A Tale of Two Roosters

It’s been a rough week to be a rooster on our homestead, whether chicken or quail.

Our quail rooster hit puberty a few weeks ago, which was entertaining at first. His attempted crowing sounded like moist flatulence for about a week until it matured into a beautiful trilling quail crow. However, the adolescent games of “tag” quickly turned into something darker.

In nature, mating is rather indelicate and often rough. Still our quail rooster turned into a little domestic abuser, despite the 1:4 rooster-to-hen ratio in our starter flock. When I found a couple of our hens bloody and one seemingly missing an eye, the rooster went straight into solitary confinement. Continue reading “A Tale of Two Roosters”

The Compliment I Rejected

I was given the compliment during a nonfiction writing workshop in my senior year of college. The class sat in a circle of tables and chairs, with the elderly, bearded professor, Douglas Atkins PhD, seated near the doorway while the early afternoon sun lit up the room. I wasn’t the best writer in the class or even the second best; I fell into the competition somewhere after those two positions. Still it was my turn to be critiqued.

Having my essay analyzed by my peers felt akin to how I imagine the nude model for an art class to feel; I felt exposed and wanted to hide behind the furniture. It wasn’t that I felt my writing was bad, though the essay was far from a masterpiece. Rather, I cringed inside at the idea of having such intimate thoughts and feelings, my thoughts and my feelings, captured on paper and revealed to others.

Then something happened that I didn’t expect. One of my classmates compared my writing to E. B. White, and others, Dr. Atkins included, agreed. It was something about the sentence structure, the reflective tone, and the fascination with nature, they said.

Inwardly, I rankled at the comparison. I even took insult, not that I let on, and immediately dismissed the comment. White and I were nothing alike, save perhaps our love of nature. If I’d considered White further, I probably would have concluded that he was a pretentious rambler convinced that each of his thoughts was riveting. Continue reading “The Compliment I Rejected”

The Saga of Our Aquarium Fish and How They Died

When I decided to resuscitate my childhood aquarium hobby for the benefit of my young children, I failed to realize how tangibly I was bringing death into our living room. This reboot started out much better than before, though more expensive, because as an adult I have better funding and no mommy to tell me, “No.”

I spent months searching for a stable aquarium stand of an appropriate height; I wanted my toddlers to be able to inspect the fish easily and safely. I struggled over the decision between a glass or acrylic tank because acrylic tanks were safer but had largely gone out of style and availability. Eventually, I settled for glass, reminding myself that my eight siblings broke bones, split lips, and nearly hacked off fingers, but never once broke an aquarium.

From there, the decisions were smaller and more arbitrary: Would I use gravel or substrate? Did I want artificial or live plants? Which heater was least likely to malfunction and boil the fish? I made up my mind and placed my Amazon order because going into an actual pet shop to buy your aquarium in 2017 is passé and because I’m an introvert married to an introvert with tiny introverted babies—we don’t leave the house much. Continue reading “The Saga of Our Aquarium Fish and How They Died”

Surviving Asheville, N.C.’s Purgatory on Asphalt:  How I Crushed My Near Accident Occurrences and Became Saner in the Process

Call me crazy, but I’m rather attached to living. I’d rather not end up mangled in the midst of a mixture of metal and fiberglass melding at the end of high speed collision. I’d rather not get maimed as well, and now that I have kids, I feel especially obligated to stay alive.

However, living in Asheville, North Carolina makes this reasonable goal more difficult. I learned to drive in Wichita, Kansas, a flat city on a grid with a terrific road to car ratio, where traffic or an accident meant a few minutes delay. Then I moved to Asheville, North Carolina.

Asheville is basically the inverse of Wichita. The city is built around mountains, rivers, and the Biltmore Estate, with narrow roads placed where they fit, meaning there is no predictable or convenient pattern. Compounding the problem, Asheville is an established tourist destination with an exploding population. The tourists and new residents in addition to the over population and the now insufficient transportation system create what I like to call purgatory on asphalt. Continue reading “Surviving Asheville, N.C.’s Purgatory on Asphalt:  How I Crushed My Near Accident Occurrences and Became Saner in the Process”

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