on life cycles and current happenings

So, Peanut died on Wednesday. We took her to the vet that morning where she extracted the fluid from her belly. The fluid was clear which means it wasn’t an infection. Most likely, a tumor. We talked about options and decided to bring her home with anti-inflammatories.

Andy left this morning for his dude ski holiday in Utah. The girls and I have had offers to join friends for meals and such but it feels right to just hunker here with quiet activities broken up by outdoor romps. We will make three peach pies (hoping for one perfectly perfect one) to be auctioned off for a Garden City Harvest fundraiser. I have made approximately 700 pies in my life so I don’t know why I feel nervous for this but I do.

I could tell Peanut felt relief with the fluid extracted but she wasn’t interested in eating or drinking. I carried her home in a towel and made her a little bed in our heated garage. She couldn’t stand up. I propped her feet under her and tucked her into fresh wood shavings, waiting for the meds to kick in. I tried to spoon water into her beak. I wondered if I should have euthanized, despite the vet’s recommendation. I petted her, my daughters petted her. She laid her head down, her breathing slowed until it stopped.

It’s chilly and gray outside. Crusty old snow forms smooth hills in shady corners but, mostly, the valley is blanketed in matted-down brown grass. I saw green growth in the field. I bought potting soil in a spring fit this week. I think we’ll start some lettuce and arugula in the sunroom.

I didn’t feel sadness until I said it out loud to Margot. It’s such a primal, omnipresent cycle that I witnessed. Peanut’s death was so relatable. We all — humans and chickens alike — want warmth, love, peace and snuggles.

I’ve been hiking and running a lot lately and it feels so good. It is nothing short of miraculous, that in-shape feeling. Strong and happy. My relationship with exercise has changed so much in the last five years. Then: scheduled, early morning, stopwatch, no music, just Alice and me, usually training for something. Now: irregular, whenever it works, recently reintroduced the stopwatch, no music, sometimes alone and usually with a combo of kid and/or dog, training for life.

We’ve lost several hens over the years but all to predators. This was markedly different for me. Margot wanted to tell Ruby who was about to fall asleep. We waited until the next morning. Just like Margot, Ruby wanted to see her and touch her. The desire to see the dead animal also existed when our hens were killed. Last summer I didn’t let them see the first carcass and I questioned that choice because they were both bummed and confused. The next carcass they discovered on their own and I was blown away at their response. Kids have such an awesome perspective and curiosity about death. It’s not scary or weird or taboo. It simply is. It is something to notice and respect. It is something to discuss and process. It is something to feel about, whatever those feelings look like. And, seeing it is an important part of their understanding.

We have a big weekend away next week, what with my handsome husband and his art opening in Spokane. When he finished his last painting last week, we could feel our entire life elevate and hum. Getting ready for this exhibit on top of full time work, parenting and all that we have going on has been a family effort. For months, Andy has painted from 4-6:30 in the morning before work and on the weekends. To give him that necessary space, I have been flying mostly solo on the homestead. It worked well, with a rhythmic predictability. And then, last Sunday, I woke up in the morning with my whole family in bed. We all got up together and hung out together. There was no pressure to hurry home from skiing so Andy could get his studio time in.

What an accomplishment, what a relief.

The title of his exhibit is Are We There Yet?, a tribute to a phrase we hear a whole heck of a lot from the back seat of our station wagon. All of his paintings are for sale and Andy will post them on his website after the exhibit opens.

13 paintings by Andy Cline

March 1-29, 2013
Kolva Sullivan Gallery
115 S. Adams St.
Suite A
Spokane, WA

Opening reception: Friday, March 1, 5-8pm

Gallery hours:
Wed-Fri 12noon-4:30pm
By appointment: 509-458-5517

Can you come? We’d love it. Know people who might like to come? It would be awesome if you shared the exhibit info on facebook or elsewhere. HERE is a link with succinct and easily sharable exhibit details.

So proud of my man!

:: :: ::

In this week’s mamalode column I wrote about that fragile place where letting-go meets hanging-on. Specifically, with Ruby on skis. Click to read mama digs: let her go.

Wishing you all a wonderful, restful, loveful weekend.

