Friday, July 29, 2011

At the Hen House

The Tree Hugger and I drove to our cabin in Ohio last weekend. Halfway through our nine-hour drive, the temperature hit 103.

No threatening tornadoes during the weekend, as we'd had in June.  Just several end-of-the-world rainstorms. On Saturday afternoon, we stopped at Roman's house. Roman is the Amish man who built our cabin six years ago. A falling branch ripped a hole in the cedar siding last February, cracking the wallboard and knocking a kitchen cabinet askew. After assessing the damage, Roman sent an estimate to the insurance company. The check arrived just before we left for Ohio. We needed to tell him about it, but  he has no phone. So we stopped at his farm.

Roman's family was about to have a cookout to celebrate Gary's birthday. Gary is their "English" neighbor. He, or more often, his answering machine, takes messages for Roman.  Roman also uses Gary's phone for occasional calls. Roman was in the shower. Two small boys, each pushing adult-size mowers, were cutting the grass. One of the girls had just laid a rack on the grill, which was ready for dozens of hamburgers. Esther, Roman's good-natured wife, chided her duaghter gently for placing the rack upside down. Then she said, "Oh, well, I guess we'll just use it like that." 

While Phil was waiting to talk with Roman, I watched ten or eleven red hens strut around in their grassy pen, pecking at bugs. The air was heavy. Three little brown birds flew out of a small opening at the base of the hen house. Could any of these plump dowagers squeeze through that narrow door? What would happen if they panicked and all tried to get in at once? Lightning was flashing in the sky and thunder was muttering in the distance. Suddenly, directly overhead, BOOM!  

One of the larger hens registered a brief look of surprise. She stopped pecking, stood upright, elongating her neck. Her beady eye widened momentarily. The others kept on pecking. There was no hoped-for squawk!, no scramble for the henhouse.  What a disappointment!

Then it was time to go. All eight of Roman and Esther's well-behaved children lined up quietly on the porch, watching us drive away.  We were a few miles down the road when the cloudburst hit. I wonder what the chickens did then. 

Monday, July 18, 2011


If there's one word that captures the Japanese spirit, it's "ganbatte." Pronounced "gahn-baht-tay," it means "persevere!', even when things are going against you. People say it to a student studying for exams, to an out-of-breath cyclist struggling to reach the top of the hill, to a figure skater who's fallen for the 20th time while perfecting her double axel. The Japanese admire a the person who just keeps  going, no matter what.

The Japanese women's soccer team displayed the spirit of "ganbatte" yesterday. During the first part of the match, the Americans looked strong. But the plucky Japanese team came from behind. I am happy for them. After the earthquake, the tsunami, and Fukushima, they needed something like this to lift their spirits.

We had a neighbor, a native of Japan, a medical doctor who researched retroviruses at Walter Reed Army Hospital.  He was a gentle person, very shy and reserved. Every day he'd take his scruffy-looking mutt, "Whiskers," for a walk. He held his head high and moved with quiet dignity, as if he were leading the Emperor's horse. My husband would say, "There goes the 'samurai dog-walker' again."

Tatsuo admired perseverance. Long after our daughter grew up, he'd marvel at her determination in learning  to ride her two-wheeler at age seven. "She'd fall off, but she'd get back on again and again."

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Hope-to-Win Situation

Just read a fascinating interview with Ira Wangler on the blog, Mr. Wagler is the author of a memoir called Growing Up Amish. Six copies of the book are being given away. My chances of winning a copy are said to increase if I mention the book on my blog (done!) and mention it on Facebook.  I don't really like Facebook, but I guess I can get on long enough to mention the book and improve my chances. 

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Win-Win Situation

Thanks to our community listserve, I was able to recoup some of the money we spent on the "costly mistake" I wrote about on June 7th. I advertised my special-order room-darkening honeycomb shades online. Within a few days, I had a buyer!  She travels a lot on business and sometimes needs to sleep during the day.  "Room-darkening" was just what she wanted. Meanwhile, we ordered new shades. I got the "airy and cheerful" look I was after and she got better daytime sleep.