Monday, July 23, 2012

Summer Entertainment

   This summer has been nothing short of Cambodia hot in the northeast. Steamy, sticky, sweaty days, followed by oppressive nights, full of buzzing, biting insects and the constant whir of the ceiling fan, clicking in an endless circle as it attempts to disperse a feeble breeze over our sweaty foreheads.  We've always shunned air conditioning in our house, but I'm beginning to regret my holier than thou attitude towards artificially cooled air.
"No, we don't have an a/c" I've stated with inane pride, to the mortification of my more progressively minded (read: much smarter) friends. "It never really gets that hot in our house."
Well, I'm rueing those words now.  There have been some brief reprieves of the steady dose of hot temperatures. Usually, predicated by a biblical thunderstorm that shakes the foundation of the house, lightening bolts criss cross the sky and rain blows sideways, threatening to unmoor my well tended pots of flowers from the front porch. We even had a bout of hail stones this past week. I've become a slave to the radar map on my iPhone.
"Look at all the yellow and red spots coming toward us!" I shout to Jonathan, my voice cracking with excitement as if I'm the Goddess of Thunder storms and have created them with my own callused hands.  Jonathan has since banned me from giving reports at any less than a half hour interval. I still check the radar like a woman possessed, but I keep the info to myself and content my nerves by jumping up every five minutes to check the skies for dark clouds approaching.

   Due to our day job, which involves riding/training horses, it's just not possible to work them later than noon on these wretched humid days. The horses get ridden early in the morning and spend their afternoons in their stalls munching hay, with their box fans blowing on them. Thus, Jonathan and I have embarked on a new trend, where we head to the movie theatre for a matinee and spend a couple of mindless hours in chilly air, eating popcorn and sipping soda. Last Tues. was absolutely miserable so we cleaned up after a ridiculously sweaty morning and drove to Millerton Moviehouse to watch "To Rome with Love", Woody Allen's latest flick.  Since Millerton isn't exactly the hub of the universe the matinees are sparsely attended, and we settled into our seats in the nearly empty theatre. One couple in their sixties sat in front of us, grey haired and somber, no pre-show conversation needed at this stage of their relationship. The movie began and we all settled in for the preamble of character's that only Woody can produce. It required some attention to sort out each set of actors and how they would knit together to form the story.  Woody's movies are quirky and delightful, but if you don't pay attention you can easily miss a key line, or well placed innuendo. I was startled to hear the door open about a third of the way thru the movie. Who could be coming in this late in the game? They've missed so much already! How will they possibly catch up with the story? A doddering couple of octogenarian's came into view, hobbled down the aisle and plopped themselves into the second row directly in front of the screen. Oh boy. Now I was worried that they wouldn't be able to enjoy the movie. The characters were all established and the meat of the story was getting underway. Would they enjoy themselves? Would they get it?? Should I scoot down and give them a Cliff Note's version of what had happened till they came in?  I hid my anxiety by stuffing mouthfuls of popcorn into my mouth, but I kept half an eye on the elderly latecomers.  The movie is set in Rome and some of the characters were Italian, so subtitles were a part of the show. As soon as the words appeared on the screen, the female octogenarian began to read them aloud to her a very audible voice. The man leaned in to catch every word. I initially bristled, thinking that it was going to be totally annoying to listen to this woman's raspy voice reading along. We all know that it's bad form to talk out loud during a movie. This couple proved to be almost as entertaining as the movie itself. As soon as the woman would read a line, the man would erupt in laughter, then she would laugh. It was like a Woody Allen movie IN a Woody Allen movie! They tittered and carried on like teenagers, especially at the more racy scenes. It was hilarious!! When one of the female character's described her first lesbian encounter and how thunderous her orgasms were with a woman I was tense, wondering how it would be received by this older couple. Would they be prudish? Would they recoil? Ha! They laughed louder than the rest of us! My only wish was that Woody Allen himself could've been present to see how much fun these folks had watching his movie. I truly think he would've gotten as big a kick out of it as Jonathan and I did that afternoon. What a fabulous escape that movie proved to be and it taught me a lesson which was no matter how old we are, no matter how much we can't see, or hear, you never have to lose your sense of humor, or sense of self and just because you're old doesn't mean you don't love a good orgasm joke!  As Jonathan and I left the theatre and walked out into the burning summer heat, I smiled and hoped that one day we could be that couple, too.  And maybe we'll have a/c in our house by that stage of our lives.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Summer Days on the Farm

     It's July 2nd and I want to put a stop/pause button on summer already.  We've been working on lots of projects here on the farm. One of my top projects has been monitoring the nest of barn swallows that sits atop what I believe is some sort of alarm box inside the entrance of the barn.  As the five babies grew it came to resemble a Keystone cop nest, with puffy chests and tail feathers brimming over the sides. I've taken such an interest in their progress that you'd think I'd hatched the little buggers myself. While doing chores I often take a moment to talk to the babies. At first they would shrink back at the sound of my voice (I don't think it was my breath), but eventually they got used to the crazy lady talking to them and just looked at me with solemn expressions.  Lately the babies have been flapping their tiny wings in preparation for the first flight. Yesterday marked the official fledgling launch day.  When I came down to feed there was one lone baby left in the nest.

