Do you ever feel the notion to write when you are in the middle of a project that you cannot leave? Do thoughts of writing constantly bubble forth in your mind – the weaving and unraveling of a story or tale that you have a need to tell? These things happen to me all of the time. I often find myself in the middle of a task that must be done, while my mind is flooded with thoughts and ideas about blog posts I long to write. Stories about what I am living or experiencing from day-to-day itch to find their way to my keyboard. But sadly, I push on with the day’s work and the evening’s activities, and nary a word is written down.
Oh, I know what the underlying problem is. I am wearing too many hats and have too many irons in the fire. Of course I have no one to blame but myself, as this is the way I often set myself up each day. I have operated in this manner since I was a young girl, always taking pleasure from being busy and productive. I have always felt a great sense of pride in seeing all that I accomplish in a day. But I am not a young girl anymore, and it is quite apparent that I cannot keep up the physical work and constant juggling of so many tasks. Managing this comes down to deciding which hats to keep and which ones I must put away for a while.
One hat I know I cannot put down anytime soon is my squirrel-mamma hat – you know, the furry one, with the fuzzy, long tail. And, since taking in 2-week-old squirrels, Buddy and Francesca, I have diligently worn that hat while keeping to their feeding schedule of every three to four hours. A typical feeding session actually amounts to about thirty minutes per squirrel, including the time it takes them to finish their formula, and for me to stimulate their “parts” with a cotton ball to encourage the “elimination” process. Basically, caring for these two babies takes up about five hours of my day! And, quite frankly, it has come to the point now where I feel like I have been running a squirrel day care center since last August, when we took in orphaned squirrels, Punkin and Mr. Gambini. Happily, those two are finally off on their own and have been doing quite well for themselves since late February, though they often stop by the back porch to beg a pecan or two. But the new squirrels, Buddy and Francesca, will have to remain under our care until late June or July.
And then there is the Chin-mamma hat that I wear, and caring for our indoor dogs is beginning to make more of a dent in my day as well. Mr. T, the ten-year-old youngster of the trio and also the largest in size, is socially inept. He is afraid of people… well, except for my mother-in-law who he seems to passionately dislike! Every day seems to be a new day for Mr. T. He regularly gets confused and sometimes mistakes even FD or I for an intruder or stranger. He submissive urinates on himself if someone approaches him too quickly. He is missing most of his teeth, so his food must be small enough for him to gob down with his gums. And he is afraid of tile flooring or any other surface that appears slick or has little or no traction. Often, I must carry him up and down steps as he flat refuses to attempt them on his own. He is insecure about anything new or out of place. Yes, Mr. T requires a love and understanding that not many people would take time or have the patience to offer.
Next is Zoe, our smallest Japanese Chin, who is eleven years old. She is my little ranch hand, always by my side whenever I am working outdoors. Long ago, Zoe injured one of her eyes when, on a wild, ranch-style romp around the front yard, she ran headlong into a tree. Unfortunately, this was not an injury my vet felt he could help with, so now, besides applying ointment to her eye twice a day to keep the pressure down, I have to take Zoe to an animal ophthalmologist in Oklahoma City twice a year for checkups. If this was not enough, Zoe now requires arthritis medicine once a day for her old and aching joints. And yes, this means I also haul her up and down steps when we go outside, as she is often not able to manage them herself.
Which brings us to Bear, our middle-sized Chin who is also eleven years old. Bear was recently diagnosed with “Atlanto-Axial-Subluxation“, which is a painful condition of the neck vertebrae. The treatment for this is that Bear must be kept quiet and not allowed to be overly active – like jumping up on furniture or roughhousing with Mr. T and Zoe. Fortunately, it was not difficult for us to adjust Bear’s activities to this restriction, since we had already been limiting his activity for several years, due to suffering occasional seizures that seemed to be triggered by high-intensity activities like running or playing hard. Keeping him calm seemed to help, but the seizures have recently begun again, so I have resolved to putting him on phenobarbital – adding two more pills to my daily distribution of pharmaceuticals. So come one, come all! And welcome to our wildlife rehabilitation center (Buddy and Francesca) and canine nursing home (Bear and Zoe) and assisted living center (Mr. T)!
