Harry’s House of Hens

If you’ve been on my Facebook page or follow me on Instagram (TheRealMojo68) in the past few days, you may have seen this adorable photo.

Harry's House of Hens

Dot’s grandparents received a shipment of mail-order chicks last week. I know. Mail order?! But apparently it’s quite humane. They ship overnight with air filter and cooling packs to keep the chicks comfortable. Good to know.

They ordered them quite a few weeks ago, which allowed time for Grandpa to build this amazing chicken coop.

Harry's House of Hens

Grandpa has a workshop out of his garage. I don’t mean a little table with a tiny saw for cute fun projects. I mean, this man works for a living and his garage is his workshop. There are planks and bins of nails and power cords and tools and tables and saws and rulers and instruments… any- and every-thing a woodworker needs. As you can guess, he’s very good at what he does.

So when Dot went over for the afternoon a few days ago, I followed. I wanted to see the chicks. I didn’t expect to fall in love with them. Or even better, have one in particular fall in love with me.

I Call Her Ethel

I named this one Ethel. While Dot held and played with several chicks, one and two at a time, Ethel was content to immediately fall asleep in my hand. Can you believe I spent half an hour holding a chick and looking at the others? That’s it. That was the entertainment of the evening. Watching chicks. And you know what? It was fun and I’d do it again!

Grandma Sue and I talked about the care and raising of the chicks. These are Rhode Island Reds and they’ll lay brown eggs. They’re supposed to all be female, but at this very young age it’s sometimes hard to tell. So they may end up with a Rooster or two. If that happens, he’ll go elsewhere. They want eggs, not more chicks.

Then Grandpa Harry took me out to the chicken coop he built. I tried to take a photo of Ethel in a bin, but she refused to leave my hand. Meanwhile, Dot’s chick pooped on her. I didn’t take a photo of that. You’re welcome.

For now, the chicks live in a large box in the family room. There’s a heat lamp that is constantly on, a feed tray and watering trough. The chicks eat, drink and sleep in this box. In about a week, they’ll be moved outside to the fenced-in garden area.

Box o'Chicks

Grandma and Grandpa have fenced in six small fruit trees and the chicks will adjust to outdoor life under the mesh security. When they’re older [read: bigger] and more able to avoid birds of prey, they’ll be moved to the chicken coop. They’ll have full reign over that area until being locked up at night for their own protection.

Chickens are great for pest control. They’re also a great natural garbage disposal and will eat all your table scraps. Their droppings are natural fertilizer. And there’s nothing like farm-fresh eggs cooked to perfection on a lazy Saturday morning. Am I right?

Yeah. I’m really looking forward to living vicariously through Harry’s House of Hens.

Happy Eating, y’all!

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

Am I One of “Those” People?

I have an online friend who suffers from Tourette Syndrome. She’s not shy about sharing her story, but I’m ashamed to admit I often wonder how I will react when the day comes that we meet in person.

I like to think I’m not judgmental or instinctive with my responses. I realize she can’t help the things she sometimes does. When we talk, I feel so much pain for the sorrows and challenges she sometimes endures. But when faced with the thought of being in that moment with her tics, can I be the kind of person she needs me to be? Can I not have that knee-jerk reaction I sometimes have when faced with the unknown, that instant instinct to shush someone else or turn away? Can I not just stand there, not knowing what to do? Can I reach beyond myself to be that compassionate, caring friend; the same as she’s been to me?

Kate is confident. Able. Capable. Accomplished. Her Tourette’s is just a small facet of the wonderful person she is. I don’t want that to define her any more than I want my poverty to define me. It’s just a moment, just a glimpse of the totality of this life.

She often fills her Facebook page with helpful links and wonderful insights. Tourette’s is mistakenly (or often intentionally, carelessly) used as the brunt of Hollywood jokes, a means of excusing bad behavior and foul language in a manner reminiscent of the Three Stooges’ foolery instead of open, honest dialogue.

The truth is, if it’s misunderstood and can get a laugh, that’s what people pay to see. It’s disgusting and disappointing. Society often ridicules what it does not understand, making it all the more difficult to understand it. If it weren’t for Kate, I still would have a minimal perception of her reality. Hers, and the millions more who suffer this syndrome.

Y’all know me and words. I love words. I love their definitions. I love the words behind the words. “Syndrome” simply means a group of symptoms indicative of a particular condition.

But that’s just it. It’s a syndrome. It’s not her. It’s not her life. I’m saddened with the reality that Tourette’s is often the only thing people notice about those who suffer. It’s not just a momentary tic but the overall stigma, the fear and mockery that go with it. To label anyone in totality with just one description is unfair and incomplete.

I’m just as much to blame as other ignorants; I haven’t tried to give much understanding to it before I met Kate. I’m not good at reaching out when I don’t understand something. I assume they don’t want me to learn more; they want me to leave them alone and act like it doesn’t exist. I don’t want to embarrass the other person, and I’m inadequately prepared to offer what they need.

Not Kate. She’s not afraid to say she has Tourette’s, not afraid to share how misperceptions, prejudices, and even bullying are parts of life she’s had to (but shouldn’t have to) deal with. This morning, her Facebook wall had this post:

Tourette Syndrome

Oh, how this reached me, reached into me. Is it my own discomfort that caused me to be one of those insensitive people? Have I unwittingly made fun of someone else, instead of showing them understanding and acceptance? How often have I walked away instead of choosing to stand firm? What kind of example am I setting if I choose to not promote understanding and acceptance, if I choose to not seek it out myself?

What I know about Kate: she makes ornaments. She sells handmade jewelry (I can’t wait to buy this pair of Christmas Earrings). She’s smart. She contributes more to society than a lot of people. She cares. I mean, she fundamentally cares about all of humanity. And through it all, I’ve never heard her complain.

Even though she has a right to. I asked her about this, and she simply said, “It’s hard to complain when there is always someone worse off. I think seeing others in front of me needing help makes me focus on their needs rather than my own…”

Her post made me face my own demons and insensitive behaviors. Whether it’s someone struggling with Tourette’s, anger management, or just a bad day; how often do I think to myself, “There’s something wrong with them” and “Don’t get involved”.

I can be a selfish person. I don’t want to be. I have my beliefs and assumptions and have let them color how I see people. I like to think I’m sympathetic, but I have far to go. Certainly, I’m not a bully. But I see now I’m far less understanding than I could be. I hold no ill-will toward others, but neither do I step out often to help a stranger.

I want to write so much more about society’s misconceptions, but I’ll leave that up to Kate. I’m ashamed of my lack of support toward others. I’m choosing to make a strong effort to look beneath what I see. To get to know the person, not the behavior. No matter who you are: We all have struggles. Some are just more evident.

My motto should no longer be “Live and Let Live” but rather “Do Unto Others”. When I am hurt, confused, struggling, or misunderstood it means more to me than money to have someone come alongside and walk with me, to share my journeys. I want to be that for Kate, and all those I know.

Is it too soon to make a New Year’s Resolution?

And Frankly, My Dear… that’s all she wrote!

For more information, read Kate’s latest Blog post: Is Tourette’s Cursed?

This post is also linked up with Shell at Things I Can’t Say for POUR YOUR HEART OUT