Andrew's Blog

A City Boy Making His Way in the Country

Do chickens have nine lives?

This is Camilla. She is a silkie chicken. Today, she (or he) decided to be a magician. She (or he) found herself (or himself) in the orchard. Not usually a problem. Except when the dogs are outside. And unfortunately, Camilla was out with the dogs.

I heard chirping. And then cawing. And then silence. And notice feathers in the mouth of Bob Evans, with Wally close on his heels. Like a mutant ninja turtle, I hopped on the roof of a chicken coop, leapt over the fence, and bopped the chicken out from his (or her) certain death. Bob Evans looked hungry. The chicken was alive. And soon rejoined the flock, eating corn and evading the ewe.

In situations like this, I wonder why a chicken, with land to roam, and friends to eat with, would decide to somehow maneuver over (or under) a 4 ft. fence to live a life of solitude. It reminds me of a video I once saw of a penguin, who, instead of walking to the ocean, headed towards the mountains of Antarctica. No matter how many times you caught him, and turned him around, he would continue to the mountains.

Maybe Camilla likes to live on the edge. A daredevil. Some people sky dive, some bungee jump. Camilla walks in the den with dogs. Although, he (or she), failed dramatically on her (or his) first attempt. I hope this escapade will end the spirit for adventure!

I should have known trouble was on the horizon when I was walking to get some animal food and found a baby bird fallen from his (or her) nest. And too tired to try and escape. I quickly scooped it up, placed it in a bush, and threw some bird seed to munch. The bird seed may also attract some ‘possum or raccoons, but that’s the Circle of Life. I’ve done my job. Would Mr. Assisi have done any different?

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Goodbye Oprah.

I think it appropriate that our blog tonight honors the legacy of Oprah. It was her last show today. I’m watching it right now. It’s a mix between the “last lecture” and a commencement speech. She is wise. So wise!

I actually grew up with Oprah. I remember watching her while doing my homework during junior high. Perhaps she is responsible for my T.V. addiction. Parker Posey once said in Adam & Steve, “Oprah has made it impossible for me to have a close relationship with anyone besides Oprah.” There is much truth in that statement.

She keeps saying “my great wish for you…” and I’m confused. Embrace the life that is calling me? I will Oprah. For you! And I guess, for me. That is what you would want. For me to do it for me, and no one else. That is my lightbulb moment, my AH-HA (or whatever Oprahism you choose to use). And so, starting tomorrow, I will be looking for a house on Martha’s Vineyard where my llamas, dogs, and Donnie can swim, sun, and lobster roll morning, noon, and night. Oh wait, I have a bed and breakfast. And we’ll need money.

“You are responsible for your life.” Another Oprahism. “Energy is your life,’ she says. Truth again. I could be nicer. And more patient. And kinder at times. But couldn’t we all? For all the schmaltz Oprah has given, she has definitely shown us incredible people, given power to messages of compassion and kindness, and opened my eyes to issues and struggles that I never knew existed. Could I have learned these through books? Probably. But I wouldn’t have been able to my homework at the same time.

So, in conclusion, good-bye Oprah. I will only be able to see on your OWN cable network now. No more 4:00 excuses to stop working and watch T.V. Oh, wait, isn’t Rosie taking over her time slot? Oh, that will be a wonderful mess! And if that Phoenix can rise again, then there is hope for a return of the Oprah. A new Easter. Where chocolate bunnies and marshmallow peeps are replaced with recovering alcoholics and free cars. And that would be greatest holiday of all!


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Were you stuck in traffic today?

I wasn’t. I shopped. Cooked some turkey. And laid out on the hammock. With Auggie. And some wine. I actually went antiquing today, and oddly, found very little. The Whitman Room is slated to open very soon…and I can’t seem to find the right pieces for it. I got a bed today. I still need everything else. Although I do have the perfect lamp. That needs to be checked off the list.

I know it sounds excessive to be talking about a life of buying antiques and drinking wine. But it’s hard! Seriously! Creating a concept for a room and then executing it are difficult things to do. If I wanted to do something pure Pottery Barn, or HGTV, it would be easier. Or if we were your granny’s B&B, the decor would be floral and dated. Another easy accomplishment. But that ain’t me. That ain’t Orchard House.

