Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Had a Bad Day

Yesterday started out like any other day. Woke up at 6. Kids up at 6:30. Make lunches. Kiss the kids as they run off to the bus-stop. Harmless.

It wasn't until 9:20 that things started going downhill. That's when I received an email that really chapped my hide (not from any of you). It wasn't bad news or anything terrible just a really annoying note that apparently set off a dreadful chain of events. This is what happened next:

At lunch time I went into my kitchen to make a sandwich. I had some leftovers that needed to be bagged so I opened the cupboard with all my plastic baggies and WHAM the cupboard door fell off it's hinges and careened to the floor landing on the end of my bare naked toe. Hooting and hollering I hopped around the house grabbing at my injured member trying to remember how to breathe and hoping I would still be able to walk.

(I took a handful of ibuprofen with my sandwich and spent the next 30 minutes fixing the cupboard door. It hadn't fallen off it's hinge after all; the screws had stripped out of the cupboard and the hinge came off. I had to repair the whole thing the same way I repaired my unhinged bathroom doors last spring. See that post for details)

I had to take it easy the rest of the day--not necessarily a bad thing--because of my hurt toe. When the kids got home from school I asked them to play outside so as not to mess up the house I'd been hobbling around cleaning all day. I sat down at my computer to work on a reply to the annoying email, order a birthday gift for my nephew online and do some research for an upcoming talk I'm giving in church.

At 4:45 the phone rang. It was Kirkham. I had forgotten to pick him up from after school program that ended at 4:30. I threw on my flip flops (tennis shoes hurt the toe), limped out to car and painfully drove to the school (it was my accelerator foot that contained the injured digit). I shamefully apologized to the teacher that had been standing outside with him.

Couldn't I just go to bed now? Nope, time for dinner.

The kids were laughing and playing in the backyard. The neighbor kids were over and they were taking turns chasing the dog around the yard and jumping on the trampoline. Everyone was having a great time.

I hopped down to the garage to grab a bag of tortillas out of the chest freezer: Bean and Cheese burritos tonight. After a little digging the tortillas were located when the giggles in the backyard turned to screams. Not playful screams. My heart pounded out of my chest as I knew that shrill, sharp chorus of wailing could mean only one thing. I dropped the lid of the freezer, threw down the tortillas and took the stairs three at a time ignoring the toe as best I could.

I nearly froze at the sliding glass door when I spotted the chaos of the backyard. The neighbor kid had his little brother by the hand and was shepherding him to the far corner. Afton and Cora, wide eyed and terror stricken, with tears streaming down their faces and shrieks flowing from the depths of their lungs were stumbling across the grass. Kirkham ran past me into the house with a sick pale face and red eyes. Heath was yelling at and chasing the big black streak, our 100lb Labrador, Moe, that was racing across the length of the garden with . . . . . . chicken feathers trailing behind him.

Chicken Feathers! I screamed, dropped my glasses, pushed through the girls and forgot all about ever having had hurt my toe. My chicken was firmly in the grasp of my dogs soft bite. I dashed across the yard, hurdled the rock wall and climbed the hillside. I dug through the mess of Laurel bushes where the dog was attempting to hide to make a meal of my pet. Heath and I got to him before he could shake the bird but he darted off again. The black beast burst out of the bush and landed on the lawn. The girls continued to scream. The neighbor boys had disappeared. Kirkham emerged from the house a towel over one shoulder and wielding a plastic woofle-ball bat in his hand. He lunged toward the dog who turned and made a bee-line for his kennel.

This was our chance. Once in the kennel we could close the door and gang up on him. We all realized this at the same time and sprinted to entrance of the 300 square foot fenced room. He knew he was done when he heard the gate close behind us but that dog didn't give up easy. Kirkham swung the bat at him screaming and demanding the animal "drop-it". Heath got a hand into his collar as the bird slipped from his slobbery mouth to the muddy ground. I tackled the dog as the collar broke from his neck; he was trying to get back at the bird that Kirkham was now crouching over. I grabbed his ears, his muzzle, swung a few punches, threw all my weight on the dog trying to buy the boys an extra second to whisk the beloved bird off to safety.

Kirkham gingerly held the bird in the towel as Heath locked the dog into his pen. Quiet. No more screaming, no more snarls, no birds singing, no bees humming. Just quiet and our heavy breathing. I looked into the faces of my four terrified children as they gazed hopefully upon the grey hen, Lucy. Her eyes were open, her breathing was paced.

I gathered her into my arms as we all huddled together to catch our breath. I couldn't stop shaking. We inspected her: no blood, no apparent broken bones, missing feathers, lots of dog slobber. We held her.

We talked about what happened. We talked about what might happen next, today, tommorow. We talked about further precautions we must take. Heath volunteered to build a more secure gate for the chickens. Kirkham threatened to not feed Moe for a week. The girls petted and spoke softly to the in-shock hen.

We all took a look at ourselves, covered in mud and scratches, bare feet caked in who knows what. When we could breathe again we made the hen comfortable in her house with her friend: gave her extra rations and more hay, then came inside to get cleaned up.

We ate our dinner, read stories and scriptures, said a few extra prayers for the chicken and ourselves, asked each other again and again, "are you doing ok?" It was sweet to see the children so concerned for each other. Kids went to bed early.

I was on my way to an early bedtime too, totally exhausted from the stress of the evening. My toe hurt again but was joined by a cacophony of additional pains. I now had a bruise on the bottom of my left foot where I landed on a large rock, a huge bump and bruise on my left knee, bruises and scrapes on my right shin and thigh, a thick sliver jammed deep into my right pointer finger, scratches on my arms and elbows and a scratch across my abdomen punctuated with a bruise in the center and right below my rib cage. I hoped my kids weren't as sore as I was. I took another handful of ibuprofen and headed down to do a load of laundry: the muddy clothes we had all shed after the incident.

I turned on the machine. The clothes started to tumble in the water. I stood there mesmerized reflecting on the day, wishing I could wash these memories out of my head when the machine started screaming. It was jammed. I turned it off and left it for tomorrow.


  1. Wow, that was entertaining to read!! I have some bad news for you Sloane said he had chickens and dogs when he was growing up and he says that once the dogs taste the blood of the chickens, they crave it and will NOT leave them alone after that. So make sure your dog doesn't taste the blood of those chickens. I hope you feel better soon!

  2. Poor thing...You, the kids, and the Lucy. I hope the Chicken recovers. I also hope that your poor bruised body heals quickly. Let me know if you need anything.


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