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An easy out – talk about the animals!

There is a lot I could write about today.


I got my second response from my mentor this afternoon, and it was highly encouraging. She thinks my book is taking shape and getting strong, and she said I’m a very insightful reader that grasps important conclusions from the books I study. That’s nice. In truth, I’m not feeling like much of a writer these days, but I am getting lots of positive feedback, so I must be improving. I am developing a strong understanding of literary fiction, if that means anything at all.


We saw the movie the Libertine yesterday. My husband didn’t like it, and as we left, he commented that it was a weird “film”. (Any non-commercial movie is a “film” to him, which means it usually isn’t very entertaining.) However, I actually found the film interesting, and I started to comment about how well the story was put together- the author did some interesting things. And then, I caught myself and said, “I think school is affecting me. I am reading so much literary stuff, so much classical and obscure literature, that I am developing a taste for more obtuse material.” It’s true. And, I’m developing an instinct that compels me to analyze the techniques used to relate a story rather than just enjoy the experience.

He laughed and said he’d been noticing that about me too. He just doesn’t view some of this stuff in the same way I do right now. It doesn’t mean anything. We’ll still see artsy “films” and swashbuckling movies and have our independent opinions about both. We’re pretty open about what we go to see. But I’m now just slightly more impressed with those things that are not so obvious. I wonder if that will change when I am finished with school, or if this is a shift that has taken root permanently.


But school and writing is not what I want to write about now.


I could talk about my father in law. We helped my husband’s parents move from Florida to a town about an hour from us a month ago. I thought they should be closer, considering they are skirting 80, but my husband and his sister agreed that one hour away was perfect. The in-laws were content with the area selected because it’s “civilized” with a real live Target and a surburban feel.  They’ve just unpacked the last box, and finally gotten settled.

I keep pointing out that I think my husband’s dad, Bill, seems older. The move might have been harder on him than we realize. But, it turns out to be more than that. This week, he was diagnosed with lung cancer. It may have spread to other areas of his body. We won’t find out the details until this week. It is sad, and the timing is awful. Now, there are all kinds of concerns. And his mother is so worried, about what is happening now, and what will happen if her husband doesn’t survive. She feels alone in a strange place.  

 But I don’t want to write about it now.  I just don’t feel up for it. 


I could write about my feelings about dance. They are rumbling inside like I have an empty stomach. I hunger for it, and yet I don’t regret my decision to retire from that business at all. It is all a matter of what I aim to do with my feelings of loss to feel whole. We also have some serious issues with our business sale – but I can’t talk about that even if I wanted to – which I don’t. It is all rather frustrating and sad. 

In fact, this entire subject of dance and all the things connected to it is too intimate and raw to open at this time. So I just won’t.


I could talk about my kids. They are doing so well. This move has been the best thing in the world for them. My youngest daughter has a piece of her artwork exhibited in the children’s art show at the Blue Ridge Association – she was the only third grader in the county chosen. My son is playing soccer and is in the band. He is on the principals list – a nerdly scholar – don’t ya love it! My oldest daughter called today to gush about being recognized as a power voice at school. She’s in a challenging BFA theater program. The teacher asked her how far she could take her belt voice and gave her a chance to show off. She blew the house down, with great quality and range.

The teacher said, “Did you know you could do that? Do you like singing like this?”
She said, “All I know is my Mommy likes it. She is always encouraging me to belt.”
Ha. I’ve been telling her all along she has an incredible gift – but she keeps trying to work on her singsong head voice. I’m thrilled the teacher will help nudge her in the other direction. I swear, she has an amazing, unique gift. I want her to explore it. She’ll stand out.

But, I don’t want to talk about my kids either. They are big fish in this small country ocean, but I’ll save that subject for another day.


I can’t talk about Kathy or my work with illiteracy, because there isn’t anything to tell. I am planning to hunt her down tomorrow, so more will be said on this front soon enough.


Funny, for someone who doesn’t want to talk about things, I’m writing a long entry!


Anyway, I think I’ll land on my favorite subject – not that it’s profound, but it just doesn’t offend anyone and doesn’t demand much in the way of intelligence or thought. How’s that for being a blog slacker?

