Monday, July 10, 2017

Winter days at the farm


As we bore through the heart of mid-winter, lots of things have to be done.

My sister married last year, an American from North Carolina.  Everyone asks me where they are going to live, but I have no answer.  At the moment, Julie and Gene are dividing their time between US and Australia, trying to fit in various commitments to the satisfaction of both sides. 

So I'm a bit busy, keeping an eye on her farm (farmlet if you want to be precise) -- I have help feeding the livestock most days, but it takes a bit of time buying feed, making sure the house is secure, and keeping the cats company for an hour or two.

Days when I am feeding, I go over twice a day and go in the front door.  Change into boots and go out the back door.   Start with going into the hen house and feeding the chickens;  check for any eggs.   Then go down to the creek and feed the ducks and geese, a noisy business.

After that I go across the creek and feed the horses - the big one Shadow and the miniature breed Trouble - before I hike up the hill in the back paddock with a carrot for Rosie, the donkey who lives next door.  This isn't too bad if it hasn't just rained, it can be pleasant with the sun on your back and a slight breeze blowing down Lenah Valley.  But I always take the hiking stick that Julie brought back from NC for me.

Then, carefully cross the creek and back to the house.   By the time I feel ready for a cup of tea or coffee, to be consumed while I keep the cats company for a while.  Silk likes to go outside afterwards;  Kes prefers to remain indoors, but she is almost 22 years old so that's quite reasonable.

And in the evening, repeat.  With the main difference that I lock the chickens up instead of letting them out into the run.  And I will probably watch the news on Julie's television set, since I don't own a working TV myself at home.

So the time ticks away, and one day I look at the calendar and notice to my surprise that they will be returning in less than two weeks.

And just when I'd got into a routine...

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Robert W. Chambers revisited

Felt a bit better today, less tired and not as dizzy.  No appointments today for a change, so spent the afternoon quietly at home listening to music and re-reading Robert W. Chambers' short story "The Repairer of Reputations."

I had not read Chambers since my teenage years, and I had forgotten nearly all of it.  [Spoilers ahead!]  It is narrated by a troubled man in what was then the near future, and some parts of the story don't seem to add up.  But the first time you read the story you shrug that off, figuring that you'll eventually work out what is going on.

When I was younger, I was slightly baffled by the story and did not appreciate Chambers' artfulness in showing us everything through the eyes of an unreliable narrator.  In fact, you realize after a few pages, we are hearing a tale told to us by a madman  -- nobody and nothing he describes are likely to be true. 

The story was first published in the 1895 collection THE KING IN YELLOW and has achieved a new life through being referenced in recent movies and television shows.   I suspect, though, that readers who come to the book through that route will be as nonplussed by the story as I was in the 1960s.