26 May

On The Porch. Minnie And The Gray Hen

by Jon Katz
On The Porch

Minnie, our three-legged barn cat, has always grown up around chickens, and chickens have always been comfortable around her. She and the gray hen have formed an especially close relationship lately and this afternoon, when I walked by, they seemed to be chatting with one another on the back porch, where Minnie likes to sleep and hang out during the day.

26 May

A Different Kind Of Weekend. Here Comes Saturday.

by Jon Katz
A Different Kind Of Weekend

We took Robin out to meet the donkeys early Friday morning.

It was cold and rainy, and Lulu and Fanny, sweet and gentle as ever, came over to sniff her carefully and deliberately. it was anti-climactic, Robin didn’t react to them much and they soon walked away to eat some grass.

I thought the donkeys might affect her more intensely, but that didn’t happen, at least not yet. She will find her own interests on the farm, or not, and she is just nine months old. I’ve learned from my work with dogs and other animals to not project my own interests and emotions onto other living things.

She might love the donkeys, she might not. She is only nine months old.

Robin and Fate formed a very strong bond, and we haven’t yet had a day dry and sunny enough to explore the farm.

This weekend continues Saturday, when the 16 members of the RISSE soccer team come to the farm. Lots of people in the town want to participate in the upcoming trips when 100 kids from the RISSE refugee center in Albany come to visit the farm over the summer.

Our friend Mandy, a massage therapist, is coming to talk to them about stress and relaxation, in body and mind.

Treasure Wilkinson is coming with two of her baby goats. We will do some sheepherding and open up Maria’s studio, then go to Pompanuck Farm for some pizza, and then to Ed and Carol Gulley’s Bejosh Farm.

A full day, an important day, a trial run for the dozen or so visits by refugee children planned for the summer. I am hoping to show that the refugees and immigrants coming to America are not all dangerous people coming her to harm us. They ought not be punished or demonized for the mad acts of a few.

The more I get to see them and know, the more I see the truth of this awful distortion of the truth about them. For me, this journey begins in earnest tomorrow. I hope they have a good time.

I thank you good people who have supported our trip to the Great Escape Adventure Park, the kid’s art and creativity kits, the soccer team, the Saturday summer excursions and birthday parties. You are doing good and changing lives.

26 May

Robin Goes To Meet Connie (And Others) At The Mansion

by Jon Katz
Robin At The Mansion

The residents of the Mansion Assisted Care Facility rarely get to see babies, so I asked Emma if she would mind  bringing Robin to the Mansion for a few minutes, and she graciously agreed. I think there are few things that brighten the days there more than seeing babies.

We walked the hallways and greeted some of the staff and we then went to see Connie – working to get rid of stys in her eyes this week. She was happy to meet Robin and talk to her a bit, and eager to check on Red and his health. We are re-scheduling her visit to the farm when there is a sunny day or two.

The Mansion is family to me, it is an integral part of my community. Robin did a lot of good walking through the hallways there.

Medicine prides itself on keeping people alive, sometimes beyond reason, but takes no responsibility for how they live. The residents of facilities like the Mansion are cut off from almost everything they know and love. They especially miss being around the young.

It seems like such a small thing to walk a baby through a hallway there, but it is a very big thing. I was happy to be able to do it. I told the residents in the dining room that we are thinking of getting another dog, a puppy named Leroy. If we do get him, I promised, he will begin training for therapy work at the Mansion, along with Red, the day after we take him home.

26 May

Robin And My Community: Battenkill Books

by Jon Katz
Battenkill Books

We took Robin to Battenkill Books, where she settled into their new and beautiful children’s book section. We got a bunch of early reading books, a dragon puppet, some blocks and a magnetic wood stack. People were kidding me that I wanted to brag about Robin and show her off, and I’m sure this is true.

But more than that, I wanted her to meet my community, the people who care about me and who I care about and who are a part of my life with Maria here.

I wanted them to see Emma also, and have her see them. Connie Brooks sat on the floor with Robin and helped her to stand up, and then Robin found her own toys and was completely at ease in this space, created especially for children.

Emma may not remember the Saturday’s we spent in a local bookstore called the Open Door with a wonderful owner named Jane DeLeeuw. Jane always had a book waiting for Emma, always had a recommendation for her. We sat in a corner of the bookstore and read, it was a sacred part of our Saturdays.

Jane encouraged me to write my first novel and spawned a lifelong love of reading in Emma.

Connie Brooks reminds of Jane, she has created a beautiful space where children are as welcome as grown ups. The world of books has changed,  and lots of new and different things are important to the young. All the more crucial to love and support Connie’s wonderful independent bookstore, thriving in a tiny town in upstate New York.

Books are still loved in there, an Emma sensed that, and I think Robin sensed it as well. I wanted her to see it. Connie supports my books and has helped me in my transition to the new life of the writer.

Battenkill Books is important to me and to my idea of community. That was what was special for me. I’m glad Robin shared it.

26 May

Breakfast Festivus: Robin Journal

by Jon Katz
Breakfast Festivus

The morning did not turn out as I expected, but much better, a sweet, sweet, time. I succeeded in one of my primary ambitions for the visit, I helped Emma to get some rest. When I heard the baby stir around 6:30 a.m., I simple took  her right out of Emma’s arms, told her to go upstairs and sleep, and to my surprise, she did. She must have been exhausted.

For some strange reason, Emma does not like to be told what to do. I can’t imagine why. I seem to be drawn to women like that. Maria and I had the most wonderful time taking care of Robin. She is a happy, cheerful and agreeable person, she and Fate clicked big-time, they each sparked the pirate in the other.

We all had breakfast together. We changed her diapers, prepared her formula, changed her clothes, gave her the bottle, then some chunks of banana, some berries, some dry cheerios. Maria started to dance behind me after breakfast and Robin joined in. Come and see.

We spent the next few hours on the living room floor – we built an improvised play pen, and we both climbed into it. She seemed to love every minute of it.  Maria’s powerful nurturing instincts revealed themselves, and I felt as if we see Robin every day. We are all quite comfortable with one another.

Fate is just crazy about the baby, she comes up gently and licks her on the cheek, she comes running when she cries, she just seems devoted to her. I am certain that if these two lived together they would be inseparable. Red mostly ignores her.

Robin is a cheerful and adaptive and verbal child, we babbled earnestly back and forth at one another. She kept smiling at me and jabbering at me, I returned the favor. I think we all did some major bonding this morning.

When Emma  came down, I made her one of her favorite breakfasts – I made it for her many times when she was young: multi-grain toast, scrambled eggs with Gruyere cheese, cottage cheese, milk, sat and pepper, and coffee. It was a hit, it was such a pleasure to be making her  breakfast again, it brought back a flood of feeling.

It’s going to rain almost all day, so we are mostly housebound. We are planning excursions to the Battenkill Book Store to visit their great new childrens’s section. We plan also to  all go see see Leroy, the two week old Boston Terrier puppy we are thinking of buying.

Tonight’s dinner: chicken sausage, potatoes and salad. (Last night, pasta with spinach and ricotta cheese and a salad.)

Emma slept for several  hours, and we had fun every minute of the time. This is something Maria and I had never done together before. We are both pretty good at it.

It is raining outside, but quite bright inside. The day and the visit got off to a great start.  I love holding a baby again, I loved the laughter and smiles we were exchanging, I loved doing this with Maria, we are a pretty potent team.

It is a nice time, I’m doing some writing, Emma is doing some work, Robin is babbling to herself on the floor with some toys, and Maria is in her studio. The world is right.

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