidding honey, really. Maybe just as far as the doghouse. Those pups sleep beautifully, and they sleep in till 8 a.m.!
At least in the morning there's porridge. (And coffee.)