And frankly, I can talk about this without being meloncoly or philosophical, which I want to avoid today. It is important when you are on the cusp of being down, that you work to focus in more positive places.I am trying to control my mood – which some would say defines me (to be controlling). ButI rather think it is a matter of my not giving in to meloncoly, which in truth, defines me even more. Believe it or not.

So – I will talk about our animals.


Perhaps I should keep a graph of my animal escapades so people can keep up. Only I would need a big piece of paper. Here’s the latest.


Goat is a big pain. He’s into everything, and wanders out of our land to munch on our neighbors new garden. I am not prepared to start animosity between my beloved new neighbors. I may go “country” in many attitudes, but I’ll stop before I take on the personalities of the Hatfields and McCoys and start warring with my neighbors. That four legged goat rotter actually wandered up to our house site and started butting the laborers backsides for fun. Like I said, he’s cute, but a pain.


The other day, while dragging the devil to be tied up so I could feed the horses without him hogging all their grain, I said, “Boy, if I could find anyone to take this damn goat – someone who wouldn’t eat him – I’d give him up in a minute.


My husband is not one to let an opportunity like that pass. He flipped open his phone and said, “Got it handled.” It just so happened Eric, the fellow who sold us Dixie and gave us our puppy had mentioned he’d love the goat for his kids – as a pet. Mark made him promise not to eat our friend, then made arrangements for them to pick the goat up in a few days. It was done as simply as that. I just sort of blinked and thought, “What the hell did I just do?” But, I knew it was right.


I told my daughter that we found a new home for goat, and she wailed all the way to school as if she were Mary, and I’d condemned her little lamb to slaughter.


I then told a blatant lie to alleviate my guilt. I told her I’d read that goats could possibly endanger a baby horse, because they occasionally butt the delicate darlings. I thought it was really best, in the interest of caring for our new horse, that we find Goat a new home. He does go at it pretty heatedly with the dogs, so while I had no facts to support this claim, I thought the threat might be true . . . in a small way.


Unfortunately, she didn’t buy it. She pointed out that goat was sweet – her best friend, in fact – and while he was curious and tussled with the dogs, he never bothered the horses. She said he was the only animal “her size” for her to groom, and she was willing to keep him tied up all the time if we could keep him. I guess a goat in the hand holds more sway than a baby horse in theory. I told her it was already done. Goat is history.


She was inconsolable. Nevertheless, we said our tearful goodbyes on Sat. morning. I did feel guilty. Goat has an endearing, if not annoying, personality. He is comic relief in this land of livestock. But, I’m rather stressed out by his antics and do think that part of being happy with this new lifestyle is avoiding those things that make the work unpleasant. Goat is the king of “unpleasantry”. 


 So, we became a goat-less family.


Afterwards, we went to Merciers Orchards to get a few of the worlds best apple turnovers. (That isn’t the company’s claim. It’s mine. This place makes the most glorious turnovers known to man.) So we pull up for a snack, and don’t ya know, but outside there is a box filled with puppies and a sign imploring people to take one home.


There is a dog crisis going on in our community. I won’t go into it in detail, but in a nutshell our animal rescue is shutting down, they’ve shipped the last twelve dogs to New Jersey to find homes, and for a while now, they’ll be putting down all animals that come in. They refuse to pick up strays as well. It’s a funding issue – really awful – I’ve been reading about it in the paper. Anyway, my husband sees the puppies in this box, pats a cute black one and says, “Let’s do our part. Let’s take it home. We’ll call it Max.”


“It’s a girl,” I point out. (I am the detail person.)

“Then she’ll be Maxine. Neva, you’ve been wanting a dog like your brother’s. This is you’re lucky day.”

And he went inside to get the apple turnovers.


I stood there is shock, thinking he was kidding. But he wasn’t.  Dog number three came home with us that day. She’s a hound-dog mix. Looks like a lab. I was told this kind of dog is bred to hunt bear. Well, that’ll sure come in handy for us.


Neva was instantly cured of her goat mourning. Funny how that works.


