A Kentucky Visit From St. Nick

Sitting up in a rainstorm waiting for my husband to get home from his late shift, two nights before Christmas, three days after this rain started…rainonglass text

Two nights before Christmas, when all through the land, rainstorms were pounding; it was getting out of hand. Umbrellas were propped beside the front door, dripping all over Mom’s Christmas-cleaned floor. The children were nestled all snug in their beds, while wind howled outside and rain pounded overhead. And mamma in her Wellies and I in my cap, were bringing in the dogs from one final lap.

Then out on the lawn there arose such a clatter, we ran to the window to see what was the matter.   There at the window we saw a bright flash, and tore open the shutters and threw up the sash. We had no Christmas snow, but there were quite a few puddles, and there we found eight reindeer in a soggy, tired huddle.

“Why are you here?” I asked a sopping old elf, who stood with a sleigh and shook rain off himself.

“Trial run,” he said sadly, “but we didn’t count on the storm. Now we’re trapped in your back yard and can’t get into flying form.”

For a moment we stared and didn’t know what to do, and then my so-clever wife suggested the canoe. Nick laughed in that moment, his eyes—how they twinkled. His dimples, how merry! His cheeks were like roses, his nose like a cherry. His red hat and gloves, they dripped with the rain, and water ran down his beard like it headed down a drain.

“I’ll be back for this,” he called as he unhitched the sleigh and hitched up the deer to the boat the same way. “If you worry about your neighbors, you’ve got nothing to fear. By morning you won’t even know I was here.”

He sprang to the canoe and gave his team a whistle, and away they all flew like the down of a thistle. But I heard him exclaim as he hit the dark mist, “Kentucky in the winter—I will never get the gist.”



So, this is one of those most embarrassing moments posts.  Except nobody would know a thing about it except I’m posting it.  Which makes me a little bit crazy, because I HATE to be embarrassed.  I’m the invisible woman.  Really, when I attend an event, my goal–my whole entire goal–is to enter and exit without a soul knowing I was there.  Shameful but true. Not looking to be the life of any party.

That’s neither here nor there, though. This is all about a skewer.

Right now, I teach a pottery class at my house on Tuesday evenings.  This week the students were going to glaze, so I rearranged the room a bit, moving jars of tools to the glazing shelves and the brushes and glaze samples to the table.  The students came, and we started to glaze.

At this point I realized I needed to grab a jar of glaze from the bottom shelf.  I leaned down, forgetting I’d put a jar of tools on the top shelf, forgetting the jar had a very long wooden skewer sticking out into the room, point out.  I forgot until the dumb thing was lodged in my head.

Yes, I’d leaned over, and the skewer sort of skewered me.  I jerked upright, which knocked over the entire jar, and I grabbed the wood, which was rather stuck in my head, and pulled it out.  It had hit me in the temple, up in my hairline, and I decided to pretend this had never happened.

So, for the next few minutes I nonchalantly pressed my fingers against my head, which was bleeding quite nicely, and I helped people glaze.  At some point I felt a little queasy, not because this was a huge injury–it really wasn’t–but because I realized I had STABBED myself with a SKEWER and that’s just…disconcerting.

Eventually pottery class was over; the students went home; and I applauded myself for keeping the whole skewer thing to myself, because really, who wants to take a class from a teacher who stabs herself in the head with her tools?

Needless to say, by this time my head hurt.  Every time I leaned forward I felt my pulse at the wound, but I also kept bursting into near-hysterical laughter, because who does these things?  One of my sons asked what was wrong, and honestly I couldn’t tell him with a straight face.  I had to go to bed early so I could lie back, but that didn’t really help, either.  Sort of a ridiculous night.

The question is really what would have happened if I’d admitted I was bleeding and excused myself for a moment to mop blood off my head and maybe take an ibuprofen after I hurt myself?  Why was I so afraid to be human?  It’s okay not to be the invisible woman, and being a little bit embarrassed isn’t really the end of the world.  I’m pretty sure the students wouldn’t have packed up and gone home that minute.  And even if they’d laughed–they’d probably have waited until after I finished bleeding to be polite–it wouldn’t have killed me.