As I type this, a robot is cleaning my floor. That’s Orchard House. We’re pre-Cylon over here. Before they determined they could kill people. And mate with humans. Right now, they just clean my floors. I hope to find one that can shop soon. Perhaps a little bug-type robot that can send live-streaming video to me of things I need to buy, and then listen to my commands, and make the purchases…and load them into the truck. Ah, something to look forward to. The future holds so much hope.

But it’s not all lollipops and glitter over here. Tomorrow I have to create a landing for the llamas in their enclosure. The mud has gotten out of control…about a month ago. It’s our daily battle. Not ants. Not escaped chickens. It’s mud. Like chocolate pudding. The truck got stuck over night. The horse trailer is still there. Going the way of the dinosaurs. Slowly being sucked into the tar pits.

But we continue to fight to good fight. I’ll still shop, in the hopes of finding those marquee items. And I’ll still drink wine. (I’m only human after all!) The mud will continue to be my non-human arch-nemisis, and like the stalwart prairie pioneer I am, no problem is insurmountable.

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Antiquing the day away.

Antiquing was the business of the day. Whether it was cash, credit, or check, the 3-Cs were in full force. And yet, I could find very little to purchase. Like a mime on The View, I was at a loss. Which is rather uncharacteristic for me. ‘Cause this lady loves to buy pretty things!

I started at the Springfield Antique Fair today. Lots of flowers, lots of brass full beds, and a plethora of paint-by-number canvases. (By the  by, I have said for some time these were the new big collectible, and while I know no one collecting them, they are all over the place!) I saw some bratwursts and even some decent art work. But it was expensive. And Donnie would yell. Or at least guilt.

Next to an antique mall. Some wicker here, some fabulous decorations there, it was a more fruitful venture than the fair. But still abysmal by my shopping standards. Higher standards? Perhaps. Afraid of the Donnie wrath? For sure. No gems at the store today? That too!

We have a third bedroom opening up if you haven’t heard. And a game room! With a game table I bought today. Checkers is such a relaxing game. Didn’t they play it in the Middle Ages or something? It’s a classic, like Hungry, Hungry Hippos. I think that was Henry VIII’s fav game!

These rooms will be decorated. Will look wonderful. And will be ready on time. Because Orchard House is good enough, Orchard House is smart enough, and dog-gone it, people like us!

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Food, glorious food!

Spring has me thinking of food. Not only what’s growing in my garden, but the delicious things I find on restaurant menus and in grocery store donut cases. You know, that clear-doored oddly non-airtight “bakery” windows that offer me those white-icinged, rainbow sprinkled morsels of heaven. I think when Spring comes, food is first on the mind. Freshness is once again at our fingertips. No more root vegetables. No more lentils. The promise of heirloom tomatoes sweetens the air. But it’s only a promise. Spring is a bust.

Sure, I can plant the plants. I can start growing what I love it eat. I planted four brussel sprouts this season – one has been eaten by the hateful, and ever-present, groundhog. Pig! But three remain! The tomato plants are in the ground. Peppers are growing. The lettuce has grown. But they are growing. Like adolescents. Babies and teenagers, not yet ready for the adult table. And that leads to disappointment. So close, but not quite there.

And so I eat donuts. Hungry while waiting. I also love those individual ice cream cups they sell in stores now. Delicious. But I eat the junk food as I wait. Wait for the bounty of this nature of ours. I grow antsy in my pantsy. But it’ll come. More veggies than I can stand. And apples, other fruits, and various farmer’s market finds. This week, the market only had plants and lettuce. And no blue cheese. But there were sweet peas – grown with manure heat. They were gorgeous. And smelled of a nosegay QE1 would be proud to sniff at court.

And so we wait. For growing things to grow. For flowers to turn into foods. Edible foods, like zucchini and strawberries and tomatoes. And if the groundhog needs a plant or two, be my guest. Until you are trapped and sent to live far away. In Newark. After all, I’ve waited so long for my bounty. I can’t share it. But until it comes, (and probably after it comes), I’ll be sitting idly by, eating my donuts. And tending my garden.

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