We were going home to build a new, bigger bunny cage. That was our Sunday project. We’d agreed that Monday we would have to take our new baby bunnies to the pet store to see if they would take them off our hands. Still, we needed a bigger cage for the rabbits we’re keeping. The cage we have now is close to the ground, so the dogs bother the bunnies all day. A taller cage is nice, but I wanted a bigger one too. I like our animals to live the “good life” which requires space to play and run, endless treats and lots of attention.


Neva successfully campaigned to get her aunt to take two of her babies, so that only leaves one baby. I was thinking, “This is easy. Have a litter, enjoy the experience, and give them away right at Easter. No trouble.  Perfect.”


I picked up our last baby to cuddle a moment, and said, “What is that in the nesting box?” For a moment, I thought a rat had somehow gotten in. Then, I realized what I was looking at. It was clearly, another newborn bunny.


Now, I ask you, how is that possible? I removed the male two hours after this litter was born. I should’ a told Neva to name this rabbit Mary, rather than Bun buns. Apparently, that randy male, Thumper, impregnated the mom within the hour she dropped these three kids. The nerve! There is no other explanation.  The babies are nowhere near sexually mature, besides which a bunny is pregnant for four or five weeks, the entire lifespan of these bunnies. They were little blobs when this litter was conceived.  So, it had to be Thumper – the letch.


We could see at least two new babies, but I’m guessing there are three buried in the nest. Bun Bun’s has had three offspring every litter to date. From what we could see, one of the newborns is black, the other white – an exact replica of the litter we are giving away now. I might point out that this is oddly convenient – makes it less traumatic for my daughter to say good-bye to the current set.


I keep thinking of that MasterCard commercial where the pet shop owner is taking so long to approve the card that the store gets filled with bunnies -which multiply every few minutes. I thought that commerical a silly exaggeration, till now. Ha. That could be us.


But, baby bunnies at Easter are fun, so I will consider us lucky, and I’ll tend to the mother with the same devoted care I gave her with the last liter. Extra cabbage and carrots, warm bedding, and lots of vocal encouragement. I don’t yell at her or doubt her nurturing anymore, either. Attitude is everything when it comes to remaining happy about your life.


So, while the actual family dynamics of our animals has changed, our tally is really the same. One less goat. One more dog. Three less bunnies. Three more bunnies. Same color. Sigh.


May first, we’ll have a new horse. That will demand some blog reflection and description. I have my iodine ready – I must put the umbilical cord in iodine, and do all kinds of other gross nursing. Yehaw! Love a challenge.


Then, of course, by June, our house will be done. I’m planning to get a rooster. This is not negotiable. I figure, if I get to live in the wilderness and go au natural, I should be allowed a rooster for my alarm clock. I am already up by five so the sound won’t bother me, and NOTHING can wake the others dead sleepers in my family, so they’ll be oblivious to any crowing. I love the sound, and I look forward to it. Really.

I’ll insist I get to name it too. My husband named the new dog. He named the stray cat we adopted when we moved here, and with my son, named the first dog we acquired. He and the kids even named the donkey – vetoing all my suggestions. He renamed his horse as well. Now that I think about it, he is a superior animal name hog!

Well, the rooster’s name is gonna be my call.  I’ll name him . . . well . . I haven’t given it much thought, but I will.


As Scarlet says, (another southern gal after my own heart), I’ll think about that tomorrow.

About Ginny East Shaddock

Ginny is the owner of Heartwood Yoga Institute. She is an ERYT-500 Yoga teacher, C-IAYT Yoga therapist, RCYT & Ayurveda Counselor who loves nature, gardening, and creative arts. She has an MFA in creative writing from Lesley University, and a BA in Business Administration from Eckerd College. She teaches writing and is the creator of the memoir writing program, "Yoga on the Page" combining the teaching of yoga to writing personal stories with integrity, intention, and heart.

One response »

  1. Bubba's Friend

    Vix,Think seriously about the rooster or perhaps go to Key West to check them out. They run wild there and crow at all times of the day and night. Gets mighty grating after a while……as for a name, how about “Cocky”??



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