 "What are you waiting for?" I asked the wee one. "Fly, already!"

 One of the parents swooped in and the lone baby opened its beak. He/She was rewarded with some fresh bugs and no competition from hungry siblings. Aha, smart kid! There is something to be said for being the last child.  As the afternoon wore on, one by one the babies returned to the nest, stuffing themselves into position. I congratulated them on their flying skills and they looked at me, with blank, solemn expressions. Baby birds aren't frivolous and goofy like other baby animals.  The barn swallow kids are a sober group. They don't cavort, or play with each other. They eat, they flap their wings, then one day...they take off. Still, despite their grave demeanors and lack of humor, I've really enjoyed this group, especially since none of them were nudged, or fell from the nest. Since they were so stuffed in ( the parents really scrimped on the size of this thing, talk about poor planning), I was sure one of them would crash to the concrete floor.  Chalk it up to good balance, or teamwork, these babies held fast and now they've graduated. This morning the nest was empty. I'm not sure if they'll be back this afternoon, but if not I'm a little sad the my baby bird reality show is over.  There is another nest at the opposing end of the barn, but the parental birds are total assholes. Unlike the first set of parents, who seemed to appreciate my attention to their kids, this set dive bombs anyone who comes near and if you try to look at the kids they buzz your face and give you a sense of what Tippi Hendren went through during the filming of "The Birds".  On Saturday afternoon while I was feeding the horses, my worst fears were realized.  I could hear intense yelling from the mother swallow, so I peered around the corner of the barn, full of trepidation.  There was a small form on the ground directly under the nest and it was moving a little.  Without taking any time to think, I upended a muck tub, scooped up the baby and in two seconds he was back in the nest.  Yay me!!! I saved a baby bird!!  I was rewarded by having the parent bird swoop past my nose, shrieking and flapping her wings like a deranged bat.  Staggering off the muck tub, I shook my fist at her and yelled, " You dumb bitch, I just saved your baby! You're not even a good mother, letting it fall out of the nest in the first place! I should report you! The other parents didn't let any of their kids have this kind of an accident! "

She responded by aggressively dive bombing me as I retreated down the barn aisle. Clearly, she has anger management issues and I pity those poor children.  If I don't get my eyes pecked out by this set of parents before this group makes their first flight it will be a miracle.

 What else have we been up to?

A.) Finishing projects. Jonathan had started 10 projects at once, leaving all of them unfinished and we were feeling defeated. So, we took the bull by the horns, spent a crapload of money at the hardware store and now we're checking them off the list, one by one. Very satisfying and the place is looking nicer by the day. We are sunburnt, covered in paint blotches and have blisters on our hands. It's a small sacrifice.

B.) Mowing and weed whacking. It rains, the grass grows, we mow, it looks nice for three-four days, rains, the grass grows, we mow...  You get the cycle.

C.) Riding, teaching and horse showing. Our season is in full swing and our students are all keeping us busy. I find show prize lists in my tack trunk, subtle hints of which shows they'd like to attend.  My young horse has been coming along so well. He's only four, so he's not on the fast track, but each day we make more progress and that is far more fun than any competition for me. Yesterday, we went on our first proper trail ride, with a solid trail partner to accompany us. No sooner did we get into the big open field when twin spotted fauns leapt across our path. Whee!!!  The mother deer did what mother deer do. She frickin' froze like a dipshit and didn't follow her kids. I've made the mistake of thinking that the deer have brains before, so I knew if we tried to proceed she would wait until we were directly in line with her and then run like a maniac right in front of us.  A quick about face and we made a nice loop, sans deer. Dan seemed to enjoy our walkabout, despite the fact that walking downhill required more balancing skills than he originally anticipated. After a few wobbly, sideways steps, he upped his game and figured it out.

D.) Enjoying every day for what it brings! I know thats super cheesy, but it's true. Having a great ride, saying hi to the small bunny who nibbles grass in the lane between the paddocks each day, painting jump poles in the broiling hot sun (sweating off calories is the bonus to that job), admiring Jonathan's carpenter handiwork, watching our pets lounge on our front porch amidst large pots of colorful flowers,  all good things.  And at the end of the day, a cold martini and a sense that we're doing exactly what we want to each day and we like it, fills my soul with a mid-life kind of mellow happiness.  Maybe the booze has something to do with the mellowness, but whatever, I'll take it.