Hours, Days, Seasons, Chickens

Autumn 2008 saw us settling into an agreeable, albeit chaotic, routine around the Doughty homestead. 

Jasmine was now 17 and a high school junior, busy with friends, school, friends, band, and friends.  Tristan was settling into the second grade at our neighborhood school, having found several good buddies of his own and even a girlfriend.  Mr. Bubby was branching out, too.  We had found a daycare right across the street from Jasmine’s high school, itself only about a quarter mile down the road from my work.  Jaz would walk over after school and hang out with Bubby and his “wife” Lucy (I swear sometimes they looked just like Archie Bunker and Edith) and the other kids at daycare until I got off work, picked up Tristan, and then swung by the daycare before we all headed home.  

The boys’ mom had set us up on Skype before she left for Afghanistan, so we were able to talk to her that way, as well as via telephone and, of all things, Facebook.  Our middle daughter, Misty, had recently set up a Facebook account for me (thank you, Misty!) and I used it to post countless pictures of the boys so their mom could see what we were doing each day.

We did not watch or listen to the news during that time; rather, we attempted to stay in the moment as best we could.  The anxiety we all felt knowing our daughter/mother/sister was in Afghanistan was offset by daily adventures and milestones. 

One particular celebration I remember was when Gig and Clucky, now around six months old and chicks no longer, started to lay eggs.  Gigi was first, with her smallish, brown speckled eggs.  It took Clucky a while longer to figure things out, but she finally got the hang of it.  Her eggs were pinkish – easily distinguished from Gigi’s, so we could always  tell who was laying where or if one of them skipped a day.

We marked the occasion by baking a special “Chicken Cake” with those first few eggs.

Another memorable occasion was the clear fall day when we carved jack-o-lanterns on the patio, with Gigi and Clucky wandering through our legs, pecking the pumpkin seeds out of the pulp being slung everywhere.

 

That year, Tristan dressed up as Harry Potter for Halloween and Bubby was Yoda.  The next year, in 2009, we would go with an entirely Star Wars theme, per Tristan’s request — Clucky made a cameo appearance as the Death Star, Tristan was Boba Fett, Bubby was Yoda again (hey, the costume still fit), and their mom, having just returned safely from Afghanistan, was Princess Leia.

When a U.S. Marine goes out in public dressed up as Princess Leia, you know she’s happy to be home.

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Chickens of Literature, Old and New

Our granddaughter Daelynn turns one year old this week.  Books were suggested as a gift, so off to the bookstore I went.  There I found Ed’s Egg, a sweet picture book written by David Bedford and illustrated by Karen Sapp, from London-based QED Publishing.  I was hooked from the first page:  “Ed loved being an egg.”  Little Ed’s reluctance to leave the safety of his egg is endearing (I feel like that every Monday morning–don’t we all?) and it doesn’t hurt that the ginormous mother hen bears more than a passing resemblance to our own Clucky J. Cluckington.  All in all, a quirky but tender story that I hope Dealynn (and her parents) will enjoy.

If you grew up in the 1970’s, or your parents did, you probably remember the book Animals Should Definitely Not Wear Clothing by Judi and Ron Barrett.  Iconic (and sometimes troubling) illustrations in lime green and pink detail many potential mishaps, and may very well have led to my lifelong predilection for visualizing worst-case scenarios.  The text is written with tongue firmly in cheek — for example, “because it might make life hard for a hen” (left), and the authors’ bio page, which states that the Barrett’s “both firmly believe that animals should definitely not wear clothing, except for an occasional dog coat on below freezing days.  This is where they draw the line.”  The Barretts also created Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs, an all-time favorite read-aloud book in the Doughty household through three daughters, two grandsons, and various neices and nephews.  And someday, when she is a little older, Daelynn.

 


Move over, chickens…

Summer 2008 -- Clucky, Tristan, and Gigi at the back door

The dynamics of the Doughty homestead changed dramatically in the summer of 2008, when our two grandsons, Tristan and Darian (a/k/a Mr. Bubby) came to live with us for a year while their mom—our oldest daughter Amanda, a single mom and U.S. Marine—was deployed in Afghanistan.

Tristan, seven years old at the time, had to leave his dog, Aspen, and cat, Ginger, behind in North Carolina (although he did bring Spike, a sweet little white mouse).  He was eager to make friends with Clucky and Gigi.  Busy by nature (aren’t all boys that age?), Tristan was patient and gentle with The Gals as they got to know him.

One of Tristan’s favorite activities that summer was to collect leaves, flowers, and seeds from the backyard and concoct elaborate potions, which he would leave as offerings for Gigi.

Gigi seemed pleased.

Mr. Bubby, then only one year old, shared some similar interests with the chickens — primarily a love of crackers.  Clucky and Gigi were often spied trying to sneak in the back door while Bubby was occupied in his high chair, manufactuaring and dispersing copious amounts of cracker crumbs.

Bubby would also have involved and animated conversations with the chickens.

Sure would like to know what they were talking about…


Home Movies

Two of my favorites…