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Just a little patience…

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No one has ever accused me of being too patient.

Never in my life has anyone said, “You know, Karen, I think you might be the most patient person in the world.”

So the fact that, after two and half years of living in a double-wide trailer, there is still no visible evidence that we’re building a house.

Meanwhile, more shingles blow off the roof with every wind storm and I swear the floors are getting more uneven every month.

Still, there are definite benefits of taking it slowly.  We’ve been thinking a lot more about making the house off-grid, or at least using as much alternative energy as possible.  Solar, wind, wood, and propane would be our main sources of energy.  But that means researching types of solar panels (did you know there were different types?), different types of wind turbines, and even wood cookstoves.  We also need to think about what electricity-hogging appliances we’re willing to do without.  I have already learned that it would be a lot easier for me to give up the dishwasher than the microwave.  (Without a microwave, I’d have to plan ahead a lot better for thawing meat for dinner or for reheating leftovers for lunch.)  I’m totally cool with hanging our laundry on the line when it’s warm and sunny, but what about months like January and February?  Or those weeks when the perfect line-drying weather comes on Tuesday or Thursday when I’m working, and on the weekends the deluge comes?

It’s a different mindset for sure, but one we’re entertaining.

In the meantime, I just have to be a little more patient.  And hope the shingles stay on the roof.

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Cause and Effect

Last Wednesday afternoon, one of our roosters attacked me.

Last Wednesday evening, we ate him for dinner.

Attacked! (?)

It isn’t uncommon for  me to see wildlife when I’m out on a run.  Ducks, hawks, killdeer, and of course squirrels and deer often cross my path or come near to my route.  So yesterday as I ran, I wasn’t terribly surprised to hear a rustling in the leaves behind me.  Deer, I surmised.  But how would I have startled the deer when I was already past them?  I turned to look. Three animals stared me in the face, and rather than fleeing from me, they hurtled toward me!

Goats!

I froze.  What does it mean when goats run toward you?  Was I being attacked?

I could just see the headline: “Runner Attacked by Goats Remains in Critical Condition.”

But when they reached me, they stopped.  Where had they come from?  A property three houses south of us has goats, but I was four or five houses north of our home.  It would be strange for them to come so far.  Unsure of what to do, I turned to go, but they followed me.  What now?  Were they friendly?

I scratched one on the head, then another.  Finally, I decided to walk to the closest house to ask where the goats belonged.  But as soon as I turned toward the home, my new little friends galloped back up the lane and behind the house.

Perhaps the goats were hoping for treats.  Maybe they were bringing me their Christmas greetings.  Perchance they just needed a little love.  Whatever the reason, I was surprised and delighted to meet three new four-legged friends.

Paralysis

The day yawns ahead of me

each tick of the clock tightening the jaws a smidge more.

So much to do.

I sit, paralyzed, not knowing where to start.

The knot in my stomach twists.

The First Day

It’s the first day of gun season, and Husband’s alarm sounds at an early hour.  He is up and out the door quickly to drive to the next county to hunt on his dad’s property.

I sigh and roll out of bed, too.

In the distance, I hear a gun shot.

My running partner is out of town, and I’m not sure I want to brave the first cold weather of the season without her.  At the same time, I don’t want to be a wimp.

I pull on my running tights, my sweatshirt, my shoes, my gloves, and my ear warmers, and I hit the road.  The sunrise is at my right shoulder, and diamonds sparkle in the frosty grass.

I inhale the cold air and watch the breath clouds form in front of my face.  Up the road, past the fancy newer houses, toward the older farm homes.  I glance over toward the sun, and there he is.

A buck, just lying in someone’s yard.

Not dead, but very much alive.

Not hiding from a marksman’s eye.

Not poised, ready to spring away at the slightest sound.

Just lying on the ground, legs tucked under him, enjoying the scenery.

I slow down, and we watch each other as I jog past.  Then I stop, cross the road for a closer look, and still he lies there, his two small antlers pointing toward each other.

