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Desperately seeking chickens (and a nanny)

April 24, 2008

I dream of having a flock of chickens and a view of horses in a rolling field that fades every morning into the mist. I crave a home conjured from the very ground that supports the foundation, and a garage to hide the car I want to ignore for days, weeks, months ….
I want to walk through a garden bursting with all the sustenance my family needs, and root through the undergrowth to find that perfect tomato.
This rural, self-sufficient lifestyle appeals to my inner Luddite, though I am a walking (and driving) contradiction. I dislike cooking, am not crazy about shoveling animal poop and can’t seem to grow edible vegetables, save some pock-marked zucchini.
My last home crop scared Soren off tomatoes entirely. I suppose something was up with the soil—those tomatoes were so acidic they made our mouths itch and burn.
But being an eternal optimist I figure I can learn how to raise chickens or grow a tomato that doesn’t frighten children, and if faced with the life I envision I’m certain I could find my Zen space near the manure pile.
I bet I could even grow to love cooking, although this would be best achieved if I didn’t have so much small “help” in the kitchen on a nightly basis.
A while back I vowed I would muscle through my aversion to food prep and cook a delightful and healthy meal the kids and I could all enjoy. We would bond as a family over my from-scratch culinary splendor, and I would find glory in something I despised. Though I was the sole adult in this undertaking—at the time my husband worked nights and slept through the dinner hour—I figured it couldn’t possibly be as difficult as I was anticipating.
In the end, when I finally collapsed in the dining chair to partake of my (by then cold) dinner, I decided that the experience was absolutely all it was cracked up to be: utter sanity-unraveling chaos. The house was too hot, the kids too loud, the requests for a “snack to tide me over” too frequent. I suffered through the organizational challenge of figuring out the order in which the food should be cooked, lest some of it be overdone, wanting everything to come out even, warm, healthy, and, above all, palatable.Despite my best efforts, a few items were done well before others and so, in the interest of making peace with the psychosis that permeated the house, I sent a few edibles toward the table to be picked at by passing children. I decided not to care. I tried to tune them out as they swooped around the table then back through my space to dart around my legs like so many little bats diving for bugs.
I kicked the dog out of the kitchen a few times and once tripped over a small leg. But I pushed through, determined, and when we were finally all seated … when the table was finally set and all the food was finally cooked … I caught a glimpse of my jeans.
What I saw didn’t initially compute. My pants, with which I felt I was fairly well acquainted, were … different. I stood up to get a better look. Someone, and I had a hunch I knew who (Graysen!), had “decorated” my jeans with a blue dry-erase marker while I was cooking. Big swooping circles ringed both of my legs and looped up to encompass my butt.
I was speechless, famished, and convinced. I knew then that I wouldn’t cook a notable meal in peace until the kids were grown and gone.
Nor sit down to one, apparently. Within five minutes of settling in to eat I noticed that Graysen was diligently stuffing green beans down his diaper—an apparent signal that he was done. Once released from the confines of his high chair he removed the vegetable-laden dipe, danced into the family room and promptly peed on the floor.
Like I said, I crave a flock of chickens … rolling horse-studded fields … gardens bursting with organic goodness. But despite the artistic nature of my miniature clothing designer (redesigner?) … despite the fact that this smallish moment in the flow of my life offered inspiration this much later … my dream now includes a personal chef and a nanny. Or two.

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