Monday, May 03, 2010

The Morah, the Chicken, and other Weekend Miracles

Friends, I have introduced you to The Morah before.  She is my favorite person whom I neither birthed nor married, and this is the furthest from hyperbole as I can possibly get.  I can't overstate how much I love this lady.  The best I can do is illustrate it with a conversation I once had with Uncle Damon about her:

UD:  If you were stuck on a desert island for the rest of your life, who would you want with you?
ME:  No one.  (Like that misanthropy?  It's part of my charm.)
UD:  Could I be there?
ME:  No way.  You drive me nuts too often.
UD:  What about The Morah?
ME:  Oh!  Yeah!  That'd be great!  I love The Morah!  It'd be awesome!
UD:  What about SLB?
ME:  Maybe.

Yeah.  It's like that.  And it's even better when it's like this (notes from a visit the weekend before last):

*We shopped and bought almost everything on my clothing list in under an hour and a half, which combines my three loves: The Morah, having what I need, and not spending tons of time wandering a mall.  Brilliant!

*We had Groupon deals at Spa Willamina for massages, dry body brushings, and facials.  The spa, the services, and the practitioners are flawless.  I highly recommend it to people in Portland looking for a friendly, warm place to be rubbed into submission by strangers.

*We ate beautiful wood-fire oven-cooked pizzas at Lovely's 50-50 and followed up with housemade butterscotch ice cream.  It was wonderfully delicious and exactly what we needed after an afternoon of virtuous spa high-mindedness.  Without the substantial rib-sticking goodness of rustic pizzas and churned yolks and cream we might have floated away on a blissful bodywork cloud.

O.K., so it's NOT an excellent picture, but that is an excellent pizza.  Sauteed kale and chard with a silken yolky egg on top.  Pictures and words can't do it justice.

*A leisurely morning spent reading/internetting/staring into space in bed together with her dog, Ollie.  Her husband, the beatifically lovely Marc (seriously - I've never met a better hugger), was out of town, so we snuggled lazily under the covers with Ollie between us.

*Finally, for me a trip to the specialty lingerie shop for a few sturdy undergarments in a size "WTF???"  Tiny rib cage + mom boobs = a trip to Just Like a Woman for expensive, perfectly fitted bras.  The service is expert and kind, and the selection is incredible.  If you've got outlandish hoots like I've got outlandish hoots, I strongly recommend that you save up for a trip to Just Like a Woman.

My friend Jen calls them Circus Tits.  Just look at the baby or the dog if this makes you uncomfortable.

But all was not paradise on this trip.  We, in fact, weathered some BIG! DRAMA! with the strength and grace of a grieving Jacqueline Kennedy.  Let me explain.

See, The Morah is one of those hip urban farmers you keep reading about.  She keeps chickens in a well appointed coop in her side yard, and the coop opens up into the backyard where the chickens can run about at will.  She had just introduced three new young ladies to the flook of old friends, which apparently can be a risky proposition.  She explained to me that "pecking order" and a "pecking party" are NOT always metaphors to be pondered from behind the safety of a book.  They in fact EXIST in the chicken world, and one of the old gals was experiencing them strongly when the new babies invaded her flock.  And when we were at the spa unaware of the conflict brewing at home, the older chicken chased one of the babies into the yard, which the baby then escaped in her panic.  We had a missing chicken on our hands, night was falling, it was raining, and the mean streets of Portland (dogs, cars, and raccoons, OH MY!) are not a hospitable place for a young pullet to bed down.

So, after a mild Morah freak-out (She has feelings that she, you know, feels.  What must that be like?) she organized a search party of friends and neighbors.  We combed the streets and alleys around her house clucking "Here, chick chick chick!" softly as we tried to find the missing baby.  No luck.  After some strong self-talk about the expendableness of livestock, signs hung crying "Missing Chicken!," a post on Craigslist, and a call to animal control, by the next morning we had both given up hope.  Chickens come, and chickens go, we thought.  Best to move on.

Which, Hallmark movie-style, is exactly when a miracle occurred.  Her amazingly generous neighbor, out looking again for the chicken on his own in the morning, saw a big crow across his lawn.  Upon further inspection he found that it was not a big crow, but a small chicken!  A small, lost, lonely chicken!  He returned it to The Morah, who cried tears of relief and tenderly hugged the chicken to her maternal bosom.  She was saved!  We were relieved and amazed to find it so, but, yes!  She was saved! 

Reunited, and it feels so good!

So, with a warm and fuzzy feeling in my now properly holstered chest, I drove home.  As I was flipping radio stations, I heard the Rolling Stones' "You Can't Always Get What You Want" and stopped to listen.  Usually I like this song a lot.  After all, I've sung it to so many pouting students over the years that I have a pretty close relationship with it and its message.  But all it did on my sunny, smiley drive was piss me off. 

Because no, you can't always get what you want.  Clearly.  Naturally.  I think only children and spoiled childlike adults need that message delivered via catchy tunes featuring children's choirs.  But is the best we should be aiming for really trying sometimes and just might finding that we get what we need?  Yes, it's true that this does happen.  But is it worth glorifying?  Because sometimes you find exactly what you're looking for in record time.  And sometimes you're lucky enough to get a perfect afternoon at the spa.  And sometimes your dinner is exactly what you wanted exactly when you wanted it.  And sometimes you're blessed with the financial security to afford such luxuries in a time of recession.

And sometimes you have the best friend in the world, someone who makes you seriously consider that there might be truth in the gag-inducing epithet "soul-mate."  And sometimes you're still so in love with your partner of 13 years that you get butterflies when he grabs your hand upon your arrival home from a weekend away.  And sometimes you get through a difficult pregnancy and labor to have a healthy, happy, giggling girl who makes you radically redefine love and your capacity to give it.  And sometimes, people, sometimes your chicken comes back.

I am not a religious person, but I do love the idea of miracles.  And it seems to me that they happen every day.  So, no, you can't always get what you want.  BUT SOMETIMES YOU CAN, and what a better song to sing - a song of hope and gratitude for the good in the world - than one that glorifies the possibility of mere subsistence.  Maybe it depends on luck, and certainly it depends on what you want, but I'm going to be happy to have what I have - to have what I want - while I have it.

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