Is he injured? I wonder.  Why does my presence not spook him?  I see no signs of distress, no wounds.  He is bright-eyed and alert.

A sneaky little sucker, I decide.  If he’s in someone’s yard, he’s far less likely to be shot.  If he’s out of the woods, then… well, he may think he’s out of the woods.

It’s the only time I’ve witnessed the convergence of the literal and figurative meanings of an idiom.

Finally, he stands, but makes no move toward the trees.

Deer also seem to have marked hunting season on their calendars.

I leave the wily buck and continue my run.  Over the next few miles, I hear more gunshots.

Husband isn’t the only one scoping out dinner.

May it be a worthy contest between the hunter and the deer.

Connecting

I was never the popular girl.  There was a time in middle school when I ran around with five friends:  Amy, Lori, Leeanna, Kristi, and Missy.  But Amy was my best friend. (Except for the times when Leeanna was my best friend.)  Five was always the maximum, and even then, I felt more comfortable with one or two.  Never would you find me happily interacting with dozens of people.

Throughout high school and college, my friend groups swelled and receded, as I assume is part of life.  And never have I thrived on being the center of attention, on being surrounded by people.  Give me my little circle of friends.  Give me one or two individuals with whom I connect.  That’s all I want.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram (and yes, WordPress) — these technologies make it easier to “connect” with a much larger group of people.  Maybe even people I’ve never met and never will meet in real life.  (Hi, strangers!)  Is this connecting?

I’m spending my weekend at a writing conference, and quite a few of the writers (novelists, poets, writers of memoir) have talked about the importance of connecting with others online.  And I get that.  In our modern culture, with so many people attached to their phones and tablets, this is what is expected.  You can’t expect to sell a book (especially a memoir) if no one knows who you are.  You can’t have an audience if you don’t write in a format that an audience wants.  If you don’t write to connect, then why are you writing?

But I like being invisible sometimes.  I don’t wanna put myself out there for the whole world to see.  After all, it’s not real connection, these social media “friendships.”

And yet.

Maybe it is a method that introverts like me (who, if given the opportunity, would stay in my house for weeks on end, meeting with no one) can expand horizons and connect with others while avoiding the overstimulation of people in my face.  Maybe it is a way I can reach out and have a larger impact on my world than I would if I simply remained the hermit I like to be.  Maybe social media serve as a bridge for me to cross the divide between isolation and community.

Even that is uncomfortable for me, and besides that, I don’t really know how I feel about it.

Please comment if you have a thought about this topic.  Maybe you’ll help me figure it out.

Even still

I’m not sure you ever totally get over it.  You become accustomed to it.  You accept it.  You may become content with it.  But perhaps you never truly get over it.

When my friends were pregnant, I wished I could experience that.  The feel of life inside me was something I would never know.  When my friends had infants, I longed for sweet baby cuddles.  The 2:00 a.m. feeding was something I would never experience.  When my friends had toddlers, I wanted to laugh at the funny ways a little one pronounced words, or experience the happiness of watching them figure out the world.  And I did, sometimes, with their children.  But it was always from afar.

 

As time passed, the pain certainly lessened.  There would be days, then weeks, then entire months when I didn’t really think about it.  We worked on our house, got dogs, then rabbits.  I found a job I love.  We moved out to the country and got chickens, a tractor, and the sweetest cat in the world.  I started graduate school.  We designed a house plan and began working toward building.

sunrise

My friends have pre-teens and teenagers now.  There are athletic events to attend, homework to help with, dreams to watch unfold.  I’ll never be a soccer mom.   I’ll never go on a college visit.

Our niece and her husband have a two-year-old daughter.  Our nephew and his wife are expecting a boy in the spring.  It is sweet to watch them experience these things, but as always, I watch from afar.

My life is good.  It is full.  It is blessed.

But there is a small emptiness, even still.