Country Journal/December 1, 2015

It is the middle of the night. I can’t sleep. I have one huge life goal and that is to become the person I want to be and think I should be. I think each of us has an internal picture of that and I’m sure it varies enormously from one individual to the next.  Right now I’m not talking about achieving nirvana or even becoming morally better, although those are laudable. I’m talking about inefficiencies, niggling bad habits, getting in one’s own way, not working at one’s peak.

I can promise you, every time I make a change directed towards improving my health habits one certain result is insomnia. The spirit may be willing but the flesh will trip me up every time. So, let’s say, for instance, that I decide to forego the evening glass of wine, eat healthy, and exercise more. I guarantee that I can’t do it all at once because if I tell my elderly body that we are suddenly going to make big changes said elderly body will lay me out flat in bed in addition to making sure I don’t sleep at night. I guarangoddamntee it.

Then there’s Polly, my poor unhappy, obnoxious, loud, difficult macaw. Who ever heard of a bird with insomnia? Every other bird in the house goes to sleep when it gets dark and/or the cage is covered and sleeps, with only a few half-awake noises, until morning. Not my Polly. My stealthy footsteps down the hall, the tapping of the computer keyboard, any sound at all will wake that unfortunate creature. Then I will hear her gently fussing and tearing up the newspapers on the bottom of her cage. No harm in that but she needs the sleep. A pin drops and that macaw wakes up. That severely limits what I can do during the nights I can’t sleep. The only thing I can do that doesn’t bother Polly is to sit up in bed and knit. Right now I am in no mood for that.

“Polly, it’s just mom. I love you. Go to sleep.”

I have accomplished distressingly little since I last wrote. Today was the worst. I was doing the monthly budgeting and bill paying. For once, there’s no particular monetary crisis; it’s just routine. I was unaccountably wound up, wired, unable to concentrate, and just plain nutty. It got the work done, but it took far longer than it should have done. Now I can’t sleep. I am nibbled to death by ducks, as the saying goes. My mother called it the “screaming mimis.” Not sure how you spell that. Better look it up. Okay, it is spelled two ways–“mimis” and “meemies.” Not to be confused with the heebie-jeebies which word conveys both jitters and vague fear.

I said something to George about my state of mind this afternoon.

“Been there.” he said.

He ran errands. He took care of the animals. I paid bills and quietly fell apart. Not fun. Not fun at all.

Later the Same Day

Too many things to do and too little time. Too many needs and too few dollars. The weather cleared sufficiently that cleaning the car was possible, so we went to town. Mailed bills. Did a small amount of necessary shopping for supplies at Walmart. Got the car cleaned at our local DIY car wash. Actually, that is not accurate. We got the top layers of grime out of the interior and off the exterior. I don’t like to ask George to do this by himself. He won’t admit it is difficult for him, but he’s not very agile and vacuuming odd corners of a car interior does require that.

By the time we finished we were both chilled. I wanted something hot and fast. We went to McDonald’s for a sandwich and hot coffee. Then we went home. I unloaded the car and re-arranged the car. This is make-ready for inserting tarp and traveling macaw cage into the back seat while leaving space for Star in the hatchback area. George went to work doing animal care and I took a nap. I got up, made a cup of very strong hot tea and started wrapping Christmas presents. I did not get far, but at least I made a start.

We did stop at the bank this morning. Unfortunately someone had left an issue of Flying magazine in the lobby. George pounced on it and has been buried in it off and on all day and will remain buried in it until he has read every word and he’s a slow reader. He did take care of the animals, but he will be good for nothing else until he is finished with his magazine.

It’s not what we did; it’s what we didn’t get done that bothers me. I need to re-work the heating arrangements for the chickens and for Gray Lady (outdoor cat). That is a must. Freezing nights are in the forecast. I am once again behind on routine house work. I have barely begun the clean up work in the living room. The car port is a mess. George won’t keep it clean and is incapable of cleaning it. Cleaning he can do only if walked through the process. I can’t supervise George and do anything else. After thirty years of living with George and his very odd brain I’ve learned what will work and what won’t.

I need to do some cleaning in the kitchen. I can’t; it will wake Polly who is in the adjoining dining area. It’s no different from having a sleeping baby in a small house. House is too small to give the macaws a dedicated room and, if I did that, I then create the problem of lack of social interaction with us which is also very important for them.

After working with the monthly budget I asked George, “Would you rather have special holiday food or liquor this month?” He didn’t hesitate; he wanted his evening snort. Okay, but that means a long drive to a liquor store because we are in a dry county. It’s an incredibly beautiful place and two-thirds of our county is pristine national forest, but there is a downside to everything. Arkansas has some of the strictest liquor laws in the nation.

Later

George explained that he has been observing a learning curve among the cats. We have too many cats to have them all inside. They are outside by day and in crates in the barn at night. That protects them from nighttime predators. They are fed in their crates in the evening and then George fastens the crates for the night. Last winter I had to bring all of the critters into the house every night to keep them warm. That was an incredible amount of work and obviously not the way to go. No one needs a crate of 12 chickens in the kitchen every night and 12 cats wandering about on top of a large dog, multiple birds, and two elderly roosters–one in the bathtub and one in a large tub. This year I bought heaters, heated waterers, various other equipment, and plush and foam domes–enough to equip each cat crate plus some extras. At first the cats just pushed the domes down flat and went to sleep on top of them, creating little cat nests. I was not happy because that defeats the purpose of the domes. To stay warm each cat needs to go inside and curl up. But George reports that last night, with a forecast of a light freeze, each cat had figured it out and every single one was tucked away inside his dome