This summer I’m taking a few risks.  Risks with my writing.  Risks with my art.  And I know I need a slightly thicker skin if I’m going to succeed.  (Ouch, the painful but unintended pun.)  The ability to laugh at myself will be vital.  So, this is my first step in that direction.    I’m human.  I’ll flub things sometimes.  It won’t be the end of me.

As long as I am careful not to skewer myself in the head again, I think I’ll be just fine.

Chicken Mornings

It’s been forever since I wrote a blog, mostly because I was much too serious in my blogs, and I was driving myself insane.  I mean, I’m a mom.  I am way too good at lecturing and all too aware of how easily I am ignored when I am in lecturing mode.  So, no more lectures and a little more reality.

This morning opened with a nice little dose of reality.  As a background, I have to tell you I’m one of those urban chicken people.  Have been since March.  I try to pretend I live on a farm by owning a few chickens and growing a few tomatoes, although I really live in the suburbs and would starve in a week if I had to grow my own food.

This morning I was wakened just before dawn by a chicken. I listened for a moment and tried to pretend I was hearing a crow.  But it wasn’t a crow.  No, it was definitely a chicken.  As I am rather terrified of bothering my neighbors, especially before dawn, I slipped on my shoes and trekked out in the dark to the coop.

There I was met by a lone chicken, standing in her run, clucking as loud as a chicken can cluck, and they can cluck loudly.  She was lit by a dusk-to-dawn lamp in my neighbor’s yard, and when she saw me she didn’t stop clucking. I don’t usually lock them in the coop because my husband works second shift and we sleep a little later than chickens like to sleep, and when they are locked in their coops all morning they cry.   This morning I was pondering the wisdom of that decision.

She had enough food, so I stepped into the run, which is currently a mud pit, to check her water.  As I did so, I almost ran headlong into an enormous spider web inhabited by an enormous garden spider.  Remember it is still nearly dark, and I’d just walked through a patch of trees to get out here, and I am now imagining that I will be attacked by spiders all the way back to the house. I had a good case of the heeby jeebys at this point, and I rather hated chickens.

But the chicken had water.  I pulled up a few stalks of flowering crabgrass, which is a favorite of my birds, tossed that in, and still, this hen is letting me know in her loudest voice that I haven’t solved her problems yet.

Here is where my soft urban core starts to show, for I begin speaking to said bird in my most soothing voice, trying to talk it into being quiet.  This is followed by shushing noises and the sinking feeling that I am going to have a neighbor on my doorstep later in the day screaming at me, which to my introverted self is worse than having to eat glass.

At last, I determined the chicken’s problem.  With a loud cluck and a soft thud, another chicken woke up and fluttered out of the coop, and the first hen began to peck happily at the food in her bowl.  She was lonely, but now that someone else was up, all was well.

I was still outside in the dark with two large trees I just knew were filled with attack spiders between me and the house, so I turned and walked slowly and silently forward, my hand outstretched to make sure I didn’t get a spider in the face, and I ducked low into the door, because sometimes webs cover the top of the doorway, and I stood in the house a moment in the dark and wondered why I couldn’t just be a happy suburbanite like everyone else.  Wouldn’t I rather be a soccer mom than a farmer wannabe?

I climbed back to bed, and eventually I returned to sleep, oversleeping and starting my day late.  The hen is quite happy now, as her whole little flock is awake and scratching around with her.  Personally, I’m thinking she’d make great soup, but I’m a soft-hearted urban chicken gal, so likely I’ll never be able to turn any of them into soup, which will cause its own host of problems down the road.

Dreams are good.  But some days I think perhaps dreams on paper are much wiser than trying to make due when they can’t be realized.  And if I do ever get my dream farm, away from my neighbors, I vow happily to ignore all chicken noises before dawn.  Lonely chickens can fend for themselves.