17 Responses to on life cycles and current happenings

  1. Nikki V says:

    I’m so sorry about Peanut, losing an animal of any kind is tough, I’m glad your girls deal with it the way they do. Too bad Andy’s show is on that side of WA, (We’re in Olympia) otherwise we’d check it out. Hope he’s having fun in UT, I’m from there, it is “The Greatest Snow On Earth”

  2. Jorie says:

    Your husband is incredibly talented! The look like photographs, not paintings. Amazing. Best of luck to you all at his exhibit.
    And I love how your hens are part of your family. Hope Peanut is at rest now.
    Enjoy your girls weekend.

  3. Jessica says:

    Those are paintings?!? Wow wow wow. What talent! Wish I could buy one!

  4. Niamh says:

    Ack, your hubs is crazy talented. I want to buy them all!

  5. Carol-Anne says:

    Your hubby’s art is fabulous and your family makes me smile. Even when sad things happen.

  6. Claire says:

    What beautiful paintings. Such talent!

  7. sian says:

    So sorry to hear about peanut. What a lovely life and loving ending she had though xxxx

  8. B. Holmes says:

    Love your husband’s paintings, (my hubby is also an Andy). I’m a batik artist and my newest T-shirt design is a ufo with a little alien in it, and the back says “Are We There Yet?”, funny. I went to High School an hour South of Spokane in the middle of wheat fields. Hope you enjoy the trip, how exciting! I also had an art show in Anchorage AK. a few years back, it’s a little nerve wracking… I’m sure it will be great.

  9. AdrianaIris says:

    Growing up my kid brother had a chicken as a pet.
    Mayra and him would watch TV specially “lucha libre” or wrestling (not as fun without the mask 😉
    My kid brother found out at 21 years of age what my grandma had done to such chicken. It became what in Puerto Rico we call “asopao” a very yummy chicken and rice soup that she would make and every child would devour.
    I am glad Peanut’s end was lovelier.
    How morbid for a Sunday eh?!
    Downer but…Made me think of Mayra and of course my now gone brother.
    PS. Your husbands work its really something and I live in galleries and around artists.

  10. Yes, children have such a simple relationship to death. My girls taught me so much when we had our farm. I was the one feeling all weird and sad and emotional, for them, it was fascintating and a learning experience, with not much emotion attached… Raising animals makes us really connect to the cycle of life and death in a whole different way and it is such a gift for children to experiment it firsthand. Congratulations to Andy! I love his art!

  11. Morgan says:

    On the way to work last week, in the dark, I accidently ran over a previously hit doe (a woman was on one side of the road waving her arms, distracting me from what she wanted me to avoid). I pulled over and walked back and found that I had put her out of her misery. I didn’t want anyone to hit her again, so I pulled her off the road and went back to my car with some very bloody hands. After I explained what had happened to my 5yo son, he said he wanted to see the deer. I told him that she had died already. He responded, “I don’t care.” The guys at work claimed he’s turning into an Idaho Republican (to get my goat), but you’re right, he was probably just curious, wanting to see a deer up close. I should have gotten him out of the car and let him look. Maybe next time (with all the deer in the neighborhood, I’m sure there will be a next time :( )

    We’re going to try to come to the show on Friday. Are kids welcome? Do your girls want to play with another kid who’s curious about death?

    • dig dig says:

      Oh that’s sounds hard! Sorry, mama. So happy to hear you pulled her off the highway. It’s a gruesome job and an important one, I believe.

      Would love to meet you on Friday! Yes, kids welcome.

  12. Heather says:

    I’m so sorry to hear about Peanut. I know that if I had “animals” rather than “pets” they would all turn into pets. Just the kind of chick I am, I guess. It warmed my heart the way you loved her out of this world. And thank you for talking about how the girls handled it. I have yet to experience death with a child, but when we do I’ll surely remember your words and those of the commenters here.

    And I want to echo the others’ words as well on your hubby’s art work. At first, I, too, thought his painting was a photo. Amazing! Good luck at the gallery.

  13. Jean Albus says:

    Andy’s new work is exquisite. We are sorry not to make the opening to see them in person.

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