Monday, July 11, 2011

Up and down and all around

My summer has been too busy and it's making me cranky. I have piles upon piles of graphic design work, and while the projects are good, I am doing a piss-poor job of making time for my other creative pursuits, like writing and making art and just enjoying my farm. I refuse to live an unbalanced life, so I need to fix this now. We haven't even been kayaking yet this summer, which is something we need to rectify, pronto. 

Here's one of the jobs I've been working on. I am designing and typesetting a c. 250-page book for a local Glengarry seniors group, full of stories by people in and around Glengarry (I live in South Glengarry Township.) They already have a sequel book planned for next year, and this one's not even published yet! 

I am happy to do it for them, but it's lots of work and I need to ensure I stick to the deadline, as the book is being launched in October. I cannot have an entire book launch collapse because of me. I hand the files over to the printer at  the end of August. Today I finished typesetting page 209. Holy crap. Thank God for Adobe InDesign.

 Here is the cover I designed for the book:

A Story in Each of Us, being released in October. They've done a good job on it! Blood, sweat, and tears, and me turning 4,832, 936 dashes to en–dashes. Okay, that number might be a slight exaggeration.

I've also done a rack card for this summer's Heritage Celebrations this year in Williamstown, Ontario:

I spared you the French version on the reverse! If you're in the area in August, come see the War of 1812 Re-enactments. It's also the 200th anniversary of the Williamstown Fair this yea, August 5 to 7th. Come get your musket on!

I have turned into the Glengarry Rack Card Queen.  Where's my crown? I did this rack card for Wood Fair:

It's another great local event, being held at the Glengarry Pioneer Museum on August 20.

Right, enough tourist promo stuff.

Poor Kartini is sorely neglected on this blog, so I took a self-portrait with her today: 

I can't believe she is EIGHTEEN years old. But then, I can't believe I'm 47.

And here's a youngster:

This one was taken on July 1st but I haven't gotten around to posting it until now. The chicks have grown like weeds since then. Here's Gordon with one of his babies:

And now the "down" part. Last week, we realized two of our chickens, Charlotte (my favourite! She's a lap chicken.) and Claudia were ill.  Charlotte had a droopy comb and raspy breathing but was otherwise okay (no poop problems, no nasal discharge, clear eyes.) Poor Claudia was worse off, with a bad case of diarrhea. She keeled over in the chicken run and couldn't get back up. We called the local farm vet, and he prescribed antibiotics (powder you put into their water) for both of them. 

So we set up a chicken hospital on the front porch. Here's Charlotte today, looking relatively content:

Her comb is perking up, she's laying beautiful eggs (which we can't eat because of the antibiotics!), and she's energetic and engaged. But she still sounds like she's been chain-smoking Marlboros. Sigh...

Sadly, Claudia lost her battle this morning. Despite several days of TLC, a bath and blow-dry for her poopy butt, and antibiotics, she stopped eating and drinking yesterday. I knew it wasn't going to end well for her when she refused her favourite treat of yogurt. Still, she didn't seem to be suffering; she was weak but sleeping, so I decided to let nature run its course, which it did. She was two years old. I have seen enough people and animals die now that I recognize the universal signs of impending death. Claudia succumbed quietly in her little cage, next to Charlotte, who was no doubt disrepsectfully popping out an egg at the time.

We sat out there with the pair of them last night. Charlotte settled down on my lap getting for some cuddling. Claudia was too weak to come out of her cage, but something sweet happened. As Charlotte sat with us, she occasionally make a happy clucking noise. Every time she did so, Claudia made a sleepy  little purring noise back in response. I was not optimistic about her survival chances when I tucked them in for the night, but Claudia was still alive this morning. She was sleeping with her head tucked into her wing, but she didn't wake when I stroked her. I checked on her frequently and eventually came out to find that her little chicken spirit had left her body.

There's plenty of people out there who would think me an idiot for getting sad over a chicken dying, particularly since I'm not a vegetarian (but I'm getting there!) But I think the lives of all animals have value and deserve respect, and all animals, including farm animals, should be given the chance to live happy lives without cruelty being inflicted upon them. Even if they're going to end up on your dinner plate, you should show them kindness and meet their needs. They will reward you for that.

I have always had a deep bond with animals, ever since I was a lonely only child with divorced parents and a neglectful mother. For much of my life, animals have been the ones I could rely upon, the ones  who never let me down. I trusted animals more than humans. Fortunately that has changed and things have gotten better over the years; it helps to have a wonderful husband who would do anything for me. But animals still bring me great joy. 

So when my little chicken dies, one who made me laugh, and who so successfully fought off the attentions of the lecherous roosters that she was missing not a feather from her back or shoulders (unlike Chicky the Coop Slut!), I can't help but cry. Call me a bleeding heart city slicker; I don't care. I'm glad I have feelings for all the creatures on this planet. I would make an appallingly bad farmer and go bankrupt in no time! :)

Lord Gaga and Claudia out on an adventure together! Whenever a rooster tried to jump her, she slapped him to the ground and yanked out a beakful of his feathers.

 R.I.P. pretty Claudia. We'll miss you!

