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  • Writer's pictureReyna Bradford

Full House, Full Time, Long Summer (written 8/14/21)

This summer truly has dragged. When I glance reluctantly back at it, the time blurs into one, long, monotonous busyness.

Milking twice a day. The roaring fan. The flies. The sheets of sticky paper to trap as many flies as possible. Dripping sweat. Bottles and bottles and more bottles, shoved in the faces of baby after baby after baby. I have vague memories of me standing by the corral gate, hunched over and dead-eyed, a bottle dangling from each hand, the sweat running down my face and back, feeding babies for the thousandth time.

I remember the droning bullfrogs, and the shrill, shrieking cicadas, and the heavy humidity, day after day after yet another day.

Nearly all doggy activities came to a screeching halt. Too hot to walk, too hot to work. Being barred from participating in practice shows because of COVID restrictions was a definite discouragement, too.

Day has simply followed day, and slowly the summer has unwound itself into long, endless, sweaty tatters.

There have, however, been brief and dramatic flares of excitement. Fireworks in a dingy sky.

Another unplanned litter of baby rats arrived in early July. This time it was nine tiny, hairless jellybeans, to offset the eight that Bagel surprised me with back in June. This was Crumble's brood, and she shelled out eight boys and one little girl, all of whom have survived and thrived. That brings us up to five adults and seventeen babies -- a grand total of twenty-two rats. We'll revisit that craziness later.

Two new kittens joined the pack as well. I had mentioned to my best friend's daughter that if her new kitty (who showed up already pregnant) happened to have an orange tabby in the litter, I would take it. And as fortune favored, there were not one but rather two orange tabbies in the litter, and so guess how many came home to live with Mama Reyna? Two little short-haired boys. Kimchi and Tangy (named for the drink called Orange Tang.) They are happy, healthy and hyperactive, and they have certainly brought life to the party at my place.

Then, to top it all off, my parents moved in. Okay, they didn't move into my house. At least, not exactly. Although I do see them fairly often. Like every day. Sometimes two or three times every day. They moved into a manufactured home installed at the top of the hill. This had been in the works for a good while, and they finally arrived on the eighth of July. Incidentally, it was the same day that Crumble had those babies. How's that for a house-warming gift?

We share the driveway, the property, and a good number of meals and desserts.

This has been mostly a good thing. I mean, let's be honest: the dogs and goats and cats and rats and I can always use two built-in, stand-by drivers. It's handy to have Dad as a hay hauler and Mom as a grocery getter. And of course, in the case of any emergency, the advantages are obvious. The free meals are nice, too.

But on the psychological side, it's taken me some time to sweeten up to the deal. I've lived out here alone for almost eighteen years, and I've liked it. In fact, I enjoy being alone, at least when it comes to the absence of other humans. Apparently, I do not share well. I have had to face some not-so-nice emotions and realizations over the last month, and have come to grips with just how possessive and territorial I can really be.

It has been a growing-up kind of summer. I've had to relearn some lessons -- like sticking with the work when I don't want to do it, persevering when things are not fun, and sometimes just hauling butt out of bed and putting one booted foot in front of the other. I've had to remind myself that the world actually does not revolve around me.

Every minute of my time has been spoken for. And yet, I remind myself that I still want to live that time well. I still want to make it matter. I want my hands to be strong, and I want my heart to be stronger. And we're gonna get there. Just keep working and waiting, and we're gonna get there. And if Mom and D

ad throw in a few bonus suppers along the way -- hey, you know what? There's really nothing wrong with that.

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