Of course the arrival of spring weather has awakened my desire to get out in the garden and my flower beds. I look longingly at my gardener’s hat with each day that comes and goes, but I have not been able to put more than a hand spade in a patch here and there to do a little weeding. All of my bedding plants sit in their little individual pots, awaiting the day I can get them in the ground. And, not surprising, with the warmer weather and spring rains, the lawn has already required mowing. That will soon be a weekly chore that I cannot let slide or I pay the price later!
After we took on the responsibility of raising Francesca and Buddy, I began to feel the weariness that comes with too many interruptions in my schedule. My outdoor work activity is continually cut short or is completely discarded because of the limitations the squirrel feeding process puts on my time. Added to this, lunch and dinner preparations also interfere with my outdoor work time, or the outdoor work activity cuts into my food preparation and cooking time. With each new day, I found myself constantly organizing everything around the squirrel-feeding schedule. Needless to say, it was not long before I became disillusioned and resentful.
So it should be no surprise that I was a little perturbed yesterday when it became apparent that I would have to make time to take Bear to the veterinarian once again. It had only been two weeks since I had taken him for his annual checkup, and I had inquired about his eyes being irritated at that time. The vet suggested Bear was likely just suffering from the effects of springtime allergies. That diagnosis made sense to me, since I myself had struggled with a sinus infection for a few weeks due to the dry conditions and high tree pollen count. But now it was obvious that Bear had developed an infection in his eyes that was not improving.
Once again taking the twenty-mile drive to the veterinary clinic and thinking about the giant expense the dog’s care had become so far this year, I was not very keen on paying for another office visit charge and still more medication. I knew these expenses were simply due to conditions that come with aging, the costs of various medications, annual exams and shots, and frequent blood work to make sure the medications were not having adverse effects, but they sure were beginning to add up! Still, when Doc told me Bear’s tear ducts had completely quit producing tears, and he had been suffering dry eye discomfort and pain for at least two weeks, I felt like I had completely failed as his caretaker. I could not imagine having dry eyes for that long. It was no wonder he had not been able to open his eyes the last few days. So, for his treatment, Bear and I went home with a $60, tiny tube of ointment the equivalent of human Restasis. This will have to be applied to Bear’s eyes two times a day, every day, for the rest of his life.
On the drive home from the veterinary office, I happened to notice a hawk sitting on a nest in a tree near the highway. Each year in the spring, before the tree leaves obscure the nest from sight, I marvel at the pair of hawks that raise their young in this same nest so close to this busy highway. “If only I would remember to bring my camera on these trips!”, I thought, and soon found myself composing a blog post in my mind… “Hawks of the Highway”. But something more important began to speak to me about the patience and diligence of the female hawk. I could not imagine the hours and days that female sits quietly on her nest, caring for her eggs and protecting them with great diligence. I realized her job as caretaker will not be finished until her young are finally ready to flee the nest. And even then, she must still teach them the hunting skills they will need to survive on their own. Only after she has finished the parenting of her young, will she be able to resume her life as an ordinary hawk.
I thought about my own role as caretaker, and how the next few years might change up my pace a bit. I might not get to the gardening like I have in the past. My crops may be planted late and they may not produce as well, but maybe it will all work out just fine anyway. I may have to juggle my schedule at times, depending on what wild orphan I might be raising. The meals I prepare for FD and myself might not be elaborate or particularly interesting, but we will get by. And I know someday, when I no longer have aging dogs to care for, I will be glad that I gave them good lives, delivered with caring hands and a loving heart. And that will be a hat I will always be proud to have put on my head, and I will be thankful for the experience it brought.
And finally, there is my writer’s hat. This is a hat I really never take off, but only reluctantly cover with my caretaker and gardening hats. My thoughts about blog posts and book ideas will keep reminding me that, as a writer, I have something important to share, even though I may not be prompt or regular with blog posts. Yes, my writer’s hat is one I could never part with… even when I have too many irons in the fire.
© 2015 Day by Day the Farm Girl Way…