Meanwhile, the new Muscovy ducks are HUGELY amusing. And the drakes are total pervs. In fact, I found this fascinating Guardian article about their, ahem, unique appendages. I haven't gather the courage to watch the accompanying video yet.

Here's to all our furred and feathered (and bearded!) friends and family who make us smile.


  1. I love inDesign to!

    Sorry to hear about the chicken. It's amazing how a silly little bird can capture your heart.

  2. I'm sorry to hear about Claudia, Knatolee. I get it though...I really do. The only way I can explain it is that I can 'become them' for the moment and feel and understand what they are going through. They are what they are and they are perfect. We have to love that about every animal or there is sadly something lacking in us. May she rest in peace. Hugs, Deb

  3. Anonymous7:26 pm

    What a sweet tribute to your lovely Claudia. It's never wrong to have feelings for the other creatures on this Earth. They can teach us so much if we will only stop and listen.

    Your book looks wonderful--what a great project! I bet the seniors group is thrilled.

  4. Poor Claudia. But I think of the wonderful lives all your critters fact, in my next life I want to live in the chicken house. Hey, wait a minute, I'd move in there NOW if I could. All this to say, your animals are loved and they know it. Claudia had a good life with you. I'm just sorry she left so early.

  5. Wandering Cat, years ago I grew to hate Pagemaker. Then I grew to hate Quark Xpress. But I love InDesign!

    Deb, thanks. I know how you love animals and you said what I feel. Yes, "they are what they are and they are perfect." So true. Gordon is off giving Claudia a decent burial in our little farm creatures graveyard.

    TTPT, I really believe we can learn a lot from animals and even insects! And the seniors group is great to work with. They are very enthused, very grateful, and give me no hassles. :) Gordon has done free legal seminars for them too.

  6. Ronna, wait until you see the duck house. You might want to move in there instead!! :) Thank you for the comforting words. My Chicky was honoured to have you make a cake in her image. :)

  7. Anonymous9:41 pm

    I get it, Natalie. That's the worst part about having a pet. I bawled my eyes out over a parakeet once. I loved your tribute.

    What a beautiful book!

  8. Your story about Claudia really moved me. I have grieved for many animals in my life. You are right - they are all important.

  9. I'm sorry to hear about Claudia, I hope Charlotte is recovering well.

  10. Sorry about Claudia.

    With your tribute you make me cry,too.
    Animals will always have a huge place in my heart.

  11. I'm sorry that you lost Claudia. I know you love and adore all of your animals and that they are all part of your family.

    You are extremely busy and I can see how you can be stressing about deadlines. Your work looks fantastic. Best wishes on getting to the finish line...on time...which I know you will!

  12. Lovely tribute to Claudia.
    Don't ever stop caring for all the animals of this earth. I know I won't. They bring us such joy, and I learn from them everyday.
    RIP Claudia. I know you had a great life at the farm with your humans and animal pals!

  13. I had a lot to say about this post but then I watched the video... I have NEVER seen appendages like thse. I feel the need to write some pervy haikus...

  14. I am very sorry to hear about Claudia,

  15. Anonymous3:25 pm

    RIP Claudia. You were a good Chicken. Always willing to step up to the nesting box, and lay an egg when an egg was needed.



  16. Lucky Claudia! She had a great life surrounded by love and comfort. She's been immortalized through photos and haikus. In sickness, she had the best care till the end. She was not just an anonymous chicken, confined to a coop to give eggs. She was known and admired by all of us. And she'll never be forgotten.

    Time to rest, sweet little bird. You've done good in your life. And you made people happy. Be at peace in your Paradise. And sing a happy song.

  17. Congratulations for your beautiful work, Knat.

  18. Anonymous4:20 pm

    Coincidentally, I drove through Glengarry yesterday (the one in Scotland, which we call the real one :)

  19. Andrew, they're a buncha Scottish wannabes around here!

  20. Claudia, that was beautiful. Thank you!

  21. CogDis, they all worm their way into our hearts!

    Thanks Evlyn!

    LBM, Charlotte is back in the coop, being molested by roosters!

    Willie, thank you! I hate it when we lose our pets.

    Paula, I'll get stuff done. I hate working to deadline at the last minute and try to plan my time accordingly. I never pulled all-nighters in university. :)

    Elisabeth and Jams, thanks, and Jams, I think I am afraid of my drakes... :)

  22. I am sorry about Claudia. I know I'm late to read this post, but I'm still crying. I always cry when we lose a chicken. And I always bury them.

    Did Charlotte's raspy breathing get better? I wonder what happened? You're lucky the other chickens didn't catch it.

    I love animals, too, and cannot kill anything. I suck at being a farmer. I take bugs outside and set them free.

    I see so much honesty in the eyes of the raccoon, and see so much happiness in the thoughts of the little deer that play in our yard. I watch the mama deer as they watch over their fawn. I see the hens protecting their chicks, it's amazing to me. Animals never cease to amaze me. Each one of them has thoughts, desires, ideas, even if they are silly little thoughts. When we lose one it always makes me sad...

    Hugs to you...

    PS - I'm rally confused about hyphens and dashes, en dashes and em dashes now... I never knew these things even existed... I have so much to learn!!!

  23. Thank you Lynn! It's nice knowing I have kindred spirits out there. :)


Thank you for all your comments, which I love to read!