Stephen Kahn

Crises and opportunities large and small

In Good news, Humor on April 10, 2011 at 5:49 pm

Signs of the collapse of civilization appear in large events and small events.

The world has always suffered from wars and calamities. At the moment, the most obvious and well-known wars are in Libya and Ivory Coast. As far as natural disasters, it seems to be a pretty good weekend. Mapleton, Iowa was wrecked by a tornado, but no one died. A giant asteroid will pass close to the earth, but if the astronomers know what they are talking about, miss us by a few lunar distances.

My wife and I visited our daughter, daughter-out-of law (as I call her partner), and our 7-year old granddaughter in Seattle. Anne Elise, a very intelligent and very emotional child, seems to be turning into a passable human being. She has learned to ride a bicycle, though she still does not watch carefully enough for oncoming traffic. Grandma gave her useful safety tips as we accompanied her on a ride (on sidewalks) around the neighborhood.

Back at their house, we enjoyed a pleasant dinner and Anne Elise, a child with a lot of “food issues” ate her food in a reasonably civilized way, though she politely turned up her beak at the delicious beet salad.

Our “barely extended family,” as I dub them, live in a pleasant, tolerant, liberal, racially and religiously diverse neighborhood. The neighbors know each others’ names and work together. Nevertheless, the family was burglarized about a week ago. I am just guessing on the details of the actual event, but it might be that an addict desperate for money to feed his addiction entered through a carelessly unlocked door and rummaged for easy to steal items. He overlooked a valuable violin and a couple of laptops (all sensibly hidden) and got away with an i-pod.

Some of their neighbors are selling their houses. An inspection of one of the adjoining houses revealed a blockage in a sewer line. It’s not quite clear which property the blockage occupies; my daughter discussed with the selling neighbor in a firm but polite manner how they will decide how to allocate the costs of repairing the line. As the saying goes, “Shit happens.” The saying does not add, “Then you have to do something with it.”

A prospective buyer was inspecting a another house for sale (this one across the street). The “kids” (as we deem our family, though they are in their forties) like these prospects and hope they purchase and have told them so. I said, “This is sort of the opposite of a ‘restrictive covenant’ is it not? Sort of a welcoming covenant?”

My wife and I sailed and drove safely from Whidbey Island and returned equally safely. The chickens left us one egg (collected for us by our wonderful neighbors). One of the chickens was roosting on the nesting box instead of the perch. This morning I will go out in a few minutes, give the chickens some oat flakes (which they will gobble like candy), a few tiny 3-Yecch! slugs, which they will turn their beaks up at, and some earthworms, which they will gobble with almost as much enthusiasm as they chow down on the oats.

Then I will sweep the shit from the top of the nesting box down into the wood shavings on the henhouse floor and put the mess into the composting pile where eventually, after it breaks down enough, it will feed the garden plants in the never-ending cycle of life.

Then I will go to the gym where I will use the exercise machine known as the Sisyphus device, which breaks down my muscles so they can grow stronger, until I eventually croak some day. I haven’t decided yet whether I will be cremated or be buried on our land (which apparently is now possible). I don’t wish to have a funeral, but if my family decides they want one, I won’t complain about it, and the alder and fir trees will happily sink their roots into my ashes or corpse.

  1. Wow. I thought I treated my chickens well! Oats? You must have retired well! We do let thewm free range in the nice green spring grass, though. They get pretty excited about that.

  2. For older people who do not see their grandchildren more than once or twice a month or so, pets serve as alternative grandchildren. This is especially true in the case of my wife, who spoils the chickens beyond belief. They are probably the most pampered chickens in the history of poultry. If there were little Mercedes or BMW vehicles made for chickens, they would be tooling around in them.

  3. Glad to hear you all had fun together in Seattle and that Anne-Elise continues to thrive… I have to say, I’m with her on the repugnance of beet salad, though. Possibly the chickens would eat it, but I’d swap for their oats any day (not with the slug admixture however).

  4. Sometimes, foods take a while. I’ve never liked cheese, but now I rather do. My daughter has never liked beets, but now she eats them a bit.

    Anne-Elise brought some oats to the University of Washington arboretum to feed to the ducks. She at some of the oats. Mommy warned her not to eat too many because they might swell up in her tummy.

    I thought about offering to hold a slug in my hand for a minute if someone would donate money to Transition Whidbey. “”How much money should I ask for?” I asked Anne Elise.

    “$25,” she answered.

    I thought about offering to eat a slug if someone offered $250,000. I am not sure I could do that, I thought. Then I read a news item about a man in Australia eating a slug and becoming very ill, convincing me eating a slug would be a bad idea. So Trucie, please don’t eat any beets and please don’t eat any slugs and please eat some oatmeal, but only if you really want to. I told Anne Elise that you said hello.

  5. Steve, your wife would not be impressed with us and our chickens. Last night we actually opened the roof of their bedding house, the first time since last november. The chicken er, waste, was 3-4″ thick (Mixed with hay. It looked like dirt to me, but once Laurie (wife) broke into it to shovel it out, it was most airomatic! Unfortunately they were snowed in basically, and we had to wait for the snow to melt to get into their little chicken house. THey did get to be in the greenhouse all winter, so it wasn’t like they were trapped in a chicken sewer or anything. So the so called bedding they have been s(h)itting on all winter is now going to fertilize our garden!

  6. Except for me, (where she expects perfection), my wife is a very generous, tolerant, and admiring person. I am sure she would understand that Laurie and you live in the arctic, where poultry conditions are difficult, as do I. However, have you considered raising penguins instead of chickens?

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