Saturday, May 21, 2011

Animals vs. Plants

Baa...the bleating of sheep made me sit up with a start! It was too loud and too close. But I didn't think too much about it, took my time getting up and dressed and mosied into the kitchen to put on the coffee pot. The "Baa" had been my alarm clock a full 20 minutes before I intended to get up so I wasn't too happy. The coffee would do the trick and finish the task of waking me up.

But one look out the sliding glass door and my boots were on and I was out the door, forgetting all about coffee and anything else. I didn't even think to grab a jacket. The sheep and goats had somehow escaped their pen and were munching on garden goodies. Oh no!

I quickly chased them back toward their pen wondering how they had escaped since half the herd was still inside.

A quick call to my daughter, the owner of the herd brought her running with a bucket of feed and she was able to bribe them back into the pen. We all decided that they didn't like the grass in the pasture area they had been given the previous night. With the help of cattle panels, my daughter had set up a movable, portable sheep/goat pen and was pasturing the herd on the steep sides of the dam where goats and sheep do a better job of mowing than we can manage to do ourselves.

When all was under control, I did a quick survey of the damage to the garden. Apparently they had just discovered it only minutes before I found them since only a few leaves had been nibbled from places that were unimportant. Whew!

The whole incident reminded me of the time when John was young. He had decided to raise geese. He invested in a large basin so they would have plenty of water, built a fence that he thought would contain them, etc. They were beautiful white creatures. Then one day they escaped and he found them chowing down on his orchids, and other plants. I'm sure they had been planning their attack for some time since they could see the plants enticing them from not too far away. They quickly became dinner the very next day. His plants were too important to him to sacrifice them to the geese.

I'm not sure what we're going to do about the sheep and goats. They are definitely NOT going to become dinner. A fence around the garden as well as a better fence around them is on the horizon.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Unforgettable Mother's Day

There have been many Mother's Days in my lifetime so far but there is one that is and always has been unforgettable. That was the Mother's Day my son John took me out for lunch. I don't recall that he had ever done that before or that he ever did it again. I'm sure that's what made it so unforgettable.

The time that has passed has erased many of my memories of that day. For instance, I don't remember why it was just the two of us, although I think the reason for my solo trip to the States was my father's funeral. Lots of memories are "floating around" in the back of my mind and I can't seem to put them all together in a coherent manner.

What I do remember is that John and I went to church together in Madison. Afterward he suggested that we go out to eat. He had just finished his freshman year of college and didn't have much extra. In fact, he didn't have any extra money. His grandfather faithfully sent him a small amount of spending money each month, but that had to go a long way. The fact that he was willing to take me out to eat for Mother's Day spoke volumes to me. Then began our search for an appropriate eating place - one that was not too expensive and not too crowded. After much deliberation he finally chose a Chinese restaurant; something we both enjoyed.

I don't remember anything else about the meal or the restaurant. I think the food was so-so and the atmosphere ok. What made it special was being together with John.

After lunch, neither of us felt like going "home" since my home was in Brazil and his was now Wheaton College. I don't even remember exactly where we were staying at the time. So we decided to go to the Madison Arboretum. It was a gorgeous spring day, perfect for exploring the arboretum and explore we did. He and I explored things at a matching pace. If I had gone to the arboretum with just about anyone else, they would not have taken the time to read all the signs, stop to watch the chipmunks, birds, other wildlife, or look at the unique plants and flowers that were in bloom. Maybe that's what made the day so memorable. Only John and I went at the same pace when it came to exploring things like arboretums.

The day stands out in my memory like no other Mother's Day. When John was in grade school he had made a Mother's Day card for me that said simply, "I like my mom. She does stuff with me." That Mother's Day John did stuff with me. No gift, no card, just doing "stuff" together.

This Mother's Day probably won't be unforgettable. I'll just be doing "stuff" with my other two kids, my grandson and my husband who are still with me and enjoying every minute of it. And that's the way John would want it.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Zealous and Zoo What?

I got way behind on posting this last entry of the A to Z Blogging Challenge due to garden work and then thunder storms that required keeping our computers off for the weekend. So here goes for the last entry. I was going to write on Zealous and I will post just a short paragraph about that word and then move onto a fun word I discovered in the dictionary.

My first choice of a Z word was zealous since that describes John to a T. It means to be full of, characterized by, or due to zeal;  ardently active, devoted, or diligent. Normally we think of the word zeal used in the context of religion, or a specific cause. In thinking about my son, zealous could describe just about any activity he engaged in. But he wasn't the type to choose many things to occupy his time. There were just a few things that he was truly zealous about; his relationship with God, his studies, orchids, biking and tropical fish. What are you zeaous about?

Now for the fun word: Z is for Zoo Doo. Yep! It's really an entry in the dictionary. This is going to be fun! The dictionary definition of zoo doo is: compost made from the dung of zoo animals.

When I saw this word, it reminded me of something that happened to me one time in Brazil many years ago. The circus was in town and I had heard that zoo doo was really good for the garden. However, I would have to get some of the zoo animal manure; especially elephant manure, in order to make some. So some friends and I jumped into a pickup truck and went down to the circus to ask for some.

Keep in mind that we hadn't been in Brazil for all that long and I was still working on becoming proficient in Portuguese. We finally found someone who seemed to be caring for the animals so we thought he would be a good candidate to ask about the elephant manure. In my best Portuguese I said what I thought was, "Do you think I could have a load of elephant manure for my garden?"

The response was a rather puzzled look on the man's face. He looked back and forth from me to the pickup truck, to the elephant and continued to seem puzzled. I thought maybe he hadn't heard me or hadn't understood me so I asked again, slightly rephrasing my question.

Finally, after a long hesitation he said, "Well, ma'am, I don't think the elephant is going to fit in your pickup truck!"

We've had many a good laugh at my expense over this! To this day, I have no idea what I really said. (FYI: I did get a load of elephant manure and it made lovely zoo doo.)